Today I got a great reader question about social media: should my kid have social media accounts? And how much do you share as a parent about your kid?

There are so many new considerations for parents today, in 2018. How do you think about social media, and public versus private sharing of our kids on our social media accounts?

This is a hard question to answer because I don’t think there are hard and fast rules—I think there are a lot of ways to do parenting, and social, and it depends on your kid and your life. I have friends that have never posted a single photo of their kid on any network, ever. I have friends that have replaced their profile photos entirely with photos of their kid.

Here’s what I think, and what works for me, and what I’ve been thinking about. Right now I have a two-year old and a second baby on the way, so I still don’t know how I’ll navigate the pre-teen and teen years.

Why I have a separate account for my kid

I set up a separate, private Instagram account for my little one (and family photos) and invited friends to follow us if they’d like to. I also set up a shared Apple iCloud photo album that we share with family members. That way, I post a new photo every day or so for the 20+ family members and the 60 or so friends that want to follow my kids.

This is slightly different than what the reader asked, but I set it up this way, in part, for ME.

I see so often when people get ‘swept up’ in their kids and lose themselves, in a way, and post only pictures of their kids. To me, the most egregious thing was when people posted a photo of their kid as their profile photo on social media. (This is a little bit of an overblown example, but…) — to me, it was like you were erasing your identity and replacing it with your child’s. Part of the trouble with motherhood is how consuming and all-encompassing it can be, and I think there’s a societal a cultural push for women to identify only as mothers, and not as complex, whole, interesting, curious, diverse, multifaceted beings.

So for me, philosophically, I decided I wouldn’t ever post a photo of my child in lieu of my own profile photo. I wanted to still maintain that I was a separate and whole person. I still needed to exist, separately, as “Sarah,” in addition to mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, thinker, being.

I also wanted a boundary for myself so that I wasn’t flooding a ton of people who followed me with new photos of my kid every day. I know that they love me and we follow each other, but they may have opted in to relate to me professionally and through my work in media architecture, business, and writing.

Now publicly on my pages, I still post a family picture or photos of my kids every week or so. Things like weekend trips, fun events, etc. I still include it as part of my identity. I’m proud to be a mom and love and adore my kids. Having two separate accounts—a public one for me, and a private one for my kid—is my gut-check for whether or not I’m only photos of my kids and forgetting about myself.

Never naked, never bathroom, never location

In public, I don’t like to post photos of my kids naked, in the bathroom, or with a specific geo-location tagged. I know too much about the dregs of society and how gross things can get with photos of naked children, so I don’t want to add to that in any way whatsover.

In general, I also try to consider: “Would he be mad later on if I posted this?” and I also try to ask myself, “Would I want something like this shared of me?” So generally, sleeping photos are also out. (I would hate it if people took photos of me and posted me sleeping.)

And when he gets older, I’m going to ask his permission about posting photos, because it’s his life—and his right.

What about you? How do you think about sharing your kids’ life on social media, and what guidelines do you follow?