1. Roland

    My wife and I are inexperienced with social media use and its norms, expectations, and etiquette. We have college and high school age children who by our own judgment are really very good kids. We don’t expect to, nor do we want to keep track of their expanding circle of friends and relationships as they are growing young adults. However, is it wrong, a breech of confidence or trust, or just creepy to google someone new in their life to see who they appear to be, and to read their tweets or look at their Facebook page? We want to be respectful of our kids, their privacy and their decision making, but we can’t help our parental instincts. We have suggested that if someone puts something “out there” for the WWW to see or read they should be sure that it is something that they really want the WWW to see or read. Or are parents, employers, and other officials supposed to simply pretend that it isn’t there?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      The key to keep yourself from crossing the line into snooping is to not do it in a snooping manner. If you send your children friend requests on Facebook, for example, it will be their decision to accept it and they will be aware that you may be checking their profiles from time to time.

      You shouldn’t Google your children’s friends. Things that come up in a Google search are not necessarily going to be things they posted themselves or had the opportunity to take down like in Facebook. If you have met the person you are curious about, you can send him or her a friend request. If the request is accepted, feel free to explore his or her profile.

      • Alicia

        Do not friend request your college and high school aged kids friends. Wow that would be alkward. If you are friends with your kids on facebook go ahead and glance at their friends public profiles but keep what you see to yourself. It is much better to say to your kids “Hey I see that you are tagged in a lot of Emily Posts pictures about going out last weekend. Are you guys good friends? What is she like?” Do not go based on posted things go based on conversations actually held with your kids.
        Better to be upfront about your curiosity about their lives rather then snooping about their friends behind their back.

        • Winifred Rosenburg

          I don’t think it’s awkward. I’m Facebook friends with many of my friends parents, aunts, uncles, even a grandmother. The only awkwardness I could forsee is if people post certain things about their weekend partying or something like that, but nowadays most people know (or should know) that such posts can jepordize your current or future career so it’s not a good idea anyway. In fact, I think “don’t post it unless you would be okay with your friend’s parents seeing it” is a good general guideline. =)

          Like I said, you shouldn’t do this unless it’s someone you’ve met. The person of course has the option of ignoring the friend request if he or she feels it would be awkward.

          • Alicia

            I continue to think it is very very alkward to friend or to get friend requests from people whom are not really your friends. If you are friends with one of their friends go ahead and facebook friend them but if you would not email a casual email to teh person without ccing your kid then do not friend them. It is horribly alkward to have to decide to ignore a friend request from someone who is not really a friend but someone you have met a few times and it is double alkward when it is your friends parents. This is true in my 30’s and I know it would have been much worse and more alkward in my 20’s or high school years. So basic rule of facebook friending only do so to someone who it would not be wierd for you to send an email casually to and this would not be your kids friends whom you have only met a time or two and you need to google. It may however be the kid next door whom you have known their entire life.

        • Gertrude

          I disagree. I know plenty of children who are “Facebook Friends” with their parents. Personally, I think it is a good idea. If they decide to accept your request, then it will be honest and they will be careful about what they put on the internet. You can object to their postings (if you find it objectionable) and it won’t be secretive.

          • Alicia

            Facebook friends with your own parents is normal facebook friend requests with the parents of your friends whom you have only met once is alkward. Your own parents know you and would send you and email normally.
            Basically only send facebook friend requests to those whom you would call or email without hesitation over something trivial. Anyone whom you would not call or email you should also not friend request particularly if it is just to spy on your adult children.
            Would you want all of your friends parents to facebook friend you? Would you want all of your friends kids to facebook friend you?
            Part of keeping your facebook for the extremes of your network is only being facebook friends with real social connections. Your friends parents are not your real social connections if you have barely met them.

        • LC

          I also must disagree. It’s up to you and the other person, parent or not, to decide whether there will be a facebook friend connection or not. Sure, I would advise parents not to go out and facebook friend every single connect their child has as a means of snooping around, but I don’t think it’s a problem either way if a parent and child, child and friend’s parent, etc are connected on social media. There is no hard and fast rule regarding who can and cannot be or should and should not be a person’s facebook friend.

          • Country Girl

            I will say, while I agree with you that there is no hard and fast rule of who can and should befriend whom on facebook, I believe what Alicia is trying to get across is that it is often awkward to receive a friend request from someone with whom you aren’t close. It puts the requestee in a very uncomfortable situation to have to decline an invite from a friend’s parent. When i receive friend requests from those I don’t know well or really at all, it puts me in an uncomfortable position to have to decline their invite as well as make me question “Why is this person wanting to add me? We don’t converse normally, what is the purpose of them wanting to see my facebook page?” It can also put your child in an embarassing spot when their friends ask “Why is your mom/dad trying to add me? I don’t even know them!”

            Not to beat a dead horse, but if you are friendly with someone by all means add (or attempt to add) them. It seems in this case though that Roland is not at all familiar with his child’s new friends in question or he would not be needing to search to find out what they are about.

    • Country Girl

      *Not being aware of what you are intending or hoping to find about these friends; I will advise, as in everyday life, if you are looking hard enough for the negatives in someone you will always find them.

      *Poor etiquette to search someone? No. If there is information that one wants to keep private on facebook they can change their privacy settings. However I wouldn’t recommend searching anyone unless you are 100% prepared to understand that 1) nothing you see or read on facebook or the internet should be taken as fact. The internet (google/facebook) should be seen and understood for what it is, a giant rumor mill. and 2) THE FASTEST way for you to ruin your child’s trust will be to address them about one of your “findings” on the internet.

      *As Alicia mentions, never attempt to add your kids’ friends (or anyone for that matter) unless you are at least somewhat close with them. And don’t feel rejected or hurt if they don’t add you. Some teens (adults even) don’t want to have those “snooping” parents on (what they see as) their private space.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Please bear in mind, I assumed based on the question that these are adult “kids,” i.e. over 18. Please correct me, Roland, if I’m wrong. I could see how it would be awkward if they are kid kids because you are somewhat of an authority figure to your children’s friends. Otherwise, given the irregularity with which some people use Facebook, and the fact that Facebook has been known to not send notifications as consistently as one might think, I can’t imagine Roland will be frantically checking daily to see if his friend requests were accepted. (I’ve sent out friend requests to infrequent users and by the time they accepted, I’d forgotten that I’d sent the request.) Therefore I don’t see the awkwardness in ignoring a friend request since it doesn’t require an explanation and he won’t even know they’ve ignored it.

  2. Jessica

    My husband’s brother left his family to marry his mistress. They have planned a lavish 2-day wedding at an expensive boutique hotel in October.

    The couple is very aware of my negativity about the affair. My brother-in-law used me on several occasions to watch his children while he committed adultery. Had I known what he was doing, I would never have agreed to assist him in that way. I regard his former wife as a true sister.

    The invitation just arrived, addressed:
    “Mr. Smith and Family” not, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”

    There is nothing written on the inner envelope.

    My 15-year-old niece is very distraught over having to wear a gown the bride chose for her to participate in the event. My 15-year-old daughter feels it is her obligation to help ease the pain of her cousin during the event.

    My brother-in-law omitted me from the last family gathering in July. My husband who attended the gathering with my children against my wishes, says that he will stand by my decision not to attend the wedding.

    My position is that I was not properly invited, so we should not attend. What do you think?

    • This is a difficult situation, as you well know. As such, I’m going to say that your family’s decision to attend is between you and your husband. I don’t know that we can help much.

      Having said that, there is a place in many ceremonies where the officiant asks that members of the audience speak now, or forever hold one’s peace. If you feel you cannot hold your peace, I would recommend you not attend. Yes, I’ve been faced with a similar decision and not attended.

      • Alicia

        It is your husbands brother I think your husband should be the one deciding who is anyone attends from your family. If you attend I suggest being prepared to be happy for the couple at least on that day. You never know maybe this is the real loves of their lives and they will be faithfully together for decades.

    • Jody

      I’m with those who say you should stay home. If you can’t honestly support this wedding (and I understand your reasons), you’re definitely entitled to stay home.

      • CK

        Just thinking about how he behaved in the past and his infidelity is enough for you to stay away. You don’t support what he did and he didn’t invite you to the last gathering. I understand and don’t fault the way you feel.

    • Ashleigh

      “The invitation just arrived, addressed:
      “Mr. Smith and Family” not, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”…
      My position is that I was not properly invited, so we should not attend. What do you think?”

      I would assume that your BIL added the “and family” to make it clear that you were all invited (children too) and that this wasn’t just an adults only event.
      If I am incorrect, can someone please let me know the proper way to address this since I frequently include “and family” as well to indicate that all members are welcome.

      • Winifred Rosenburg

        The correct way is not to say “and family” at all because, as indicated by this confusion, it is an ambiguous term. The outer envelope should say “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” and the inner envelope should say either “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Connor, Gabrielle, and Jeremy” or “John, Jessica, Connor, Gabrielle, and Jeremy.” That is assuming Jessica doesn’t have a different last name or a title.

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