Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dear Amy:

Our daughter is a 19-year-old student living in our home. She gets good grades and doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs. We couldn't be more proud of her. However, I recently discovered that her Facebook page has several photos of her posing in a swimsuit that are not exactly in good taste. They're not terrible, just a little disturbing. She is quite good-looking, and the photos make her look self-centered and conceited, and perhaps send the wrong message.

I feel that, as her mother, I can still have some influence on the way she portrays herself to the world. If she were dressed in a skirt that was too short or had too much cleavage showing, I would say something about it, even though she's legally an adult. But these Facebook pages are supposed to be the secret realm of the students. What to do?

I'm just trying to raise a classy kid.

Wondering Mom

If your daughter were choosing in one realm of her life to appear conceited and self-centered, then I'd say she is a pretty normal 19-year-old. The world tells good-looking girls that their looks are paramount and valued by others; you can't be surprised if they believe this and act it out publicly for a time.

Facebook isn't secret. It's out there for anyone who can gain access to it (including you) to see. You could tell your daughter that you've seen her pages, and ask her about her choices. Remind her that prospective employers and grad schools can check every online source when considering her for positions.

All the same, your daughter doesn't exactly sound like a "girl gone wild." If you choose to speak with her, keep this in perspective. You can't inoculate her from every foolish choice she'll make in her young life.

Even if Facebook isn't secret, she is likely to feel you've violated her privacy by checking her out online.

Dear Amy:

My sister told my wife and me a long time ago that when it comes to her children's birthdays, she would prefer money to gifts. So, for the last couple of years, we have given $50 to each child because that is what she gives our children. I think it's tacky, but we go along with it.

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