The Ethics Of Blogging About Your Family.

July 24, 2022

I write and have written about myself and my family for many years now in various different ways. I have a loyal following who’ve watched my children grow from bumps to babies to taking their GCSE’s (and one celebrated his 18th birthday earlier this year) and I’ve chatted about the trials and tribulations of family life in all its glory throughout this time. The rise of the ‘Mummy blogger’ (I hate that label) has meant that women who wanted to, could have a voice that could be heard more easily than ever. Mums can blog for themselves, for their sanity, and this is the awesome bit, blog for a job. 

Here’s a few questions that I’ve been asked over the years that I thought I’d share the answers with you.

Is there nothing off limits when you write?

I’m honest in my writing and I know my followers relate to my honesty, but I do pick and choose the parts of my life that I feel I would like to share and that I feel may help other parents, inspire parents or just let them know that there’s at least one other mum who’s not got it all together. I write about the good bits of being a parent, but I also include the tough bits, the messy house bits and the bits where I share that I just don’t have a clue at all. 

How do you know what’s appropriate to blog about and what isn’t?

This is a really interesting question and one I’ve thought about over the years I’ve publicly written about my life and my family. I started by following my instincts. Would I be happy to read what I’d written if someone I loved had written that about me? My writing has always had a slant towards learning and, in particular, learning when your children have special educational needs. I home educated for 6 years so my writing naturally went in the same direction and now my children are back in school, and I am back working as a SENCO and learning support teacher, I’m writing about that. I have always written about what I know using mine and my family’s lived experience as a starting point. 

Do you talk to your family about what you write?

I do. I believe it’s important to include them in whatever I’m writing. My older children follow me on Instagram as do some of their friends and I bear this in mind when I sit down at the computer with an idea brewing. Last week I introduced my new blog to my children and showed them that no pictures of them would be used and my 3 sons all said that they really didn’t mind if I did. They know I have written about dyslexia, dyspraxia and all the other neurodivergencies but in a way that identifies them but not in an identifiable way. I anonymise them by using an initial and not their full name and we regularly do an internet search to see if they come up and they don’t. 

Do you ask your children’s permission to write about them?

Yes. I have done in the past and I will continue to in the future. They are all happy for me to write about, say, how they learned to read, how they found school difficult and the various aspects of their being neurodivergent. As a family we have been very open about our difficulties in the hope that by sharing we can help, educate and inspire other families. My sons especially want to show that being neurodivergent can be positive because so much of what is thought of what it’s like to be neurodivergent is negative. My writing and blogging about the family has never been a secret and they have always been and will always be, included. 

Have you ever regretted writing a blog?

Great question! Honestly? I did once write a blog that upset someone I used to hold dear to me which, in fact, ended our friendship of 12 years. This was early in my writing, and I didn’t have such a developed set of personal ethics at that time. This friendship had been difficult for a while and despite trying to find out why the friendship wasn’t working nothing had really changed. I was upset and frustrated, and whilst I shouldn’t have written what I did in such a public way it did, finally, bring matters to a head. I regret being so frank -I wasn’t disrespectful in any way but there are some times where an honest conversation needs to happen in private. My regret was the public way in which I shared my upset at how I was being treated, not in the fact the friendship ended. 

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration?

Everywhere! I have a brain that finds everything interesting, so I’ll share a picture of a cup that I like the pattern of and then explore what it is about the pattern that I like. I’ll read a book and, if it’s fabulous, want to share it with my followers hoping that they too will read its fabulousness. I’m inspired to write about my work, my ideas on parenting and how we raise our children. Nothing is off limits though I do differentiate what goes on my blog (more niched) to what I post on my Facebook page (my day-to-day life).

Do you schedule writing time or write only when you have an idea? 

I’m not someone who can write to order which is shame because that would be fabulous. I usually have an idea that sits in my brain as I think about it and once it’s ready, I type it out fully formed. I only have to tinker to check it makes sense and do the usual editing. 

What are your writing goals for the near future?

I’ve been asked by followers many times if I have plans to write a book. I’d love to write a book but I’m not sure what I’d write about and how that might happen. I don’t have a talent for imaginative writing so I can’t see me ever writing fiction, but I have learned that I should never say never and just enjoy writing at the moment and see what opportunities might come along. 

Here are my [unwritten] rules for writing about my family:

  1. I anonymise my family within my writing. I don’t use any of my children’s name or my husband’s. 
  2. I ask myself if I would appreciate reading what I have written if it were about me before publishing. 
  3. I check-in with my husband to see if he thinks what I’m publishing is appropriate. 
  4. I ask my child’s permission if the blog is something that is quite personal. (I have permission for SEND blogs already.)
  5. If I’m at all uneasy I keep my blog as a draft and don’t publish it immediately and let it stay in draft for at least 24hrs. This gives me time to think it through after a sleep and a new day has started.
  6. My starting point for my writing or my blog is always that I shouldn’t be laughing at my children. 
  7. I ask myself: will this blog give the reader something to think about or give them a tool they can try or use? Is the blog kind and respectful to the subjects in the blog?
  8. I never publish or post anything where a family member has expressed concern or that they have not given permission for me to do so.
  9. I don’t force my writing and I…
  10. …only write when I feel I have something worth writing about.

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