Family life

Do your kids know about your blog?

What parents share about their kids online is a hot debate, and Tracy is feeling the heat.

By Tracy Chappell
Do your kids know about your blog?

Photo: spxChrome/iStockphoto

I have a secret: I write a blog. Oh yeah, that’s no secret to you, but it is to my kids.
I never intended for it to be a secret, but I started this blog when I was pregnant with Anna (in September 2005!) and have continued ever since. I’ve mentioned before that my kids aren’t the most technologically advanced (my fault), so they’ve never actually seen my blog. A colleague was talking about her five-year-old vetting the pictures her mom was allowed to post of her on Facebook, and it struck me that my kids don’t know what Facebook is. I guess I just never do my loitering on Facebook or Twitter or blogs when they’re around, so it’s been a non-topic between us.
That changed this weekend. We discovered that a girl Anna became close with on our trip — a far more tech-savvy eight-year-old — has a blog (along with her own email address and a busy Skype schedule). It was cute to see this girl’s commentary, and it made Anna very curious.
“What’s a blog?” she asked. I explained to her that it’s a journal you write online, so other people can read it. Then I added off-handedly (because it felt wrong not to), “I write a blog too. About us.” I clicked over to this site and showed her. She giggled at the pictures of her, but didn’t ask any questions. I felt like I should be saying more, explaining that I’ve been writing about her, and her sister, and our day-to-day life for the world to see for almost eight years. But we left it at that.
Last night, Anna asked if she could go look at her friend’s blog again. Avery asked, “What’s a blog?” So I told her the same thing I told Anna. “So all your friends at work can read it?” she asked. I told her yes — that anyone could read it. Then I asked her what she thought of that. My four-year-old didn’t say anything, but asked to see it. Like Anna, she liked looking at the pictures, then got distracted by something else and that was the end of it.
But it’s not the end of it. It’s really only the beginning of a conversation I probably should have had with my kids before now, but never knew exactly when or how. I know this is something many bloggers struggle with — which stories are mine to share, and which are theirs? My perspective on my blog has always been that what I share here is personal, yes, but not necessarily private. But does the power to differentiate only reside with me?
I love writing this blog and hope that I have always been respectful of my daughters — I take the title to heart, and really do see this as a chronicle our life written primarily for them. There are many, many topics and events in our lives that I’ve chosen not to share here, even though I’ve wanted to (either because I thought they were important parts of our story, or because I would love to learn from your insight). But Sean and I discuss them and sometimes decide that some things are not up for public consumption.
But what say should my kids have? Total? It’s a question weighing heavily on me right now, and one I knew would come as my kids got older. I thought that time would have provided clear answers, but it hasn’t.
Do you have set rules about what you share about your kids online? And if you write a blog, do your kids know about it? How do they feel about it and what say do they have in what you publish about them?

This article was originally published on Mar 18, 2013

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