There are a lot of positives of being a Facebook Friend with your Grandchildren
It helps you keep in touch, especially if they live far away from you: interstate, overseas or in the country. It is amazing how far just a little “Like” click on one of their posts will go, in letting them know you are thinking of them.
Rather than being a way of spying on them, it’s an unobtrusive way of reaching out and saying “Hello”. If their post triggers a comment from you, it is important to do two things:
- Read all the other comments BEFORE you say anything. Remember all their friends will see what you have said.
- Make sure the topic is appropriate for a public comment from a Grandparent. Their public Facebook page is NO PLACE to be airing any family “dirty linen” or to be chastising them where their friends will see it.
Being able to see their photos, as a friend, will let you share much more of their life and activities and it’s here you can often make a loving and encouraging comment. Stories about getting a new job, an award, winning a prize are perfect for congratulating them and sharing their happiness.
On the other hand, it is usually not appropriate to share their photos on your personal page – with all your friends. Given your age differences, it is likely you will have a completely different circle of friends with whom your Grandchildren would never think of sharing their own photos.
It also works in reverse. Nothing will touch your heart more than having a grandchild you haven’t seen for a while reach out through Facebook and Like one of your posts. If it is highly personal, it means even more. Sometimes, we forget that when we post on Facebook (or Twitter and other online networks) that people we don’t even know will see what we have said – by being a friend of a friend.
Another positive of being a friend of a Grandchild on Facebook is that you can skip the generation of their parents – and make your own relationship with the child alone. This is wonderful where there has been a breakdown of relationships between adults – especially in blended families – and the children are somehow being caught up in the angst of their parents.
There is many an exiled grandparent who has been able to use Facebook to create a loving relationship with absent grandchildren, within bounds.
If there is something happening that concerns you deeply, you can message them privately and ask about it. Politely and with love; never in a critical way. It would be surprising if they responded rudely or aggressively to you, since they know no one else will see your question or concern and that you have respected their privacy.
There can be disadvantages as well, of course.
Not all your grandchildren may welcome you or care to know that you can hop onto Facebook at anytime and check out what they are doing. Their personal interests may be very different to yours; the language that younger people sometimes use on Facebook may shock you and you may not want to have all THEIR posts shared with your friends. It’s easily managed, by hiding most or all of their posts.
You need to exercise discretion and not aggravate any existing family disputes – so, don’t take sides ON LINE. If they want to talk to you about an issue, make sure you do it with them privately, whether it is face-to-face, by telephone or email.
Be someone your Grandchildren would want to have as a friend. You will be amazed at how generous and loving they can be.
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(c) Lesley Dewar 2012