Teacher Professor

November 9, 2010

Privacy Issues

Filed under: Exceptionality issues,Home Things — Teacher Professor @ 2:10 pm

My children are going to hate me.  Or maybe they won’t.  Maybe they’ll just be embarrassed.  Maybe they won’t.  After all, I write about them.  I do change their names, but because I am a relatively “public person”- which is to say, not famous, but I teach at a college and I’ve written a book, so I can’t hide behind a pseudonym- it is a relatively thin veil of name changes that I use.  I did get their permission for the book and the blog, but the permission of a 7 year old is a very different thing compared to permission of a someday-13 year old. 

A recent article about mommy-bloggers – and there are a lot of us out there.  3.9 million at a rough estimate- find that majority of bloggers are writing about younger children- and that as children themselves get more and more active on the Web, the mommy activities decrease.  After all, it may be therapeutic for ME to tell “the world” about this incident or that… but the children themselves may not want such stories abounding in the blogosphere long after we’ve moved onto new issues, new challenges. 

And perhaps, they don’t want, or even need to hear how lost and confused I am at diffent times.  After all, part of my job description is to remain invincible… to remain calm… to remain unflustered.  And if I express anger or frustration with their behaviors here, there is a probability that they will take it personally.  Kids always take it personally.  And no child needs to believe that they caused their mother pain/ heartache/ hurt, when I know that it’s the autism /bipolarity/ anorexia/ whatever that is causing me to hurt.  Them- them I love unconditionally. 

All of this is to say that I am very well aware of the possible issues that my children face by my having a blog.  But there are some very compelling reasons that I do it…

  1. I HAVE written a book– for better or for worse, their issues are already out there.  I have already exposed our family “secrets”- (not all of them, btw… there are just some things that remain private).  That information, labels, process, and beliefs- those are already out there.  This blog allows those statements in the book to continue- to grow- to bloom.  A book is a monologue.  A blog is a dialogue. 
  2. I firmly believe that a blog- unlike a book, unlike a diary- can capture the day-to-day moments that really and truly form a community.  After all, there are “friends” that I have made through the blog who have taught me a great deal.  They have taught me to see silver linings, how to express unconditional love, how to laugh at things that would make me cry.    The mommy-blogging community has made me a better mommy…  and hopefully, in some small way, I can help someone else out.
  3. A blog can-and has- been a fantastic teaching tool.  It only takes a “Smockity” issue to demonstrate teaching moments- perhaps not only for the blogger, but for the readers beyond the “choir” that typically form the blogger’s immediate circle.  This blog is an extension of my book- that education- that desire to help.  That desire to make a difference in someone’s life.  That desire to be a teacher. I use my blog in my classes to illustrate a point.  Some of my professor friends use my blog in their classes.  My readers may only be my mother on one day, and may be a friend’s class on another.  But I feel like I’ve contributed. 

Notice what is missing from my pros and cons of the use of a blog?  Privacy concerns.

Friends of mine who tend to be from an older generation often ask, “Aren’t you worried about your privacy?… What will the children feel to be so public?”  And that, I have to admit, is a generational difference- and not one that is likely to affect my children. 

As part of my other life, I study generational differences- those differences between the Greatest Generation, the Boomers, the Xers and the Millennials- and the yet-unnamed generation of my children.  While there are many, may differences, privacy is probably one of the most significant differences found.

The Greatest Generation (born before 1941) and the Boomer generation (born between 1941-1960ish) were raised to Question Authority.  Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler were great dictators who got into power because of the lack of will of the people to rebel.  These generations were afraid of Absolute Authority, and consequently, the privacy of a person, and the power of a government or any organization to invade that privacy, is a significant issue.  These generations are afraid of Big Brother and any intrusions into personal freedoms.

The Xer generation (born 1960ish-1980ish), to some degree, and the Millennial generation (born 1980ish to 2001), grew up with ever-increasing observation.  Seatbelt laws, movie ratings, nanny cams- all are structures put into place to keep this generation safe.  Kids check in with parents at all times of the day; they are encouraged to have a cell phone at all times to be available, and the more technology increases, the more kids are watched.  There is no Big Brother- there’s Big Parent. 

Or Big Peeper.  “Reality” shows are really voyeurism put on television.  Kids film themselves and watch themselves in mutiple media platforms these days.  Your innermost thoughts are now available- as are all of your friends.  As a result, “mean” behavior has increased, while at the same time, there is a greater responsiveness to atrocities, such as the election protests in Iran and yes, even the Smockity situation.  For good or for bad, observing each other and commenting on each other, has taken moved from the playground to the keyboard, from the one-on-one to the global millions. 

My children will have different views of their privacy than I do.  They are growing up in a generation obsessed with fame, focused on “image”, and one in which the loudest voices often get the most notice- although every now and then a really well-written message gets through and makes people think.  My blog is but a speck in the electronic world- but I do recognize that it is very large to two little people. 

Sooo- as a message directly to my children who might- or might not- be reading this in the future, and who might- or might not care- I have a handful of messages:

  1. I love you absolutely.  I may not be happy with the autism, your behavior, the behavior of your friends, or the behavior of my friends- I may be laughing at your behavior, your friends’ behavior or my friends’ behaviors,  but I always love you.  Completely and totally.  You are unbelievable special, unique and there is only one YOU in the whole wide world.  I was put on this earth to be your mother, and when we picked each other out of all of the souls of the universe, there was a reason- because we needed each other. 
  2. I use this blog to make me a better mommy, a better teacher, and a better person- to find community for myself, to provide community for others.  Because we are all interconnected, and no one can get through life alone.  Someday, you will understand how big love is- and how it has to be connected to other things and other people in order to grow.
  3. Someday, you will understand what a real person I am- how I fail at oh-so-many things, I succeed at a couple, and how I try to keep on trying.  Until then, if this blog makes you unhappy, embarrassed, or sad- tell me.  It’s part of learning about others- communicating with them.  Someday, you’ll know me- and still love me.  After all- I’m still learning you- and I still and always love you.
  4. I promise not to reveal “real” secrets- or things that you told me in confidence.  If you tell me something- anything- and tell me not tell, I keep my word. 
  5. I hope that you, too, find community and not communes out here in the world.  A commune is one set of thoughts allowed where others are blocked.  A community is a collection of thoughts where diverse opinions are encouraged and respected.  I want you to participate in the great group thinking and not the groupthink that can be found in the world.  I want you to share yourself and learn from others- and learn tolerance and understanding and appreciation.  I want you to learn to get up when you’re knocked down and that people can be mean- and you can survive. 

Someday, my children, you will understand why I write- not to invade your privacy and ruin your world, or to show off your talents and make you famous- but to make an effort at making a small corner of the world- yours and mine- better.   

And to other mommies and other educators and others brave enough to write about your families and your students… thank you. 

1 Comment »

  1. This is a great post. Thank you for blogging too! I think that my daughter’s generation is going to have different (less conservative) ideas about privacy. I can imagine her bragging to a friend “My Mom has been blogging about me since I was three years old.” And the friend will respond “Oh yeah, MY MOM has been blogging since I was in-utero”

    Comment by mamafog — November 11, 2010 @ 10:22 am | Reply

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