Ask Scary Mommy: My MIL Obsessively Posts About My Kids Online

by Cassandra Stone
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Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.

This week: What do you do when your mother-in-law posts about your kids on social media even more than you do? And shares photos on social media to a bunch of strangers all the time? Have your own question? Email

Dear Scary Mommy,

My mother-in-law is your typical proud grandma. Her grandkids can do no wrong, and she loves them all a whopping amount. But she also loves to post their photos online to her Facebook page. Every day. And every day, a bunch of strangers are commenting on my kids’ looks, their activities, and asking questions that are, quite frankly, none of their business. She’s also friends with my husband’s ex-girlfriend on Facebook, which is its own can of worms. Basically, I don’t want all of these people seeing my kids and I know I need to say something, but I don’t want to upset her.

Your mother-in-law sounds like every other loving grandma in all of history, except instead of flashing her grandkids’ wallet-sized photos at the salon, she’s slapping them up on the very digital, very public version of that. Which is…different.

Everyone posts photos of their kids on social media, right? Well, everyone except a handful of celebrities who put emojis over their kids’ faces (which, honestly, good for them). It’s hard not to. Everyone’s bragging and you want to brag too! But they’re not your mother-in-law’s kids. They’re yours. And kids don’t have agency over what’s shared online. Which is becoming a major issue now that so many of the first “mommy blog” kids are growing up and are realizing maybe they’re not totally OK with how much of their childhoods were public fodder.

Now that’s a more extreme example, but it’s still worth taking heed. I think an easy way to have this confrontation and be effective without coming across as harsh or blamey is to say something like, “You know, Diane, I love how proud you are of the kids. But I’ve been reading a lot about social media and its effect on children. I think sharing X amount of photos or photos from special occasions is fine, but [insert your partner’s name here] and I really want to cut back on how much we all share of them. At least until they’re older, and they can make those decisions for themselves.”

You can also tell your partner to have this conversation with his mother, which would actually be my first suggestion. Telling her together is also advisable.

She might scoff, she might get defensive, or she might say, “OK! I understand. I’ll cut back or run things by you guys first.” If she genuinely loves her grandkids, and she clearly does, she’ll do anything to continue having a healthy, regular relationship with them. Respecting their parents’ boundaries and decisions is the best way to do that.

Good luck, and keep me posted. As for her being friends with your husband’s ex, well, I wouldn’t want her seeing photos of my kids either. At all. It crosses a line and also, it’s weird. The sooner you have this conversation, the better for you all.