It’s a question I’m asked often.
Why don’t you share the kids’ faces? Their real names? Why aren’t you showing day-to-day stuff on Instagram Stories? Why such extreme boundaries from someone who writes online for a living?
I get it. Swapping stories and “Me, too”s is an important salve in this life, one that has healed me often. But there is a way to talk about parenting without talking about parenting our specific kids. There is a way to give weight to our experiences without our kids’ shoulders bearing the burden.
Sometimes, I’m asked if this makes me inauthentic, this refusal to offer such a big part of my life for public entertainment, for the sake of “real” transparency. Why no tantrum photos? No monthly milestones?
And yet: authenticity means real. It means “not false.”
Is there anything “not false” about the Internet – a world built with wires, not roots? Is there anything real when it’s been flattened by pixels, void of relationship and context? Authenticity requires participation, trust. It’s the knowing of another, the seeing of another. And here I am, not even able to guess what your favorite perfume smells like. I’ve never approached your welcome mat with a casserole dish or a fistful of flowers. I cannot know you in full.
I’d argue the same for you.
My rule is simple: my habits and choices in this online world must enrich my actual, everyday, head-down, in-the-trenches, roots-deep, real-deal world. The Internet is lovely and all, but it’s not my everything. It can’t be.
But my kids are. And your kids are. And that’s worth holding on to, worth keeping sacred, worth connecting and nourishing and relishing – no wires attached.
If you’re curious, I’ve got a slew more thoughts on the subject in Young House Love’s episode “Sharenting” (definitely worth a listen) right this way.
p.s. Need an alternative to documenting your kids’ lives online? Email them directly.
p.p.s. One important thing I consider before hitting Publish.
Oh man! This whole time I really thought your kids were named Bea and Scout. Ha! But I totally get it. I have separate instagram accounts, one that’s personal and one for my blog and that one doesn’t have my kids’ faces on it. People can be incredibly cruel and I don’t want to expose them to that yet.
Ha – I hear ya, Lamesha! :)
I definitely thought those were her kids’ real names too! Erin, was it fun to come up with “alternate names”?
Ha, it was! :) Both names were high on our actual list, so it was fairly simple. ;)
yes, yes and more yes…I love this so much! Thank you.I especially loved the Punchline check. Its something I’ll be putting to use myself.
I agree, it is something important to protect! I occasionally show photos of my kids, but I always double check to not write anything too personal about them. I used to talk about autism, but I do it less and less because my son is getting older and I want to respect his privacy.
It’s such a balancing act, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing, Julia. :)
Good for you! Your reasoning is spot on and there definitely need to be parameters. We have a generation coming up who are being exposed in ways that could potentially eliminate any chance of childhood innocence. It almost makes me feel uncomfortable to come across a feed that gives too much detail on the personal lives of the host and her family, nearly to the point of exploitation. I know, a strong word, but it’s out there. I admire and respect your stance. We could use more of it.
Thank you, Jane. :)
I’ve got an 8 month old and choose not to share photos of her on social media either. When I was pregnant I read your piece about creating an email address for your children. I thought that was a beautiful idea. We keep a private family photo stream and email her invites to events she has participated in and send her personal emails whenever something exciting happens. The world doesn’t need to know when she got her first tooth. But one day she might be curious. Thank you for all that you do share. It has taught this new mama a lot.
I love the idea of emailing invites to events she’s participated in – what a fun time capsule! Thank you, Judith. :)
Oh man. It always bugs me when people think because you have an online platform that means that have a right to details on every aspect of your life. I totally understand your decision to keep your children offline. They are your children and you don’t owe their stories to anyone. I totally support your choice in that. <3
This is such a tough one for me as my family is a big part of what I blog about and even why. First, I very much respect your decision and even find myself trying to go more and more down this path. And while I share photos and info about my kids I have never used their real names, I am extremely careful not to be too specific about where we live or even show the outside of our home.
BUT, the reason I do talk so openly about my kids and family is that one of my daughters is physically disabled, She has limb differences and uses a wheelchair. Part of the problem of our world is the fact that there is such little representation in the media of people with disabilities. They are the largest minority in the world yet the least represented in the media. Part of my intention with my blog is to show our “normal” life and the make sure special needs families are included in these conversations from home decor ro kids crafts,
I do believe there are times I have overshared over the years (and in fact, I’ve gone back and taken stuff down), but I also know there has been so much good that has come about because of my family and our visual presense. And unlike autism or other invisible conditions my daughter never flies under the radar, especially not in real life. And part of my work has been to try and make her and people like her (I interview other families and individuals with disabilities on my blog) intentionally more visible.
Of course I also know that I have a responsibility to respect her privacy too–we’ve talked about it before and I always respect her wishes when it comes to what I share/don’t share. Anyway, just thought I’d share a different perspective.
I LOVE that you shared this perspective – thank you for your honesty and care, Miggy! I so respect that you’re wisely navigating your intention to represent the “normality” in your family’s story while still respecting your kids’ privacy. What a beautiful mission!
I totally respect this! My husband and I have made the same decision about my blog, and while I really love seeing the children’s faces and hearing about them on some blogs I follow, I feel like this has been the right choice for us, as well. You articulated your reasons beautifully, and I’ll be remembering what you said when I get the same questions! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much for sharing, Beth!
Beautifully articulated – “a world built with wires not roots” – yes! How much more so for our children growing up in this age and making their own choices of what to share and not to share? Not easy to navigate as a writer. Here are my attempts at wrestling with this as my ‘littles’ are now becoming ‘bigs’: https://www.lightlyfrayed.com/parenting-teenagers-can-be-lonely/
Your voice strengthens my journey. Thank you for this wisdom.
Oh I can’t wait to read – thank you, Karen!
Hi Erin! I totally thought Bea and scout were their namestoo! I too don’t post my daughters real names to my blog and no full on face photos either. It’s refreshing to not be the only one! Thank you for your post and honesty! On my Instagram too I don’t post faces– it can be hard especially when you have some adorable photos but I think worth it in the long one.
Ha, you’re right – I’ve found that by not offering my favorite photos and stories for public consumption, they’re far more sacred to my family and me.
Yours is a message I have mentioned to family members in the past. Today’s world is too invasive in many ways to be sharing the young ones info with the general public. I agree whole heartedly, sharing these pics and moments with friends and family would best be done in a more private way.
Thank you, Catherine. :)
I have never been comfortable with people sharing photos of their children online nor with the sharing of personal details of their children’s lives. I’ve always thought that it was because I’m older and out of step with the new normal that exists in this age of Internet interconnectedness. How reassuring it is to find that there are parents that are currently raising children that share my concerns. I admire your stance on the subject.
Thank you very much for the encouragement!
This is so timely for me. I haven’t been good at setting boundaries in the past, but its been on my mind more. I actually just put. “Go through blog and take down any posts my kids wouldn’t want to read/have read when they are 16” on my to do list. I also love the email idea. With four kids it can be hard to keep up, so I try to do it every month on their monthversary to try and spread it out a little and make consistency seem more manageable. Social media is such a blessing and a minefield.Not only with privacy, but with hurt feelings, people feeling left out etc… sometimes private documentation of the little moments is the way to go. Thanks for making me think.
You’re so welcome – I love your mindful approach, Nicole!
I think this was probably one of your post. My fb and Instagram are private with family and friends I personally know, so I think it’s different in how I run it. However I was just talking to a friend about how uncomfortable it makes me when parents leave school pick up tags with their child’s full name and school hanging in the windows of cars. Mine go into the glove box as soon as I’m leaving the line. Feels intimate to know your vehicle and children while not knowing you. Interesting world we are learning to navigate.
Interesting indeed! Thank you for your perspective, Tara!
I’m a fairly new reader and I wanted to stand up and app,and you. This world is not what we would like it to be. We have HAVE to protect our children. There’s just too much sickness in this world. Too many lies, too much evil, too much “forme” thinking…and I’m an extrovert, optimistic, trusting person.
I’m always so happy when I read an adult post that has taken on the responsibility that comes with being a parent or even an adult. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Oh goodness, I hear you, Ann. Thank you for the encouragement.
I very much respect your stance on this and appreciate a post addressing children and the online world.I’ve read the best ways to grow your following on IG is to geo tag photos. But perfect strangers knowing the physical location of my family is disturbing too me. I never geotag photos and do not have my city listed on social media. I never list my sons name or any of our local hangouts either. Sometimes its hard bc I follow a lot of mom bloggers sharing very personal and precious photos of their children (bath time, nursing, etc) but I choose not to publicly share every moment bc I believe some parts of motherhood should be kept sacred.
I hear you! It would be naive of me to think that my choices don’t sometimes hinder “growth” or success by a blogging standard, but I’m happy to stand by them regardless. ;)
Kudos to you! We live in a world now where employers check Facebook before hiring someone, can you imagine if our employers could go back and pull up our entire lives via the web. I have some pretty embarrassing childhood pictures I am glad my parents did not have the ability to “post online”. Our children have an internet footprint all ready and that scares me sometimes! If I blogged for a business and have thousands of people following my feed I would make the same decision.
I post faces and such because my account is personal and private but I am ever so careful about what I say about my kids and how I say it. What if they find a post someday when they are older about my complaining about them, telling the world I needed some space or they were this and they were that. That would break their little hearts! If I would not say it to their face, I will not post it about them! They have a right to write their own story some day, I don’t want to take that from them!
Plus I it’s like an additional creative challenge to take super cool photos while not showing faces and I love those pictures you take the best!!
Thank you for your perspective!
Totally agree with this post. I once thought in a different way but now I guess I know better and you’re point of view says it all. I ordered your book on Amazon and am getting to the end of it now and only hope there’s a second one coming up one day :) Your thoughts are really wonderful and the book is beautiful. Ana from Portugal.
PS – favorite perfume is Chloe ;)
Ahhh, thank you Ana! :) I’ll look forward to smelling you in person someday! :)
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