Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On (Not) Blogging About My Kids

Yesterday I had a blog post up for about five minutes. It was mostly about a conversation I'd had with my college-age son, on how your GPA doesn't really matter after a certain point in your life. It was fair game for the blog, but when I wrote it I included some other things my son said, so I asked him to read it, and he asked me to take them out. Since I was at that point at the barn waiting for the vet with only my phone, not my computer, it was a lot easier to just delete the post, so I did.

Neither my son nor I were annoyed about this--though, in future, I'll try to send him posts that are mostly about him before I hit the "publish" button. I have a solid, long-standing deal with my children: my blog is about my stories. Their stories are their own.

You will notice I don't use my children's names in my blog. Even when I use names I often make them up. (Sadly, my four nephews are not really named Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Fred.) This isn't because I'm trying to keep them secret--I'm sure most readers know the names of my children, and, if not, could find out easily enough. It's because I don't want people googling my kids' names some time in the future and finding all these blog posts. Some day my kids will have their own internet presence, so to speak. I tell them to be careful what goes out on Facebook and all the rest. They shouldn't have to be responsible for what I post.

I've been thinking about this a bit these last few days because of Jen Hatmaker's amazing post about her adopted children and their difficulties with Big Days such as Christmas. It's a really good essay that makes sense of a lot of things to me, and to many other people who've read it. (Just look at the comments.) It also talks about the experiences and actions of her two small children in some detail. I don't know how I feel about that. She's a different person than me, and her family is clearly happier in the public eye than mine would ever be, and the stories wouldn't be as effective without the personal details. And she states plainly that she asked her kids for permission before she went public about them.

And yet--no nine-year-old can give legal consent, for good reason. No nine-year-old understands the implications of consent, or of the internet.

I don't like seeing children on reality tv shows either. When they're 13, will they be teased for this? When they're 17, will they feel their childhood has been overshared?

I really don't know the answer for Jen Hatmaker, but I do know the answer for my own family. If they don't want me mentioning something I don't do it. I have plenty of my own stories to share.