Sunday, August 17, 2008
I've been thinking a bit lately about the whole mommy-blogger phenomenon and although I think it's a great thing in many ways, I am beginning to wonder what's going to happen when the children of these mommies (and daddies) grow up to become teenagers.
I know I'm not the only person to wonder about this and I'm sure that a lot of the bloggers themselves have at least a few dark moments of the soul in the early morning hours, pondering what's going to happen when the kids are old enough to actually read and understand that their entire lives have been documented and discussed in forums the whole world can view.
At least I hope they ponder that question.
It's one thing to talk about a baby. Babies are fair game for anyone's discussion, it seems to me. They're all adorable and they're all unbelievably frustrating and they can't talk yet and they all do the same basic things, which is eat, sleep, pee, poop, and learn major life tasks like how to get their fists in their mouth, how to turn over, and how to crawl.
And having had four babies and remembering the incredible isolation of young motherhood, I think that the blog is probably a wonderful outlet and way to connect with others for parents.
BUT, as children get older it seems unfair to me that their parents can use them as constant grist for the blog. I think of the pain and embarrassment a teenager suffers just at the thought of having real, actual parents who sometimes do horrible and torturous things like show potential boy-or-girlfriends baby pictures of them or kiss them in public, and then I think about how these kids will feel when they realize that it's quite possible for anyone, anyone in the world, to go online and read all about their potty-training, not to mention all the stories about the tantrums they threw, the cute things they did and said, and the developmental problems they may have suffered.
You know what?
I don't think it's going to be pretty.
And here's the bottom line for me- if you wouldn't post a blog about certain personal or private things that your boss or your mother or your spouse or your best friend did or said out of concern and consideration for them, what gives you the right to blog about these things when it comes to your kids? Even your little kids?
I can tell that some of the parent bloggers keep this in mind, or at least they seem to try. They do write about their children and tell stories about them but the line of respect doesn't get crossed. Because isn't that what this is really about?
Our children are not just little creatures we've brought into this world for the amusement of ourselves and others. They are actual, real human beings whose lives have been entrusted to us. They are deserving of our time, our energy, our concern, and our respect. Yes, we're the parents and they're the children, but they have lives which are not our lives. And until they're old enough to give their permission about what others may or may not write about them, it seems to me to be unfair and a bit cheap to blithely report on what, if written about a fellow adult, would be a blatant invasion of privacy.
All of us have done things in our childhoods that we would just as soon forget (and in fact, have blessedly forgotten in many instances), but for these children of the parent bloggers, there is nothing they will EVER be able to forget, no matter how much they wish, because it's all going to be right there, forever, in their mom or dad's web site. Including embarrassing pictures.
So here's what I'm saying- if you're writing something about your child that you wouldn't write about your spouse- think again. Believe me, that cute little toddler you have is not going to love you for describing his or her antics in the bathtub to THE ENTIRE WORLD when he or she is fifteen.
Sound ridiculous? Well, so are teenagers. And if you can't remember the humiliation that your own parents could bestow on you with nothing but their presence, let me remind you. And no, you, of course, are nothing like your own parents were. YOU ARE COOL, right? And your kids know it!
But I'll tell you something- what a five-year old or even a ten or eleven-year old thinks is cool is NOT what a fifteen year old thinks is cool.
Don't take my word for it. Just try and remember. Negotiating the teen years with kids is difficult enough. Giving them fodder for everlasting hostility is really not something anyone needs to do.
I think folks should just be respectful of the small people we are (usually) blessed to share our lives with.
And one other thing: When these children grow up and we're in our doddering old age, they're going to be writing about US. In the nursing home. Wearing Depends. Losing our teeth and our minds.
And payback? It's gonna be hell.