04/01/2014 03:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Attention Parents: Your Kid Is Not a Canvas

The last time I checked, there were no children for sale in the aisles of an art supply store. Of course, anything to the contrary would be completely ridiculous, let alone abusive and flat out illegal. Why is it, then, that babies and toddlers have become such a hot prop in today's photographic arts?

I'm sure you've seen at least a few examples of what I mean, such as these.

2014-04-01-babyasart.jpg Credit: Sioin Queenie Liao


Granted they are beautiful pieces, worthy of all the "awws" and (nearly one million) "likes" they garner on every single social media platform. That said, they completely freak me out.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for using my children as inspiration. There is little that inspires me more than my desire to stimulate, encourage, educate and provide for my kids. In fact, they even inspire my darker side. I love to poke fun at their bad habits, maddening tantrums and poor handle on the English language. I even do it publicly.

The difference is, the only material I have is what they give me naturally. I never make up a quote, embellish a story or put them in a costume they don't choose for themselves (infant Halloween garb aside).

In short, I celebrate who my children are, not what I can do with them.

2014-04-01-babyasart3.jpg Credit: @MommyShorts/Ilana Wiles

I wonder how, if at all, the situation would be different if we were using teens in the photos as opposed to infants? As a society we have become so sensitive, with good reason, to the exploitation and bullying of our youth. And while significant progress has been made in those areas, I cannot help but fear we are taking an enormous step in the wrong direction with our younger generation.

Parenting is the greatest gift, and the greatest burden. There is no job more difficult, more taxing, or more rewarding. With it, I believe, comes a silent vow not only to do no harm to the child but to do quite the opposite.

For me, every day is a journey in which I learn a little more about what being a good (or bad) parent means. I have no idea exactly what it means to anyone else, nor should I. I can only hope that nowhere in their definition does it say a thing about acquiring likes on Facebook.

Follow Karri-Leigh's adventures as a television producer, blogger and mom on Dirty Laundry & Dirty Diapers.