Dear Clementine

In today's Dear Clementine, our resident advice expert offers advice to a blogger seeking to find the balance between inspiring others and over-sharing.
coffee and croissants

Image Credit: Tana Gandhi

Dear Clementine,

I'm a professional blogger with a 2-year-old special needs son and am having a hard time deciding whether or not I should continue to share stories about him. The inspiration I feel from connecting with and supporting other mothers empowers me to continue, but a small part of my gut feels as if I'm stealing a portion of his privacy. The older he grows, the more personality he gains, and I wonder when it's time for him to tell his own story; when it's no longer mine to share.

Where's the balance here? My blog is my job, but my son is my life. And although I love that I have the ability to spread awareness about my sons' special needs, I don't want to sacrifice his rights in the process. At what point does one's desire to help others override her child's privacy? Does it? Should it?

The Non-Mommy Blogger

Oh, you sweet, sweet mama.

Blogging is such a cool industry, but so darn crazy-making. It's a total tightrope walk, isn't it? The chance to inspire and share gets blown over by a gust of privacy issues, and one misstep makes us lose our balance and leaves us flat on our bums. Your job probably brings out the best in you, but it also threatens to bring out the beast. Comments turn into currency, and you start judging your story by the amount of likes and link backs before you even realize what's happening.

But let's be crystal clear. This isn't entirely your story to tell.

And I only know this because of this: I'm friends-ish with this woman who defines herself by how she kind of cured her son of autism. If you've ever met her, you knew this within the first five minutes of shaking her hand. (Also, that her husband has a wee gambling problem if you stick around for 15. God only knows what you'll learn after a month or two. I shudder to imagine!) While I'm sure she's helped and provided hope for hundreds of parents out there - and maybe even you - I also know that her now middle-schooler doesn't appreciate the good she is spreading. Any of it. In fact, it really pisses him off. And this happens more than you think; I'm sure you have a friend-ish like this, too, who over shares her family's circumstances to help perfect matter the cost to her perfect loves sitting right next to her.

We will always want more information. That's human. We are always hungry for more. But you don't have to feed us your son.

You said it yourself: Your blog is your job, but your son is your life. If you lost your job, you could find another. That little guy toddling right now at a fast pace toward your coffee cup, however, is pretty irreplaceable. Protect him and his someday with your life. My advice? I just would never paint your son in a shade that might clash with his future.

Does that mean you have to give up your job? Nope. I'd like you to take a little test, if you don't mind. I'm going to give you a choice, and all you have to do is pick one. The first idea is to start an anonymous blog, separate from your main site, dedicated to all things special about your son's journey, but only - and here's the trick - your steps through it. No one will ever know the author is you, no one will ever know the stories are about your son. There will be no accolades, no sponsors, and no swag. But you will still be able to empower away freely, Mama. The second option is to stop blogging about him altogether. I mean, what's the point if no one knows it's your story? (There is a third way to go, but it involves disregarding everything: my advice, your son's privacy, and all kind common sense. And you are not that sort of mother. I know that in my heart.)

I'm hoping you scowled at two of those choices. I'm hoping your craving to help others in your online community is so much stronger than any wish for fortune or fame or page views. I'm hoping you choose to become such a bright spot in some other parents' lives that they have to blink twice when they read your words. And I'm hoping your son's life changes the lives of so many others without changing his not even one little bit.

I have it on good authority that you can still share your best with others without compromising your identity. And I only know this because of this: Clementine isn't even close to my real name.

So this really is the only way I live my days.


p.s. Want advice from sweet Clementine? Email us here.