Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exploiting our Kids

Footsteps in the sandphoto © 2007 Andi Sidwell | more info (via: Wylio)
So ever since I read Elizabeth Esther's column at the OC Register last week, I've been seriously thinking about the issue that she raised regarding blogging about our kids. I don't know that it's weighed heavily on my mind exactly, but it's definitely been in the background, making me think about how we "use" our kids.

While this blog is less about my kids than the name might indicate, they have definitely been a part of it since...always. Because it was started at least in part as a way for out-of-town family to keep up with what goes on with us, I've posted pics and stories about my children.

And, most likely, I've "used" my children as examples in some of my own stories or questions. And this is where Elizabeth's question really hits home for me.

As a mom, much of what happens to me in my day to day is a result of me being a parent. I will be vocal about a social justice issue because I want my kids to be compassionate people and know that it's okay to speak up. I question something because I don't want my kids to just blindly accept everything that is thrown at them, just because the person doing the throwing is an authority figure. I look at how people are treated and wonder how I would feel if it were my son or daughter in their shoes. Not all, but a LOT of what I write about is motivated in some way by my love and concern for my children.

I think part of the difficulty in sorting this out is that this is the first group of kids who are growing up on the internets. I'm certain that children have always been used to prop up various ideologies. People have been toting kids along to protests and rallies and political and religious events for as long as they've existed. But this is really the first time we've been able to do it from the comfort of our own homes and for a much larger audience. There have always been cute but embarrassing pics of kids. Heck, that's classic sitcom fodder there. I just wonder if it's okay for those same pictures to be trotted out to make a point? Or trotted out at all?

"Think of the children" has become such an over-used phrase that I worry that we may actually forget to sometimes think of our children when we blog. I think our kids are going to be far more comfortable with their digital footprint than we may be, since it's pretty much a part of their entire existence, but does that comfort give us the right to use them? Or is it using them at all?

I'm not sure.

Are you uncomfortable seeing kids mentioned on blogs? Is any mention exploitation? Do you talk to your kids (especially older ones) about what you share about them? 

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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