Like may children of divorce, my kids live in a world that’s split in two. Half of their lives they spend with me, and the other half they’re with their Mom. When we started this dual-house world, my ex and I sat down and tried to normalize our households, including bedtimes, expectations of chores, allowances, and similar. It kind of worked, but as the years have passed we have each moved into our own parenting spaces and I really have no idea what time the kids go to bed at her house and it’s clear we have different rules about media usage (TV, computers, etc) as well as mobile devices, etc. Honestly, that’s fine and it’d be awful difficult to keep in sync throughout the years as the children change into different developmental stages and need different things — and structure — from their mother and father.
Nonetheless, it was with some surprise that I learned that my 8yo daughter now has her own Instagram account. Even more surprisingly, she was asking me last week if she could be on Facebook. Facebook? Why would she be need to be on Facebook? I mean, independent of the fact that the Terms of Service prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from using the site, that is. I, of course, nixed the idea and said “when you’re 13, let’s talk.”
When I looked more closely at K-‘s Instagram account, I realized that while she only had a few followers, one of them is her newly minted Stepfather.
What the deuce?
This means that not only does he — and presumably my ex — know about K- being on Instagram, but he’s offering up tacit approval of her being involved with a social network by following her, and tacit endorsement of her having an online presence. At eight. While we collectively spend a ton of money to send the children to a Waldorf-inspired school that has as one of its precepts the reduction or elimination of media in young children’s lives.
Part of me wants to ask what’s going on, but that then steps into the awkward territory of judging her approach to parenting, and being critical of each other’s parenting is something that we have agreed not to do after many difficult conversations and hurt feelings.
This isn’t an Instagram problem, however, this is a general post-divorce parenting dilemma, and I hear it all the time — and I do mean all the time — from other divorced parents: What do you do when you disapprove of something your ex is doing?
I know, the best answer is “shut up and cope, as long as it doesn’t endanger their lives”. But it sure doesn’t feel right in this instance…
If you’re reading this, you’re likely a divorced parent too. What’s your approach to this sort of situation? What would you do?