Monday, January 3, 2011


I posted on Saturday about some exploits of Elli's over the holiday break.  I got an interesting response that I think warrants its own post, namely:

You need to be careful not to invade Elli's privacy on such a public forum and I think this comes close. Bev

This reminds me of a lot of internal wrestling I did with myself over the year and a bit I have been blogging when the subject of my personal life came up.  I would feel comfortable putting nearly anything about myself up on the web as part of my blog but I need to keep the desires of my family in mind when deciding what is ok to publish and what is not.  For example, I would be comfortable discussing my sex life on the blog but I know that doing so would not sit well with Wendy and a good chunk of my audience would find it strange, unacceptable or inappropriate so I have kept that sort of thing out of the blog for the most part.  It is regularly a struggle for me to figure out where the line should be drawn as I know that if I keep everything personal out of the blog I get very little out of it but if I put too much out there other people don't like it.  I can usually guess which parts of the blog might offend an adult and try to work around that but that benchmark doesn't work at all with Elli - she doesn't understand the information I am giving away nor its potential ramifications.

I am conflicted in a lot of ways.  For example, parents chat with each other all the time about the crazy things their children do and they often have these talks in public.  It isn't seen as inappropriate to talk about the antics of a four year old where others might overhear but whether or not typing and talking are equivalent in this case is not entirely clear.  The things I say aren't going to impact Elli's career since her name isn't actually on the blog at all and anyone who doesn't already know me personally is going to have a hell of a time linking Elli at age 20+ with the blog posts made by me 15 years prior, if they even exist at that point.  They aren't going to impact her socially since none of her friends can read or understand them, and in the future we again have the problem of actually identifying her via very old blog posts buried in the nearly infinite haystack that is the internet.  So the problem as I see it revolves not around any practical considerations but only whether or not Elli herself will some day come to resent the posts and the things I have said.

My suspicion is that Elli is going to be embarrassed by these posts (potentially) in the same way I am embarrassed by the naked photos of me cavorting as a child.  That is to say, I was very slightly embarrassed when I was a teenager and now view them as entirely entertaining - I would have no issues with them being published anywhere.  It might not be fair to impose my standards of exposure (in the overall sense, not just the nudity sense!) to her but I have no idea what her standards will be when she grows up so I have just been posting things on the assumption that if I think it is fine and Wendy has no objection it probably isn't a problem.  I would actually be completely fascinated to see blog posts by my parents talking about the things I did as a child because I don't have complete memories of that time; it would be incredibly neat to have a window into the world of the person I was back then.  That isn't going to happen, not least because blogging wasn't exactly a thing back in the early 80s, but also because I don't think my penchant for putting my experiences out there is shared by my parents.

These questions aren't ones that have easy or simple answers.  There is much consideration and weighing but it is so filled with unknowns and uncertainties that conclusive answers are a pipe dream.  So far I think I have made posts that I would be completely unbothered or even greatly entertained by if I were in Elli's place so I figure I haven't gone too far afield.


  1. I think that kids are entitled to the same privacy and respect as adults and it was the here and now that I was thinking of, not so much what Elli will think of this if she reads it years later. Since the beginning of time parents have got together to share parenting problems and stories and I am sure all of us are finding your posts about Elli entertaining. But I am pretty sure that if Wendy had a full blown temper tantrum (not that I think that happens) you wouldn't be telling us the details and I think Elli is due some of that confidence as well. Also you have a thicker skin than most people so you can't really judge Elli's future response by how you would feel. I would love to know Wendy's take on this.
    Bev (not entirely anonymous)

  2. Sorry, Sky. I'm with Bevy on this one. I know that it's hard to be positive when you, as the parent, are on the receiving end of the behaviours, but try to look on the sunny side. As Grandma Winslow used to always say about her grandchildren, of which you are one, "It's only a phase. He/she will get over it." And in the meantime it's best if the whole world does not hear the details.
    Love, Aunt Barb

  3. One blogger I read ( identifies his children by number (child#1 etc) instead of by name to anonymize them a bit.

  4. I'm on the side of no privacy for children. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I don't like the idea of privacy as a good thing in itself. Privacy is a good thing to have access to because it can prevent embarrassment, smooth over otherwise rocky social interactions, let us have some space to ourselves and so on. But we all give up our privacy all the time in order to interact with the world because it just makes sense to do so. For a four-year-old, that kind of decision is always going to be made by their parents. In a practical sense, it is the parent who decides whether normally confidential things like medical records can be shared. But it is also well beyond the scope of a small child's decision making abilities to decide what information about their lives they want to keep to themselves and what they want to share with others. It's one of those things they need adults to show them how to do by setting good examples.

    I don't know if Elli has many secrets or private things yet. If she does, I don't know if she would be sharing them with Sky. If she did, I think that Sky would understand that what was being shared with him was meant by Elli to be private. I think part of respecting her is respecting her for who she is, which, for today, means respecting her as a four-year-old. She will gradually develop her own sense of privacy, but I don't think one needs to be imposed in the mean time.

    We all already know, or ought to know, that tantrums - or whatever other clever protestations a kid comes up with - when you have to go to bed are just childish things that will pass. I would assume every single one of us has thrown a fit at bed time at one point in our lives. I don't think the fact of throwing fits at bedtime when you are very young is very much more private than the fact of eating lunch most days. It would be far more interesting, identifying and private if it weren't true.

  5. I'm entirely on Sky's side here. I read a lot of parenting blogs, and there are definitely things that you don't put on the blog, but the things that are fairly standard...I think those are fair game. Also there's a real distinction between a child (< 10) and a teenager in terms of what you can write about them. Once Elli is a bit older, Sky will have to think more carefully about what should and shouldn't be published here, but for the time being I totally back his decisions. In fact I was really surprised that anyone thought this inappropriate.

    I've also been reading a lot lately about how the idea of privacy, and the importance of privacy is changing from generation to generation, and I think we're seeing an element of that right here. Elli's generation is going to grow up with Facebook & Twitter. Their entire lives are going to be far more transparent than anything we're accustomed to. It is possible that the idea of privacy is going to go straight out the window - after all, you can't be blackmailed by information that's accessible to the entire world.

    There are certainly aspects of Elli's life that we don't discuss here. I suspect this will increase as she gets older, but 4-year-olds are really into I think we're doing ok here.

  6. I have been thinking all along that my feelings about this are age related and Barb siding with me confirms that!! However, 30 or so years ago I was telling a lot fewer tales about my daughter in the coffee room at work than the other mothers were.