Every couple of weeks I send a Facebook friend request to the 16-year old. I just now sent another one.
Me: Hey, did you get my friend request?
Him: I don’t know.
Me: I sent you another friend request.
Him: I know.
Facebook is an online networking group originally for college students, and then high-school students, to keep in touch. You create a personal page and can send out electronic “friend” requests. “Friends” can send messages, post photos and videos, and add new friends. All from the comfort of your own computer. In 2006, they opened up the floodgates and let even old geezers like me in. That’s the problem.
The Post today has front page (don’t ask me why) story on “When Mom or Dad Asks to Be a Facebook Friend.” And kids, here is the right answer.
JUST SAY NO!
Of course, I am stalking the 16-year old to be my “friend.” I’m the parent, that’s what I do. But frankly, he should be able to exchange pleasantries–and not so pleasantries–with his peers. And, I AM NOT HIS PEER.
I don’t want to be a peer. My role in this show is to be the parent. Part of him growing up means that I don’t get to know everything. I don’t need to know that there is a group “Get Guy Laid.” Really, I don’t need to know. And he needs a modicum of privacy.
Okay, I know why we want to know. We want to protect our kids. And wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them germ free. But I also know that that is no way to grow up. The path to adulthood is fraught with danger. That path has got to be traveled, and decisions on which turn to take have to be made by the traveler. Otherwise they can’t become adults.
That’s really the point of parenthood. We take our precious babes and help them to grow up and leave us behind. From a 7 pound eating-pooping machine to a 6-footer able to make good decisions when he comes home to a broken pipe in the basement. And hopefully when confronted with even harder choices, too.
We succeed when they are successfully independent. Not if they have no bruises. Not if they don’t make mistakes. Not if they don’t take risks.
By the time they are rejecting our Facebook friend requests, they are working from whatever we gave them. Not like we don’t matter anymore, but they are applying the lessons we gave to the ever widening world they live in in high school and in college. We don’t need to spy. There are other ways to know your kid.
So yes, I will continue to bug the 16-year old about being my friend. He has 289 to my paltry 19. But I don’t need him to be my friend. He is already my son.
And good for me that he doesn’t read this. Otherwise, he would never take me seriously.