If you're a fan of the Real Housewives of Orange County, you know that Tamra Judge and her oldest daughter, 18-year-old Sidney Barney, have been estranged for some time. But what might come as a surprise is what Barney blames for her split from her mom: her mom's posts on social media.
For those who aren't fans of the show, here's the backstory. Until now, Judge has claimed that their estrangement stemmed from "parental alienation" caused by her bitter divorce from Barney's father. Barney lives with her father and has had little contact with her mother for the past few years. Recently, the situation seemed to be improving and Judge even posted photos on her Instagram account (now deleted) in June of the three of them together at Barney’s graduation.
But things between the mother-daughter duo went downhill this week when Barney took to Facebook to discuss her difficulties with her mother, and to set the record straight about the problems between them. One of the issues Barney cited was her mother’s inability to refrain from speaking about her in public.
Barney wrote, "…the ONLY reason I am not living with her is because she continues to do the things that pushed me out of her house, like talking about me on the show/press/social media."
Barney continued: "[My father] forced me to let [Tamra] come to my graduation because it was a milestone ... All I asked was that she remains cordial with my father and my stepmom and to not post anything about my graduation, anywhere … Not even two weeks after I graduated she posted a photo of me and shared it with her one million followers knowing that it would get picked up by the press. The one thing I asked and have been asking for 4 years now has been to not talk about me because I don’t want to be in the spotlight."
While most parents don’t relate to many "real housewife" dramas, this situation raises some interesting points about social media and the role it plays in family relationships. Many parents post photo of their children on their own social media accounts. They may use it to share stories, anecdotes and sometimes even frustrations about their kids. Is there a line between what parents should consider "shareable" and what should remain private?
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, psychologist and author of several books including Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, says yes. "As parents, we need to tread very, very carefully in thinking about what we share on social media about our children," she says. "As a rule of thumb, less is better! Anything negative or potentially embarrassing is a definite no-no. If you ask, you may be surprised to hear that your child or teen doesn't even want you to share positive things."
If it’s true that Barney asked her mother not to mention her on social media, Kennedy-Moore emphasizes that Judge should have respected those boundaries. Just because Judge has chosen to be in the spotlight doesn’t mean her daughter should have to be in it too.
"Teens, especially, tend to be excruciatingly self-conscious. They already walk around feeling like there's an imaginary audience watching and judging them," she says. "Let's not give them a real audience!