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Sharenting: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

You must have seen it: Parents sharing photos, updates, and other information about their children on social media platforms.

It’s a practice known as “sharenting” (a portmanteau of the word “share” and “parenting”). The word even made it to the Collins English Dictionary in 2016.

I’m one of those “sharenting” parents and my journey began on my blog. You see, it was lonely spending hours alone at home with an infant who could not yet interact with me, so writing became an outlet for the emotions I was experiencing. I would pour out my woes about motherhood and people would comment, give suggestions, or write personal messages. That encouraged me greatly in the first few weeks of becoming a parent two years ago.

Then it evolved into a convenient way of documenting my daughter’s growing up years. I began to post monthly updates of her physical progress, significant milestones, our outdoor adventures, and so on. Before long, the readership grew and readers began to request posts about specific parenting topics. These ranged from what books we read for bedtime, to how we prepared her meals and what we did on holidays etc.

But soon, I experienced the downside to “sharenting”. On one occasion, while we were at the supermarket doing our weekly grocery run, a stranger came up to us, called my daughter by name, and then proceeded to try and carry her. Shocked, I quickly and courteously declined her request. The lady insisted she knew us and revealed that she was a follower of my blog and an ardent fan of my daughter, who was then barely a year old.

Despite that rather unsettling incident, I continue the practice of “sharenting”—now slightly wiser and a whole lot more careful. For one, I no longer put up my child’s personal information on a public sphere. I am also selective about whom I allow access to my blog, as far as possible.

After speaking with a handful of fellow blogging mums, I’ve come up with a few guidelines for myself which I now also try to reflect in my posts.

 

1. Keep it recent

I try to write about events within the same month, week, or day, if I’m able. The memory of the event might get fuzzy and the sharing inaccurate if I take too long to record what happened. The experience ought to be recorded fresh, such that authentic emotions, expressions, and so on are reflected.

 

2. Never shame your child

Naked baby photos, embarrassing birthday party surprises, and falls are fun to record, but these ought to be for personal consumption alone. Let us remember that like us, our kids will one day grow up and would want their privacy and integrity intact.

 

3. Spend more time offline

In this day and age, it is so easy to be caught up in the digital world. You plan to upload one photograph, but you end up scrolling your newsfeed and tapping on various links. And before you know it, a whole hour has passed. I know it because it happened to me too.

Let’s take great care to protect our time with our children, because that time is precious. While capturing moments on camera is important, your child would rather you go through the experience with them, rather than just having a pretty snapshot of himself/herself. Be with them in the moment and you won’t regret it later.

 

The greatest takeaway for me in my “digital” parenting journey so far has been having like-minded parents to interact with—fellow Christian mums whom I liken to allies in this battle to raise a generation of selfless (rather than entitled) individuals living for the cause of the Kingdom of Heaven. Young mums who share my struggles and older, more experienced mums who empathize with me and give me valuable advice.

I may not profess my Christian beliefs explicitly on social media, but I’d like to believe every choice and every parenting “theory” I share is centered on God’s love for me.

ODB: Lessons for Little Ones

January 23, 2016 

READ: Proverbs 22:1-16 

Start children off on the way they should go.

Proverbs 22:6

 

When my daughter described a problem she was having in the school lunchroom, I immediately wondered how I could fix the issue for her. But then another thought occurred. Maybe God had allowed the problem so she could see Him at work and get to know Him better. Instead of running to the rescue, I decided to pray with her. The trouble cleared up without any help from me!

This situation showed my little one that God cares for her, that He listens when she prays, and that He answers prayers. The Bible says there’s something significant about learning these lessons early in life. If we “start children off on the way they should go, . . .when they are old they will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). When we start kids off with an awareness of Jesus and His power, we are giving them a place to return to if they wander and a foundation for spiritual growth throughout their lives.

Consider how you might foster faith in a child. Point out God’s design in nature, tell a story about how He has helped you, or invite a little one to thank God with you when things go right. God can work through you to tell of His goodness throughout all generations.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, I pray that You will raise up believers in the next generation. Show me how I can encourage young people to trust in You.


We influence future generations by living for Christ today.  

ODB: Welcome Home!

January 21, 2016 

READ: Luke 15:11-24 

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.

Luke 15:20

 

When we were going through a particularly challenging time with our son, a friend pulled me aside after a church meeting. “I want you to know that I pray for you and your son every day,” he said. Then he added: “I feel so guilty.”

“Why?” I asked. “Because I’ve never had to deal with prodigal children,” he said. “My kids pretty much played by the rules. But it wasn’t because of anything I did or didn’t do. Kids,” he shrugged, “make their own choices.”

I wanted to hug him. His compassion was a reminder, a gift from God, communicating to me the Father’s understanding for my struggle with my son.

No one understands the struggle with prodigals better than our heavenly Father. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is our story and God’s. Jesus told it on behalf of all sinners who so desperately need to come home to their Creator and discover the warmth of a loving relationship with Him.

Jesus is God in the flesh seeing us in the distance and looking on us with compassion. He is God running to us and throwing His arms around us. He is heaven’s kiss welcoming the repentant sinner home (v. 20).

God hasn’t just left the porch light on for us. He’s out on the front porch watching, waiting, calling us home.

— James Banks

We ask again today, Lord, that our prodigals would come home.



James Banks is author of Prayers for Prodigals by Discovery House.

ODJ: not mine


August 9, 2014 

READ: Proverbs 3:1-26 

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (v.6).


My husband and I believe that the most influential people in a child’s life are his or her parents. But we wonder at times if our parenting decisions are having the impact we hoped for. Now that our kids are adolescents, friendships no longer consist of playing with toys and learning to share. Likewise, because they’re not always within sight, our kids have more experiences on their own than when they were younger. These days, instead of searching for a lesson to deposit in their hearts and minds (Proverbs 3:1), I find myself looking for a place to kneel and pray for them. 


Every parent faces the fear of failure and, for the believing parent, those concerns magnify when we recognise the influence we have over our children’s spiritual development (Psalm 78:1-7). Wondering about their choices when we’re not around, we become anxious that they will wander from the truths we have tried to instil in them. Godliness in our children, however, isn’t something determined by our level of visibility. But there is One who is always watching, and who is always at work beyond what we can see (Psalm 33:18; Proverbs 3:12,26). 


Standing on our God-given authority, we can boldly pray God’s wisdom over our children (vv.5-7,13-18). From obedience to God to our relationships with others and our decisions in the future, His Word is both relevant and powerful (vv.4,7). If we want our kids to know His truths and to put Him first in their lives, we must learn to “seek his will in all [we] do” (v.6). Our greatest spiritual influence on our children is found in the way we live out our faith before them. —Regina Franklin


365-day plan› John 9:1-41

MORE
Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and consider how you can apply these words to sharing God’s wisdom with children.
 
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Why is it easy for parents to worry or fear? How does the way God loves and nurtures have an impact on the way you care for the children in your life—your own kids, nieces and nephews, and other children you come into contact with?
 

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