From mommy blogs to books, parents sometimes now use their kids’ stories and creations as a way to support their families or raise money for charities. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lot of it depends entirely on how it’s done.
Do the kids know their stories are being told? Are they alright with it? Are they active participants and understand what’s being done with their work?
Consent and Respect
The two biggest factors inherent in this issue are the concepts of consent and respect.
I personally prefer not to name family names, or tell more than the vague outlines of what my family members have dealt with. Since my family members are adults, I can ask their permission before telling parts of their stories. They know what and how I write, which helps them understand what to expect.
If I choose to tell the stories on a forum like this blog, I send them a draft for their approval before hitting the post button.
It’s different with kids, though. Can young children understand what their parents are doing? Are older kids allowed approval of how they’re portrayed to the vastness of the internet?
I greatly admire how The Dyslexic Renegade‘s social media is conducted. If I recall correctly, writing her book, which the Facebook page is named for, was Leia’s idea. When she was diagnosed as dyslexic, she wanted to spread word about the neurodivergence through sharing her thoughts and experiences with other kids.
Her mother supported her, helped her and guides her online experiences, as parents should. They work as a team to promote and revise the book as needed or desired. I’m sure Leia is learning a lot about advocacy, strength, creativity, hard work and many other important areas of life through this experience.
As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best ways to go in regards to this issue.
Candy Waters’s art, on the other hand, seems to be the polar opposite of Leia’s book. I’ve written more extensively about my thoughts here, however, in relation to this topic, Candy’s parents don’t seem to involve her directly in any of the actual operation of the selling.
If the art is genuinely Candy’s, she doesn’t seem aware at all of what’s being done with it. Although she’s nonverbal, there are more than likely options available that could be used to help her communicate with the online community.
In short, her parents seem to be using her and her alleged work more as an object off of which to profit instead of a partner with which to build an actual awareness campaign.
When it comes to kids’ creations, they, as creators, should be encouraged to take part in what’s to be done with it. This should be both a learning experience and opportunity for healthy growth for all parties involved.
So, what about mommy blogs? Some writers make a full-time living off of their blogs through things like product promotions and selling ad space. Again, that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing at all.
The issue I have with some of them is when they share everything about their children’s lives with seemingly no concern about what the kids potentially feel about that information being shared. Still, that is the parent’s choice, and I have no doubt the vast majority want to protect and nurture their children.
I personally have reservations about sharing children’s images and full names. That’s more due to a sense of worry on my part about safety issues. I have some amazing nieces and nephews, but I share neither their full names or identifiable pictures on any of my public online profiles.
The question of fundraisers has also been raised from time to time. Yes, there are school and organization fundraisers. I did them in school and for the short time I was active in Girl Scouts. The only thing I learned from them is that I’m not a sales person by nature. However, those are different.
Most of them offer direct rewards for selling a certain amount of items and offer kids a “choice” of whether or not to participate. I say “choice”, because there’s an immense amount of pressure on reluctant kids to take part, but they’re not officially required to do them.
What about parents who have children help them with their fundraising efforts? Again, the keys to this one for me are consent, respect and safety.
In short, there’s nothing inherently wrong with selling kids’ work or stories. It just gets shady when the children aren’t allowed to be involved with the process the business or given the choice of what to do with their work.
What do you think?