After my last post, a reader who knows me and my family very well wrote to me with the following questions;
Do you just witness and validate? I think you also do your best to provide him with people, role models, etc that he can draw from. Also, how does the pending visit effect his search for the desired look? And why did you think Marcel would be fine? And how are you waking up to his journey now?
I was moved by her questions, and wanted to return to the blog that instant and answer all of them in depth on a follow up post. But within hours I found myself knee deep in that gnarly bramble in my blogging brain that looks like this: Is what am I doing here potentially harmful to my kids? Is this my story to tell? Am I using their stories to make my own more interesting or dynamic?
I remembered it was after I had read The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing about Their Kids by Phoebe Maltz Bovy in The Atlantic, that I seriously considered taking down the blog. Other bloggers I followed and admired in the adoption blog-o-sphere had come to the conclusion that this is their child’s story to tell if they decide to later on. One by one their blogs disappeared. They had integrity, and I had a link to nowhere on my blog role.
Was I ready to go to that extreme? Unable to decide at that moment, I stepped away, hoping something would convince me to keep blogging, or make it crystal clear that MamaCandtheBoys was headed for the archives too. Before I could answer the reader’s questions in their entirety I had to reconcile where I was today.
So, last night I returned to the article which ends like this:
Where, then, should a parent-writer draw the line? The simplest way is to ask if a given anecdote would be appropriate if its subject were not your child. Would you publish that essay about your colleague or sibling? About a friend’s kid? If you consider the power dynamics between parent and child; the childhood secrets only a parent can know; and the trust children have in their parents, you see why parental overshare, however well-intentioned, is unethical.
Bovy does not believe that children should be asked if the content we want to publish is acceptable, as they are neither developmentally able to make that call, nor should they be put in a position of censoring their parents. So, is there a middle ground? Is it possible to parent-blog with integrity?
Here is where I have landed today, with a set of guidelines for moving forward. This may change. So much does. I welcome your thoughts on the matter.
A List of Intentions for Mama C
- Request their permission to approve of pictures I post before doing so. This will help the boys learn that they should expect and demand permission from others before their image is put on social medial or on a mailer or a poster at school.
- When sharing content that involves their experience, capture it in their words whenever possible, and let them read it over for accuracy. This will help them to feel agency, and to be thoughtful about their words.
- Ask myself if I would say it loud with them there. Ask myself, as Bovy suggests if I would write it about someone else’s child. Ask myself how I would would feel if I read about my child this way in someone else’s blog. If I hesitate to answer yes to any of the above: do not push play. It is a good indication it may not be the time or place to write about it.
- Be able to answer with certainty if I a clear why I writing this particular post. Is it to entertain? To educate? To invite dialogue? Or is it to make me look like a good mom, and my kids look like super evolved, flawless mega-humans which will in turn make me look like a good mom?
- When I turn this blog into a book and publish it would I be willing to keep this part in? If not, why am I willing to publish it here?
Do you struggle with the same concerns as a blogger? Have had you tackled it?
In my next post, I will address the reader’s questions above through these new it’s-not-about-me-or-is-it-guidelines. And yes, Sammy approved the use of the image above.