Writing about your kids – when is too much too much?

I write about my life with chickens, dogs, and children.

 

Sad Addy

 

Although, I’m not in the least bit worried about what I say regarding my chickens and dogs, I am sometimes worried I might be writing things that may be considered a little too personal about my children.

Like when Addy was locked in the henhouse by mistake and what we ended up with was a snotty-nosed, frightened little girl who had felt abandoned by her parents (actually just for the record, it was Marc who accidentally locked her in).

Or the time I posted a photo of my son right after he had had his second operation trying to correct a nose broken from a gymnastics move gone wrong.

My family’s life is an open book (literally) where we share in our experiences, try new things, and pass on what we’ve learned. When I write about my children it is in the hope I’m sharing a lesson, something they’ve taught me or something we all need to learn.

My kids know that one of the most noble jobs you can have during your lifetime is that of being a compassionate teacher to another. It is a cause that rings loudly in our household. They get it and so they willingly share.

Like you, I’ve seen families that have opened themselves up to the public and I’ve seen how, well, downright uncomfortable it can be both for the children and for the audience. Do we really need to see a child have a temper-tantrum because he is tired, hungry, or a transition is too quick? Do we need to see children who appear to be spoiled, who act out, and who continually want more?

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of stories I want to read or write.

Instead I want to read and write about children and families who amazingly go through life being able to put the confusing pieces together along the way. I love to see that exact moment when the light gets turned on captured in word. It’s inspiring and as the mother of kids who seem to be able to do this consistently, it’s also humbling. My children are worthy of being written about.

Like Addy realizing that mistakes are made (even by her Dad) and that although she was frightened and felt abandoned, she never really had been.

Or Trevor who at such a young age bravely went through his second operation not blaming himself or his Doctor for the failure of the first surgery but instead accepting that “sometimes things just happen this way”.

I write about my children not to exploit them but to share in my continual amazement and awe at their active participation in life. I just hope that years from now when as adults my kids stumble across my writings of their adventures – they will feel the same.

 

About the Author:

A features writer, interviewer, and columnist, Wendy Thomas has been published in national magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs.

Wendy discusses marketing writing at Savvy B2B Marketing.

Her current project is to blog about life living with 6 kids and a flock of chickens.

 

4 thoughts on “Writing about your kids – when is too much too much?

  1. There is a fine line to what a parent should and shouldn’t write about, I think. If you have even a drip of the feeling, “I wonder if my son/daughter would mind me telling the world about this,” then it probably shouldn’t be for family alone.

    But, I agree that sharing stories that have teachable moments, as well as entertain contain something from which we can all benefit.

  2. @amanda – that’s for sure. I often wonder at some of th stories form those “mommy-blogger” moms (of which I, emphatically, am not). Some of the “cute” stories told are nothing short of cringe-worthy.

    My general sense is that my children are treated as I would any person I am writing about – with the utmost respect and dignity. I try to capture a teaching moment.

    Having said that, however, if any of my kids asked me to take a post about them down, I would without reservation do it.

    Their lives will always trump my words.

  3. Well, I locked myself in the chicken coop once… 🙂 My husband has since rigged me an escape latch mechanism.

    There were no blogs or internet when my kids were small, but I did write about them in essays and writing assignments and just for myself sometimes to preserve those wondrous moments I lived through. My audience was not internet-wide and so I never had to consider the impact.

    Now they are twenty somethings, and are on social networking sites alongside me (and the whole world it seems) so I am very careful what I post in the way of comments, statuses and photographs, lest it come back to haunt me or them!

    I like your policy, writing about them with respect and dignity, and being willing to remove a post if they asked.

    –Kim

    • @kim,

      Ack! another one locked in the henhouse! We haven’t rigged an escape latch yet but that sounds like a good idea.

      I write both for and because of my children. It’s an act that needs to be balanced on a daily basis. I figure as long as I can recognize when others seem to step over the line then I should have enough insight to not do it myself. It’s funny because I have to constantly warn my kids about putting too much personal information on places like Facebook, while I wonder if I’m doing the same on my blogs. It’s a big, new world out there, I guess we’re all learning the rules.

      Wendy

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