I know what it is to be a proud parent. There are pictures of my children plastered all over the walls of our home. Curiously one of them kept getting put down flat.
Every few days I’d put it upright, and every few days it would mysteriously fall over again. Of course, I was sure that the frame had been broken so I was inspecting it one day when my daughter walked past me and said, “I hate that picture. Put it down.”
I found this crushing. My daughter is beautiful, and I refuse to believe that a bad picture of her exists. As parents, we don’t see our children the same way the rest of the world sees our children. We see their beauty and their strength. When they are babies we see chubby thighs and happy toothless smiles. Who wouldn’t want to share these images with the world? Well, your kids might not.
As parents we sometimes forget that our children can be self-conscious and not want to share every moment.
I know people love to photograph their kids and share them with the world. Mom bloggers, in particular, have built careers with stunning images of their beautiful children. Typically there’s a drop off in photos after the child reaches an age where they can say (and be heard) I don’t want my picture on your blog. Bloggers love to write their birth stories, sleepless stories, potty training stories, and the first day of school stories, but you’ll see a (merciful) drop off when it comes to entering puberty, dating, standardized testing and grades.
You see, our kids don’t belong to us. They exist outside our bodies, and the relationships they create and nurture may or may not have anything to do with us in the future.
After Heather’s pedo experience, I thought that mom bloggers had wizened up. But according to Facebook, some Moms are still unable to think about their children as independent beings.
Maria makes a strong argument here. She’s not screaming pedophile. She’s just noting that it’s unfair for parents to share images of their children that the children wouldn’t want to be shared. It makes no difference that the kids don’t know that the pictures are out there. Even when we are holding our babies and calling them “The Baby,” they are still human beings with separate lives than ours.
Had anyone told me this when my children were toddlers, I’d have ignored them. I’m lucky that cell phone cameras came later in my children’s lives.
I don’t know what anyone’s boundaries are regarding their own children, but it’s essential to have some established. Inevitably as children grow older, the boundaries will change. In my odd case, they loosened up. If you’re sharing images of your kids on Facebook, what are your limits? Does everyone know them? Are you using your child’s real name? Can they be in a diaper only? I’ll put on my judgy hat for a moment and suggest that they never be nude.
Whatever you decide as parents to do about sharing your children online, be sure that the folks around you know too. This way, you might not have the embarrassing “can you please take my baby’s picture off Flickr” phone call.