Your first instinct might be to get defensive. You’re the parent. She’s the child. It’s none of her business what’s on your Facebook page or your Instagram feed, right? I admit these thoughts flashed through my mind.
But what would she see if she did? Who does your social media profile say that you are? If your daughter looked through it, would she see the type of woman you want her to be? Would she see the kind of comments you want her to make? If your daughter’s friends saw your profile, how would it reflect on her at school?
When I first became a mom, I read somewhere that as a parent you should always act as if you are on camera. I have relied on this advice several times, especially on one occasion in which the mother of all temper tantrums forced me to push Elle’s huge Peg Perego carriage over a mile back to our house with intermittent kicks of my right foot – with her in it, screaming – because my hands were occupied with a diaper bag and a tricycle. Don’t ask why we had a carriage and a tricycle – I don’t remember. But I do remember looking hella crazed as I walked past several neighbors with a big, fat smile on my face as I did this dance, pretending I was on camera when I really wanted to scream and cry right along with my daughter. I imagine if that had happened today, I might have gone viral. It was that bad.
And had I gone viral, at least I would have had a smile on! But there have also been moments when the disrespectful child meter in my house reached a certain level and I totally lost my cool. This looks a bit like when Beast in Beauty and the Beast is trying his best to invite a very insolent Belle to dinner and he finally loses it and screams, “then go ahead and STAAAAARRRVVE!!!” His voice shakes the walls. Yup. Done that. Give me your messes and give me your meltdowns, but disrespect is kind of my hot button. But Beast-me makes only extremely rare appearances and is so different from my normal demeanor that we easily look back at it and laugh.
Unfortunately for our children, though, we now live in an age where mistakes are much more likely to be caught and broadcast to the world through social media, no matter how uncharacteristic of us that mistake might be. And mistakes do have the power to shape us and help us begin to help our daughters do better than we did. But when it comes to what you continue to consciously post, what choices do you regularly make?
A phrase I came across a while back has rooted itself firmly in my thought process as a parent in this new world – social media is the new permanent record – and I have since been very conscious about posting according to this notion. So when Elle asked to go through my Facebook feed, I felt confident in ignoring my initial nunya reaction and I scrolled through it with her for a few minutes. She rolled her eyes and groaned, “mooooooooommm!” when ANY post had ANYTHING to do with her at all. And she giggled when she saw an occasional word like crap or hell. I am from New York, but I try not to curse – roll your eyes if you will. And don’t get me started on what she said when we got to my fitness posts. (Fitness is still huge to me, it just no longer plays a starring role on Facebook.) But for the most part, she saw the profile of mom who tries desperately to model the kind of behavior she wants her daughter to display.
So, if you would be absolutely fine with your daughter’s profile mirroring yours, let her in. Model for her how to maintain a graceful front online. But if you are regularly posting comments or behaviors that you aren’t terribly proud of, or that don’t reflect who you want your daughter to be, think about how you can change this. She’ll probably see your profile whether or not she asks, and like it or don’t, it’s another new piece of the parenting puzzle.
So post things you’d want your daughter to post. Make comments you’d want her to make. And though we all go off the deep end a little from time to time, the less often you do your best Beast impression in real life, the less likely it will become a part of your new permanent record...