Regular readers of this column know that I rarely relate incidents about my own three children. The reason is simple. Their right to privacy is more important than my need to tell an interesting story. While I do write about patients I’ve treated in my office, I go to extraordinary lengths to protect their confidentiality by always changing numerous aspects of the situation so that it is impossible to know their actual identities.
Many parental bloggers do not share my concerns, and write about some of the most intimate aspects of their children’s lives. These writers pontificate about the need to be authentic and open about their thoughts and feelings. That sounds reasonable as it involves them or their relationships with adults, but don’t their children have any rights to privacy?
I feel uneasy reading stories about children’s bodily functions, reactions to puberty, or serious emotional or behavioral problems. It may be interesting or even humorous to read about a young boy’s response to seeing hair on his genitals, but how will that child feel when he realizes that his private conversation with his mom was posted on the internet?
Facebook presents yet another significant threat to our children’s privacy, as parents post pictures and write entries that can be incredibly embarrassing to kids as they get older. This may be cathartic for parents, but it comes at the cost of sacrificing our children’s confidentiality and dignity.
Parenting is tough at times, and some bloggers have little hesitancy in sharing very personal feelings about their frustrations, anger, and even resentment of their children. These reactions are normal, and talking or writing about them can be healthy. However, aren’t there times when such intimate emotions should be discussed in private with your spouse rather than shared with everyone?
Parents have always turned to others for support and guidance. Family, friends, and spouses took on that role before the Internet. Now, parents publish blogs to vent, educate others, and express themselves. I understand how this may be helpful to parents, but kids’ rights to confidentiality shouldn’t be sacrificed for the sake of parental relief. Imagine for a moment how your child will react as he gets older and reads what has been written about him throughout his childhood?
A local attorney is trying to deal with this situation in divorce matters by inserting language in shared parenting agreements that offers some protection for children from their parents. Such an approach may be controversial, but it at least raises the awareness
Parental bloggers have a lot to offer, but please don’t violate your children’s rights and dignity simply to entertain others or feel better about yourself.