Children are a precious gift, nobody will deny that. And as a parent, it’s natural to want to boast about your creation and what he or she has been up to. With the popularity of social media like Facebook, this has gone to an unprecedented level of showing off – oh sorry, ‘sharing’.
In April this year, Australian mother Jade Ruthven, 33, received a note asking her to stop constant posts of her baby daughter Addison, claiming that these were “p*****g a lot of people off”. I understand.
Take your first family photo. You know, the one with your newborn in your arms, wrapped in a little blanket, you lying on the hospital bed and your husband proudly grinning next to you. Does such a private moment when you become a family really have to be shared on social media?
I’ve seen some photos that are clearly taken just after a Caesarean section was performed, while still in the operating theatre. Some of the newborns not even fully cleaned up yet. These are precious moments that should be kept to yourselves (just like photos of your positive pregnancy test or of your husband kissing your pregnant belly). Surely you can wait a few more minutes – or days – to post that first photo of your kid?
The odd photo here and there is fine but nobody needs to see five photos of your child a day – and definitely not with captions ‘by’ your child (“Hello, I’m XX Junior and can’t wait to meet you”, “Look where mummy and daddy took me today”).
A friend told me that she posts pictures of her children on Facebook so that the kids can refer to them anytime and when they grow up, they will have a record of what they did when they were younger. I wanted to tell her that our parents did that without the help of social media, with printed photos and albums – which are still an available option today, and which have the added bonus of not putting all your friends through them too. But I held my tongue because the few times I’ve said similar things to friends who are mums, I received the same reply: “You’re not a mum, you don’t understand.”
Image Vera Kratochvil [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Keep it to Yourself
Perhaps there’s some truth in that but I do have a husband whom I love dearly and am very happy. I’ve never posted about how much I love him, blah blah, like these women do too, because nobody needs to know that but him.
I didn’t even post a single photo of our wedding because I feel that such things should just be between those you shared the special day with and thus, there is no need to post it on social media so that people you went to school with 25 years ago can see them too.
And that’s why I know I wouldn’t be constantly posting photos of my child even if I have one, because nobody needs to see incessant photos of your kids but your family and close friends. Plus, if there are parents out there who are perfectly capable of bringing up kids without posting tons of photos, why can’t others do it too?
I mean, it’s okay if you post a picture of your kid doing something interesting or with a cute or weird expression, for example, or even just looking nice, just as long as it’s not every blinking day.
Unfortunately, most photos are pointless:
2. Kindergarten graduation certificate – seriously, your kid made it through kindergarten. It’s nothing to show off. Wait till he graduates from university at least.
3. Your kid’s packed lunch – nobody cares what you put in your kid’s lunchbox. Really. How many pats on the back do you need?
4. A video of your kid playing with his favourite toy – kids play with toys all the time. It’s really not rocket science. Or interesting.
5. Photos of a kid topless/naked – yes, they’re innocent beings but how sure are you, as a parent, of the level of security of your account that nobody outside your network of friends can access these photos? Because in the wrong hands, an innocent photo can become inappropriate in no time.
Then there are the downright “what-the-hell-were-you-thinking?!” posts. I’ve seen pictures of kids on the potty. Seriously, nobody needs to see your kid being potty-trained.
Some women start with the nauseating photos even before Baby is born. Photos of the nursery, cot, pillows, baby bottles, diapers? Check. Baby photos of you and your husband, pondering what your kid will look like? Check. And the most revolting of all – a message to my unborn child… seriously? That’s way too private. Put it in your diary, not on Facebook.
Image cc licensed (CC BY 2.0) flickr image by Tabitha Blue
It doesn’t stop at photos either. There are also the ‘conversations with my kid’ posts, where a parent takes the time to type out a particularly interesting or funny thing their kid said.
Some of these are genuinely funny – kids do say the darndest things, after all – but most are way too incomprehensible or just downright boring. I’ve seen posts about kids calling things “poo-poo head” or telling their parent “I love you”, basically things that will seem very adorable to parents but not to anyone else.
There are also mums who want the world to know what a supermum they are, balancing a demanding job and kids (they often forget to mention the maid/in-laws who are helping supermum).
I don’t need to be a mum to know that real supermums do not have time to post on Facebook five times a day because they’re way too busy, well, being supermum. And being a supermum is not a tag you give yourself, others call you that; you don’t go around telling everyone what a great mum you are.
Image cc licensed (CC BY-SA 2.0) flickr photo by Happy Worker
Pats on the Back
Unfortunately, that’s what social media has turned a lot of people into – show-offs who feel the need to show the world what a happy life they lead. You know, with a perfect husband and perfect children.
Nobody wants to post about how genuinely tired they are or how their husband pissed them off this morning or how their child threw a huge tantrum at the supermarket or failed his test. Because nobody’s going to ‘like’ those kinds of status as that’s what Facebook posts are ultimately all about, right? Self-congratulatory pats on the back, for your carefully selected happy moments in life.
Believe it or not, some mothers agree with me on this too. “It’s all about competition, showing who has the cuter kid, whose kid is more ‘talented’, which, in turn, shows what a great parent they are, to have such a well-adjusted, brilliant child,” a friend who is a mother of one said.
Another friend who has two children added: “I do post photos of my girls but often I make them available only to my close friends and family, as you can control who sees your posts. I’m a mum myself but I have no interest in constantly seeing photos of my friends’ kids, so why should I put others through the same thing?”