Dear Carolyn: Several months ago, I found disturbing information on Facebook pages from two grandchildren (both adults). Other family members could view them, too, so no big secrets – except to their parents, who don’t access a computer. We discussed how to tell their father, who was totally oblivious to what his kids were really like. For example, he told me “Zack” had not had a drink in over two years, while Zack was on Facebook thanking his friends for the wonderful hangover for his birthday. I printed some of the pictures and messages. Then, my husband sent the prints to our son.
Were we so wrong to make them aware of what these “kids” were putting out there for everyone to see? – Just Wondering
Yes, you were so wrong. Not in the beginning, when you told your son that, ah, Zack has indeed had drinks; that was appropriate information to pass along and you delivered it in an appropriate way.
But beyond this is where I see a boundary*, and where you and your husband put pedal to floor.
*bound·a·ry (noun): something that marks a limit or border.
First, these are not minors. Their adult misbehavior is your business only if you see imminent danger. Facebook changes nothing about this dynamic of adulthood, choices and limits except to allow publication of the results.
If there’s one thing an advice columnist can appreciate, it’s the impulse to see everything as something you can fix. Wild grandkids? Tell their parents! Their parents won’t listen? Make them listen!
But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes people choose to do things they shouldn’t. And when your grandkids chose to do and your son chose to ignore, that was your cue to recognize the limits of your ability to change them. And to apologize now, fully, for doing so.