‘Fakebooking’ parents, and why I’m okay with that

I’ve read the debate about parents and “Fakebooking,” or only presenting your best side to your social media network. Parents have been accused of hiding the tantrums and the sticky floors in favor of the happy, smiling children-who-say-the-darnedest-things. I’m guilty, I guess.

I’m okay with that, and here’s why. I’m not trying to present the illusion that I have my act together, as a mom or anything else. I assure you, I don’t. With a child with special needs, though, it’s more important to me to celebrate his victories than publicize his struggles. And who doesn’t cringe when they stumble across someone’s very personal rant about their husband or child? It’s tacky.

I also have to bear in mind that my kids don’t get a vote in what I’m saying about them. Even with privacy settings, once I’ve posted something, it’s out there for all time. I’m more likely to write about an epic battle with my daughter over clothes, though, than about challenges with my son.

One situation is a universal struggle that all parents have, and a hallmark of girl drama in a typically developing child. The other is more personal, and private, and could further stigmatize a child who already draws attention because he’s a little different.

I see the looks from other parents: the puzzled, pitying, thank-goodness-it’s-not-me glances. The ones that say “I feel sorry for you and your kid.” I hate those looks.

Those parents don’t realize that for every meltdown my son has had in a public place, he’s had 10 victories that make my heart sing. He’s an awesome, sweet, funny guy who may not fit the mold of what people generally think a fourth-grade boy should be. But that doesn’t make him any less amazing.

So when I post on Facebook about him, it’s about how he conquered riding a two-wheel bike. Or how he flipped his canoe on a summer camp field trip last month, and thought that was the best ad­ven­ture ever. Or the goofy joke he made up the other night (What’s a toe’s favorite food? Toast).

It’s my way of saying, “Sure, you’ve heard all of these difficulties that kids with developmental disabilities have. But look at what my child CAN do. And see how much of it is just like what any other 9-year-old boy does.”

Does that mean I’m presenting to the world a carefully edited, sanitized version of life with a kid with special needs? Maybe.

In a few short years, though, my son will have access to Facebook, and I hope he includes me in his web of friends. When he scrolls back through my posts, I want him to know that I think he can do anything. That I always have, and I always will. That for me, the successes always trumped the difficulties by a long mile.

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