Culture & Entertainment

Keeping Kids' Details Private

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Keeping Kids' Details Private

In today's world of social media, it's hard to keep very much private, especially if you're a celebrity. The fact that singer Adele has decided not to reveal her son's name and how that has made headlines, speaks to that. For us regular folk, who don't necessarily have millions wondering what our child's name is or whether they are eating/sleeping/walking/pooping/picking their nose, etc., how much is too much to share? A fairly new genre of writing, coined "parental overshare," has come under scrutiny recently, in an article published by The Atlantic. Author Phoebe Maltz Bovy discusses the ethical implications of parents writing about their kids, and how it can lead to future problems with a child's reputation, but also, plain old humiliation. Parents can be embarrassing enough to their children without outing them on all sorts of fronts for the whole world to read about. This article gave me great pause. As a writer, I've shared many personal experiences because I prefer experiential writing. I like to share things I did, how it made me feel, and my thoughts about it afterward. As an adult, that's all well and fine. My husband has uttered with exasperation, "Will you please stop writing about me?" But I tell him, "You married a writer. Comes with the territory." I do consider his feelings, of course, and I never include really intimate or embarrassing details (unless the story is about the embarrassment itself, in which case, I get his consent). Ultimately, I know he understands what I'm doing and that it's how I earn my livelihood. But when it comes to my toddler daughter, I've written about her, obviously without getting her consent. Thing is, her story is also my story. When I write about her, it is in relation to me and what I'm feeling, doing etc. Having said that, I hadn't considered possible future implications of such writing. What if as she gets older, she has a bed-wetting experience that I relay as part of a story about how to deal with bed wetting to help other parents? Is that a violation of her privacy? Having read Bovy's article, I would say yes, even though I have good intentions. Sure, I haven't written about any serious personal issues like weight loss or mental illness, but maybe my daughter won't appreciate my blogs about our teeth-brushing battles or her picky eating habits. You'd be amazed what comes up with Google, and maybe she won't want prospective future employers knowing such details about her early hygiene and eating regimens. That said, I'm not going to stop writing about my family. They're my life and I write about my life. And, let's be real. There's way too much good fodder here to educate and entertain the masses. Plus it is still "my" story as well. But I will be much more mindful and vigilant about what I choose to reveal and possible ramifications it could have now and in the future. I'll be careful that the only soul I bare is my own. More important than being a writer, I'm a parent. That means it's my job to respect and protect my child's privacy. End of story.
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Culture & Entertainment

Keeping Kids' Details Private

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