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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Intel Outdoor Movie Night251

I’ve avoided finishing or publishing this post since Charlie was 8 months old, almost five years. Probably because it’s both relevant and yet redundant, and while typically I like to have a thesis with these kinds of posts, I don’t today. Like digital media itself, my stance and mindset shift almost daily and knowing what is the “right” thing to do is most often an in-the-moment gut decision. I like to think that I’m principled, as if I have these morals that are unwavering and these limits that are inflexible. But absoluteness, or a “never will I” attitude, is the vernacular of youth. And being unwavering in your principles is certainly easier said than done.

Needless to say, I have very complicated feelings about my kids and social media (both their involvement and presence in my social media and, looking down the line, Charlie and Elliot on social media themselves). But like any intelligent, progressive, responsible (and terrified) mom, I mostly just want them to be as far away as possible from social media. Hilarious, I know but there is a plot twist at the end.

The irony of me being who I am and what I do for work is not lost on me; in fact, I’m more sensitive to it because of what I do. You have no idea. I know what it does to my fully grown adult brain and I didn’t have the Internet until I was 18 and social media until I was 30. My brain was FORMED.

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Most of parenting is modeling good behavior. Showing not telling. We are VERY good at adhering to a no phones at the breakfast and dinner tables policy and for the last six months have gotten The New York Times daily – the actual paper –  so we can catch up on the news while the kids play, but without having to be on our phones. We are trying to take the power of the phone away and show our kids that these things are tools we use for work and for information, but not something we need. So if that’s the case then why can’t I just teach them how we are being and how they can be responsible with social media?

There is a lot of research that says that my generation (xennial) and above are far worse at the daily mindless scroll than a typical 23 year old. I’ve read that the younger generation has learned to use it moderately whereas even our parents’ generation is addicted to scrolling and updating the daily feed, although in my experience, I’ve seen a lot of 16 years old locked to their phone.

While I could honestly talk about this at length (and regularly do with other parents to hear their points of views), my kids are still young, so this isn’t really about them actually using social media. I’m several years (hopefully a decade or more) away from actively having to have this conversation. They hopefully won’t have a cell phone until 8th grade, and, if I can convince all of our friends to make the same promise, not be on any social media until they are 18. Please join the #waituntil8th movement. PLEASE.

No, this post is more about how much our kids are involved in MY social media. Just writing that makes me feel gross.

“NOT AT ALL,” should be the obvious answer.  Our kids deserve their privacy and should be able to dictate where and when they are shown publicly. They are their own people.

And that was the firm answer a couple of years ago. No more kids on the blog and social media.

As Charlie started getting older, we decided that I would show less of his face in photos (like seen here – lots of back-of-heads). I would be more sensitive to the person that he was going to be once he was past baby age. Brian and I had a lot of heated conversations about it, even though we were on the same side. Neither of us wanted our kids to be in the public eye or to have a presence on social media. We want to respect their privacy. We don’t want them recognized in public. We don’t want this blog or my success to affect their futures because living in Hollywood is already hard. The obsession with fame here is potent and we want our kids as far away from it as possible. We joke all the time that while most parents “strive towards excellence” we hendersons “Strive Towards Normalcy”. We just want our kids to have the normal, safe, upbringings that we had.

So why did I move away from that staunch “our kids won’t be involved” decision? Or did I? Why do I still put photos of my two innocent children on social media even if its mostly the back of their heads? After much reflection, I think these are the answers:

1. I can’t blog without thinking about my kids. Those two are the biggest, most important part of my life. They are my only real priority. And while this blog is predominantly about design, the large following and engagement I have are likely because I’m also a human being with human reactions and honest responses. I’m not the best designer in the world, so why are all of you here? You’ve followed along for 10 years because I use this blog as a journal, documenting my self-expression and reflection, both stylistically and personally. I have the same struggles, challenges, concerns, joys, tears, tantrums and overwhelmingly happy moments as you. Therefore completely deleting that portion of my life feels like almost negating the most important part of myself. I know this sounds insane, but for the few months (a few years ago) that I didn’t talk about my kids or show them on social media, I actually think I wasn’t able to be authentic because I was shutting down the most volcanic section of my emotions and life. Brian agreed. He saw it in my mental state and in my writing. He could tell that I needed to express myself as a mom, as a professional mom, as a crying, emotional, highly joyful and sad mom. And maybe a photo of Charlie hugging me would help close some sort of door that not showing/talking about my kids left open.

2. Just like all of you, I have compulsions to photograph my kids when they are doing something really special. Taking home photos and videos of your kid is a good thing, it helps you all remember moments you will surely otherwise forget. And then at night, when they are asleep and I’m scrolling through photos, it’s like I can’t NOT put their adorableness out there. Believe me, I only put out about 1/1,000th of the photos that I want to. But I know that it’s not just a compulsion, there is obviously some sort of pride and well, EGO involved. In a day and age where people feel like they know you, you want to share and show them all aspects of your life. Like a house you worked on years to design, you want to put it on display for the world to see. You are so proud of it! You love it so much that you want other people to either recognize your work or love it as much as you, although they never will. It’s not just “being relatable,” it’s a serotonin and dopamine burst when you see a cute photo of your child doing something adorable earlier in the day, and you just want, well…I guess everyone to ooh and ahh with you. This is not a reason TO do it, but I suppose it’s been one of the reasons I have kept sneaking them onto social media—because it’s also fun FOR ME.

3. Alright, so here’s where it gets tricky. We have turned down jobs that have required my kids to be involved, so far. Sure, at times they have been in sponsored posts but I’ve never told a partner that their presence is guaranteed (well, maybe when they were infants, to me that’s different because they are just laying there, but I don’t remember). Honestly, most companies don’t even ask. Since my brand isn’t a mommy blog, they usually ask nicely if it’s a possibility but understand when I say it’s not guaranteed. But being an “influencer” is absolutely weird, you guys and life is full of slippery slopes. I realize even writing about this will take me out of jobs. Or maybe not. WHO THE HECK KNOWS (OR CARES) IN DIGITAL MEDIA.

I involve my kids when I know it’s important for our lives, like a magazine feature about our family or a post about their rooms in which they are super excited to play. That sounds like we are open to pimping out our kids for money. But we aren’t. Those don’t pay and it’s more about telling our story to a larger audience that is important to us. And we have learned how to make it really fun for the kids and we are very selective and how we do it (limit who is on set, get to the know the photographer first, have kittens, milkshakes, etc. at our disposal).

Does that mean that I’ll always say no to work that requires my kids on camera? Not necessarily. If it’s a good project, with a good message and something that we as parents feel will be a positive experience, we MAY consider it. But no, we are fiercely protective of their youth and privacy. At the same time, I can never say never. What if in five years Birdie, has some insane performance ability and BEGS to upload a video to YouTube? I shudder to think, but it’s also not that much different than taking your kid to a national talent show. My level of fear about this kind of stuff is so high that I don’t want it to cloud my ability to support my child, although I do think I can find creative ways to do this that doesn’t involve the dark web and the aftermath of comments/trolls and anxiety that will likely ensue. This is all a hypothetical and one that I hope never plays out.

So for now, it seems like I should just stick to my general parenting ideals and processes when it comes to challenging situations, the negative stuff in life. Maybe they are universal. Maybe not. Here ya go: (P.S. It’s been very good for us to really write down how we want to handle things in general.)

  1. Protect. Full Stop. This involves physical, mental and emotional safety.
  2. Model good behavior. We try to show them how to be good people. A good rule of thumb I remind myself all the time is ‘show, don’t tell. It’s an ‘all day every day’ situation. No pressure. 🙂
  3. Listen. Just listen. All the time.
  4. Suggest good behavior. if they aren’t doing it. Nudge them towards it in hopes they catch on.
  5. Watch. Observe. Then ….
  6. Intervene when it could get out of hand.

I suppose I left out all the positive affirmation, the daily “you got this.” But, hell, it’s not like I know what I’m doing, I just love a parenting book (and am happy to recommend my favorites) so regurgitating clichés is not hard. Not like this subject. This is hard. The easy answer of “don’t involve your kids” becomes so much more complicated when you/I think about how the reason I’m here is because I’ve been an open book since day 1, about all aspects of my life.

But as a mom I also really want to respect their privacy, respect them as individuals, honor what they want and not put anything out there that they might some day be embarrassed by. (P.S. Brian wanted me to add that if you see them in public without me, with just him, they don’t need to know that you recognize them. It’s only happened a couple of times but it makes everyone kinda uncomfortable and the kids are confused why a stranger knows them. If I’m with them, please feel free to say something to me about the blog if you want, not them).

Normally, I can see a few sides to how someone can parent and can get behind why you would let your kids participate in something. Brian and I are super conservative and protective as parents, FAR more than I thought we would be. I had no idea how little I would care about being “cool” as a parent.

So yeah. That’s the non-conclusion for you.

I’m going to try to be purposeful. Think of them and their future as much as possible. And generally put myself in their shoes.

My current strategy is this: Post my feelings with photos of the back of their heads (as much as possible) which I realize sounds creepy but all the photos in this post have been like this. That’s been my strategy if you haven’t noticed (not always the case) and I think it actually works…I share with you how I’m feeling which is what I need to survive, but my kids faces aren’t necessarily plastered on the internet. Meanwhile yes, there will be times when I break this rule, I’m sure.

I know as a parent I would react pretty heavily and instinctually to this post. I might scream “keep your kids out of social media” at the computer, but there are times when I think maybe we (Brian and a I) are more sensitive than most.

I’m nervous about reading the comments, I am. I’m worried that if Brian reads them he will ban our kids forever from the internet, and well, he’s their dad with incredibly good instincts. So I implore you to really think about every side of this before you just throw out simple solutions. At the same time, well, I’m listening …

Pretend you are me. What would you do??

  1. You are such a great mom Emily! Your family is lucky.

    1. I love reading about your thought process on this. Thanks for sharing. As a reader, I have to say that I would never mind if you didn’t include pictures of your children. I don’t think you would sacrifice anything in terms of the relatability or quality of the blog.

  2. Very wise. While I always enjoy seeing what your little ones are enjoying I completely agree with you. I often wonder why some bloggers share so much of their children’s identity on social media.

  3. “Pretend you are me” is a tall order, but I think your boundaries are great. I also respect bloggers like Rebecca Woolf who doesn’t restrict photos of her kids (She asks them first, I think, but has always shown their faces) and like Erin Loechner who shows even less of her kids. It’s a personal decision and you’re making the best call you can within the parameters of your family values and the info available. xx

  4. hi!
    I have no idea if my computer is broke or if there really are no comments on this post?!
    anyway, thank you for bringing up and sharing your thoughts on this difficult and controversial topic. I personally choose not to have my kids’ pics on social media but *I don’t do what you do for a living*. The fact that you think about this as much as you do says a lot itself. It is so very clear that you aren’t ‘using’ your kids. In fact, the opposite. Ultimately, they are *your* children and no one will know them and protect them the way you and Brian have and will. So, while I have gone back and forth about whether to include my kids (I am an emerging artist who is trying to get my presence felt on instagram and every podcast tells you to make it ‘personal’ GAH!) I don’t feel we can judge what you do. I think on some level shielding them from ‘your world’ excessively may take away the opportunity for you to ‘teach’ them about it. So you go mama! (and dad). You got this. We are all seriously winging it as parents and that’s what our parents did (pretty sure) and we all turned out ok. phew! 🙂

    1. This is a great comment- way to sum it up!

      1. Thank you @aliyah. Agreed on this: “I think on some level shielding them from ‘your world’ excessively may take away the opportunity for you to ‘teach’ them about it.” which is hard. its SO much easier to have a hard and fast rule, but it might not be how to actually teach responsibility, etc.

        Also I was 5 hours late on posting thus the late start on comments (I wanted to Brian to read it this morning to add in his opinions and give his thumbs up before we posted – so it didn’t go up til 8am, when it usually goes up at 2am :))

        1. So here is what I would say. So many things in life are incredibly nuanced, but I do not believe this issue is not one of them. From the bottom of my heart I believe our role as parents is just to chaperone, protect, and guide our children Into their destiny. Nothing about them belongs to us; we just hold them for the future. Because of that, i just don’t believe that their images and life stories are ours to share because it is convenient, funny, affirming or lucrative. I know I would feel shame if someone else posted their observations and interpretations of me for all to see. So my vote would be for you to just let them be themselves, in private, with your family and keep them off the blog. Even if they say they don’t care, children aren’t mature enough to understand all the future ramifications. That’s our job.
          Otherwise totally love you, your blog, and just for the record it is patently obvious you are a very good person.

          1. This is an excellent comment and perspective. Very well said.

  5. If I was a public figure as you have become, I would do what you are doing. I don’t see anything “creepy” about photos of the back of your children’s heads. Children are a key part of your life. You’re not hiding them, but you’re not putting their faces out there, either. I think that’s smart. I’ve seen other public figures do the same thing. For example the fashion designer Stella McCartney. The faces of her 4 kids are NEVER pictured on her Instagram yet she, on occasion, will post a photo of them from the back or in some other way obscuring their faces: They’re obviously a part of her life as a designer and a mother but protecting them from HER fame is her priority. Contrast that with Victoria and David Beckham where I feel like they have spent years using their kids for marketing purposes, which just seems gross (not to mention terrible parenting).

    FYI, about the #waituntil8th movement: My kids both got a cell phone when they started middle school (mostly because they were walking to and from school alone and it made ME feel better to know they had a phone). We allowed them to have Facebook pages in 9th grade (high school) — mostly because in high school, nearly ALL extracurricular activities — band, choir, sports — are organized via Facebook. That’s where practice times are posted, details about team events, travel info to events, etc. It would be VERY difficult for a kid to be on, say, the crew team as my son was and NOT be on Facebook because that’s where all of his team stuff got announced and organized. Also, a lot of group homework projects in high school get organized and done via Facebook (arranging when to meet and who has to do what about a project). So I’m not sure how realistic it is to say “wait until 18.”

    1. Ahh, good point. I’ve wondered about this. Do you monitor his account, or limit his activity in any way? (Not to imply that you should, if you aren’t – just curious.)

      1. I know re social groups and we will honestly likely only wait on certain things and only if some of their peers agree (we are just trying to find/bed our friends and their friend’s parents to go along with it). All of this is terribly naive, I just know the anxiety I CAN get from social media and just don’t want it for my kids brains, but I also am flexible enough to know what is realistic and need to teach them how to be responsible. EEK

        1. Hey Emily,

          I think you are being thoughtful and thorough in the way you’re considering this topic. I’m now on board with the “Wait Until 8th” plan, and this is after my now fourteen-year-old got her phone at eleven!! It was too soon for her, and even though we made her wait another year for social media, it was too soon for that too. I’m a middle-school teacher, and I feel bad for the kids who have to live out adolescent drama 24 / 7. We dealt with drama too but likely got some respite after school, at home, without group texts, snapchat, insta, finsta, you name it…keeping us in that state of stress.
          Now I’m telling kids two and three that they’ll be waiting. They of course find this unfair, but I’m honest with them that I’ve lived and learned, and this is where things are now.
          You are parenting with so much love and integrity–trust that you’ll make the right decisions for your family as they come!!

        2. I agree, Emily! And I know that unfortunately kids are expected to have cell phones for school, extracurricular activities, etc., but I wish I could stand in front of all the parents at an assembly on the first day of middle school and say, “Guess what? If we ALL agree not to give our kids phones, we can just pretend it’s 1995 again and the school, coaches, etc. can CALL us or send home a note to let us know what’s going on and there will be no peer pressure amongst the kids to have phones!”

        3. There are always going to be workarounds. None of my three kids (17, 14, 11) have Facebook. The oldest got Instagram last year, and I honestly think it’s been terrible—he reads and draws so much less because he is scrolling. But he was able to negotiate well for the privilege and still follows our rules of no phones in bedrooms or during meals. Everyone has to find what works for them, but I caution you to NOT base it on their peers—just because “everyone else” or even their team schedule is on FB doesn’t mean you have to conform.

      2. Both my kids are over 18 now so we don’t monitor any of their social media anymore — other than seeing what they publicly post. But TBH, we never did monitor much when they were in high school. We tried to respect their privacy. Instead our approach was to have plenty of conversations at the dinner table or wherever about what was appropriate and inappropriate in our digital era.

        Banning kids from doing anything never works. In fact, in my experience, it’s the super-rigid parents whose children end up pushing the envelope on everything the most!

        Our rules:

        Rule No. 1: Keep the teens VERY busy with extracurriculars. That not only keeps them out of trouble but forces them to manage their homework in the time remaining … because …
        Rule No. 2 : Keep up your grades. We expected As and Bs from our kids because that is what they were capable of. Any signs of grades dropping and they lost videogame/phone/Facebook privileges. That was actually quite a motivational tool for both of them. They wanted their digital time and we wanted good grades. Fair bargain. I wasn’t ranting about how much time they spent on their phones or on videogames if they were keeping up with their school work and extracurriular obligations.
        Rule No. 3: Don’t sugarcoat the downsides of social media. As I told both my son and my daughter: If you are going to be stupid enough to send a nude pic of yourself to someone, for god’s sake, don’t include your face! Because there’s every chance that photo WILL be shared. We live in an internet era of little or no privacy. They have to be aware of what that means — both the good and the bad — early in the teen years.
        Rule No. 4: Trust your kids — until you have a reason not to. And then … continue to trust them. Because you can’t do much else. And not trusting them will only push them away from you and toward the bad stuff.

        1. Sam – We raised our children pretty much the same. School was considered their “job”. As long as they did well at their job they were allowed the privilege of having a cell phone. As long as the phone didn’t become a distraction in their “job” they were okay. My kids are in their early 30’s now so we didn’t have to worry too much about social media then. I did my best to teach my girls what I expected from them (BE A GOOD HUMAN) and for the most part they didn’t let me down. They still make me proud every day and are shining examples are what good humans are.

        2. Agree that banning kids from something generally results in them figuring out a way to do it secretly. I saw a lot of that with my daughter’s friends whose parents banned them from Facebook, but they just created secret accounts. My almost 18-yr old is not on Facebook or instagram, etc. I have a small sewing blog, and for years used my daughter as the model. I a m seeing a downside to that now as she is teaching high school in a foreign country and many of the teenaged boys have started following my blog. I guess they’re into stalking their teacher in the past (I haven’t posted photos of her in years). Something I didn’t think about 10 years ago…

    2. Hi! I have a high schooler and she isn’t on social and the school (public) doesn’t use social media for announcing things. The coach for her team was sending group chat updates. I don’t allow group chats so the coach was kind enough to just text her separately. I think you can ask the school and they will understand.

  6. I think the balance you’ve achieved is really sensible. I hope my balance (if I were you) was as sensible. 🙂

    Personally: I don’t have a lifestyle blog (so different context!), but I do have a lot of friends/family who live far away and who stay in contact primarily through social media and skype calls, so ‘no kids on social media’ isn’t an option for maintaining relationships. So… balance. I have a mostly-locked-down FB and Instagram where I will post the occasional picture of my kids (my oldest is 4; she gets consulted as to whether she’s ok with it first, and occasionally she’s not and the pics don’t go up). And I generally try to keep in mind that what I’m posting needs to be non-embarassing, as much as possible (adorable child playing with a toy tractor: sure. Adorable child with panties on head: no.)

    Beyond that… I think we’re all doing the best we can with the tools available, and that modeling sensible approches to considering what we’re putting online goes a long way.

  7. So much respect for you and Brian on this. My platform is much, much smaller and I really struggle with the desire to be open and share what’s important to me with the desire to fiercely protect my children and their privacy. The in-between space is an uncomfortable one to be in (because it requires constant judgment calls), but it can also be the most authentic way of balancing two opposing values that are both important. For me, that means sharing stories about my children without sharing their names and minimizing their appearance on social media (no video and only family photos, not individual kid ones).

    Your point of view has also helped us re-think our re-posting strategy as a brand at Thimble. Your team very kindly and appropriately asked us not to re-post images of your kids in our clothing and it was a much needed aha moment for us. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and openness!

    1. OMG, I didn’t know my team asked you that! They got my back 🙂 It’s SO HARD, guys. You can definitely use any shots of them where you don’t see their faces (just don’t tag me – which I know feels weird). But its confusing. like if I posted it then why can’t you? something for me to think about. that’s why I guess I’m more comfortable on stories rather than the grid (instagram) because its fleeting….

  8. You are obviously both very thoughtful parents who care about their children now and for the future. I think it’s admirable that you have taken the time to consider your fame’s place in their lives and set out a plan. People can agree, disagree, etc, but ultimately it’s your decision. I’ve read your blog for so long, and I definitely have never had the feeling that you’re exploitative of your children!

    Also, I’m full on with you on holding off on cell phones and social media as long as absolutely possible! 18 sounds like a good age to me!

  9. You and Brian are good parents with good instincts. Your thoughts on social media and your kids are terrific. Keep on doing what you’re doing 😃👍

  10. I think you’re doing really great! I agree with everything you write and totally understand the struggles with social media. Social media is a beast (and mostly not in a good way). I love to see your house, designs, family and work family and everything what is going on in your life and I think the balance you have now is great.

  11. I completely agree with you. I work in social marketing so it’s a hard balance for me too. I made the decision after Christmas last year to only post about my kids on momentous occasions. (Birthdays, family photo at Christmas, etc. to serve as a small digital photo album for family/friends.) When the whole reason I was taking photos I took of my children became – wow, this would be a great picture for instagram – that’s when I knew it was too much. I looked at friends and other accounts I follow and realized that it’s just turned into too much. (I also feel like “stories” has exasperated it as well. The ability – and encouragement – to post multiple photos/videos a day.) I feel like it’s a competition among some parents and wonder if it’ll be detrimental to those kids in the future. Sometimes (a lot of times) my kids don’t even want me to take a picture of them — what would they think if they knew (and understood) that I was sharing that photo with hundreds of other people?? I decided to stop feel like it’s been a really good decision.

  12. I think your approach is thoughtful and sensible and reflects that you are making the best choices you can for your family. You’re doing great! And personally my favorite part is that you recognize that this is situation where revisiting and revising makes a ton of sense and absolutes don’t.

  13. I think that your future teenagers will most likely resent the pictures of their childhood being so public. Any stories about their sleeping arrangements and such will still be out their when they are teenagers and they might be angry that people no so much about their childhood stories. I would suggest thinking about every share in that light, what would my future teenager think about this being public info.

    1. This is an interesting point, Lynne. I think I agree with you that I would be less concerned about whether to share photos and pay more focus to what type of potentially embarrassing personal information I share.

    2. I heartily agree with this one. I think it’s great that you’re so open about your family, and share as much as you do, but definitely will future Charlie & Birdie appreciate it? They might be super resentful as teenagers if you share too much (then again, teenagers seem to be resentful no matter what you do.) One other scenario: if they were trans, later in life after transitioning to a different gender, they would most likely VERY MUCH NOT WANT any photos of themselves as children to be on the internet.

    3. Reading this, I feel so fortunate to have the teenagers I have…they realize they were once small and acted like it! No angst about being captured in photos that way. I guess if I had a large following, it might be different– but I don’t think so. They just aren’t geared towards angry, it is just not their default setting.

    4. I agree. I have felt quite uncomfortable with the blow by blow descriptions of tantrums etc. I also by the by have very little interest in other people’s kids, only my own 🙂 Although of course I can see why you think they’re amazing, I’d be totally fine with far less information about them.
      By the way while we’re talking about privacy (and delete this comment if you don’t want others to go looking) it’s very easy to find your address. A lot of the tags that pop up on your photos when you hover over them are labelled with your street name.

    5. When I read this comment it hit me. Good point!
      I felt a little uncomfortable with the sharing about their sleeping arrangements, including Charlie’s insistence on sleeping on a sofa cushion. All kids do weird things from time to time, but not all kids have it recorded in writing for all time.
      My view? They are sooo cute and adorable (for real, not just because they’re on a blod, etc.)and the photos of them, with faces, are less “future-shaming”, than some of the personal stories shared about them. These stories may have “cute” appeal for you or even readers, but, guaranteed… no teenager is going to love some of those stories having been shared.
      Cudos to you both for communicating with each other about the ever-changing landscape of social media. Please, just vdxaware that what is written may be more cause for future heartache, than cute photos of faces. x

  14. I can’t even begin to pretend I’m you – I have no idea what it’s like for my livelihood to depend on social media. I don’t even do FB or Instagram. Just blog reading for fun. What I can say is I sort of shuddered to imagine the scene where a stranger knows your kids and tries to engage. As your readers, we feel like we know your family and would probably find it so fun to run into Brian and your kids. It would be hard not to enthusiastically say hello. But how hard and weird and unnerving for them that would be. So in light of that, I think you are making the right choice to just do back of heads. If they were with your or Brian, obviously I would recognize them. But it’s nice to think that if they were with a family friend or grandparent or babysitter, none of your followers would know who they are. It seems like the best blend of you being able to share yourself without exposing them. I wish there was a way for you to remain authentic without having to show them at all, though, because there are creepy people in the world. And who knows how they will feel about it all as they get older. It’s a tough spot for sure. As a reader, I love the design, but it’s true that I primarily love hearing your perspective on LIFE (parenting, politics, feminism, consumerism) and then reading people’s comments to those posts. I’ve gained so much from the comments.

  15. I think you are handling it perfectly! I am not famous and I am still nervous about sharing my kids on social media for a variety of reasons. I certainly do it for basically the same reasons you said (and we are talking about my personal following of 450- followers, not millions haha). I signed up for wait until 8th and I hope my kids friends parents do as well.
    That being said, my oldest is seven now so she knows about Instagram and we have a firm rule that she gets to review any picture and language I want to share- nothing about her is posted without her consent. And I 100% keep in mind that she is a child who may not realize the ramifications of what is being posted, so I am cognizant to never post something that may be embarrassing to her in the future (except the punky brewster-esque outfit she selected for school picture day, that was hilarious and she can laugh about it in the future) but realizing that certain jokes she might find funny and approve now (think: fart jokes) she will not want on there in the future, so I feel like I can already start teaching her about the internet and how important it is to take care of her digital footprint.
    You are doing a great job!!!

  16. My job is a Learning Technology Integrator for our public school. I work with teachers and students regularly in using technology in the classroom and also spend quite a bit of my time sharing with teachers and students and families how to be a “good digital citizen”. I have found that Common Sense Media has great resources for parents that are navigating a world we never knew was even coming! It’s challenging and important. I also believe in core beliefs as humans. Having these guiding principles of integrity and virtue and kindness and understanding who you are is the best gift you can give your children. When you understand who you are and your purpose, it becomes, I believe, easier to navigate the other things. The fact that you’re being thoughtful about it – is really the most important thing. Will you make mistakes along the way? Of course! But always trying and reflecting and remembering the end from the beginning will keep you grounded in what is most important.

    1. I love this and agree! Great post!

  17. I am incredibly impressed how conservative and thoughtful you are being. Even as someone with kids on an insta account open to 30 people who know and like my kids i have zero judgement of people sharing their kids images (as long as they aren’t terribly embarrassing and approved by the kids once they are at an age to do so).

    A couple of unconnected thoughts –

    As a refugee I come from a mental place where financial stability and survival are not the baseline. If it would have helped pay the bills (and existed when I was a kid) my parents would have said “this is our business, and it puts food on our table.” Yes you are privileged and hard working enough that this is not your reality – but really there are much harder things in the world than people seeing one’s photo.

    Hopefully this doesn’t worry Brian more but I think about it a lot and anonymity does not equate safety. Generally good people and a ton of luck seem to be the only things that do these days. You are not putting your kids in any more danger that some people on the internet see their faces at the store or sending them to school (crying face here.)

    Anyways thanks for putting this out here and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on kids using social media – I just banned YouTube because of toy videos and I would love to hear thoughts.

    1. Such a great perspective, thank you.

      And YouTube…… UGH.

  18. I think your plan is a good one. You’re right that people enjoy your openness and come here not just for design content but for lifestyle content, and how can you provide that and not involve your family sometimes? I think not showing their full on faces so much is a good thing, and something Young House Love also has done is not using their names in posts (just saying things like our daughter, my daughter, our son, my son).

    That would be my main concern as a public person is having strangers coming up to them and recognizing them and all the ways that could go wrong, so not showing their faces so much and not using their names so much goes a long way for that. You’re a good and thoughtful Mom (and Dad). Many social media users and other bloggers don’t even consider this stuff or the concerns it brings up, so I think you’re ahead of the game here.

  19. I think you have done a great job so far in sharing your parenting and family without overdoing it.

    Social media is designed to be addictive. Games are truly designed to be addictive. So many families don’t seem to understand this, and just accept the presence of digital devices everywhere. I appreciate that you set boundaries and share your decisions. I hope it makes more parents think about the choices they make.

    Here is what I wish I could say to parents sometimes: Kids don’t have money! They can’t buy phones, TVs, game consoles, soda or junk food. Please set limits!

  20. Ah, the questions of modern parenting. We are past this, since our girls are 20 and 22. I no longer have a say in their social media presence. The oldest is super private, the youngest… I still shake my head at her periodic need for public affirmation, not of her work, but her self. It’s disconcerting at times. My attitude is similar to yours. I didn’t have a cell phone myself until my mid twenties, and social media (remember MySpace?! 🤣) until much later, so it wasn’t an issue when they were little. I can only speak to your future choices.

    The girls both got simple cell phones, no internet, in middle school mostly for my sanity. Late choir and musical theater rehearsals were the bane of my existence even through high school, and my slightly illogical fear of a school shooting, meant I wanted them to have the ability to communicate with me or the authorities on a moments’ notice. iPhones in high school opened the social media Pandora’s box. Sigh. It came with positives and negatives. Our rules were this- we share the girls on our platforms with their permission (this was mostly bragging moments for performances or special occasions), remember to act appropriate at all times on social media since it will be on the World Wide Web forever, their phones were always ours to look at, see their communications, or confiscate if necessary (never really needed to), their social media profiles were always friends with ours and we knew their passwords, and lastly, as long as we paid for their service, their find iPhone location tracking was on. I fully trusted them, they never gave me a reason to not trust them, so we didn’t feel the need to track their movements to check up on them, but man, it alleviated a lot of my anxiety about allowing them to explore the world independently. That is a whole different discussion!

  21. Wow that I you for this post! I’m a new mom and have been really struggling to figure this out, and your reasoning here makes a lot of sense to me! It seems good that you don’t have an “all or nothing” approach to this but are trying to be reasonable and responsible parents. This is really tough stuff – and talking about why you choose what you do is incredibly hard AND inspiring, so thank you!!

  22. I am very happy you have made the decision of sharing less of your kids’ faces. Even if they are still very young, we don’t know how they will react when they find out their photos have been published for years (probably it won’t be a problem, but I think about this a lot whenever I post a photo of friends or family). That being said, I know it must be difficult, specially in these confusing times when everyone is just trying to figure out how to deal with social media. Thank you for your honesty.

    PS: I really like the way you write about yourself, your family and your feelings, but you are a good writer and I think we (your readers) don’t need a photo to relate.

    PSS: Sorry for my English, I am writing from abroad.

  23. I think it’s impossible for virtually any of us to give advice on this! For you it ties into your livelihood and therefore the well-being of your family, whereas for 99.9% of us it’s purely a privacy issue.

    I have a public instagram account that is based on a hobby, with 1,100 followers I don’t know in real life. I really don’t think these people care about my kids, but I have never shown their faces on this account. I have a private account for friends and family for this.

    That works for me and my family, but doesn’t mean it will work for you and your family.

    My one comment has to do with people recognizing your kids and that is that I don’t think showing the back of their heads only will prevent them from being recognized in public because they look just like you and Brian!

  24. I’m currently pregnant with my first, I’m not an “influencer” and I still think about this ALL. THE. TIME. I’m doing the single mom by choice thing so all decision are just mine which in some ways is awesome, but in others it’s really scary. I’m definitely on board for #waituntil8th…for now. That’s 13-14 years away for me so who knows what things will look like by then.

    I’m with you on avoiding ‘never’ and I’ll add that I’m avoiding ‘always’. Both of those words when applied to parenting seem like a recipe for feeling like a failure. I think trying to keep the pictures of the kids to shots that avoid their faces is a good one, even if I’ve loved seeing them (Charlie is the same age as my cousin Henry and they look very similar). I can see it being very disconcerting to be recognized by a stranger.

  25. Thank you for sharing. Parenting is so difficult and different for each of us. My husband and I do new construction and I made it about a week on Instagram before it just didn’t feel right. I was completely leaving out the mom side of my life and it just made me unhappy. I hate fake social media personas and without including all of me, that’s how I felt. Fake. But I am very into not sharing my kids, who are teens, on social media without thier permission. It seems like a teach by example situation and I don’t want them ever posting other kids without consent. It’s a daily discussion/struggle and all we can do is keep moving forward. Thanks again for sharing!

  26. Do it while you can. My husband and I are both professional photographers, so as you can imagine we have one million photos of our kids growing up. Their entire childhood is somewhere on Flickr (years ago) or Instagram… and now they are 12 and 14 and the opportunities for them to be in photos doing something cute is limited to sports games and performances. They are not running around all cute eating popsicles in the backyard anymore. Around 10 for both of them the photos just sort of dropped off. It will naturally work itself out. I promise They are not gonna want to be 13 years old have their photo taken going Easter egg hunting or tickling each other in their new bedroom.

  27. It’s a tough topic, but kudos to you for thinking through the angles and posting your stance. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you have a public social media presence (not something you’re just posting for family and friends), I’m a big fan of the “no faces” solution for pictures with your kids. John and Sherry from Young House Love do the same, and that’s the first place I remember really noticing and liking that as an option.

    Good luck dealing with all the future conundrums they throw at you on this topic! My six year old daughter regularly practices YouTube video like speeches in the mirror about what she’s playing with, how to brush your teeth, and whatever else, and I’m a little terrified of the day that she realizes that technically anyone can post videos on YouTube, including her. Here’s hoping we’re all able to handle those tough decisions with as much wisdom as possible and give grace to other parents that they’re doing the same for their family!

  28. You have what appears to be a beautiful and happy life with your kids. I am not envious of this added layer of complication you’ve got going on but I manage to find plenty of other daily concerns of my own around how I’m “parenting”. When I remember to, I try to default to the old saying “proof is in the pudding.” Is my kid safe and happy? Learning, growing, and playing like she should? Then we’re good. If at some point we’re not hitting those things, we’ll change and adapt.

    Thank you for your openness!

  29. My issue is not necessarily kids having a social media presence, but kids having a social media presence that they would potentially object to. The goal should be to not violate our children’s privacy. Before we announce to the world that our kid suffers from anxiety, or poops four times a day, or still wets his bed at 6 years old, let’s stop to think about if the kid would want this announced. Chances are that if you as an adult wouldn’t like these things shared about yourself or if you think your child’s future employer shouldn’t know about it, then it should not be shared publicly. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that children should NEVER end up naked on a social media feed. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a naked toddler butt, kids bathing in a tub, or even a full frontal with nothing but a skinny sensor bar over a girl’s sensitive areas. THIS IS NOT OKAY! Yet the comments are always along the lines of “OMG how adorable!” instead of “”OMG there could be a pedophile looking at your naked child!”. Toddlers are not immune to sexual predation and should not appear naked on the internet. All that to say, that I appreciate your censorship, Emily, and your awareness of not violating your children’s privacy.

  30. Emily I love your thoughts and think life is all about balance. Not posting about them at all, as you suggest, is hard because they are a BIG part of your life. You want to be authentic. But you want to protect them. I think your current strategy is great.

  31. It’s so tricky. I love seeing other people’s children on social media and blogs but I won’t put my own child online, so clearly I have strong feelings about it. I have loved watching your kids grow, as Charlie was born when I was pregnant with my first son. (Now pregnant with my little girl, who will also not be on social media at all.) That said, our jobs and lives are completely different, and I respect the way you put your kids out there. I know younghouselove used to post regularly about their children on their family blog which was completely dissolved and now you only ever see a far away back of the head shot of either one. I think people get that too. I think you have to do what makes you comfortable as parents. For me, it’s no posting of my kids. My sister posts almost only about her kids. I don’t judge her for it, and I love seeing my niece and nephew on my feed. I think it’s totally personal and you have to do what makes you comfortable. No judgement.

  32. This must be so tough and a hard decision! Not sure what I’d do in your position. However, you do have to sleep in the bed you make…getting upset that people come up to your children doesn’t seem fair. If you put them on a blog with a million followers you have to know that people will recognise them and will say something. There are pros (you probably do make money, get sponsors etc) and cons (exposure, recognition) for this choice. Unfortunately, You can’t have one without the other. Good luck !

  33. I think this is a great social media philosophy to follow. Granted, not everyone feels the same way, but as a parent who does not use social media and rarely allows photos of my 4 year old daughter to be posted (my husband posts one on rare occasions), this resonates with me. It’s your blog and your family, so a non-issue in my mind, really. Now, if you could post more ideas on curbing the mindless phone scrolling… 🙂 It is such a struggle for me- sometimes I think I should just go back to a flip phone.

  34. I think you’re doing it right considering it’s your job being present as much as possible. Showing back heads but no faces sounds just right.
    Have a great weekend!

  35. First, I’m so sorry you have to explain yourself so much and that you are afraid of the impending comments.
    Second, I think you are doing the right thing, because you’ve put thought into and have had lots of conversations about what works for your family. The right thing will be different for all of us. I support your choice to stop featuring their faces so much, especially from a safety standpoint. The idea of “privacy” is laughable to me any more in the age of internet permanence. I have considered my social media engagement as my son has grown, since I know he will some day be able to google his name or image. The fact that my son’s images are on social media is less of a concern to me than “embarrassing” information about him being shared in public forums. That is where I have chosen to draw the line as a parent: images are okay, embarrassing or silly stories and problems/struggles, etc are not shared on the internet. Though, I’m not in the “influencer” world like you, so my decisions have a much smaller, less public impact.
    What I really wish is that the keyboard warriors would stop criticizing the parenting choices of strangers. Just because you are a public figure doesn’t mean your personal choices are automatically subject to crowd-sourcing.
    To those commenters prepared to make a nasty remark about you, your family, and your choices, I say: If you aren’t kind on the internet, you aren’t kind.

  36. I am a computer teacher and I hate to burst some of the commenter’s bubbles here. The kids will and do sign up for social media accounts by middle school. And….many don’t tell their parents or wait for permission. And….later they will likely maintain two sets of social media: one for the parents and old people and a secret/separate one for their friends.

    I believe open communication about netiquette and safety is the way to go.

    1. As a middle school teacher and parent of 2 teenagers, this is exactly true. So many separate accounts.

    2. I have a middle schooler and high schooler but between the restrictions setting on iPhone and paid AT&T service we have been able to keep them from downloading any apps that we don’t approve. It’s not perfect and it’s a pain but every time something pops up at school — bullying on one of the apps etc — thankful we are not giving them unlimited access.

      1. Ok, but you can sign up for Instagram and twitter without downloading an app. Because they have access to computers at school, they’ll just use the sites there and/or use the internet on their phone to see what everyone is up to.

  37. Wow, Emily!! I don’t have any great answers (my kids are younger than yours and and my livelihood doesn’t depend on social media) but I’m so happy you’re writing about this. As the generation who bridged the gap before and after the internet, it seems like it’s our responsibility to pass this crazy tool onto our children very very carefully. It’s so encouraging to me to hear another mom suggest we #waituntil8th and withold social media until 18 years old. I’m really interested to hear other people’s comments. Thank you!

  38. It’s so beautiful to hear how much you & Brian care about getting this right! — especially that you get that modelling is going to matter more in all of this than any kind of theory. Too many people feel proud that they *know* that this weird world is hard on us and especially on kids, but don’t actually take appropriate action based on what they know. Kids growing up with social media is an experiment that’s never been done, and it absolutely makes sense to proceed with caution.

    I think backs of heads works really well. As a reader, I’m not the least bit put off by that. I remember seeing Birdie’s face a while ago and realizing I hadn’t known what she looked like now that she’s more grown up… On the other hand, I hadn’t distinctly registered “oh, Emily hasn’t been showing her face for a while” before that. Point being: backs of heads does still give us a sense of you as a mother with two beautiful children, but also does effectively keep us from *actually* seeing them. That said, I’d be absolutely supportive if you didn’t show them at all too. Just saying that, I think backs of heads is also effectively private.

    And, I’m glad Brian got you to add in that tip about not addressing them if we meet you on the street. That will never happen for me (I live in Canada), and I know throwing that out there won’t stop it from ever happening, but I just like the heart behind at least hoping for that. I’m all for the Henderson family “striving for normalcy” and your two little ones growing up as unaware of your famousness as possible. I wish you all the best in trying to carve that out for them — even if it means getting more careful about it as they grow — and in keeping them off social media until 18 at least!

    (PS. I actually don’t have a phone, and am not (and never have been on) on social media myself as an adult. We have one family computer, that is in a very public location, and we try to use it mostly for “storage” (photos etc.) and for “communication” (emails & reading your blog ;). I also do almost all of our shopping online, which is my spot where I don’t feel perfectly principled… but it keeps them out of the mall. (?) We try not to use it for “finding information” and have reference manuals and books from the library for that purpose instead — even if that means pulling out the dictionary when I am at the computer already and could have the spelling at my fingertips in seconds, or going through an old cookbook instead of Googling the time for a soft boiled egg. At this point my own kids (12, 10, 6) assume they will find ways to do the same as adults, because they have grown up seeing the difference between our home and so many others, and prefer the pace and connectedness (and imaginativeness) we’ve gained because of that choice. So many parents make decisions based on the fear their kids will resent them if they don’t get to do _____ like everyone else. But, a secure, happy child understands just fine when a decision is being made to love and protect them. You’ll find your kids will be grateful for your diligence as they grow older!)

    (PPS. Have you read Hold On To Your Kids and Simplicity Parenting?)

    (PPPS. Did you ever read the gospel of John in ESV? Ultimately I think that navigating good and evil is beyond us as humans, no matter how diligent our efforts… and more than anything what we need is a God who is big and strong and wise and good and infinitely above us… and yet who loves us and was willing to dwell (and die) among us in order to rescue us. I hope you find Him. 🙂

  39. You’re doing great. Really really great. Don’t worry so much! The most important thing is to teach them to be kind!! Kindness will always be there to humble the ego, and protect them from the Hollywood hype. It’s definitely important to limit their “screen time” for brain development, and not commodotize them through Instagram deals, but it sounds like you’re already doing that. Bravo! My parents had me model once for a toy catalogue as a kid (I was so excited!) and they only ended up printing the back of my head…. (was majorly bummed about that…😂)but nonetheless I asked my mom to frame the catalogue clipping for me and oh how I loved that picture growing up. I was proud of it- and maybe in a weird way it gave me a sliver of confidence. That’s not a bad thing to have through all those tough early school years! Everything in small doses is A Ok – and including them in the fun shoots will be something I’m sure they’ll look back on fondly. They can be exciting & memorable, & it’s more time they get to spend with you, after all! Trust your gut!

  40. If I had kids and was famous (I’m 25 year-old married women trying to start a family, and a software developer so 0% famous), I wouldn’t worry about their presence on my social media unless it was a nuisance to my family (like in the case of people approaching Brian and the kids in public – that would make me consider reducing their exposure on my channels). In terms of my kids wanting their own social accounts, I would let them as soon as they’re interested or their friends are on, with appropriate supervision for their age. I believe trying to prevent kids from using social media until they’re 18 or some other arbitrary age is this generations equivalent of not giving your kids “the talk” – it’s not going to stop them, it’ll just make them unsafe when they do use it and less likely to be open about their use or any problems because “my parents hate that I’m on here anyways, so if I tell them someone is harassing me/saying mean things about me/etc. they’ll make me delete my accounts”.

    All that said… I’m not a mom and this is still all hypothetical to me so maybe I’ll feel completely different whenever I’m blessed with a child! I always firmly believe that every parent is doing their best, so it’s not on me to judge their choices 🙂

  41. If your goal is to influence people for good and support your family, both of those are very worthy pursuits that your children could be involved in. You have kept it classy all of this time and you’ll continue to do that with your kids in your life. Your readers trust you to recommend good life design and how you involve your children is part of it. You may not be an expert in general, but you are an expert of how you want your life to be. You’re doing a great job and we all have confidence in you!

  42. I think you have struck the right balance. And I have enjoyed seeing those adorable kids growing up (That recent photo of Charlie in his mountain house bedroom! He’s so big!). I feel the same pride about my kids and do post photos of them on my social media. They are my world and I like to share.

    You are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

  43. A positif comment, but not an answer 🙂
    That red blouse suits you perfectly and you look great 🙂

  44. I think sharing kid photos that are special to you or ones that you are proud about is lovely from time to time. I don’t come to the blog for kid content, but if I were putting myself in your shoes, that would be my mantra. Yes, everything on the internet can live in perpetuity, but links get broken, sites disappear and go the way of Myspace. Lots of the posts involving your kids will get lost in the digital future, probably for the best, by the time they are teens.

    Putting myself in your kids shoes for just a minute… remember that your kids will grow up and likely become completely different from their kid-selves (from the way they dress, to how they want to be associated, to who they feel they are inside) and that they may not appreciate the cutesy (but innocently) way they are displayed. But at the end of the day, what’s important is them knowing that you love them and I’m sure you’re doing a great job of that!

    1. It’s so tough to know what to do about these issues. I have 3 kids, ages 12, 9 and 6. I can tell you that you will naturally stop posting as many pictures of your kids on social media as they get older. I think it starts around 9 or 10. Nobody is out there regularly posting pics of their teens on FB…the kids would never allow it and opportunities to capture those moments are fewer.

      Regarding kids having their own phones and social media accounts—I am right in the thick of this with a 12 year old and it is crazy. I was very into the wait until 8th grade rule, but my 6th grader is now the LAST kid in his grade of 120 students to get a phone. The last. And we live in a small town in the Midwest—very average, middle class families. I finally broke down and we’re getting him one next weekend. He bikes all over town with his buddies on the weekends and I’m tired of texting his friends to tell him to come home for dinner. 🙂 Many kids in my daughter’s 4th grade class have phones. It’s just ridiculous.

      Anyway…I know that they all have social media accounts. They aren’t interested in FB, but they like Instagram and of course Snapchat. You may think your kid doesn’t have a social media presence, but in my experience they have one…it’s just secret and you don’t know about it. Far better IMO to let them have it, but monitor as much as you can, and just teach them how to use it in a thoughtful manner.

  45. Personally, I think it’s a really bad idea for anybody to put their kids on social media, period. I have many friends who do and I shake my head. There are numerous reasons why it’s a bad idea, and people can look those reasons up for themselves, or talk to their local law enforcement. And to be 100% honest, I think it’s worse for someone whose social media exists as part of a commercial enterprise to involve their kids. Sorry, that sounds harsh, but I’m afraid there are going to be NUMEROUS regrets and resentments from people down the road who had no say in how public their lives were. And honestly, if you look at most major celebrities, like say Robert Downey Jr., they don’t put their kids on their social media ever, except some, perhaps, on the rarest of occasions. Too much risk vs what reward exactly?

  46. PS. I should add that I think showing their backs is a reasonable compromise.

  47. No judgement from me. Your instincts seem spot-on. Thanks for presenting a well-considered perspective that reflects all the nuance of this situation.
    Also, like cup of jo always reminds us to tell each other:
    Congrats, mama. You’re doing a great job.

  48. I think your thought process on this entire post is reasonable. The one thing that threw me off is Brian’s comment about only being able to say Hi when you’re there. I think it’s just a matter fact of the type of job you have that you’re relatively “famous”. People love you & your family and it’s hard to remember sometimes that we don’t actually know you 🙂 Given that, I think just a little bit of grace from Brian would be warranted. People generally have good intentions & if he feels that strongly then maybe he should consider not being on the blog either. Because at the end of the day, we hear about him, his personality, and recognize his face too!

  49. You should ban issuing them completely. 1,000,000 strangers do not need to know what your kids look like! Even the back of their head! If you have to write this “Brian wanted me to add that if you see them in public without me, with just him, they don’t need to know that you recognize them. It’s only happened a couple of times but it makes everyone kinda uncomfortable and the kids are confused why a stranger knows them. If I’m with them, please feel free to say something to me about the blog if you want, not them” you know what your are doing is not right. It’s okay to choose your kids over your business sometimes, these are tough choices and I get it, but some things are just way more important than a bottom line. You are already raising them in the most image driven city in the US, don’t do this to them! Just an example, the kids in my sons middle school class googles everyone’s parents to see what pictures would pop up, and I can’t even imagine what it would have felt like if my son had the same imagery out there that Charlie does by age 5. It’s insensitive to your kids, their relationship and their safety. Contrary to what you write i follow your for your DESIGN not your family and “lifestyle.” Focus on your work and let your kids be kids.

    1. Jane, please remember that we are all doing the best we can. I am pretty certain Emily is not telling you how to run your life, so maybe give her the same consideration.

  50. I think transitioning to back of head or otherwise obscured photos is a good idea.

    I have a son, and I don’t post any public pictures of him because I’ve decided that I’d like him to be able to decide in the future how much or how little of his own life he would like to be public. It’s his life, not mine.

    For me, this decision is another facet of bodily autonomy. I want him to have the benefit of blank slate, of writing his own narrative, when he’s 18 and is better able to make informed decisions around privacy.

    Asking kids if it’s ok or not ok to post their picture is one way that people handle this, but I would gently ask people to consider that doing so can be a way of absolving oneself of the parent’s responsibility to act in their best interest.

    “She said I can post it” doesn’t mean that it’s the right decision in the long term. And kids don’t yet have the knowledge, wisdom, and foresight to know what they will and won’t be ok with in later years – what they say “yes” to you posting at 10 years old, they might regret at 15 or at 30. And you can’t unring a bell; once it’s out there it’s out there.

    Posting a holiday photo or a family photo now and then feels fine! That’s a snapshot, and not our kid’s day to day lives. 🙂

  51. I’ve never really thought that one of your post was inappropriate, so kudos to you! I don’t envy you navigating the fine line between normal and decent inclusion of your kids in posts and using kids as props for better photos. The success of your blog, in my opinion, comes for the mix of authenticity and beautiful design and I perfectly understand that you can’t really be authentic without the inclusion of your kids. Only you know the limits you’re comfortable with.

    The question I would ask myself : are my kids necessary for this image, or this blog post? It’s your career, not theirs.

    Photos from the back of the head (the blog is a professional setting, not a family album) and little to no personnal info on them is a must. It would reduce the number of weirdos who recognize your kids and feel the absolute need to meet them if they ever meet in real life. That’s probably the downside of your job, being a blogger you seem so much approchable than some other celebrity.

  52. I have been curious about the “post photos of your kids but not their faces” trend on social media and to be honest, I’m not sure I get it. And I’m saying this in the most kind, naive, help-me-understand way. Similar to another comment, does this really make a difference? If I see your entire kids body but not their face? I’m still seeing 90% of your kid. I don’t know the answer as to what is right or not and I’m lucky enough to be able to have my account be private since I’m NOT an influencer by any means, but I’m just curious of the background behind this and if it has proven to help.

    All that said, you’re a great mom Emily and your kids and so lucky to have you. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to remind yourself that you’re doing a great job! <3

    1. My husband, a software engineer, is concerned about facial recognition in computers for advertising, as well as privacy. We allow some photos of our child with no face showing for that reason. I doubt that’s what Emily is thinking about, but there is a legitimate reason to not want a child’s face online.

  53. Keep the kids off your BUSINESS pages (blog and instagram) and put them where they belong, in your PERSONAL life.

    Open a private account to post pictures of your kids to your family and friends if you need that EGO boost (not hating, we all do) but sending them to millions of star angers is weird. Especially when all these “moments” are professionally staged and shot, it’s wrong and you and Brian know it. If you loose money and followers so be it. If you don’t have the respect and safety of your kids, does fame and money really matter?

    I can recognize BOTH your children and I live in Massachusetts. I feel like you are taking chances with your kids images and these type of highly styled children’s photos are littered around pedo sites. You have so much? Why would you ever open yourself and you kids up to this.

    You are a designer. You posted that poll recently and it seemed like everyone wanted to just hear about your DESIGN. It’s okay to have a private life. The best celebrities do too. By making money with / off your kids you are one step away from teen mom territory. Find some celebrity idols you look up and follow suit. Your teenage children will thank you.

  54. You are a smart woman, your husband is a smart man! You are good people! It seems that you do your best considering your situation. Just the fact that you are constantly questioning yourself about this is healthy! I don’t think anybody could give you better answers to your questions than the ones you feel in your guts! And no-on can judge you, your way of life, or anything about you! No-one can judge anybody else than himself!

  55. I think it’s much easier to sign the wait till 8th &18 pledge when you’re children are younger. Our middle school starts in 6th grade here & most kids have some device then, at least for emergencies to contact parents. Social media varies here (many here wait till 13 & then it’s still limited on what apps & what they can do) and I think some kids naturally handle & regulate it better than others. Avoiding technology isn’t an option for them. Teaching balance & consequences is important. Most of them are growing up better equipped than adults to know the dangers of what they text, post, etc.

  56. Lovely post. I recently deleted my Facebook account because I didn’t want to share photographs of my 2 year old daughter and I found friends would visit and share/post/tag and I’m sure they still must post photographs that she is in, but now they would only be on their feed. However, perhaps now that I’m not aware of it, it doesn’t seem to bother me so much. But on your end, with a business that is heavily involved with social media. I must say that I agree with you (and Brian), that to write and not include your family/children, is to be a lesser version of yourself. I think that your blog is a testimonial of your work and life, family life included and I have loved to be a reader and get to be a part of your home and watch your family grow. It adds a lovely personal level to the post, to see the kids enjoy their new bedroom or play room. But if you ever wanted to not involve them, your readers would completely understand and support you in maintaining their privacy as they grow. Thank you for a very thoughtful post.

  57. Just yesterday a blog I follow did a sponsored post and a child of the blog owner was front and center, modeling for the post. It was a MAJOR turn off. I would easily recognize her kids (and your kids if I’m being honest) in a public setting, with our without the parents there. If you can make the money you need to (not want to) without using your kids, do it. If you can’t, that’s an “ah ha” revelation.

    Back of the heads, and avoiding them in sponsored content, for the win. I really don’t think the kids will care looking back on these photos. It’s more about their safety, because you’re, ya know, famou$.

  58. I love that you share your life, including family life, on here for all the reasons you said. My stance for my kids is that I only post pics of them that show them in a positive light. While I think that it’s important to “keep it real” on social media, it is MY choice to share the uglier bits of MY life. I don’t want them to google themselves later and find pictures or videos of them sobbing, or screaming, or petulant etc. I might share that it happened in words but I will not show post photos of it because I wouldn’t want pics like that posted of me. I think you are a wonderful mother for even asking these questions and your kids are blessed to have your love and protection.

  59. You are doing a good job finding balance (but I follow the blog only, not Instagram), from my perspective. I subconsciously noticed that your more recent posts that featured any shots of the kids didn’t show them from the front. I’m an xennial, too. Struggling in so many ways, including a lot as a mother to an only child alpha female. I’m going to keep the kid off social media as LONG AS POSSIBLE. Part of the problem with our online lives is YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF once you start. That’s why social media is so tough for kids today. When I had a crappy situation at school growing up, at least when I got off the bus at the end of the day, I got a rest from the bad situation in the sanctuary of home (which of course I know I was lucky to have, a very stable home). Kids today have all that crap taking place 24/7 online. No respite. What a world!

  60. Holy smokes. I love your points on all of this. Parenting + the internet is insane and I just wanna say, you are doing a great job.

  61. What a thoughtful post. As the parent of a teen, I can tell you the concerns don’t get easier – and as a fan, I especially appreciate the part about in-person recognizing and commenting to you about the blog, but not commenting to/showing recognition of your children – great advice for all such encounters!

  62. This is a difficult topic and we need so much wisdom and grace to navigate the conversation.

    I can’t say I have any straightforward answers. But as a parent to three kiddos, a former DCF employee, an advocate against DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking), and a school psychologist, I have a few thoughts to consider before allowing my kids to own a smartphone or have social media presence:
    1. Brain development – it’s important to understand how and when each area of the brain develops fully so we can understand how technology use may impact that stage;
    2. The habit loop – understanding how habits (good and bad) get formed, and how the technology business uses this to their advantage and our detriment;
    3. The rise in pornography addiction – due to technology, there is incredible ease of access to pornography. The average age a child first sees porn is now 4 years old – it’s important to understand how viewing pornography literally changes the brain and impacts many areas of life (social, emotional, sexual);
    4. Silicon Valley techies sometimes chose Waldorf schools for their kids and some regret the products they’ve created because of what it’s done to increase technology/internet addiction;
    5. Lack of longitudinal research – this is my biggest one – we have no idea how exposure to technology devices nor internet/social media use will affect our kids 10, 20, 30+ years down the road. That’s a concern. (Just look at how things have changed as we have gotten more information about smoking.);
    6. Maybe read “Irrestible” to understand how technology and social media were created to hook us…its on my reading list

    I hope those thoughts are helpful to you as you assess the right path for your family.

  63. Seeing your children is always heartwarming and shows us your personal side. I love it!
    But I know it’s tough as you SO want to protect your children. When our kids were finally out of college I felt Yay! I can stop worrying. But you never really do. Just keeping what you are doing. They are obviously lucky, happy kids.

  64. Hi, typical 24-year-old here! I don’t have kids yet, so my experience and opinion is very likely to change. I will say that my parents seem to be much more addicted to their phones than I am; I wish we had a “no-phones-at-meals” policy!

    That said, I’m of two minds on this post. I fully respect your strategy of no faces/the reasoning behind it, and if that’s what works for all of you, then it makes sense! What does concern me is the “no socials until 18” thing. I will share this: I got my first cell phone at age 12, when I was entering middle school. This was mostly a logistical thing, as my schedule got more complicated with that school transition and it gave me the opportunity to let people know if I needed to stay late after school or something. I didn’t really make good use of this cellular device until eighth grade anyway, and that was much more because I got an iPhone.

    As soon as I had private computer access, I had social media — MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram…and while I understand the concerns, I also know that it makes a far greater impact when adults are open and honest about risks while still allowing for that experimentation to happen — rather than banning a thing altogether. My parents did not monitor my socials (partly because I didn’t tell them, and partly) because they trusted me.

    There is no one size fits all solution to this, and a lot of it (I would argue, the bulk of it) depends on what kind of people Charlie and Elliot are. Some people don’t get a lot of joy from sharing things on social media. I am a writer, and a lot of my friends are scattered across the country, so in two major ways social media helps me connect with people. Yes, there have been bad things online, but in my experience, there’s so much more good.

    Your kids are their own people, and it should be their decision to put their faces out there — but that goes both ways. If you consciously make a decision to hide their faces/be discrete about their personal lives in your corner of the internet, then you also have to be accepting if they want to start a YouTube channel at 13. The internet, as they say, is forever, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

  65. Seeing your children is always heartwarming and shows us your personal side. I love it!
    But I know it’s tough as you SO want to protect your children. When our kids were finally out of college I felt Yay! I can stop worrying. But you never really do. Just keeping what you are doing. They are obviously lucky, happy kids.
    PS. Now my kids like it if I post about them (ha! But it better be a flattering photo).

  66. I appreciate you being conscious of protecting your children. My cousin is a popular blogger who has long featured her children on her blog. The problem is, her children are now almost teenagers and are starting to understand how much of their life (good and bad) has been shared on the internet. It sounds like you’ve managed to strike a good balance. You never overshare or say anything that would embarrass your children later and that’s a very good thing. Not just for them as people but also for your relationship.

  67. I just want to commend you for yet again being the honest, introspective, normal, lovable human we all respect so deeply. I didn’t even notice that many of the pics were of the backs of your kid’s heads because the photos themselves are so compelling! It takes so much bravery and hope in the human race to just be yourself on the internet and you set a wonderful example in my opinion!

  68. This is SUCH a tricky thing to navigate! I think it’s great that y’all even think about it and consider them in your postings. I was a staunch “not going to show her face” in social media posts when we had our first child. (Or even post images of her at all.) I’ve gotten a little more flexible with it, but I still try to stick to distant shots if her face is showing and mainly leave up close shots to something that’s not “permanent” like insta stories. I find I don’t feel as bad or fearful if it’s something that goes away after a day. And your images of them are never the embarrassing kind! I try to save those for future graduations and potential weddings – ha!

  69. I follow a number of blogs where the author has kids. YHL rarely mentions or pictures their kids; Bower Power is at the other end of the spectrum. I’m sure each set of parents has spent hours and hours pondering what their boundaries are/will be, and can make a good argument for their decisions.

    The point is, you’ve thought about it. You ARE thinking about it. You will continue to think about it. You’ll make adjustments to your policy as time moves on. You might change your mind completely in response to new situations. That’s what responsible parents do, and the end result is not the same for all of us. We all make different decisions for our kids, families, and circumstances.

    If it was me, I probably wouldn’t post identifiable photos of my kids in a major online arena like a blog. There are a lot of over-stepping people out there who feel connected to you and your family, and who have no boundaries.

    But I am not you. And my business does not include writing a design/lifestyle blog in which kids are part of my lifestyle.

    So If I did use my kids’ photos in my business?

    I’d pay them for the images and put the money into a Coogan type trust that they’d get access to at age 25 or so. After they’d done the difficult work of high school and college and first jobs.

    Most importantly, I’d be aware of the lingering nature of the internet, always asking myself if a particular photo or post is something my kid would like to have known about himself or herself at age 12 or 16 or 20.

  70. Thank you for this today. I’ve been thinking about a lot of the things you discussed (my two currently have their own private insta account solely for sharing pics with family and are not on any of my personal accounts) lately. My stance has always been that they can be on social media when they can consent meaningfully to the images I post, and I still think that’s a good rule, but it has left me feeling a little stifled in my own social media use since they are a really big part of my life. I think the back of the head (we call that celebrity baby rules 😂) is a really good compromise for someone who makes a living on social media. It does feel a little disingenuous to eliminate them entirely, but the concern for thousands of strangers knowing the minutiae of their lives is real. I love that you share your thought process, I think that it’s really helpful for other people struggling with the same decisions.

  71. I would love to wait until my kids are older for cell phones, but what all my friends and I have realized is middle school is when they *need* them. And I mean actually need: if your child is in any kind of organization, the powers in charge only TEXT information to the kids. Yes, it’s stupid, but that’s what they’re doing now. Also, there are NO phones available for kids to call home from when they’re out and about. Hell, people don’t even have land lines any more in their homes, so kids can’t call when they’re at a friend’s house (if, say, the parent is in the bathroom or otherwise engaged).
    My friend tried to not give her 7th grader a cell phone (that’s when middle school starts here), and it just bombed. Daughter was on the field hockey team, the captains would only text practice information and the like. Friend told the captains to text her, since daughter didn’t have a phone. Well, they didn’t, so daughter was left out of a lot of the social side of being on the team, which in turn wrecked a lot of other things and she was cut from the team in 8th grade as a result. I know about 10 kids this kind of thing has happened to, and I am absolutely FURIOUS at the teachers and coaches who think this is OK.
    So, my son will be getting a cell next year when he finishes 6th grade 🙁

    1. Maybe get your son a flip phone. My 7th grader has one so he can call and text (although it’s old school and takes a while to get each letter by hitting the right number…haha). He doesn’t miss out on anything, and I don’t have to worry about him being exposed to the entire world with a data package. I wish all of his friends parents had done this, but he doesn’t complain.

      1. We tried something like this. Unfortunately we discovered that even asking another student a question about an assignment or being included in group texts for a group project don’t work very well in practice with older technology that wasn’t compatible with what other kids were using. So my kid just got left out. And in many ways schools are not helping. They give lip service to safe, reasonable technology use but then only demand compliance when a sexting scandal occurs. It’s frustrating.

  72. I think people will respect you for whatever route you choose, I do! I have come to love seeing your children grow up (and little Birdie has the absolute sweetest face, I will miss it!) but totally respect the boundaires you have to set that work for your family and your values. You do what you have to do!

  73. No one knows what the FULL affects of social media will be. NO. One. However, I appreciate your approach.
    Your devoted and thoughtful parenting is evident to all and, thankfully, your parenting choices are still yours (and Brian’s). Don’t let anyone’s input get between you two—as you both are so fully invested in your children’s welfare. And let those beautiful babies see your marriage THRIVE!!! After 28 years of marriage and 2 kiddos raised, that’s my input : ) XO

  74. I LOVE seeing the people I follow families. Apparently happy couples and delicious little people just make me smile. Love a fantastic pet as well, what’s a little internet fame? I haven’t seen much of Charlie, but Birdie seems to just be a little star 🌟 she’s glorious on film. ❤️❤️You do you Emily and I’ll enjoy whatever you deliver.

  75. Emily, while I think that you and Brian are doing a thoughtful job of parenting your two children, I must add that I think that you should stop showing or discussing them in your social media. I only know you from this blog, but I absolutely would recognize both of your children easily. There have been enough photos over time added to the fact that they look like their parents (especially Birdie, she looks JUST like you) to make them so recognizable to much of the public. And I think that they are getting old enough to eventually resent some of the content about them and their lives, also.

    I’m sorry to be so negative, but I really think that the risks outweigh any benefits. You can still reference being a mother, a working mother, etc., but I don’t think that your true fans really NEED to hear about or see your children, not at the risk of any resentment from or harm to them (and showing just the backs of heads really doesn’t change the issues). We ENJOY seeing them, but do we need to?

    As for their personal future social media choices, as a mother of three older kids, I’d just keep doing the excellent parenting you are doing and not worry about it much yet, as it all changes so fast. The norms will be vastly different by the time you get there!

  76. O.k. I know this is a really serious issue. but Birdie’s outfit (polka dot top and clunky boots) is so cute!

  77. These kind of posts are my absolute favourite. Thank you for opening up about important topics. I definitely feel the same anxiety about my kids future with social media and just media in general so it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

  78. I think there are two more aspects that support your take at this.
    1. The internet is not some second life virtual world thing any more (if it ever was). It is part of our lives, our real lives.

    2. I am a huge (huge!) believer in letting children be who they are and not forming or molding them. But of course how we as their parents live our lives influences them and therefore shapes their lives and futures. If you grow up in a religious or vegetarian or lawyer or younameit family will leave a mark – and that is okay. Even more, it is entirely unavoidable.

    I think you are handling this amazingly.
    All the best!

  79. Why is the opening photo protecting your own kids’ faces but not their friend’s? It’s violating another innocent kid’s privacy by showing her face.

    1. I also wondered this. It seemed like an odd choice considering the topic of the post.

      1. Glad someone brought that up! I wondered that as well.

    2. Yes this! I have seen this so many times, often from celebrities (i mean like actors etc) accounts or what have you … they only take their child’s photo from behind or obscured and there RIGHT IN THE SAME PHOTO is someone else’s child who apparently the same rules don’t apply to. I don’t care if that child is not ‘famous’ they have the same right to privacy. Sorry I sound worked up but it happens SO often.

  80. I totally did not notice that all the pictures were just backs of heads until you pointed it out. Seems like a good compromise for now. I love your thoughtfulness in all your posts.

  81. Here’s my 2 cents. Keeping your kids out of your social media pages is the smartest thing you can do. One of the women I follow on FB & Twitter follows that rule, to the extent where we don’t even know her kids names, ages, etc.

    And I think she’s being super smart. For one, it’s a sick world out there. As her influence has grown over the last 2 years, she’s begun to receive death threats. She’s had to add all kinds of security to her home etc. I can’t imagine how worried she’d be if she also had to worry that random people from the internet knew what her kids look like.

    But more, as you rightly pointed out, kids have a right to their privacy. I’ve always, always, always, been grateful that my mom protected us as carefully as she did. (And we’re no one special.) But unlike so many people from my neighborhood or family, my mom wasn’t a gossip. I knew that didn’t have to worry about anyone catching me off guard by knowing something about me that they shouldn’t have known because it wasn’t any of their business to know.

    You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s loose. Just like you can’t regain your privacy once it’s been lost.

    1. I agree with you so completely.

  82. I rarely find photos problematic on social media, as long as they are appropriate and not outright use of your kids to make money. I think where people go out of bounds is in talking about the kids’ personalities or difficulties with them, anything the kids wouldn’t want to have known.

  83. I don’t know if any of us who aren’t you can really speak to this, but I have a son with serious health issues and we started a blog for him when he was a baby. We used to write in it all the time and shared loads of pics. But as he’s gotten older, I’ve become a lot more reticent to share his life, mostly because as your kids grow older, you can more clearly see that their life is THEIR life and frankly it just feels weird to broadcast something I don’t have true ownership over. He’s 10 now and an independent spirit and while there was never a conscious decision to stop sharing so much, it just kind of happened as I began to view his challenges as HIS and not mine. Anyway, that’s all to say we’re all learning and growing along with our kids and letting your “rules” be a little more fluid can only be a good thing. You’re awesome, whatever you choose to do.

  84. You are a 7 with a 6 wing? 🙂

    I think you have balanced your job, your desire to shard your life, your kids privacy, and Brian’s wishes really, really well. I can’t imagine that being easy.

  85. Im not here to try to change anyone’s mind, but want to share an experience I recently had. I was walking in my neighborhood in a larger city and saw a child walking into his house from playing outside. I immediately recognized him from his mother’s public Instagram account. It made me feel so strange and a little creepy even though I obviously didn’t do anything wrong. I now knew exactly where the kid lives without knowing his mom IRL at the time. I knew his name, and more importantly, I knew personal information about him that I could use to engage him in conversation if I wanted to (I did not). I could talk to him about his school experience, a cool new toy/blanket/bedroom whatever he just got, his parents, etc. I already choose not to put my children on my public social media at all, for many reasons, but this time really stuck out to me and solidified my choice. Something to consider as you continue to make choices for every stage of life you and your family are in! Kids se generally trusting and “stranger danger” is now a blurred line when so much innocent information can be out there, even with only the occasional face photo!
    I imagine that having them be a part of your job only makes it that much more complicated, but even if those magazine spreads don’t pay, they still kind of do because it’s bringing exposure for your work and portfolio/brand. We are in an interesting era of being the first generation to navigate how global we really want out children’s exposure to be!

    1. Thank you for sharing this experience. Had a similar one recently, although it was not an in person event. I follow a blogger that has been mentioned on Emily’s blog, but only on Instagram. I will not mention who this person is, because I don’t want to highlight the situation any more than necessary. The Instagram posts have enough detail that I can pinpoint the area and neighborhood where this family lives, because coincidentally I grew up near there. I could probably find their house on Zillow based on all the information that has innocently been posted. Recently, the family was vacationing and posting family photos out and about, sightseeing, at restaurants, and in public spaces. And the blogger also happened to be on vacation where I live now. I know where those restaurants are, know the public places that family is visiting. As I read the posts and realized just how much I knew about this person, their family, and how much access strangers potentially have to them, I was horrified.

  86. Pretending I am you, I would try to limit it as much as possible, as you are doing. Backs of heads, considering their privacy first, etc. One of our jobs as parents is to give our children space to be who they are and understand that they are owed their own journeys outside our own, even at a young age. They emulate our behaviors online and we don’t want our kids to fall into the staged and curated trap kind of thinking. My kids are now 12 and almost 15 and eventually they will likely forbid the pics anyway 🙂

  87. I love this post. I am a physician and have a presence on social media, talking about work-life balance and how I manage being a surgeon and a mom of 3 kids. As such, I post pics of my kids. But, my children are old enough to consent. If they say they don’t want their picture on Instagram, I respect that and don’t put it on there. Also, I’m super careful about never tagging their location, posting after we have left amusements parks etc. It’s all about safety of the child first and foremost.

  88. Thanks for sharing this.
    I strongly believe its a personal decision and this must be respected, without judgments to those who act in a different way, showing or not the children. Each family has its own dynamics and its own beliefs, that is what makes us as interesting as unique human beings. Keep up the good work.

  89. Something that was a big warning sign for me was when my 6 year old and I were looking through Instagram, and he asked me if I post photos of him on mine. I said yes, and showed him photos. He then told me he would like me to ask him before I post any more photos of him. I of course said yes, and then immediately made my instagram account private. In the moment, you don’t always think about all the ramifications, and his request just brought it all home for me. And, in teaching our boys about boundaries, and that people get to have a say over their own bodies, I realized this also applies to where photos of them are put out into the world.

  90. I respect your desire to protect your children and the way you balance your life as a person. I am so very thankful my “kids” are college aged adults and I haven’t had to navigate this, for the most part. But I think the best way to think about this the age old problem solving scenario in regards to others. Put yourself in their teenager or grown up shoes. How would you feel? What do you know about their personality now that leads you to believe they will be okay with it in the future? Social media can be wonderful and it can be a very volatile space.

  91. you are very thoughtful and obviously want the best for your kids so that is already the most important thing!

  92. hi, i just wanted to say i totally agree with you. and the fact that you actually think about this stuff is awesome. i think about it all the time. i have a private FB page and a public Insta page (for my side hustle). i rarely share anything about my kids on my private FB and almost never on my Insta. And sometimes if I do on my Insta, i’ll get all anxious about it and end up archiving it. The reasons are that I want to protect their privacy and i think it is better for them to grow up unwired. As for privacy, nobody needs to know what they’re doing all the time. and strangers definitely don’t need to know what they’re up to. I remember reading somewhere that it’s not a good idea to post all their stuff because then someone they don’t know can easily make the kids feel like they are a family friend by commenting on something they did or said (which they can see from the parent’s social media). Like, “your mom was telling me how great you did at your last game against team whatever”. And then all the “stranger danger” guards go down. I’m not looking for “likes” and “comments” about my kids’ pictures/info to feel good about myself (though I totally get how powerful of a tempter it is). It’s not worth it to me, and i’m way too protective of them (like you are of yours) to care that much.
    Also, I’m the same age as you and was lucky enough to also grow up without all the pressure of the internet and especially of social media (so grateful of that). UGGG. so many studies show that it negatively impacts kids’ self esteem. my kids are in elementary school and i’m already dreading all that for them. I too want them to grow up with the simpler childhood that i got to enjoy before having to force the rest of the world’s agendas on their developing minds.
    Also, the back of the heads thing is a good idea. i do that as well if i’m posting on my public Insta. Because it conveys the feelings of family time and all that you want to say in a picture without having to plaster their faces on the internet where creepers can look at them. And I’m not even well known. So, i can’t even imagine being in your position. But I think you’re doing great!

  93. I know this was hard to write – you keep being you. Caring deeply.
    As far as what would I do? I think very similar to what you are already doing. Plus occasional attacks of anxiety, which is just the truth. Moms have anxiety. A lot. And all of the comments about sexual predators and abduction make my brain do ugly things – so I’m sending you a virtual hug because those comments just suck. They do.
    As I was reading this, my 9 year old came home from school. I post her photos to instagram mostly (fully privately, so different as I’m not a public figure) my child and I look at everything together – I asked if she was ok with her photos being able to be seen by grandma, aunt, etc? She said, “of course! And I love seeing their photos.” So there’s that.

  94. We can’t completely hide from social media. Unfortunately its not going anywhere anytime soon so we have to try to have a healthy relationship with it, including occasionally exposing your kids.
    Post when your gut tells you to but as long as you are still applying your rule number #1. Protect. Full Stop.

    Post only after evaluating your motive for the post. WHY? #2 Model good behavior.

    Ask them??? I know they are little but ask anyway, everytime. Maybe they will say no sometimes, maybe they won’t. Children are crazy smart and have instincts that we lose as adults. #3. Listen. Just listen. All the time.

    Continue to post without overthinking it and if it becomes a problem(with spouse, kids, your own psyche) it is a problem.#5.Watch. Observe. Then ….#6. Intervene when it could get out of hand.

    Hats off to you for even writing this post and caring how it will affect them. That is huge. I wouldn’t really even make rules about their face/no face. Rules are elementary and made to be broken (IMO) But you are spot on with your principals. #4 Suggest good behavior. Thanks for sharing about the pledge, I signed. FB/Social Media accounts should be illegal for children under 18. It is proven to be addictive and I feel can kill their confidence. @allowanna

  95. Hi! I’m a fellow LA Mom as well but follow for two reasons 1) I think you’re kind and adorable and 2) I love your design content. In other words, I don’t necessarily think it’s important to include kids in reveals or whatnot, it’s the design I’m looking at. I think if it’s causing that much mental stress perhaps you already know the answer; but find it hard to stick to in this “LaLa” land we live in, being pulled in other directions. Maybe rather than pretending we were you, imagine what your children may (or may not?) feel when they are 18, finally allowed on social media and see hundreds of images/videsos of themselves in their formative years that complete strangers were privy to, yet they weren’t (on that platform at least). Maybe that thought process could help you gain clarity. Or, if your Mom was you, or you were your little girl at 18, if that makes sense…I hope you find peace with whatever you decide! xx

  96. My feeling is keep Your Work separate from your family life, you are not selling your family, you are selling yourself and your service. I would hate to have my kids or grandkids recognized in public, not even understanding why people say” look, there are the H. kids”….unless you want to make them into celebrities…and I know you don’t. They are too little to understand what it is to be in the media.

    Just my thought.

  97. I could basically cut and paste a previous comment I’ve made but here it is again: I love that you’re authentic and that’s why we all keep coming back. Gorgeous design aside. My personal feelings as a mom on social media are complex and I don’t use social media for work at all so I can only imagine the weight of wading through your thoughts and feelings on the matter. This is one of the areas I can get a little judgey (along with vaccinations – get them folks!) and over posting kiddos is one of them; especially at levels of fame and notoriety where it strips away their privacy. I totally respect people who want to share their children on their platform but do it in a way that respects the fact that their kid is a whole separate person who may want to grow up and live a Ron Swanson style life – off the grid. Anyway, I think you’re doing it right. 🙂

  98. Hi Emily,
    You are doing a great job. My kids are 15 and 13 now (still not on social media) and as a photographer, they appear on my professional website and Instagram once in a rare moon. My goal was always that if they Google their full names when they are 18, nobody finds them, because I didn’t want to take away their privacy when they didn’t have a full comprehension of what that even was. So if anything, my unsolicited advice would be to maybe just remove their first names from your blog entirely. That way if someone even recognises you in public, they can’t say their names. That would confuse a little kid. But in the end I always say that the fact we, as parents, even think about these things, means we are doing a good job. An uncaring parent wouldn’t give two hoots about the ramifications of social media etc. We see people like that in viral videos all the time, throwing cheese at their kids or whatever. That I find dehumanising. Sure share with family and friends, but not the whole world. But I think I am old school in my thoughts.

  99. I’m glad you’re having this dialog. 🙂 Good luck getting good photos when they’re age 8 and above! lol It’s all I can do to get my 13yo to not make weird faces any time I photograph him.

  100. You’ve successfully communicated the importance of your family in your blogs and I never noticed only the back of your children’s faces. You are being true to yourself and your family and also transparent with your audience. That is what makes you ROCK. Thanks for keeping things real.

  101. I saw you and your family at the Travel Town Museum last month. I was there with my daughter for a birthday party. After seeing you, I had an internal debate about whether I actually know you or if we know someone in common. The answer was no, of course, and I moved on. All this to say, social media is weird! I don’t really have advice, but make the best choice in the moment and move on — which I think you’ve been doing.

  102. I love seeing Birdie’s face because it is one of the cutest faces I have ever seen, like seriously! And she just keeps getting cuter! It makes me happy but it is not all about me … if I never get to see it again to protect her then so be it. Very easy for me to say I like it, I want to keep seeing her – but she is your beautiful girl and I respect you

  103. Apparently, I’m in the minority, but you’ve asked your readers for their thoughts:
    Why do I put my INNOCENT CHILDREN on social media?( And should I?)
    This is my response–while mostly quoting your words.

    “I’m worried that…Brian…will ban our kids forever from the internet, and well, he’s their dad with incredibly good instincts.” I respectfully advise you to TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, and stop putting photos of your children or writing about them on Emily’s professional/work blog. Most responsible professionals would never use their children this way, and “influencers” should not either.

    Please reread what you’ve written:
    “…this is about how much our kids are involved in MY social media. Just writing that makes me feel gross.”
    ” ‘Not at all’ should be the obvious answer. Our kids deserve their privacy…They are their own people.”
    “Neither of us wanted our kids to be in the public eye or to have a presence on social media.”
    “We want to respect their privacy.”
    “We don’t want them recognized in public.” (Then don’t “mail” their photos to thousands and thousands of strangers. Don’t make photographs of them and their beds, their closets, their toys, their bathroom, and their backyard available to ANY STRANGER WHO HAPPENS UPON THEM. Don’t write about their successes or struggles or personalities and broadcast it across the internet.
    “We don’t want this blog or my success to affect their futures because living in Hollywood is already hard. The obsession with fame here is potent and we want our kids as far away from it as possible.” Then keep them far away from that. They are impotent in controlling this now; only you control it.
    Set up a personal blog for family and close friends where you “use the blog as a journal, document your self-expression and reflection…personally.” And can satisfy your “compulsion to photograph my kids.”
    Your children are innocent…and powerless. Please be their protectors and advocates.
    I’ve followed you since Design Star, where I rooted for you to win. Now I’m rooting for your children. Please focus on your design talents. They are strong and plentiful and exist apart from your children.

    1. I agree with you. I’m sure it’s hard to hear, but in my opinion any potential gains are outweighed by the risks to the children.

  104. Being transparent with life is a tricky balance. It’s difficult to know where the lines are with sharing and over sharing. I shared a story of my (former) devastating repetitive failures in a competition, but it is also something that I love to do now. It’s a tough balance. I say, follow your instincts, they’ve served you well thus far.

  105. The fact that you are actually thinking about all of this puts you way ahead of the game. There are a lot of factors that go into how to approach this. Ethics and morals, getting paid, practical aspects of living life where we all depend on computers and technology, privacy, safety, and identity theft concerns, as well as brain development and the impacts on mental and physical health. Having rules and boundaries in place as your child grows up helps. But please do not think that just because you think you laid out a framework and you are diligently monitoring and controlling technology your children are complying. As a parent of a college age child, I will tell you that what you think you need to worry about usually ends up not being the actual serious issue.

    We thought we did everything the way we should have. No phone until 7th grade, and then it was a slider keyboard. No social media accounts. Computer in the family room. No devices in the bedroom, only a regular telephone. They got a smart phone in time for high school. We even attended seminars together about the dangers of social media and cyber bullying. I thought everything was good and my child was on the same page. They had friends, volunteered, got good honor role level grades, and was a nice, responsible person. And yet, my child was struggling with anxiety that they hid from us, early in high school. They felt left behind when it came to online friendships, and were also intimidated by how to use social media responsibly. A sexting scandal occurred at school, which they were not involved in, but highlighted just exactly how complicated being a teen and using social media can be. As a way to combat the anxiety, my teen found an online chat service using a computer, then found ways to call strangers using their cell phone. They talked to the strangers late at night (after we were asleep) as way way to distract from the insomnia and anxiety they were experiencing. This went on for approximately 6 weeks before we were alerted to it by a relative that was a house guest and accidentally found out what my teen was doing. We did a lot of frantic research and found that this is way more common than parents realize, especially for kids that are high achievers and smart enough to figure out ways around all those rules and boundaries parents gave them. We thought our lessons and rules were so effective that we weren’t checking the phone bill religiously. We had no warning signs because they hid them out of embarrassment. It seemed pathetic for them to complain about having feelings of anxiety and depression when we were such caring and involved parents, we were told. They thought they could fix it on their own, and they wanted to talk to someone besides us (hence the phone calls with strangers) because they felt we might judge or criticize. They didn’t know how to communicate to us they they wanted or needed a therapist. This was alarming and heartbreaking. Fortunately we were able to quickly get counseling for our teen, and things eventually ended up in a very positive place for them, and for our family.

    All I can say to others from my experience is do not for one moment be naive or think you have technology and parenting under control. If you think your child might be struggling and need counseling, get there yesterday. I know of at least eight teens and young adults that have been or are currently in counseling. These are good kids that are high achievers, involved in sports and extracurricular activities, with active and engaged parents. The kids aren’t afraid to talk among themselves about their issues and needing help. Frequently I find that parents aren’t transparent and don’t share what’s going on, leaving other parents in the dark about the subject and the help that’s available. Parenting is a daily evolution of obstacles and challenges. A marathon, not a sprint. Use every resource, be educated, and please don’t get overwhelmed or loose your sense of humor. Because now my college student is on Tinder. Serenity now!

    *please note that every effort was made to not identify my child by name or gender, to protect their privacy

  106. I am a school counselor. I have worked with all age groups of children and what I know without a doubt Is that having involved, aware, caring parents who love you, is far more important than anything else you can do for them. That being said, my personal belief, after seeing children grapple with adolescence in this age of social media, and seeing younger and younger children with cell phones, my personal children will not have cell phones (hopefully I stay strong) until they get to high school. I say 16 now, but I’ve given myself the leeway to work into responsible cell phone ownership starting the second half of 8th grade where they receive a phone but only have the privilege of using it on the weekend. 3:00pm Friday until 9:00 PM on Sunday, and if during this trial period, they can prove that they are responsible cell phone owners, then I will consent to allow them full-time possession of their own phone starting at 16. They will be required to turn said cell phone in for bed each evening at 10pm. It’s strict, I know. And it’s a bit much, but I see EVERY SINGLE DAY, What social media, early cell phones, YouTube, and excessive gaming are doing to our children. Our, not fully developed prefrontal cortex, children. This of course will not be everyone else’s reality, nor do I expect it to be, but it will be mine, and I am already laying the ground work for them not to like me and to be very very angry that I am keeping them from something they deem valuable, but I’m okay with that. I’m here to raise happy healthy children, not be besties, and I believe the best way to do that is to keep them innocent as long as possible, so for right now my 6 & 8 year olds only know about Nintendos and iPad minis that have a few games and little to no internet access. My 6 year old son is already telling me how mean I am for not letting him play fortnite, but tbh, I don’t care. His precious baby brain is far more important to me than any arguement he could make to the contrary. I understand the back and forth, and I believe you should include your own children as you see fit. I post my own kids on Instagram and I don’t mind because it’s mine and I’m not famous 😂I’m an elementary school counselor in Georgia. But don’t second guess your mommy spider sense, it will never steer you wrong and if right now it’s steering you to being flexible, then that’s what’s right for you! We all have our own journey and we MUST uplift one another even if we don’t agree with the very personal nuanced choices that other moms make. We need to support one another because we’re all in this raising decent humans thing together.

  107. I think you do a really good job of not over sharing your kids lives or pimping them out for content. It’s really nice to see.

  108. You are so thoughtful and considerate! I’m so impressed with your design skills, but even more with your conscientious parenting.

  109. I’m going be in the minority, but I would have ZERO issue with you showing your kids faces all the time in every promotional project. You’re in the image business and you live in a city where image and influence matter like no other. The time you have to profit off of looking like a traditional, picture-perfect, All American family is finite. Baby teeth are going fall out. Puberty is going to come. Wrinkles and gray hair are going to set in. Another crop of influencers will rise on a new platform. Why shouldn’t you use every tool you have to grow your business right now, when followers and brands are engaged and interested? Why should you have to apologize for any of it? This is your business. It’s 100% okay to own it. Why shouldn’t your kids have a clear understanding of your business and the sacrifices momma makes to get them two amazing houses to live in? What is the harm in their having a role and understanding what that role is? Wouldn’t you feel so much less stress if you could just let go of the guilt around all of this and instead step into it, openly, like the boss you are?

  110. My comment will be for further down the road as it sounds like you keep your kids technology to a minimum. I have been teaching elementary school for 26 years and have seen a change in the kids (much shorter attention span, fewer social skills, exposed to too much, etc.) and suspected it’s due to too much screen time. My friend is an excellent child psychiatrist and he confirmed it. He recommended Be the Parent, Please by Naomi Schaefer Riley. I just got it and haven’t read it yet, but since you like parenting books, I thought I’d share. You seem like an awesome, engaged, thoughtful, and fun mom/wife/designer. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  111. Wow, I completely applaud you for your ability to open up these important questions to such a large forum! You’ve always come across as humble and able to learn, which is what makes you so appealing to all of us (random!) readers across the world. I love reading all these comments for sure!

    However, I think you’ll best find the answer to this question through your own mindfulness/prayer and asking the people who really know and love you best; family, friends, mentors, etc will probably be better guides to you personally than internet commenters. It seems there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer for everyone, but those closest to you will help you discern what’s right for YOU.

    Good luck!

  112. Long time fan and new mom. We decided to not post pictures of our daughter on social media(for all the reasons stated above and then some)It’s insanely hard and I’m not a famous person. I honestly don’t know how you do it. Trust your mom intuition and if it feels right(and you’ll know) then do it! This post is much appreciated and a topic I wish was talked about more often. So appreciate your insight and thank you for sharing!

  113. I’ll pretend I am you. IRL I don’t have kids. My views: If you talk about your children, fine. Show their faces occasionally (like a family vacation photo), fine. I find myself far more interested when you write about them than when you show pictures of them–but don’t get me wrong because of course they are beautiful and adorable.
    The thing that makes me shudder these days is when kids are playing to the camera and the parents just sit back and collect money–the parents might say the kids are just playing or don’t know they’re on camera, but of course they do!! I read that article that you recommended (last week?) and it really made my blood run cold. But what you’ve said sounds very thoughtful and your kids will appreciate your protecting them in the long run.
    I can easily imagine kids wanting to be filmed and wanting to have an online presence and enjoying that–but for someone (I don’t think you are guilty) to believe it’s okay for this reason alone…I would disagree. I believe this would fall in the same category as eating ice cream and birthday cake for every meal–sure it sounds *fun* but it isn’t healthy.
    I recently watched the documentary “People’s Republic of Desire” on PBS, Independent Lens, which was about young people in China who work as “livestreamers”–I found it heartbreakingly sad. I recommend watching it.

  114. One of my professors in college said something life altering. He said “abstinence is easier than moderation- because it entails less thought. However, sometimes the process of moderation forms you more than abstinence ever would.”

    He was encouraging us not to make blanket rules, and encouraging us towards thought and flexibility. Its easier to say “none of this ever.” Yet- theres also less growth in that.

    Something to consider- your children will grow up with the internet. Its inevitable. I think a struggle of of our current generation is that we never saw our parents wrestling with “haters” on the internet. Had they brought us into their world and allowed us to see how they made decisions (to different degrees depending on age) and made it normal… then maybe it would be easier for us to handle and make better decisions with.

    What my parents “shielded me from” often times created more harm than what they almost made normal and common place and were open with and what they brought me into with wisdom and compassion and strength and courage. The most pain I had growing up are with things in general my parents tried so hard to shield me from.

    Thats just me though 🙂

  115. I’m a huge EH follower, both for the design and for the human (mostly for the human). I personally have always loved your transparency in showing your real life dramas, esp kid related. I have a boy almost the same age as yours and have found comfort in your posts. I remember you talking about a tantrum Charlie had because you mixed his yogurt for him. When my boy has similar unreasonable moments, I think of that story and your response.

    That said, my family and I bumped into your kids (who were with your nanny at a popular kids establishment). I recognized everyone including your nanny (because I really am a fan and had read your blog religiously). My son played with Charlie for awhile and they were both very sweet with each other. My husband put a couple quarters in the air hockey table and they were thrilled. It was exciting and special because it was like meeting someone I had heard so much about. But that I had any feeling at all towards your kids, good or bad, is honestly a bit weird. I know that I would feel weird if strangers approached my kids with any preconceived ideas, good or bad. I’ve also seen you at the rose bowl flea market and was super excited, but that’s different because you are an adult and are known for your work. I happened to know personal
    stories about your kids and was able to recognize their faces. It felt odd that they didn’t know that I knew who they were.

    And I know you are a pretty universally well-liked individual but perhaps someone disagrees with you (you have posted your political views in the past) and decides to let that influence their interactions with your kids. Now, I’m one of the people on the planet who is politically aligned with you (as well as relating to you as a mom and a human) and it was still a bit odd to recognize and interact with your kids in a way that made it feel disingenuous (and without you there). When I had my son introduce himself to Charlie, and charlie responded with his name, it was weird to already know his name.

    Anyway, I know I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. I just thought I’d give you the perspective of someone who actually met them. They were lovely. as was your nanny, as are you. But I think if you continue to share personal stories about your family life, it’s right to consider being more guarded with showing their actual faces (cute as they are).

  116. I think the fact that you and your husband are already so mindful of Social Media and possible ensuing problems is the key. If u feel like this and follow your instincts at any given moment in the decision making you won’t go too far wrong!
    Take each situation as it arises.
    If you try to “pitch” yourself into possible future scenarios you’ll constantly worry and overthink. Trust your great protective instincts. Life is full of “curved balls” and teaching your kids self reliance and inner strength and how to navigate these problems is what’s important. Social Media won’t go away any time soon so just teach them to navigate as each situation crops up….. they’ll learn about boundaries from your example of how you handle it. Good Luck 👍

  117. I think you’ve got a good balance to be honest. What you may find is that at age 11 my oldest asked me not to put any photos of him on any social media. Had to respect that and I do… So they’ll probably make the decision for you as they get older.

  118. I think you are doing a wonderful job. I have two instagrams, one private with only people I’d call on the phone and the second public. The private is ALL the pictures but ends up being one or two posts a week and the public is all our work, DIY, vacation rental and other projects with the occasion back of their head or their cute hands in the picture. My FB is private and I’ll post our holiday pictures or the occasional update but once again very minimal and request family doesn’t get share crazy either. My mom wants to post every single picture I text her….

  119. Thank you so much for this post! I love your blog so much because of your honesty and thoughtfulness on issues such as this one. And of course your incredible talent! For what it’s worth, I agree with so many posters who say that your decision to post/not post/limit type of portrayals of your kids has 0% impact on my decision to frequent your blog.

    I have 3 young children, so we are not there yet, and I don’t have a career that is dependent on a social media presence. But I wanted to say that I completely identify with the ‘gross’ factor that you mention even for myself and my own personal use of social media. I recently deactivated FB/Instagram accounts because so many things about them felt ‘icky’ to me – the addictiveness of the scrolling, how much less time I devote to other healthy/social/productive activities when social media is an option, the weirdness that is posting a picture of a young child who is unaware of any of this (my own) as well as looking at intimate pictures of others children, the tendency to do something or take a picture ‘for the Instagram post’ and how that really changes you, the weirdness that is running into an old acquaintance and knowing intimate details about him/her/them rather than catching up in a normal, fun way, the way posting sometimes feels a bit like you are bragging – does anyone else feel this weirdness?

    And then alongside this personal stuff – it is so hard to ignore the complete irresponsibility that Facebook has demonstrated as a company for us as individuals and a society and our willingness to just go along with it, the devastating effect that this is having on our attention spans and our society, the tech industry coming out more and more about how they feel that social media is harmful, etc.

    Maybe it’s me and the fact that I am just not cut out for social media! But I think we can all agree that many people don’t feel better when they are on social media. I wish more people could realize that it is a choice to use it and you do not have to have a social media presence. For me, it has been such a positive decision.

    Thanks for giving us all the space to discuss. I have so enjoyed and value so many others perspectives!

    1. Your second paragraph—yes! Yes! Yes! Each and every point you make I feel so deeply, and (maybe weirdly) think about EVERY day. It’s all changing our human interactions in ways that make me profoundly uncomfortable. I think there are probably many people who feel this way, but their voices are harder to hear because, of course, they’re not amplifying them on social media!

  120. First of all, your children are blessed to have such intentional parents raising them.

    I read this post twice yesterday and woke up early this morning still thinking about it. My children are on the precipice of adulthood and there are so many things I wish I would have done better.

    Here’s my one tiny piece of advice. You and Brian wrote out those amazingly insightful marriage goals on your honeymoon. Why don’t you (if you haven’t already) write out some goals related to the kind of adults you want to raise? I’m sure a majority of us would agree that when we send our children off into the world we want them to be kind and grateful, but there are likely some that you would also choose based on the personality of your children.

    Then you can view your parenting “dilemmas” through the lens of your parenting goals. Does “X” contribute or detract from Charlie learning to be grateful? Etc…

    I’m not sure if it was a conscious effort on your parents’ part to foster this in you or if it has become more obvious because of your career path, but your “transparency” is such a gift. I’m convinced that’s what draws people to you. And I’ve never even met you! But it comes through in your words and makes you relatable and so likeable.

    P.S. Kudos for being bold and asking for people not to approach Brian or the children in public. I respect that.

  121. I think the fact that you are even having this open debate with yourself (and your husband) is reason enough to believe you are level-headed enough to understand the risks and rewards.
    A few months ago I was vacationing with my family at a resort. I spotted one of the mommy bloggers I follow on this trip as well. After a few days of observing her with her kids I was disgusted by her behaviour. Her kids always had a camera in their faces and seemed to always be posing for the “perfect shot” I can’t even imagine the long term implications this will have on these poor kids. All for their mothers fame! I immediately unfollowed, and now think twice when I follow any “mommy bloggers”, as I’m always thinking what’s going on behind the camera.
    I think as long as you have a good balance and don’t affect your kids day-to-day at the expense of your insta-fame you are doing ok.

  122. There is no easy answer. I respect you so much for not using your kids to possibly attract more followers, etc. Because posting pics of kids seems to be the easy thing to do. I always wonder how the parents who do post their kids’ faces will deal with their kids being recognized and approached by strangers when those kids are older. Or when they end up reading a mean and hurtful comment by some troll. I came across one mom’s comment on someone else’s IG page that she always asks her daughter if she can take her picture and post it, and her daughter says yes, and that she loves having her photo taken. That daughter looked to be about 5. How can a 5 year old possibly know what it means to have her photo posted. I think what you and your husband are doing is so considerate and thoughtful for your kids’ sake. But you’re wrong about one thing: you ARE the best designer!

  123. As a long time follower and a parent of 2 small children, I’m going to be brutally honest here. I think anyone who follows you, could easily pick your children out in public. The amount of information you (OVER) shared when you bought your current house was completely unsafe. And I actually stopped following you on instagram about 3-4 months ago because you all of your complaining about parenting (it was the taking both of them to target by yourself that pushed me over the edge). I get it, parenting is HARD. Talk to people in PRIVATE about it. Get a PRIVATE insta account for family and friends. Brag about your kids there. You are not a mommy blogger (a whole other topic). Like I said, I am saying this as a parent and as someone who has worked in child welfare. I think there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE chance, you are going to regret putting their information out there when they are older and not happy about it and the SAFETY issue is an even bigger problem than the privacy one.

  124. I am inspired by the thought and energy that you have put into how to handle your kids in social media. You seem to have struck a balance that is working (currently) for your family and that is what is most important. I am in full support but I am curious why you chose to show another child’s face in one of the photos while deciding not to show your own kids faces. Is that because readers don’t know who she is? It is not a criticism at all, just curious.

  125. Emily, you should be the one person in the whole world who is most protective of your children. Literally no one else’s care is as important as yours. Therefore you should do what is best for your children and not share them on your commercial account. It shouldn’t take other people to try to convince you it’s neither safe nor healthy. You, Emily, are their biggest protector and strongest supporter. They are too young to consent for themselves, so you MUST be the the biggest warrior on their behalf.

    What you do here is not just social media with friends – it’s a commercial empire with nearly a million followers. If you keep a private Instagram for friends and family, you would be normal. The exposure on this business account is beyond 99.9% of children.

    Also if you look at your survey, your followers want to learn about design. Set some boundaries for yourself – no one wants to read about the color of your husband’s ejaculate. I highly suggest you take a good hard look at what your readers want, and take a big step back to re-evaluate what is appropriate.

    P.S. When composing this reply, an auto play video covered my screen featuring the faces of your innocent children. It’s not too late to fix this problem.

  126. I LOVE seeing photos of your totally adorable kids, especially Birdie, BUT…the fact that I know her nickname is THE ISSUE much more than whether a face is included in the shot or not.
    The over-sharing about the messes they left via their pull-ups in the Jack’n’Jill bathroom; Charlie’s obsession with sleeping on a sofa cushion instead of his bed; tantrums they’ve had or melt-downs in restaurants…

    We do not need this information to follow YOU. YOUR INFORMATION ABOUT YOU, with non-embarrassing information about your gorgeous family from-a-distance is all we need to engage with the fact that you’re a proud Mom (and Dad).

    Your ‘voice’ in your writing is so wonderful! Keep it about YOU, or even you and Brian with his consent (your joint relationship post was fantastic!), but information about your precious children….NO. N.O.

    Do not do it. It will hold the always, forever, potential for causing harm to their future selves, effectively, there’s already enough ‘out there’ to do it.

    IF possible, I recommend back-checking what’s there that might be considered a little “different” and removing it, or changing the way it’s written, so as to not be so detailed. You know, deep down, we don’t need to know details that only family members and close friends would know (i.e. pull up messes and cushion obsession).

    As a rule, think about things that a teenager would not want the vool kids at school to know sbout them and…..don’t share that stuff.
    You are being careful, but you haven’t yet had teenagers and everything, seriously, every single thing is a BIG DEAL to them.

    I really appreciate your honesty about you. It helps so many to hear about political views, debates, social discussions, etc.

    I guess, in a nutshell, do you. Don’t do your kids. They might just hold it against you, which is what you’re trying so diligently to protect them from.

  127. Thank you for the thoughtful post. I’ve heard and seen parents on all ends of this spectrum – I think in the last 10 years we’ve gone from “omg social media is great, I can share cute pictures of my kids will my friends and family on Facebook and make them so happy!” to realizing that you’re not really sharing with just your friends and family but with all of the internet forever and ever. And now people are boomeranging back to fierce privacy and protection of our digital presence, or else just feeling like trying to shelter it is hopeless, so who cares, just let it all out there.

    Someday you may find that your kids are super embarrassed by the invasion of privacy of having their photos all over the internet for anyone to find – or you may find that they are upset that you didn’t give them the exposure that could turn out to be a boost for their own future social media followings should they go into media field too. Maybe they would be grateful at 25 for the doors that your fame opened for them – or irritated by all the attention. Everyone is different, and there’s not really a way to know for sure how YOUR child will feel 20 years in the future.

    Do your best. All things in moderation. And above all I think (and this is just my 2 cents, which couldn’t buy you a stick of gum these days) it’s just important to avoid putting negative or embarrassing things about your kids out there (I’m not even talking about photos here – this is words too!). Can you imagine being 25 and finding a post where your mom complained at length about your “biting” phase, or your “taking your diaper off in public” phase? At best, kind of funny, at worst, yucky embarrassment and betrayal. But finding a post where your mom shared how much joy she got from setting up a scavenger hunt in the backyard for you and your sibling? That seems like it would be a positive find, heartwarming. Maybe someday long down the line, when they’re old and you’ve passed away, that’s something they’ll treasure being able to find whenever they want, including the pictures. They’re so fortunate that your job allows professional photos and journalling of their childhood, and I just really think most of those photos could end up lost somewhere down the line, but the ones out on the internet will stand the test of time.

    Good luck. You’re killing it just by caring enough to try with thoughtfulness. They’re lucky to have a mom and dad that love them and think about their future feelings at such length and detail.

  128. I’m a mother of three and a YA author, so theoretically social media is an important part of my career—and yet I’ve been withdrawing from it more and more. (Interestingly, although probably coincidentally, my sales numbers have improved as I’ve gone silent online.) I’ve never posted pictures of my kids on my public accounts, but it doesn’t feel significantly less risky to post them privately. My reasons for pulling back are legion. I don’t want to put pressure on my family and friends to buy my books; I’m horrified by Facebook’s cavalier attitude toward hate speech, conspiracy-mongering, and election tampering; I don’t like feeling like one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating at the possibility of likes and comments; I feel guilty quickly scrolling past friends’ precious baby pictures without scrutinizing them carefully; it feels wrong to read intimate details about other people’s children’s meltdowns and potty routines; I don’t want to hand over MY precious baby pictures and anecdotes to a company that’s going A) save them forever on its servers, to do with what it likes, and B) use them to sell advertising against; and don’t even get me started on Twitter, which, for YA lit at least, has become an electronic Salem, MA. Reading all of the interesting comments on this post really clarified some of this for me, and last night I deleted every single photo of my children from my social media accounts. Not saying that’s right for you, Emily, or for anyone else, but for me it felt AMAZING! I wish I’d done it years ago. So thank you for spurring me to think more deeply about how I feel.

  129. It’s such a hard one cause you’re right, it feels off to have your kids in the public eye but at the same time as an influencer I think it’s weird to never convey them. It could come across like your career is number one and your family/kids take a back seat which is a harmful message to spread, even unintentionally. I think it’s good to talk about. I’m glad you wrote this!

  130. I feel like you are being thoughtful and present in the moment. You are not using hard and fast rules or all or nothing thinking. I am glad that you are sensitive and aware.

    My daughter likes watching the youtuber “Everleigh” mostly because they are about the same age and it’s kind of like how I relate to you being about the same age with similar age children. But that girl is honestly very talented. She really can dance very well. Her ability at such a young age makes her a prodigy. No parent could push a child to that level. I teach dance–I know. Like what you are saying–she is talented so the world deserves to see. That family is obviously making a living by opening their life up to the world. They walk a fine line too.

    You make the choices that suit you in the moment.

    I am not an influencer or famous. I really have limited how much I simply post pictures of my family on Facebook because once I post it–I don’t own the image anymore. It’s out there. I don’t want to post a million things of my children because they will be teenagers and adults one day. I also really appreciate my privacy and my anonymity.

    Just keep evaluating everything on a case by case basis which you and Brian appear to be doing. I like this post.

  131. I think there can be too much focus on the effect of posting children’s photos, and not enough on the other personal data that parents routinely share about their children. Their names (often full names including middle and last names), the month and year of their birth (often also the exact day), the city and country in which they were born.

    This type of personal data is very valuable, easy to exploit, and out there forever when we share it. It should be our children’s choice whether that is out on the internet or not.

  132. What a difficult topic to write about. It is clear you have been very thoughtful about it. Have confidence in the decisions you are making for your family. Others may choose differently and that’s ok. There are different paths to the same end goal, a happy healthy child.

  133. You seem like a lovely woman and a devoted mother. This is not meant to be judgmental at all. I’m older than you and my kids are much older than yours but personally I would never (I know, never say never) put my young (or any age) children on any type of social media or public platform. Not in today’s world. You never know who’s looking at it, why, etc., etc. You can’t control what people do to their images. You can tell people to show only the backs of their heads, don’t tag you, but they don’t have to listen to you. They can go ahead and do whatever they want. I’m sure you can get it removed or blocked but then it’s too late. You can also tell people not to approach the children in public, but you can’t stop them from doing so. You can only control what you do. It’s never too late to change. Viewers are fickle and would probably not even notice their absence after a while. I never comment, but for some reason on this post I chose to. Just my 2 cents! Good luck!

  134. I don’t think I would post pictures of my kids on social media. I don’t see any upside, and I see lots of potential downside. I don’t think people who do it are bad people, and I think people who freak out about it are sort of over the top, but on balance, I just think it’s not a good thing. Back of the head photos are fine, but they don’t really do anything for me as a reader/viewer. I know you have kids, I know they are adorable, I like seeing their spaces, but I don’t feel any real need to see the kids themselves.

  135. “when in doubt, rule it out” is a design mantra i go to again and again.
    it also works when trying on pants in the fitting room, or pondering a text/email that probably shouldn’t be sent. trust your intuition!

  136. I love this! And totally get all the angles, in all their gray haziness of clarity. While on a much smaller scale, I’ve been blogging long enough that my child (an outgoing 4yo who has no “stranger danger”) has been recognized in public, by name. That was my stomach-dropping moment at which point I took on a #projectfaceless approach to the blog, and coordinating social media (which, for similar reasons, I’m taking a little break from at the moment). It works for us — like you, to tell my story without his angle feels inauthentic. Like you, I want to protect him and his privacy. Bonus — it’s a fun creative challenge to capture motherhood without showing their faces — I promise it’s not a plug, but I blogged about it here if you’re at all interested 🙂 http://www.lifeinyellow.com/2018/06/inspired-project-faceless/

  137. I think you are doing great. I love seeing your sweet kiddos faces periodically. I just love your ‘open book’ mentality. I think as long as your are mindful, you are going to know what is right.

  138. Not sure if this angle was previously mentioned but when I see picts of “influencers” with their kids on social media, I think it helps normalize working parents. I’m an attorney and I often feel that I’m expected to go to work and pretend my kids don’t exist. (ex: If I have to take off work to take my kid to the doctor, I just say I have a doctor appointment and don’t mention its for my kids) When I scroll past pictures on instagram of working moms with their kids it reminds me I’m not alone trying to find a balance between family and work.

  139. Reading this on the due date of our first baby. This is a topic my husband and I have had many conversations about, especially with so many friends and family who have no problem putting their kids’ pictures (and even our pictures) online without permission. It is not my favorite to go online and see my own face without knowing it was there, I feel like it would be the same for a child and completely respect your decision.

    Thank you for writing this. I am sure it was super tough, but it is good to hear that other parents feel the same and have the same second guesses I do.

  140. I don’t envy your situation. Because on one hand, its a part of who you are now, and part of your “brand” …which is your job. On the other, I’m less inclined to pretend to be you. I’m more inclined to pretend to be your children, and imagine if I were 8/9 yrs old or a teenager and suddenly realized my entire life was online. Not just pictures, but detailed descriptions of my entire childhood. Of my likes/dislikes, fav toys/foods, tidbits about my tantrums, potty training, weird things I said/did. Now maybe some children would enjoy having a log of their lives (I know I would), but to have that log be available to all their friends, teachers, professors, prospective employers? Away from how strange (and unsafe) it might be for them to be a approached by complete strangers, imagine them being teased at school. Kids (esp pre-teen/teens) can be so cruel. Its not just pictures, its intimate details of their entire lives. Even celebrities (actors/actresses/sports stars) don’t provide the same level of detail about their children online, unless they expressly fall under the category of “influencer” (like the Kardashians). We don’t have intimate details of Suri Cruise or Gwyneth Paltrow’s kids even if we know what they look like. Please consider the sharing of personal information too…in addition to their image. Maybe some day they will be ok with it, but until then, they’re your kids…and you’re supposed to protect them, not open them up to scrutiny or ridicule without their knowledge.

    1. I had to laugh because you brought up Gwyneth Paltrow. If anyone missed it, about two weeks ago she posted a selfie of herself and her 14 yo daughter on Instagram. Her daughter actually called Gwyneth out in the comments, reminding her that they had agreed Gwyneth was not allowed to post any photos of her unless she approved it. Gwyneth’s response fell into the “but you looked so cute” excuse. Not cool, mom, not cool.

  141. Hello Emily
    Praise and backing for you! I am not a mum yet, but I sure do hope that when that day comes I (and whoever that lucky man may be 😉 ) constantly digest even the most trivial facets of our kids’ lives. The fact that you have taken years to post your non-conclusion just shows how much you truly want your best for them. As a daughter of parents who intend the same, there is nothing more you could ever want or respect, right?!
    Thank you for always sharing your refreshing sentiments … and the significant roles of kittens and milkshakes.
    X, Fei.

  142. I’m always fascinated by this subject and seeing the varying ways that parents make rules for themselves and their children. For myself… I never share my children’s full name (their last name is different than mine and dad doesn’t use his last name on social media) so most people I know don’t even know their last name… also if someone down the line goodled their name they would not find any social media posts. As my children get older (my oldest is almost 6) I share less and less about them. Part of it is natural because my every thought isn’t evolving around them like it was when they were little and part of it is because they’re becoming their own little person. I never share embarrassing pictures of details about them and cringe whenever I see a parent do this.

  143. The best of you, is that you are yourself. Keep listening to your heart!! don’t be afraid. And always be proud of your family. Kisses from Chile

  144. This is such a thoughtful post. I worry about the same things as a parent of a young child, and I get that it’s a lot more intense in your particular situation. I think you are doing a great job and are navigating this carefully and with sensitivity.

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