Note From Keri Lyn ~ I just wanted to mention how thrilled I am to have Eileen guest posting this series on the blog! Eileen has been a dear friend for several years. She is an amazing mom and honestly THE very funnest person to visit Disneyland with. I love her passion for protecting our kids and families in social media and I am SO thrilled to have her sharing her expertise here weekly with all of us!
This post is the fourth in this series. Make sure to read Eileen’s other posts: How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Media and Questions to Help Start Social Media Conversations with Your Kids.
With that, I introduce to you my friend Eileen:
“Help!! I need your advice.”
I received this message from a parent who took my Parenting Kids on Social Media class years ago. I tell my former students I’m available to help them with any questions they may have in the future. Social Media is a river that never stops flowing. I say “you never step in the same Social Media River twice” so just because our class time together is over, I still I want to keep conversations happening if parents need it.
Well, in the spring of this year, this parent needed it. Social Media drama happens to a lot of parents so I wanted to share our communications with all of you (I changed names to keep things private):
“Help!! I need your advice. [My daughter] posted two pictures on Instagram with a little caption. I received a call from one of [her] friend’s mothers. She said that that post was so selfish and really hurt her daughter’s feelings because she [had a different feeling about the event they attended together.]
I told her that [my daughter] was sharing a fun evening and did not mean to hurt anybody’s feelings.
What do you think about this?”
Hmmmmmmmm. There’s a lot of layers here. The first two layers seemed are obvious: First, the daughter’s feelings were hurt from a post. Second, the mom is talking to another mom about this instead of helping her daughter to take care of communications for herself. Then things get muddy. And the drama unfolds in the mud.
I started wondering these different things:
What sort of friendship do these two girls have? Really close, good friends or not too connected?
Are the moms friends as well?
Has there already been problems in the friendship before this happened?
What’s the history here? And, of course, what did this post look like?!?!
In these sorts of situations, I want to have as much information about both sides as possible. This helps determine where the drama originates from. Sometimes it’s from two kids, other times one is feeding it. Parents can add to Social Media drama as well.
Before I could answer back with my questions, this next message came through:
“This mom is constantly trying to fix all of her daughter’s issues. She does this with many of the other mothers and daughters.
And the daughter is the type of teen who is constantly checking instagram & snapchat. She has to know what everybody is doing at all times. I told her mom that she might want to take a break from social media if she is getting her feelings hurt.”
Okay. Now I was getting a bigger picture here. This sounds like a difficult conversation for both moms involved. One has a daughter with hurt feelings, the other knows her daughter didn’t mean any harm from the post. (For the record, I saw the post and I couldn’t see any places for hidden meaning. It was straightforward, and not intending to be snarky or unkind.)
I started to answer and my answer got longer and longer and longer!
Here’s an edited version of my response to my former student. I hope this helps parents sort out what to do when kids start feeding into the drama that can happen sooooooo easily with social media.
“In this situation it sounds like an explanation from your daughter to her friend that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone by the post or comment could help.
Keep the conversation happening in person between the two girls involved so the mom can’t come back to it and stew on it. Your daughter can apologize for any piece that she’s truly sorry for (sorry for a misunderstanding about the post ~she didn’t mean anything by it) then listen as the friend explains her feelings and be empathetic in that way for her.
Don’t change the post at all on social media. Leave it as is.
Take the time to talk with your daughter about the bigger lessons here:
- Posting photos of others online can backfire, especially when people with sensitive feelings are in the photos.
- It may be a good idea to have a conversation with your daughter about why people post things. Checking yourself to be sure you’re posting out of a desire to help or use your powers for good keeps a positive focus.
- Using social media for hurtful means and using it to shame or give slight digs to others or be boastful makes you look bad. (I’m not saying that’s the case here, but using this as a talking point isn’t a bad idea.)
- Help kids to realize the phone and social media are not the boss of you. You’re the boss of you and your feelings. If social media is getting too difficult to deal with move away from that sliver-thin, fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand device and bring your eyes up to the great, big, REAL world.
- Defining yourself by that phone and what people say on it takes away so many ways to figure out who you truly are for yourself.
For some teens, none of this is easy and it needs to be taught and discussed repeatedly.”
I took a break from answering and tried to walk in the shoes of the mom who shared the news of her daughter’s hurt feelings. I feel so much empathy for her. She’s desperately trying to help her daughter feel better and of course she is! Our kids are our focus and devotion. It’s so difficult when we can’t keep holding all the water in our two hands and it just keeps slipping through our fingers. We’re all just doing our best, right?
Then I continued with my answer to the mom seeking my advice:
“You could talk about someday she may, in turn, be hurt by something on social media. Ask your daughter these questions:
- How does she want you to help and handle it if this happens for her in the future?
- How can you support her? Be a good listener? Talk to other people involved?
- Do your ideas of “helping” match up with each other?
Helping or coaching our kids to give them the power to deal with things on their own is drastically different from getting into the fray and doing the work for them.
How do you and your kids define the line between help and support and being too involved?
And then just go out and get ice cream and walk on the beach and talk about the beauty of our planet and our gift of being here and enjoying the life we’re given.”
So there you go. That was my answer. This online conversation took about forty-five minutes and then we visited this situation again after a while to see how things got ironed out. Our conversation really helped my former student and I hope this helps you figure out how to help your kids when feelings get hurt or drama happens on social media.
Have a topic you want me to cover or have a question about a situation? Let me know and I’ll be happy to cover it. Keep being terrific, savvy parents and thank you Keri Lyn!
Connect with Eileen
If you are looking to learn more about and to stay up to date on the latest social media happenings and trends, especially where kids are concerned, then I highly encourage you to follow Eileen on social media!