Do the children of writers have a right to privacy?

This morning on Twitter, the writer Jenny Colgan linked to this story in the Daily Mail.

Supposedly an article on how even young girls suffer from self-doubt and trying to live up to an unreachable beauty ideal, the author tells of finding her six year old daughter’s diary and reading it. She finds to her horror that the diary is full of self-critical observations.

She admits that it is wrong to read her daughter’s diary, completely missing the much larger betrayal of writing about her daughter’s intimate feelings and fears, then publishing it in a nationwide newspaper.

Great way to boost your daughter’s self-esteem – write it up for all her friends to read and laugh at. It is an astonishing betrayal of trust.

It got me thinking about how much writers and bloggers share – and we do often overshare – and how much privacy our families have the right to.

When I include pictures of my children in my blog, I use ones in which they are not instantly recognisable. I have been thinking that some of my earlier blog posts should be deleted – when I started blogging it was only for family and friends so this was not a concern.

Some bloggers use names for their children and husbands. I did when I started blogging but – and don’t take offence at this, it is just my personal feeling – I found it unbearably twee to write about MademoiselleLindt or PetitMonsieur. So I use the impersonal “my son, my daughter, my husband”.

Obviously it depends on the theme of your blog. A typical “mummyblogger” will include more photos of her children and stories of her family life than someone who has a techie blog. I try to put a photo in each post as it makes the blog more attractive, so it can be a challenge finding the right picture to illustrate what I am talking about. If all else fails, there is always google images.

I do wonder though, what becomes of the mummybloggers when their children grow up. Right now they have no objection to the amusing anecdotes that I share on my blog, but I can see that as my daughter moves towards puberty that this will change.

There are very few mothers of teenagers blogging – or have I just not noticed them? Or perhaps when the children are older, the mothers are simply less involved in the details of the childrens’ daily lives, so move on to blogging about other interests.

What do you think? How much sharing is good, where is the border to overshare?


  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    I often think of this. I keep the really personal stories of my children to myself, things that I think would embarrass them are completely off limits but it if it's a funny comment or mixed up word (like today's blog) I think thats fine. I rarely post pictures but I have once posted a short vid with them in it. I agree, its a fine line.


  • Lisa Highton

    Very interesting. I agree totally that children and family members have every right to privacy, and to squander that right on Facebook. However, that's their decision. I have often referred to mine but in an anonymous untwee way. My daughter (22) follows me on Twitter so I'm doubly aware. When they were younger and I mentioned them in articles and books they remained anon. Children of whatever age are fantastic source material for writers, but there are clear boundaries. That said, I reserve the right to take the total mickey out of them, anonymously of course.

  • MmeLindt

    I agree, it is a fine line. Particularly when they do something funny that I would love to share.

    Good point about Facebook – some of the overshare on there is astonishing. Agree that children are great source of inspiration for writers.

  • The Coffee Lady

    I don't use pictures of my children's faces. I think the question is about what your blog is for – mine is most certainly NOT a record of my children's lives. It is my life.

  • MmeLindt

    Good point, TCL. My blog is more about me than my children, my views, my thoughts and my feelings. The children are a part of me, so shape these views and make the aware of different issues, but not the main reason for my blog.

  • The mum of all trades

    I am very careful that any photos I use are quite vauge. Simply because I don't want to embarrass them when they are older. My son (9) has already said 'mum don't put any 'cute' photos of me on your facebook!'

  • Muddling Along

    This (and my own privacy) are one of the reasons I'm a sort of half anonymous blogger -I've been very careful that there are no identifiable pictures of my children and I don't refer to them by name (needless to say I'm not sure Bigger and Littler disguises much but I'm trying…)

    For me its also important to keep my professional life and my personal life separate – I guess I'm the only blogger who is pleased a google search of my name and blog doesn't bring up my blog!

    But yes, I do carefully self edit what I write about my family – my blog is my choice and I don't want to put information out there in a digital footprint which will come back to haunt them

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