by K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky

We knew the day was coming. “Mom and Dad, can I have a Facebook?”

Silence. The two of us looked at each other waiting for the other one to speak first. More silence gave into that weird moment when no one has said anything for an uncomfortably long period of time.

Rushing through our minds were a hundred stories we’ve heard and another thousand we’ve witnessed with teens and parents on Facebook. We’ve heard (and seen) it all!

A single status update bringing shame to the family name before hundreds, if not thousands of people. A simple online comment causing real-time embarrassment and tension between family members. One quick, thoughtless Wall post erecting huge emotional walls in the parent-child relationship.

When we were writing Facebook and Your Marriage, parents of Facebooking teens were practically begging us to write a book on this topic. And now we know why.

Our dilemma isn’t that we have just one teenager to deal with…but two teenagers (and two more pre-teens in the bay) – which adds a whole other set of scenarios for us to think/stress/worry about.

With whole families now participating in the same online social community, too much is at stake to just throw the kids on Facebook and hope for the best. Good parenting is part trust, part rule maker, and part rule enforcer.  As parents, not only do we need to figure out what rules need to be made between the child and parent, but between the siblings as well. And then figure out what the potential consequences are.

After what seemed like an eternity, silence was broken. We looked into those hope-filled eyes and said, “We need to talk about it.” While this was no more than pushing pause on the conversation, we had bought ourselves enough time to discuss all the possible scenarios of having the mom, dad, daughter/sister, and son/brother on Facebook.

What happens on Facebook can and will find itself being a major story plot in the family drama at home.And if that isn’t bad enough, your kid’s Facebook can and will likely be checked by prospective colleges and employers too. This is why it is imperative for parents and kids to talk about some common ground rules while participating in the new favorite American (online) pastime called Facebook.

So we came up with some ground rules for our kids. But ground rules for Facebooking families are not just a one-way street. We discovered there was a need for parents to agree to some ground rules too.

And what happens if the kids break any of the ground rules? Let’s just say their Facebook Friends won’t be seeing their little green dot for awhile.

To save ourselves a lot of headaches and to avoid Facebook-related conversations that include excuses like, “I didn’t know,” “I forgot,” and “You never said that,” we put the ground rules in writing.

Having the parents and kids sign a Facebook Rules Agreement spells out the expectations, and the ground rules everyone will follow.

(Suggested Ground Rules to follow in future posts)