Facebook was all fun, games and baby milestone humblebrags until the kids went and got older. Now the star of your profile pic is in school, possibly even having her own Facebook, and matters of friending have gotten complicated. Her friends are sending you requests. Or members of the PTA want to streamline communication through a Facebook group. You like your kid's new teacher—wouldn't it be fun to (virtually) hang out?
Stop right there, says Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix. While friending people from your real life seems harmless, you need to consider the amount and type of information you really want to share (or have shared with you).
Over at CNN, Bonior writes that there are a few relationships in parents' lives that would do better to be less, not more, social. We've listed Bonior's don'ts, and added many of our own.
Sometimes social media is just a little too social.
Friending a teacher can get weird, especially if school issues arise. Bonior worries the teacher might feel you're asking for special treatment. I think you're setting yourself up for tension, especially if you're an impulsive complainer.
Bonior's just being realistic when she says your angelic babysitter might have a more fun, less child-focused, side. Are you ready to know all of that?
You won't get free medical advice. And Facebook's not where you want to be chatting with the doc. Save communication for office visits.
Former Romantic Partners
Bonior says you need to ask yourself why—what's your real agenda—in accepting a friend request from your college ex. Only in very rare circumstances is an online relationship with an ex not an affront to your current life partner.
Why would they want to be friends with me anyway?
Your Ex, the Father/Mother of Your Child
Unless you're exceptionally kind and understanding co-parents, Facebook is a hotbed of grievances about custody battles and past relationship mistakes. Why give your ex access to that kind of information? Your attorney will thank me for warning you.
Your Kids' Friends
My policy, just to make it easy for me, is to not "friend" anyone under 18 years old. I have a filthy mouth, and I write and share things that may not be appropriate for the underage viewing audience. I don't want to feel like I have to censor myself. It's OK to have a separate world from my (and other people's) kids. Why would they want to be friends with me, anyway?
I might change my mind once my oldest gets on Facebook (if she gets on Facebook), but right now I don't want to share with her everything that I share with adults. Again, reserving my right to change my mind.
Parents From School You Don't Know Very Well
I see this all the time: parents ranting about a friend of their kid. Surely, this has backfired more than once.
She double-parks. She's always late. She makes everything about her. Every status update is going to drive you nuts, especially when she posts her six-figure gut-and-remodel. Save yourself the agony, and do not give her the audience.
Your Favorite Mayonnaise Brand
This has nothing to do with parenting, or responsibly using social media. It's just something I can't wrap my mind around. Why do people friend mayonnaise?