In mere days (as of the writing of this post), my wife will be giving birth to our son. Excitement and panic is sitting in all at once. Going from one to two — and, not inconsequentially, from one boy to two boys — means that this house is about to get significantly more disorderly.
In preparation for the newest Gardner’s arrival, we’ve prepared the typical sharing arsenal, in three tiers: text messages for the first tier, emails to the second, and of course, Facebook to the world. Given the ease with which we can now share this kind of news, and the relative importance it has in life, it’s not surprising that birth announcements are some of the most popular content on Facebook. But is that a good thing?
The “Facebook effect” on parenting, and whether or not it is encouraging narcissistic tendencies in parents, has been a discussion item since Facebook and other social networks have been in existence (and the subject of some rather funny lampooning). Others have concerns about the effect of over-sharing on our children’s privacy. Recently I had a few college friends decide not to share photos of their new baby publicly at all, opting instead to share privately with a few close friends on a password-protected blog.
As someone who writes about his children often and has many friends who get paid to do the same, I’ve given a lot of consideration to what is appropriate to share and what is not. I haven’t arrived at any concrete answers, but I believe I’ve at least found a balance that works for us. While my children are young, my wife is my sounding board for what to share. If one of us isn’t comfortable with it, we keep it between us. And when my children are school-aged, I’ll stop writing about them completely, leaving what they want to share about themselves up to them.
I’m also generally unconvinced by the cries of narcissism. Social media has of course given narcissistic people new tools to fuel their self-obsession, but the medium is social because there are people at the other end of the sharing. People who want to know the stories about my children, just as I want to know their stories. I’m proud of my kids. Call it familial narcissism if you must, but I don’t think it is leading to the downfall of society. (On that note, stay tuned in the next few weeks, and you’ll get to hear about the birth of my second.)
Do you agree? Where do you draw the line at sharing your children with the world?