25 Apr
I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I found out that my 15 year old daughter has a girlfriend. I can’t let her know, because to do so would give away that I was reading her tumblr, and that’s sort of like reading a diary.

So I’m pretty cool with it all… I’m not going all psycho “Oh no, is my daughter really gay? My life is over!” melodramatic or anything. (I honestly think she’s just in an experimental stage, and even if she’s not, I’m not freaking out. She is what she is, and I happen to think she’s really awesome.)

The problem is this: her girlfriend also has a tumblr and posted a photo of herself kissing my daughter. She also talked about her beautiful girlfriend using my daughter’s real first name. So there are photos of my daughter kissing “Beth”, along with my daughter’s first name on “Beth’s”tumblr.

A tumblr is totally public. Anyone can see it, and follow their way from one to another like I did. I am worried about someone from their school finding it and potentially making her life difficult, but I can’t really discuss it with her without letting her know I was cyber-stalking her. Help!

Signed,

Troubled by Tumblr

______________________________________________

Dear Troubled,

First things first: I’m thoroughly relieved to see that you are approaching this situation with an open mind, love, and acceptance. Without those ingredients your task would be even more daunting and problematic. (As if dealing with a teenager of any kind isn’t daunting and problematic enough to begin with.)

That said, I think you have answered your own question here. Her tumblr account is public, right? So, why should you feel ashamed that you TUMBLED upon it? (See what I did there?) This can actually be a really great teachable moment for her when it comes to online privacy and safety. For us parents, it’s easier to see the dangers of the online world, but for our kids, who have grown up entrenched in the culture, it can be more challenging to gain that perspective.

But before you proceed with a plan, I think there’s one question you need to ask for yourself: is it really her online safety that you are concerned with? Or do you feel that you need to reconnect with your daughter in light of this new information? Maybe it’s a bit of both? Because I think the answer to that will dictate your next course of action.

My worry is that there is the potential of distancing your daughter if she feels judged or manipulated. In other words, if she is self-conscious about her sexuality, we don’t want her to think that you are using “online safety” as a front for discouraging her homosexual PDA.

You know your daughter better than  I do, so you will be the best predictor of how this discussion might go. If you still feel uncomfortable, or simply want some support through the process, don’t hesitate to seek out a family therapist for some further guidance on the issue. They may even have some insight on this generation’s need to ELIMINATE VOWELS FROM WORDS WITH WILD ABANDON.

Ahem.

Keep us posted,

Kristine, TMH

 

7 Responses to “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”

04.25.12#1

Comment by Happy.Baker.

One other thing to consider, and to bring up with your daughter, is the fact that pictures of her kissing another girl could be seen as sexual, and because she’s a minor, she could easily become fodder for a lot of illegal internet perversion. I’d hate to think of some sleaze gettin’ his jollies on photos like that.

I have to agree with Kristine. Tumblr is public, and so it’s not like reading a diary. These are thoughts and words she’s putting out as publicly as if she wrote them on a sidewalk. You are in no position to be accused of invading her privacy. And frankly, even if you had, I think you’re entitled to invade the privacy of your children when it comes to things like the internet.

Anyway, kudos to you for your very openminded approach. I hope it all goes well. 🙂

04.25.12#2

Comment by Plano Mom.

And now there’s three that agree – anything posted on the Internet is free game. You didn’t hack into any accounts, so there’s no real trust issue here, except perhaps that she has to come out to you before she was prepared to do so. It is possible she hasn’t told you because she’s not entirely sure of the relationship yet. I know even with my kids hetero relationships, it takes some time before they’re ready to bring them home to the parents.

04.25.12#3

Comment by btdt mom.

My son came out when he was a young teen. His dad and I had a very good idea he was gay but it was still a shocking experience. Nobody wants their child to be different and ostracized (which is exactly what my child was going through).
So I completely understand the worry about anti-gay discrimination and bullying.

In our case, we made it a point to express gay-accepting messages in casual conversation, to express outrage at anti-gay news stories, etc, in the hopes that our son would feel more comfortable telling us. We are and have long been pro-gay. I can tell you, though, he still feared he was disappointing us. It was heartbreaking to think about him carrying around that burden. I had to tell him and have had to repeat it many times that whatever disapproval he thinks he hears in my voice it is not disapproval – it is fear for his well being. I want him to be safe and to be accepted.

I’ve gotten some information about my kids’ “private lives” via their social networking sites. What I usually do is bring up the subject somehow and not mention how I learned it. The key is to express acceptance and to feel acceptance. Teens can spot ambivalence a mile away. So approach only when you’ve cleared your conscience of anti-gay bias. Assuming it is an experimental phase hints of this. But I do think it’s true that girls are more likely to experiment sexually. Or, at least, they’re more likely to let others know about it. It is considered sexy by the boys, afterall.

You might try encouraging your daughter to talk more about “Beth.” See what your daughter is willing to tell you. She might be waiting for the right opportunity. If I got nowhere from those attempts I’d probably wait and see or I might say I tumbled onto her tumblr.

I also would be wondering if my daughter was ok with “Beth” posting their PDA pictures, i.e., is Beth respecting your daughter’s desired level of privacy?

Good luck. It’s been quite a challenging journey for our family but highly rewarding to know that he knows we are on his side.

Kristine Reply:

Wow, this is some great insight. Thanks for sharing!

04.25.12#4

Comment by Troubled.

I really appreciate those who have weighed in with their opinions. I’m still at the wait-and-see point, considering what might be the best perspective. All of your comments help me think through this, and I especially appreciate the insights offered by btdt mom.

Thank you.

04.26.12#5

Comment by Scratch the hostile fay.

I’d get the daughter and the other girl together and start off with, “Yeah, I kinda came across your site the other day…..don’t worry, I don’t have a problem with you two dating! *But*….for your safety, you *may* not want to post pics of yourselves, or your real names, at least till you’re a bit older and don’t have to worry *quite* so much about your peers giving you a hard time…”

Just my opinion, I think it’s great you’re so understanding of the whole thing.

Scratch (who thinks NC’s “Amendment One” is the most retarded thing EVAH to come up)

05.02.12#6

Comment by Lisa.

I get that you are worried about kids’ reaction, but do you really think they don’t know? It’s on Tumblr.

I don’t think you can bring up your concern without making her feel bad about who she *is*. This isn’t about warning her about posting stupid words or actions and those coming back to haunt her. This is saying, “you should consider hiding who you are because it will be easier.” trust me, she gets that message elsewhere. Be the safe haven for her. Be the voice of “be who you are and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it.”. Do you really want to encourage your child to be afraid of others opinions as opposed to courageous?

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