Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | October 1, 2010

Should You Blog About Your Kids?


Did they have a right to privacy? Probably.

Just read a news story about dooce.com, a wildly popular mom blog  about her life with her daughters, her husband, and, among other things, her postpartum depression. Seems that daughter #1 who’s about six, no longer wants her mom to write about her or photograph her for blog appearances. My first thought in reading the story was, “Wow, they estimate this woman’s income at about $40,000/month from her blog! We are clearly doing something wrong here at Raising Amazing Daughters!” But, after that, I focused on the point of the article. Her daughter, at age 6 has discovered her own expectation of privacy rights. Pretty advanced.

If I were to advise Dooce, I’d suggest that she invite said daughter first right of rebuttal. Rather than not be written about at all, maybe her daughter would simply like a say. Readers of my blog can see how well that works with my daughters (tongue planted firmly in cheek) who like nothing more than to agree with everything I say and think we’re the most perfect parents who ever lived.

As it happens, I have given my girls the right to edit what I say about them. More importantly, they’ve made me (well mostly Shira) take down what they consider to be unacceptable photos of them. It’s true, I have no sense of what makes a good photo of them because what I think is an adorable bit of their childhood, they see a heinous plot to destroy their self esteem.

So, I ask my girls, do you think parents should blog about their kids? Where should they draw the line? Do parents have the rights to “own” their stories when the stories involve their children? And, what about the stories non-blogger parents share with their friends? Should a privacy line be drawn there as well?

Tamra Writes:

This is weird. First of all, what 6-year-old is even on a blog? I think if you allow your 6-year-old to start dictating what you as a parent can and cannot do, then you are setting yourself up for a bad scene. Next thing you know she’s telling you what you have to make for dinner every night, and before you know it, she’s 8 years old and telling you that you have to refinance your house. It just seems like no good can come from that. Sure, everyone has a right to their privacy, and maybe mom can take the girl’s feelings into consideration and censor some of the stories, or filter out ones that might be embarrassing. I just think that allowing a 6-year-old to have that much power is a dangerous thing. I feel that if the parents did exactly what this little girl wants, they are basically creating a spoiled brat who will be learning that she does not have to respect her parents and she pretty much rules the roost.

I think parents have to be careful about what they share about their children, and I also think that if parents know their children at all, they should be able to decide which stories are okay to share with their friends and which might upset their kids. I guess sometimes parents might tell their children not to share certain private family matters with their friends, although I can’t really think of any in our family situation. I just think that, like any relationship, you learn about each other and you should have a sense about what would be okay to share and what should really just stay in the vault.

Also, if I was that mom I would tell her daughter that if she no longer wants to be written about in the blog, then she does not have to benefit from the $40,000 a month either. If I can get a cut of the $40,000, that mom can write whatever she wants about me.

Shira writes:

I have to agree with Tamra on this one. You can’t really start letting your 6-year-old dictate what you are doing; however, there are definitely people who share too much about their children. Parents have to be aware that while their kids are young, they are still people. It might be okay to tell the adorable story of Jack’s first day of kindergarten, but Jack might be embarrassed if he learns that Mom is telling everyone at work that he’s a bed-wetter. Also, no one really wants to hear about that.

In regards to the pictures I’ve made you take down, absolutely no one needs to see pictures of me from my awkward years in a hideous bat-mizvah dress that didn’t fit and with unbrushed hair. Like the bed wetting story, no one wants to be subjected to that, least of all me.

Alexis Writes:

I’m just confused. I work with six-year-old kids and I have some of them that don’t know what the term “first name” means let alone understanding being on a blog and  privacy issues. When you’re 6 you don’t get a say and that’s too bad for you. You’re not an adult that contributes to society, so unfortunately for you, you have to do what others tell you. If you don’t like it you better get over it fast because that’s life. I agree that kids shouldn’t dictate what adults do but, Tam, I have to say I have a tough time picturing the kids knowing when to refinance at 8. I would hope the mother would have better common sense than to take a financial lesson from someone who probably gets a 5 dollar allowance.

However, more importantly, I think it’s weird that people expose so much about their kids on the Internet. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I don’t understand the people who put up the sonograms of their unborn babies. That is something extremely personal and private and not for all your old friends from high school that you never talk to, to see. I also think it’s dangerous to be displaying your child’s life on the computer. We all know that there are child predators out there. Do you really want someone to have the golden key to your life so that they know everything about your children? There are some stories that should really be just for you and the people who are truly close to you, even if they are positive. You should discuss your children with people you respect and love. Like I always tell my 6-year-olds, treat others the way you want to be treated, we as adults can always follow that same rule.

Mom writes:

Yeah, I wonder…would Dooce want her daughter blogging about her? I can tell her, it’s not always pretty.

Alexis Writes:

By the way, I’m also confused how this woman is making money off of her blog? Should we start selling advertisements? If that little girl knew any better she’d at least ask for a cut of that money in exchange for a lack of privacy–it worked for Paris Hilton.

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Responses

  1. Personally, I don’t see any reason why I should treat any of my children with less dignity or respect than I would a friend of mine. Therefore, IF one of my children was embarrassed by something I wrote or asked me not to write about them or post their pictures, I would respect that request the same way would (and do) from any other person.

    I also know and understand that children’s ideas and needs and wants change so I’m sure the subject would come up for discussion more than once.

    We don’t own our children. They are their own people. I don’t have the right to disrespect my child’s feelings just because she/he is a child.

  2. You are 100% right. And, I think that if we treat our children with dignity, as you say, they will, in turn, treat others that way.

  3. I get around this issue by using pseudonyms for my girls on my blog and never posting photos of them (I’m paranoid of the safety issues of having their faces out there in cyberspace). I have crossed the line once or twice, according to my girls, and told stories they wish I hadn’t and I have to respect their right to not be embarrassed by me. That said, I don’t give them so much power that they feel like they’re in control, but I do take their views into consideration. Often, they have a unique perspective that I wouldn’t have and it makes me think.

  4. It sounds like you have an excellent method of knowing where the line is between your right to write and their rights to be written about. It also seems that you and your girls have good give and take and that’s really important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I’m surprised this issue came up with a six-year-old. I would expect it to come up with an older child. Still, if my six-year-old child told me she didn’t want pictures or stories about her on the internet, I would probably take it down or limit access (make it a private blog or limit my “friends” on Facebook). I wouldn’t want to cause my daughter any unnecessary emotional distress, especially when posting comments or pictures of my children on the internet is a very marginal part of my life (which is not the case for the mom in question). I would worry that my posts would affect my daughter’s self-esteem and possibly encourage bullies.

    As for sharing too much about children on the internet, I think it depends on the forum and on what information you’re sharing. Child predators could be anywhere, but I hope there aren’t many, if any at all, among my Facebook “friends” (If I accept a “friend” I don’t know well anymore, then I usually limit their access to my pictures and posts through the privacy options). Many of my FB friends have met my children in real life anyway. I think it would be different if I had a public blog where I posted more detailed information about my children. Though I agree about the ultrasound pictures—it’s just creepy. It’s like viewing part of someone’s medical file.

    Very cute picture of the three of you, by the way.

  6. I suspect it came up b/c in that family, the blog is their business and, as such, it’s probably discussed endlessly. It sounds like you have a practical bead on all of this and, I’m sure you’re right about the likelihood of any of your FB friends being predators. (We hope so anyway!) As to the cute photo, thanks. I’m not sure how long it’ll be allowed to stay up there. I figured we were pretty safe, as they are fairly unrecognizable from this photo!

  7. My daughter is five and knows that I “write stories about her” on the internet. She loves it, but if there was ever anything that she didn’t want me to write then I wouldn’t.

  8. I think that if blogging is a regular activity in your house, it is likely also a common topic and one your kids know about so I’m not surprised she has a sense of what you’re doing. It’s great that she’s happy about what’s happening and even better that you talk to her about it and take her feelings into account. Thanks for letting us know.

  9. Great post and as usual enjoyable to read your slightly different points of view.

    It’s a tricky one, especially when you are a ‘parent blogger’, to find where you draw the line between sharing and invasion of privacy.

    I think it’s very much a personal issue. From the start, I’ve used my kids’ real names and photos on my blog as I feel it builds a more personal relationship with my readers. Also it’s part of the nature of my blog to see how my own ‘babes about town’ respond and review the family-friendly places we visit.

    But I am selective about what I use, try not to expose anything overtly intimate and generally keep it light. That said, it’s MY blog and I write what I feel. If ever one of my boys grows up and decides to start their own blog about the angst of being blogged about, more power to them!

    As for the predator element, that’s real and we shouldn’t take too many risks with what we reveal online. But there are predators everywhere and I don’t think we need to curb our expression completely just to try and avoid them. You may as well lock yourselves indoors (and still not be entirely safe)!

  10. I think you are right on, Mom!

  11. i think as popular as dooce’s blog is, and perhaps this child has started school, maybe other parents are saying things to their kids and those kids are saying things to her daughter. kids have gotten a lot meaner than in my day. i rarely talk about my kids on my blog, and if i do, it’s by nicknames. i rarely put up photos (prob about 3 or 4 over the last 3 yrs) on my blog. if my daughters asked me not to talk about them or post pics, i would do it. i want to give them respect & privacy, because everyone’s entitled to that. it’s not going to matter if it’s ‘i’m the mother, i can do what i want’.


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