Facebook hazardous to parents’ emotional health

I figured when my kids were grown that I would be a much calmer, less manic, gentler, non-anxious woman. Out of sight, out of mind and all that. Plus, I thought they might possibly become more self-sustaining, wise and educated – perhaps even mature. I took every opportunity to cram copious amounts of wisdom into them by the time they approached their early 20's, I reasoned. My job was somewhat – at least the challenging, hands-on part – accomplished.

Then along came Facebook.

My life as a mother of adult children has forever been altered by becoming a 'Friend' on their Facebook accounts. I am now privy to feelings, declarations, posted photos of activities, friends' comments, and various assorted and sundry revelations that I probably should not know about.

When my sons (who are band junkies) post lyrics to current songs that are seemingly indicative of their mental state, my heart pounces out of my chest. Who writes this stuff anyway? Life must be ponderous and paranoia-laden for young adults these days. These postings elicit immediate texts, voicemails (answering phones is out, texting is in) and concerned email messages from their mother, much to their chagrin.

Recently my youngest son posted on his status: "Only after disaster can we be resurrected."

WHAT?!

I am immediately concerned that my son is contemplating a recent disaster, or anticipating one. What if he is CREATING one? I leap to fearful conclusions and set in motion a flurry of motherly contact to find out what is going on in his head.

After 142 attempts, he finally answers his phone:

"Son? Hi honey, how are you?"

Yawn. Sigh. "Mmmph. Just got up. Stayed up late." Yawn.

"Oh. Is everything okay?" My voice rises a notch.

"Yeah. Why?"

"Well, I saw your status on Facebook – what is up with that anyway?" Heart rate elevates.

"MOM! Have you been reading my posts again? I am gonna block you, I swear!"

Mom, slightly miffed. "I am your mother. If something is wrong, I want to know. Why did you post that depressing thought? Are you depressed? Have you been in trouble? Had an accident?" Pause to take a breath.

"Song lyric, Mom. They are always song lyrics. You don't understand. That lyric is from a rap band."

"A RAP BAND? Drew, did you know that rap is NOT music?" I recite a few familiar objections, then tell myself to back off, that he was fine and that was what mattered.

Heavy, long-suffering, resigned sigh. "Mom, I really like rap, and I just thought those lyrics were pretty cool."

This conversation was one of the better ones, and ended well. I shouldn't Facebook and freak out. Better to wait a few hours after I read one of their more acute and angst-ridden postings before I allow motherly anxiety full sway. This would give me time to pray for patience and wisdom, which would perhaps lend itself to more self-controlled, peaceable communication. They each threaten to block me, depending on pressure exerted by my escalating emotions at the time.

I am wiser now, and less apt to accost them with hysterics. At all costs, I do not want them to block me. I remember tip-toeing into their bedrooms in their adolescent years and sneaking a peak at their private stash of information. I unabashedly snooped at every opportunity, being the vigilant and over-protective parent that I am. Was. Whatever.

I have decided to adopt a new approach. I will pretend to have little interest in their Facebook activities, and drop hints that I am becoming bored with this site. I can visualize all four of them taking deep, collective sighs of relief. I will continue, however, to slyly and regularly read their Facebook postings, digest the information, and internalize it for future utilization at the appropriate time.

But this is the thing – I am hands-on and pro-actively mothering much longer than necessary and it is wearing me out. Facebook might want to incorporate parental "Friending" controls that would whitewash post-age-18 Facebook comments with replacement phrases like "I intend to finish college" and "I aced that exam" and "Cigarettes? Alcohol? Never touch the stuff."

Sometimes – especially when Facebook and my stress level are involved – ignorance is bliss.

Kerry Peresta is a mother of four adult children, a syndicated humor columnist and a career marketing professional. She and her husband live in Ft. Pierre, SD. Visit Kerry at www.emptynesting.webs.com for more information.

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