Penny Raine recently posted a nice entry on Respectful Mom Blogging, citing some of her concerns she has with blogs which perhaps reveal too much about the young children placed in our care and the “dirty laundry” some seem to feel compelled to air. It’s good advice, but I stumble over a couple of the “rules.”
I don’t share a lot about my family on this blog, although I have been known to go into lengthy tangents about pencils as well as share a few very personal struggles. And I do have a more personal blog where I share some of my reflections on parenthood, the silly things my children say, a bit of misbehavior, and just tidbits of my life as a homeschooling mother of four.
For me, it is difficult to come up with hard and fast rules about what to share and what not share about our lives. When I write an entry, I am inviting my readers into a part of my life. And I clean up a bit, just as I would straighten my house before you came over for tea. Excessive compliments would not drive me to leave my children’s laundry scattered about the house and the sink full of dishes the next time you came, but I also wouldn’t pretend as if my house always looked that way. The blog is a curious medium, part diary and part public address system. It becomes personal, and we begin to feel a very personal connection with those readers who comment regularly as a sort of community begins to develop around our blogs. As our sense of community in our own neighborhoods diminishes, I think we will see more and more people seeking to fulfil this very important human need online through these virtual communities.
Whether or not a particular story I read on a blog bothers me has more to do with the purpose behind the sharing than exactly what is revealed about the life of the blogger. If it seems to be about sacrificing the esteem of a child in exchange for traffic, I, too, would be a little uncomfortable reading the entry. If it is about sharing a little humor about the often trying task of parenting, I may be inclined to share a story of my own.
I hope some day that my children can look back on what their mother has written about them and see a different side to our relationship that perhaps they do not see as much right now. After all, my children saw a very humorless mother the day they dumped a storage tub full of books and a fifty pound bag of dog food on the laundry room floor. Looking back over these events, however, I hope they see not a mother making fun of them, but a mother who truly delights in their developing personalities, even through the inevitable struggles of parenting young children.
And some of us are truly struggling in relationships with parents, children, spouses or other significant people in our lives. Of course we need to be careful how we discuss those in a public forum, but for every person willing to talk about their struggles there are many thousands who feel isolated and as if they have no one to talk to and no one who would understand their problems anyway. My most recent article for Heart of the Matter certainly gets into the deeply personal, and involves a bit of “dirty laundry” that I, too, would just as soon not read about on other people’s blogs. But it wasn’t about traffic or recognition. And the last thing I want is sympathy or anyone to take “my” side. It is more about giving purpose to a difficult issue and hoping that others can find some eoncouragement in dealing with their own personal struggles.
I am not too good with rules, anyway, but I think for me a better guideline is not specific topics that we should discuss or that we should shy away from, but asking ourselves what the purpose of sharing any particular topic is. Is it uplifting and edifying? Great! Would it fall under bearing one another’s burdens? With some common sense applied, terrific! Is it about bringing attention to ourselves? There you’ll have to be the judge of exactly what kind of blog you want, and the kind of community you want to build around that blog.