More Than Just Words - "Mommy Blogging" Gone Horribly Wrong

6 years ago

I read a post this morning.

Written by a "mom blogger" and promoted on a well known moms/parenting website. This post, the fall-out, and the author's and website's responses to it all are unsettling on about a thousand different levels. It's taken me a couple of hours just to sort through all the issues and settle on an angle to write about it.

I am not going to name the site, nor link the post. My guess is that many of you will already know what I am talking about, but my personal choice is not to promote either of them - because the post, is damaging. To a child. And this little girl will suffer enough because of this post without my furthering its internet exposure.

In a nutshell: this mother, in a moment of "being honest" and needing to share this honesty with everyone on the planet with an internet connection, wrote a piece in which she explains in painful detail, how and why she loves her son more than her daughter. This is not done anonymously. She is named, the children are named AND pictured. She goes on to mention that if her daughter were to somehow be lost to her, she would not be as upset as if the same thing happened with her son. She also hopes that she can make amends for what went wrong with daughter #1, by doing a better job with new daughter #2.

There is more to the post, but that is the premise and heart of it.

Of course there are hundreds of comments. Both positive and negative, though sadly, the editors of the website have chosen to delete many of the negative ones.

The author is shocked and outraged that she received any negative reactions. She can't believe the things people are saying and accuses those who did post negatively of being "insane" for taking her words "the wrong way". I read the post. There really is no way to take her words other than how she wrote them. It gets worse, as she penned another post in response, claiming that she is "an awsome mother" and that the only reason anyone could be saying anything negative about what she wrote is because they aren't being "honest" about their own feelings.

I am not going to judge her abilities as a mother. With 2 children of my own, I know that as she says in her post, I'm not perfect and would never claim to be. (Mind you I also would never proclaim myself an "awesome" mother, I really don't think anyone can make that assessment of themselves.) But I am going to take issue with her as a Blogger, more specifically, a Mom Blogger.

I am not a huge fan of that terminology but, I suppose it's no different than "Food Bloggers"  - we're designated according to the subject we write about primarily, if that is motherhood, then there you go. 

When you decide to write about your children on the internet, you have a responsibility to them. You are responsible for their privacy, their safety, as well as their emotional well-being both now, and down the road. It's a fine line we walk, when we're being "honest" about our lives - we want people to know they are not alone, there is a community, and all of the good things that the internet can provide. But the internet is also a record. A very, public, record. Everyone has access to what you write, if your blog is public or you are posting on a public site. That includes your children, their friends, your family, and the rest of the connected universe. Anything you write and post can come back to haunt you later.

This woman's daughter is only 3. For the moment, she is safe from the emotional damage that this post will do. But what happens when she's old enough to start Googling and finds it? Her mother thinks she will be glad to read it so that she will "understand"... I don't believe it's possible for a child to look at the words "...when I think it wouldn't be so bad if I lost my daughter as long as I didn't have to lose my son" and not suffer and suffer terribly.

I'm not judging her for having the thoughts and feelings she has. We all have our difficulties and the number of positive responses she received certainly suggests that no, she is not alone. What is problematic is the fact that she has chosen to write these words and make them public this way. Many will stand by the old "they're just words, they can't hurt you", "they were taken the wrong way", "you don't KNOW me so you don't understand what I mean when I say that" or a hundred other excuses. But words, are powerful. Words convey emotion, intent, power, and pain. Words inspire and anger. Words are everything. And if you are not very careful about how and where you use them, you might come to regret it later.

Posting a letter to an ex about the torch you carry for them and being embarrassed about it later is one thing. Posting a piece about loving one of your children more than the other (her words) is another. Your child will find it someday. She will read it. No, she will not "understand" and be glad you wrote it and posted it for the whole world to see. She will see it through the eyes of a child, who will only be able to see that her mother, doesn't love her as much as she loves her brother and wouldn't be as upset to lose her as she would him. No amount of explaining is going to fix that.

I understand the need to share things that you don't know how to otherwise. But we have a responsibility. The piece could have been written anonymously, could have said what she felt she needed to say without naming her children, or even specifying which child she was referring to.

Our words are not just words. They are a lasting legacy, they affect people both in positive and negative ways. When you write about your children, remember this. Always stop before you hit "post" and think, "if child x reads this, no matter when it is, how will they feel? How will this affect them? Am I going to hurt them by posting this? What will they think?"

My oldest is a teenager, so I have to think about this all the time - he reads my blog. I have written about him, and I always talk to him about it before I do. There was one time I didn't, and it was, to be honest, a good post but one that was far too private to be shared. I regretted posting it and pulled it within a couple of hours as I realized the impact it could have on him. The "blogger" in me found that hard, as the subject was one that I knew many parents would relate to. But the mom in me said, no, you shouldn't have written that, you can't leave it up, it will hurt him if you do. 

And the mom side won, as it should have.

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