You must have seen it: Parents sharing photos, updates, and other information about their children on social media platforms.
It’s a practice known as “sharenting” (a portmanteau of the word “share” and “parenting”). The word even made it to the Collins English Dictionary in 2016.
I’m one of those “sharenting” parents and my journey began on my blog. You see, it was lonely spending hours alone at home with an infant who could not yet interact with me, so writing became an outlet for the emotions I was experiencing. I would pour out my woes about motherhood and people would comment, give suggestions, or write personal messages. That encouraged me greatly in the first few weeks of becoming a parent two years ago.
Then it evolved into a convenient way of documenting my daughter’s growing up years. I began to post monthly updates of her physical progress, significant milestones, our outdoor adventures, and so on. Before long, the readership grew and readers began to request posts about specific parenting topics. These ranged from what books we read for bedtime, to how we prepared her meals and what we did on holidays etc.
But soon, I experienced the downside to “sharenting”. On one occasion, while we were at the supermarket doing our weekly grocery run, a stranger came up to us, called my daughter by name, and then proceeded to try and carry her. Shocked, I quickly and courteously declined her request. The lady insisted she knew us and revealed that she was a follower of my blog and an ardent fan of my daughter, who was then barely a year old.
Despite that rather unsettling incident, I continue the practice of “sharenting”—now slightly wiser and a whole lot more careful. For one, I no longer put up my child’s personal information on a public sphere. I am also selective about whom I allow access to my blog, as far as possible.
After speaking with a handful of fellow blogging mums, I’ve come up with a few guidelines for myself which I now also try to reflect in my posts.
- Keep it recent
I try to write about events within the same month, week, or day, if I’m able. The memory of the event might get fuzzy and the sharing inaccurate if I take too long to record what happened. The experience ought to be recorded fresh, such that authentic emotions, expressions, and so on are reflected.
- Never shame your child
Naked baby photos, embarrassing birthday party surprises, and falls are fun to record, but these ought to be for personal consumption alone. Let us remember that like us, our kids will one day grow up and would want their privacy and integrity intact.
- Spend more time offline
In this day and age, it is so easy to be caught up in the digital world. You plan to upload one photograph, but you end up scrolling your newsfeed and tapping on various links. And before you know it, a whole hour has passed. I know it because it happened to me too.
Let’s take great care to protect our time with our children, because that time is precious. While capturing moments on camera is important, your child would rather you go through the experience with them, rather than just having a pretty snapshot of himself/herself. Be with them in the moment and you won’t regret it later.
The greatest takeaway for me in my “digital” parenting journey so far has been having like-minded parents to interact with—fellow Christian mums whom I liken to allies in this battle to raise a generation of selfless (rather than entitled) individuals living for the cause of the Kingdom of Heaven. Young mums who share my struggles and older, more experienced mums who empathize with me and give me valuable advice.
I may not profess my Christian beliefs explicitly on social media, but I’d like to believe every choice and every parenting “theory” I share is centered on God’s love for me.
This post is written for YMI