Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Not My Story To Tell


The other week I received an email from a blog reader about something they've noticed on this blog. This wasn't the first time I've received a message like this- they've become more frequent over the past couple of years or so- and when I opened this one up and read it, it made me take pause. The email asked me what had changed, why I no longer really shared a lot about the boys on my blog or on Instagram. I had received a similar direct message the other week when I posted a photo of toothless Henry with his swimming band- a long time reader reached out and said how nice it was to see his face, and to get a mini-update, and that it had been so long since I'd done so. Both messages are not uncommon for me to get, especially as of late, and I wanted to chat about it here today.

Sharing about the boys has been a much-discussed topic here. I've always viewed it as a fine line, and something I struggle with often. How much is too much? My boys are 3.5 and 6 now, and as time goes on I have pulled back more and more to the point where only talk about things that are going on with them here and there. I'm still taking the photos of course, but rather than sharing every little bit in a public forum, I'm keeping them for us, printing them out in albums, enjoying all of these moments together without sharing them online. That's not to say that I've taken some new stance against social media- but always a re-evaluator, I'm at a point now where I'm taking another fresh look at all of this.

Most of all, I believe their stories are not mine to tell.

I think back to my blog in the earlier days and how much content I shared about Henry- I don't regret it, but there are times where I think that if I could go back, I would have been even more careful about what I put out there. My number one job is to protect my children, and I often wonder if I did the right thing back then. If we were discussing this over lunch, in the same breath I would probably then mention how much I enjoy writing and telling our story, my story- connecting with people and sharing. But then I would also add that my desire for connection will never ever outweigh any sort of need to protect my children and their own personal stories.

As much as I love blogging and social media, it is not my kids' jobs to bring smiles to faces through my posts, make a stranger's day on Instagram with a cute anecdote or photo, or connect with anyone else. Kind of a weird thing to type out, but wouldn't you agree with that? I haven't always done this correctly with plenty of missteps along the way, but as both they and I grow, I'm learning more and more what works for us. I do believe there is a way to integrate your family into your blog and social media properly, but it takes a lot of thought and mindfulness. For instance, I know I will want to share about Olive's birth, our nursing experience (whatever it may be), and related topics. But I think the key is making it me-centric, rather than focusing on the child. And as they get older, doing the same- this is my story, so sharing my thoughts and experiences from my protective lens. The boys are pieces of everything of course, but mindfully gauging the level of inclusion is so important. As a writer or blogger this is a tricky space to navigate when you value telling your own story- your children are obviously huge parts of that- but I do believe it can be done while respecting your children's privacy.

So here are the questions I ask myself before I post anything about the boys:

Why am I posting this?
Would they mind today if I shared this with the world? Would they mind in 10, 20 years?
Would I want this, shared about me, today?
How would I feel looking back at this post about a child me, today? Or looking back on it as a teenager?

And I proceed.

So I ask you- what are your thoughts? Do you ever think to yourself as you read blogs- wow, this is a LOT about their kids? Or do you enjoy reading the details? In your own social sharing, do you choose to post about your children? How do you decide what to share?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

xo

20 comments:

  1. Danielle, I think your blog has a good mix of content. Personally, I started reading when you didn't have children so it was about you. I find it refreshing that you have kept it centered around you with your family (parents & sister included) as you choose.

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  2. We don't have children, but I've thought about this a lot lately. Our friends have started to have kids, & as that happens more & more, I've started to question whether I want to share my own children's lives online. I don't think there's a simple answer, but I've come to the conclusion that I feel mostly the same way as you do. It's not my story to tell. I recently created a private IG account since I still love to take photos, & would like to share with close friends & family without it quite being out there. I think your questions are a good way to go about it though. I love to blog, take photos, & share my life, but I want to make sure that I still respect their privacy, especially when they don't necessarily have the ability to say how they feel about it.

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  3. I loved reading this! We chatted a little bit about this topic when I last saw you and I admire your strength to write and talk about it. I 100% agree that our children's story is not ours to tell, and it's our choice to share what we want at our discretion. Although seeing their sweet faces light up our IG is so uplifting, I completely understand where you're coming from. I don't share much of my older kids because I respect their privacy, and I try not to share too much of Hudson, but it's so hard not to! Thanks for sharing girl! ❤️❤️❤️

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  4. I think you're absolutely doing the right thing. I am thankful daily that I didn't grow up in an age when my childhood was shared on the Internet (and I don't share much of my life on the Internet now - I don't blog anymore, I rarely post on Facebook, my Instagram is a whole lot of landscapes, books, and craft projects, and no stories. I think your boys are super cute and I love hearing about their lives, but I also get their right to privacy.

    I don't have kids and don't plan to have kids, but if I change my mind, there will be a high level of privacy. I know two people who have had babies in the past year who didn't even share their pregnancies on Facebook (one of them is someone I consider a close friend and she didn't even tell me privately, but that's a whole other set of issues). I certainly hope you'll share a photo or two of Olive, but I think we'll also understand if you choose not to.

    I do think people overshare their kids' lives. There are so many creepsters out there, especially now-a-days.

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  5. 100% agree. Your blog is a place where women can go for relatable topics regarding being a mom being a woman and being a friend . Keeping your intimate day-to-day interactions for you and your family is better....not for other readers to have a peek inside and criticize or judge on what you might be doing orcto compare. That said I do agree it's a fine line and it's a line that you are handling with a lot of grace. Xoxo B

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  6. Yes, I'm with you on this. I share more about Matilda (I think) than you do about the boys, but I'm conscious of not posting anything I think might embarrass her in years to come and I'm aware that I'm telling less and less stories about her because less and less of them feel like mine to share. I wasn't worried when she was a baby because baby stuff is so universal - they all don't sleep; they all need some sort of feeding; they're all cute and sometimes noisy - but the more she develops her own personality, the less I feel it's appropriate to write about the specifics.

    All that said, I'm looking forward to hearing about Olive!

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  7. Hello!

    I've been reading here since Henry was a little peanut and Charlie wasn't around yet. I do find I miss the picture updates of the kiddos and what they are up to, but I realize that it's ultimately your business and decision of when and what to share. I think, for me, as someone about to enter marriage and with kids on the brain, I really enjoy reading the blogs/following the instagrams of people I've come to love from afar over all these years and sort of learn from their marriage and parenting experiences. I have no siblings, so I don't really have an example to go off of. No babies that I grew up around or siblings who have sage advice on marriage or childrearing. So, as silly as it sounds, I sort of look to your blog and others as that fill in for a sibling. I take the stories to heart and think, "Ok, so this is something to think about, this is something that I may have to deal with, how would I deal with it, what would I do."--that type of stuff.

    And yet, I do find that when I stumble upon some blogs I'm often shocked at how much information is shared about the owners children. I find I pause and think, "I hope this is ok, I hope it's safe." Because I know some people are kind of awful on the internet; they're judgmental and quick to provide unwarranted opinions. But not only that, there's the creepy accounts who steal photos and post them as if the photos are their own (I think that happened to you awhile back? Unless I'm thinking of someone else--but someone posting pictures and basically being a catfish). That stuff is creepy and it's completely understandable to me that parents are like, hold up, I don't want to share as much of my children anymore.

    Despite not having children yet, and hell not even having a popular instagram, I still consider how much of my children I'll share. I know I've definitely begun to be more conscious of what I share and how much. I'm more protective of it all and what I'm releasing to the public. So I completely see where some people come from in wanting to step back and not show as much, but I also do really enjoy those who share details because I like to take what lessons I can get from the information shared. :)

    Teel deer: you do you, I support you either way, but know that I really enjoy your posts and tuck them away in my mind to consider when I have kids in the future!

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  8. This is the reason I ultimately stopped blogging. I tried to be more "me-centric" and spent some time just focusing on writing about my personal goals and my never-ending quest for betterment - and this too, included my family. With slowly "pulling back" more and more, I began to discover a new joy in reveling in our story PRIVATELY. I do still share with friends and family (on completely private social media sites) and I just feel like these special moments my family shares are even MORE special now that they are exclusively shared with the people who really know and care for us. I know that sounds kind of weird, but it's something I unexpectedly experienced when I stopped blogging. As you say, it's tough when your blog centers around your life and your life centers around your family, and I think we worry more about privacy as our kids get older.

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  9. I'm not a mom but I think that any time you're going back and forth on a subject, erring on the side of safety is the right way to go. At least when you're holding someone else's stories in your hands.
    Good for you.
    I love this blog because I love your voice and the way you tell story. Thanks for keeping that up.

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  10. I am glad you posted about this! I have been struggling with it a bit myself (with little H). Due to him being so new and me being SO obsessed with him, I want to share the millions of photos I have taken of him. I want to share, but I find myself asking; am I pushing the envelope on "sharing too much"? Do I want others seeing him so much? Part of me wants to keep him safe and for my eyes only. With these concerns, I decided to pump the breaks and do more "detail" type photos. Concentrating more on me and not him (as you mentioned). I agree with all you are saying in this post. You are such an amazing momma. Your boys are lucky to have you.

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  11. I think I come from a strange place on this because we are struggling with infertility, so parenting blogs are bittersweet for me. I love reading blogs like yours because I'm inspired by your parenting and I think your children are adorable. I respect this decision because it's your perspective I'm here for, but at the same time I love seeing your boys grow as I've read here since the beginning. Does that make sense? Love to you (I love the questions you ask yourself!).

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  12. We don't have children but this is something my husband and I have spoken about frequently. We have had two miscarriages and struggled to conceive a healthy pregnancy which is a journey I have shared a lot about on my blog. My readers know about our struggle and I know they will celebrate with me if we do have a child but my husband and I have often wondered where the line is. Even now we wonder sometimes if we've shared too much. If we have to pursue fertility treatments, is our medical journey to conceive something our child is going to want online for everyone to know as he/she grows up? It's a hard thing to answer. I'm not a mother, but I feel your struggle.

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  13. I feel exactly the same! I start blogging nearly five years ago about my first boy and as the years have gone on I've naturally started stepping back from him, then my twins. There wasn't a point when I made a proper decisicion to stop writing about them as much it just started happening. I think when my eldest started school I really cut back with him and now the twins are three I've done the same. I do know I would never have had the confidence to start a blog just talking about me, almost like I hid behind being a parent before I felt ready to really put myself out there! It's such a personal choice isn't it? I have friends who don't share any photos of their children online and I don't think I could ever do that but I understand why they do. Personally I like the way your blog has evolved, I like to read a mix of things from other parents. It's nice to get to know the woman behind the mum!

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  14. I've been reading since before you had your little guys. I'm not a mom, and while I enjoy reading blogs that give updates on their kids, I totally understand and respect those who choose to keep stories and sometimes even their children's real names private. I think it's easy for readers to forget that bloggers are real people with real families. I can only speak for myself: I appreciate the glimpse into the lives of those whose blogs I choose to read, BUT those bloggers don't owe me anything. If they decide that it's best for their family to keep stories off their blog, that should be respected.

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  15. Yes yes yes. I think it's a fine line and we all have to land where we're the most comfortable with, because you're the only one who knows what's best for your kids!

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  16. From the get go, I've always felt over-protective about sharing my kids (especially their photos) on the internet. I've had several blogs and followed bloggers over the last decade and yes I think some bloggers overshare.

    My test is this: how would I feel if a random stranger walked up to my child in public and started talking to them in a familiar way based on the fact that they follow my blog? I would hate it.

    I'm a newer follower of your blog and I think you have a fair balance. You'll find that it's easy to share a lot about babies but as the kids grow older, the stories become theirs and you'll want to give them that privacy

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  17. In the past, I've always tended to overshare where my kids are concerned. But recently, I've had to make my blog private because of issues with our extended family. I post things on Facebook, but usually delete them after a few days or so. Instagram is where I STILL tend to overshare, but I'm pretty content with their privacy. Only people who know me are allowed to follow me. I don't accept friend requests from random strangers. I have an IG account for our dog - YES I'M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!!! :) It's a public account, and I rarely post any pictures of my kids on that because IT'S FOR THE DOG! lol

    My younger kids are 10 and 8, but my oldest is 22. He went through a phase where he didn't allow me to post ANYTHING about him. I respected that and he was thankful. However, now that he's older, he's thankful for all the photos I took and posted, and actually wishes I had posted more. It's a weird thing...

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  18. Pausing and reflecting on intentions is so important- especially when it comes to kids. I think it's wonderful that you have a blog and share so much of your life with us. It can be a catalyst for change or simply feel like solidarity. But I do believe it's wise to limit and have a line between the digital world and real life. You balance this beautifully in my opinion and if it's ok, I'd like to use your checklist:
    "Why am I posting this?
    Would they mind today if I shared this with the world? Would they mind in 10, 20 years?
    Would I want this, shared about me, today?
    How would I feel looking back at this post about a child me, today? Or looking back on it as a teenager?"
    It's simple, thoughtful and a great way to check in with intention.

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  19. When I first started blogging, I over shared on basically every platform. I was young, everything was new, and I wanted to talk about it. But there was an instance a few years ago when a stranger started tagging themselves in pictures that ONLY had my daughter in them. So he was quickly blocked, and from that moment pictures of my daughter that were to be shared over on FB were (are still) only for a selected few to view.

    That whole ordeal caused me to re-evaluate my daughters privacy, and safety. On my blog, as well as on Instagram I'll share some photographs, but I don't tag locations, or show her face in them. A lot of the subject matter that I write about now mainly deals with me. And even though my daughter is a huge part of my life I definitely hold back more. This is why I completely agree with your opinion on this subject.

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  20. Completely understand this decision. I dabbled a little bit in blogging, until finally just staying focused on photography (travel, mainly). I'm a very private person, so why shouldn't it be the same for my son as I am about myself? Feel good in your decision not to post too many details about your children. For me, personally, I tend to follow blogs to gain an insight into different places, cultures etc. As for your blog, I love your posts about fitness & health - from your exercise routines to your hiking adventures (very inspiring)- and of course, your travels.

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