Friday, 29 January 2016

Should I stop blogging about my child?

“Is it true, is Max in a book?” 

When I started blogging in late 2008, I will be honest, my baby’s privacy wasn’t top of my list of concerns.

It wasn’t on my list of concerns.

Not even sure I had a list of concerns.

It would have been a spreadsheet.

Indeed, when writing about my little treasure back then, my only privacy concerns were revealing too much about our location, our daily whereabouts or personal details that would allow easy impersonation at a bank or other financial institution.

My online paranoia of being stalked, burgled, my child stolen or having a huge loan taken out in my name, drowned out any other privacy issues.

I didn’t really consider how my child - my baby - may feel about me sharing details of their life, their upgrades, their challenges, their excrement, even.

Thing is the writing was really helping, helping me at least, in so many different ways.

I found it cathartic to write about my experiences.  Writing stuff down would also force me to think about things from all perspectives, be instantly reflective, and ultimately, to make better decisions as a result.

It also generated some fantastic advice from other parents and bloggers, as well as friendships, at least one that will hopefully last a lifetime.

At times of loneliness and isolation it also made me feel connected to the world.

Then there were the opportunities it brought.  The toys, books, gadgets, car loans, days out, holidays, and ultimately, the commissioning and publication of my book, Parenting with Balls.

“Yes, Max is in a book.”

I wasn’t easily sold on the idea of writing a book.  My publisher was keen on me using the book as a vehicle to transforming myself into some sort of parenting expert, specialising in bereavement.

Publish books giving an added air of authority to someone hawking themselves for magazine or newspaper columns and even for spots on TV couches.

I’ve never really been comfortable or keen on that idea.

And one thing I’m aware of by knowing a few successful – and unsuccessful – parenting gurus is that at the very least you need to be committed and really want it.

I don’t.

And that’s before you even consider if I’d be any good at it, which I wouldn’t.

Anyway, I convinced the publisher to advance me enough to make it a barely financial worthwhile writing gig, and also set parameters for the book that I was happy with.

I went right back to the days immediately before being widowed, and the aftermath, as best as I could recall it.

Despite blogging for years, this wasn’t something I’d tackled.  I’d not found the motivation, or the courage, necessary.

Again I found it painful to revisit losing Max’s mom, but very soul rewarding, to go back in time, and put into words what happened, how I felt and dealt with the perceived chaos and being a dad often surrounded by mums.

Problem is, this book now exists, and folks read it.

The buggers.

I haven’t really picked up the book to read much since its publication; again fear beating courage on that score.

But some of Max’s peers clearly have, or at least their family have.

As I don’t have an eidetic memory, or the will to pick the book up, I’m not sure how much stuff, however intimate, should be of embarrassment to my boy.

And as well as that, I really should trawl this blog to delete any content that could perhaps cause humiliation if shared on a smart phone in the playground now.

“That’s not going on the Internet is it, Dad?”

Max does now ask if I’m going to share photos of him on Instagram or Twitter, and somewhat unconsciously I’ve taken to more often sharing pictures of my toddler nephew, who is obviously less aware of the public nature of picture sharing, instead of those of my son.

My child’s privacy is much more of a conscious concern, and of a very different nature to that I had back in 2008.

Should I stop blogging about my child?

I think it will just be a case of not sharing as much detail as I once did, and actually checking with my boy if I do, perhaps even sharing what I’m writing before hitting publish.

The internet has been very kind to me, and as a phenomena not renown for its generosity, bountiful anonymous love and support, I’m certainly lucky to have made it to this point with that statement still being true.

But I’m sure there are those that have suffered the exact opposite, and perhaps have children older than mine, that take them further down this road we’re on.

So, is this something you’ve also experienced?  Good and bad?

And have you changed, or stopped, writing about your family as a result?