Dear Family: I Will Always Choose My Kids Over You

Sarah Hudson Photography


Sarah Hudson Photography

As someone who is on a computer all day, I love social media. My Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts have been key to keeping me connected to friends and family all over the country. I’ve even used Facebook as a photo album/baby book of sorts. It's the place where I post funny stories about my kids and share pictures of them regularly, something that I've done since they were born. In my adult life, I’ve lived in two countries, four states, and 10 cities, so I have friends and family who’ve never met my kids in real life. I’ve appreciated that social media has given far away family a chance to get to know the two little people who mean the most to me.

Lately, however, I’ve started to delete and block some of those same people, including family members.

  • I’ve decided that being a good mom to my biracial kids means choosing them over being polite and keeping the peace where politics is concerned.

    Wendy Robinson
    Wendy Robinson

    Even though I am politically liberal (and wear my bleeding heart proudly on my sleeve), I grew up in a deeply conservative household and went to a Christian college. My friend circle, both in real life and online, has always been politically diverse and I think there is real value in not living in an online echo chamber. I’ve been OK with realizing that a friend and I disagree about the estate tax or military funding or the appropriate role of unions. I’ve had thoughtful and civil conversations with family members about education funding and even gay marriage. 

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  • I’ve loved people who see the world very differently than me. And then Trump happened.

    Wendy Robinson
    Wendy Robinson

    In the last two years, I’ve seen people that I’ve cared about and who say they care about my children call Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization. When after yet another police-involved shooting, I’ve shared the particular fears I have as the mother of a Black son, I’ve been met with cruel comments. I’ve seen people celebrate human rights abuses and tacitly accept the mocking of people with disabilities. I’ve watched people tell me my kids are so cute and sweet (they are!) and then turn around and repost articles written by people with racist leanings. 

    Sometimes I’ve engaged with these comments and gotten into heated social media fights. Sometimes I’ve ignored the post and scrolled on with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. In real life, I've protested and donated and tried to speak up for those who have less power than I do. Online, sometimes I've been silent so I don't ruffle feathers in the family. 

    I’ve been haunted by the question of what I would have done if that same family member would have called black kids “thugs” or Muslims “terrorists” in front of my children. I can’t imagine that I would have stayed silent. And if they kept saying things like that, over and over, I can’t imagine that I would be willing to continue to have a relationship with them, even if they were a close relative. So why was it any different when the comments were online instead of in person? Why was I pretending that online comments were any less destructive than in person ones would be?

  • What if social media is just giving people a place to express the ugly and racists views they’ve always had but knew weren’t polite to say out loud?

    Wendy Robinson

    I can’t unsee the posts I’ve seen. I can’t ignore them, even when I’ve loved the person who made them. I can’t live up to my personal promise to be the best mom I can to my kids and continue to share vacation photos like nothing ever happened.

    So, I’ve started to purge my social media. I’ve decided that just because someone is family -- my father, my brother, my cousin -- they don’t get to have access to my children, including their cute stories and funny pictures. I’ve drawn a line in the sand. People who don’t see all children (refugee children, poor children, Muslim children, disabled children, the list goes on) as being as worthy of love, protection, and care as my children don’t get to be a part of their life. Period.


  • I realize I'm blowing up decades-long relationships over Facebook posts and I don't care. 

    Wendy Robinson

    I’m someone who very much sees my social media life as part of my real life. Some of my closest friends are people I met online first. My online self and my real self are the same, which makes me wonder if deleting people from my Facebook life means I’m deleting them from my “real” life. I probably am. I haven’t spoken to my father or brother since I unfriended them on Facebook and I don’t know if and when I’ll talk to them again.

    My children are still too young to be aware of what I’m doing and maybe it won’t make a difference in the long run. But I feel better knowing that in some small way I’ve stood up for the values I want to teach my children. As they get older and understand more about the ugliness of racism and nationalism, I won’t have to try to explain why I was friends with people who spread that ugliness around on social media. They’ll know that when I had to choose, I chose them.


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