Parents Saying Too Much!

Should there be tighter laws governing what parents write and publish about their own about children?

“Loose lips sink ships”and loose lips also sink kids.

Yesterday, I read a paid post over at Mamamia, where a mother wrote about her son’s Asperger’s and how she ended up spending $1000 on his birthday party in an attempt to “buy” him some friends. Her son was named and photographed, leaving no doubt about who he was and the duck’s guts of his struggles were exposed, detailed and publicised.

Was that okay?

I don’t think so and I wasn’t the only one:

“As a painfully shy child and now introverted adult, I would have been mortified as a child to find my (well meaning) mother making all my vulnerabilities so public. Children and teenagers can be so cruel and I feel it is quite insensitive of the author to lay all his social awkwardness out in the open.
It may take him a lot longer than most but he will eventually develop his social skills. His mother micromanaging every tiny detail will only make this boy more anxious and paranoid something is “wrong”with him.”

This mother clearly loves her son and would do anything for him but did she have to do this?

I don’t think so and you don’t need to be Einstein to wonder about the consequences both now and down the track. Children aren’t always loving cherubs. Indeed, they can be brutal. Bullying is rife, particularly involving kids with any kind of even perceived difference. While people are all very encouraging of kids with special needs in theory, when it comes to the competitive world of kids’ birthday invites, it gets brutal. Kids don’t even need a diagnosis to be excluded. Not being flavour of the month is enough…no invitations! That can hurt. Depending on your personality and outlook, it can really hurt.

So why draw attention to her son’s troubles? Does EVERYBODY truly need to know?

From me, it’s a resounding: “NO!!! DEFINITELY NOT!!!!”

Indeed, I asked my kids what they thought in the car today and they said: “That’s private!”

Jonathon sunset

If it was only one parent writing uber-personal details about their child, that might excuse it.

However, there’s a plethora of parents doing it. Is it so they can get a paid to write? Have the kudos of being a published writer? Or, to boost traffic to their site?

Or, have the lines between public and private become so blurred that people are forgetting to keep some of themselves and their children back? That is doesn’t all have to be out there? Indeed, much of it shouldn’t be!

Many of these parents, at least in my opinion, go too far.

amelia heart painting

Being a blogger, I’m hardly what you’d call a private person. I routinely post photos of my kids on my blog but nothing too embarrassing. While I might refer to their ups and downs, there’s nothing that personal. Moreover, I don’t use their names and call them “Mister” and “Miss”. Maybe, even this is going too far and I know parents who don’t put their kids’ photos on any form of social media. I haven’t had any haters on my blog and even though it’s all out there for the world to see, the reality is that I don’t get THAT MUCH traffic. My blog is more of a community and it’s almost like having coffee in a cafe, even though I haven’t met these people in person.

However, I don’t believe any parent has the right to disclose private personal information about their child, just in the same way it is illegal to post naked photos of your child (At least, I hope it’s illegal!!). I personally do not see the difference. In one instance, the body is exposed and in the other, it is them…their self. This is just as private.

We teach our children the importance of the Golden Rule and the need to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Yet, these parents flagrantly invade their own child’s privacy seemingly without any consideration …children who have no way of fighting back.

Why are they doing it and why are media outlets buying and publishing these stories? These are children. Precious children who need protecting, sheltering…NOT exploitation!

There are a lot of wonderful bloggers raising awareness of Aspergers, Autism and all sorts of other conditions anonymously without exposing their child in the process. These bloggers often form supportive communities where no money changes hands…just good will!

As a writer working on a memoir, privacy is a serious consideration. I’m very conscious that once you put your stuff out there, you can’t take it back. No amount of money or fame is worth selling your self. Or, even worse, throwing your self away.

What about your child? Are you really happy throwing them to the sharks…especially without their consent?!! What are you going to say to them when they grow up?

I’m sure I’m not the lone voice in the wilderness.

What are your views about these privacy concerns? Do you feel too many parents are exploiting their kids through their writing? I’d love to hear your views.

xx Rowena

37 thoughts on “Parents Saying Too Much!

  1. Robbie Pink

    Great post. I agree with you, sometimes too much is exactly that, too much. (And for a child in those circumstances. . .it makes me wonder if the Mom was trying to build herself up at the kid’s expense.)

  2. jessplainsong

    No names. Even my hubby gets a DH (darling husband) rather than his real name. Always clothed. No nudity, no pictures of my step kids. It’s my life, not theirs, and I don’t have their permission to share their stuff with my friends online. Dunno about those with babies. My kids are adults.

  3. roweeee Post author

    Reading that post really did get me thinking about all of this again. I knew someone who wrote a no holes barred book about his family and I really wondered whether he was going to be spending Christmas alone. Not worth it.

  4. roweeee Post author

    I like your DH for your husband. My husband doesn’t play a huge role in my blog. Certainly, nothing controversial. The dogs could have cause for complaint. I figured their friends won’t be reading it.

  5. camilledefleurville

    I am no parent but I care for my “sisters” – to make it simple – who both “suffer” from Down S. No picture of any of us, no name (they are The Girls and we are The Little Family), no name of the place we live (The Village), and (I hope) very general things about us. Nothing too private. You never know where your blog or the data you give on your FB page or other social media are going and to which use they may be put. Discretion is the word.

  6. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much, Robbie. I was wondering much the same as you. I just can’t understand why you would put that out there. I can see her wanting people to feel sorry for them and I can understand that. Needing some compassion but you can do that anonymously without putting it all out there, can’t you!!

  7. roweeee Post author

    It’s interesting because even though you have retained quite a lot of privacy, you blog still feels personal and you’ve been able, I believe, to connect with people who care and offer compassion without having to betray your privacy. Discretion is a very way of putting it. I know when I was younger I wasn’t very discrete but have become more so as I’ve aged…or, indeed, grown up.

  8. merrildsmith

    Totally agree, Rowena. To spend all the money to buy friends for her son was one thing that I think was too much (although I certainly understand the mother felt desperate), but then to publicize that that’s what she did, is just wrong. (In my opinion, obviously. 🙂 ) I don’t use the names of family members or friends on my blog.

  9. camilledefleurville

    I expect there is a question of writing technique. I tried to model the blog upon those more orless fake diaries by middlebrow women writers of the interwar (Mrs Miniver, The Provincial Lady, Henrietta from “Henrietta’s War”, etc.
    Then there is the fact that there is a global geographical knowledge of where we live (France and the département of Dordogne). I have even written blogs showing the area where we live with pictures from Google.
    And we are true characters with the true events we live.
    So, yes, people relate to us. There are comments on the blogs (I blog on wordpress and blogspot – two platforms with very different readers), on FB, and there are private emails with true conversations about feelings people may share. But “The Girls” are very true and real for them, as The House, The Village, etc.
    But the writing is the most important element. And it just comes to me. Nothing artificial about it. 🙂

  10. Minuscule Moments

    Hey Rowena as a parent who deals with a diffability (yes I said a diffiability) on a daily basis I believe its not something I want to write about in great depth because it is our journey and my child may one day decide he does not want the whole world knowing his story. Although bringing awareness in what these children face every day can help some people have a bit more understanding, I do believe it could also be damaging and back fire. Where by the child becomes a victim to bullying. I don’t like putting my kids pictures on my blog because you never know where those pictures could end up. And so I usually have back shots or long distance. I would rather write about the positive moments in my life and agree with your kids its private and I cringe when I read posts like the one you are describing.

  11. roweeee Post author

    I have read some really good posts by Mum’s who parent children on the spectrum or have various things going on but they don’t use their own name and don’t photograph their child. That way they can have the support and encouragement they need and raise awareness without sacrificing privacy. These do a great job and service.
    I had a Dad who was a pretty successful published author and journo in our playgroup and he published a memoir and it was pretty graphic and hit out at his family and perhaps he was trying to be funny but it wasn’t. Much of it concerned their baby as well. It was well written but lacked judgement.
    Hope you have a great weekend. xx Rowena

  12. roweeee Post author

    My Mum, Dad and brother have all made it clear that they’re not to go on my blog. My kids have grown up in front of my lens but my daughter goes through phases where she refuses to be photographed. I have had media releases published in the local paper for the school and they’ve been in a few of those and are very proud of them. Geoff and I are in there by name..and the dogs. They sadly get no say.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    It’s been incredibly hot here this week and only our lounge room is air-conditioned so I’ve moved a table in there today so we can basically camp in here til the end of March and the kids can do their homework here. xx Rowena

  13. TanGental

    My kids are grown and flown and haven’t had any problems though I still ding use their names. I do use pictures of them as kids rather shamelessly but they use worse on FB And snapchat and whatever. My wife though hates – too strong – a large dislike of being mentioned and it only now happens wen I can’t avoid it. And I keel her image to a minimum. I think, until they can determine how they feel about it as adults they shouldn’t be identified but that’s easy for me to say as when I started blogging the youngest was 21!

  14. vanbytheriver

    We all walk that line when it comes to sharing/oversharing our family information. I decided long ago to keep my blog anonymous, and never link it to other social media, where I share more detailed info with family and close friends. 💕

  15. merrildsmith

    We had very cold weather last weekend, and even some snow on the night of my husband’s surprise party, but it’s warmed up a bit. I’ll be happy for spring!

  16. gaiainaction

    I agree, and more over you cannot really buy friends anyway, it cannot be forced can it. Though the mum meant well, I feel for the child, there are probably better ways to encourage friendships for her son, without the publicity and all that. A good write up Rowena, very interesting.

  17. Norah

    Thanks for raising this issue, Rowena, which is at the back, or forefront, of my mind with every post. Unlike vanbytheriver I haven’t maintained anonymity. There are some things that would be easier to share if I had! I’m straight up honest me in all areas.
    In my teaching profession we would publish neither name nor photograph of children and I’m sometimes disappointed that it means I am unable to share some of the work I have done for it would involve identifying children. I do often refer to my daughter by name when mentioning her in a post, but that is because she is a frequent commenter and known to other readers. And she doesn’t mind. She also doesn’t mind that I post photos of her as a child. I certainly wouldn’t do anything to embarrass her. I don’t identify my son or my grandchildren by name and don’t post any photos of my grandchildren at the request of their parents (as much as I would dearly love to – they are extremely cute!) I think we must be respectful in all we do, and this includes the way we treat others on social media. I have just read the post you mention. I’m not sure I feel as strongly about it as you do as it seems this is indicative of what most people are doing on social media, especially the little of Facebook that I look at. I understand the mother’s angst but someone should tell her that real friends can’t be bought. A smaller party with just a few children and a few animals may work better, and help form a bond. It’s difficult to bond with anyone when there is much going on, particularly if you find that type of situation difficult anyway.
    When I started reading your post I thought you were going to focus on introverts, which I thought was interesting as just last night I read an article with suggestions for working with introverted children.
    I hope you’re enjoying the weekend. Thanks for the thoughts to ponder. ox

  18. roweeee Post author

    I would definitely be interested in how to work with more introverted children. My daughter was very shy before she started school and I used to drive around with absolute silence in the car when our son was at daycare or school. She is more outgoing now but it depends on which way the wind is blowing. We are now trying to organise her birthday party and trying to organise a kid’s party without spending a fortune is quite a challenge. Our place isn’t up for a party here and she’s just started at the new school so it’s tricky. Thought we’d invite all the girls. She’s already been to one party so that broke the ice. They went bowling. A great icebreaker until the scores started to divide. She keeps changing her mind but it’s looking like afternoon tea at a cafe.
    Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.
    xx Rowena

  19. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Gaia. It’s my daughter’s birthday this week and it’s really tricky as it’s right at the start of the school year and she just started at a new school. I can understand wanting to wave a magic wand because I think that’s what most parents want to do for their kids’ birthday. They want them to be happy and they want that perfect day and yet the more you stress out and put pressure on it, sadly the more likely it is to go pear shaped. We’ve at least got to find the money for BB8 after putting it off at Christmas. Seems to be a hole in my pocket…!

  20. roweeee Post author

    I haven’t linked my blog to my FB page. I seem to tread the middle ground. I love photography and so not surprising that I share photos of my kids. I have come to know quite a few of the bloggers quite well and we read each other’s posts regularly and so it feels perhaps deceptively safe. I get such lovely people visiting my blog.

  21. gaiainaction

    Yes, I can see your point. I remember when my daughter was young and we were very hard up for money. I took her to the next little town via car lift, and we had an ice cream between two stops, it was a lovely warm day and we both enjoyed it. It is differently celebrated though in different countries or culture 🙂 Happy Birthday to her.

  22. roweeee Post author

    As much as I don’t like to see the end of Summer, I’m looking forward to Autumn too. Pleased to hear it’s warming up a bit for you xx Ro

  23. roweeee Post author

    We watched a documentary about facebook the other night, which was pretty interesting and yes, they share much worse. I was also trying to fit this into that post but couldn’t but my daughter has uploaded video of me to her vlog without my consent and on one of them the house was quite a mess and I wasn’t happy but also appreciated that what goes round, comes around, even if it was in a different and what I feel more intrusive format. My son often plays live games with his mates and as much as I can hear everything they’re saying to each other, they can overhear us too, which I don’t like. It’s a new world!

  24. Norah

    Here is a link to the article and book I mentioned. http://goo.gl/ApMywL Just as well I pinned it so I could find it again.! I assume you’ll make no attempt to “buy” friends for Miss. I’m sure she’ll have not trouble making some. The book club is a great place to start. I like the sound of afternoon tea in a cafe. I don’t know if you have Shingle Inns down there, but I know they have children’s high teas up here. Afternoon tea with a bookish theme might be nice – Alice’s tea party. But something simple. Not everyone likes to go to the bother of dressing in costume. I’m sure you’ll all have fun, whatever you decide. I look forward to reading about it. Enjoy. 🙂

  25. Pingback: Boarding the Coffee Express. | beyondtheflow

  26. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Norah. It’s funny you should mention the Shingle Inn. Do you know the original in Brisbane? I’m pretty sure it was in Queen Street. I used to go there with my Mum and grandmother back in the 80s and we’d meet up with Mum’s aunt who was rather posh. They have silver tea pots and I’m pretty sure Mum had open crab sandwiches. It was very classy and upmarket. I spotted a Shingle Inn in Sydney and it was very different and obviously part of a chain. Not the same!
    We have done the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party thing. I collect vintage china tea cups…inspired by both my grandmothers. We had these little tea cups I think they were made out of a marshmallow with a freckle stuck on top and half a pink lifesaver as the handle and a round iced biscuit as the saucer. They looked great!
    I am seriously disorganised for this birthday. Got to get things moving! xx Rowena

  27. Norah

    The original Shingle Inn was in Edward Street, just around the corner from the Queen Street Mall, though it wasn’t a mall when it opened. I used to go there with my Mum, who used to go there as a young woman with hers. Mum’s favourite item on the menu were the waffles. Sometimes I would buy her a Single Inn fruit cake as a special gift. When there were a lot of changes in the city the original Shingle Inn closed. We were all very sad even though a lot of little Shingle Inn franchises sprang up in the suburbs. However they weren’t the same. Just before Mum’s 90th birthday a replica Shingle Inn, using all the furnishings and made to look just like the original, opened in City Hall. We took mum there for high tea to celebrate – two daughters and two granddaughters. It was a very special occasion and a memory I treasure.
    I love the sound of your Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, especially the marshmallow tea cups!
    I’m sure you’ll come up with something wonderful to celebrate. How soon is the special day?

  28. roweeee Post author

    It was today. She ended up home sick and I was a bit unwell too and slept in. Her brother was also home sick and was grumpy. He had to write a poem for school and while I was quite impressed with what he came up with, I also wanted him to work on it and take it further to include elements like simile and metaphors. I was told I was taking over and he gave me quite an earful but we got there in the end. I am particularly trying to teach him strategies and techniques for doing his work.
    So this all detracted from the birthday, which is typical of family birthdays. There’s usually at least one unhappy camper. We ended up having dinner at MCdonalds. My daughter doesn’t do well eating cake and so we bought a trusty Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian and decorated it with strawberries. It’s been way too hot to cook and tomorrow we’re looking at 38 degrees. That does nothing for my productivity! xx Rowena

  29. Norah

    I’m sorry to hear that you were all out of sorts for the birthday. The heat certainly doesn’t help. I’m looking forward to the arrival of cooler days. I hope you are all recovered and enjoying yourselves again. Take care. xx

  30. roweeee Post author

    The bug has moved on to bother someone else. The heat is supposed to settle down tomorrow. It has been so hot today. The dog parked himself in front of a fan we had on to re-direct the air-con into the bedrooms. Our version of the dog by the fire side. Hope you are having a great week. BTW I reblogged a post I found where a teacher got her grade one kids to do portraits of famous artists from photos and she included the results which were really impressive. I also posted a poem about my son. He turns twelve in just over a week and I’ve been helping him with his poetry writing home work. I was much more at home here than helping Miss with her maths. We both ended up getting a lesson from my husband! xx Rowena

  31. Norah

    I’ll be sure to check out those posts. Life gets busy, time get short, but I did see the email about grade one come in. It’s late now – maybe tomorrow. 🙂
    The weekend is almost here. Enjoy! xx

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