I feel reflective on this fall day, so I’m going to risk thinking about aging and parenting.
Being the mom of young adults is really hard. In one way the job at hand is letting go and encouraging them to do more things alone. On the other, staying intimately (inextricably?) knit into their lives seems natural. You love them beyond reason. It’s even interesting to ponder whether you love them more than anyone else ever will.
Of course, even if you’re the mom, you’re a separate person. If things work out for the very best, you are destined to die first. That thought puts my job as a mother into sharp relief–I cannot make my children too dependent on my love and care, because ultimately that’s no kindness.
Maybe diving too deep into your young adult child’s life is a bit vampiric–to grab and live another life and lifetime. Their worries are like your old worries–life all over again!
The balance? I struggle to remember to enjoy the shared time we get to have. So much for parents to keep learning as we move through the different stages of growing up!
It’s been a while since we have posted… summer travels, family time and the need to unplug for a while kept us away.
But, we’re back and know that our concerns about the right of children to privacy on line is an important issue, as noted by the Guardian in a recent article “Does sharing photos of your children on Facebook put them at risk?”
A particular focus in the article and for us are the present and future concerns of the personal safety of children and the family. Also of concern are the future personal repercussions for children as they enter adulthood, post-secondary education, and the labour force. Furthermore, what may the posts by adults of their children on Facebook and blogs mean for their interpersonal relationships between children and those adults who have posted photos without permission and commented on the children’s photos and life experiences?
While the internet and social media are here to stay, we must think and act carefully about how we expose those who have not given permission to be presented online.
It’s good to see The Guardian is asking the same kind of questions that we have been asking over the past three years.
This week, an Instagram account was shut down for photos of mother Heather Bays breastfeeding her child. Watch this CBC video.
The video introduces some complications such as when Rosalind Prober comments on the need to be vigilant about images of children on line and the link to child pornography, whether the images are suggestive or not. The video also raises a question about whether the Instagram account was shut down because of the breastfeeding photo or because of other photos in the same account, such as the one that shows breastfeeding as pleasurable and possibly erotic.
We invite you to view the videos and let us know what you think in response to this question: Do we need to be as vigilant as Prober warns us to be? Is she right in her formula that once on the net always on the net – that things made public are permanent on the net? Or is there growing evidence that people will be able to wipe their online histories?
Recently a mom blogger wrote a post that ended up going viral about her mentally unstable son that compared him to a serial killer.( http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother ) He is so violent and uncontrollable, she argue, that he might eventually hurt or even kill someone. Her description of her attempts to take care of him courted empathy. Yet, all things considered, her betrayal of her son’s trust is breathtaking. In perpetuity, he is depicted by his own mother on the internet as an unstable and dangerous person. This is like having a permanent and public record. Did this mom blogger want to help others dealing with their violent children, and hurt her son inadvertently? Or did she write the post eyes wide open, in hopes of cultivating mass readership and possible sponsorship? A year later she was able to revisit the topic (https://thebluereview.org/not-adam-lanzas-mother) and develop another high profile post about the issue of loss and luck that ravages the lives of parents attempting to support children with mood, anger, and mental health problems. See below Long is pictured giving an educative Ted talk.
In the summer of 2013, actors and celebrity moms Halle Barry and Jennifer Garner
testified in support of Senate Bill 606
to change the legal definition of harassment to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian and increases the possible punishment for harassing celebrity kids—and clarifies the legal definition of harassment in such cases.
A month later, the implementation of the “eraser bill” in California on September 23, 2013 further demonstrates an understanding of the influence media and – by extension – social media has on the lives of individuals. In particular, it recognizes the long term damage that may occur to those who post compromising pictures and text on line. The law forces companies – as of January 2015 – to provide a way for minors to delete digital skeletons – rants, postings and pictures that could harm their reputations, their chances of getting into college and their employment opportunities.
Recognizing the vulnerability of minors should also be extended to blogging, you tube and other mediums of social media that are used by parents and adult family members to post images and narratives about children without their permission.
On March 18, 2014, The Ellen DeGeneres Show featured mom Linda Beltran and her eldest son Mateo, who made the 8 million viewed You Tube sensation “Linda, Honey, Listen” – 3-year old Mateo Makes His Case for Cup Cakes”. At the end of their interview, Ellen treated Mateo to a 5 foot mound of cup cakes, and gifted Linda with a spa weekend and a $10,000 cheque to help with the living expenses of her family – including her husband Kenneth, their second child, and her parents-in-law. Mateo’s parents are capitalizing further on their son’s notoriety by selling t-shirts with his catchphrase “Linda, Honey, Honey, Listen…” with all proceeds going to his college fund. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/03/17/little-mateo-pleads-his-case-for-cupcakes/
A few weeks ago, Sharon Greenthal, a former stay-at-home mom and blogger at Empty House, Full Mind wrote “A Letter To Mommy Bloggers From A Blogger With Grown Kids” encouraging mommy bloggers to NOT post photos and write about their children’s “ugly moments”. She reminds mom bloggers that their young children, whose little lives they use to create content for their blogs, “are going to grow up and develop identities separate from” their mothers. Furthermore, she warns that while these parents may be trailblazers living their lives on line, building their brands, and potentially attracting sponsors in doing so, they must be careful with their children who will grow up to be angered and hurt by their mother’s exploitation and betrayal. Rather than providing privacy for and protecting their kids, these moms will have unwittingly exposed them to the world in ways they may not want to be seen.
I wonder how Mateo will feel about himself and his parents when he is old enough to critically think about the you tube video and his notoriety as a 3-year-old.
A day of blog talk (thanks Elan Morgan and Kyla Roma). Now blogging about blogging, with 2 new questions about ethics in this world:
-when we provoke angry comments, have we helped angry people blow off steam: community service, not provocation
-when we write our blogs we are writing in character, and not using anything like an authentic voice.