Being Facebook Friends with your Grandchildren has a lot of positives. Personally, I believe it is a good idea, especially in blended families. It is a question which will get a lot of different answers, depending on family relationships and locations.
First of all, 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 goes, to let 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”.
You need to observe the rules, though. Because of the difference in friend groups, and age, there’s a risk their friends will not want a grandparent entering into their conversations.
Resist the urge to comment too quickly.
If you see one of their posts in your timeline, which triggers an urge for you to quickly leave a comment, it is important to do two things, first:
- Read all the other comments in the same thread or similar time frame BEFORE you say anything. Remember many of their friends will see what you have said. Get context!
- 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. ”Never chastise them where their friends will see it, unless it’s something beyond the pale.
- If their post is clearly meant to be directed at a specific friend of their own, rather than their whole “friend universe” – say NOTHING. When we get involved in an ongoing discussion on Facebook, it’s easy to forget this is not actually a totally private chat. After a few posts, you get drawn into the stream of comments, and start chatting to that one specific person.
Sharing their photos is done at your peril
Here, we are chatting about grandchildren who are of an age to have their own Facebook page, and grow their own list of Facebook friends.
We are all familiar with the grandparent who shares dozen of photos of their grandchildren, doing all kinds of cute and cuddly things. Or with plates of spaghetti on their heads. OMG! Karma will get them for that.
Don’t share their photos on your personal page, with your friends, unless they are of a general nature. Given your age differences, you will have a circle of friends with whom your Grandchildren would never think to share their photos.
On the other hand, seeing their photos lets you share much of their life and activities. Far more than you will ever get at the occasional family BBQ, or Christmas party. It’s here where you can leave 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. Commiserations, too, when they need them. Sometimes, knowing you are there can be a great comfort.
It also works in reverse. Nothing touches 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.
Skip the grumpy parents and be friends with the grandchildren
One huge positive of being friends with Grandchildren on Facebook is you can skip the generation of their parents. 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. The children need to avoid 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. They know no one else will see your question or concern, and you have respected their privacy.
There can be disadvantages as well, of course.
It’s likely not every grandchild will welcome you, or care to know that you can hop onto Facebook anytime and check out what they are doing.
Their personal interests will be very different to yours. The language that younger people sometimes use on Facebook may shock you, and you won’t want all THEIR posts shared with your friends.
It can be easily managed, by hiding most of their posts, if necessary. You can keep them as a friend but not follow them. It’s simply a matter of adjusting your settings, while keeping them as a Facebook friend.
Exercise Discretion and Avoid Family Disputes
Exercise discretion and do not aggravate any existing family disputes. Never 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.
It’s not unknown for the parent to be blocked, while you remain friends with your grandchild, which leads to some funny looking one-sided conversations.
If you see they have commented on the timeline of someone you don’t personally know, it’s not likely to be appropriate for you to comment there, as well.
Keep your own Facebook timeline full and interesting to your Grandchildren.
Are you someone your Grandchildren wants as a friend? Be interesting, and positive. Rather than complaining about life, be encouraging and uplifting.
Talk about new things and be open to new ideas. Don’t always be talking about “when I was your age” unless it’s in a positive way.
Share uplifting and positive quotes and images about grandchildren on your Facebook page, to reinforce your love of them.
You will be amazed at how generous and loving they can be, in return.
Above all: love them with an open heart.
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(c) Lesley Dewar
Jennifer Worrell says
As a stepparent I totally appreciate and agree with what you’ve said here, particularly the part about discretion. Excellent perspective!
Lesley Dewar says
Thank you Jennifer. Yes, I have seen a few posts from grandsons which have rocked my socks. But, they have to live their own lives. Behind the scenes we have had a few quiet chats, and as they mature, we have gotten much closer. I certainly advise it as a strategy.
Maribeth Alexander says
Thanks for your insight into this. I have a 21 year old granddaughter, college senior, who decided to argue with me, her dad, and others on Facebook during the election cycle, and even now. Her political and life views, at this stage of her life, are in stark contrast to the rest of her family. With that said, I had to make a decision to ignore her posts in order to “keep peace” in the family. We are still friends on FB, being family is more important:)
Lesley Dewar says
Thanks for your positive comment, Maribeth. I agree keeping the peace is very important, and through Facebook we can continue to share posts, photos, and family events to keep the door open.
The politics of this last election in the US have been very divisive, and I think will continue to be so for many years, as people who voted for Trump become disillusioned with his outcomes, but will find it hard to retreat from their earlier views. It has cut deeply into my relationships with some friends in the US, too. Which is sad. Very sad.
I hope you and your granddaughter find lots of other mutual ground on which to relate.