This Mommy Blogger Is Under Fire For Refusing To Stop Writing About Her 9-Year-Old After The Girl Begged Her To
"Promising not to write about her anymore would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her."
A mommy blogger is receiving criticism online for saying that she is refusing to honor her 9-year-old daughter's wish to no longer be written about on the internet.
Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and more. According to her website, she is currently writing a memoir.
As a mommy blogger, Tate's two children have been the subjects of her writing since they were in diapers.
She has told many stories about her young son and daughter, often using their real names.
Tate has discussed her daughter's adventures in potty training, fights they have had, and described dealing with her "explosive" temper tantrums, stage fright, her tendency to eavesdrop, and, once, the girl's "rather tenacious case of diarrhea."
In one essay from 2016, Tate wrote in detail about how her then-second-grade daughter was told by a friend of hers she needed some space.
In the essay, Tate wrote she understood how her child could maybe be too much.
"Like me, my daughter bonds in a fierce and all-consuming way," she wrote. "Our kind of intense love isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t begrudge a second-grader for wanting a little space from my daughter, who no doubt sought — and maybe even demanded — reciprocal devotion and exclusivity. "
Recently, according to Tate, her daughter found, and read, some of these essays. And she was not happy.
Tate wrote in the Washington Post her child recently got a laptop, and found what she had been writing.
"'What’s all this?' she said," Tate wrote. "The screen was covered with thumbnail sketches of her as a baby, a toddler and preschooler — each paired with an essay or blog post I’d written on the subject of parenting. 'Why are all of these pictures of me on the Internet?'"
Tate said she told her daughter she wouldn't write about her now without her permission. Her daughter then asked her if the photos could be removed, and Tate said no.
Tate mused that while some people would say she should stop writing about her children to protect their privacy, she will not do that, writing:
I respect that approach and understand why it works for many writers, but it’s not a promise I can make. Certainly, my daughter is old enough now that I owe her a head’s up and a veto right on the pictures or on portions of the content, but I’m not done exploring my motherhood in my writing. And sometimes my stories will be inextricably linked to her experiences.
Promising not to write about her anymore would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her. So my plan is to chart a middle course, where together we negotiate the boundaries of the stories I write and the images I include. This will entail hard conversations and compromises. But I prefer the hard work of charting the middle course to giving up altogether — an impulse that comes, in part, from the cultural pressure for mothers to be endlessly self-sacrificing on behalf of their children. As a mother, I’m not supposed to do anything that upsets my children or that makes them uncomfortable, certainly not for something as culturally devalued as my own creative labor.
Tate said the compromise she and her daughter have come to is that her daughter's real name will not be used, and they have "agreed to describe to her what I’m writing about, in advance of publication, and to keep the facts that involve her to a minimum." The child also gets to veto photos of herself she doesn't like.
Tate didn't immediately return a request for comment on her piece from BuzzFeed News.
However, many people did not agree with Tate's views.
Hundreds of commenters on the piece and social media said they were horrified she wasn't honoring her daughter's wishes.
"I disagree with you, Ms. Tate," one commenter wrote. "Now that your daughter is old enough to understand that you are violating her privacy, and she has asked you to stop, you should comply."
Many wondered about the long-term impact of having your life be so public.
"Suppose your husband was a writer, and he wrote about his relationship with you and justified it in the same terms that you are using to write about your daughter. Maybe posted pictures as well. How would that feel?" wrote one person.