ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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‘Sharenting’

I have, for some time now, been thinking about doing a post on whether it is fair on my children to blog. When I have discussed this with others the general consensus seems to be that in the long run they will appreciate it, although there may be a period where they find it utterly embarrassing.

Having, in previous posts, talked about how I now have nobody to ask about my childhood and how I must rely on my own memories and a handful of photographs, I see what I write as being something that the boys can draw on in years to come should they want to know more about me and how I saw their early lives. I would also hope that I write the blog in such a way as to not criticise the boys, but rather reflect on the challenges and joys of being a parent.

In doing this, and posting pictures to ‘Friends Only’ on Facebook, apparently makes me a ‘sharent’. This was a term that I had not come across before reading an article in The Guardian at the weekend. The term has apparently been around for about a year and, as you may guess, refers to those parents who blog, post, and otherwise share details of their children online.

Putting aside the fact that ‘sharenting’ is, per se, the sort of neologism that I really dislike (I wince every time I read or write it) the article itself encouraged me to think more about what I am doing here, giving examples of parent blogging which I certainly would not countenance and could quite see that could potentially lead to problems in parent/ child relationships and, more seriously, real issues for the children talked about in such blogs.

Those on the other side of the argument say that parent blogging can be a good way of sharing our joys and concerns in today’s fragmented society; and that it is inevitable that our children, as ‘digital natives’, will naturally develop an online profile anyway, and that ‘sharenting’ will merely be part of a bigger picture. Basically the world has changed and we should get over it.

As is often the case with such things, what was more instructive were the comments left on The Guardian website below the article. Here a number of ‘correspondents’ piled in to complain about how their Facebook feeds were awash with pictures of babies and endless comments on those babies’ every movement (in many senses of the word); and how weird they found it that people should chose to do such things. I was both sympathetic and concerned. Sympathetic in that I can understand how one person’s bundle of joy means relatively little to another person, but also concerned that I was stepping over some sort of boundary: both with my friends and, more particularly, with my children.

So where does this leave us, apart from disappearing in some sort of postmodern puff of self-reflection? Well I think that the sharing element is important here. Blogging helps me to be a better parent as it helps me to understand myself, and I am not sure that I would get the same feeling, or keep the same discipline, if I wrote these posts just for myself. It is somehow important to me that others read it. Saying something that no one can hear may be very Zen-like, but is it therapeutic?

In the final analysis I think that if I continue to be mindful of what I am writing then my blog will do more good than harm, and while the boys have no say in what I write about them it is my responsibility to introduce them to it at the right time in the right way.

As I have said before I think that Dads are less likely to share their ideas and talk about their issues than women. This blog helps me to do this, but I have also found that the coaching that I have done to be a good way to share in a more private manner. This is one of the reasons I am setting up the ChangingDad coaching business, to help Dads express themselves and become the best Dads they can be. There are many ways of sharing, but do we really have to be called ‘sharents’?

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Pictures

My Mother-in-law still uses a film camera. When she takes a photo her grandchildren look at her quizzically. “Why can’t I see the photo straight away?” they ask. What a bizarre idea that you take a photo and then have to wait ages to see it. This reminds me of when I was young when getting the photos back from the chemist, especially after a holiday, was a significant moment to look forward to; and often one for surprises – usually there were Christmas photos on that holiday film too.

While clearing my Dad’s house recently I came across our family photo albums. There were never more than ten pictures of me from any single year. These were usually taken at Christmas, on my birthday, and on our holidays; and these photos contribute significantly to my memories of when I was young. What’s more I have one friend who only has one or two photos from his entire childhood, his memories are much more sparse. Contrast this with the 5000+ that we already have of Jake and Sam, from around an hour after they were born onwards.

With smaller digital cameras and ever improving lenses on our phones the opportunity to catch moments has increased immensely, as has our opportunity to view them. Screen savers, digital photo albums, and the capacity of small devices to hold hundreds of images have meant that we can look at pictures most of the time. Indeed the first thing that Sam does almost every morning, after his initial cuddle, is pick up my phone and look at pictures and videos of himself. He loves the one of him and Jake on the “Thomas” ride the best.

There is every chance, then, that our children will have far more memories of their childhood to draw on than we ever did; and I want to make sure that my boys have plenty to choose from. So as part of my own development in doing this blog I’ve decided to try to improve my photographic skills. I’ve bought a new camera and will, initially at least, be posting a weekly photograph, probably on Sundays, as well as illustrating other blog posts from time to time.

Photos are so important to our memories and our appreciation of the people and environment around us. They help us to measure change, tracking the growth and development of our children and of ourselves. I hope you will enjoy the photos that I post, and maybe even notice a change in the quality of the photos as this blog progresses.


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Happy Father’s Day!

When I think back to the birth of my first child nearly five years ago it seems that my life has changed so much over that time; sometimes for the better, sometimes in ways that frustrate me, and often it is just different. I love being a Dad and wanted to write this blog to help me to reflect on this change, and share it with others. I wanted to think how it has affected other parts of my life: family, marriage, work, friends, interests, as well as myself as a person. So this blog won’t just be about me, it will also be about the people and places that I have experienced and how they have shaped who and what I am.

I hope that over the coming months you will build up a picture of my life, my experiences and what interests me, but to do that you need to know some basic details. I have been married to Karen since 2006 and we have two boys: Jake (4) and Sam (2). We live in West Yorkshire; although we are shortly going to be moving to South Yorkshire (change!) with Karen’s job. I took redundancy from my job at the end of 2011 (more change!), and am doing a postgraduate course in Executive and Business Coaching. I will no doubt be reflecting on what got me here in future posts, so watch this space.

Since this blog is about my life as a Dad, I thought that it would be very appropriate to launch it on Father’s Day. I very much hope that you will enjoy it, be inspired by it, be entertained by it, and contribute to it through your comments, which will be gratefully received.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!