I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years now. When I was a child, I had a diary that I would share with everyone around me, so when blogs became the norm, it just felt natural to start sharing my path with the world. I started blogging as an attempt to normalize my children’s lives as people living with Down syndrome. In a way, blogging became an important part of our lives as a family.
The controversy about blogging being negative or positive for your children is a never-ending debate. Parents are accused of over-sharing or monetizing the lives of their children, and I don’t argue that there may be some bloggers out there who do so. Bethany Hardy talks about this at her article in PBS Parents, Do We Reveal Too Much About Our Kids Online? But, setting aside the judgment, people, let’s take a look at how this parenting blogging movement can help children build a future, gain self-esteem, save and share a side of themselves that otherwise would have never been possible.
My son, Emir, who is 13 years old: “Mom, I want to cook breakfast today. Can you please Facebook Live for me?”
With more than 260k followers online, Emir receives endless words of support, love, and admiration every time he steps in front of the camera. Not only that, he shows his unique ability behind the disability, and of course, we love seeing him so happy and proud of himself.
Are there negative comments?
Yes, it happens sometimes, but the real world is not fully protected either and what happens online happens in real life. This simply turns into another opportunity to talk to our children, strengthen their abilities, and help them gain confidence despite the real life or online trolls.
He has grown up among cameras, microphones, lights, videos, and blog posts. Since Facebook Live began, he started setting his own tripod, camera and uses voice-to-talk to caption his life events. He always asks for help, he understands that he is not allowed to jump in front of the camera alone, and he enjoys every second of it. Many people would feel this is not natural, but for Emir, being in front of the camera is a blast and it has been through this that he has gained self-esteem and strengthened his social and personal abilities.
My daughter, Ayelén, who’s 10 years old: “Mommy, can you pitch Bubble Guppies to get free toys?”
She has grown up modeling and participating in countless marketing campaigns through my blog. She even has a ritual and prepares herself the day before for photo shoots. She takes time to get ready and can identify her best angle. She reviews and approves pictures, and even identifies prospective clients. Years ago when I was invited to participate in the Barbie Project, she literally told me, “Omg, blogging is just so cool, mom.”
Ayelen has Down syndrome and like any other child with Down syndrome, she has recognized her differences from other girls of her age. Having a platform in which she is recognized for her talents have helped her strengthen her self-esteem. She knows she is beautiful just the way she is, and her online success can prove it.
Both of my children (sometimes at the same time, even!): “Mom, can you please email the link to my teacher?”
The pride of what we do together overwhelms us and many times I have been asked by my children to email or text the link of one of their sponsored blog posts to their teachers, classmates, or family members. There is this side of them that not everyone knows or may be able to know otherwise. Showing off their small triumphs makes them feel capable, proud, and empowered. Many times I have opened IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings with their latest pictures or videos. Aside from their academic challenges, their potential is limitless and it’s valuable for others to know that.
With every new opportunity presented through my choice to be a blogger, they are building their own path to independence and opportunities. They are typical kids with professional careers already. Among many other brands, they have worked with Disney, Barbie, Tylenol, and this year they have a contract with Chuck E. Cheese. I look at their future with hope and pride. In my opinion, people can keep judging parents for exposing their children through their personal blogs and social platforms, or they can instead recognize the opportunities and possibilities of a new mindset that can give children like mine, a voice and a future they otherwise might not have had.