Mike Julianelle freely admits that he might be a bit of a hypocrite, but there’s something about watching a video of a crying child that bothers him.
As the Brooklyn dad, who blogs at Dad and Buried, shared on Facebook, he’s the last person to criticize people for sharing photos of their children online. And yet, when a video of Terrel Crawford calming his daughter’s tantrum at Walmart went viral, Julianelle was uncomfortable.
It wasn’t the father’s actions that bothered him. Crawford handled the tantrum well and demonstrated that he’s a good dad. Julianelle wrote:
It’s an impressive display by an attentive dad. It’s not easy to withstand a toddler’s tantrum, especially not a public one, and it takes a lot of restraint to simply let it run its course without compounding it with a frustrated outburst of your own, and he managed it well.
But despite the fact that it was a display of good parenting, Julianelle found that the video “rubbed [him] the wrong way.” Then he realized what the problem was:
It’s part of a growing trend, in which parents are sharing photos and videos of their children mid-hysterics, at their most out of control and when they’re their most vulnerable. It’s kind of gross.
Most of these parents probably have the best intentions, but for some it’s the worst case scenario: they’re capturing their kids in rawest, most vulnerable moments for fifteen minutes of clicks. That ain’t cool.
He noted that when his own children are having an emotional meltdown, the last thing he’s thinking about is grabbing his phone:
I’m not a perfect parent, but when one of my kids throws a tantrum, I’m usually too concerned with containing it and calming him down than I am with preserving the moment for posterity. And I *never* have the wherewithal to film something as it’s happening, even in happy moments!
This isn’t to suggest that the man in the viral video isn’t a good parent, or that he isn’t handling the tantrum in exactly the right way. But Julianelle feels that it’s on the adults — the people who are able to control their emotions and reactions in a difficult situation — to remember this is a vulnerable moment for children.
What’s more, adults should know that the internet is forever, and that children might grow up to resent having their ugliest moments recorded and shared. As he explained, you don’t have to memorialize a child’s tears and wailing in order to make a point about tantrums:
Next time you consider capturing such a fraught, potentially hurtful moment, maybe save the sermonizing for later, when your children are asleep and not serving as your props.
Julianelle acknowledges that, as a blogger, he’s guilty of what he criticized, and has even shared a photo of a crying child in the past. And while he can make a minor distinction between his photos and recording a video, he told Dearly he deserved to be criticized for his own errors:
“I know I’m not a perfect or even particularly good parent, and I’m sure that down the line my kids will have plenty of issues with things I’ve already posted or have yet to post. So I basically agree with people calling me out.”
While he concedes the viral video may be helpful to others, he told Dearly that he wonders if it was really necessary to record and show the little girl crying:
“I think a lot of people probably will benefit from it, maybe more than his daughter might suffer from it. It just rubs me the wrong way when people make hay out of their kids’ suffering.”
As for when it’s appropriate to share your children’s photos and videos on social media, Julianelle said he believes that it’s up to the individual parents. Because his oldest son is getting close to the age when he’ll start using the internet himself, Julianelle is more conscious of how his children might feel about the issue. He told Dearly:
“My approach will likely change as he becomes more aware and makes his preferences known, and, in fact, I do my best to consider what he might and might not want out there already.”
His main message for other parents is to think hard before trying to turn your parenting moment (and your child’s ugly behavior) into clicks and followers. As he wrote on Facebook:
If your first instinct when your kid is having an emotional outburst is to grab the camera, maybe your parenting isn’t as admirable as it seems.
Even so, he knows that it comes down to using your best judgment and accepting that you might make a few mistakes along the way. As Julianelle told Dearly, he has no problem with being called a hypocrite for his post. That’s one of the ways he learns to do better:
“All I — or any parent can do — is their best. Sometimes that means not realizing your mistakes until after you’ve made them. Sometimes it means making them and being called out for it.”
He added: “I’m no expert on anything, and I’m willing to learn from others who notice when I’m blowing it. Nobody likes to be judged but sometimes it can be helpful!”