Parenting in the Age of YouTube

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Would You Act Differently if Your Kids Were Secretly Videotaping You?

The recent youtube post by Hillary Adams, the daughter of Texas Judge William Adams, showing her father beating the then 16-yr old girl with his belt, is disturbing beyond words. According to a description of the video, the judge “took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology.”

As a mom, I’ll tell you right up front that I don’t believe in hitting/spanking/smacking or any other form of physical punishment for children, and what this guy did to his daughter was way over the line, no matter what parenting camp you live in. Not to mention the fact that she has Cerebral Palsy, or the fact that this monster is a prominent judge in a position to affect other children’s well-being. In my opinion, this video of his home life has definite bearing on his character to stand as a public official, but that is not my role or business to address. Hopefully the proper authorities will take into consideration society’s (and my) outrage on such matters and place the appropriate consequences on this "parent.”

That said, it made me think about whether I would do things differently in my everyday life as a mother if I knew a video camera were rolling onto the internet for all to see and judge. Vanity aside (I’d probably put on a bit of concealer and lip gloss before serving breakfast), I don’t think I’d make major changes to how I parent my daughters. I’m no saint as a mom, wife, sister, or any other role in my life. I’m not always proud of every reaction or lack of patience or retort that I blurt out without the benefit of the “filter” between my brain and my mouth that I should be using more often. There are lots of times that make me cringe as I think back on how I mishandled situations, screamed like a raving lunatic, or used the dreaded “you are” phrase before some pretty harsh character-assassinating adjectives. I would like to redo those ugly parenting moments.

Thinking back, I wouldn't look my proudest on camera when the kids were younger and I had to plop them in front of the television (aka substitute babysitter) while I hurried a deadline or scrambled to get work done from home. Maybe yelling at the kids not to yell was not my best self and wouldn't go over too well on the small screen, nor would screaming at them to eat their veggies, in direct contrast to my philosophy as The Sneaky Chef. But overall, I am proud to be a person of integrity, and I live by my word.

It’s a good question to ask ourselves as parents – it’s a good exercise to imagine yourself being videotaped, and to ask yourself whether you’d make any real changes to your style.

It seems that parents are getting caught on camera left and right doing horrific acts towards their children (e.g., hot sauce mom and Botox mom). And since, in many cases, this seems to be only way to expose the acts and the people who seem to think this behavior is okay, I say let the cameras roll! Although the majority of us care for our children immensely and would go to great lengths to make sure they are safe and well and happy, we are only human. The little imperfection in our patenting skills can only be excused if we take a chance to periodically examine what and how we do things. So it seems like a great opportunity to take a look our exposed life and make sure we are happily on track.

Because, in the end, “it’s what we do when nobody’s looking that makes us champions.” And, thank goodness, most of us would pass with flying colors!

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