How To Have Perfect Children: A Digital Public Service Announcement

By July 6, 2011General

A couple months ago, I was talking to my new friend Carrie about little boys. We both have them and, in passing, she said, “I bet your little boy sits quietly and obeys right away!”

Um, pardon my maniacal laughter. Not so much.

Photo Jul 5, 2011 10:07 PM

I realized that I might give the impression that my kids always sing worship songs, never fight and only disobey by not putting down the Bible when I ask them to.

Again, not so much.

But I give that impression on purpose.

“Wha? Kat…I thought you were all about being ‘real’ and not comparing and junk!? Why would you let us think your kids are perfect?”

Because their failures aren’t my stories to tell.

I’ll share mine all day long. I’ll tell you I get grumpy. I’ll tell you I get distracted. I’ll tell you I let them eat HFCS and watch too much tv. I’ll tell you I’m as selfish as all get out.

But I pray I never say anything here that embarrasses one of my children. Their struggles are not fodder for my blog.

A Challenge

In this digital age, when we all love to get a “like” a “RT” or a comment, let’s challenge ourselves not to do it at the expense of our children. They may be small, but Google doesn’t forget and jr. high is unforgiving.

My 9 year old, 7 year old and even my 4 year old are very conscious about what I say about them in person.

I want to be conscientious about what I say online.

This doesn’t mean I never tell their stories. It just means I ask first.

Now, every family has a different culture. I might share stories you never would and you might share stories I never would. We just make sure our families have a clear understanding.

Whether we blog, Tweet or Facebook, it’s not a bad idea to say a prayer before we post and ask ourselves, “Will this encourage or discourage those who read it?”

And if it’s about someone other than us, let’s make sure our words are ones we (and our kids) can be proud of in years to come.

May we be mothers whose words (even fleeting digital ones) bring honor to our children.

Discussion

Are your kids old enough to care…yet? Does your family have any social media rules (written or assumed?)

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Comments

32 Comments

  • Avatar Christa says:

    I appreciate this, Kat. Well-said. I think it is also a big pitfall with regards to verbal conversations…tempting to speak negatively about their behavior, joke at their expense, to other adults…and the little ears always hear. It’s so common to hear parents complaining about their kids that I was struck by a woman I met with her daughters at a concert last year: she just glowed about her sweet girls, praised them, smiled…I was inspired to give that gift to ours…the gift of being spoken well of, loved, in front of others, as well as at home. Thanks for this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar Jennifer says:

      I agree, Christa. Growing up, and even now, I don’t think my parents realized how their attempts at jokes were really at my expense and did a lot to damage my self-esteem. I don’t blame them for my low self-esteem, but sometimes their words did hurt. I try so hard not to put my kids down in front of others. I even try to discipline in private if at all possible.

  • Avatar Sandy says:

    Some things are simply off-limits for blogging. I don’t actually say a lot about my kids online because those aren’t my stories to tell. Not only will anything I write live forever on the internet, but who knows what people will do it. Will they re-post it somewhere else? Print it out and pass it around? Add pictures to it and pretend it’s theirs? Put it on their own blog and shred it to bits? The truth is, we have no idea. Why would I put my kids in that position? My blog would be a lot more popular if I posted pictures and told more stories of the day-to-day stuff going on here, but I’m unwilling to gain that popularity at my children’s expense.

  • Avatar Sarah says:

    I was told many years ago that your children will be exactly what you say they are. If I say my child has a temper in front of someone then I am going to have to deal with my childs temper. If I reverse it and make positive comments, then they also try to be that.

    I also agree with Christa. I was at a homeschool gathering and there were many women there, with and without there children loving them verbally. I was loving it. All you have to do is get around a couple of women and you are free to down your husband and children. It is the norm. I found it refreshing and encouraging to here the positive.

  • Avatar Courtney says:

    I am right there with you on this one! I also do not publicly blog about my kids’ failures or embarrassing moments. I always try to think about how they would feel if they read my blog one day – and I try to remember that it is MY blog; not theirs. I wrote a post about this not long ago in terms of Facebook and how a young girl I know finds parents’ postings about kids on FB to be “creepy.” Pardon my posting it here, but it does feel relevant: http://mamaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/2011/05/recent-graduates-thoughts-on-facebook.html

    All very interesting food for thought!

  • Avatar Dawn Pfahning says:

    This was a message I needed to hear. I’m bad about griping about my children, and I need to stop. Thank you for the reminder. FYI, my girls are 18 & 23, not so young, but I need to set a better example. Thank you for shining a light on this for me.

  • Hmmm. Lots to think about here. Many people really DO think I have perfect children–because in public, all four of my children are almost always angels. Really. I don’t know why, but they’re wonderful when we’re out–but (I’m being careful to follow Kat’s guidance with this next statement)–that is not always the case at home.

    I think I’m probably to quick to tell people they’re only seeing half the story, because I do tell them that with my children present.

    But I don’t want my friends (or strangers, for that matter) to judge their own children by the good behavior of mine (because they’re only seeing the good) and feel discouraged, or like they, or their kids, don’t measure up.

    That being said, this hits home. I’m going to start being a lot more careful about what I say about my kids to others.

  • Avatar Kimberly says:

    Great post and reminder! I am quick to tell a “funny story” that may seem harmless, but, I need to think of long term consequences… Praying first is a great idea!
    Thanks!

  • I loved this Kat…

    And very much agree…also with the comments above that this applies in “real life” as well.

    I do share some stories about our crew…but only when I know my heart of delight in them shines through -OR- when I’ve asked if it’s okay with them (like when I’ve shared about our daughter’s dyslexia) -OR- when I’m able to do it without naming names. We have enough around the same age/stage that most things I share about parenting could related to any one of them.

    But–I really appreciate this stop-and-check-and-pray-and-consider…because this caution is so needed.

    Probably with an application to marriage and spouses as well…
    And again–in real life and online…

    Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar Karen Flanagan says:

    I find it’s a good idea never to point out another’s faults or failures. I wouldn’t like it done to me. All people deserve respect, and children are people too.

  • Avatar Jane says:

    Kat,
    This post is so important. In these days of easy media access, it only takes a few key strokes and the “enter” button for our words to live forever. Thank you for the reminder to measure our words and filter our stories.

    The other take-away for me is a piggy-back on some of the other comments. I think there is looming danger among mothers to make comparisons. Why do we do this? We compare homes, housekeeping, husbands, marriages, and of course, our kids. It’s a tall task to be honest about our failings and struggles without disparaging our loved ones. Your honest was perfectly balanced, though. Thanks for modeling that.

  • Avatar Beth Werner Lee says:

    My daughter cares, she urged me to start a blog where we could post pictures and I could write about her. My husband doesn’t want to be mentioned (he’s more private than I, so saying nothing is the wiser course I think.) and it’ll sound like I’m a single mom. Prayer, that’s an extremely good tip, also the careful not to mention others’ weaknesses. Thank you, especially as I am just starting out.

  • Avatar Alexandra says:

    This is a really good post, Kat. It got me thinking… I’m new to blogging, and I freak out about sharing family info anyway, but my son is old enough to keep track of what gets shared and what doesn’t. I’ve learned with FB that I should always check. He wants to make sure that every photo is a good one, that every story is positive, and he gets really mad when other parents share “personal” stuff about their kids.
    When I was a kid, it was all about the illustrations in the sermons (my dad is a preacher and a prof.) I guess we move with the times, and it’s good to be reminded to show respect to my kids in the way I talk/post about them. Thank you again.

  • Avatar Stacy says:

    Amen and amen! There are a lot of things I have wanted to share on my blog, but never could. My oldest is 9 too and she is old enough to care. I’ve started to ask her about anything I want to write about her. Even the good stuff.

    I think the Golden Rule applies here very well. Would I want that story or comment written about me for the world to read? If the answer is no, then I should not write it.

  • hmmm. I look at this differently…

    if I think it will help another mom, I have and I will continue to blog about my kids. I wrote about my boy and his late reading and had many comments from women who were encouraged by it. so, I think it depends on the story and if it truly can help someone.

    btw, I dont’ use my kids’ real names, so no google search issues.

  • Avatar Faith says:

    Hi Kat,

    thanks for sharing this post. A great lesson for me since I’m a new mom and love to brag about my lil one :). I’m sharing this post in my blog and link it back to you. I hope you don’t mind. Btw, I’m a regular reader of your blog and I love your ebooks! Thanks again.

  • Avatar ann says:

    Thanks for this! I’m not a mom, but I just wanted to say that I teach 18-month-olds, and even they get very upset if I mimic them or mock them. I must admit I used to do it very frequently, because their behavior is often so funny and so cute. It took me a little while to notice how upset they were when I would do this–I guess it had never occurred to me that they might be, so I didn’t associate their behavior with what I was doing. Anyway, they cry, or push back their chair from the table in a huff, or hang their heads and pout…obviously not happy about it. I wonder how young is “too young to care.”

    Thank you for your blog and ebooks, by the way! What an awesome blessing that you offer them for free. You are a treasure.

  • Avatar Kris M. says:

    Ugh…There goes Perfect Mom of the Year award. I’m a griper and complainer when it comes to my kids and husband. I work with a lot of kids and have built a lot of relationships with moms and I fall into the trap of “Misery loves company”. I’m going to try to be more positive about my kids and husband – both within and outside of ear-shot. Thanks for the reality check!

  • Avatar Valerie says:

    This was so refreshing to read! I’m not a mother yet, but I felt so respected when my mom made a similar comment to me. She said she never wanted to be down-talking her kids to anyone. Thanks for putting it out there as a reminder to people.

  • Avatar Melissa says:

    A great post and well said, thank you for the reminder.

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    This is a great post! My son is definitely sensitive about what is “put out there” about him. Of course, when he won his first tennis tournament, he wanted me to facebook, tweet, and blog about it! So, I really try to be careful about what I say about my kids online. Mostly I share what lessons I’ve learned from them. Thanks for this reminder!

  • Avatar Christin says:

    Thank you Kat. This helped me open my eyes to be careful what I share.

  • Avatar Valerie says:

    Yes, good reminder. Thanks, Kat!

  • Avatar Maria says:

    Kat, can I admit that I had not even thought about this? I need to review my latest blogs to ensure I have not been using my children as the “point” sometimes! THANK YOU for bringing this up to us! You are so right…we can go on and on about our rantings, but we should not discuss our children’s…thanks again for bringing this issue to light and convicting us on it.

    Maria’s latest blog at makinitsimple…The Poison of Busyness — Step 5 — Establish Daily Routines

  • Avatar Mamaoftwo says:

    Well writen and something i SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO needed to hear! i agree and feel inspired to be more aware of what i say both in person and online about my kids, husband, and others in general. – THANK you, your blog is a blessing to me often. sarah

  • Avatar Mamaoftwo says:

    Well writen and something i SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO needed to hear! i agree and feel inspired to be more aware of what i say both in person and online about my kids, husband, and others in general. รขโ‚ฌโ€œ THANK you, your blog is a blessing to me often. sarah

  • Thanks, this is good food for thought. I think a lot of times we “talk” about our kids and forget that they are actual people, no matter how little they are right now. I often think with older kids about how much of what they post on the internet NOW will affect them LATER in life…and they may have many regrets. I had never stopped to think about how I could be doing the same for my own kids.

    I also just finished “Loving the Little Years” by Rachel Jankovic and she touched on this and made me think as well. She talks about taking a moment to look at life from the perspective of one of your children. How do they view what you say (or write) about them? Again, good stuff to ponder.

  • Avatar Danielle says:

    My girls are 12 and almost 9…and are mortified when I tell stories…so I always have to ask!

  • Thank you for sharing this! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been in the last six months trying to only write positive things on my facebook posts … trying not to complain and I feel better about it. But I had not thought about the idea that once something is on the net it is there forever! So even if you took a blog post off your site, it still exists on the net?

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Jodine,
      If you took it off your site, it probably isn’t accessible, but search engines do archive some information and also, we don’t know if anyone who read it copied it or if it was scraped and used on another blog. If you’re worried about something you’ve written in the past, you’re likely just fine. But it’s good to keep in mind for the future that somethings can be hard to truly delete.

  • Kat, thanks for writing back! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am very new to blogging, so have not written much … but just clarifying what you are saying. I really like where you are coming from this.

  • Kat, thanks for writing back! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am very new to blogging, so have not written much … but just clarifying what you are saying.