Public vs. Private: Blogging Our Children

I recently read an article in Newsweek about the continuously expanding trend of moms writing publicly about their children. The article noted that Christopher Milne, son of Winnie-the-Pooh creator A. A. Milne, was so disgusted by his life as the original Christopher Robin that by adulthood he was unable to even look at a teddy bear. The article specifically lambasted a mom who recorded in a book for the world to read the failings of her son. In her published tome she complained of his drug abuse among other things, and seemingly felt her need to share was more important than his right to privacy.

I read the article and thought of mine own children, their smiling faces proudly displayed on the pages of my blog. Surely a Wordless Wednesday is harmless compared to publishing a book about your own child’s demons and faults….right?

The line between what is public and what is private is drawn in a different location for every blogger. I have been shocked by bloggers who air their grievances with other bloggers in video diaries that look to be straight out of the MTV Real World confessional. Another blogger I recently stumbled across writes frequently about her custody dispute…complete with real names and photographs of the children involved. Recently I read about the exposed blogger movement and while impressed….decided immediately to stay clothed. You’re all welcome.

So again I ask…what is bloggable? In this case, what can we or should we do to protect the privacy of our children? Some ideas…

1. Avoid showing faces: My friend, Amy, at TeachMama does a wonderful job of taking beautiful and informative pictures while avoiding photographing her children’s faces. She has chosen, however, to use her kids’ real names, which leads me to…

2. Create pseudonyms for your children: I have to say that I wish I had thought of this before I began blogging if only for the entertainment value. Some bloggers refer to their children only as initials while others come up with cute names. Popular blogger Sugar Jones, for example, refers to one of her children as Sugar Cube. Adorable.

3. Use photo editing programs: When I published pictures of my daughter on her first day of school, I realized that the index card on the front of her dress included all of her identifying information in one place: Full name, home phone, address, my cell phone number… Not good. I used the pixelation feature on Picnik to blur that part of the photograph and was able to still use my favorites for a back to school post. You can blur faces of your kids, faces of their friends, and information in the background of your photo that may identify where you live.
4. Don’t publish embarrassing personal stories: While it’s great to share our trials and tribulations as parents – after all, that’s what brought most of us online in the first place – one step you can take to ensure your children’s privacy is to simply choose not to cross certain lines in story-telling. In the case of the mom whose own bad judgement is now forever immortalized in the pages of Newsweek, she simply chose not to draw those lines in the first place…

What techniques do you use to protect your children…and do you believe they are necessary?

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