Recently, the hashtag "Asshole Parents" has been popping up on my Facebook newsfeed. The seemingly harmless movement encourages parents to chronicle the daily tantrums of their toddlers via social media in the hopes of finding camaraderie and humor. But it doesn't stop with a simple hashtag. There are countless blog posts and photos circulating the Internet that resort to shaming toddlers and broadcasting their tantrums.
I get it. I'm a mom. Some days are rough. Other days are even rougher. Throw a toddler into the mix, and grey hairs start popping up. There's tears over sharing toys and how I cut her PB and J sandwich. Triangles, not squares. No squares. No triangles. Sometimes I look at her the wrong way. Most days I say the wrong thing. And I am never allowed to sing in the car. All of the above can result in tears, and that's the most basic of stuff. There's an entire day to survive, and that day offers multiple opportunities for tantrums. It's nice to know I am not alone on this parenting voyage, especially when my voyage closely resembles the sinking of the Titanic.
But, as much as I need to feel connected to other mothers -- misery loves company, right?! -- I won't do it at the expense of my children. I refuse to share their meltdowns on social media. Why?
1. Because my job is to build my children up, not tear them down. Child-shaming seems to be growing in popularity thanks to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But what are the long-term effects of such practices? And how does posting vulnerable pictures of our children adversely affect the parent-child relationship? What will be the consequences of our parental need to overshare? The Internet is forever. In reality, chances are my own children may even stumble across this blog post one day. With that reality in mind, I'd rather share images of my children enjoying life than images of them screaming and in tears. I'd rather focus on the positives in our day than harp on the negatives. I'd rather celebrate my children than shame them.
2. Because I am supposed to comfort my children. When my child is having a tantrum, there are many things I would rather be doing. Relaxing on a beach. Being pampered at the spa. Sipping a glass of Merlot. But I'm not doing any of those things. I am right there in the moment to take in every scream and each tear. What do I do? I try to comfort. I try to calm. I try to validate her feelings. What don't I do? Reach for my camera.
3. Because I am learning that there are some moments in life that deserve privacy. With the advent of social media, it has become all too easy to share every single moment of every single day. In fact, just today, in a matter of seconds and in no particular order, I saw someone's breakfast burrito, a set of freshly pedicured toes, and a rash that would even stump WebMD. All on Facebook. Just because the Internet allows us the chance to post a picture of a private moment -- like a child crying -- doesn't mean we should. Moments of pain and anger and sadness should be treated with respect and privacy, not broadcasted on an Instagram page.
4. Because I believe in doing unto others. I know it may be hard to believe, but I have awful mommy moments too. There are days when my patience is nonexistent. Days when I'm exhausted. Days when there's too much to do and not enough time. I get frustrated. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I cry. And never would I want someone to post images of me doing those things. If my ugly cry has no place on the Internet, why would I think my child's does? The answer is simple. It doesn't.
As a parent, I must draw the line with what I share on social media. My need to connect with others -- humorous or not -- should never trump the privacy and respect my children deserve.