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Sharents: Why You Need To Pause Before You Post

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?

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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.”

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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?

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9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

Childhood is short.
Summer is even shorter.
Eighteen summers are all we get.

How will your family spend this precious summer season?

While June, July, and August may be perfect for lazy days and relaxation, we mustn’t make the mistake of aimlessly drifting through the summer months without purposely making a proactive plan for our family.

What exactly is it that you want and need?

I love that summer provides my teenagers mornings to sleep in and time to rest and recover from their normally stressful high school scheduled programming. Yet, more downtime equates to more screen time if we’re not mindful.

How can we get our kids off screens and make this summer count?

I know this 17th summer of ours matters yet how do we make the most of it despite our realities and circumstances?

We must decide to deliberately design our summers.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

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3 Things to Do if your Son is Obsessed with Fortnite

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever-loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

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As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in one month alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

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3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food. “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my teenage Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations?

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“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Decide what boundaries you need to place on video game play and overall technology use in your home.

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

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5 Gifts to Give Your Kid for Their 16th Birthday!

How does this…

triplet-sons-driving-16

Turn into this… in a few blinks of an eye.

I’m not sure how we’re already at this stage in our family, but I have to say these guys are way more fun now than they ever were 16 years ago!

The big question I’m asked is did we buy them three cars for their milestone birthday?

Not a chance.

If there was no car with a bow, no epic party or promised iPhone X, then what did we give our 16-year-olds besides a little cash?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what material item to buy or what Pinterest worthy event to throw, that we forget what’s really important to give our kids- the gift of lifelong values.

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1. The Gift of Desire

All my sons desired for their birthday was to get their drivers’ licenses and hit the open road. They wanted the gift of freedom as they turned 16, and that’s what we gave them- a ride to the DMV.

There was no party, no promise of the latest electronic or a new car. Some are lucky enough to be able to get some great loans they’ve found through Money Expert to fund that but we decided on a different route. We had simply instilled in our boys the desire to set up their own appointments online to take the driving test the minute they could on their birthday. I wasn’t even aware that you could do that. Good for them. But being out on the roads can be dangerous, my friend’s boys had an accident the other day and they had to get lawyers involved. I hear they provided some useful advice and support.

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7 Things Your Daughter Shouldn’t Post on Instagram

223 likes.

527 followers.

We know that Instagram numbers matter to our daughters.

You are so perfect.

Love you so much.

The feedback our girls receive on their Instagram posts matters even more.

But does your daughter know what matters to you when it comes to her presence online?

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5 Things Parents Must Tell Their Children

We parents today are fantastic at telling our babies how wonderful they are at everything they do.

We slap stickers of their sports team logos and the schools they attend on the backs of the cars that we shuttle them around in.

We happily tout their sports victories and weekend wins on social media for all to see.

We parents are proud of our kids.

Perhaps what our kids need from us more than constant pats on the back is a healthier dose of reality. Along with telling Johnny what a gift to the world he is, we need to also make sure he understands these things…

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How to Stop Reacting to your Child’s Pleading Texts!

Forgotten homework. Instrument. Water bottle. PE Uniform. Lunch. Cell phone. And the list goes on.

You name it and our kids will forget it. And then they’ll want us to deliver it.

How do we respond, instead of react, to their pleas for help?

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5 Books That Help Me When I Want to Over-Parent

My post on 8 things you should stop doing for your teen resonated with a lot of people.

The truth is, it is tough parenting resilient kids in today’s culture.

As a stay-at-home, work-from-home Mom, it’s easy to over-parent my kids because I adore them and want them to wholeheartedly know and feel that.

I have to really work at not over-functioning as a Mom.

Raising four not so-youngsters, I’m constantly fighting the urge to over parent. From the time my feet hit the floor each morning to the time I crawl into bed, I am trying to balance being there for my kids and showing up in my own life.

Why is parenting today so much more difficult than when we were growing up?

Or does it just seem that way because we are so heavily involved?

Today our children are so much busier than we ever were as kids. I played high school sports and thank goodness there was no such thing as “club teams” and rarely if ever, did we have hours of homework.

We do a lot of things for our kids that our parents never did for us. We feel bad for our busy kids, so we try and help them out, even when we shouldn’t.

Here are 5 Books that help me when I want to over-parent

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Stop Doing These 8 Things for Your Teen This School Year

Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.

Don’t judge me if they’re on the sidelines of PE because they forgot their uniform.

Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.

What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.

I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago.

I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home.

School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?

Let's parent our kids to be capable adults! I love this Ann Landers quote!

Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year

1. Waking them up in the morning

If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do its job. My foursome has been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.

I heard a Mom actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well-functioning adults here.

2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch

My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.

One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.

3. Filling out their paperwork

Have kids fill out and sign all school paperwork and put on clipboard before you sign

I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks.

Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention.

4. Delivering their forgotten items

Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realized she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mom!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.

Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see, that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.

We also have a rule that Mom and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just shoot back “that’s a bummer.”

text message

5. Making their failure to plan your emergency

School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to Michaels for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.

This is a good topic to talk about in weekly family meetings. Does anyone have projects coming up that they’re going to need supplies for so that I can pick them up at my convenience this week?

6. Doing all of their laundry

laundry time

“What? YOU didn’t get my shorts washed? This response always backfires on the kid who may lose their mind thinking that I’m the only one who can do laundry around here. Every once in a while a child needs a healthy reminder that I do not work for them. The minute they assume that this is my main role in life is the minute that I gladly hand over the laundry task to them.

Most days I do the washing and the kids fold and put their clothes away, but they are capable of tackling the entire process when need be.

7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches  

If our child has a problem with a teacher or coach, he is going to have to take it to the one in charge. There is no way that we, as parents, are going to question a coach or email a teacher about something that should be between the authority figure and our child.

Don’t be that over-involved parent. Teach your child that if something is important enough to him, then he needs to learn how to handle the issue himself or at least ask you to help them.

8. Meddling in their academics

National Junior Honor Society middle school induction ceremony Cocopah Middle School

Put the pencil down parents. Most of the time, I honestly couldn’t tell you what my kids are doing for school work. We talk about projects and papers over dinner, but we’ve always had the expectation for our kids to own their work and grades. At times, they’ve earned Principals Lists, Honor Rolls and National Junior Honor Society honors on their own accord. At other times, they’ve missed the mark.

These apps and websites, where parents can go in and see every detail of children’s school grades and homework, are not helping our overparenting epidemic.

Every blue moon I will ask the kids to pull up their student account and show me their grades because I want them to know I do care. I did notice our daughter slacking off at the end of last year and my acknowledgment helped her catch up, but I’m not taking it on as one of my regular responsibilities and you shouldn’t be either.

What is your parenting goal?

Is it to raise competent and capable adults?

If so, then lets work on backing off in areas where our teens can stand on their own two feet. I know they’re our babies and it feels good to hover over them once in a while, but in all seriousness, it’s up to us to raise them to be capable people.

I want to feel confident when I launch my kids into the real world that they are going to be just fine because I stepped back and let them navigate failure and real-life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids scramble around, shoving pre-packaged items into that brown paper lunch bag, before racing to catch the bus.

It’s all on purpose, my friends.

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For You, Our Middle School Teacher

Dear Teacher of my Beloved Middle School Student,

It’s that time of year that I have been asked to send in daily treats of Monday’s flower, Tuesday’s favorite snack, Wednesday’s gift card, Thursday’s school supply and Friday’s personal note all in the name of National Teacher Appreciation Week. I thought that in middle school perhaps I would be free of this daunting schedule, put out lovingly by our APT, but obviously, that is not the case. The problem is, I’m in the business of picking parental battles and asking my 14-year-old son to carry a flower for you on to the bus, isn’t one I’m willing to fight for. Please don’t take this personal.

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