Online But Off Base

20 May

In a field of challenges related to divorce, one of the biggest ones for me involves the internet. More specifically, it involves what I post online on sites like Facebook and Twitter. I’ll give you an example.

“Let’s see if using the blender to make smoothies also serves as an alarm clock for a sleepy girl.”

That’s an early morning post from today about my daughter. It suggests a few things (e.g., I’m with her on a school morning and I make breakfast for her) and you  may draw conclusions about the rest. You may assume she’s at my home. (She wasn’t.) You may assume this is a Friday morning routine. (It’s not.)

Now here’s a pic I took last night at school during the Kindergarten class performance at the PTA meeting.

Aid enjoys a proud moment after successfully finishing a class performance for a PTA meeting.

Again, you may draw some conclusions of your own based on this one photo. You may assume I used my camera to take this photo. (I didn’t.) You may assume her mom was present at this event. (She was.)

Posted comments and pics allow people to interpret what they see and read. It all comes from what information that is provided (or suggested) and what is left out. The trouble is, I don’t have complete control over how people interpret what I post. That’s created some challenges for me.

The primary area of concern is the obvious one for any divorced dad. Maintaining a relationship with my ex-wife (Aidan’s mom) in person is always a work in progress. We don’t adhere to the custody agreement which can be a blessing and a burden at times. The flexibility is an asset but it also puts us in the same room far more often than a typical divorced couple. Then, when you consider that we also cross paths as co-parents in the online world,  you start to see how new issues could develop quickly.

She and I are Facebook friends. We follow each other on Twitter. She frequently asks me to retweet the links that she provides. They’re usually parenting-related links so I happily share them when I can.  On the flip side, she’ll make this blog accessible to her fans and followers. For now, the online relationship seems copasetic. I hope it stays that way.

On more than one occasion though, one of us has severed the online relationship. I’ll admit, it’s not easy to see my ex-spouse post about an experience we shared with our daughter yet make no mention of me. I know she feels the same way about my posting pics of Aidan when I’m using her camera to take them—and sometimes her laptop to upload them.

Even this blog came under fire once. A previous title unintentionally suggested that I’m a single dad and didn’t clearly mention my divorced status. Thanks to a productive chat or two with my ex-wife, I made some changes, which turned out to be real improvements.

She’s a great mom in many ways, and I know that her devotion to our daughter cannot be questioned. I’ve met many other divorced men and women who can’t say the same thing about their ex-spouses. I’m lucky. Aid is lucky. That doesn’t mean life around here is always easy. We have our share of problems, like anyone else, and the ones online tend to get a lot of attention since we’re both people who spend a lot of time online.

The objective seems to be sharing that virtual world without consistently irritating the other person. That potential peaceful co-existence benefits everyone. It allows my ex-wife to have access to my pages to see pics and read comments about our daughter’s adventures. It allows me the same access to enjoy special moments that I may be missing.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to create a few points to remember how to effectively manage the online relationship.

1. It’s never the whole truth. Brevity is the nature of online posts.

2. When reading her posts, remember she’s only telling her story.

3. When posting my own thoughts and comments, avoid misleading details or anything that suggests full credit when it’s undue.

4. When on her pages, only read content related to our daughter.

5. Avoid all negativity. Never say anything directly or indirectly negative about her or allow anyone else to post negative comments about her.

I’m sure she and I will discover new challenges in the coming months while we share the online world. But when we encounter each issue and obstacle, may we peacefully find a solution by remembering that the one who benefits the most is the little girl we both love more than anything else.

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