Patience is a virtue when sharing about family on social media.
Published: October 31, 2018
By: Kathryn Streeter
As social-media mamas, we want to be remembered. Often emotional, zesty personal anecdotes are the best way to connect with our friends online and drive a post’s popularity. But when it comes to sharing about our significant other and children, the line of decency can often be blurry.
My personal habits on sharing family-related content start with timing. I allow time to pass before I post about an experience that directly involves either my husband or children. Looking back on an experience affords many advantages.
Waiting to share publicly helps me to more completely understand and process what happened in the first place. When I have a family-related post idea, I’ll write a rough draft, revisiting it as my thoughts mature and clarify.
Mulling is a very good thing; at the very least it keeps me honest about my culpability in a personal family anecdote I’m considering sharing. For starters, it gets me thinking: What is my motivation for sharing?
Waiting to release personal content enables me to discover the real message and the deeper meaning of an experience. Instead of offering my friends and followers a trite personal anecdote that makes them laugh or roll their eyes with me, I’m now able to hand them a meatier blog post with a coherent message.
I once wrote a story on potty-training my son. My first attempts amounted to yet another tale of a frustrated parent. Perhaps it was funny but it wasn’t original. As time passed, I realized the main takeaway from the story centered on my insecurities and pride, not my son’s poor aim.
Sharing a personal experience before I come to terms with what I’ve learned will rob me of the chance to craft the best possible post, one which will offer lasting impact. For me, emotional settlement needs to happen to write from a grounded posture. When I’m simmering with emotion from an argument with my kids or husband, this isn’t the optimal time to write.
When I’m hurt or angry, my word choices, phrases, and story are more likely to resemble a vanity project. I’m the center of attention, desiring empathy or applause. Because I’m still smarting, I have zero perspective. But if given time, a flippant post can morph into a deeply felt story.
Time yields a better product.
Most importantly, waiting provides cover for my marriage and children. No amount of post popularity is worth bringing injury to those I love best. Everything online is forever available to my husband and kids. Even when my kids were young and unplugged, I didn’t write about their maniacal moments not only because the passing of time allows for a truer story but because I didn’t want to unintentionally cause future shame.
Today my teenagers — and their friends — have access to anything I’ve ever posted about them. Had I shared carelessly, there would be no taking things back. Apologies would ring false; relational damage would be tough to repair. Today as ever, writing about humiliating experiences for a cheap laugh is at odds with everything I’m trying to do as a parent. From tot to teen, my kids have always deserved to be treated like I’d like to be treated: with respect.
Building a strong relationship with my husband and kids is like a major construction project — the effort and time is immense. I am unwilling to destabilize this structure with insensitive oversharing.
Finally, my family knows that before I post anything that mentions them, I’ll have them review it. If my husband feels I’ve crossed a line and waded into our personal life as a couple, my work is to rewrite in a way that honors him and ultimately, us.
In the previously mentioned potty-training story posted recently, my now-teenage son read it and laughed. However, he would have felt deeply humiliated had I posted it a few years earlier, even if the point of the story wasn’t his bathroom drama.
The by-product of this practice is that it’s brought my husband and kids into my social-media life. And my conscience is clear.
Kathryn Streeter is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as The Washington Post as well as on social media. She believes in posting no blog before its time.