When mothers read about the trials and tribulations of other mothers online, we all get a sense of connectedness and unity. We feel like we are in this together, and we all learn from each other.
Forever is the longest time
It can be really comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles and the voices of other women in similar situations can give us a boost when we feel like giving in.
But our children might not agree.
I have had a public online media presence for almost three years now, since I began my own blog. Although my blog is pretty inactive these days due to me preferring paid writing gigs – I still stand by the same rules when it comes to writing about my children online.
I came up with these rules after a bit of time of not having any, because I guess I just didn’t give it much thought. But the internet is a pretty tricky thing – and once information goes out there, it’s there forever.
So as you can imagine, it was pretty confronting for me to read about another mummy blogger in America who is refusing to stop writing about her nine-year-old daughter, even though her daughter has begged her not to.
I just can’t quite get my head around it, so I thought it would be a good idea to share my views and personal policy regarding what I write about online, how I do it and why.
How to safely write about children online
First up, I don’t share faces of my girls on my public platforms. I prefer to give my daughters the safety of anonymity. I can’t imagine they’d appreciate it very much if they were stopped in the street by someone they didn’t actually know who just so happened to read an article of mine online that I had included their photos in. No doubt they’d feel scared and uncomfortable – not something I would want for them. If I ever do share photos of my daughters online – I always ask their permission, first. Consent is a concept very important to me, and my girls all have the right to say no – which of course would be respected.
Secondly, I prefer to use nicknames when referring to my daughters online – not their real names. I really don’t want people to be able to google any information about them that may be private.
It’s their story to tell, not mine
This is because ultimately, the lives of my daughters belong to them. The things they go through, their accomplishments and their challenges are all experiences that are theirs – not mine. It isn’t my place or my privilege to divulge every aspect of their life. After all, I would be mortified and highly offended if someone did that to me without my permission! Children deserve the same respect. It’s creepy for me to think of myself as some kind of stalker, watching their every move and waiting to pounce on them for a writing opportunity. When I do want to share experiences that they have gone through, I ask first – or I try and find a different, less personal angle to write from.
Because the internet is so permanent, whatever is put out there, is there forever and we as parents have no way of knowing who has seen or read what. For all I know, future employers, teachers, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends or colleagues could read about any number of personal things that I wrote about (if I wrote about it) without my daughter’s consent. I think this places them in a certain level of danger risk, and it is not something I am comfortable doing.
Respect boundaries regarding privacy
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that children are still people and they still deserve the same level of consideration and respect as anyone else. It’s, therefore, our responsibility as parents to ensure that we model for them how we expect to be treated, too.
This is especially important when it comes to sharing every single personal detail about the lives of our children with the public. We are not bystanders in the lives of our children, we are living it with them and I know they’d prefer we make memories together and be present, rather than simply using their lives as writing fuel.
Our children have the right to share their own story – if and when they choose to. And I believe it’s super important that we as parents respect our children’s boundaries regarding their privacy.