On Parenting and Oversharing

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Today, I read an article published on Smart Parenting's Facebook page, about things that parents do online to violate their child's privacy. I have to say, I'm more than a little bothered by it, and based on the reactions of many parents on the thread, so are others.

First thing, I'll come right off the bat and say it. I'm one of those annoying parents who loves to post pictures of her kids on her social media pages. I also post little anecdotes about them, the funny things or the sweet things they say, the little accomplishments they have. I do have to say that I am as careful about it as I can possibly be. I avoid posting pictures of them without clothes, or compromising things that I feel would be embarrassing for them later on. I absolutely avoid posting information that could compromise their security. I find the practice of "checking in" especially abhorrent. In addition, my posts can only be viewed by my social media friends, and the friends on my list are people I actually know. It's not 100% secure, but like I said, I'm as careful as I can be. So when I share things about my kids, I don't think I'm violating their privacy. I really AM just sharing, with friends and family, and not with the general public.

While I agree with some points (like posting nude photos of children and sharing too much information), the article came across as a bit much for me. It calls parents out for posting about their kids' small accomplishments, numerous photos of the little moments that make up a child's life and for talking about their kids. While I felt that the article's intention was coming from the right place, the way it was written came across as very scathing and bitter (to me, at least). It felt very angry to me, and I don't know who the author is or where she's coming from or what she was feeling at the time that she wrote it, but I felt that she turned something innocent into something very negative and dark and unhealthy and wrong. I don't like that.

Anyway, this isn't the first time that I had to think about my sharing habits online. I read another article before (I can't find it anymore, but if I do, I'll update this post with the link) which says that people curate the stuff they post to present a skewed version of their life. If I remember it correctly, the basic gist of the article was that people tend to feel bad about what they see in other people's social media updates and feeds. They feel jealous, or envious, and wonder why their life possibly can't be that great?

After I read that article, I had to do some soul-searching, and ask myself. Do I try to present a picture of myself that isn't real? A picture that makes other people feel bad about their lives?

The answer to the first question is no. Do the posts and the pictures show every detail of my life? No, they don't. I don't post about the bad stuff, because those things, I prefer to reflect about on my own, or discuss with my sisters or a close friend.

Does that mean bad stuff doesn't happen to me? No. Of course not. Bad stuff happens to everybody. But I don't like focusing on the bad stuff. I like focusing on the good. Does that mean to say I hate on people who post emotional, heartbroken status messages? No. If I feel they're too negative for me, then I simply unfollow them, or remove them from my feed, so I don't have to deal with the negativity anymore. Everyone has that option. You don't like what I post? Remove me from your feed. I don't really care. As Mommy Jo-An said on the thread in reaction to the article, walang basagan ng trip.

But the great stuff, the good stuff, the stuff that makes me smile? Yeah, I'm a bit trigger happy with that stuff. Because that's the stuff I want to remember. See, to me, my social media page, is more for me than for anybody else. It's really like an online diary, a way for me to keep memories and remember the times when I felt happy or when good things happened to me. I like to think that my social media page as a way to keep track of my life, and when I look back through it, I like that all it will help me remember is the good parts. But you know what, everything on that page is real. It's not posed or contrived. It's things that happened to me. Things that made me smile. Things that made my day brighter. It just so happens that most days, those great things have to do with my two boys.

When I see other parents posting pictures of their kids or stories about their kids antics, it makes me happy for them. For example, just after I read that article, I saw a post by a fellow mommy who posted her daughter's perfect exam scores. Did I feel bad about it? No. I was happy for her. I was happy for her daughter as well. She did great on that test. And if my sons got perfect scores in all their tests, I'd be damn proud and happy too, and I'd probably post it on my social media page.

Seeing these posts also makes me feel connected to these other individuals because we are all going through the same experience. And people may say that a connection through a social networking site isn't a real connection, but hey, who are you to judge?

Parenting is hard enough. If we choose to focus on the crap, then we're screwed. I'd rather look at the parts that make it worth it. The fun memories, the happy smiles, the silly quips, the occasionally funny toddler tantrum, the milestones they reach.

So do I brag about my kids on my social media pages? Maybe I do. I'm proud of my kids. In my mind, they're the two best kids in the world. Like me, every parent feels that way about their kids, so they also post pictures and anecdotes and accomplishments about their kids. That has to be okay. As Mommy Kizzie posted in the Smart Parenting thread, there's already too much judgement on parents going around. Let's not add to it. Let's not turn parental pride into something wrong or bad.

So do I feel bad if what I post online makes other people feel bad? Yes. I feel bad that they feel bad. But I will not apologize for choosing to focus on the great things in my life as opposed to the negative or the bad. I choose an attitude of gratitude. I will not highlight these sad parts or the things that don't go my way just so people wouldn't feel bad about their lives. That's on them, not on me.

I know that not everyone would agree with me, and that's okay. It seems to be a pretty hot button issue for parents, and everyone will have their opinion. We will all just have to agree to disagree. Again, to quote Mommy Jo-An, walang basagan ng trip.

That's all for now!

* Quotes from the mommies in this article are found in the Smart Parenting FB page, under the link for the article.


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