My parents divorced when I was 13. I don’t envy the situation that my mother found herself in much, but I do envy that she never had to deal with social media. Spend any time in a mom’s group for divorced women and the topic is sure to come up.
From moms upset that the new wife is sharing pictures of their kids online to seeing the “other woman” holding our grandchildren, social media now allows us access to the lives of men we’ve divorced more than during any other time. Some divorced women advocate blocking them entirely while others say that you should try to take the high road.
I say do whatever is best for your mental health. If it’s hurtful to see pictures representing a lie, block and move on. If you feel like you’re being stalked by an ex online, block him and his family. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for the steps you take to heal after divorce, assuming that they are healthy.
Beyond your own healing, and after the heat of divorce has cooled, social media can become an issue as each former partner moves on with their lives. And nowhere more so than when children are involved.
What if the two co-parents have different views on social media? I’ve always been active online. The majority of my family and friends live in different states or countries, and I view social media as a great tool to keep in touch. But this hasn’t always gone over well.
There aren’t any easy answers to social media, the ex, and your children post-divorce, in my opinion. Just guidelines based on respect, kindness, and common sense.
Like other moms, I’ve heard complaints that I share too much, or that it’s somehow dangerous to bond with other single moms online. Often, these complaints smack of hypocrisy when you look at an ex-husband or new wife’s social media feed. The other parent may try to police your social media usage and end up borderline stalking you.
Ultimately, unless you put it in your parenting plan, social media usage isn’t really up to the other parent. I’m careful to disable geotagging and everything I post is a “latergram” i.e., if I’m posting a picture of my son and I at a park, we were really there two days ago. I lock some, but not all, of my social media to private.
Depending on your co-parenting relationship with your ex, you can try to address their concerns respectfully by explaining the safety measures you take. Or, not. Sadly, some exes view children as merely a way to continue to control the person who left. They will not be reasonable and abusive exes think that if you do anything they don’t like it’s automatically the wrong thing to do.
In those instances, you don’t owe them an explanation though you may choose to give one if it doesn’t bother you. And you’re not required to conform to their standards on how social media should be used. My son loves looking at pictures of his cousins on Facebook, and tells me to share pics of his dog with them. It maintains his connection to them even though they live thousands of miles away. I fail to see any drawbacks to that.
What about etiquette? The rules around social media have been evolving as it has gained prominence in our lives, but I think basic respect still applies. My policy is to ask other parents if I can post pictures of their children playing with mine on social media. If the answer is “no,” I don’t. I try to avoid having strangers or children that I don’t personally know in the background of any pictures I post publicly.
I also don’t think it’s acceptable to post shaming or embarrassing pictures of my child. Now, views on what constitutes a shaming versus a funny picture vary, but I abide by my own ethics in this area. I don’t post any pictures of him online that my son might be angry or upset about finding when he’s an adult.
There aren’t any easy answers to social media, the ex, and your children post-divorce, in my opinion. Just guidelines based on respect, kindness, and common sense. I’ve made my mistakes online, and have learned from them. In that way, social media truly is a microcosm of life. It’s a place to learn, grow, and heal.
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