Why I've Been Posting Less Of My Child's Face Online

I want my son to learn how to set boundaries. I want him to understand what the term consent means, what boundaries are, and that he has a right to them.

Picture-taking is in my blood. Tucked away in my closet is a musty, old storage bin containing old images. My father always had a camera hanging down from his neck like a fifth limb. Landscapes, locations, hobbies, family, friends, experiences are all in that bin. Memories I can physically hold onto when I forget. As a stay-at-home mom, my son is a constant presence in my life from sunrise to sunset and every moment in between. It only felt natural to take and post photos of him. Building an online mom community, having that interaction, and bouncing compliments off each other.

However, the internet is eternal. No matter if you hit the delete button, those photos are there for good. The tantrums, the marker face, the allergic reactions, the too-quick camera click, the bath photos. When it goes up, it never goes down. I lose control over who sees it and what happens to it when it gets published on the internet. Our moment becomes the moment of many. Those photos and videos will follow them into teenage years and into adulthood. This is the world we live in and the world our children will grow into.

Like in the real world, I want my son to learn how to set boundaries. I want him to understand what the term consent means, what boundaries are, and that he has a right to them. I don’t force him to hug anyone if he doesn’t want to, his doctors ask before examining him, I remind him he’s allowed to tell people no if he’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want to be touched, I listen to him when he says he doesn’t want his picture taken or to stop tickling or roughhousing with him, I tell him when I don’t want him climbing on top of me. I give him choices, I give him boundaries, I teach him consent yet I felt I should be the one that controls his online presence? Why does consent stop here?

In Psychology, there is something called positive reinforcement. Basically, each time you receive likes and comments you are being reinforced or validated in your actions which means it’s likely to cause you to continue that action in the future. Being aware of that is one reason I realized how relaxed I became with sharing photos of my son online and one reason I vowed to change it – self-control outside of the psychological catastrophe of social media.

My son is sacred, his feelings are sacred, and I’m proud of him – without wires.

Swapping stories is important. It gives us a sense of connection we may be lacking in our real life whether it be with distant relatives in another state or strangers we don’t truly know. For me, I want to change the way that’s done. I don’t want strangers to know him unless they want to make an active and intentional effort to know him. Relationships have become lazy and I feel I’m participating in it by sharing my life unabashedly. At three years old, I don’t want to put social media’s weight on my son’s shoulders. My online choices should enrich our real world life as a family. There’s no doubt that the internet is important to me – for blogging, for writing, for connecting, for sharing. But it’s not everything, it’s not my son’s everything. My son is sacred, his feelings are sacred, and I’m proud of him – without wires.

I posted 4 photos on Facebook with his face in them since August 20th and only 3 posts on Instagram since August 28th with his face showing. In ways, it still seems like a lot but I feel much more comfortable with his digital media presence and knowing I am giving control back to him.

How do you view social media and photos of your children?

'Mirror" by Sylvia Plath + A Writing Prompt

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful,
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

The poem above is by Sylvia Plath. Written with the mirror as the speaker, it gives the essence of great beauty and sadness. We perceive the user from the eyes of the mirror. Giving us only a brief glimpse into who the woman is, we are given enough information to understand what emotional turmoil she may be going through as she sees her own reflection. Plath gives tremendous power to the mirror. “I am not cruel, only truthful” showcases how often people despise what they see in the mirror but it is not something the mirror has control over. I have read this 5 times tonight alone and could analyze each line. Truly a stunning poem.

In my poetry class, we are currently writing a poem from the perspective of an object. The options are limitless: it could be a beautiful view or a disturbing view. It could be a candle or a lightbulb.

Creative prompt: write from the perspective of an inanimate object. Don’t worry about whether or not it has “deep” meaning. The options are limitless: it could be written from a dark and disturbing view or from a light and airy view. It could be a candle or a tunnel. Write prose or poetry. Write in your journal or type it up. Write one sentence or two. Share it in the comments below.

I’m thinking about making a poem + a prompt series. If you’re into the idea, tell me your thoughts here about it.

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Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.