There's been a lot of ink spilled about the intersection of parenting and social media. What do we post? What shouldn't we post? Should we post anything at all? Should we open an account for our child before they even know what Instagram is so that they can treasure childhood memories for all time? The rules are moving, debated, and nuanced, but there are some things most can agree are best kept off-line. I want to talk about those today: the social media posts every mom wants to write, but doesn't.
A lot of this will ultimately come down to one's comfort levels, which means there's often no right or wrong answer as to what's OK or not OK to post on the internet and for all the world to see. As with 90 percent of all parenting decisions, what works for one family isn't going to fly with another. There are some basic rules of propriety, though, right? Or there are taboos that, even if they don't necessarily make sense, still have an effect on real life interactions that may stay our hand in what we'll share — permanently and forever — online. S
till, we are an oversharing culture these days, and the instinct to want to post isn't going to go away just because there's a social expectation not to in place. So I've gathered together some examples of things I've found myself wanting to put out into the world, but have ultimately held back on.
The "Uncensored & Naked Shot" Post
If you're anything like me, you have approximately 794 photos of your child in various states of undress on your phone, because when children are not in public they are allergic to any material touching their butts (apparently). Maybe some of your favorite pictures of your children are ones in which their naked selves are prominently displayed. They make you giggle, and you would love nothing more than to share that adorable squishy joy with the world.
Why you don't post it: You know that revealing your child's nude bum is often considered a taboo (and, perhaps, an overstep in terms of their privacy). It's probably not that big a deal, but it's best just to keep it off the internet.
Alternative: You can always go ahead and text it to their grandparents. Just make sure they know not to share it on social media.
The "Let Me Tell You What I Really Think About This Jerk Kid" Post
You can kind of hint around this idea sometimes, but you usually feel like you have to soften it a tad with like "LOL! Love my kid anyway!" Some days you just want to vent your unvarnished frustration and anger toward your child's abysmal behavior, though. I mean, as much as you want to tell yourself, "They're a kid and this is what kids do and I know it's nothing personal," it can often feel deeply personal.
Why you don't post it: Because even if it is personal, they're still just a kid. Moreover, they're still your kid. Totally fine and normal to think your kid is being a jerk when they're being a jerk, but throwing it out there for everyone on social media with no real explanation might give people the wrong idea.
Alternative: Vent to your partner or tight-knit online mom group. They're not going to judge you.
The "This Really Isn't Funny But It's So Funny" Post
Kids do naughty, tricksy things all the time and we frequently share them with friends and family online. There are some times when their hijinks go a little too far, though. You know, like when their behavior is absolutely unacceptable but in a totally hilarious way.
Why you don't post it: You don't want to be judged for your child's poor behavior.
Alternative: Post anyway and screw the haters.
The "Everything Is A Contest" Post
A proverb of dubious origin states, "There is one pretty baby and every mother has it." Obviously we all think our child is the cutest or most beautiful, and we know everyone else believes it of their kids, too. Still, we all maintain the polite silence of not overtly saying anything on the subject (at least not seriously).
Why you don't post it: No one likes a braggart, or to be told their child isn't cute.
Alternative: Find a self-deprecating, funny way to say exactly the same thing. People are more open to #hardtruths when you can be witty about it.
The "Poop" Post
When you're a parent, a lot of your physical and mental energy is spent dealing with body functions, and sometimes you encounter poops that challenge everything you thought you knew about the digestive system. You want to draw attention to these aberrations of nature, partly because it's so weird, partly because you feel you need to point it out to the proper authorities, and partly because "If I had to be traumatized by this you have to be, too."
Why you don't post: Because ew.
Alternative: Please just keep it to yourself.
The "Children In 'Peril'" Post
OK, extreme example above, but you know what I mean, right? I'm on the record as saying I'm one of those moms who is probably a little bit more permissive on physical risk front with her kids. They climb stuff, they jump from higher than average heights (or at least from heights I've noticed other moms at the playground permit). This isn't a "I'm a cool mom," humblebrag or anything. Permissions and restrictions are very much a case by case issue that depends on the kids, particular situation, and family rules involved.
Why you don't post: You don't want anyone to call child protective services on you.
Alternative: Post with reassurances that you were carefully monitoring said play and were aware of safety precautions.
The "Calling Out Other Kids" Post
Because your kid isn't the only jerk kid on the planet, right? Like, you know they're just kids, and you know that calling out another parent like this is neither class nor constructive, but sometimes that Mama Bear inside of you rears her majestic head and you just want to whip out your gauntlet and challenge someone to a duel. You want everyone to know what a jerk little Victor is because he made fun of your son's doll and made him cry.
Why you don't post: Like I said, there are better, more constructive ways to solve this issue than getting in a Facebook feud with Mary.
Alternative: Calmly call the other parent or your child's school to let them know about the issue and move from there.
The "Comeuppance" Post
They do this all the damn time, right? You warn them and warn them but they still act surprised when they land flat on their face trying to do back flips off the bed. I'm sorry, but why am I supposed to feel bad about that? I told you that this is exactly how it was going to go. It makes you feel like the Greek prophetess, Casandra, who always saw clearly into the future but was never believed.
Why you don't post: You don't want people to think you're an unfeeling monster.
Alternative: Same thing, but throw in a line like "They're OK and I kissed their boo boo, but still..."
The "Reveling In Their Misfortune" Post
Look, you didn't ask for your child to get a virus this weekend, but if they're going to sleep 16 out of 24 hours may as well let people know that you're enjoying the me time, right?
Why you don't post: Again, you don't want to look heartless.
Alternative: Enjoy your Orange Is The New Black binge in peace.
The "Smug Parent" Post
I feel like there's a big (and necessary) movement out there about not depicting parenthood through rose-colored lenses. Keep it real, don't try to downplay the difficulties, and admit that sometimes we flounder or even suck at this whole parenting thing. But I also feel like that should go hand in hand with celebrating the good moments — sometimes we revel at our own aptitude. We marvel at how well we know our children and how we do manage so much. We are overwhelmed with love for them and the joy of being their mothers. We are awesome. We're like June Cleaver and Mary Poppins and Clair Huxtable and Mrs. Doubtfire rolled into one.
Why you don't post: You don't want people to think you're haughty or full of yourself.
Alternative: Certainly don't diminish the bad times, but there's no need to hide your light under a barrel. Let the extremes co-exist online just like they do in real life. You all hereby have my permission to toot your own horn every now and then.