do children have a right to privacy?

I’ve been meaning to revisit this discussion and thought we might start it up again by asking you for your reactions to this.

In particular, I am curious to know if any ideas or feelings come up with regards the concept of privacy and what the notion of privacy means between parent and child.  In short, do our children have a right to privacy even, perhaps especially, in regards to their parents?

I have been thinking quite a bit about this whole idea – I think coming up against it is what caused my recent bout of blog paralysis – and will share my ideas tomorrow.  But first, what do you think?

14 thoughts on “do children have a right to privacy?

  1. When I started my blog, it was all about my kids. I didn’t post their photographs, but I gave their first names and wrote about funny things they said and did. Over the years, I’ve drawn back, having realised that the stuff I write on the Web will never go away and I don’t want it to bounce back and humiliate or embarrass them when they are older. It’s my choice to blog, not theirs, and I don’t think it’s fair to use them as material. That’s my personal choice.

  2. I think you pose an important question. I re-read my comment on the original discussion. I still feel the same way.
    “I don’t write about my kids very much–they are 16 and almost 20. It’s a privacy thing mostly for me. I removed a post I had written about #1 daughter when she had to have her beloved horse put down. It was just too close and too raw.”

  3. A parent’s job is to protect their children from harm, and publishing photos on the internet seems (to me) to cross that line, particularly for kids who are too young to advocate for themselves. Writing about them is a trickier issue.
    I’ve crossed the line on privacy with my teens by checking email and communications, but it has always been with the intent of protecting them. (At least, that’s my rationalization.) Think of the Hippocratic Oath “Do no harm,” then ask yourself, “Could this post/photo do harm?”

  4. I think they do. And if we don’t give it to them, we may not like the way they take it.
    That said, every family defines its own level of comfort and privacy. And I read some blogs where it is clear that the kids know about mom’s blog and are fine with it.
    When I first started blogging, my son was 12. I posted a few photos, talked about him quite a lot, used his real name. But he became a teenager pretty quickly. And I became uncomfortable posting about him in any great detail. The level of comfort/intimacy/privacy in our house is not like some of those other blogs I read.
    My blog was better when it was more uncensored. But I persevere. And I feel I made the right choice to make the blog more about mememememe and not so much about my kid.
    As for invading their privacy in the name of protecting them, this is dicey. I think you have to trust them and respect their privacy until they show you that you need to put them on a shorter leash. Which may mean that they do something spectacularly awful while you were respecting their privacy. Usually prompted by their friends. But that’s the risk you take. I mean, I did some spectacularly awful things when I was a teenager and a twenty-something. For the most part, my folks didn’t know. And that was good. Now I have to be the parent that mostly doesn’t know. Which is hard. But appropriate.

  5. My children know about my blog – and they do read it on occasion. I am very careful not to use recognizable photographs of my kids (especially my older two) and I am also very careful not to write down things that would embarrass them. It IS to protect their privacy and it’s also because I don’t make fun of my kids, period.

  6. They do. Of course, this girl is old enough to giver her consent, but I do not publish pics of the kids for this reason, nor do I use their real names. And, although I write about them a LOT, I try very hard not to step over the line. And my husband vets it all for this purpose.

  7. I have a visual life story (photographs) of all of my children as well but I would never post them on the internet. EVER.

  8. Privacy? What do you mean? Do we every have real privacy as parents?
    I hate the fact that we all have become too guarded. But then again, knowing that the in laws and the outlaws and the siblings and the kids read your posts, just forces us all to become more diplomatic in our writing.
    It is a challenge, I agree.

  9. I think there’s a big difference between a kid’s privacy and posting photos of them on the internet.
    That said, yes, they deserve privacy. In the same way you wouldn’t give your kid a tattoo until they’re old enough to choose to make the decision their own, I think parents should refrain from telling personal details about a kids life that they may otherwise never want to share as an adult, or perhaps would prefer to reveal themselves.
    I stopped writing in my personal blog after I bumped into a long lost friend who eerily knew everything about me, because he’d read it on my blog. It would suck to be a kid whose friends, enemies, teachers, etc., know all sorts of anecdotal details of his/her life just because they used the Google.

  10. That photographic journey of one girl’s life as seen by her father is truly sooo lovely, sooo powerful, sooo important. I simply can’t imagine why anyone, including his daughter, would object. And I see blogging about our kids, about their milestones and triumphs and failures as a similar tribute to them, to their lives and our lives and the imperfections we all experience along the way. There will always be some who see exploitation while others see important and powerful documentation of the human bits of us that make this world a more palatable and precious place to inhabit together. I fall into the latter category.

  11. Hmm. I’ve started taking photography quite seriously. Dudelet won’t let me take his picture except on special occasions and I (mostly) respect that. Dudelette is an enthusiastic model (but then she’s only six months old. But barring a couple of exceptions, I keep pictures of them offline. Would I show them in other contexts? Dunno.
    The pictures you linked to are very powerful but also oddly voyeuristic – I’m not sure that he’s going places where a father belongs and whether the photography is a substitute for I don’t know what. I’m not sure about a Nan Golden level intimacy in this context. On the other hand, I’m not sure where I’ll eventually draw the line as d and d get older.

  12. I definitely don’t post photos of my kids on the internet, and since my blog is anonymous, I don’t worry too much about people they know digging up details of their pasts online one day. I do see my blog as a sort of journal that I hope to get bound in a book one day so that my kids have insights into their early years and my early years as a mom.
    I keep an actual journal for each of them with pretty honest entries about how I feel about parenting, how hard they can be, how adorable and amazing they are, and all of the cute things they do and say. I don’t see the blog as that much different. I don’t put anything on there I wouldn’t share with friends, since many friends do read it and know me and my kids. The real journals are actually much more intimate and honest.
    As far as kids’ privacy from parents. I don’t have to go there yet since mine are still little. But I do think it is important to be honest with kids from the beginning so that they see honesty as the basis of family relationships. In this day and age, I am definitely not going to let my kids’ internet time be completely private. I’ll fight on that one because there are too many creepy people out there. Other than fear of kidnapping and sexual assault, though, I think parents need to give teens some privacy and hope that they have fostered an open and honest enough relationship (and can keep it going) that kids feel free to tell them things. Then when they don’t, and they royally screw up, you enforce some new rules, as Robing said.
    Of course, I will probably eat my words in about 13 years!

  13. When I was a kid my dad made a big deal about giving us our privacy, and also about insisting on his own. I remember sitting next to him in church at a wedding and trying to look over his shoulder to see what he was writing in the book for the happy couple and he wouldn’t let me see it. It made a big impression on me, and I respect people’s privacy to this day, even when they are not looking.

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