Monday, March 21, 2011

The Line

One of my ongoing struggles, when it comes to blogging, is how much to write about my kids.

Even when they were small I never wrote anything I wasn't prepared for them to read, some day.   I'm careful about what I say and how I say it; I'm not going to put anything here that I'm not willing to talk to them about directly when the time is right.   Someday, I hope, some of my posts could provide a platform for discussions about the tougher stuff, as well as some laughs over those moments that otherwise would have drifted  into oblivion, forgotten in the hustle bustle of daily life.

Recently I blogged about Greta's anxiety, our recognition that we needed to get help for her, and for us.   The decision to put that out there on the internet was a tough one; I spoke to my husband about it at length, and I called a good blogging friend of mine to find out what she thought, too.    It's one thing to put my own thoughts and struggles out there, it's another thing altogether to talk about my kids'.

Acknowledging that she needed help, that we needed help, was a tough thing to digest.   Any time your kid is struggling with something it's hard not to take it on the chin, underwrite your parenting, flip over all the rocks of your own neuroses and wonder if what is happening to them is somehow your fault.   The temptation to keep it close to the vest was huge, but in my gut I knew this was one of those topics, like recovery, that shouldn't be shame inducing (but somehow often is), is a very common problem and that many people existed out there - even within my real life community - who could help.   I just needed to find them.  

Every time I'm open about something, share honestly about what is going on, my life is enriched with people who understand, who offer words of comfort and advice.    Talking about Greta's anxiety was no exception;  the community I needed to reach found me, and their words of sympathy, advice, wisdom and support are so incredibly helpful.   Thank you to everyone who emailed, called or reached out in some way.     I treasure your input, and all of it helped me feel less alone, less afraid, less fragile.  

Without this blog, I wouldn't have known where to begin; I could have found the right medical community, but what about our support system?  I can't just start calling my friends and asking them, "oh, by the way, does your kid have anxiety?  Any words of wisdom?"   It turned out, though, that some good friends of mine had walked this path before me and had amazing advice and insight.   Without the blog, though, the topic never would have come up.

So we made the decision to share about Greta's anxiety as we embark on this next phase, but I'm not going to keep talking about it here.  We have found help, of all kinds, and feel like we're on a really good path.

All this has got me thinking about where the line is .. when do I stop talking about my kids on this blog?  

At 8 1/2, Greta is getting close to that line, and my days of talking about her here, other than light or funny anecdotes, are likely numbered.   

My kids have an increased awareness of the blog, and now when we snap a picture or share a moment together, one or the other will usually say, "are you going to put this on your blog, Mom?"    Before I share any pictures, I ask them if it is okay.   Usually they say it's okay, but if they aren't comfortable with it, I don't.

It's hard, though, because a lot of what I write about has to do with parenting in general; more than specific stories about one kid or the other, I write about my own journey in parenting - the hard parts, too.       Each and every time I write about the tough stuff I have my kids' well being in the front of my mind.   I always picture them reading my words - when they're old enough - and look for things that could be unnecessarily unkind or hurtful.    I don't want them to read something I have written and think any pain or difficulty I go through is their fault, because it isn't.   But I still want to paint an honest portrait of the trials and triumphs of parenting.

So I don't know where the line is, exactly, but I know it's coming.   Like with so many other things in life, I may not know exactly where it is, but I think I'll know it when I get there.   And with Greta, I'm almost there.

I'd love to hear from other bloggers out there - where is your line?  Do you have one?   What are your thoughts on blogging about parenting, openly and honestly, without crossing into territory that could be hurtful or misconstrued by your children either now or down the road?  

And thank you, again, to everyone who commented or emailed about your own experiences with children and anxiety.  I'm so very grateful for this incredible community.


  1. I've found that my sons are incredibly supportive of my blog, and actually want to be more involved with it. The only time my older son was unhappy was when I likened him to an anthropologist studying a new culture when watching Saved By The Bell. Even then, he conceded that the reason he didn't like it was because I was right. My husband does not read my blog-- his choice and mine-- because I do not like the idea of him being my critic and neither does he. That being said, I always talk about what I am putting up there, and he often wants me to say more about him (and how awesome he is, of course)!
    My younger son wants to be showcased on my blog.
    I've found that the problem I have is less about how they perceive my blog, and their appearances on it, and more about the people tapping into my blog. When I found out that someone I do not enjoy was ripping off pictures of my kids and putting them on their facebook page (and facebook does not allow for any recourse), I flirted with shutting it down. My husband and my older son were vehemently against this. Because of the discussions I had with them, I chose to keep it up and running.

  2. " Like with so many other things in life, I may not know exactly where it is, but I think I'll know it when I get there."
    Love this.
    My line changes with every post... :)

  3. I think the hardest part for me, when writing about my boys, is that even if I have the best of intentions, they may take something I say differently than I meant it...simply "hear" it in a negative way. That's entirely possible, even if I AM really careful. So I write about them specifically less and less. I write about my feelings about motherhood all the time though, which is, at its core, about them. I think the best thing we can do when writing about motherhood is to remember them, to think of them while writing, allowing that love to bubble up and out on to the screen. That's usually what happens, for me anyway...I wrap things up in my love for them and I have to have the faith that they'll read it that way one day.
    Hard stuff. Maybe that's why I'll steer away from "mommy blogging" more and more as the years go by. Maybe. We'll see when we get there :)

  4. My kids were teens when I started blogging. Other than blogging about my youngest son's decision to leave home and move in with his teenage girlfriend, I rarely blog about my kids. My daughter, daughter in law and one of my sons read the blog. I have shown my DH every post about our relationship before I've posted it to get his okay.

  5. I'm still relatively new to the blogging world and my girls are 7 and 5 so their internet use is limited. But plenty of people we know read my blog and I'm sure some of their friends parents do.
    I believe in your stance, I agree that I won't post anything I wouldn't want them to read.
    I personally appreciate your post on Greta's anxiety, we are currently working with a Pediatrician to diagnose our daughter, we're looking at ADHD right now but I think it's all anxiety related and your post has helped firm this opinon.

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  7. I blogged openly and at length about my family's struggle with depression ( I talked about the problems my mother had when I was growing up, about how that affected me and then about the struggles I've had with it as an adult. And I didn't ask my family if it was okay to publish it. I didn't feel I had written anything that was untrue or particularly painful, but it brought up a lot of stuff for my mother - guilt and memories she'd rather leave behind. She got (undertandably?) upset about it. But it opened a dialogue for us and it made her address some issues she wouldn't have otherwise done. And it encouraged someone I know to reach out to me and I was able to talk him into taking medication and getting help.

    So where is the line? I think it's different when you're dealing with adults. I blog very little about my son. Not really on purpose, but I just don't want to expose him too much. And I rarely mention my husband. The issues we have together are much more private to me than what happened over 20 years ago in my childhood home.

    In short, I think each of us has our lines - and we test them - and we find out where they are. Being conscious of the issue is the important part. And being sensitive to others' feelings, of course.

  8. I guess I'm lucky because my older son has made it perfectly clear he does not want me talking about him to anyone, not to mention blogging.

    Thank goodness I didn't make my blog a personal blog in this way, b/c it would be so frustrating to have to give it up.

    I think you hit the nail on the head by including your kids in the process and asking permission. I guess the only thing to consider is informed consent. Like they could say yes now, but when they're older say "but I was nine mom, I didn't know what I was saying yes to"At the same time, how don't we have some rights as mothers to share our experiences that do include our children?

    Ellie,you take such care and come from such a place of respect.I trust your gut ;)