When I first started blogging about my quest to find biblical wisdom as a parent, David was an infant. From the beginning, I thought about whether my children would have a problem someday with what I was writing. I first drew from my own experiences. My mom does quite a bit of speaking and does share stories about my brother and me. Her stories don’t bother me, and it’s not because my brother got in more trouble than I did when we were kids. First, I know that she cares what I think. If I asked her not to share a particular story, or not to talk about any stories, I know she would honor my request. I know that she would never share anything that would embarrass me. Finally, I realize that sharing stories is a helpful way of teaching. If you learn from the stories she tells, I’m glad for them.
The first rule I made for myself was to measure what I said from the perspective of a teenager. I actually tried to imagine my children as teenagers and reading what I had written about them when they were younger. If there were topics that I thought would embarrass them as teenagers regardless of whether I could do it anonymously, I wouldn’t blog on it. I figured that my imaginary teenager would have more of a problem with identifiable stories of when they were older (closer to the present), far more than infant and preschool stories. In fact, in the last few years, my children have enjoyed reading the old posts from when they were young!
I also imagine my children as parents and how they will look at my blog at that stage of their life. I love to hear how my mom managed some of the parenting challenges I gave her, and how my parents were sometimes naughty, and I realize that with the space of many years, my children and grandchildren may also feel the same way about these stories.
Although I use their real names, I have avoided using their names if I could do it naturally without. And if I could make a post somewhat anonymous, I did. People who know my children at the present moment will know immediately who I’m talking about in a current post, but outside the context of the present, many of my posts become anonymous. Of course, it is easier to be anonymous with my girls “one of my girls” than my son, since I can’t say “one of the boys.” Some mothers use cutesy names to talk about their children. I think this is a great approach. I just could never do it where it didn’t sound fake and awkward in my ear. So I just use their real names. I’ve never been able to find my blog by googling my children.
As they’ve gotten older, I’ve become more careful about what I write, because my imaginary teenager child keeps objecting. I don’t write about sexual discussions/ issues we’ve dealt with, simply because those are difficult to keep anonymous, and are much more likely to be embarrassing in future years. (there may be an appropriate time and way to discuss these, but not in this venue) I also have become much more reluctant to discuss certain salvation topics. I might in the future, but not at the moment when I can’t see the future.
One of the suggestions that my mom made that has been helpful was to involve my children more in getting their permission to write something. Being open with my children about the blog sets the tone for their comfort. They don’t read my blog all the time, but they do know what I blog about. I have occasionally asked them, “May I blog about some of these conversations we’ve had?” When they say yes, I usually follow up and let them read what I’ve written. If they say no, I do not write on it without their permission. My mom pointed out that being blindsided by a friend is the problem “Hey, did you know your mom wrote…..” If my children can say, “Oh, yeah. I give her permission to write it.” they’re a lot less likely to be bothered by something. I don’t ask their permission about every post, but that may change as they get older.
When I do talk about my blog, I explain why I am writing. “Mommy is writing about what God is teaching me about being a godly mommy. I think talking about this situation might encourage other mommies, too.” I also have found that keeping the focus on what I’m learning, instead of sharing the latest howlers from my children, keeps my approach useful for me and others.
Here are my rules, in summary:
- Don’t blog in a way that makes them google-able.
- Keep their identity obscured when possible. (If using cutesy names is an option for you, this is probably a smart approach. I’ve chosen not to do it, but I like parents who can pull it off well.)
- Avoid topics that are likely to embarrass them as teenagers.
- Ask their permission for using stories that might be embarrassing (even if you do use cutesy names)
- Ask for their input on topics that they think would be good to include as posts.
- Let them read your blog, and help them know why you blog.
Tomorrow, I’ll write on an incident and scripture that David thought would be a good post.