Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin


Caroline learned that 'liking' something on her son's Facebook page was a Big Mistake.
By Caroline McMahon
Date: May 25 2013
Editor Rating:

There is a lot of talk about parents being friends with their teenagers. While I have reasonably healthy relationship with our teenage sons, my husband and I do not consider ourselves to be our sons’ friends in day to day life.

We have boundaries and we are able to step up and say no. We are also able to say yes on occasion but when things need to be reined-in, “no” is something that they are used to hearing and are able to deal with.

This is where I come unstuck. In our home, we are all Facebook users.  With sons now 16 and 13, they are of age to use it.  We have many international and interstate friends and family, so it’s a great way for us to keep in touch with them in our busy lives and time zones.

In the Facebook world there is only a choice to be ‘friends’.  There is no ‘mother’ button.  I want to be able to connect with them on Facebook to tag them in a photo or show them something; keep in touch with them quickly and easily when they are away from home. But it is all or nothing. 

When he was 13, my eldest boy was my Facebook ‘friend’. That was the deal with getting Facebook access; I had to be able to see his posts to monitor his responsible use of this social media outlet. He rarely posted and no breaches of our mother – son contract was made. Then at 15 and around the time he took a keen interest in girls, I took a keen interest in his Facebook activity.

Then I made the fatal mistake: I commented on a photo. Why I did it, I do not know, but I did.

What did I get? Instant, brutal, ex-communication. I was unfriended. In other words, he was telling me “No”.

I confronted him about this. He very matter-of-factly told me why he had cut me off. I had ‘liked’ a picture that he had posted. It  was a great pic, but apparently not cool for his mum to like. My husband, brother, son and even my own mother remain his Facebook friend. This was a time when the child in the family was setting boundaries with the parent. He had a good teacher.

Don’t make the fatal mistake that I did, just look, smile and scroll onto the next post. 

It was the same son’s 16th birthday recently. I posted him a happy birthday and how much we loved him and how proud we are of him. Many friends commented on it sending him birthday wishes. I showed him what he was missing out by not being my Facebook friend. He just smiled at me, gave me a hug. He said: “I don’t need to be your Facebook friend because you show me this stuff anyway.”  He got me again.

My second boy is now 13 and it’s the same rule - friending his mother is part of the deal to get started on Facebook. He rarely posts and I have not yet seen anything that we have had to discuss or have words over. I have learned my lesson and keep my trigger-finger that wants to ‘like’ to myself. It will be interesting to see if I can get past him being 15 before I get unfriended again.

I will keep you posted.

* * * 

An alternative to Facebook for families is Kinfish which we wrote about here. We’ve let Caroline know too!

By the way, you can like Motherpedia on Facebook!

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