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Give Respect, Earn Respect

Why I Don’t Share Much About My Kids

Look…parenting is my thing.  And by that, I mean not only do I do it every day in my personal life (of course), but also because of my job I kind of live and breathe parenting.

Working as a parent coach and educator means I’m always thinking about, studying, and considering how to best support my own kids, and how to best support you.

And each month when I sit down to write my blog articles, I ask myself “what is coming up for people right now?”

Usually, I answer that by looking at what’s coming up for me, or for my clients.

And in writing, it’s not infrequent that I think of a story from home that directly relates.

So why don’t I often share them?

Why is my website not full of chock full of pictures of me and my children?

Why is my blog not full of stories about the many annoying things my kids have done?

My answer is simple, and it’s based in positive discipline:

Give Respect, Earn RespectThe principle of mutual respect.

I could exploit all my kids’ foibles and give you blow-by-blows each week of every “special” moment in parenting that we share.

I could share all my many challenges—after all, parenting is hard, and I’m not exempt from that.

Many parent coaches do share these things—I subscribe to a lot of lists and know a lot about the children of some of my colleagues.

Frankly, more than I should know.

But here’s the deal.  Using those stories to make me relatable to you, would likely alienate me from my children, either now, or in the future.

And that’s not a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

That’s not being mutually respectful to my kids.

After all, the internet, as they say, is forever.

Over-Sharenting

We live in a culture where over-sharenting (a term coined by law professor Leah Plunkett in her fantastic book Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online) is the norm. Cover of Sharenthood book by Leah Plunkett

I’ve read stories online of kids’ first poops, first steps, and first kisses.  I’ve heard about their tantrums, their boundary testing, and their troubles in school.

These days, it seems nothing is off-limits— from drug use to dating and mental health challenges to missed assignments, many parents—and parenting professionals—seem ready and willing to share where their kids are screwing up or exaggerate where they’re succeeding.

I get it…social media and blogs can be a great way to reinforce how awesome we are (or would like to appear), as well as a great way to get help and support.

And for parent coaches, sharing these stories can demonstrate the reality that, despite our jobs, we are fully, wholly in the thick of it with you.

But at what cost?

How I Decide

As my children have grown, and I’ve grown into this second stage of my professional life, I’ve become increasingly protective of their privacy.  So how do I decide what to share and what not to share?  Here are my rules/guidelines both personally and professionally:

  1. Is it okay with my child? If their answer is no, that’s the end of the inquiry.  Again…the focus here is mutual respect.  My older daughter reads and approves everything I share about her.
  2. Is it mostly about me as a parent, or mostly about them? If it’s about me—a lesson learned, or a parenting ah-hah, I’m more likely to post it than if it’s a story designed to share just how hard they can be.
  3. If a future college admissions counselor or employer read the post or saw the photo, would it impact my child’s ability to get into school or gain their desired employment? For example (not from my own life), a temper tantrum at age 3 would likely raise no alarm bells, but a story about a child experimenting with drugs surely would.  Any concerns about that, and the post is a no-go.
  4. Am I sharing personal information like birthdays, or other identifying information that could be used to steal their identity? That’s also a no-go for me.
  5. What’s the purpose behind my post? Is it helpful? Could it be hurtful? For personal posts, does everyone on my friends list need or want to see the post, or would a smaller subset suffice?  For professional work, does the potential gain by my audience substantially outweigh any breach of privacy?  And to circle back to #1, if so, is it okay with my child?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s where I start.  I also do a heavy gut check…my gut rarely steers me wrong.

Back to Mutual Respect

Building relationships of mutual respect with my kids around this and other aspect of our lives together is one way I work to “walk the talk.”

I don’t always get it right.

I make lots of mistakes.

And sometimes my thoughts on parenting may not be as clear as they might otherwise be if I mined my own children’s lives for examples.

But I happen to think they—and their privacy—is worth it.

 

Have thought about what you post and share?  Have you made changes as your children have grown older?  What guidelines do you follow? Reach out—I’d love to hear!

Christy Keating fun headshot

Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.

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