Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Posts tagged ‘privacy’

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A friend commented recently on the fact that DH and I have hardly any photos of the children on Facebook, and those that we do share either don’t show their faces or only part of their face so they’re not readily identifiable. This seems quite unusual in this age of social media and my friend was understandably curious.

It’s not just us who are reluctant to share pictures of our children. Some people who refuse to share do so out of fear of paedophiles, concerned that posting an image of their child online will put that child at risk of sexual abuse. Some people have very serious reasons for withholding images of their children – perhaps a violent partner or abuser is looking for them, or a child has been removed from their biological family and is being fostered or adopted

Our reason is far more mundane, however – privacy.

My children aren’t yet old enough to decide whether they want to have photos of themselves floating around the internet. For DH and me to make that decision for them would, we feel, be a breach of their right to privacy. In years to come, when they’re applying to colleges, universities or jobs, it may well be commonplace to do online searches to see what applicants are like (this is already starting to happen) and anything that pops up should be something that the children have consented to being shared. (Not that I imagine any future employer would be interested in baby photos but hopefully you understand what I mean!).

In the earlier days of Facebook we used to post pictures of the children quite often as it was an easy way to share photos with our family and friends (most of whom don’t live locally to us) knowing that only they could see them. But then the site changed, so that if you commented on a photo your friends could see it too. Very quickly a lot of strangers were able to see your image, something that was brought home to us when one of DH’s friends discovered that some of his Facebook photos were being used in an advertising campaign! At that point we removed our shared pictures and videos and haven’t posted any since.

We still send photos to interested friends and family but now it’s by email, and we’ve asked family not to post pictures of them online. I never put photos of the children on my blog and rarely tweet even back-of-the-head shots. I have no objection to others sharing photos and videos of their children online and I do enjoy seeing them. But DH and I would feel uncomfortable putting our own children in the public domain until they are mature enough to make the decision for themselves.

What do you think? Is this something you’ve thought about or is it a non-issue as far as you’re concerned?

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Is there going to be a royal baby? I hadn’t heard…

As I write this Twitter is getting hysterical over vague rumours that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is in labour. (If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years she’s the woman married to Prince William). Now, I’m not getting into the monarchy vs republic debate. This post is about the fact that a woman is heavily pregnant with her first child and is unable to so much as twitch without a full-page tabloid spread speculating on the reason why.

I remember very clearly those days and weeks before I had my first child. It was unbearably hot, I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere and I was both impatient and terrified about labour. I knew what to expect in terms of the actual process of course, but every woman experiences labour and birth differently. Some breeze through it without any pain relief at all while others tell of agony beyond endurance; I had no idea which kind I was going to be. Neither does Kate Middleton. This should be a special time for her and her husband, their last few days and weeks as a duo rather than a family. But no.

The media and internet is rife with speculation about the baby’s sex, names, whether or not Kate will breastfeed, whether the couple will opt for cloth nappies, whether they’ll employ a nanny, whether she’ll have a waterbirth, a hypnobirth or a hanging-upside-down birth (ok, I made that one up), what kind of parenting practices they’ll follow – it’s endless. Add to that the mountains of celebratory tat merchandise and it’s far worse than any new parent’s nightmare.

In my experience most new parents want privacy, peace and quiet, and time to adapt to what just happened and work out which way up the baby goes. The first few weeks can be hard enough if you have intrusive friends and family who won’t leave you alone – imagine how stressful it will be for Kate and her husband with the majority of the world’s press breathing down their necks.

Personally I’m not interested in this baby beyond hoping that it is born safe and healthy, just as I hope for all babies and parents-to-be. But the level of obsession displayed in recent weeks is utterly absurd and to be honest I’m finding it quite disturbing. Please can we leave this couple in peace? Please can people allow this woman to labour and give birth to her child with privacy and dignity, as any woman should have the right to expect?

And please, pretty please with cherries on top, no more commemorative junk!

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