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02:58 PM on 03/28/2012
While I absolutely agree with you, I wonder what the rules are for those we don't love as dearly as our children, and whether the same ethical choices need to be made. How many best-selling books give the inside scoop of workplace politics, or skewer a public figure after gaining his trust? When we say that we don't own the rights of the lives of others, are we only talking about those under 18, our own family, or anyone? Why do we only feel obligated to protect our own?
02:57 PM on 03/28/2012
I believe that children and their privacy must be protected at all costs, and that includes some writer's need for a column.
The 'Chofetz Chaim' (Jewish sage) believed that if you caused someone embarrassment or humiliated someone it was as if you caused a 'mini-death'. Haven't we all felt when we were humiliated by something happening or our privacy being violated in public, that we 'wanted to die'?
Children are so vulnerable, so trusting of us, it is beyond cruel to divulge their private lives like this.
I am really glad Lisa, that you ask your children's permission. Anything less is deplorable.
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Sybil Sage
www.sybilsage.com
02:55 PM on 03/28/2012
This would be a good start to "The Rules for Parents" to read: "Giving your child privacy is a critical aspect of setting boundaries and models the respect you hope to encourage." I recoiled last year when reading a mother's disclosure that she loves her husband more than she does her children, another topic no kid is likely to enjoy reading.
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Jason Ungar
05:00 PM on 03/28/2012
more? u mean at least not the same as her husband? How does she know who the winner is in the who she loves the most contest?
06:17 PM on 03/28/2012
If I read that my mother loved me more than she loves her husband, it would creep me the h.ell out.
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02:54 PM on 03/28/2012
If you're blogging about your kids, you're as much as pimping them out for your own ego gratification. It's one thing to discuss parenting issues in generic terms. It's another thing entirely when they become fodder for your blogging career. I didn't like it when my mother and her bridge buddies made us children the topic of their conversation. I can only imagine how much more an invasion of my privacy it would be to find my life splashed across the internet, inviting comments by total strangers.
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Mitchell Horton
04:02 PM on 03/28/2012
It does have far worse overtones if you're getting paid for it, doesn't it?
02:40 PM on 03/28/2012
While I think that there is a line, I see as more perforated than solid. And there are so many variables-- an individual child, their sense of privacy, what a parent is struggling with at the moment. So although I wasn't a fan of what I read about Dara Lynn-Weiss's article (I have yet to read it firsthand), I am not ready to say that she universally crossed the line.

I think that as more of us are writing about our children, even as they grow up, the stigma, to the extent that there is any of "mom wrote about me!" will be diminished. Who knows, it may even become a badge of honor.
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Amber Hinds
finding joy in the not-quite-there
02:37 PM on 03/28/2012
I think about this a lot, too, and it's something I still haven't figured out.  For now, my daughter's experiences at 2.5 are, as you described, the same experiences of any other child her age.  Her actions are less the result of conscious decisions on her part and more just the typical behavior of a near preschooler.  For now that means I write about just about everything in our shared lives.  I only very rarely write about my husband, his life or career and the like, for this exact reason: it's not my story to tell.  Someday my daughter will get to that point and I'll have to re-calibrate.  I'm just not sure yet when that will be.  Whenever it happens, I'm sure it will be an adjustment since I'm a fairly open and honest sharer (perhaps more than the average person -- but maybe that's the case for all bloggers).

http://www.amber-hinds.com
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charleyvldm9
He thinks outside the box.
02:31 PM on 03/28/2012
The majority of American parents are uneducated when it comes to parenting skills. It should be a subject in High Schools.
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fields4ever
Can we all get along?
03:54 PM on 03/28/2012
not only parenting skills need to be taught. Learning to have basic awareness of one's feelings, impulses, the concept of projecting your negative thoughts and feelings on others, and how to be emphathic - put oneself in another's shoes and walk a mile, understanding that people can be different from ourselves, would do a lot to bring back civil discourse in our society and help us get along a lot better. If you are not aware of your feelings and how they affect your behavior, it's pretty difficult to change.

If anyone has read 'the Good Enough Parent' by Bruno Bettelheim, you would see he sets a high standard, and empathy is key. Another book by him, about the importance of fairy tales, is also excellent.

Clearly, both of the mother-writers mentioned in this article need to increase their levels of empathy, and one of them needs to stop projecting her weight issues on her daughter. A college friend had overweight parents who locked the refrigerator during the day so no one could get afterschool snacks; not surprisingly, several of the siblings developed eating disorders when they were teens.
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Nancy Berk
02:28 PM on 03/28/2012
Lisa, I totally agree with your position! I think you can write about parenting and be insightful, helpful and funny without violating ethics or trust. You do it every day :) What frightens me are the parents who reveal confidential psychological and academic information that might later be damaging to a child's future. A child should be protected, not put on display. There's HIPAA. Maybe we need a C(children's)IPAA.
02:26 PM on 03/28/2012
I think two rules apply. The first is easy: with regard to traditional journalism, you identify yourself as a reporter and whatever you find out is fair game. The second is tougher -- especially when it comes to memoir, blogging and Facebook posts -- and that's weighing the trade-offs. If you're going to hurt or embarass someone you love when you tell your own story, that story should have a higher purpose than a book deal -- or a bunch of hits on FB. I'm not sure we own the rights to other people's lives just to make a buck. And there's this: thanks to the interwebs, nothing ever goes away. bk
02:22 PM on 03/28/2012
I think it is a fuzzy, blurry line for sure. I am a firm believer in having the idea that women and mothers can be our own best advocates when we are keeping it real and telling it like it *really* is, but that is tricky to do when balancing your child's right to privacy.
I probably blur the line from time to time, but my children are still young (enough) to do that.
http://www.thedoseofreality.com/2011/12/15/two-truths-and-a-lie/
02:07 PM on 03/28/2012
Yes, it's an area that should be handled delicately and with the best interests of your children in mind. However, if you self-identify as a writer, and have children, it's likely a subject close to your heart, and so important to write about. The outcome is much more interesting than learning how to match your lipstick color and your Louboutins.
And in all the questionable cases you've acknowledged, it might end up benefiting the children involved, as the writers are faced with backlash that may make them question their actions.
01:17 PM on 03/28/2012
I haven't heard of either one of these moms you mention, and I'm glad. I'm horrified that such terrible parenting netted these two women book deals. I'd much rather read, and would come more near purchasing, books written by good parents who weren't living vicariously through their children or torturing/humiliating their kids and then profiting off of their poor decisions.