Recently, I saw a photograph on Facebook, of a little girl experiencing a meltdown…a raw heart-wrenching meltdown. There was great sadness in her eyes and tears running down her face. I felt her pain. As a Mom, this photograph brought tears to my eyes, and then I realized that it had been posted by her own mother. The mother’s description of her daughter let me know that as her mother, she was worried, frustrated, and saddened by her daughter’s unpredictable emotional outbursts. She had posted other pictures a few months ago and shared concerns about her daughter’s emotional ups and downs. Her blog post included photos of books about children’s behavioral and mental disorders. My concern, both as a Mom and a child therapist, is that the photos and information were posted for the world to see. It caused me to wonder if this information will follow her as she grows up and goes into the world. What will the ramifications be? Will someone from her class or community see her in her “darkest” time and rush to judge…think they knew her, only to see her “other” side? We all have good and bad days, shadow sides of ourselves that we don’t often share with the world. I’m sure we’ve all had moments, ones that would make us cringe, if we saw ourselves on Facebook or Youtube! Do children have a voice in whether or not their behavior is shared with the world?
You may have seen a Mom, recently on the Today Show, defending her Facebook post of her 13 year old daughter. It appears that the daughter had been disrespectful to her mother, in front of her friends. The mother was embarrassed by her daughter’s behavior and wanted her daughter to experience the feeling of public embarrassment. The mother likened her Facebook punishment to the public punishment and humiliation of another generation being forced to write 100 sentences on the chalkboard for misbehavior. Or is this public pillory? http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/27/11429170-mom-who-used-facebook-to-discipline-teen-has-no-regrets?lite
A father, recently posted on his blog, that he had second thoughts about sharing information related to the trials and tribulations of potty training his 2 year old daughter. Luckily, he was 200 words into his blog post, complete with a photograph of his daughter, when he stopped, reflected and thought…maybe this is too much information. He asked himself if his daughter would want the world to know about her potty training experience? His answer was no.
One of our daughters used to say “stop looking at me” when she was in the midst of a meltdown. Her request or demand for her family or anyone else nearby to stop looking at her, would have taken on a whole new meaning had she been posted on Facebook for the world to see.
Although we may become saddened, confused or angered by our children’s behavior, does the world need to know? I am not in favor of family “secrets”, but there is a difference between discussing issues about your children with other family members or friends, versus sharing them with the world. Although the mother on the Today show wanted her daughter to experience public embarrassment…did she go too far?
The Mom who shared her daughter’s meltdown on Facebook…did she go too far? Some reader’s comments, on her blog, told me that they appreciated her honesty, since they too were having a difficult time with their own children. I am all for Moms supporting each other, sharing their heartfelt stories, in an attempt to receive support or support another Mom. However, I feel strongly that we should consider children’s feelings first.
How will children feel when they grow up and realize that what happened in the privacy of their home, was not as private as they thought?
Are there other ways to discipline children, without the use of public embarrassment?
I would love to hear your thoughts about using social media to share information about our children.