My son had to complete an online questionnaire as part of his P.E. class.
He filled it out by himself, but wanted me to spell check a few things for him. Under “favorite activity” I noticed he typed “video games.”
This seems harmless enough, but for some reason it upset me inside. We have always limited screens and so I was a bit shocked to see this as his favorite activity.
I suddenly worried what his teacher might think. I wanted to add an asterisk and explain that he actually doesn’t get to play video games very much.
I felt the need to edit his response.
Thankfully, I caught myself thinking and feeling these things and simply said to my son, “Looks good! Hit submit.”
But as I walked away from the table, I still felt a pang of guilt for wanting to edit him. I should never try to tell him what his interests and likes are.
Where does this desire to edit come from?
I believe it comes from technology. I believe raising kids in a world of social media and technology can take away their authenticity (and ours as adults).
They grow up seeing what gets approval and “likes” and begin to shape themselves towards that approval. This terrifies me as a parent.
When I reflect on my own childhood, there are thousands of moments where I had the freedom to speak my mind and learn. I made friends, lost friends, said nice things, said mean things. It was all part of the childhood journey.
There are definitely times as a parent when you need to step in and guide and shape your children. Your child/teen may not see the greater picture, so gentle nudges can help.
But I do not want to edit my kids and shortchange their journey.
If they say the wrong thing or something hurtful, I want them to feel the impact of that and the sting. They need to see the pain in someone else’s eyes to remember that their words have power.
Likewise, I also want them to experience speaking with love. I want them to see the joy they can bring to someone else with their words.
If they do not want to smile for a picture because they are processing different feelings, I do not want to teach them to “fake it.”
I want to capture the moments as they are. I want my kids to become who they are.
No filters. No editing.