Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Unauthorized Photo Sharing Gets MIL in Trouble with DIL

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My husband and I have been married for 8 years. Over 5 years ago, I made the decision to remove myself from social media, my husband soon followed suit, completely on his own. We have since had many wonderful life experiences, including having two adorable children. We still choose to stay off social media, sharing very little of our life outside our immediate family and friends. We will share an occasional picture of our kids with our parents via group text message.  

When our son was born, I made it very clear to all of our family that when I share pictures with them, it is for their enjoyment only and not for them to post to social media. This came about because my husband’s step-grandmother posted a picture of our 5-week-old son to Facebook without our consent. We did not send the picture directly to her.  

In any event, everyone now knows our wishes, and from what I can tell, they are respecting our boundaries. However, recently, my mother-in-law sent a group message to me and my family (the same group we generally share pictures with) of a picture my husband sent just to her. Immediately after she sent it, she wrote another message, “Oops, that was meant for someone else.” This bothered me because it means that she is sharing OUR photos of OUR life with other people. It’s not hers to share.

When I brought this to my husband’s attention, he brushed it off like I was overreacting, but I don’t think I’m out of line here. She did not ask if we were okay with her passing on our pictures, and we hardly know this person she was passing the picture on to. Not to mention we have no idea how much she is sharing with others that we are unaware of.

Do you think it’s reasonable to address this with my mother-in-law? Is it reasonable for me to be upset that she’s sharing our life and our pictures without our consent? --- STOP SHARING MY LIFE!

DEAR STOP SHARING MY LIFE!: This is one of those situations created by modern technology. In the “old days” ─ like back when you were a kid ─ your mother-in-law would have whipped out and shared printed photographs of her grandchildren every chance she had. What proud grandma can resist showing off her beloved grandchildren?

With that in mind, cut her a little slack this time, and then politely, but firmly, remind her of your policies. It’s understandable that you want to keep your family’s private life private. You’ve shared your boundaries, perhaps now, if you haven’t already done so, share the reasons you established them in the first place; and make sure your husband is still on the same page as you.

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