At a staff meeting the other day the conversation came up about how we often share personal stories of our own children when educating parents on child development. We laughed as we talked about a recent blog post from a co-worker who shared a funny potty training experience with her son.
We wondered aloud what our children would think if they knew we often use them as examples when teaching. I said this generation of children will have a digital diary to look back on when they are older.
Later that day I thought about that statement and realized just how true and interesting it is. I was born in 1979; I spent my childhood in the 80’s and my adolescent years in the 90’s. Cameras used film with a set number of pictures needing snapped before you could drop it off at a store to be developed. When you did finally use an entire roll of film you would drop it off to be developed and then wait about a week until your pictures were ready. This meant that my mom, like most parents during that time, used the camera sparingly. She captured some of the big moments from my childhood and even made a scrapbook or two with descriptions of the event. When I want to reminisce I sort through a scrapbook, an album or a box of photos of me dressed as fairy for Halloween, twirling at a dance recital, on the beach during summer vacation.
When our children want to reminisce they will type their parent’s name into a search engine and find pictures, posts, and comments about their daily lives. I understand the importance of respecting our children’s private lives but I don’t view sharing parent frustrations and joys as trespassing on their privacy. I see it as way to connect with other parents and to learn from our shared experiences. Sharing our personal experiences with other parents is valuable. Connecting as parents and helping each other find solutions and support is beneficial for the adults as well as the children.
With that said, now that my oldest child is reaching adolescence I understand even more clearly that there needs to be a balance between sharing my stories and respecting her comfort and developing sense of self. As parents I think setting a few guidelines for sharing is important.
Ask your child
When your child is older ask them if it’s OK to share a picture of them making a grumpy face or a post about something funny they said to you.
Take advantage of the privacy settings.
Facebook and other social media sites give you the option to decrease the number of people who see certain posts and pictures. So you can share that picture of your child throwing a tantrum at the grocery store with your mom friends but maybe not the other people on your friend list that you are not as comfortable with.
Consider what and where you are sharing
An article from the New York Times explains it best stating, “A frustrated tweet about a child who won’t eat her cereal because it’s not in a red bowl is a lot less likely to resurface than a YouTube video of the resulting tantrum. Looking for advice or sympathy about a behavioral problem? Skip both the image, and your child’s name, in a post to limit later searches.”