I recently wrote a post about a pretty sensitive subject involving one of my kids. It occurred to me as I was writing it that the subject of my writing might feel a bit embarrassed about it. Here I was, sharing private information about her for the BVTMB audience to see.
I felt strongly that it was something that other moms out there might want to read, so I decided to do one important thing before I even submitted the post: I asked for her consent.
I think that as moms, we are all so proud of our kids that we want to share as much as possible with as many people as possible. Social media makes that so easy: one tap or click, and photos or stories are instantly available for family and friends, and even total strangers, to view. In our enthusiasm, we lose sight of the fact that those photos and stories aren’t entirely just ours to put out in the world.Recently, I saw an article that brought this point home in a very real way for me. Gwyneth Paltrow shared a photo on social media of her and her daughter, Apple, on a ski lift. Her daughter, who is 14, is pretty much unrecognizable under her ski gear, but Gwyneth’s caption makes her identity obvious. What struck me, though, was Apple’s response to the post:
It was an eye-opening moment for me. I realized that as my kids get older, the things I post about them are not just mine to share. They will be attached to them as they start to figure out who they are and where they belong in this world. It’s not fair to either of them to have their personalities predetermined by what I put out there for others to see.
Even before I saw the Gwyneth Paltrow post, I had already started to ask my kids for permission to share photos or stories of them online. At their young ages, they’re already starting to understand the impact of social media presence and how it translates to their real lives. I don’t want my pride in them to negatively affect them if I can help it.
As my daughters get older, I hope that setting the example of asking for their consent to post on social media will translate to other aspects of their lives. They’re going to start dating so much sooner than I’m ready to admit, and I want to make sure that the people they go out with have the kind of respect for them and their wishes that I do as their mom. It’s an ongoing conversation that I’m really glad to have started so soon. I want them to know that I have the utmost respect for their privacy, but that I’ll also be there to lend an ear or offer guidance if they need it.