expect to keep your mouth shut...

in more ways than one...

like first when you say you will blog everyday in may. i never should have said that...

because it is my daughter's senior year. which is the mother of all mays. i thought may was bad all those other years. nope. may was a BREEZE compared to senior year may. senior year may is a hurricane. 

and then i decided to start substitute teaching in may. well, actually i wanted to start subbing in the fall but i posted a photo of my sub certificate on facebook. and people started calling me to sub. and so i started. and i love it. and it has been a lot of fun. but it is may. need i say more?

but this post about keeping of the mouth shut is different than that... it is about keeping some things to yourself and not sharing them with your millions of internet stalkers (i like to imagine that i have millions of internet stalkers...) to honor (and not royally mess up) your relationship with your teenagers...

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i see a lot of parents of young children posting adorable photos and captions all over instagram. and facebook. and twitter. and to everything there is a season. sigh. and i wish it was that season for me... i rock facebook. and instgram should be renamed lea-stagram.

but i missed that season of parenting and showing off cute babies and sweet toddlers on social media. my kids were already into their early teens when the camera phone sensation began. i have scrapbooks full of embarrassing moments and my teenagers THANK GOD EVERYDAY that i didn't have instagram, facebook, and twitter when they were younger. it would have been an easy memory keeping tool for me. but i also think/know/am painfully aware that i would have not been the most circumspect poster. i would not have respected their future desires in what i posted when they were younger. i would have established a digital footprint for them that might have truly damaged our relationship during their teen years. and listen people... you don't want to start the damage when they are young. it is hard enough to keep that relationship on the up and up through their teen years. so don't start the damage earlier than you have to...

because the season of the teen years is NOT the best time to post every detail of your children's lives. unless your teen LOVES that you tag them in every post. every photo. and if that is so then POST AWAY SISTER! and for the record... i am totes jealous of you.

but if your teen likes a bit more privacy in their online life (like they don't want anyone to know that they actually have a family life and a mother) then honor them by not posting every family dinner or froyo trip. let them decide which photos you post of them on your wall. let them tag themselves if they want to. let them have the final say on their internet footprint coming from your side of the interwebby universe.

and try not to be bitter of those other mothers whose teens acknowledge and even PRAISE their existence. they are most likely on drugs. the parents and the kids. at least that is what i tell myself to get through the lonely nights of no one posting photos of me and them on mother's day and waxing eloquently about my mothering prowess.... and if you are able not to be bitter, call me and tell me what drugs to take to ease the bitterness.

i jest. sort of...

i agree totally with this blog post, parents do you think before you post? by someone who would be my BFF if only she knew me, jen wilkin. it is a great reminder of this concept of keeping one's mouth shut (in a viral kind of way) even when your kids are younger than teenagers...

The internet and social media open up new possibilities for us to record and share the lives of our families on a much broader scale than ever before. Because of this, parents of very young children must think of themselves differently than in the past. Photos like the ones my parents lightheartedly joked about revealing are now revealed routinely to our virtual communities. The off-the-cuff comment my mother may have made to her neighbor about my two-year-old sassiness is now made by parents to hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of virtual relationships. I wonder how many parents realize that they are the custodians of their children’s virtual identity until they are old enough to manage it on their own?

jen says that most online oversharings could be stopped by doing two things. two things that are VERY difficult for me (and why God didn't let the smart phone happen until my kids were older already)...

1) thinking ahead

Every day parents use social media and the blogosphere to offer up photos and posts chronicling all manner of child misbehavior, parental frustrations, and mishaps involving bodily fluids. I think these posts are made by well-meaning parents, unaware that they are creating an online identity for their children. But with every post, we construct a digital history of our child’s life – a virtual scrapbook for public viewing - and I wonder if we might want to think harder about the trail we are leaving behind. Do our comments and photos preserve our child’s dignity or gratify our own adult sense of comedy? Do we post our thoughts to satisfy a need to vent? Do we miss the truth that our families need our discretion far more than our blog followers need our authenticity?

Consider that your toddler will likely one day see the online identity you have created for them. And so may their middle school peers, their prom date, their college admissions board, and their future employers. But far more important than what the outside world will think of this digital trail is what your child will think of it.

2) imagine them older

Parents, before you post about your small child, imagine a thirteen-year-old version of them reading over your shoulder. Your child bears the image of God just as you do. Does what you have to communicate honor them as an equal image-bearer? Does it provide short-term gratification for you or honor long-term relationship with them? Does it potentially expose them to ridicule or label them? Does it record a negative sentiment that an adult would recognize as fleeting but an adolescent might not?

Maintaining trust in the parent-child relationship should outweigh any other motive for posting. Think before you post. By all means, have a safe and appropriate place to vent and “be real” about parenting – just recognize that place is probably not the internet. Let everything you share with those outside your home strengthen the bond of trust you have within it. Tell your story without compromising theirs. Execute well the custodial duty of managing your child’s online identity until its precious owner is ready to assume the job.

i can tell you from experience that when you imagine them older go on and imagine that they are not the kids that want you to tag them in every photo or the kids that are so self assured that a few potty or half naked bathing photos won't matter to them and their potential prom dates.

then if you do happen to get the greatest, most self confident, mommy lovin' teen ever who posts photos of you and them eating froyo together EVERY night, feel free to contact me and tell me that i was wrong. it won't be the first time i was wrong. or the last. in fact, feel free to tag me in a post that says that i was the most wrongy wrong blogger ever. won't be the first time. or the last. my internet footprint can handle it...

but don't tag my teenagers. they like for everyone to think they are orphans.

i jest. sort of...