Censoring my blog

by singlemomseeking on March 14, 2009

door-locked

One day I knew it would come to this.

My daughter doesn’t want me to blog about her anymore.

When I started this blog in 2006, little M was six years old, a first grader, a sweet pea pod with pig tails. She loved it when I posted photos of her. She begged me to make silly videos of her.

But no more. She’s OLD now. She can wear my sweatshirts. We trade accessories. Her social awareness blows me away: she loves to talk about friendships, politics…. and money. This weekend, she has offered to help me write a round-up of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

How do other bloggers deal with writing about their kids as they get older? (Here is when I see the benefit of blogging anonymously!)

The first woman who comes to mind is probably the most popular mom-blogger out there: Dooce. Will there be a day when her daughter, Leta, protests about all the cute anecdotes and photos online?

Heather Armstrong, however, is expecting another baby, so she’ll have plenty of new material, right? (And, no, Heather, I didn’t mean to imply that you’re having No. 2 just so you can have something to blog about!)

Whenever I want to post a photo of M nowadays, I always ask her first. Want to know what her first answer is 99 percent of the time?

“No.”

She is so self-aware now, and that can mean feeling self-conscious. It’s all new for me, as a parent, and I need to respect her decisions.

Sometimes, however, I do offer to pay her for permission to post a photo. (After all, this blog is covering her health insurance!)

“I’ll pay you five bucks,” I say.

“Twenty,” she says.

Me: “Twenty dollars for one photo?”

Her: “Fine, ten.”

I’m not the only blogger out there who is struggling with this, right? A while ago, a dad blogger named  Allan Rousselle asked:

“I have devoted an entire section of my website to each of my three sons… but what happens as they get older, and assume more responsibility for their own image?”

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor, also wrote about her 8-year-old son, Eli, when he tried to Google himself:

“We’d been looking up facts, and he liked the idea of finding himself out there in the ether. When nothing about him came up, he was disappointed. I was relieved. I don’t hide the pieces I write from him, but I don’t really want him to think of himself as a Google hit magnet, either.”

Other bloggers have shut down their blogs to protect their kids’ privacy.

I can’t imagine shutting down. This is my where I speak my mind, laugh, cry into my sleeve — and just as importantly, listen to you.

But I need to make a shift. The door to my heart is not locked, but I’m shutting it half-way when it comes to my child.

Not blogging about my kid will be a challenge. I’m sure that I’ll slip.

That’s why I’d love to know:

For those of you who blog, do you censor what you say about your kids?

Do you think their ages makes a difference when it comes to how much you reveal?

Do you ever fear that your kids will read your blog someday?

And to those who don’t blog — but read or lurk here — what if I stop blogging about my kid? Will you miss that part?

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{ 3 trackbacks }

Privacy | Single Mom Seeking
September 7, 2009 at 3:02 am
Exploiting your kids? | Single Mom Seeking
October 21, 2009 at 7:57 am
When you stop writing about your kid | Single Mom Seeking
February 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Canadian Bald Guy March 14, 2009 at 3:39 am

I blog anonymously. My whole reason for blogging is to be as open and honest about my life as possible in (hopefully) an entertaining way…but I don’t want my kids changing what or how I write.

I also try to not use their real names in my blog…and having just tested to make sure, I know that their names don’t bring anything up in Google…in either a web search or by images.

I don’t know how I’d feel if my kids read my blog as they got older. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, so I guess it would just be a matter of what age they read it at…so they could interpret and analyze things in a mature way.

Canadian Bald Guy´s last blog post…Twitter Tales: 03-12-09

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Mike March 14, 2009 at 7:02 am

I don’t see your blog as one all about M. While she is part of your life and therefore a part of your blog I think you could eliminate it without any problem.

She’s growing up and at some point she would fade to a smaller part of your blog so now it’s just happening a little earlier. Not saying it doesn’t suck for you, but you did good on teaching her to say what she wants.

Mike´s last blog post…Running on Full

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MindyMom March 14, 2009 at 7:49 am

Hmmm. I don’t use my kids real names in my blog but I have posted some photos.

What’s the difference between having photos posted on Facebook and your blog? I know only my “friends” can view my photos on FB, as well as my kids but that’s still putting them “out there” for countless other people. And what would people do with these pictures?

MindyMom´s last blog post…Women & Self Doubt

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singlemomseeking March 14, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Mindy Mom: I often have the same question, re: folks who only post photos on Facebook, but never on a blog. Sometimes, I question where the fine line is, when it comes to privacy. Do the rest of you wonder the same?

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Dr.Leah www.singlemommyhood.com March 14, 2009 at 4:13 pm

It’s such a totally different perspective for me since “my babies” are grown-up.

I’m not sure that it’s truly possible to blog anonymously. I personally know of several blogs shut down after the “other parent” found out and contacted an attorney.

This is such a personal decision and quite dependent upon your individual situation and your willingness to seek publicity.

As I have said (and will continue to say) … No one should make the rules in your life but you.

Dr.Leah http://www.singlemommyhood.com´s last blog post…When is it okay to have sex in your own house?

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judy March 14, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I will not miss the M part. As adorable as she is I do not respond to your M references. Maybe because I think my kid is the best and perhaps because I teach school and am surrounded by kids already.

I look to this post for women/adult stuff. Yes some, perhaps much includes being a single parent but those issues are ours, no theirs….so discuss how difficult it is to date with a kid, or life BC but for/from you not her/them.

I so often believe adults disrespect their kids and forget they are people. Would you want M blogging your emotions and reactions to life in your home without your permission?

My DD is 15 and there is NO way i would ever put up anything of or about here without her permission. The internet is for everybody and there are things M does not want everybody to know I am sure.

thanks for asking

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singlemomseeking March 14, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for the very straightforward comment Judy. I can always count on you for that, and appreciate your candidness. Thanks!

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jen March 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm

I hope my son reads my blog some day. I took some video of him the other day as he was singing a song he made up. He asked me afterwards if I was going to put it on the internet.

I do think their ages makes a difference about what to blog. There’s certainly things I don’t talk about on my blog but I tend to share what I think other people can relate to.

I wonder if my son and I will have a blog off one day. Goodness knows what he might say about me.

jen´s last blog post…Missing my son

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singlemomseeking March 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Jen, I often wonder about this, too: will our kids be bloggers one day, too? Very possible!

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Eathan March 14, 2009 at 8:53 pm

I can understand the catch 22 that this situation provides. I am in the anonymous group. I mainly do that because of the Google Factor. I’ve been happy that I have very few google information on myself..and I want my boys to have the same option about their name.

I don’t hide the fact that I write or what I write about. I hope the blog content and M can co-exist. Nothing is forever.. kids will change their mind if or when they think it’s cool.

Eathan´s last blog post…When Good Goes Bad- Part II

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Mama Dharma March 14, 2009 at 10:35 pm

It is such a tough issue. With a three year old, it’s kind of irrelevant at the moment. But I can see how it really is one of the 21st century issues we face.

I think it’s wonderful that you’re being so thoughtful and respectful of your child’s desire for privacy.

Maybe you can create another private blog to record your memories and impressions of raising her?

Mama Dharma´s last blog post…I can’t make this s–t up.

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SDMktg March 15, 2009 at 12:24 am

I don’t blog because of this very reason. Of course it’s possible to connect the dots and find my comments various places but I try not to write anything I wouldn’t want my kids to see someday.

I know it might sound crazy but I keep a journal and it sometimes crosses my mind that one day my kids could read it so I occasionally keep some stuff out of it.

My privacy settings on Facebook are set so that only my friends can see my photos and I will be organizing my contacts soon to use filtering so that only close friends and family can see family photos.

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Amy March 15, 2009 at 7:01 am

Tough question – that I don’t have to answer for myself yet – but will someday.

I think I am pretty anonymous – but people in my life who read obviously do know who I am. And that means that anyone with some good common sense skills can put the puzzle pieces together even if I don’t come out and say something.

I keep a written journal – and always have. After Sadie was born, I was hesitant to be honest about how I was feeling, inadequate as a mother, missing my freedom, nearly hating/loving her father. But I’ve since decided that when she is older – and I am no longer here – she will probably be able to handle all of that – and maybe even glad to see it.

Also – sometimes I think it isn’t so much the information that is being shared – but HOW it is shared. If that makes any sense. I try to be sensitive to that in case she ever reads anything that I’ve put to paper.

I’ll miss stories of M because I have been able to relate to you situation – but I completely understand. Remember – as sad as this is – you probably are beginning to enter the time period where EVERYTHING is an embarrasment to her.

Amy´s last blog post…Journal 125: March 2009 Going to California

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anon March 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

I have had my 15 year old blog about me and scenes from our family- and no, her blog isn’t private. I started thinking long and hard about what I shared re; my kids before I read things she had written, but it was certainly a wake-up call to read her posts. And I had her take some things out, and change names. Yes, we must censor what we say because yes, they will read it someday. Once on the ‘net, always on the ‘net. I agree with Dr. Leah that I make the rules for my life, but I must make them with respect for those around me- especially my kids. (And no, I don’t always want to censor what I write, but I do!) :) Tough questions- good to bring them up!

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John F March 15, 2009 at 9:50 am

Oh fine, I just open up and you are pulling back!

She is a socially aware young woman (no longer a kid you know) and you need to respect her wishes if you want her to respect yours.

You are so creative that a M-less blog will still be as captivating as ever. Sure we will miss her, but maybe you can put a Paypal button up and we can all chip in to pay her for a cameo on occasion.

John F´s last blog post…What’s My Deal? Divorce And All!

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April March 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

My kids are aware that I blog about them, but even at 11, Sylvia’s not quite over getting excited when she sees her pic on the web.
I do think about how they’ll react to some of the things I’ve said (especially about their father, and their coping skills), but I’ve left out a lot about their development in order to keep them from cringing too much if/when they read it later.

April´s last blog post…Weekend Wrap-Up

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SingleDad March 15, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Good luck with whatever you decide, but many of us hope you find a way to continue …

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Kat March 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

I’ve been blogging since 97′, Mark was 8, Sebastian was 6.
I posted photos, stories etc, and as they got older and started becoming their own people, I started asking them what was ok to post, both photos and stories.
They are now 15 & 17.
Every single post I write with them as center figures of it, is written entirely with their permission.

It is my blog about my life as a single parent, they are central figures in that life and blog, but they are also their own people and I must respect them and their decisions to not discuss certain things that go on in their lives.

My sons have always known about the blog, they read it, but again, I respect that they have grown up, become their own unique people, and so it is only natural for me to show them respect when it comes to how much information I put out there about them and all of us.

I no longer post many photos of them, if at all any more, they have asked me not to, but if I want to, I need to show it to them, and they will approve it or not.

I really think as soon as your child says to you that they don’t want you to blog about them anymore, to not post pics anymore, that you need to respect that decision but also talk to them, find out what would be ok to post, when it’s ok to post something, and work with them when it comes to their being a part of your blog.

We write blogs about our lives as single parents, they are mostly about us, so as our children grow and become their own, it’s time for us to start posting more about who we are, about our lives, and not so much about their own lives.

Kat´s last blog post…A late birthday surprise!

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Rosie Scribble March 16, 2009 at 5:51 am

My daughter is 5 but I’m sure they day would come when she would know what a blog is and realise I mention her on mine (although not by name). If she asked me not to thn of course I’d respect that. Your blog will still be interesting without the kiddie-content, afterall we have more in our lives than just our children. And as for some people who don’t visit because you don’t mention your daughter – well there are many other blogs out there for them, and you may even attract a different type of reader. Good luck!

Rosie Scribble´s last blog post…A Comic Moment

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Emily March 16, 2009 at 5:58 am

My daughter is 15, and I don’t blog about her at all anymore.

My boys are 7 and 5 and I rarely blog about them.

I want to, but I have a difficult time telling their stories without getting bogged down in the minutae.

Emily´s last blog post…Happy Pi Day!

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The Exception March 16, 2009 at 7:30 am

Each kid is different I think. I don’t necessarily write about my daughter as much as I write about the issues that arise from parenting. They are about me and my feelings far more than they are about her. I don’t use her name, her image, and really… no one would pick her out of a crowd nor would I ever use information on the blog that might hurt her feelings or embarrass her in any way. Always it is about my dealing with parenting over her as a wonderful person – which she totally is. In a world where employers use Google and people may use information found on the internet to make decisions about others… we all need to be aware of the information that we are putting out there. It isn’t necessarily censorship as much as it is learning to write for the time. The challenge is expressing the thoughts without leaving anyone open or giving out more information than is desired.

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Kat Wilder March 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I use a pseudonym for that reason (as well as to protect my friends, former hubby, etc.)

I have never felt comfortable putting pictures of The Kid online — I don’t like giving up so much of my family’s privacy.

I don’t think it’s any less honest. I write about real experiences, but use fake names to protect the innocent (um, or not!)because what I write really isn’t about me, or The Kid or anyone else I know — it’s more about the universal experiences of parenting, mothering, divorce, dating, sex, middle age, etc.

M is putting up her boundaries, a wonderfully healthy thing for a girl “on the cusp.” You’re a good mom, so I have no doubt that you’ll find a way to honor her wishes and continue your blogging life.

Kat Wilder´s last blog post…Is Ruth Madoff off the hook?

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Lisa R. April 1, 2010 at 8:06 am

I blog about my life with my kids, but I never mention them by name. Granted, I blog under my real name, so if you know me, you’ll know them. I don’t feel that I am censoring myself where they are concerned, so much as minding their privacy and my own with selective disclosure. I can’t bring myself to post pictures of them in an open forum, though.

It’s good that you and M communicate about her presence in your work – I feel that conversation coming on with my older son soon.

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