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How to Apologize to Your Child for Putting Embarrassing Pictures of Him/Her Online

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Although you may have thought that posting a photo of your child wearing his homemade Pokémon/cowboy outfit when he was two years old was adorable, he may not be so keen––with the potential of having all your friends, and some of his, seeing it, it may simply freak him out.

The reality is that what parents may find funny or cute can often be mortifying or horrific for your child. Instead of insisting on posting photos your child deems to be social suicide, remove the photos and deliver a heartfelt apology.


  1. 1
    Start by taking down any photos deemed to be embarrassing by your child. The minute your child tells you he or she feels ashamed or embarrassed by the photos remove them from the Internet immediately. This isn't a time to be quibbling about what you thought was the right thing to do––your child is uncomfortable and that should be sufficient for you to respond fully.
    • Be sure to hit all the mediums where the embarrassing photos may lurk. Ideally, photos should only have been posted to one online medium, but if you use a variety of online posting opportunities and you've been including them in your blog and all the social mediums, go back and take down every single photo.
  2. 2
    Explain to your child why you posted the photos. Your child may be extremely frustrated or upset with you and most likely doesn’t understand why you posted that awful picture you of the haircut he or she decided to give him- or herself. Let your child know that your intentions came from a place of love and not meant to hurt. Typical reasons parents use to show off photos of children include:
    • Going nostalgic about those adorable baby days. Parents wistfully look back on those squeezable baby days and love to see their child’s baby pictures every now and again. Explain that you were thinking back to a time when he or she was your little baby and how cute you were then (and still are now).
    • You found some of the photos to be funny. Everyone has funny (or awkward) family photos. Unfortunately, if your child was the butt of one or many of them, while you may be laughing… your child, not so much. Realize that what is funny to you may be a much more vulnerable family issue to your child.
    • You wanted to show friends and family members how much you have grown. Another part of parenting is boasting about how big your child has gotten through the years. If grandma missed seeing your baby jump from being a cute elementary school child to a good looking adolescent, mom and dad may want to proudly post the picture for all to see.
    • You're proud of your child. Perhaps your child may want to keep the fact that he or she is the president of the robotics club at school, but you want the entire world to know more about his or her achievements.
  3. 3
    Tell your child that you will respect his or her wishes about posting photos. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your child and communicate that going forward you will respect his or her wishes about posting any photo online.
    • Explain that you had no idea that certain photos being posted would have embarrassed him or her. Make sure he or she knows that if you knew the picture would have left him or her red faced, you wouldn’t have posted it.
    • Apologize for posting the photos. Deliver a heartfelt apology and really mean it. Your child’s world may surround his or her social life and what you may consider to be adorable, your kid thinks is mortifying.
  4. 4
    Ask your child to give you parameters for posting photos. Of course it’s impossible to resist posting any photos of your child, so ask your child to set certain parameters so you can quickly determine if he or she will be cool with the photo being posted.
    • Decide which photos are completely off limits. Make a list of all photos that are considered to be completely wrong for posting. Photos such as old naked baby photos, pictures where your child is wearing an embarrassing outfit or wiping out may be at the top of the list.
    • Are there photos your child won’t have any trouble with you posting? As with the “don’t” list, ask your child to make a “do” list. Perhaps school photos are fine, or photos taken during sports competitions will make the cut.
    • Consider setting up a system so you child approves any photos in his or her “murky” area. Although you may have some photos that are totally clear-cut, you will come across other photos that you may think would be fine, but he or she would consider to be totally embarrassing.
    • Ask how your child will be most comfortable with you sharing photos with friends and relatives. Establish if there are any friends or relatives that he or she absolutely does not want you to share the photos and which medium you can use. You could also create a family only blog or a scrapbook to keep at home.
  5. 5
    Inquire about what you can do to make it up to him or her. Make things “even Steven” by finding out how you can “write the wrong” of posting pictures your child has deemed to be embarrassing.
    • Unfriending your child’s friends on social media. Perhaps in addition to the photos in question, your child may not be completely comfortable with your online social media friendships, especially if you post comments or anecdotal information about silly things your child has done.
    • Allowing your child to post a silly picture or baby picture of you. If you really want to even the score, let your child post an approved dorky photo of you. Find something funny like you wearing goofy clothes or having a bad hair day.
  6. 6
    Reassess your future online approaches to sharing information about your children. Think about the child's perspective rather than yours. Author of The Girls' Guide Jane Yee says that blogging about children is actually a moral issue. She suggests parent bloggers consider how the children might feel when they grow up and realize that they didn't want photos of themselves all over the internet. Even one of the most famous bloggers in the world, Heather B. Armstrong, who frequently blogs about her children, has noticed her eldest child running out of the room when it's camera time and now resorts to asking her daughter if it's okay to mention her in a blog.[1] It couldn't hurt to include your children in the discussion from school age onward––after all, it's their reputation and life you're blogging about.
    • Be aware of how intrusive online sharing of information about people other than yourself can be, especially where it involves children. They have every right to establish their own identities without being trapped by the image and stories you've created about them online.
    • There is a fine line between gentle occasional bragging and treating a child like a prize exhibit. Know the difference and stick to the limits.
    • Give serious consideration to restricting who gets to see photos of your children online to only those people who know the child directly and care about the child's well-being. Use filters and privacy settings to ensure this.

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  • Don’t diminish your child’s embarrassment or feelings about pictures you may consider to be sweet or cute. If he or she is embarrassed, validate his or her feelings and listen to any concerns. In time, it's probable that their feelings will change again and they'll laugh with you about this if you handled their upset well at the time.
  • Help your friends and family to see how their sharing of photos of their children online might be upsetting to their children in the future.


  • Be extremely careful about any photo you post of your child. Unfortunately, in addition to friends and family members, child predators are also lurking to view photos of children––don’t place your child in a position that might catch a criminal’s eye.

Sources and Citations

  1. Amanda Bidwell, We blog, therefore we are, in HER, April/May 2012, pp.36-39

Article Info

Categories: Conversation Skills

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