Writing about your life is tricky business. The stories you’re telling are true. The people in them are identifiable. And when you write online, you’re writing them in indelible internet ink. It’s something that anyone who writes about her personal life must think about. But when you’re a mother who’s writing about her children, things get a lot more complicated. A mommy blogger is playing two roles at once. In her role as a mother, her work is protecting her children. Her role as a blogger is to write something that people will want to read. What happens when those priorities clash?
Bloggers aren’t the only people faced with this question. Anyone who uses Facebook, twitter, or any other social networking platform has to consider how much information to share about her kids and their lives.
What is a mother’s obligation to her kid’s feelings…current and future? Where do you draw the line?
This is a subject that came up quite a bit during a recent brouhaha over at Being Pregnant. and in general, I find that mommy bloggers talk about this a lot. But everyone has a different view of what’s appropriate. My own threshold is relatively low. At least in theory. I think of myself as a person who tries to keep the details of her family life pretty private. But then when I look back at what I’ve posted over my blogging career, I see that there are some definite leaks in the protective veneer.
The culture of Mommy Blogging feeds on bald honesty. And the industry of blogging feeds on eyeballs, which is to say that if you want to succeed financially as a blogger, mommy or otherwise, you need to write things that will draw a large readership. For better or for worse (I vote worse), the stories people are attracted to are often the most outrageous. This equation puts mom bloggers up against a wall on a daily basis. The stories that are the most appealing to readers are often the most revealing.
On Mom-101, Liz Gumbinner talks about her first ever direct line-crossing challenge. A story that she, the mom/blogger, found adorable, her daughter/fodder found utterly humiliating. Knowing her mom’s line of work, the daughter begged her mom not to out her story on the internet. Liz definitely seems to have pretty clear boundaries about writing about her kids, but she was interested in what this new phase of parenthood meant for her own line in the digital sand. She asked her readers, many of them bloggers themselves, to weigh in:
If you’re a blogger, where do you draw the line when you write about your family? Do you ever ask permission to write about something? Do your kids get a vote?
“Ah…This is something I struggle with. I have kept my blog from my family for the most part. Not because I what I write would offend them, but because they don’t understand the whole idea of blogging and writing about one’s life, etc. I have made it a rule to not write about my husband and the intimate details of our marriage—this isn’t his blog our even our blog; it’s mine and it’s where I write about my feelings, etc. I write about my kids…and will continue to—keeping in mind of course that someday they will read all my words and asking permission as they get older.” – The Dalai Mama
“My children aren’t the focus of My 3 Little Birds, but MY feelings and experiences as a mother are, so it can be tough to stay on the right side of that line.” -Mary Lauren @ My 3 Little Birds
“As a writer, my story is my story. But my kids are old enough to have a say in whether or not their part of the story will be shared.
Remember bloggers: Your kids will be able to read what you wrote online someday. Also, they’ll be able to write about you. Think about that before you hit “Post.””
When it comes to writing about your own kids, what’s off limits…and what’s fair game?
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