I'm guessing that children these days are the most photographed generation ever. From birth, nearly every move of theirs is captured on camera and often shared online with family and friends. And, most times that is fine.
However, at some point in their development, it usually occurs to us mothers that these adorable children are individuals with their own rights and have preferences over the use of their images.
In fact, your children may have even asked you at some point to stop taking (or posting) pictures like mine have.
We need to listen.
When our children ask us to stop taking photos... and we then put down the camera, we're sending a valuable message; that they are worthy of respect. Cool, right?
So, what are ways we can respect our children when we also hope to capture their adorable milestones and everyday life?
1) Before taking a photo of them, ask them for permission.
My middle child went through a phase this summer when we didn't want his photo taken. It was tough for me because I happen to think he's so adorable and photogenic.
But, each time I brought my camera out, I had to ask him if I could take a photo.
Some days, he's say yes and even mug for the camera. Other days, I'd be "allowed" to take one, whether it was blurry or not. And other days, he didn't want any photos at all.
I think he partly liked having the "power" to have me stop something. But, he's also a private kid. So I asked every time. Now, about 6 months later, he almost never asks me to put the camera away. He knows that I'll respect his privacy.
2) Reconsider what we post on social media
I have this photo of my youngest jumping his bed. He's totally cute and I love the movement and energy of the photo.
But I'll never share it online.
Why? Because he's just in his skivvies. For a potty-training toddler that makes sense. But consider this.
Do I want his friends (or bullies) finding that photo when he's in high school? And that's my question I ask myself before sharing online.
We parent get to embarrass our kids by just walking them to school or breathing too loud near their friends. Let's not embarrass in a permanent place like online.
3) Involve your children in photography
When our kids are small, they are entirely unaware of the camera. Eventually, they figure out that we're getting cool photos and sharing them with our "online friends." We once bought a tough kid camera for the kids to play with. Oh, they took so many photos of their noses and the sky.
I recently taught my older two (ages 8 and 6) to use my old dslr camera. I set the camera on auto and set them loose.
My middle guy (that photo-shy one, remember?) kept coming back for me to teach him something new. He wanted to get rid of the blurriness (I taught him about shutter speed). The pictures were too dark (I taught him about exposure).
Now, he can get excited about photography because it's something we do together.
It is still possible to document in photographs your children's lives and respect them. We all are supposed to be treating others as we'd like them to treat us anyway.
So, before we put a camera in front of dear, adorable, photogenic children, let's consider their preferences and privacy. Let's involve them in the process of documenting their lives.
We're sure to create better photographs and better relationships.