Mother blogger

Debbie Siegel over at She Writes recently put up a column listing her 10 ground rules for writing about her kids.  While I agree with many of them, they've raised some questions for me.  Her very first rule, you might notice, is not to use her children's given names in her public writing, and her second rule is not to post pictures of their faces.

Jelly on toast out at a restaurantWell, dear reader, if you've been here for any length of time, you know quite a bit about Maybelle.  Like, her full name, her birth date, the city in which she lives, the places where her mom and dad work, her mom's license plate number and all her bumper stickers, and how Maybelle looks and sounds while playing the drums.  You've seen and heard her in various contexts over the 26 months she's been alive.  And I'm not sure that's something I want to change.

I certainly agree that there should be limits:  when she's old enough to have a private life, I want to respect that, and I will definitely give her veto power over what I publish about her on the blog or elsewhere.  (Does a two year old have a private life?)  I try to be thoughtful about what I post here or on Flickr--no naked pictures, for instance, despite the absolute adorableness of her little naked self.  And of course she's my child first and not just raw material for my blogging brilliance, and almost everything I post is upbeat and encouraging.  But I find that I don't mind her being public, nor do I worry about it, the way that many other mother writers do.

Is this the kind of Facebook foolishness I find students sometimes engaging in, where they put all kinds of things on their Facebook pages, forgetting that they've friended their professor and that I'm seeing them now in compromising situations?  Am I truly not being careful, or have I made a rational decision?  It feels rational to me, but I welcome reader feedback.


Anonymous said...

Well, I do post pics of my child and write generally about her experiences as well as mine but I don't use specific identifying info, names, dates and such. I use a blog name too. If I communicate with a writer via email a couple of times in a personal way I use my given name.
The reason I do this is because, in my early blogging days I was witness to a "blog War" where people in the group I blogged with became angry and one of them turned out to be fake and stalkerish. It was very messy - I was glad that I was careful so I could just walk away from it. However, it did make me set up a new blog and more carefully associate with certain kinds of bloggers.
That being said, look at Dooce or Finslippy or any of the Big bloggers. They say everything, like journalists, factual in their blogs. They are bona fide celebrities! I don't plan on that but if something should happen in that direction :) I guess I would reconsider!
All that said, phew, it is a personal decision and no judgement in either direction. It is an interesting thing to think about though.

Cindy said...

My husband and I have debated this many times. He wants to give each child a number and nickname when blogging and never put the whereabouts of our residence. I on the other hand think that the only people that read our blog are friends and familiy and it is his pipe dream that he is getting readership that would compromise our children.
I do think you have a much bigger audience than us though. Obviously, I don't know you, have never met you, will probably never meet you but you are right, I do know alot about Maybelle.
I found your blog after reading a story about you and Biffle and your story about your abortion. I am totally and completely 100% against abortion but find you and your family fascinating so I continue to read. I am a harmless, stay at home mom here in California but perhaps other pro-life folks out there (who can be crazy right!) aren't as innocent as me...
What I am saying is, based on your outspokenness on abortion and the crazies out there, I would be more careful if I were you.

Amanda said...

I blog pretty openly about Hugh. I've even posted pictures of his cute naked butt. I realize that compared to most people, I have a slack relationship with privacy. Although I limit my Facebook posts to things I don't mind my boss reading (still gives me a pretty wide range), I just don't think that privacy really relates to safety issues. Sadly, kids are abducted and mistreated everyday. But not as a result of blogs or Facebook. (Although if they are, it will make the front page of CNN because it's just the type of paranoid, guilt-ridden fodder that news thrives on).

Same thing with credit card identity theft. The one time someone stole a credit card number, it was from a legitimate purchase. And the credit card company reimbursed me.

So for now, I happily post away about Hugh's ups and downs, leaving my worries to bigger things like "was that really a missile that launched off the coast of California?" and "when will Kate & Wills pick a wedding date?"

Deborah Siegel said...

Hi Alison! And hi Alison's awesome readers! First let me just say that I feel it's a totally personal decision, how each parent who blogs decides what to reveal about their kids. Full disclosure: I had posted pics (and may do so again, for friends to see) and my husband has posted videos of ours on FB before I wrote that post! So believe me, my first impulse was really to just share. I decided not to post faces or use names after reading the comments from some of the 50 writers who responded to my initial post at She Writes ("Do We Overshare When We Write about Our Kids?"). Some of them said they had and later had regrets -- though I'm not quite sure what or why made them regretful, it felt like enough to set a personal ground rule for myself...for now. It all may change, I am sure! But for now, I'm calling the twins Baby X and Baby Y (one's a girl and one's a boy). I kinda like the whole gender pun of it. And I've decided (again, for now) to post iconic-ish pictures of their "stuff" side by side -- their shoes, toys, clothes -- in lieu of *them* because what I think I'll be writing about a lot is the gender stuff. The personal rule more people had trouble with was the one where I said I'd show my husband what I wrote about our kids before publication (as in, book or media article), so he could help keep my ethics in check and be a second pair of eyes. It's all given me so much fodder for thought and debate, I think I may pitch an article on it! I'm so eager to hear how others make these decisions about what and how to write about their munchkins. Hugs to you, and to Maybelle, whose face I LOVE seeing here.