Today, Ashlen and I are discussing our differing opinions on sharing our kids’ names and faces on our blog, social media, etc.

Like so many parenting topics, there is a lot of passion and emotions involved in the topic of online exposure. There are a few big issues that are important to me. Other than the “biggies”, i’m more of a “you do you” kinda person. For example, all of our leftover food containers are glass because I worry about microwaving plastics. But if you’re all about rubbermaid or tupperware, that’s fine! You make the decisions that are best for you and your family and I make the best for me and mine. While Ashlen and I may not fully agree on this (or other) topics, we agree 100% that the we are both making the best choice for their family.

Lauren’s View:

In my previous posts about my insanely awesome bonus-daughter, I haven’t shared her name or face. Don’t get me wrong, she has a super cute face! But I’ve chosen not to identify her on the blog by blurring, obscuring, and/or cropping out her face from the photos I’ve shared. Sure, it wouldn’t quite take CSI-level sleuthing to figure out her identity, but our blog’s Terms of Use hopefully discourages people from sharing our photos to other platforms. I’d like to take this time to share why I’m not sharing her identity on the blog:

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Parenting Choices- How Much Do You Share Online

  • She’s sixteen. Remember when you were sixteen? Not exactly the easiest of the teenage years. I’m just grateful social media wasn’t around when I was in high school!  Her peers could easily find the blog, read posts about our personal trips, etc.  How awkward could it be if her classmates or teachers tried to chat up about the specific snacks we had on our road trip last spring break?
  • Hopefully she’ll have a summer job this year, and as you may know, many employers analyze your social media profiles before they decide to hire you. Her social media presence should probably reflect her, not her wicked stepmother.
  • Stranger Danger. One of my secret talents is to worry about EVERYTHING. As in, setting our home alarm with panic button, iPhone’s Find My Friend’s activated, etc.  If sharing her identity welcomed any unwanted attention from some crazy person, it would be really hard to remove her presence online. Ya know?
  • I’m not her mom, but I love this kid like crazy. I have known her since she was six, but if her mom wants to blog using her identity all day and night, that’s between she and her parents.

Would my opinion change if I had a child of my own? Hard to say. I LOVE seeing photos of Ashlen’s crew adventures but totally respect a close friend who has zero photos of their son online. Would I use a nickname? Choose not to show their face? or maybe show their face for the first few years until grade school? I can’t seem to put myself in that mindset.  IF that were to happen, I think my husband and I would figure out an approach that works for us. In the meantime, I stand by my decision for what to share and not share for my bonus daughter, and respect the opinions of anyone who feels otherwise.

Ashlen’s View:

As everyone knows, I show my children’s faces on the blog as well as other social media platforms. I share their stories and different narratives about my parenting choices. Alternatively, I don’t share absolutely everything about my kids. Stories that may be embarrassing, the names of their schools, and any daycare child’s faces (unless approved by their parent(s)) while taking a shot of is a no-no. I have a few reasons for my “being an open book” status:

  • This blog is a joint venture. Not just between Lauren and I, but also our families. My kids take part in the activities, photo shoots, and brainstorming story ideas. I ask for THEIR permission before I tell a certain story or share any picture. If they aren’t okay with it, I wouldn’t think twice about not posting something. My kids and I talk a lot about all types of things. I’m not sure how much they understand at seven, five, and three, but they understand enough to tell me what a blog is and what we’re doing for the blog.
  • I view the blog as not only an opportunity for me, but for them as well. As they get older, I fully intend to let them write blog posts and whatever else they’d like to take part in. My kids are creative and I think it’s pretty cool that we can create outlets of creativity for them. We’ve written a book together and they’ve given me blog post ideas, advice on pictures, and other things for the blog. I mean, how many kids can search for themselves on Amazon and be listed as authors?
  • Am I worried about stranger danger? Yes of course! Luckily, I think we’ve got some pretty fantastic readers who have yet (and hopefully don’t) make things feel creepilicious. Also, I’ve got Lauren to look over my posts to make sure we don’t divulge too much personal info such as where the kids attend school or our home address (yes, I nearly accidentally gave this away in a post! Oops!), etc.
  • Will my opinion change as my kids get older? Possibly. I already feel some of the things that happen in my home may not be “blog-worthy” or appropriate. Not because it’s inappropriate, but because I highly doubt it’s something my children are going to want to see on the internet when they’re sixteen. I try to keep that in mind.

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Parenting Choices- How Much Do You Share Online- 2

If there ever comes a time when my kids ask me to stop telling their personal stories (and there’s been a few so far) or taking their pictures, I will stop everything, have a discussion with them, and respect their wishes. My mindset at the moment is ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’ For now, we’re thoroughly enjoying all of the adventures the blog has to offer, the various opportunities, and the support we get from our audience.

This post was originally posted on Lauren Parker-Gill’s blog, “The Kidsperts.” Featured image via.

Shopping with your kids can be quite the experience. 

If the thought of lugging your children through Target or Costco sends terrified shivers down your spine, just know you aren’t alone! We totally feel you and can totally relate. Here are 10 GIFs that all moms who have shopped with their kids can relate to.

1. When your kid asks if they can have every toy you pass.

HA, what dream world is this kid living in?

2. When your kid says they want to go home five seconds into shopping.

What a fool!

3. When your kid asks to use the bathroom right as you’re about to check out.

Hold it or lose it, kid.

4. When the tantrums begin in the middle of a crowded aisle.

GOD HELP US.

5. When the cashier says “I can help you over here” and gets you out of a crowded line with your screaming babies.

Praise you, kind cashier person.

6. When your has the nastiest poopy diaper of their life in the candle section of Target.

 

The desecration of the most holy of aisles! The injustice of it all!

7. When the kids knock over an entire ceramic display case at Crate & Barrel.

It just isn’t right.

8. When Starbucks is closed so you have to shop at the mall sans-caffeine.

There is nothing worse than trying to shop with a herd of bratty kids in tow without the sweet elixir of coffee.

9. When the person in front of you changes their mind on paying cash midway through check-out.

REALLY? WHY NOW?

10. When you realize on your way home you forgot two of your bags in the store, and have to turn the caravan around.

Godspeed.

GIFS via 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10. Featured image via

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you may remember that we’ve had our fair share of cyber bullying from “mean girls” and other forms of bullying.

The first time that I felt a need to step in was when M was in the 5th grade. This is when I learned a hard lesson of parenting: unless there’s significant harm being done, you’re better off being a coach on the sidelines than the quarterback trying to win the game.

7th grade brought the next significant round of bullying by mean girls and was the year I was in the principal’s office more times than I cared for. 8th grade was pretty quiet. But just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief, along came the 9th grade and high school. (What is it with the every 2 years pattern??)

High school has opened up a whole new can of challenges. My friend, Jon Lowder, warned me that going from middle to high is like going from a AAA farm league to the Major Leagues.

None of the stuff we’ve encountered is overtly bad – more of the PITA (pain in the ass) variety. Nasty tweets, snarky comments, bitchy texts – pretty textbook stuff. The only difference between what you and I had to deal with and what she and her friends have to deal with is that it’s done electronically as opposed to in person or with pen and paper.

So what is the actual definition of cyber-bullying? According to Google, it is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” If you want to read the entire NC statute, click here.

All of the schools in our area preach about having zero tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and I’ve been pretty pleased with how they’ve handled situations if it got to that level. While the schools and parents may take a strong stand on cyber-bullying, unfortunately, our judicial system has a more difficult time prosecuting anyone should it get to that point.

IF they were to bring them through the system, they’d be tried as juveniles and most likely be given nothing more than a “slap-on-the-wrist.” We have a friend who did take another kid and their family to court for this kind of abuse. As a resolution, the other kid was ordered to write an apology letter. Pretty expensive apology letter, I’d say.

This past weekend, we had a situation pop up that made me call a friend of the family who is in law enforcement just to validate that what I was doing the right approach. He confirmed that I was, but as a parent, you can’t run to the school every time someone gets pissy and sends out a nasty tweet. So, what do you do?

I’m no expert on the law, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Be Mindful

Keep a diligent eye everywhere, but for the most part, do it from the sidelines. Trust me. It is SO hard for me to read the texts and tweets that come across while biting my tongue and resisting the urge to rip off a few well phrased tweets.

2. Create a “Twatch” List

You don’t have to follow the kids in question (i.e. bullies) on Twitter, but you can create a private list and add them to it without following them. The next best option is to keep a list and just check in on them if you think there’s an issue. For the most part, their everyday tweets are just typical teen bantering that bores me to tears.

3. Give The School A Heads Up

It never hurts to alert the school if they’re getting harassing texts or any other kind of electronic communication.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

My experience taught me that kids will withhold this kind of information until it reaches critical condition, so make sure you listen when they come to you. This is not the time to tell them, “just a minute”. This could be your one and only shot at them opening up. Don’t blow it. Listen to what they’re telling you even if it seems a bit over the top. I promise, if there’s smoke, there’s fire.

5. Screenshots Are Golden

If there IS an issue, make sure you educate your kid on the importance of taking screenshots and sending them to you. This will be helpful if you choose to send it to the school or addressing the issue with their parents.

6. Understand That There Are Always Two Sides

You may have to admit that your kid may be involved in the act. I have yet to go through one of these situations and think that my girls were 100% innocent. It takes two to tango friends.

7. Provide Your Kid(s) With Options

While it’s really, really hard to do, sometimes the best course of action is just to ignore the bully acts. Teach them not to engage, respond, or react. They may still do it, but if you repeat this often enough, they’ll get better at doing it – at least a little bit.

8. If All Else Fails, Do What You Have To Do

If it gets really bad, do what you have to do. Get the school, the parents, and the authorities involved. At the end of the day, it’s better to be overprotective than under.

The one thing that blows my mind about this group of kids is that they have some major cajones. They think nothing can stop them. I’ve seen texts where one kid proclaimed that “because his dad was rich, he’d make sure that M and her friends would never go to college”. I know you’re dying to know what my response to that was. Well, I pulled a Dr. Huxtable and told M, “he doesn’t have money. His DAD may have money, but this kid is like you…broke”.

I’ve never said this phase was easy, but my hope is that I can at least prepare you for what’s’ to come so that you’re ready to handle it as best as possible. Don’t worry – we’ll all survive!

This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’s blog, Four Hens and a Rooster. Featured image via. 

We can’t stop laughing at the twitter account @LosFelizDaycare, which perfectly pokes fun at the trends in modern parenting. If you need a laugh, this is the twitter for you. Who knew daycare was so full of drama?! Move over Gossip Girl. 

Enjoy the funniest/best tweets below!

Praise.

Toddlers and their damn irony.

Breastfeeding yoga? We’re interested.

Honestly, we’re shocked more celebs haven’t named their child “Sushi”. 

They’re way better for the environment.

Symposiums are vital to the development of children, obviously. 

Guilty?

Cold brew > hot coffee. 

Can’t. Breathe. Laughing. Too. Hard.

This is arguably the most important tweet. 

Of course.

*Throws mad side-eye.*

A moment of silence for the spider.

Coconut oil is a must in every situation.

Featured image via.

What’s missing from those What to Expect books is a chapter (or maybe even a whole volume) on parenting in the age of the World Wide Web. Right about now, something like: What to Expect when your Child Gets Sucked into the Matrix and their Brains Turn to Jelly, would be helpful.

I’ve done my usual exhaustive research (i.e., read a couple related articles online before getting distracted by lists of celebrities who Botox their pets), and come to the conclusion that no one really has a handle on the convergence of kids and the Internet.

Will hours of uninterrupted screen time melt their grey matter? Will the unfettered access to disturbing, factually flawed or grammatically incorrect (sometimes all at once) information turn them into bitter, deluded sociopaths? Is some nefarious crook or bored kid even now collecting their personal information in order to bully or imitate or coerce them online? When they’re grown, will they have nothing to talk about at cocktail parties but stupid cat videos?

These are questions that keep me up at night.

There was a time I thought the kid-technology combo a good thing. A guarantee there would always be someone around who would know which remote to use on which thingie. But I’m getting wise to the remote thing, and feeling a little less off my game since the VCR stopped blinking 12:00.

Oh, wait, that’s because we don’t appear to have a clock on the VCR, or even …

Hey, wha…. who took the VCR?

Anyway, I’ve kept notes and developed my own guide on parenting in the digital age. Use it in good health:

First, start when they’re young. Outlaw screens in their bedrooms. There’s the thing about obesity. And sleep deprivation. Something about blue light, melatonin and REM. I read about it. So, no screen time after 8pm.

When they argue, regale them with stories about how you had only four television channels back in the day. And cartoons only on Saturday mornings. Watch their eyes glaze over as they drop the subject. Give yourself a mental high-five. You’ve won this round.

Eventually they must acclimate to the digital age, so set up a computer station in a very public space in your home. Somewhere they can play on preapproved family-friendly sites while you monitor their activity.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking this will stop them from accessing inappropriate material online (unless you install some draconian software that blocks everything you later want to see after the kids go to bed, but can’t because you forgot the damn password).

Oh, and for that matter, don’t trust Youtube’s randomly enforced community standards. Those are baloney. Your kids can still easily access all kinds of inappropriate crap, like their favorite video game characters performing intimate acts that are probably misdemeanors in most states.

Look up a Youtube video that explains how to block Youtube from your computer and follow the instructions. Blamo. Problem solved (give yourself another mental high-five).

It might not occur to you until later, but the rule about the television in the bedroom should really include any screen. Such an oversight effectively renders your silly rule mute once your kids get their own phones, not to mention are capable of saving their own money to buy their own tablets and computers.

Okay, so they now have screens in their rooms. It’s still your cable, your cords and electrical outlets, your wireless router, which you can certainly unhook whenever you want. So unhook the Internet one night in a huff, and tell everybody to read a book. You remember books? Books are great (high fives all around).

Of course, some people’s children will simply wait until their parents are asleep to hook stuff back up and binge out on Xbox Live and Minecraft until the wee hours of the morning.

So consider an elaborate system of password changes and/or dismantling and hiding cables and little, black boxes.

Then remember your inability to remember stuff like passwords. And how hard it was to figure out how to access Youtube again. Remember you have a whole season of OITNB waiting on Netflix. Decide elaborate systems of password changes and dismantling and hiding crap is not for you.

Join all the social media channels and follow your kids. Refrain from commenting, favoriting, or liking their every post, and maybe they’ll forget you’re stalking them (If you’ve figured out how to unblock Youtube by this time, you can find a video tutorial on how to use Snapchat. Watch it when the kids aren’t around to scoff).

Briefly consider software or aps that spy on your kids’ every online move, monitor their language in texts or keyword searches, and time on social media sites. If this feels just as distasteful as sneaking a peak at someone’s diary, settle for an app that sends you an alert if your teen is driving over the speed limit, and call it good.

Show your children every news story you come across about sexting and social media bullying and the consequences.

Talk to them about your own values, about how you feel about objectification of women in the media, about images of drug use, and violence, about misleading advertising. Wear a rubber band around your wrist to snap when your voice gets shrill.

Talk to them about how you feel about pornography. When you’re tired of everyone avoiding eye contact after one of those conversations, show them Russell Brand’s take on the subject. Because somehow it’s more okay to get a lecture on pornography from a grown man sitting in bed wearing nothing but a sheet, than it is to discuss with your mom.

If you need more advice, there are plenty of other resources, like:

  • Unsolicited input from anyone over fifty who sees your kid with a tablet or phone, regardless of whether the person has ever parented children in this century. Nod and smile when they talk about taking away their technology and sending kids out to play kick-the-can until dusk.
  • Your kids’ friends are also wellsprings of advice. They’ve learned the ropes and are currently being raised with no rules whatsoever, staying up all night if they please, online with all the other upstanding citizens who are also online all night. They’ll confirm for your kids the fact that you are, in fact, a Luddite whose rules are out of sync with today’s adolescents.

There you are. Easy peasy.

Gimme a high five.

This post was originally featured on Beth’s blog, Manic Mumbling

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I have so many people comment on the fun we have during daycare and all of our outings with the minis. Well, I’m here to tell you that everything is NOT usually as amazing as our pictures indicate.

Take a few of our recent happenings:

What the world saw: Our daycare handprint canvas is hanging in my living room!

What people said: “What an amazing idea!” “It turned out adorable!”

How it really went down: Only a few kids actually put their hands in the paint and left a print. We did this on the same day we did the cards for their dad’s for Father’s Day. We did the cards first. When we went to do the canvas painting, more than half of the kids flipped out and wouldn’t touch the paint again. I talked a few of the kids into it, while the entire time they made their hand prints I heard “it’s too sqooshy. It’s hurting my hand!” Two kids loved it so much that they covered their body in the paint. But damn it, that painting is still hanging in my living room and parents comment on it every day!

 

What the world saw: I wound up wearing the kid’s red panda masks.

What people said: “I love that you’re wearing those!” “So funny!” “You’re such a fun mom!”

How it really went down: I had to talk the kids into coloring the masks because their aunt (my sister) was working the Blank Park Zoo’s booth at the Des Moines Arts Festival. When they were done with their masks, things went from okay to they’re lucky to still be alive. They whined, they cried that they were sweaty, they were thirsty, but they didn’t want the bottles of water that were in my purse. They wanted “fresh water.” Their legs hurt from walking, they were hungry, but didn’t want anything to eat from the 20 food vendors that were at the Festival. They didn’t want to wear their masks and they didn’t want them to get wrinkled in my purse. So I put them around my neck…and then they cried ten minutes later when I spilled water on them. Then they were fine because I bought them new t-shirts. But those masks must have been extra special to them because the minis still won’t let me throw them away….but they won’t touch them either.

 

What the world saw: “$30 of cherries, black raspberries, and blueberries. Successful morning picking at Berry Patch Farms!”

What people said: “What a fun idea!” “How much fun!” “Oh I loved picking berries as a kid!”

How It Really Went Down: We were there for five minutes and we heard about how the long grass was itching their legs and the sun was “too hot.” We had (minor) issues finding the ripe blueberries and had to remind the kids every two seconds what a ripe blueberry looks like. There was a lot of “don’t eat the green ones!” Then we moved onto the black raspberries, which we heard screams of “it pricked my finger! They’re too sharp! We’re never going to be able to eat these!” Almost two hours after picking our first blueberry and we made it to the cherry trees….only to hear “I have to pee!” So we had to head to the bathroom. In the middle of peeing, Harrison informed me there was something on his legs. Apparently the raspberry bushes DID scrape up his legs and gave him a rash. He freaked and peed on the floor, which I had to clean up while I told him to chill out (but I wasn’t that nice about it). Three hours of berry picking and then we had to drive the 35 minutes home. The minis spent the drive home hollering, hitting, and spitting at one another. I had to threaten to take away fireworks that night. Luckily they went home and took naps for the afternoon or we may have been down a kid or two.

 

What the world saw: “Promoting summer reading with a book day!”

What people said: “Great idea to keep them interested in reading all summer!”

How it really went down: Actually the kids did read 90% of the morning because it was the Monday after 4th of July weekend. All of the kids were exhausted. However, I really wanted a picture I could share on social media. My three were spread out all over the living room reading books. I had to bribe them with Jurassic World fruit snacks to get them to lay near each other and only long enough for me to snap 2 pictures. We all won this round….until I opened Harrison’s fruit snacks first.

 

What the world saw: Elizabeth’s first movie in a theater!

What people said: “Have fun! My kids loved the movie!” “Such a special outing!”

How it really went down: She was great while we waited for the movie to begin and during the previews. The theater even had special theater booster seats so she wouldn’t get folded up in the seat. As soon as the movie began she needed to sit on daddy’s lap. Then to mommy’s lap. Then she needed to pee. Then she wanted to sit in her seat without the booster. So she threw it to the ground with a loud thud that made the people in front of us jump out of their seats. Then it was back to daddy’s lap. Pee break. Dance time in the aisle. Then she crawled under the theater seats and nearly got stuck. Then it was apparently time to try to talk like the Minions. Then back to daddy’s lap. Then time to pout because she wanted the booster back on her seat, but she didn’t want to sit in it. When the movie was over she declared “that was a good movie! I did really good!” I declared that I’m never taking her to another movie again.

 

What the world saw: Crazy Days sale at Merle Hay Mall! Fun shopping times!

What people said: “Great sales! I took my kids too!”

How taking this picture really went down: “You stand here and smile and let me take this picture or I’ll take those new shoes right off of your feet!” I snarled at my oldest. So they all stood there….and Elizabeth almost knocked over the sign. Matt caught it before it fell, the picture was taken, and then the kids skipped away. Nearly knocking into a couple walking nearby. We then had to pause to have the discussion about watching where you’re going and being aware of the world around you. We had that discussion 13 other times on that day.

So the next time you see a “perfect picture” don’t be fooled. Behind that oh so fun activity or walk downtown, there’s always a story that typically involves tears, a tantrum or two, and some kind of threat made from a parent. As I say, even the smallest tasks are always an adventure.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen’s blog, The Kidsperts.