I have noticed a trend among parents in my generation- we are raising children who don’t listen, throw tantrums when told ‘no’, keep sitting when adults are standing, don’t greet their elders, and are just badly behaved in general. They have everything (toys, gadgets, clothes) and keep asking for more. We cannot do a supermarket run with our children, because we will be ‘forced’ to buy something we didn’t budget for. We say ‘no’ often, but what we really mean is ‘no unless you whine and throw a tantrum, and then it’s actually yes’.
I have a strong dissatisfaction with the power that we, are allowing our children at a young age, to possess. I believe that power without responsibility is a dangerous thing.
For example, we allow our 2 year old toddlers to decide what to wear, even when they never have to deal with the consequence of not being in appropriate dress. This is not real life- we as adults are expected to dress according to social rules (black tie to weddings and swim suits to the beach). Because nobody will tell a toddler at a marathon, ‘why are you wearing a princess dress? This is not what to wear to such an event’, children grow up protected from the consequences of their choices.
I recently read the story of a teenager who shared his experience around not wanting his picture to be shared by his mum on social media. He gave a background saying that his mum was popular on social media and had a successful mummy blog and following. She had been writing and posting about her motherhood journey ever since he was a child. He stated that he was no longer interested in being in her social media and had asked his mum to stop taking pictures and videos of him (and also of his 9-year sister).
His mother who has made a living off of sharing her family life, keeps trying to convince him to let her post the pictures she takes. In response, he has ordered sweatshirts with the words ‘no photos. no videos. no means no. I don’t consent’ printed on them, for both him and his sister. What a clever child- He is passing his message across without disrespect.
Further, he has asked her to delete all pictures and videos, as well as blogs she has ever written of him, because he did not give his consent.
Here are a few examples of choices that we make for our children. Without their consent:
- What to wear
- Circumcised or not
- Which visitors come to see them
- Vegan or meat eater
- Vaccinated or not
- Choice of school (many people in my life still hold this against their parents)
- Where they sleep (with their parents, or in their own room)
- Hair style
- Cloth or disposable diapers
For a teenager to claim lack of consent for things done by his parents while he was a baby, is a very clear example of the kind of entitlement we are bringing up our children to feel. There is absolutely no way to seek the consent of children in all things. And even if we did, would they experience the consequences of their choices?
To say ‘no more pictures please’ and ‘delete all the ones you already took because I didn’t agree’ are two, very different, things.
Afterword: I acknowledge that children on social media is a sensitive and controversial issue, with one camp completely against the idea, not just for their own children, but for other people’s children as well. And the other, not really caring who sees pictures of their children. As for me and my children, I will discontinue posting them as soon as they ask. Until then, I will not seek their permission.