It’s safe to say that the trials and travails of day-to-day family life can often bring difficulties, especially when children are involved.
Indeed, even the happiest of families can have their fractious and challenging moments. For many families who are dealing with the issues of being separated, however, these difficulties sadly are all too ready to come to the fore.
And, regrettably, this is being compounded by social media. As social media becomes an all consuming part of many people’s lives, it’s easy to see why it can cause so much frustration and fan the flames of upsetting flare ups.
Picture the scene; a family have separated and the mother and father have both met new partners. The parents enjoy a split residence of the child as part of an agreement they drew up. At the moment, things seem amicable. However, as the current lifestyle norm is post – or record - on whatever we are doing on social media channels (such as posting photos, videos and content), this seemingly innocuous occurrence can quickly descend into an argument.
The reasoning for this takes the form of good old fashioned envy.
As is the case with most separated families, one parent has residence of the child throughout the week, and if they have work and/or the child has obligations, there is going to be much less for them to post on social media.
However, the parent who has the child during the weekend has much more free time with them and can visit the cinema, go to the park or go out and have fun in other ways – all of which make great and eye-catching posts on social media.
This is what leads to conflict; one parent feels that the other parent is ‘point-scoring’ by showing how much fun the child has when they are with them, versus how little fun they have with the other parent.
If there are step parents involved, the potential trigger points can be more pronounced – one parent taking umbrage at photos of their child having fun with their step parent whereas there are fewer posts of them on trips out, playing games and such like.
So, to help navigate this, we’ve put together five tips on how to avoid social media conflict. These are not exhaustive, they are not legally binding and they are not a cure all. However, if you follow these tips then you are working to the best of your ability to ensure positivity in your relationship with your former partner for the benefit of the child involved.
- 1) Think before you post – it’s easy to just post instantaneously, however that doesn’t mean you should. Think about what you’re posting, right down to the words and take a second to think as to whether the wording would cause some conflict.
- 2) Who have you tagged? – Have you tagged anyone in the photo? If tagging family members, it can often be beneficial to tag the other parent as a way of involving them in the post.
- 3) Do you share? Similar to the tip above, it’s worth sharing photos of the other parent and the child when they have a ‘fun day’ to show support for your child and their other parent.
- 4) Are you commenting? If you’re commenting on the posts of the other parent, ensure it’s in a civil manner and that the comments don’t cast any aspersions.
- 5) Should I unfriend? It’s difficult to decide whether to unfriend someone, especially after a relationship ends. However, it’s easy to set up your Facebook account so that all posts except ones involving the child are not visible to the other parent. This way, you can still keep some privacy, share photos of the child and stay away from any conflict that may arise from ‘unfriending’ someone on social media.
Do you need help? Gibson Kerr specialises in family law, divorce, separation, child contact and residence, prenuptial agreements and separation agreements.
To get in touch with our expert team call us on the number listed below.