the other day i posted this status on Facebook which i tried to clarify a little better in Part I of this post:

Parents of young children… while i LOVE reading so many of the funny moments and epic statements your children have and make, i do think there is huge value in savouring some of those just for yourselves as a family… i just worry that moments that should be precious memories for you as a family are being broadcast to the world and to many people who won’t hold them as lovingly as you will.

my friend Lisa Scandrette later sent me a link to a post by a mother of grown children who had some th0ughts to parents sharing photos in particular of their children on facebook which was titled, ‘A Letter to Mommy Bloggers from a Blogger with Grown Kids’ which was a different side to what i was trying to say, but also a very worthwhile blog to read.

my status was met with a whole array of comments from different people who i think read the comment differently and responded to it in different ways… while i didn’t think all of it was helpful or accurate, and while part I was more of a response to those, i thought it might be interesting and helpful to see how people responded…

and, as always, i would love to have your thoughts in the comments section below:

  • Sean du Toit Was that a hint?
  • Brett Fish Anderson no, not at all, i realise that this could be read as an ‘i’m sick of seeing these things’ but i am thinking more from the point of the children in particular and the parents and families as well – maybe some of this comes from being in 1000 sermon analogies as a child? and the danger of instagramming the life you actually aren’t living cos you’re so busy instagramming it – heard a story yesterday of something some child did that was a hugely significant moment in the family’s life and just felt the whole moment got bastardized a little by being thrown on social networks instead of just simply enjoyed and celebrated as a family…
  • Brett Fish Anderson i do love reading the stories as i have some friends whose kids say hilarious things but i feel like something is being lost in the share…
  • Brett Fish Anderson sacrificed i mean
  • Brett Fish Anderson anyone else feeling similiar on this one?
  • Brad Kurth My perspective is different from Brett’s, but we land up in the same place. I’d like parents to keep that type of thing off my news feed because I simply don’t give a crap about the quality/consitency/frequency/colour of your childs bowel movements.
  • Brad Kurth Apostrophe.
  • Richard Sumner I find that people post pictures of their children that, lets just say, if they found their way into the wrong hands it could be a problem.. All of this with no or few security settings. Wendy and I have decided that when we have children, we will create a page for the child with high security settings. Then we will invite people who we know and who would like to know about little snookie-wookie’s bowel movements (as mentioned by Brad), to join the page. The rest of our friends can have a fairly kid-free news feed from us. I think this will be better. Also, if we ever change our profile pic to a picture of our kid (without us), please smack us! As for sharing too much, yes, I think you’re right.. I think that people get so excited by what their little bundle of joy is doing, that they want to tell everyone.
  • Kristianna J. Thorson-Sharma As a parent of a young child I am tired of people (especially non-parents) telling me how I should raise my child. We get enough judgement already, in my opinion. While yes, some parents post every little detail of their child’s day, which maybe be boring to many, I still think it should be up each person to decide what they put into a news feed. There certainly are plenty on non-child related things that get posted that also fall into the category of questionable/boring news feed info. I just don’t think it’s my place to judge what someone else deems important enough to share. I am not them and I don’t know their reasons. We don’t all use Facebook in the same way after-all.
  • Brett Fish Anderson i imagine that must be really frustrating Kristianna and i am certainly not trying to tell anyone what to do, but i do feel it happens a lot sometimes because people have not necessarily thought it through completely – as with anything, if it doesn’t apply then ignore and carry on, but i was just hoping to possibly make some of the serial posters stop and consider what they might be giving up in return for what they are giving… i love the idea of families being able to have some intimate moments that might be super shareworthy and loved by all but going, ‘ooh this one we’re keeping just for us! sorry world’ – not all the time because i really do like reading them but every now and then.
  • Brad Kurth Kristianna, since you should be raising your child to function in broader society, surely the critique of the society has a bearing on how you conduct yourself as a parent. You may be sick of it, but the rest of society may be placing pressure on parents like you to do better?
  • Richard Sumner I find seeing other people’s baby pictures a bit upsetting as we don’t have children yet, but we would like them. That is not the people’s fault though, they are merely showing what is going on in their lives.. It also hurts when people tell me that I shouldn’t have an opinion about children because I don’t have any (yet), I hope I never do that to anyone else.
  • Richard Sumner Don’t get me wrong, I know that my opinion will probably change when I have kids. What about all of the advice given to me from my parents? What about the time we stayed with friends who had a baby (while we were there) and we watched them with a new born? What about watching our current friends and their babies? Is all of that advice useless because we don’t actually have kids? Scientists tell us about dinosaurs and we believe them, but I bet none of them have dinosaurs.. I agree that my views may change, and I agree that some parents may know best with their own children, but to write of all of my advice because I don’t have kids is a bit short-sighted. Let me leave this with you.. I saw a father with his young (about 4 years old) son (in the shops). The son was moaning a bit (nothing unusual I guess), so the father said, “Shut up you little ****!” Now I may not be a parent but I think that that is disgusting and wrong.. If he is the dad and I am not, does that make him right and me wrong? If parents don’t take my advice, that is up to them, but I don’t see why I should have any just because I don’t have kids. Especially when most parents haven’t got a clue..
  • Candice Fourie I was totally interested to see where this went and I’m trying really hard to be objective here because as it stands, I’m a mom of two and believe me, they’re my biggest blessing and of course, I’ve got to curb what i put on Facebook.
    Kristianna, I must admit, I think what you said is true.
    Brettster, I get your point and it’s super apt and true. I think it’s personal though and every parent chooses as to how much they want to blast online about their kids and you’re totally right about some family moments being family moments only, it is their choice in the end I guess.
    Richard, I was in the same boat as you. I had so many opinions about children before I had my own. (So much so, I even wrote a blog about it!!) Believe me, it’s a totally different story when you’re walking the road with your own little mini-me. Don’t take it as a criticism. It’s just really hard to have an opinion on something that you haven’t experienced or walked through ~ same as with anything. And I’m saying that as someone who had all answers for every parenting issue WAAAYYY before I had my own and when I brought my first born home, I was completely humbled and basically, slapped in the face as to how much I actually didn’t know. All a parent is saying when they say you shouldn’t have an opinion is that you haven’t walked even an hour in their shoes and you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be them. True story ~ and I’ve had to say sorry to people about having opinions and advice about something I actually knew nothing about, until I stepped into my Mommy shoes.
  • Brett Fish Anderson thanxk Candice Fourie [who incidentally is one of my two top children story sharers cos she has some classics] – this status was particularly created for those [not you] who don’t necessarily think all the time about the ramifications of what they share in terms of both what goes out and what stays in… but i would also say a yes/no on the commenting on stuff you haven’t experienced thing – i think as someone who is not a parent i may not fully understand what it’s like to have kids at all [but i can have some shallower level of understanding for sure – an idea more than understanding] so agree from that side, BUT as someone who has worked with children and youth pretty much my whole life i think i have learnt some stuff about both as well [and in some cases not being a parent has been an advantage in terms of understanding as you see things from a different perspective] so definitely feel that i can completely have an opinion that has a huge degree of validity in terms of how children are raised [having been one, having witnessed it, having worked with them and having studied teaching all playing some role in authenticity] and that i should not lose my voice completely simply because i have not been there. i feel like i might have some valid ideas on heroin usage and the benefits thereof and that i didn’t need to take any at any time to arrive at those…
  • Brett Fish Anderson also i have witnessed a mom sharing a story of a teenager that is birthed in the mom’s pride of her teenager [s totally good motivation and intent] but the story being shared on facebook by a teenager’s mom is not necessarily the coolest thing possible and so what was meant with absolutely great intentions may have at the same time from a very different perspective become something that was unhelpful and in some cases damaging…
  • Brett Fish Anderson i do think this is an important conversation though – i don’t agree with what everyone has said but i do appreciate the manner in which it has been shared and that no one has started calling me names yet… carry on… would love to hear more parents perspectives, especially perhaps of children closer to the teenage age – has your sharing changed to accommodate that at all?
  • Candice Fourie I’m gonna step out of this because I fear I might get my Mommy voice on. Being a mom and how much a part of me that is, is hard to separate and be objective sometimes so I’m gonna bow out here. Totally great idea though to see how parents of teenagers are dealing with this though. I’m following this one!  Loads of high fives for you, the Brettster!
  • Colin Brown We had our first young ‘un three weeks ago. I’m too bloomin’ knackered to share much on facebook!
  • Sheralyn Joy Cloete oh my word you never know how many opinions people have until you have kids..Literally everyone! !!! alll day!! everyday you get peoples opinions!!!! there are people I now completely avoid because I know there will be some unwanted comment insinuating I suck at parenting.
  • Dave Gale We’ve had interesting chats sbout this with our teens. I tend to share quite a bit on FB, Barbara more so of late but not as much as me. Our kids value their privacy and we’ve had to find what works for each of them. For one of them, we have agreed to allow them vet any pic that is posted of them and to share only the more public stuff. The other is more relaxed about it but prefers sharing to be non-personal info. They are both IM users with large groups of friends – Whatsapp, BBM in daily use, but FB and more “public” fora not so much. 

    I love keeping up with news of friends kids and sharing joyful moments, but there are some folk I think could tone down the sharing a bit. 

    It’s worth a discussion with your kids and if they are too young for that, err on the side of caution – they’ll appreciate it later.

  • Leanne Kay Meihuizen Oo… So many thoughts here! Keeping some things just for the family for the reasons you suggest Brett is worth some consideration. I think sometimes I post so much about my baby because having one is quite an all consuming experience for me and consequently I miss sharing my life with old friends and resort to Facebook to fill that gap. For the same reason I enjoy seeing other parents posts… They add some context to my life. I think non parents can definitely provide a refreshing perspective. Those who engage well with empathy can do a fair job of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, parent or not. The reverse obviously applies too. In general though, parents are constantly worried that they are doing a terrible job and there are no promotions or raises in this line of work to tell you you’re doing ok so that’s worth bearing in mind when offering advice to a parent. Encouragement goes down way better. And advice from someone who doles out lots of encouragement is easier to digest. Sorry to hear about your struggle Richard.
  • Sheralyn Joy Cloete so my earlier reply was mainly to follow up comments. but for the original status: We all have a strong desire to live in community. Unfortunately the way things are in society at the moment parenting can be extremely isolating and lonely. And so people share on facebook to break that sense of I am alone in this. ..
  • Colin Brown I like what Leanne says.
  • Richard Sumner Thanks Leanne Kay Meihuizen, we will fall pregnant, it is just a matter of time.. It is just difficult to want kids but struggle to have them and then have someone tell you that your opinion is useless because you don’t have them. Thanks for your post, I agree.. I never intended to point fingers at any parents so I’m sorry if I upset you, I’m sure you guys are excellent parents!
  • Dave Gale All of us parents should have “L” plates on our backs… no matter how many and what age our kids are at, we can learn something from another. One of those anothers in my life has never had kids of his own, but has turned into a great stepdad, another another has yet to decide to try… It is by grace if kids survive unscathed our sometimes clumsy attempts to prepare them for adult life.
  • Brett Fish Anderson loved your stuff Dave, and other people, i feel like you got what my original point intended – feel like this should all become a collaborative blog post cos so many people have said helpful stuff on different aspects of parenting – life too crazy to pull it together today but maybe if i get inspired… thank you everyone, especially for playing nice!
  • Debbie Hutton Yikes! Is it me??!!
  • Katia Beattie Spare a thought for those of us who have chunks of our family and friends overseas – Facebook is the simple way to share moments with them with relative ease! You can just scroll right past those moments if it’s not something that interests you!!
  • Brett Fish Anderson Katia Beattie the “if it’s not something that interests you” part of your comment makes me think you are not understanding the point i was trying to make – this is not ‘i don’t want to see things about peoples’ kids’ at all which some are reacting against, this is ‘keep something precious and special’ and if your kids are teenagers or close to then what Dave Gale commented into…
    Zenaida Martin What i took away from what you are saying is not that parents should stop posting funny quotes or special family memories they have with their kids ALTOGETHER but more that they reflect on their motivation for wanting to share and remember that it’s ok to keep some moments private and sacred….I agree and have recently read this elsewhere as well…HOWEVER…I am one to post lots of pictures and funny things Chi says…it is a challenge to pick and choose what to say and what not to….I definitely find that as proud Mami and as proud parents, we often want to share why we think our kid is hilarious and awesome….motivation is important. Trying to keep this in mind…
    • Brett Fish Anderson thankx Z, you’re a lot closer to getting what i was trying to say than most – i am not so much challenging motivation for sharing [which is stronger criticism on the parents which i am not doing] but encouraging the keeping of some memories private and sacred like you said… i get super excited when you share things about Chi and just getting to see him as we obviously don’t get to do that live any more so not wanting you to stop that at all, in fact i think the word ‘sacred’ pretty much nails my point so thanks for that – while we want to see and enjoy seeing great moments from your family and your son i feel it is great and special and good for you and Nate or even maybe your extended family to have some that are just yours… intimacy would be another word i would use – and then when it comes to teenagers who are maybe on facebook then as a parent i think you have a different responsibility which Dave Gale pretty much nailed above… taking their feelings into consideration.

      Dalene Reyburn Hey, see your point Brett ; I’m all for balance – protect their dignity and what Murray and I call “home talk” but also celebrate the wonder and hilarity of the journey – keeps us sane as parents  x

      And with that, i think Dalene has nailed it on the head and so i will end of here with a reminder of Dave’s statement which i think also is not a bad one to hold to or be informed by:

      Dave Gale: It’s worth a discussion with your kids and if they are too young for that, err on the side of caution – they’ll appreciate it later.

      What are your thoughts on Facebook sharing as an adult or a children? Too little vs too much? All bets are off? Love to hear what you have to say…

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