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The Children Divorce My Brand and I Glimpse the Future



It’s a perfectly reasonable request, of course. I just wasn’t expecting this until much later. Four year old Yusuf cannot articulate why I must first seek his approval before posting. This indicates that he’s simply copying off of eight year old Nuha who is, in fact, being articulate about her objections. 

“You have a lot of friends on Facebook and Instagram. I should get to decide what photos of me they see.” Indeed, you should. 

You are a fully actualized human being, after all. You certainly have the right to decide how the world sees you and in which context the experiencing of you occurs. For eight years, you have existed online exclusively in the context of me. You have been my child here, and I must now formally and gracefully accept that you are ready to be perceived as more than that. Of course, you’ve always been more than my child — you’re a radiant light in the infinite energy of the universe and blah blah… The difference between right now and how it has always been, though, is that you now know that you are more than my child. 

That is seriously weirding me out because this is the beginning of many moments in which you will remind me that you do not belong to me. I welcome these moments, for they are as much my spiritual work as they are yours. I wonder if they will always elicit the same apologetic tone from me. Will I always go through the same pattern of experiencing regret over the fact that I didn’t preemptively give you that space followed immediately by the realization that your asking for the space is just as important as my giving it to you? Or is it going to be far less patterned and we’re just going to have to take this whole “I’m an actual person” thing one step at a time. 

I just realized with the Instagram/Facebook thing that this journey of my children’s discovery of their “self”is going to be a series of moments. Letting go isn’t going to be this one exam for which I’ll be awarded a passing or failing grade, but a collection of moments that I’ll most likely have to evaluate on a case by case basis as being somewhere between “reasonable” and “out of your damned mind.” It also occurs to me that there will be moments disguised as a genuine move towards freedom, but will, in fact, just be ill thought out grabs at the freedom to make really ridiculous choices with very serious consequences. 

Reader Comments (7)

Yes...we have come to this as well...and I've actually learned so much from it. I've had to think about my story and their stories and how and where they intersect. Your thinking here takes it to a broader context and I know there is so much more to come.

May 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVikki

I feel this. We don't have kids, but Gia is a wide-open book on FB and other outlets. I, as you know, am not. I mean, you've met me and can verify how gorgeous I am, but the world generally isn't ready for my perfection. I banned her years ago from even thinking of posting pics of moi. She has several times anyway. Always with good intentions.

I honestly couldn't give you a good reason why I prefer to remain semi-anonymous online. I don't use said anonymity for any real reason. It's just how I prefer it. Either way, it's my choice. Something your children probably understand.

May 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterB.E. Earl

My 7th grader often tells me that I have my stories and he has his and I cannot cross the streams unless given permission.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Bullshit. They should not.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

Both of my sons are deep in the "OMG TAKE THIS PICTURE AND POST IT" phase. I expect that after this ends, my days of posting what I want will come to an abrupt end.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Yep. Emma just made that request this past year. You know the other thing it has made me notice is how rarely I take pictures of them just to keep for me.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBritt Reints

I can't and don't blog about my children much anymore. Of course there are plenty of stories to share, and to tell, but I don't find it fair for me to share these with the world, when they're not aware of it. I do check with them before posting most pictures, too.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

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