My daughter outed me on her tumblr.
To be precise, in response to an anonymous post, she said “although anons are great you could also be my Dad who stalks my tumblr. I need people to converse with not my Dad :)”*. This got me thinking about parents and children, and the separation that occurs when they go off to college.
This separation is new to me. I never had it with my parents, as they lived in West Los Angeles, and I went to UCLA. In fact, while going to college, I continued to work for them, doing their billing and such. We never separated in that sense; they always knew what was happening with me. Further, back then, I was young and stupid. I didn’t have the ability to see things from a parent’s perspective. As a young man, you want to separate; as a parent, you find it hard to let go.
But my daughter is 800+ miles away. I don’t see her every day, as I used to. I don’t know what is happening with her, which is hard because I care about her, and want her to be happy. But I also recognize that she is an adult. She will want and attempt relationships, and some will fail. She will be finding her place in an adult world (including sexually), and that is her path to trod, not mine. She will find the separation hard, and the distance will force her to learn to relate to new people and to forge new friendships, which is not easy. None of these things I can help her with; these are also not subjects for me to bring up with her.
But that doesn’t stop the caring. Parents (well, hopefully most parents) care about their children. So I do skim her posts, primarily to get a sense of what is happening, and to make sure she is surviving. I don’t comment, other than to perhaps send her something in a care package to cheer her up when she is down. She is an adult now, and needs to find her way on her own, hopefully knowing we are there to lean upon if she needs help. Her choices are her choices, and I will stand by them, providing advice if asked, and being there to to provide support, if needed.
* As background: A while back, my daughter told me she wasn’t posting everything to Facebook. She had a separate blog, which I could read if it could find it. She wouldn’t tell me the name. One day, I happened to look at her info page on Facebook… and there was the link. I told her I had found it… and she said, “Oh Dad, don’t read that”. My internal compromise, as her tumblr is public, is that I will read it but will not comment on it (certainly never directly, and indirectly only if explicitly referenced (as above) or in case of an extreme stupid (posting naked or drunken pictures — if I can find it, employers can). Otherwise, it is her space to do with as she pleases. Her relationships and such are her business, not mine. Note that she also has a twitter, but I do not read that — not because I don’t care, but because I absolutely cannot stand twitter.