Early readers of this blog will remember when I used pseudonyms for the girls. Bridget was known as Boo (my pet name for her) and Abby was Allie (after her then favorite TV character). I was so unsure about this blog world, I wanted to do what I could to protect my children. Then I went “public” to my friends and family with this blog’s existence. People around town (and in her school) began calling Abby by her pseudonym when we were out and about. She was a little confused, and so were they when she gave them an odd look and corrected them.
I came “clean” to the readers, explaining my reasoning and began using the girl’s true names. Abby and David know about the blog, but just that it is a blog. They do not really understand what “blog” is or the change it has generated. The incredible growth in our immediate world and in myself.
Recently some of Abby’s classmates created conflict on Instagram. Abby is not on social media, her IPod is locked down with passwords so she cannot download any app without my inputting the code. I am not on Instagram and had no clue what kind of social media outlet it is. Like any parent I asked my tween. Her reply? “It’s nothing but trouble, mom. A lot of my class got it over February vacation and all it causes is fights.” She went on to tell me, parents (like hers) made Facebook uncool so all the kids use Instagram now.
I explained to her the importance of internet safety. How not to let her friends take her photo with their phones because they could use it on the internet without her knowledge. She didn’t understand. “But Mom, I’m not on Instagram and I don’t want to be!”. I explained (with my limited knowledge) of how social media works, that you do not need to be on it to be on it.
A light bulb went off in this mother’s head. How am I any different than her friends? I share intimate details of her life, post her humorous comments and photos. Both here on this blog and on social media. I rationalize (I’m great at rationalization) that with Facebook it is friends and family who know her and enjoy her. Yet I am conflicted. I am beyond careful with what I share about David, knowing how he feels about social media and the internet (hint: he thinks the internet was invented by Satan and Facebook by Satan’s minions).
Wanting to be fair, I asked Abby what she thought. Proving once again that she is her father’s daughter she told me she would rather I not share anything without permission. Photos, quotes, life events, etc…without her knowledge and approval.
I am going to respect her wishes. It does not apply to old posts (or throw back ones). It will be difficult. I need to write about our life because writing is cathartic for me, but sharing her life isn’t something she is comfortable with and she is allowed to be private. When you are a parent you realize your needs are not nearly as important as their wants.
As much as it sucks for me, since she gives me so much material!
If you do see a future Abby post or photo (here or on Facebook) know that it was shared with permission. Or for example, a post where her comment about me not hurting myself with crochet needles has no implication on her life and therefore is usable under mommy said so.
I know! I’m working on a post about Hunter and I’m feeling funny about it. Yesterday one of the peers in Bear’s class commented on my post about fourteen and I was weirded out. I was with Hunter and it a partially about him, and I sshed the peer. He said he wasn’t talking about Hunter – he was talking about me. What? The peer smirked at me and I realized it had to be about me drinking and smoking at 14. Need to CENSOR ! It’s not only my kids – it’s all the kids in our lives.
There is a reason there is very little about my teens on my blog. They have a right to privacy. As my younger ones get older, I’ll be putting less and less of them. Basically, they are going to take my blog away from me, seeing as how I won’t have anything to write about anymore. 😉
Instagram is loads of fun when used properly. Improperly…drama and even mean. Beware of Snapchat. It’s even worse.
WOW what a great and thought provoking post Kerri. I really never gave it much thought but really glad you have opened my eyes a bit. Tell Abby she is the best!!!
I totally relate to this…you know my boarding school post yesterday? I had big dude read the whole thing and give me permission first. My teens require that before I post anything. And Abby is right about instagram — all the kids are there now, rather than FB. Anyway, I know it’s tough to balance our kids’ needs for privacy and our desire and NEED to write – I’m hoping I get it right!
Jeremiah recently informed me that he doesn’t want his life on public display either! And I have been seriously wrestling with just how much sharing about Bethany is an invasion of her privacy, because she doesn’t really even comprehend that potentially the whole world can read about her and see our videos. It’s a tough issue that’s for sure!
My daughter feels the SAME way about social media… however just yesterday she told me that EVERYONE is on it… and I know it’s hard for her sometimes to be ‘out of the loop’. i reminded her there is nothing she is missing but drama and how dangerous it all is etc.
I’m so proud of how you handled this with Abby! It’s a decision you could never regret, and honoring our kids is MOST important. I share everything I post about with my kids, and will ask them permission before I do. There are some things I only share on my blog, and don’t submit to bigger platforms thinking I am ‘protecting them’- yeah, I’m good at rationalizing too. Sigh…
I am always cautious too, of sharing my own ‘stuff’ that may in fact embarrass my kids if someday they read it, or people they know do. It’s all about dignity, integrity, and our mission in our writing. I love your blog, and find that you reflect those things beautifully!
Hey Kerri! I completely know what you mean — sometimes it’s hard to know just what to share. Good for you for teaching your daughter about safe social media use. I love that she knows where her comfort zone is and you’re a good mom for respecting it.
I struggle with privacy stuff too…I’m a pretty private person by nature — and believe it or not, when I first started my blog, I had it set so that only *I* could read it. (I quickly realized how illogical that was, though!) Most people who read my blog know my actual first name now too, and I’m more comfortable with that now, but — as you know — I still haven’t shared any current photos of myself on my blog, and I don’t think I ever will. And, like you, I try to minimize my discussion of my other family members (especially because my family doesn’t know about my blog, so I feel that it would be especially unfair to write too much about them!).
I do have a Facebook account, although I use it mostly to communicate with friends and family through “private” messaging, and I keep it completely separate from my blog. I also have an Instagram (although I never really used it and I forgot my password! I haven’t made any efforts to try to log back in for about a year and a half) — my friends use it nicely, but I know exactly what Abby means when she says that it’s trouble. I have a couple of cousins who are middle schoolers, and they both use it, and I know that they’ve expressed similar sentiments!
It’s so hard though, because as you said, blogging is such a cathartic process, and I feel as though the more we share, the more we get out of it, in some respects. That being said, I completely stand by your decision to share less about Abby’s life; I think you’re making the right choice. I’m going to miss reading about her — she’s so awesome!!! still thinking about that post you wrote a few weeks back about her helping that little girl — but boundaries are important. 🙂
I have no doubt that the quality of your content will remain the same – and you’ve earned your daughters respect. Well done Kerri!
Right there with you. When I first started writing I used photos and my kids’ first names. Then I got a huge wake up call from a tech savvy friend who said he couldn’t read my blog anymore as “it was too painful.” (Have I shared this here before? If so, sorry.) He said I was sharing Way Too Much. I’ve since cut way back and no longer use their names or photos. As for what I do share, I always pass it by my two kids first if they are involved. Most of the time they give me the thumbs up to share but I think that’s because I’ve learned the things that they are comfortable with for me to share.
I have to say I often cringe when visiting other people’s blogs. They are sharing SO much.
Love how your daughter gets it. Good job, Mom.
SO SO worried about this too. I’ve even thought about starting a whole new blog because I don’t know what’s okay to share and what’s not. I know I’ve talked about it before but it’s true – our words about our kids can come back to bite them and it terrifies me! Glad you wrote about this!!!
I’m with you, Kerri. Hence my kids’ pseudonyms, and their approval on any photos that go up. I may have told you that I have an excellent story about Gwen which I think is completely benign, but she refuses to let me publish. So it sits in my draft folder until she gives me the okay.
Btw, I’m on Instagram only to follow my kids. I cannot handle another social media outlet.
I so feel your inner conflict. I blogged about my 19yo special needs daughter and although I haven’t in several months (just a personal choice about using my time), I still share daily stories about her on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder where that line is. Just a few days ago, someone commented on a Facebook post with something like “Thank her for letting you share her stories.” I’ve never asked her. I don’t think she would understand even the basics let alone the complexities of me sharing her stories. And what about the book I wrote about our special needs story??? She knows I wrote about us, but she never read any of it, although I guess with my help she could have. Hmmmm… That’s a brand new thought. Anyway… Just wanted you to know that this is always a struggle and balance with blogging. How much is helping others by sharing your family’s/child’s stories. How much is helping you/me by simply getting it out. How much is too revealing. I’m not sure where that line is. I’m sure I’ve crossed it, probably many times. But live and learn. I hope you keep sharing (with her permission now). Just love it!
Yes it’s really hard, especially as you gather readers. I’ve stayed reasonably anonymous and always asked permission of my two verbal children before publishing. Sometimes I get around that by writing general posts about topics, without mentioning the kids – but it’s not the same! On nicknames, I actually chose them based on pet names, so my daughter is called Smiley at home, so it doesn’t seem to phase her if someone says “Hello Smiley” in the street. Which has happened 🙂
I shared a lot about my kids on my first blog and I always asked them if it was okay first. I would expect them to do that for me so it’s only fair that I show them the same respect. On Honest Sinner I don’t share as much about them but it’s a possibility. I would always ask them first.