Monday, March 9, 2009

The responsibilities of a blogging mum

There’s something very ego-boosting about having your own blog and knowing that you have readers. It’s like publishing your own little newspaper. But with publishing comes responsibility. Unlike a newspaper, anyone can start their own blog, so the difference is that with blogging, the responsibility lies with us.

I'm not talking about the responsibility to be politically correct. Blogging provides a relatively open platform for freedom of speech (of course in Singapore, there's still a limit but generally, you can say what you want). I'm talking about two main types of responsibility - responsibility to readers and as a blogging mum, responsibility to our kids.

The written word is very powerful. When something appears on print, its legitimacy is immediately heightened. You know I have many (opinionated) views on parenting and the education system. I've shared many of these with my friends for years but once I started blogging about them, it seemed like my views suddenly held more weight and more authority. Many mothers blog. Some blog purely about what their kids are doing, as a sort of journal, others zoom in on specific issues like maths or child-rearing methods. Mine is a rojak mix of everything. Where I sometimes feel the need to pause before I say something is in those commentary-type posts, where I state my viewpoint on an issue. Will this statement trigger an undesirable outcome? Will it make another mother feel less secure about herself? It's not about whether others agree with me, we can agree to disagree. It's about whether it helps or hinders someone else in her own parenting journey.

I read somewhere that a blog is not a book, it is a broadcast. The minute you stop writing, people stop reading, so the blogger is under some pressure to keep writing. Subconsciously now, I'm always on the look out for blogging opportunities. In doing so, I have to remember that I have a big responsibility to my kids when blogging. When you're writing not about fictitious people but your own kids, what you say has a real impact on them. Especially if your kids read your blog, like mine. It's like a window into their mother's thoughts - they can see themselves from my eyes. So sometimes, I have to be censor what I say because I need to protect their self-esteem and their privacy.

This is not to say that I will only write about their strengths and not their faults. In my opinion, blogs that only gush about how perfect their kids are, are boring and artificial. What I'm saying is that different kids have different sensitive points. When Lesley-Anne saw me taking a photo of her worn-out school shoes, she immediately panicked and screeched, "Why must you blog about that? It's so embarrassing! They will laugh at me!" Of course she didn't trust that I wouldn't openly embarrass her, when she saw the eventual post, she realised there was nothing incriminating in it. Whereas Andre, when he heard his sister's outburst, sidled up to me and said conspiratorially, "Mummy, you can blog about me, I don't mind."

So, mothers, blog away! But take the cue from your kids, whether they're shrinking violets or attention seekers, and adjust your words and volume accordingly.


petite fleur said...

I blame the 4 years in NY for part of my paranoia, which is why our family remains anonymous on my blog. Even when I blog about friends, I always ask for permission to post pictures or to write about them. I've even taken down a post & re-worded some sentences after I had unconsciously touched on a sensitive spot.

As much as the blog is an outlet for me to express myself, I've also learnt to be careful with what I say.

Lilian said...

Spot-on as always.

Being utterly disorganised in life, I'm glad blogging has enabled me to preserve memories that would otherwise have vanished with time. Sometimes, I look back at old posts and cannot quite remember that some things I'd written about actually happened.

The boys love reading about themselves. They even compare the number of posts appearing under their names. I had to explain to Brian that Sean has more because he's younger, and stuff that younger kids do or say are so unexpected and therefore more 'blog-able".

Brian is always kaypoh-ing with posts that have nothing to do with him too, reading comments, asking who this person is, laughing about fellow bloggers' children's antics.

I recently asked him if he's still okay that I write about him, he said yes; the only thing off limits is Tortoise Talk/Animal Town (I'm probably not even supposed to mention that it's off limits). I also exercise discretion on other stuff that I've managed to wrangle out of him. It's important that we retain the trust our kids have in us, ie what they share with us in confidence don't get inadvertently shared with others, even if in jest.

I guess as with many things in life, we'll need to use common sense and discretion when it comes to blogging. Always remind ourselves, whatever we put out there will be there forever, so only write what you are willing to divulge and share. Always assume everyone's reading your blog; that's why I don't bitch about school (that much).

monlim said...

Lilian, you're so right. That's why I tend to have more posts on Andre because L-A is more reserved and sensitive about what I say, whereas Andre just loves being in the limelight, even if he's being seen as the clown!

And being able to preserve memories is one of the main reasons I blog. Definitely many of these moments would be lost forever if we didn't document them, which would be such a pity.

Alcovelet said...

Mon, very thought provoking post. I want to say, that's why I have a private blog, so I can inflict my neurosis on a select group of friends, lol! But on the other hand, I should also be mindful that whatever I write is forever, and I wldn't want RK to be upset with me for writing something that he doesn't want me to reveal. As you say, it is a direct route to Mummy's thoughts.

monlim said...

Ad: that forever part is the part we tend to forget. What may sound harmless now may not be so funny to our kids when they're old enough to read it. But you know, there's always the DELETE POST button!! LOL

eunice said...

I guess the most neutral topic to blog about is food! I admit that there are somethings I want to write about but think twice about putting it down cos it may unknowingly upset some people. That's why I have an old fashioned diary for those unpublishable thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to all of you mommies who blog freely in a public way. Something I get grade "F" in. :P


Anonymous said...

I think blogging is a great idea. Just that I have been too lazy to start one. Plus I am quite the
technophobe ! Am clueless as to how to post pics etc ! I understand you can blog using your mobile ? Oh my goodness ...I am so blur...I guess I need to buckle down and make the effort !

Probably will have enlist the help of hubby but being quite a private person I think he might be a little resistant to the idea. When I got onto Facebook he was rather horrified :P

monlim said...

Jo: You can choose to make it a private blog so only invited people get to see it, if you're concerned about privacy. It's actually quite easy - blogspot is one of the most user-friendly platforms. Try it!!

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right about being sensitive towards the kids in our blogs. My kids are my blog's greatest fans (better milk it for all it's worth now that they are young and not as discerning?). Perhaps my blog's ONLY fans :)

I think twice (or more) about posting entries that reflect my concerns about the children. I recognise the impact that this might/can have on the kids.

Hey. It would make a good thesis topic for someone's child development PhD!

monlim said...

Yve: I just visited your blog, it's so fun and I love your writing style! Keep blogging ok? I promise to come visit every now and then.

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