Exploiting your kids?

by singlemomseeking on October 21, 2009

Don’t worry, you’ll hear ALL about Vegas in a bit. In the meantime, if you’d like a little glimpse from a savvy mama who took me under her wing, check out Cutie Bootie Cakes.

So, one particular panel at BlogWorld Expo — about “The Ethics of Mommy Blogging” — has really stayed with me.

Let’s face it: many of us, as moms and dads, starting blogging as a way of keeping a digital scrapbook. You’ve shared your URL with family and friends, especially if they live long distance. You’ve imagined your baby reading your blog someday.

But today some moms — like Colleen Padilla, aka Classy Mommy, who was on this panel — say: “We need to realize that Mommy Blogging is a profession.”

So, if mommy blogging is indeed a profession for many of us, at what point do these boundaries blur?

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about censoring my blog for my kid.

Fortunately, as Mom101 pointed out recently, mom blogging is NOT the same as reality TV with real life moms, such as Wife Swap or new single mom Kate (plus her Eight!).

Kate Gosselin

But still. I think about all of this (okay, maybe obsess?) a lot. And this week, a reporter called me from the New York Times to talk about this very topic. So, clearly, I’m not alone.

If you blog, do you ever feel like you’re taking your kids’ stories and claiming them as your own?

If you read blogs, do you think there’s a time when bloggers need to just stop writing about their kids? Is it when a child is old enough to read? Or, when he/she starts school?

I bet you have a lot to say on this one. Thanks.

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October 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicki October 21, 2009 at 3:38 am

I write about my kids often. How can I not? They are a huge part of my life…sometimes the entire focus of my life. And as such,. the stories are not theirs alone, no more than my life belongs to me alone, but are ours. I try to be respectful and keep in mind that some of my high school daughter’s friends do read the blog. The trick, I think, is to have my own Hippocratic Oath…and first do no harm. I try not write anything I wouldn’t want everyone to know. It’s easier…living out loud.
.-= Nicki´s last blog ..It’s a funny thing, asking for help… =-.

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lovebabz October 21, 2009 at 4:19 am

I am very protective about my kids. I have posted their picture up on my blog…celebrating the first day of school or their birthdays. Maybe I will share a story about what I’ve learned from them. Mostly my blog is about me and my transitioning life. I do not consider myself a mommy blogger, I am however a Mom who blogs…not about my kids. I do think this this is a very timely topic and one that is worth exploring regularly as we all become social media whores, hogs and afficionados!
.-= lovebabz´s last blog ..LOVETALK RADIO OCTOBER 2009 SCHEDULE =-.

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Kat Wilder October 21, 2009 at 6:06 am

I doubt Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry worried much about this, but I imagine as kids get older, they have a right to know and decide that they don’t want to be part of their mom’s or dad’s “profession.”

I have had the same experience with friends, however, with stern warnings not to write about their life.

But, it isn’t just bloggers — anyone writing an autobiography (which, in a way, is what a lot of blogs are anyway) has to be aware of the effect of their sharing (or oversharing) of the people and stories they include in their book. Same with comedians who mine their own family for jokes.

I recall my absolute horror when, as a preteen, my mom told an auntie that I had “become a woman.” How could you share something so personal?!? I yelled at her. I imagine there are a lot more of those conversations nowadays (and then, the teens will probably Facebook, Twitter or MySpace about it!) ;-)
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Honesty’s the best policy, except when it’s not =-.

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singlemomseeking October 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm

@Kat: How true! Parents have always embarrassed their kids (oh, I feel for you!)…. but somehow blogging makes it even MORE public, doesn’t it?

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Kat Wilder October 21, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Thanks; I got over it … recently …
;-)
I’m not sure blogging makes it all that more public; books, movies, made-for-TV movies based on tell-alls, etc., have gotten as much exposure as blogs in pre-blog days. I wonder how best-selling author (“Eat, Pray, Love’s”) Elizabeth Gilbert’s ex feels, or Nicolas Sarkozy, whose wife wrote three (!!!) books about his infidelities. OK, those are spouses, but didn’t Ayelet Waldman and her husband, Michael Chabon, both come out with books about parenting their four kids (some who are teens) — those have much greater reach than most blogs (except the megablogs like Dooce, etc.)

As you say to Barry below, blogs are a place to vent, but if we’re venting about our kids in a such a public place, how is that going to make them feel? Perhaps not so good …
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Honesty’s the best policy, except when it’s not =-.

Barry October 21, 2009 at 6:52 am

If it is positive stuff and fun, great. I am a strong believer in letting your conscience be your guide. If you can go to sleep at night and put your head on the pillow without giving it a second thought, ok. If not, it should tell you something.

Question you should ask if you think it is ok to write about your kids life, ” How would you like it if your kids starting blogging about your life?”
.-= Barry´s last blog ..E-mail, Etiquette, and Friends =-.

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singlemomseeking October 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm

@Barry: Good for you for keeping it positive. I think the dilemma for many moms (myself included) is the fact that our blogs are often the place to vent. It’s where we can feel sad, angry, disappointed…. and actually have a conversation with others who get it.

So, if this conversation happens to include our kids. Then what?

I’d love to hear from others on this.

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won October 21, 2009 at 7:45 am

Last week, there was a particularly funny exchange between my 12 year old son and I about a Playboy magazine, amongst other things.

It would have made great fodder but given the sensitivity of that subject, even though it was discussed in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, it was off limits.

I don’t know about a lot of it. But as it relates to areas of sexuality my personal threshold strongly indicates it’s off limits.
.-= won´s last blog ..Control’s Illusion =-.

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singlemomseeking October 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm

@Won: Great to see you here! Yes, good for you for knowing exactly which issues you won’t discuss on your blog. Maybe I need to come up with a list?

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April October 21, 2009 at 8:55 am

It’s funny, I just wrote about this. I asked my oldest daughter, who will be 12 soon, how she felt about me talking about them and X on the internet. She said she thinks it’s a good thing.
Having said that, I talk about it all in terms of how we’re – as a family – dealing with it. There’s a lot about my kids that doesn’t get shared!
.-= April´s last blog ..Sublime Single Parents =-.

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That One Mom October 21, 2009 at 10:39 am

This topic seems to be coming up a lot. I am a new blogger. I blog about my life as a woman and my life as a mom. I do so in a semi-anonymous fashion. I don’t reveal the names of my children or my friends. When I write about my children, I write about how their actions or behaviors affect me. I do not write about them or tell stories about them as people. Both of my kids are amazing and have a profound impact on my life. That is not off limits. Their lives are.
.-= That One Mom´s last blog ..It’s An Award! Honest! =-.

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BigLittleWolf October 21, 2009 at 11:58 am

Respecting the privacy of my (teenage) sons is one of the reasons that I blog anonymously. Most of my friends do not know I have a blog, much less read it. I also shy away from too many details in certain areas, for privacy purposes. I think it’s about respecting boundaries whatever the age of your children (if you have children).

But without some amount of detail, or at least – authenticity of experiences described – there’s no connection with the community with whom you discuss and share.

And as a writer, my kids as well as friends or lovers know that they are fodder for my imagination and my writings – whatever form they may take. They also trust me to be judicious in what I say and how I say it.

Some will recognize themselves in what I write; most will not. If they do – I hope they see that I’ve treated them with tenderness in my writing, as I would in life.

As I’ve said recently in a few of my posts, I purposely say almost nothing about the father of my children. That’s a matter of respecting boundaries as well, should my sons ever read what I write.

Those are personal choices. We each have to decide – as professional writers, professional bloggers, journaling bloggers – or some combination – what fits for us, for those with whom we are creating wonderful and interesting dialogue, and those we love.
.-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Flash fire sex: are you in love with love? =-.

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Jamie October 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I post about the girls to a point. There are many, many personal stories I don’t share if it would embarass them or they wouldn’t want people to know I don’t write about it. I confess I edit a lot of my content because they can and sometimes do read it. I don’t write about anything I wouldn’t talk to them about this means things about their dad I sometimes don’t like and for sure I omit much of the hardness I feel toward their mom. I also don’t use their names ever. I don’t know if I cross any lines, but I don’t feel uncomfortable about it and the girls have never complained.
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..Quarantined =-.

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Lisa October 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I think it’s interesting how many parents (I would say moms, but someone recently showed me how many dads do this to) create their identity around their kids. It happens – we become “Christopher’s Mom”, not Lisa everywhere – daycare, school, playground, the playground… so by blogging about our kids, we’re just continuing to claim that identity. No different that people who blog about careers, hobbies, interests… they do it to make themselves credible in that realm.

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singlemomseeking October 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

What a great point @Lisa!

How true: So many moms (and I’m among them, head held down) have created identities around their kids… So, when your kid begins to create his/her OWN identity, then what?

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MommaSunshine October 21, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I’m not at the point where I’ve had to consider this very much (my girls are 4 and 6). I don’t write about them alot…and most of what I do write is my own perspective and feelings about them and what’s going on in their lives.

If the day comes that I’m asked not to blog personal details about their lives then I will respect that, but as for my feelings, as their mom, about these things, then I’d have to say I’m totally within my rights to write pretty much anything I want. It’s about me, after all. ;)
.-= MommaSunshine´s last blog ..Empty Arms =-.

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Rock and Roll Mama October 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Such a great question, and I suspect with no one answer. My own boundaries would probably not have censored myself very much in that arena, because A. I don’t have a censor and B. I would have had the mis-impression that no one I knew would read it.

But my spouse had some requests around that, especially about using our kid’s images online, and that led me to think about it more concretely- esp. because one of our kids is a teenager, and old enough to say “Don’t blog this.” So my rule is I can write about how my kids impact ME, but I try not to tell stories about them just for the sake of highlighting something funny/cute/obnoxious.harrowing that they’ve done. Although I have occasionally strayed from that rule.
Whew. So that’s the short answer, right? :)
.-= Rock and Roll Mama´s last blog ..My ACL 09 Recap (Or, homesick for a place I don’t live) =-.

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Dating Down Under October 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I don’t personally like to write stories about our own kids. Kids are very touchy and they are always conscious about their image in their own social circle. They are in their growing age and do not want their stories to be going around on internet. What we may find funny or cute, they may find it embarrassing for themselves. Why…didn’t I feel the same when I was very young and some funny incident of mine was told by parents to neighbours, especially when it showed some stupid act of mine! Once I even argued with my mom about discussing “ME” in her friend circle.
.-= Dating Down Under´s last blog ..5 Ultimate Dating Tips for Men =-.

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Erica October 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I do write about my son, but I feel that a lot of my blog focuses more on parenting than things like “would you believe Ben had another potty accident today?” I try to make sure that what I’m writing won’t later embarrass him. Of course, most of the things on the blog are about my inadequacies & making fun of myself. I don’t want Ben reading the blog when he’s all grown up and asking why I portrayed myself as June Cleaver.
.-= Erica´s last blog ..Hear Me Roar =-.

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singlemomseeking October 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Ha, Erica, how true! Our kids-turned-grown ups would see right through any June Cleaver posts, wouldn’t they?

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