Modern kids and their right to privacy.
By: Jaye M. Rodenbush, B.A., M.S. Ed.
It was my mother-in-law’s ordination service, a special moment for the entire family. We were all celebrating and honoring an amazing lady, even my parents were there, my father had given the ordination charge. All in all, it was a great evening. While snapping photos at the end of the ceremony, my mother-in-law and my mom posed for a quick shot with my nine-year-old son Robbie. Then my mom reached down and gave him a sweet kiss on the cheek. My photographer brain instantly said, “Aww…Both grandmas this time.” And, my mother-in-law bent over and kissed his other cheek. His eyes rolled a bit, but a big smile swept over his face and I snapped one of my favorite photos ever of my precious little boy.
That one photo represents so much of what I love about this season in life. I love the fact that I am blessed to have both my mom and mother-in-law in my life. I love that they are incredible women, that they are respected and being honored for their work and their achievements. I love that they are wonderful grandmas, each with their own style of love and their own little endearments. I love that they are both so different in some ways, but equally generous with their love and affection, although it is demonstrated uniquely by each of them in their own special ways. I love that my kids are getting to see them still active in the ministries that they have given their lives to. I love that they are influencing my kids with stories of the past and passing on so many things that only the future will reveal.
I know, that this situation, the fact that God has allowed us this beautiful moment in time where we all are working together, living close, with our lives intertwined is so rare. It is something precious and something to be treasured. We’ve been given a gift that just doesn’t happen for most families. So, in my sentimentality, that photo instantly became priceless to me. I went home and that same night I uploaded a few of the photos from the event to social media, including the “double-grandma kiss” photo.
The photo was liked and comments were piling up, when Robbie came home from Nana Rodenbush’s house. He said, “Mom, Nana said you posted that kissing picture! Did you have to do that?” My heart sank. My baby was just not getting it! This photo represented his heritage. Plus, it was just too cute! Instantly, I remembered a recent covenant that I had made to myself regarding my children’s personal privacy. So, I asked him if he wanted it removed. I did say that I just thought it was a sweet photo, but I was unpersuasive. “I love Grandma and Nana, but Mom, kissing is just embarrassing!” So, reluctantly, and with a little disappointment, I removed the photo. He and I had a talk and I told him that our family life and family photos are typically private. We might share some, but that he can let me know any time he wished something be removed from or not be put on social media.
I’ve seen so many cringe-worthy things on Facebook and Instagram that are simply a violation of a child’s privacy. I know things are cute, and there are special moments that on the surface might be fun to share with the world, but really shouldn’t kids have a right to feel that their home is not a public arena? Shouldn’t they feel like they can fall down, make a bad decision or a mistake, get in trouble, sing silly songs, play silly games and the whole world not have a front row seat? Isn’t our job as parents to provide a place where kids can relax, let down their guard, be themselves or find themselves without their every move being broadcast? When a parent publicly posts videos, messages or photos of discipline, shaming, punishments, practical jokes that makes a child look foolish or stupid, or when a child is not properly attired he or she has violate a sacred trust. A mother and a father supposed to be a child’s protector. Whether or not they can fully understand it, a child trusts a parent to protect them, not only physically, but parents must protect the child’s right to privacy and dignity in their own home, their reputation, their emotions and to the best of the parent’s ability, the child’s safety. It’s a fine line, and when kids are in on the jokes, when they are okay with the photos and fine with the exposure then perhaps that’s different. But, I think they deserve to have an opinion and I think as parents we should listen. My “double-grandma kiss” photo will take its place in the family photo album. Maybe the fact that it’s reserved for just our family will make it a little more special, who knows? Maybe someday Robbie will treasure the photo as much as I do. I sure hope so. And, just maybe someday he will even post it himself. But for now he is nine and “kissing is just embarrassing.”