It's the (Instagram)-age old question: is it really ok to post about your kids online?
Earlier this month, lawyer-slash-blogger Christie Tate (not pictured) wrote an op-ed for the The Washington Post titled “My daughter asked me to stop writing about motherhood. Here’s why I can’t do that”, detailing the day her nine-year-old daughter discovered she was writing about her online.
Writes Tate: She asked: “Why are there all of these pictures of me on the internet?” She wanted to know and she had a right to know.
Could I take the essays and pictures off the internet, she wanted to know. I told her that was not possible. There was heavy sighing and a slammed door. When I had pictured our first serious conversation about how the internet is forever, I always thought we’d be talking about content posted by her, not me.
I read through some of my old pieces, and none of them seemed embarrassing to me, though she might not agree. A few years ago, I wrote about a disappointment in her social life — a girl she counted as her best friend abruptly stopped talking to her. While I wrote about the experience from the perspective of a mother trying to help her daughter through a rough patch without succumbing to anti-girl stereotypes about so-called mean girls, she might not appreciate seeing a painful episode from her past splashed across the internet.
Tate then reveals that while she wanted to tell her daughter that she’d never write about her again, it wasn’t a promise she could make.
…. I’m not done exploring motherhood in my writing …. So my plan is to chart a middle course, where together we negotiate the boundaries of the stories I write and the images I include … As a mother, I’m not supposed to do anything that upsets my children or that makes them uncomfortable, certainly not for something as culturally devalued as my own creative labour.
The story swiftly went viral, with Tate facing backlash for her “self-centred” argument and for “monetising” her daughter’s pain.
It also raised a crop of questions – in the next ten years will we see a generation of teenagers and young adults disenchanted with their parents for exposing their childhoods online – however innocuous that gurgling baby pic may appear to us? Will it lead to court cases and accusations of emotional distress or violations of privacy? And are most of us guilty of parading our children on social media to some extent – if not for money, then for Likes?
They’re questions worth considering next time you share a snap of your child with the world.