If you haven’t learned about the power that social media yields, for both good and evil, then take a moment to consider the following:
- Has the combo of margaritas and tweeting ever served you well?
- Do you ever feel anything other than a little bit creepy (and terribly fearful about accidently clicking ‘like’) when stalking your ex’s new girlfriend?
- Have you ever woken up after a big night out without being just a bit nervous as you check FB for an account of what went down?
If you are answering no to any of these questions, and are in the early period of blending a family, now is probably not the right time to say yes to a Facebook friend request from your partner’s ex and mother of his children. Here are some reasons why:
There are plenty of other ways to keep in touch
You may feel that this is a heart-warming way to share snippets of your blended family life, to ensure that no one misses out of those fleeting moments of family blessedness that occur at random and pretty much don’t exist unless they are captured on social media. However there are many other ways to preserve these moments rather than opening the current status and entire back catalogue of your life up to someone whose only tenuous connection to you is that they bore your partner’s child.
By all means capture the pics on your phone, but a perfectly legit alternative method of transmission is old-fashioned email or text message. Preferably originating from your husband.
You may be poking the bear of jealousy
Nothing will tear at a bio-mama’s heartstrings like their flesh and blood child cavorting happily through Disney-esque experiences with someone that they might consider masquerading as an alternative female parent. Regardless of the fact that you are very unlikely to have had any input into any boundary-setting, you will become automatically complicit in allowing their child to scarf down fairy floss, get involved in spinny rides and cart home showbags which will only serve to perpetuate their intake of trans-fats for days to come.
These are things that the bio-mama would perhaps never personally allow. If so, this will engender an immediate conspiracy theory that you are slowly drawing their child over to a place where they would rather your company than hers.
You probably don’t need to invite a critique of your lifestyle
Your current lifestyle might be terribly bland by comparison to your 20s (and you might just be terribly relieved that social media wasn’t around then to capture it for posterity) but there will still be fodder that you wouldn’t want set forth as evidence of any shortcomings of yours as a parent.
For example, there is tremendous potential for an otherwise innocuous gathering of your besties over sparkling wine, tiaras and customised cupcakes at a live screening of a royal wedding to be misconstrued as a gathering of a coven of closet alcoholics using a monarchist rite of passage as cover for hedonistic overindulgence and immature disregard for healthy liver function.
As unlikely as it may seem, your stepchild’s mother may be a staunch Republican who believes that NO GOOD can come from you fully believing in, and potentially instilling princessy happy-every-afters into her daughter’s malleable psyche.
You may also think that you were lightning-swift in deleting that post of you and your posse indulging in what you all now agree were regrettable end-of-evening Tequila shots to mark the liberation of your pal from a lengthy and complicated divorce. What you must know is that these pics will land in the hands of the family court as legally discoverable proof of your inability to be appropriately respectful at the dissolution of a marriage and mature in your approach to consumption of concentrated white spirits. Neither of these matters bode well if you find yourself a party to the pursuit of a more aggressive custody arrangement.
There’s no easy way to backtrack
We’ve all been in those situations where an overly hasty acceptance of a friend request has proved to be a mistake. Given that online dating gifted us with the concept of ghosting, it is now ridiculously simple and socially acceptable to unfriend, block, delete and ignore all forms of digital communication without even resorting to an apprehended violence order. This is perfectly fine when it comes to someone with whom you were a little swipe-right-happy and in the cold light of day is revealed to be a bad choice. You can disappear into the interwebs like you never existed. They can open up Tinder again and move right along. Everybody wins.
It’s exponentially harder to apply ghosting principles to someone who is sharing a child with your significant other and will continue doing so. Pretty much forever. There are far too many clicks involved to claim you did it accidently and far too many shared drop-off events for you to try to explain it away.
Far easier to ignore the friend request, whilst airily claiming that you simply ‘don’t do social media’ – whilst immediately doing a serious double-check of your privacy settings.