Parental Blogging and Privacy

There are at least 5000 mommy blogs on the Internet that get enough traffic that they’re noticeable from an advertising perspective.  In fact, a major subject of conversation this last month has been “reaching the mommy bloggers” because, as you all know, moms are pretty important to the whole back to school spending spree.  Monday’s Motherlode asked the question about how should we protect our children’s privacy when we blog (or Facebook or email).

The issue came to light after a guest blogger wrote about a failed adoption.  People felt compelled to research the name of the child and to vilify this writer – who was sharing her experience to the benefit of others.  My first issue is with the people who did the vilifying – what is wrong with you?  Seriously, I don’t get what would compel someone to seek out and publicly shame a stranger.  I believe a significant religious figure reminded us about 2000 years ago that he who is without sin should throw the first stone.  Seriously.   We all make mistakes, have challenges and need support.  If you don’t agree with someone else’s choice, use that as an educational opportunity for you and your kids.  Get out of the judgment business – it’s complicated and best left to God, in my opinion.  My lawyer friends know I believe in the judicial process as well - and they'd agree that's also complicated.

But what about children’s privacy?  I use my kids’ names on this blog and most of my readers know them offline too.  With every topic, I do think about the moment they read an article and how they will feel about it.  Consequently, certain important topics are probably off-limits for the blog because its just not fair to my kids.  Rest assured, I am talking with my friends about them because I learn how to parent from my friends and their experiences.  We all do.  There’s no guidebook for the parenting journey and every parent I know questions if they are making the right or wrong turns.  The rub is that we have NO IDEA until our kids are grown and then there’s no causality you can attribute to any one choice. Yikes.

Our children deserve respect and privacy.  They also need to learn that there’s no benefit to hiding a struggle or mistake – it generally prolongs the problem.  In my opinion, they should learn to share their mistakes and their questions broadly in the quest for good alternatives.  I hope people will be kind when they do this.  I try to model this by being pretty fast to say when I don’t know or when I’ve messed up because then I can get on with the business of learning and fixing, if possible. I try to be kind when they tell me about their struggles or mistakes. 

Of course, I will always offer to re-write or delete a post that bothers them – eventually it will get wiped out.  I did take my last name off the blog to protect their privacy and safety.  So far, my kids seem more flattered than embarrassed.  If everyone was more open about their mistakes, forgiving of each other for them and focused on being as good a person as one can be, imagine the world.  I’m trying to live that way – and hope my husband and I are teaching that to our kids.  Certainly not perfectly, but we’re trying.

 If someone out there wants to vilify me for something I write, I’m sorry for them.  I have more pressing things to do.