Writing About Children Shouldn’t Disrespect Their Agency
Most parenting blogs are centred around writing about children and the experience of bringing them up, including personal details. A lot of parents share photographs, anecdotes, achievements and even failures of their kids on the internet, in form of blogs, videos and photographs. A three-year-old could care less if her mommy is sharing embarrassing anecdotes about her on social media, a tenth grader, on the other hand, may hardly approve. So as children grow up and develop agency, do parents lose the right to share stuff about them, without their consent? What do parents do when children say they are not okay with them sharing certain pictures or incidences?
- Christie Tate’s essay on why she cannot stop writing about her motherhood, despite her daughter asking her to, has sparked a big debate.
- Should parents stop sharing essays or photos of children on the internet if they ask them to?
- Or should they go on sharing them, citing ownership on the grounds of being parents?
A lot of parents share photographs, anecdotes, achievements and even failures of their kids on the internet.
Christie Tate’s essay in The Washington Post, on why she cannot stop writing about her motherhood, despite her daughter asking her to, has sparked a fresh debate. Many parents are calling Tate insensitive and self-centred for disrespecting her child’s agency. According to them, there is no middle ground here, and if her child wants her to stop, then she should. Some have even criticised the newspaper for choosing to publish this essay, as it sides with influencers and bloggers who feel entitled to details and photographs of loved ones, without their consent.
In the article, Tate says, that despite knowing that her daughter now doesn’t approve, she cannot promise her that she’ll stop writing about her. “My impulse is to promise her that I’ll never write about her again. In most of the articles, I found on this subject, the writers eventually gave up writing about their children when they reached a certain age. They stopped to protect their children’s privacy, or as Darlena Cunha explained, “to salvage their desire for such privacy so that as they become adults there is something there to preserve at all.” She further adds, “Promising not to write about her anymore would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her.”
What do parents do when children say they are not okay with them sharing certain pictures or incidences?
Blogs on parenting and motherhood are quite popular, globally, and numerous mothers love to share their experience of raising kids on the internet. We have to keep in mind that first or second-generation parenting bloggers have no manual to refer to. They have no idea, as to what to do with your published blogs and essays, once your children grow up. It is uncharted territory. And like all children are different, their reaction to finding out that their parents have digitally chronicled their childhood through their gaze, and shared it with the world, will be both different and uncertain.
And like all children are different, their reaction to finding out that their parents have digitally chronicled their childhood through their gaze, and shared it with the world, will be both different and uncertain.
However, what most bloggers will agree on is that in an era defined by virtual narcissism, it is too easy to get carried away. To put your “artistic” desires and rights before that of your loved ones. So many people share photographs and videos of children on social media, to find their fifteen seconds of fame. No matter if it comes at the cost of embarrassment to their children. In a world, centred around likes and shares, Tate represents parents for whom parenthood means propriety over photographs, experiences, anecdotes of their children. They ignore agency and consent, citing creative grounds. But creativity can never come at the cost of dignity, especially that of a child.
Tate represents parents for whom parenthood means propriety over photographs, experiences, anecdotes of their children.
They are more vulnerable than adults. Thus, the impact of having details shared on the internet without their consent is far graver on them. It also fills them with a sense of powerlessness. They feel that there is no value of their agency, when their own parents refuse to respect it. How do we expect such kids to evolve into confident young adults? To never let anyone, exert authority or propriety over their lives and very existence? It goes against the very values that we want to instill in our children.
So many bloggers give up writing blogs once their children have grown old enough to intervene. There are also bloggers who write sensitively enough to ensure that their children don’t feel hurt when they read them. Tate here, doesn’t represent all of the parenting blogging community, but she does represent quite a lot of them.
As bloggers-parents we need to ask ourselves, why do we write? Whether it’s because of all the popularity it brings our way, or because that is all we are capable of? And the answer determines why a parent would continue to write, despite him or her telling them otherwise.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.