The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing About Their Kids

As found on STFU, Parents, a recent article in The Atlantic discusses ethical considerations as it relates to parents writing about their children in mass audiences.

Via this blog, K and I plan to continue referring to our child as Falco (and likely us as C and K) after s/he is born, but may occasionally post photos of her/him and will definitely tell stories. We want to try to strike a balance between telling our story and being available to other gender variant people who want to grow their families, while maintaining as much privacy as we can for our kid.

What do you think about online parental sharing?


7 thoughts on “The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing About Their Kids

  1. Yeah, I’d never share information that could embarrass or harm my child’s reputation, or that isn’t mine to share about my child. When I post pictures, I do so in password-protected posts and only give the password to those I have an online relationship with. I don’t use his real name on my blog (nor do I use mine or DW’s). The only type of info I share about him is just typical baby/toddler stuff, like his stats at doctor’s visits, where he is developmentally, that kind of thing. I’d never share his donor information/pictures, for example, as I feel that’s his to share or not with whomever he sees fit.

    I doubt I’ll still keep a blog when he’s old enough to have stories that could be harmful or hurtful to share, but if I do, I’ll still stick to the more generic stuff and also continue not to have any real names or pictures that anyone I don’t know can access. I also have no ambitions of having some widely read blog – I just like being able to connect with other LGBT families.

  2. Thanks for this. I struggle with these questions all the time. If I don’t share any of the details of life with Tadpole, my blog posts aren’t very interesting or informative. But it can be hard to decide how much to share. I hesitate to share times when he’s being difficult. But it’s inaccurate to portray our life as all sunshine and roses, and I want to be able to get support when I’m struggling with an aspect of parenting. I try to focus on MY struggles more than HIS behavior, but the line can get blurry. I like to share pictures, because I feel like the pictures that I see on others’ blogs makes my experience of reading them so much more rich. But I try not to post ones where our faces can be seen or where we can otherwise be identified.
    It’s a funny thing, but I’m glad to have a blog with a relatively small readership. It feels more like I’m talking to a group of friends (which seems like an acceptable way to deal with the stressors of parenthood) and less like I’m broadcasting stories of his life to the whole world.

  3. I think what might be considered exploitative to one person might not be to someone else, though I do think there are general guidelines about what might be exploitative to a critical mass of people and therefore should probably not be published.

    I try to avoid identifying us to the world but I am cognizant of the fact that anyone close to me can connect the dots easily enough. And as K gets older and her day-to-day becomes even more personal and unique (and less like what you could read if it was written by almost any parent), I will likely blog less, if at all, at least about her specifically.

    I think that, for those who identify as “mommy bloggers,” there is not always a lot of foresight into a not-so-distant future when the child is 13 or 14 (or younger) and friends look him/her up online (or his/her parents or other information) and find a whole treasure trove of things that can be used to humiliate. Adults might look at each other and say “that story is so cute” but I’m not so far from adolescence that I can’t remember how things that today I would not care about being shared with the world would have been mortifying as a 15 year old (bras and periods are two general topics that come to mind!)

  4. With regard to what we say about our kids, I try to write as if the 16-year-old version of my kids is reading. I’m sure I get it wrong sometimes. That said, I do still write about very personal things, mostly about my own thoughts/feelings, but those sometimes involve my kids. If I felt a need to keep the content “generic,” for me, there would be no point, as writing is a huge tool for me to think and work through who we are as a family, how we approach life, what the right path is for me and for us. We steer clear of photos and linking our real names on parenting/personal blogs (though we also keep a bike blog, and that’s got plenty of photos and real names).

  5. I think there’s a distinction between being paid to write about your kids (as a columnist in a publication, as a blogger who has taken on sponsorships, as an author, etc.) and writing about your kids in a way that pays only peace of mind. I don’t think it’s that new or different – comedians are a great example of people being lampooned for making a buck off of their kids publicly. I think what’s important is being able to do it right. Reserving the dangerous stories and pictures for personal conversations and, for more delicate issues, placing the emphasis on the author’s relationship or experience and not on a child’s character. I think about this carefully and frequently and, so far, I’m a better parent for writing and she is not damaged by it. As long as the balance doesn’t shift, I’ll carry on.

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