24 October 2008 | Tanya Goodin

Does your mother know?

I love the email going round at the moment ‘why you shouldn’t have your work managers as facebook friends‘ which regales the story of the hapless employee who told his boss he was taking the day off sick, got involved in a heated email exchange with him about whether he had to provide proof of illness, and found out to his dismay that his facebook status update (which his boss had access to) made it quite clear he was skiiving off.


I think you should go one further in banning work managers as friends and absolutely refuse to have parents as friends too. It’s a total minefield and you should implore them to keep their social lives and yours strictly separate. Great though it is to see all generations embracing social media so enthusiastically surely there are some things that should be kept off-limits between parent and child……?

In just one week I’ve had two great reminders of why this is somewhere you just shouldn’t go. A friend of mine whose daughter is away on a language exchange week in Florence (and who is also a facebook friend of mine) had pictures tagged of her enthusiastically (ahem) enjoying the cultural experience with a tall dark handsome Italian. Absolutely nothing wrong with that of course – but do you really want your parents to see the gory details?

And another friend who was married only this summer was driven mad by his mother’s constant status updates of ‘Sheila is not a grandmother YET’, ‘Sheila is hoping to hear news of the pitter patter of tiny feet…, ‘Shelia wishes Tom would hurry up and produce her first grandchild!’. Not helpful when he and his wife were just trying to enjoy their new married status without any pressure and incensed him so much he promptly de-friended his mother. At which stage his mother discovered her daughter had also discreetly done the same thing some months previously for similar offences and was rather hurt and wounded. Her husband had to intervene at this point to smooth things over with both offspring and mother! But this would never had arisen in the first place if they had politely declined her friend request.

So, adopt social media by all means but enforce a few rules too – no bosses and no parents unless you lay down boundaries – and stick to them.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar

  • Pete

    I find this subject very interesting and I’m not surprised to hear about the employee getting caught taking a sickie.
    I find the most difficult scenario regards people that are younger than me. I always knew the problem would crop up when facebook expanded to allow anybody to have an account. When it was restricted to only students, I felt confident I could say/post anything I liked on the grounds I only had around 20 friends and these were my closest and most genuine friends.
    There was nothing particularly wrong with opening it up; it was inevitable and financially made a lot of sense, but I am now in the situation where people who I train with, some of who are as young as 10 have tried to add me. I firmly believe facebook is not for said people, but I had to sit down and define a cut-off? I decided it was 18, but ended up having a number of awkward conversations explaining to people around 16 that it simply wasn’t suitable.
    I couldn’t comprehend my mother seeing my account and yet I am friends with my uncle. I need to rethink that decision