Her toothless grin suddenly turned to a look of worry. “Mom, don’t tell anyone okay?”
There we were again, just like that a light was shining on one of my giant parenting fumbles. I looked at the tooth in her hand and promised not to make the same mistake again. I would not steal this moment from her by making this important announcement for her. I would not share the news on Facebook… not this time.
You see, she was almost 8 when she lost her first tooth, so of course it was a really big deal for all of us. As she examined the new space in her mouth and bounced around excitedly, I was busy posting an adorable picture for all the world to see (well maybe not all of the world… but definitely all of HER world). It was almost 24 hours before I would realize what a mistake that was.
We arrived at school and she dashed towards her cousins with her big news. Mouth wide open, she showed off her new smile to her cousin. The response? “I know I saw the picture yesterday.”
“You told them?” Oh no… oh no. My heart sank looking at the confusion in her eyes.
I’ve apologized more times than I care to think about, but I can’t take it back. It’s done.
The thing is I’ve been so careful to avoid embarrassing my kids on social media. I get that this stuff is not erasable, that someday these pictures could end up in the wrong hands. Cute bare bottom bath pictures could be used to poke fun at insecure and nervous teenagers (and not in the fun way where we get to pull them out on first dates). But instead by other people whose intentions are not kind and full of love.
I’ve been so careful to avoid embarrassment but I totally forgot to think about something equally important. I forgot that by sharing this moment I was taking away her chance to be the first to share it. I told HER story. That wasn’t fair.
As a blogger who’s work revolves around kids and family, this is something I am constantly thinking about. I’m walking this line between protecting the story that isn’t mine to tell and sharing enough that you understand that what I’m sharing is real and honest.
Living in a world of social media means that we are constantly treading new territory. Have you managed to strike a balance of keeping the stories of your little loves private while still showing off what is so important to YOUR story?
I’ve read this post to Little M and she approved it, I guess she thinks this is an important message too.
Hands Free Mama says
Thank you for this important reminder! It is so easy to think we are simply sharing exciting news, but it might not be ours to share. You articulated that point so well. I have gotten into the habit (my children are 8 and 11) to ask permission before I post their picture. I found that this has been especially important to my youngest. Sometimes she says no and I respect her wishes. I feel this type of modeling of technology will be helpful later as my children are navigating what, when, and how to share on social media. I appreciate your story so much.
Another good point! Modeling good tech/internet behavior!! Definitely going to start asking before posting ANYTHING!!!
Thank you Rachel. So lovely to see your comment.
Great lesson. My kids’ school posts updates throughout the day. One day, something particularly exciting happened, and my kids came bursting through the door to tell me about it. Thinking I was sharing in their excitement, I said, “I know, I saw it on Facebook!” They were crushed that I already knew about it. I love that their school shares things, but I now always let my kids be the “first” to tell me news from school.
Such an important thing! It is wonderful that you get updates but it would be so hard if everyone already knew the exciting stuff from my day. I love that you are giving them the chance to tell you first.
I have received this same plea from my 6 yr old daughter. Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn the lesson with such heart ache. She caught on that I share stuff and started asking me not to share stuff before she could. I am so sorry your family had to learn it the hard way. 🙁 I can see that I narrowly escaped this same experience. Thank you very much for sharing. It is definitely something to think about as well as the embarrassing stuff (or that will be embarrassing one day). I really didn’t even think of bullies using this stuff down the road to be really mean! Yikes!! I only considered mild embarrassment in front of friends!!! Lots to learn – glad we can all help each other out and try our best to protect them from hurt – big and small.
I’m glad we have each other to learn from too. <3
Mummy m's memories says
A great little reminder, thank you. 🙂
I refused for years to get on Facebook but recently have been missing out on updates from college friends. I decided to join and have a toddler daughter who I love sharing fun pics of for my friends. This def makes me think before I post for her and her future! I want ‘her’ to tell ‘her story!’
My son said early on (he was 4 or 5), that he does not want me to upload any pictures of him on social media. I have followed his wish, he’s now 10. But sometimes other people tend to ask, why there’s no pictures of him in my facebook, and it seems so hard for them to understand, that I listen my child, who doesn’t want his face on fb.
I don’t post anything personal on facebook. I used to like I thought everybody else, then I started to realise all the ramification that could lead to later in life. I deleted all personal pics (myself and my kids). Interestingly, it took the google server close to 6 month to erase some of my daughter’s pics (though they had been deleted on facebook).
It really makes us and our family vulnerable to share so much information. It could be bully for our kids, it could be manipulation from twisted people (we like the same thing, did the same thing when growing up…) This information is already being tapped by fortune teller, people communicating with the dead and so forth. Now I don’t go to those people now but who is to say that I won’t should anything happen to my kids. And the same goes for my kids, husband. I can see how sects could use a great deal of what is posted too. It doesn’t have to be important, just the constant monitoring of a whole childhood, the way we lived, big events. Finally, we may thing that our circle of friends is small enough for this not to happen, but who is to say that our kids employer is not going to be little Johnny from Mary our best friend.
I just think private life should in the end remain private and my duty as a mum is to protect my family.
I’ve totally done this too! Now my daughter says “don’t post this on facebook, ok?” Like when she got a new haircut this weekend. Cause she knew I was going to! But I held off.
It’s so crazy, that the second we take a picture, our kiddos would be conditioned to say that. What a crazy world! Thanks for the reminder!
Jill, I’m super wary about posting information and pictures of my kids online (both on my blog and on my personal Facebook account) for the reason you first mentioned (safety, who sees these pics, etc) but I had never thought about the downside of my kids not being able to own their own stories. This is so true, and yea how awkward or sad for my kids to feel excited to share but can’t, or to wonder how in the world everyone ended up knowing about their stories before they got a chance to share it. Great reminder!
Some similar stories have happened to me in the past and it made me stop posting on Facebook at all. I discovered it’s easy to break this habbit an dit also gives you a lot of extra free time!
I bet it frees up a TON of time!
Im sorry but I’m so very against Facebook or any social media. It makes me cringe when I hear people talk about what they all put on Facebook or read on it. To me it’s never a safe place to share ur personal stuff neither pics. What if we come to a time where that will all harm us instead of being helpful & fun? What’s wrong with pen& paper( write a letter,send pics) to old fashion& slow? I’d rather be safe then sorry!!!! Enjoy family time-go visit person to person,etc. If they live far, pick up the ph- give em a call( it’s more special to hear there voice anyway:) ~call me old fashion, I don’t mind:)
I refuse to put any pictures of my children online, unless its on the subscription service I use to send pictures to the grandparents and a few friends. I once did, and then, to my horror, found one of my children’s pictures used on a commercial site for advertising. It took some legal wranglings and threats, and thankfully the picture was removed, but I also removed all my children’s pictures (that I had possession of, any way) from free and accessible internet use. Copy and paste is so basic, we forget that it can be used on your pictures too, and commercial use is the least of my worries. There are people out there who “trade” or “sell” pictures of random children, who use them in the making of child pornography, or other nefarious uses, and there can be hidden data (such as your location) in the picture itself, especially if you use a phone to take it. To me, those dangers make the fun of sharing pictures just not worth it.