When I comment on my daughter’s Facebook page my friends are amazed. When we share our feelings or encouragement for each other on our walls, I see comments telling Amber, my daughter, to spy on their children or relaying how sweet we are. They say their children won’t accept their friendships on social networks.
I’m somewhat amazed by this, but over the years – after talking to my own teenager daughter about her friends’ relationships with their parents – I’ve realized that my relationship with her is somewhat of an anomaly. She tells the tales of arguments, sneaking out, disobeying, disrespect and much more than I’ve experienced thus far as a parent. Honestly, I’m now concerned because I can only hope I have the same “luck” with my other three children that I had with Amber.
Make no mistake, Amber was not a perfect child or teen, but despite the raging hormones, personality changes and general maturing we’ve had our ups and downs. It just so happens, though, that we’ve maintained a very close mother/daughter relationship and – gasp! – friendship!
Why am I talking about this? Parents who have not experienced raising a teenager often inquire as to how Amber and I have remained so close. Therefore when I received an email from Kaplan about their latest Test Prep survey on social networking trends and practices among today’s teens, I had to share the results with you. Here are the results from the Kaplan’ survey, which was conducted by email by 2,313 of their test prep students who took SAT and/or ACT between June 2010 and December 2010:
- 35 percent of teens whose parents are on Facebook report they are not online friends with them. Of that group, 38 percent say the reason they are not friends is because they’ve ignored their mom or dad’s friend request.
- But even as some teens ignore their parents’ friend requests, 82 percent say that mom and dad are either “very involved” (44 percent) or “somewhat involved” (38 percent) in their academic lives.
- A different May 2010 Kaplan Test Prep survey reported that as a 56 percent of 973 high school students who have parents on Facebook say they provide them with full profile access including status updates, party photos and all. Thirty-four percent say they don’t give any access at all and 9 percent of teens give parents limited access.
One thing that was pointed out is that the Facebook relationship may not have as much to do with the parent/child relationship as one might assume. Teenagers and young adults may just want their privacy and separate lives from their parents.
My daughter isn’t one to post something crazy on FB; she doesn’t even cuss IRL (that’s in real life for all you old folk!) and she values the image she presents to people. I think that’s admirable and it makes me really proud.
So, how do you find that middle ground with your teen or young adult? If you’ve already established a strong relationship with your child that involves mutual respect and knowledge of roles and boundaries then it’s just a matter of asking or having a conversation. If that’s not the case with you then take a look at a few tips to get you started:
- Go on a date. This is strictly just a fun outing doing something the two of you like to do together. Don’t talk about any hot button topics. Just have fun.
- Keep a journal. The idea is to share a journal and pass it back and forth. You ask each other questions; discuss the topics that cause tension, etc. It’s a great way to get all of your thoughts out, ask all of your questions and be able to concentrate on the topic(s) at hand. (Yes, this is something my daughter and I have done.)
- Learn to relate. I don’t discount all of the music my daughter listens to. I don’t overly criticize the television shows she watches. I engage, discuss, focus, give feedback and often end up finding something she loves that we can both enjoy.
Here’s the nutshell: It’s a relationship and it’s work. If it wasn’t worth it it’d be easy. Now get out there and make friends.