The term "sharent" (which I despise, incidentally), became known to me after reading this article on the Guardian website. For those who are fortunate enough to not have heard this word before, a "sharent" is a parent who shares details of their childrens' lives on social media platforms or on a blog. I think a lot of us are guilty of this supposed crime; indeed, my own children are growing up on this blog.
However, this is what annoys me about the word - that it seems to come laden with stigma. Why should we feel guilty for taking advantage of technology and creating a lasting impression of our children? Recording stories to share when they are older. Remembering the little things of childhood that would otherwise be forgotten.
I reject unsubstantiated claims that the stories and photographs that we share today will damage our children in ten or 20 years' time. I honestly doubt that Jasmine or Sonny would be any more embarrassed by their presence on my blog than I was when my mother presented my boyfriend (now fiancé, soon to be husband) with a fistful of my baby photos.
Including these two gems:-
On their first meeting.
From her hospital bed, whilst recovering from an operation to remove two large gallstones.
Which she had asked to keep and also proceeded to show James.
You see, my mum didn't need the internet to embarrass me. This is what we do, as parents. We, either by accident or with gleeful purpose, embarrass our children. So I will not apologise for being a blatant sharent, nor will I stop it, because my children will deal with it.
What I may have to do, though, is alter the content of my posts, slightly. Having received contact from a PR this morning, simply to tell me that my blog is public so to be careful what I post, I have thought a lot about this. Though there was no further information or advice within this particular email, I assume that she alluded to some of the photographs I have included in my messy play posts.
The ones of my children in their underwear.
Although this is not how I see it; to me, they are photographs of my children learning and having fun, and to lose them is to lose some of the spirit and, I think, point of the post.
I have considered two things with regard to my adding photographs to my blog. My objective and my intended audience. The former is simple. I post photographs that are relevant to my posts and I write posts that share our experiences, particularly through messy play.
With regard to my intended audience, first and foremost, it is my children. I started this blog for them, so that we can look back on it together, when they are fully grown. Secondly, I write for family who are interested in what we get up to, and then I write for other parents and bloggers - those who share our interests. None of the people for whom I write this blog would be affected or offended by the images I post.
So, with those two issues addressed, I am happy with my decisions regarding the current content of my blog.
However, as my blog is public, I cannot guarantee whose hands my images may end up in, so I am now thinking that I should censor my posts a little. I have the option to make the blog completely private, though I do not want to do this.
I have already amended my squirty cream post from last night, removing any photographs that may have been cause for concern to my faceless PR friend. This makes me sad. Sad about the world we live in, where anyone could view a photo of a child and see anything other than innocence, and sad about what my post has lost. The photos of my children smiling and enjoying their play spoke louder than any words I could write in their place.
I suppose this is the compromise we all must face, and possibly what gives "sharenting" a bad name. How much is TMI, and how do we strike a balance? Those who read my blog will know the names of my children, their ages and their faces, but the reasoning behind this comes back down to intended audience and the fact that I like my blog to be a personal space.
After all, it is written as a gift to my children.