Should My Ex's Fiancee Post Photos of My Daughter on Her Facebook?

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, Media, Single Parenting, Relationships, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Tweens, Expert Advice: Teens, Expert Advice: Just For You, Expert Advice: Home Base

Dear AdviceMama,

I am a newly divorced mom with custody of my child. My daughter rarely sees her dad, so she was happy to have shared the weekend with his new fiancée and her children. Following the weekend, his fiancée posted pictures of our daughter on her social networking site. This makes me very uncomfortable and I struggle with whether or not this is an issue that should be confronted. Should his future wife have the freedom to post pictures of my child on her social networking sites?


Momma Bear

Dear Momma Bear,

You have raised a question that wouldn't have even existed a few short years ago. But nowadays, many parents share your concerns, as we all try to figure out how to safely navigate the world of the Internet that's so rapidly becoming part of our parenting lives.

Social networking has changed the way people make contact with old and new friends, creating complex challenges about what is and isn't appropriate, as matters of privacy get explored and debated.

I have a feeling our ParentDish readers will be divided on this issue, but my opinion is that without your express permission -- and depending on your daughter's age -- your former husband's fiancée shouldn't have added the photographs. It's safe to say that she meant no harm; lots of people post pictures of their children on their Facebook site as a way of offering a visual glimpse into their lives.

The problem is that there are many ways that information on networking sites gets passed around on the Internet, and frankly, I don't think parents exercise nearly enough caution in posting photos of their children.

I don't know whether your daughter's future stepmother has the legal right to upload pictures of her or not; I suspect this aspect of custody law is still a work in progress, as attorneys race to catch up with the many new issues that the Internet has created when it comes to parenting.

But I don't think it would be at all inappropriate to politely express your concerns to your former husband and his fiancée.

Before I go further, however, I should say this: If your concerns are relevant to protecting your daughter from being viewed by strangers -- I'm with you. If, however, you're simply uncomfortable having her future stepmother acknowledge her fiancee's daughter to her online friends, we're talking about a different issue. In that case, you are going to have to do the difficult work of coming to terms with this woman's presence in your child's life.

If you legitimately feel uneasy about the situation because you don't want your daughter's photos displayed online, begin by letting your former husband and his fiancee know that you understand that she might want to share pictures from their weekend together, but that you're not comfortable having your daughter's images on the web.

Explain some of your reasons, and make the request that the photos be removed, at least until you can all come to an agreement.

If worse comes to worse, I suppose you can consult your attorney and find out if the custody terms address this sort of problem. But ultimately, your daughter will best be served if you do all you can to untangle this in a friendly way with her father and future stepmom.

Best of luck!

Yours in parenting support,

AdviceMama, Susan Stiffelman, is a licensed and practicing psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in developmental psychology and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, is available on Amazon. Sign up to get Susan's free parenting newsletter.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.