Our kids don’t even notice our iPhone camera and are used to the fact that their mommy and daddy are writers. On some days I’m confident that our journalistic perspective will shape them positively, on other days I feel like we’re going to need more money for their future therapy bills. Every parent knows the tension that exists between feeling really great about the way they are raising their kids and feeling like a total parent fail deserving of parent jail. Can you imagine a real parent jail? Where we’re sentenced to putting our phones away, actively listening, practicing positivity, and remembering how to have fun before we can be released? That’d be the strangest place wouldn’t it? But if it existed, I’d probably be turning myself in at some point in my kids life.
Since parent jail isn’t a real thing and a blog is, I thought I’d share something I’ve learned this summer when my kids arrested me for stealing their stories.
You see, they’ve grown up with every moment being captured by us and if it’s not captured by us then likely a friend or family member snags it. We’ve been careful not to post locations of our photos or post close ups of our girls eyes. We are careful about their privacy and we do our best to ask them before we post something. Now that they are five and eight the social media dynamic is changing, just as quickly as our little girls are.
The change happened as they are becoming more and more verbal. I began to see that my posts and updates change how they interact with the world. I wasn’t doing the greatest job of keeping their stories sacred. I feel like it’s a trap that all of us have fallen into because we’re so excited to share with our friends (and their friends) what’s happening, especially when it’s something awesome, major, unexpected, important, newsworthy, random, or ridiculous.
I noticed the issue when I posted a picture and a story of something that our family did together on Instagram. A few days later our youngest daughter was sharing with a friend what she got to do and the person listening (who happens to be one of the sweetest people on the planet) unintentionally broke Mya’s heart by saying what so many say when they realize they already know your story. “Oh yes, I saw that on Facebook!” or “I already seen it on Instagram.”
Later that night Mya was crying and told me that she wanted to tell the story.
She wanted to tell the story.
And I wanted to give the story back. Here’s what I learned after my kid arrested me.
3 Reasons Why It’s Cool To Keep A Secret from Social Media
1. Keeping the story sacred gives the kids in your life access to the stories that are theirs to tell.
2. Keeping the story sacred creates and emotional trust with your children
3. Keeping the story sacred keeps the story fun.
I began to ask myself the question, are we unintentionally robbing our kids of the joy of telling their own stories and getting the purest most honest reactions? Remember what getting a puppy was like as a kid? We would go to get a puppy with our family. Then we would name the puppy. Then we would take it home. Then, one by one, as friends and family came for a visit we would introduce the puppy. Taking a picture of the puppy was something we did but we usually didn’t develop the film for days if not weeks or months.
I love social media. I love sharing our families stories. But I don’t love how it has changed how our kids feel telling others about their moments. So we made a decision to not share a story that was really special to them.
It started with our puppy journey, one that started many months ago with conversations in our home and with a visit to a puppy that we thought we wanted to buy. We took a trip across the state to Melbourne beach and met a puppy that we were interested in. We ended up not getting the dog, but we did get something on the journey. We got perspective. We didn’t post, share, or talk about it unless they wanted to share it with others. I wanted to show the world how much fun it was to go on a spontaneous adventure like that with my husband and kids, but why? Because I wanted to tell a good story, because I was proud, because it was fun. But what if my kids want that same satisfaction? I resisted the temptation and kept the journey sacred. I’m so glad. It was extremely gratifying to watch my kids tell other people what happened that day!
It’s a tough thing to change in our home. It requires more selflessness than I have on most days. Giving the stories back to our kids to tell in their own words and in their own time is a gift that every parent can give.
The puppy journey continued and we chose to tell close family and friends about it as our kids led the way. Six weeks ago we put a deposit on a puppy that was born on July 7th, in Newark Ohio. Last week, we went to pick the puppy out and we let the girls tell their closest friends and family about it as they saw them. They shared pictures and told stories and everyone was receiving it for the first time! It made such a difference in the way people asked questions, the way they listened, and how our children felt as they shared about their new fur family.
Now that we’ve got a new little lady joining our household and we’ve spent months preparing for her, the girls told me it would be cool to share with other friends online. They wanted to make a video and tell you themselves.
I won’t elaborate, they’ll tell you what they want you to know and if you really want to get the good details, the funny details, the story behind her name, ask them! I’ll write about it later but for now, the story is theirs to tell.
As you’ve read our journey into keeping some stories sacred maybe you feel like your kids are at an age where they would really feel honored to have some of their stories returned too?
P. S. I’m right there learning with all of you.