Why I’m Resetting My Example Online… For The Kids

Now that I’m walking into being a stepfather, I’ve been noticing a few things about me that I need to shore up. You see, I’m feeling the need, want and desire to be a much better example to these two incredible kids whose lives I get to be apart of. Not just in the real world we live in but the the virtual world as well.

I don’t want them to be embarrassed of my online presence and I want to set the right example for their online presence as well.

I’ve never known what it is to be a parent. I love kids and I love these two kids the most. I look forward to every day I get to be with them because I know I’m always going to experience something funny with them or get surprised with some sweet moments of just being together. We have those moments together where they ask questions and want real answers and there are those moments when I get to ask them questions… to get them thinking a little bit.

As I walk along side these little lives, I’m noticing something…

For all you parents out there, I know you know what I’m about to say…

These kids notice everything. Even the things I don’t think they notice… they notice. It’s eye opening for me, but also a great reminder of the man I need to be… and also the man I want to be.

So, as I have been stepping up things, I’ve been going through my life… like re-arranging my closet so that I know what I have in me that needs to stay or go away. Again… A little eye-opening for me. I’m not single anymore and I can’t live like I’m the only one I answer too. It’s amazing how much has changed in this part of my life in the past two months.

One of the big things I’m paying attention to these days is the example I set for them online.

They are on Facebook with their friends. They sit down and watch YouTube just as much or more than they turn on the TV. They are engaged in community with their family and friends online… and they see what I do, what I say… and ultimately how I live my life… even online.

If the kids are paying attention to what I’m putting out on twitter or facebook, then I figure others are as well right? So, some of the things I used to throw out there won’t be coming out in my twitter stream or showing up on facebook like they once did.

The changes will be subtle and some of you might not even notice, but I will… and so will the kids.

I think it’s important for the online world to be a place where people learn from others and are encouraged to move forward in life. Not a place to bully people. It’s not a place to air out our anger against others or to bring someone down in a 140 character statement or a blog post. I don’t want these kids thinking it’s ok to do that or that it’s even productive for anyone. Honestly, I think when people bring others down online, it’s a selfish move. I’ve seen it happen in these kids lives with their friends and it was devastating, but also an important time teach them how to be with their friends online and how to handle them in real life.

How about you? How do you view your example online and where do you draw the line?

Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of a personal nature and do not reflect the corporate view of my employer or anyone else who employee my services.
  • http://twitter.com/joeljmiller Joel J. Miller

    This a great message, and something for all parents to keep in mind. Remembering to not be self-indulgent about our communication can be challenging, but we need to remember our responsibility is to our children. In a sense our communication is for them too — to teach and lead them. Great reminder. Thanks!

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      I completely agree. I wish i had seen this a little more a few years ago, but you are right. It is our responsibility to our children… and it is for them too. it’s challenging but I love these kids. they are worth it:) thanks Joel.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinscottbanks Kevin Banks

    Congratulations on your marriage my friend. I’ll miss you here in Nashville! You’ll be a fantastic father.

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      Thanks Kevin! You need to come out here and open a 9Fruits. I have a great little employee all ready for you. the next best thing here is Jamba Juice:)
      I miss being in Nashville and thanks for your encouragement!

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

    Well said, Spence. Great post.

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      Thanks Maurilio.

  • Marissadonna

    I’m in the same sort of process. I’ve never been vulgar online or in ‘real life’ but I have been immature in that I’ve embarrassed my kids by correcting them or disciplining them in front of their friends, and I’ve aired frustrations (with or without names) on social networking sites. Those two things are now off limits for me.
    I used to think, “Well, if they’re going to break the rules with their friends over, they will get their consequences right there with their friends watching.” It not only embarrassed my children, but it made their friends feel awkward and never want to come over, and it broke my kids trust in me. I wasn’t a safe person to go to, and it put a barrier in our relationship going into their teen years..
    Same type of thing with airing anger online..I began to realize that we may suffer as a family because when potential employers or business associates see my open airing of frustrations they’ll hesitate, if not run, when my husband or I are looking for a job.
    Thanks for this post. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I’d made these changes in the last year until reading this.

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      Good for you in making those changes and thanks for the comment.

      I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in what we think or feel and not consider the damage that can be done on the other end of things. I’m glad you see it and are aware of who you are online. Being with these kids has really made me think a lot more about who I am to them:)
      thanks again!

  • http://philvaughan.org Phil Vaughan

    Great perspective…and reminder.  Well said.

    • http://www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

      Thanks Phil.

  • http://twitter.com/MarcelFreire Marcel Freire

    Great post. It’s good to be reminded of how much influence we can have in our online community. I’ve seen first hand how friendships can be torn apart because of one little sarcastic comment or post. Honesty is good, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. Thanks!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NKILWDKS7FX6TQKQ3UUIIGXQ54 Roland

    Hey Spence. I’ve been a follower of Krissy’s blog for some time and finally put it together about you two! What a great pair. I’m so happy for you both. 

    You are wise in seeing what’s in front of you, and insuring the future of the relationships with the kids. You’ll make a great Dad.

  • http://OneStepForwardToday.com Bryan Patrick

    Spence,

    These are great thoughts. I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again – I love reading about your transition and your knew experiences. Very, very cool my friend.

    To answer your question; I view my online presence as if the entire online world is the street in front of my house made who’s front wall is made entirely of glass. Those windows facing the street are covered by curtains that can be fully opened, fully closed, and any amount of “open” in between.

    I try to keep my “curtains” minimally open. While I want to be authentic online, I am quite intentional about not putting my opinions and moods out there – primarily due to the limits of context in written communication. Communication is as much body language and demeanor as it is the actual words, if not more. This drives most of my tweets & posts. 

    When all else fails, my wife gets to approve/disapprove of the appropriateness of posts. If she’s happy with it, well, you know how the saying goes :)

    Finally, I was put in a position recently where I needed to have a talk with my oldest daughter (almost 8) about online responsibility in the context of her safety. I used the illustration of a mall and wrote about that conversation here: http://onestepforwardtoday.com/2011/06/talking-to-young-children-about-internet-responsibility/

    Thanks for the conversation here!
    -BP

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