By now, you may have come across the story about the mommy blogger who refuses to stop writing about motherhood. Her original article, published in the Washington Post, basically stated that she can’t stop, because mommy blogging is her livelihood. It’s what pays the bills. But here’s the thing about posting about your kids online. Eventually, they grow up and find that stuff. And so will their peers. And future employers.
A Generational Gap
The story of mommy blogger Christie Tate isn’t unique. It has, however, become an increasingly prominent issue as the children of these mom and dad bloggers grow up. The oldest of these kids are in their tweens and teens by now, and it won’t be long before they start applying for colleges and jobs and internships. And what will their future employers find when they Google their name? That story you shared about their potty training catastrophe. Not good.
Ruth Graham of Slate says that this story represents a generational gap. But my thinking, and something that Graham explores in her piece too, is that Christie Tate just doesn’t know her boundaries. Nor does she respect the boundaries of others. She “needs” to tell these stories, using real names and physical descriptions. She did the same with her therapy group and she has done the same with her children.
And then there’s that mommy blogger who shamed her six-year-old son for not getting enough likes on Instagram. But that’s another discussion for another day.
Inextricably Linked to My Livelihood
It’s true. In the world of writing, they say you should write what you know. Beyond the Rhetoric is a good example of that, seeing how the content has changed over the years. In the early days, I talked more about movies and video games, but these days, parenting and mental health issues (plus food) take a more prominent role. I’m talking about my life as it happens. Tate says that she’s not done exploring her stories of motherhood, she can’t stop now.
The very fact that she is sharing this story about her daughter begging her to stop is indicative of her attitude toward this touchy subject. Even before my daughter was born, I struggled with the notion of exploiting our children on the Internet. Maybe “exploiting” is too harsh a term, but it’s not really that far off.
Even if you never earn a single dime from posting about your kids online, we all know that cute children are great at attracting “likes” and positive comments. Combine cute kids with cute baby animals and some picture-perfect food, and you’ve got the perfect formula for Instagram superstardom. Right? But at what cost?
Set Some Ground Rules
Just as with so many other aspects of my blogging adventure, my life as a dad blogger needs to follow certain rules, boundaries and limitations. This is uncharted territory, to be sure, which is why I think it’s doubly important to be extra vigilant. The Internet is forever. Once you post that embarrassing potty training picture, you’ll never be able to take it back.
For all you mommy bloggers, dad bloggers, and social media enthusiasts with children out there, consider some ground rules.
- Do not post about other kids unless it’s generalized. I wrote about the other parents at preschool, for example, but I avoided using any personally identifiable information.
- Never post pictures of other kids. This goes hand-in-hand with the former rule. The exception is when you’re at a larger public event, I’d say, and something like that can’t really be avoided.
- Do not share intimate details. Spare the gory details, especially as it pertains to potentially embarrassing stories about potty training and the like. You might think it’s cute at the time. Your kids won’t when they’re applying for college.
- If you wouldn’t post it about yourself, don’t post it about them. Would you want someone else sharing an identical tale about you on the Internet without your permission?
- Request consent and permission when they’re older. My daughter is still too young to understand this concept or the ramifications of posting something on the Internet. When they get to a certain age, though, you have to ask for their permission, just as you would an adult.
Is there anything else you’d add to this list? What’s your level of comfort when it comes to posting about your kids online? Do you share real names at all? Do you avoid posting pictures of your children at all?