It can be difficult to figure out what in the world to buy for our favorite female tweens and teens for Christmas. Here are some of my favorites! These links are Amazon affiliate links.

7 Gift Ideas for Your Tween-Teen Daughter!

1. ALARM CLOCK – $31.99

If you know me, you know I am all about kids using alarm clocks and not smartphones to wake themselves up in the morning! Here’s a great alarm clock for those heavy sleepers of yours!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE alarm clocks for your kids!

2. ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER 2-PACK – &29.99

My kids use these as nightlights and we diffuse oils when they aren’t feeling well. This is such a great price that you can keep one for yourself and give one as a gift! Want to order quality oils? Check out my Young Living site HERE

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THESE MOOD LIGHT ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSERS!

3. SMART LED LIGHTS TO DECORATE BEDROOM – $26.99

My daughter uses these to decorate her bedroom! She does not have them attached to any smart device as they work just fine without.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER DECORATIVE LED LIGHTS!

4. 2020 BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR – $24.95

My daughter received one of these for a gift last year and she just loves it!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR!

5. WET BRUSH- $9.99

Who couldn’t use another Wet Brush? Makes for a perfect stocking stuffer!

CLICK HERE TO BUY A WET BRUSH!

6. BURRITO-TORTILLA BLANKET – $26.99

Have a burrito-tortilla lover in the family? This makes for a perfect gift! Also, comes in Belgian waffle and pizza styles too!

CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TORTILLA BLANKET!

7. High Waisted Pattern Leggings – $26.99

I purchased these for myself and love them! Daughter dear has asked several times to borrow them and I purchased a solid pink pair for her as well!

FORGET LULULEMON PRICES! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THESE BUTTERY LEGGINGS!

What are your Amazon favorite purchases for the female tweens and teens in your life?

 

 

Jessica-Lahey-Gift-of-Failure-and-Amy-Carney

We know that strength of character is built by learning through setbacks, mistakes, and miscalculations, so why is it so difficult to allow our kids to experience failure today?

We can thank our child’s school online parent portal app for starters.

As a loving and helpful parent, we open the grade portal to check in on our child’s academic progress, only to see that our son forgot to turn in his homework yesterday, and our daughter bombed her latest math quiz. How are we supposed to react now that this information is in our hands?

Are we really to look at it, shrug our shoulders and go about our normal existence without bringing this knowledge to our child’s attention?

That will never happen because we care about our kids. We care about how our students are doing. And even though we know that our child learning through their mistakes is healthy, we cannot help but communicate with our child, our disappointment in their choices and expect them to do better.

How are we supposed to let our child fail when this portal gives us timely information to help our students better succeed?

The online parent grade portal was never made as a tool to help us embrace failure, but instead, its presence in our lives and on our phones heightens our fear of our child messing up. (We are naturally drawn to the red lines telling us our kids aren’t up to par.)

We can also thank Life360 or the other tracking apps we have on our phones.

Of course, a loving parent would put a tracking app on their child’s phone to keep tabs on their loved one while they’re out navigating the world without us. With it, we’re even able to see how fast our new driver is going since he now takes himself to soccer practice. We set up notifications that tell us when our dear offspring arrives at the field and when they depart as well.

And all the while, we can’t help checking the app throughout the day creating anxiety and stress when we see that our child is not where they’re supposed to be or that they’re driving 9 miles over the speed limit, knowing that they could get pulled over at any moment.

With such ‘helpful’ not helpful parental tools at our fingertips, how are we, as a loving parent, to embrace failure as a gift when we can so quickly help our loved one succeed at every turn instead?

We can start by removing these ‘helpful’ apps from our phone and reading the book The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, where the author helps parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their success.

Jessica-Lahey-Quote-Gift-of-Failure

Parents want to raise resourceful, persistent, innovative, and resilient citizens yet, culture has us confused about how to do that, and Lahey’s book is the perfect aide to help us get back on track.

Thanks to modern parenting styles and technology, we are launching kids into adulthood without the proper skills and mindset they need to be successful. If we continue to parent in an overbearing manner, our son or daughter may become ill-equipped to deal with ordinary life experiences or cope with everyday disappointments.

We must decide to step back and allow our children to struggle more because it’s what’s best for them. We must choose to remove the ‘helpful’ apps from our phones and let our sons and daughters fail and make mistakes. Lahey helps us shift our mindset to welcome the errors our child will make as a regular part of growing up.

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In The Gift of Failure, Lahey teaches us how to purposely lead our child into discomfort, strengthening their character and resolve. She guides us to understand how to be interested, yet not intrusive. Lahey helps us grasp why we must allow our children chances to step up, try, fail, and try again until they get it right. She also teaches us how to enable our children to survive their failures, earn their triumphs, and expect them to contribute to the family household.

The Gift of Failure has targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. The book helps parents understand why they need to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their successes so they can thrive and grow into independent, confident adults.

I met Jessica at Mom 2.0 Summit, and she gave me a copy of her book The Gift of Failure to give away to one of my lucky readers! For your chance to win, leave a comment below on why you need her wisdom. One winner will be chosen at random on Oct. 18. Winner must be a resident of the USA for shipping purposes.

Check out my favorite parenting books at my Parent on Purpose Amazon Store!

Youth-Hockey-Coach-Player-Meeting

When did it become okay for moms and dads to rant and rave in the stands and feel entitled to text, email and call up their child’s coaches about anything that rubs them wrong?

I recently read this article about a high school coach who left her coaching position because of the overinvolvement of parents. Unfortunately, this narrative is becoming commonplace at all levels of youth sports.

How did my husband Keith ever make it to the NHL without his parents intervening?

My Father-in-law, Jack, says that he never once questioned a coach (good or bad) during Keith’s ENTIRE youth hockey career. Jack also coached football himself and said that he had to ask kids to track down their parents if he ever needed them because they were nowhere to be found.

Youth-Hockey-Coach-Player-Meeting

We don’t have a problem tracking down parents anymore.

They are found on every sideline and set of bleachers today and have made their child’s sport a priority in their adult life.

The problem is that many parents are negatively making their presence known today.

Parents overinvolvement affects our children’s sports experience and their overall love and passion for the game. Three of my five children have played high-level multi-sports, so I get the intensity of it all, but there are certain things parents should refrain from bugging the coaches about.

Let’s begin giving the game back to the kids by letting the athlete be the athlete, and the Coach be the Coach.

Read more

Family-Meeting-Agendas

Growing up, I hung out at my best friend Mary’s house a lot, and, every once in awhile, Mary’s mom would tell me it was time for their family conference and that I was going to need to leave. As my two feet carried me home, I thought about how their family ritual seemed ludicrous. My parents didn’t do this sort of thing in our home, so why in the world would my friend’s family need to have meetings when we didn’t?

As I aged, I began to appreciate the fact that Mary’s family set aside sacred time for them and them alone. Her Mom wasn’t worried about catering to me or anyone else that she had to send home. They had an intentional system to connect, and I carried that idea forward into my family today.

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WHY SHOULD PARENTS CREATE A HABIT OF HOLDING FAMILY MEETINGS?

Because families today are going in all directions. Holding mindful family meetings is a way to slow down and purposely connect with your family members regularly. These meetings are a relaxed way for everyone to gather and communicate together.

Family meetings are a time to get honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your family and to talk about how things are going within your family unit and individually. Family meetings are meant to be fun and promote a sense of belonging.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS?

Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

Decide what works for your family according to your current schedule. If you have younger kids, it will be easier to meet up around the family table for weekly meetings. As kids get older, this becomes more difficult, although just as important. 

Adriane Thompson of Raising Kids With Purpose says she and her husband, along with their three sons ages 9, 6 and 1, meet on Sunday evenings and “the meetings are usually a mix of screaming, running around, dancing, and cheering with a dash of order.” She says that even with the chaos, something amazing happens:

  • Our kids have input on decisions that impact them.
  • Problems or challenges get addressed in a judgment-free zone.
  • Our family values are highlighted and reiterated.
  • We find out if something is going on with someone that didn’t come up during the week.
  • Everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have others cheering them on.
  • Chores and family contributions are assigned.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FAMILY MEETING LAST?

Adriane says they keep their weekly family meeting to 15 minutes. “When we first started having meetings, we would all say something nice about each person in our family. Then once all the compliments were finished, that person would get to dance around the house hearing us chant their name. My toddler loved this part. But what ended up happening was the meeting got dragged out making it too long to keep attention,” she said.

WHERE SHOULD YOU HOLD YOUR FAMILY MEETINGS?

I want our “formal” dining room table to be a place where we regularly gather for connective tech-free time together, so this is where we hold our meetings.

The Thompsons’ prefer to switch up where they meet, and Adriane says, “You may even want to consider changing it up once a month and doing it at a park, a froyo place, Chick-Fil-A or somewhere where the kids can have fun afterward.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE 

Claim what it is you want to accomplish through holding your family meetings.

“The goal of a Family Meeting should be to open communication between everyone in the family. Allowing our kids to have a voice gives them autonomy, but also in this type of environment they can get a lot of guidance and know who is ultimately in charge,” says Adriane.

SET THE MOOD

Purposely set the mood and tone of the room to match how you want your family meeting to feel. Do you want it to be fun and upbeat, or do you want it to be serene and serious? Our family meetings always include a dessert, and I light candles so that the space feels calm and inviting.

Adriane agrees to include a special treat for the kids to enjoy during the meeting. “This can be anything from popcorn, special smoothies, muffins to frozen yogurt. Our kids aren’t used to getting a lot of sweet treats, so a family meeting is a perfect time to let them indulge a little,” she says.

END THE MEETING WITH A FUN RITUAL OR FAMILY EVENT

When you have younger kids, you can add an element of fun to the very end of the meeting, such as a dance party or something silly.

For those with older kids, Audrey Monke, Mother of 5 and Writer at Sunshine Parenting says, “Playing a board game or watching your favorite TV show together could be a reward for having the meeting.”



Family-Meeting-Agendas

PLAN YOUR AGENDA

Both Adriane and I, have Family Meeting Agendas that we print out and use for our family meetings, while Audrey says, “You don’t have to get fancy with your agenda. We keep ours on a legal pad, and we take turns being the “chair” of the meeting. Leading the session is good communication practice for kids.”

DOWNLOAD ADRIANE’S WEEKLY FAMILY AGENDA HERE

HERE’S WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR AGENDA

  • What’s working well in your family, and what’s not working so well?
  • What changes do we need to make and what do we want to keep the same?
  • Talk about a value or life skill you want to strengthen.
  • Discuss how well you are serving and loving other people.
  • Coordinate the Family Calendar.
  • Discuss any needs for school or work projects, so you get out of the habit of running out last minute for that poster board!
  • Do you want to payout allowance or any other rewards?

Raising Kids With Purpose Family Meeting Agenda-10

HOW TO KICK OFF THE MEETING 

Start By Saying Something Nice

We used to start our family meetings by turning to the person next to us and saying something we loved about them. Complimenting one another no longer flies with the teenagers, but that practice certainly made for some sweet memories and strengthened our bonds.

Use Conversation Starters

Our family loves using Conversation Starter products around the table. Our favorites are Togather or Food With Thought These questions always seem to lighten the mood of the meeting, and we gain better insight into who one another are. 

Say Highs and Lows

You can also begin with Highs and Lows, where everyone thinks of something positive and something not so positive that recently happened to them.

OTHER GREAT IDEAS TO INCLUDE

Word of the Week

Adriane says her family picks a word from a “words to make you sound smarter” list or “words to study for the SAT,” and they discuss the meaning as well as try to use it throughout the week. I love this idea!

Meal Planning 

Take the time during meetings to plan your weekly dinner menu or to plan for school lunches. Get the whole family involved in what they want to eat for the week and decide who is going to help shop and make the meals too!

No matter if we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must take the time and make an effort to connect with them regularly. Family meetings tell our kids that they matter. That our family matters. That our thoughts and actions matter.

Setting aside this sacred time for your family, whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, is a perfect way to let your kids know you care about them and the overall health of your entire family.

What do you think is important to include in family meetings?



Grown-&-Flown-Book-Review

As a parent of three sons on the verge of adulthood, one daughter right behind them and one son in middle school, Grown & Flown is one of my favorite websites for all things parenting older kids. Not only have I gained wisdom and insight from this popular online parenting resource, but I have also been blessed to write for G&F as well.

Grown-&-Flown-Founders-Lisa-Heffernan-Mary-Dell-Harrington

Lisa, Mary Dell and I at Mom 2.0 Summit in Austin!

Grown & Flown cofounders, Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, have expanded on the online content from their #1 site for parents of teens and young adults and compiled all of their wisdom for those of us following in their parental footsteps into this beautiful hardback book.

The Dynamic Duo teamed with physicians, psychologists, educators, and writers, to produce this essential guide for building strong relationships with our teens and preparing them to launch into adulthood successfully. I love that both of our books feature a paper airplane on the cover too. Great minds (and great publishers) think alike!

Grown-&-Flown-Book-Review

The book Grown & Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family and Raise Independent Adults is a one-stop resource for parenting teenagers, leading up to- and through- high school and those first years of independence. This 335-page book is packed full of advice and wisdom from professionals and parents who have gone before us. You will want to dig through and take what works for you and leave behind what doesn’t.

The book is organized by topic: family life, mental health, academics, college admissions, separating and letting go, college life, and more. The unique chapter topics make it easy to decide what you want to read, depending on your current parenting stage.

Grown-&-Flown-Book-Review

7 Messages You May Need to Read in the New Book Grown & Flown:

  • Why you may want to trust your teen instead of track them
  • 5 signs you may be overparenting your student
  • How to demonstrate loving support to your student instead
  • Why we want and need, to raise intrinsically motivated students 
  • 15 valuable lessons from a high school teacher
  • Why you may want to rethink the 4-year university path for your child
  • Our parental role in helping our child choose a college

In the book, there is an excellent resource that I am saving for next summer on 50 Questions to Ask Before You go Dorm Shopping. I thought I would buy a Bed-in-A-Bag and call it a day. Apparently not. So, I look forward to digging into this section of the book when it’s time to send our sons off to college next year!

If you are parenting teens or college-aged kids, let me know why Grown & Flown’s new book would be an excellent resource for you. Leave a comment below for your chance to win your very own hardback copy!

Winner will be chosen by random on September 17, 2019. Must be a US resident to win for shipping purposes.

Don’t want to wait? Order your copy at a discount off Amazon HERE!

Want to read my work online at Grown & Flown? Click HERE!

 

 

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

Five years ago, we were traveling around our country in an RV with our four middle schoolers in tow. In honor of that epic trip, we headed north to touch base with the campground life once again. We chose to get out of the Phoenix heat and camp at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday in Williams, Arizona.

We sold our motorhome shortly after returning home from our American journey, but the great thing about this location, and many other KOA’s, is that they have plenty of alternative accommodations for campers who don’t have an RV or a tent.

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

We chose to split up between this deluxe cabin and one of the tepees nearby. The kids had a lot of fun going between the two places. We gathered each night in front of the tepee for smores over the campfire.

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Tepee

There are so many options for outdoor family fun here at the Circle Pines KOA. Our kids used to flip through the KOA directory and beg us to go stay at this location because it looked like so much fun. When, we told them we had finally booked it, they said, “we wanted to do that back when we were 12, not now.” Ha! Too bad….

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

And as you can see, they had a ball. Playing Gaga ball together….

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Go Kart racing in the afternoons. The course on property is open to the public as well, but KOA campers get a discount.

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

KOA’s signature jumping pillows brought the greatest joy to our kids on our RV trip and it was apparent that their love for them still exists today!

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

The Circle Pines KOA Holiday location was a perfect location for us to take day trips from. Bearizona is just one exit west of the campground.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is 35 minutes east of this campground. The owners of Circle Pines, also own the KOA in Flagstaff, if you wanted to stay closer to this.

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

And our glorious Grand Canyon National Park is only an hour away as well!

The Circle Pines KOA was the perfect hub for our family to go off on day trips and come back to a relaxing environment where we could all find time to decompress and enjoy playful moments together.

Our family received no compensation for this review. I just love KOA and all of the joy, connection and playful moments their locations have allowed our family to share together!

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

Our family spent part of our summer vacation exploring our home state of Arizona. We headed up north a couple of hours and visited Bearizona for the first time.

Bearizona is a wildlife park featuring a wide variety of North American animals. You can experience a scenic 3 mile drive through the Ponderosa Pine Forest in your own vehicle or choose to take the Wild Ride Bus Tour like we did.

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

We enjoyed the open air guided Bus Tour because not only did we get to learn about the animals and park in general, but we could see the animals so much better than we would’ve stuffed in our Suburban.

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You could take the bus tour and then drive through yourself after if you wanted! The cost of admission to Bearizona is $25 for adults and $15 for children 4-12. They also offer annual passes.

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

Bearizona takes great care in providing animals with large, naturalistic enclosures and plenty of room to roam. Many of their animals have been rescued and rehabilitated here. The wildlife park is privately owned and receives no tax dollars.

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More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20 acre walk-thru area, along winding paths which is more of a “zoo” type setting. After our bus tour, our youngest was so excited to go to the Barnyard and pet some of the animals.

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We also enjoyed the Birds of Prey Free Flight Show and Nix enjoyed getting to ask questions about the birds afterward. There is also a beautifully themed restaurant here and several outdoor stands with treats and drinks. We stopped and took a gelato break! There was even live music on a stage right by us. We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing few hours here at Bearizona!

KOA-williams-arizona

Bearizona was only 2 miles from where we stayed at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday campground! As you can see leaving the park, there are 2 KOA’s very close by. Both of them are owned by the wonderful Bell family, who we got to meet in St. Louis along our 2014 RV journey around the USA.

Thank you to Bearizona for giving our family admission to the park in exchange for this honest review.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

One of our core family values is adventure, so it was only fitting that our family headed to Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course during our summer travels to northern Arizona.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

As our children get older, it can be difficult to figure out how to connect and ‘play’ as a family, so I try to seek out places where we can spend tech-free time together in nature and this outdoor playground was the perfect place for us to do this. Plus, we had enjoyed several adventure courses during our RV trip around the USA in 2014, including Olympic Park in Utah and Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.

What is an Adventure Course?

A Tree Top Adventure Course is an adventurous obstacle course set in the natural environment where the course is located, in this case, Flagstaff, Arizona. The obstacles are suspended between trees and participants stay securely clipped into a red safety cable throughout the course. The obstacles you will find in the park include suspended bridges, scramble nets, swinging logs, a skateboard, and much more! If you complete all five adult courses and 70 obstacles, you will also have been on 8 ziplines plus the short one on the Demonstration Course. You also may just find a surprise at the end of the 5th course! Only two of our sons made it through the entire course.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

There were lots of laughs shared and lots of obstacles to overcome….

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

Pricing for the Adventure Course is $52 per guest + taxes and fees for ages 12 and up. Kids ages 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult. There is a Kid’s Adventure Course for children ages 7-11 for $27 + taxes and fees.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

Our youngest who claims to be afraid of heights, challenged himself and made it through three of the five courses. Although scared out of his mind at times, it was awesome to see him challenge himself and build his resilience on this course.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is Arizona’s only Adventure and Zipline course and is located two hours north of Phoenix. Booking your spot online in advance is highly recommended.

WHEN YOU GO TO FLAGSTAFF EXTREME:

  • Bring gloves to wear because after awhile your hands will be happy you did. They do sell fingerless gloves there, but we bought a 3-pack of inexpensive utility gloves at Walmart before we went and those worked perfectly.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and a carabiner to hook it to your harness. There is a station to fill your water bottles outside where you check in.
  • Be sure to bring lunch or snacks to enjoy at the picnic tables throughout the park.

Flagstaff Extreme graciously comped our entrance to the park in exchange for this review.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit

Be Kind. Do Good. Make the World Better.

For Purpose Kid’s simple motto is one we should all strive to raise our kids by today. 

How can we habitually make kindness and goodness an authentic part of childhood despite the self-serving culture that we are raising our kids in?

We must decide that it’s important enough to live these important values out regularly. Thanks to the value-based Toolkits from For Purpose Kids, parents now have tangible tools to use to teach younger children important character traits.

It’s a parent’s duty to purposely instill the pertinent lifelong values that will develop children of character who can go into the world and make it a better place.

Michelle-Borba-Values-Quote

Founder Misty Castañeda started imagining how different the world might look if we, as parents, consciously raised kids to be kind and caring, so she created an interactive learning program known as For Purpose Kids.

The For Purpose Kids Toolkits inspire children 5 to 10 to learn about being kind and doing good for people, communities, animals, and the environment through activities, books, and events. Built upon a subscription model for ongoing, interactive learning, the Toolkits engage young kids in meaningful conversations using multicultural characters and stories.

Misty graciously sent our family the Do Good Starter Kit, so my youngest son and I kicked off summer break by opening it up and talking through its contents.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit

In our family, we focus on showing kindness and love, so this subscription box fits the values we are already authentically trying to live out.

My son cut out the characters and had the idea to write their names on the tops of them. We were able to read through the descriptions of each character, and he decided that Deepu was his favorite because of his love for animals.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit

The journal was our favorite product in the box. Even though you can buy a journal anywhere, this Yoobi one felt special because it was specifically designed to use for our journey in showing kindness. We thought it was a perfect idea to write down our Random Acts of Kindness that we already authentically do in our lives. It will be even more fun now having somewhere we can log all of our fun and kind moments together.

Read my post on For Purpose Kids – Why We Need to Prioritize Serving With Our Kids!

This journal will be a great tool to help my son work on his writing and storytelling skills. He is excited about the journal because it came in this subscription box. If I had pulled out a blank book and said he was going to write in it, I’m sure this opportunity would not feel as fun.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit-Yoobi-Journal

For every For Purpose Kids Toolkit purchased, five meals are donated to kids at the Sunnaay Foundation, an organization in New Delhi, India that provides basic education, nourishment, and support for underprivileged children. For Purpose Kids is not affiliated with any non-profit or religious organization, so you can incorporate your personal beliefs and faith alongside what is provided. 

In our family, we added Biblical scripture to further discuss why we live a life of kindness and love to others.

1-John-3:8

For Purpose Kids is offering my readers a 15% discount code until August 31 using ParentonPurpose.

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?