My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Pondering privacy and kids

Here’s the thing: I am horribly indecisive.

My privacy is important to me. But I’m a very open person, and I often don’t worry about sharing information about myself. Do I post  my social security number on my bumper or offer my credit card number to the phone solicitor? No. Do I tell perfect strangers online about my personal opinions or show photos of my kids in their swimsuits? Yeah.

I have a few regrets. I wonder if sharing my personal anxiety of parenting is fair to my kids. I worry that I haven’t always been as protective of myself and my kids as I could or should be. Certainly, I come at this world of online communication from a place of humility and love: I am learning, and I often write with no audience intended. However, even if I don’t expect anyone to read this essay, the fact is that it’s available to anyone with an internet connection.

So, what is the right answer? Do you give your kids nicknames in your blog? Do you refuse to post photos of your kids online? Do you refrain from sharing your upcoming vacation plans on facebook?

I read this interesting article about privacy. But before reading that, I had been contemplating this parenting philosophy that a good friend referred to me via this site. The site, called Free Range Kids, is the work of this woman Lenore Skenazy. Skenazy caused a stir when she had the guts to let her 9-year-old ride the subway by himself. The child made his way home safely and felt invigorated by his sense of independence. This led Skenazy to adopt this policy of “common sense parenting in overprotective times.” She advises other parents to fight against the notion that our kids are constantly in danger, whether it be from a bee sting or a lurking pedophile.

Is there a common sense approach to parenting your child online? Do you want to talk about the guy who posted a shaming photo of his preschooler after she pooped in the shower? Or go back to the dad who humiliated his daughter by outing her as a disrespectful brat and putting a bullet through her laptop? What is an inappropriate photo to post of your child? What precautions do you take: refrain from revealing your location, or never mention the name of the school your child attends?

I don’t know the right answers to any of these questions. Certainly, I have made certain choices for myself. I know that a fellow blogger at Rich Full Life spoke about the documented childhood in a post not too long ago. There are endless amounts of questions.  I liken what I’m doing to my kids to piercing their ears: I didn’t pierce my daughters’ ears when they were babies because I figured that there would come a time when they’d eventually ask me to get their ears pierced. Why, oh why, if I wouldn’t put a piece of hypoallergenic stainless steel in their wee earlobes because they hadn’t yet voiced their own interest in it,  then why would I think it’s just fine to reveal their images or their favorite security item for the whole world to see?

The answer is: I don’t know. I love my girls, they are precious and kind and innocent. But I don’t know that revealing their love of macaroni or my frustrations with potty-training is ultimately going to ruin their lives. My choices, while possibly risky, are largely meant to be an honest reflection of my life. I try to be authentic in my writing. I try to use this blog to examine issues that are difficult for me to resolve. It’s an effort for me to be vague. Not that my kids’ don’t warrant some effort, but is it a grave mistake to reveal a few personal details? I can’t know the answer to this question, so I’m trying to live my online parenthood as a free-range parent, I guess. I’m putting my faith in the world at large that my innocently-written “mommy blog” is overwhelmingly safe in the hands of my as-far-as-I-can-tell kind and respectful readers.

What do you do? What are choices that you’ve made regarding your child and online safety?


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

“free range parenting” – Jayme, you must write a book!

Seriously, as you sort out parenting your lovely girls, you are also helping other moms (& even non-moms like me) sort out life issues thru your blog. Sure, there are whacked out weirdos lurking about the Internet, but methinks it’s better to be vigilant about your kids safety realtime where you are (my niece did a documentary on Human Trafficking in the U.S. – we should be VERY Careful even in small town USA!)

I, for one, thank you for blessing us with your thoughts & struggles in this blog !!

grace, peace & free range parents – Virginia : )

Comment by Virginia

Oh, Virginia, to be clear—I didn’t coin the term “Free Range Parenting”, that was the woman Lenore Skenazy I spoke of. I do so appreciate your comments (always) and support. Please send me more info about your niece’s documentary, I want to hear more!

Comment by jaymers

oops, still, free ranging sounds like a great idea : ) You’re still way cool to even know about it!

My niece, Morgan, produced the Human Trafficking documentary Sex+Money: a National Search for Human Worth. She & a bunch of 20-somethings decided to Do Something. After making the movie they took this powerful advocacy tool on tour, showing it in universities, public forums & churches in all 50 states (she’s won all kinds of awards, am i a proud auntie or what??)

Here’s a link to learn more:

Comment by Virginia

I will indeed have to check this out. Thanks for the link. And thanks, as always, for reading.

Comment by jaymers

It is definitely a line I consider. I feel as though we live in an age where nearly everything is public. However, I don’t need to add to that. Therefore, I am somewhat cautious.

Comment by memyselfandkids

I noticed that you’re cautious, and I totally respect that. Thanks for commenting.

Comment by jaymers

Jayme, I totally understand where you are coming from. I do give my kids nicknames on my blog, but I also post their pictures and such. I feel that my life revolves so much around their childhood experiences so I want to share them. I don’t, however, put my blog on my Facebook. First, I might make someone angry (String Bean’s 4th grade teacher perhaps). 🙂

Comment by jeandayfriday

I love hearing everyone’s perspective on this. I truly feel like I want to walk the line between being naive and living my life wary of everyone/everything, is there such a place? Thanks for commenting. Oh, and have I told you how happy I am that jeanday is back???

Comment by jaymers

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