As parents, we assume responsibility for the lives of our children. By necessity, infants abdicate all rights to their caregivers instantaneously at birth. Maintaining a child’s privacy is a task no guardian should take lightly.
Parents blog about the adventures of their children. Slideshows chronicling an entire childhood are viewable on Facebook. We tweet about a first tooth on Twitter. Our children’s lives have become open books in a public forum. I wonder, how much exposure is too much?
Social media outlets allow us to share family photos expeditiously. The latest child YouTube sensation is often viewed by millions. Watching a giggling baby or talented toddler brightens the day. These exchanges may innocently expose our children to a global audience.
Preserving our children’s privacy isn’t an easy effort. As the parent of a differently-abled child, it’s an internal conflict, I continuously struggle to reconcile. Do I have the right, morally, to disclose my child’s diagnosis to the world?
When my son, Ben, was originally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I spoke about it sparingly. Subconsciously, I hoped Ben would outgrow it. Consciously, I didn’t want Ben to be labeled.
Initially, Ben’s dissimilarities were easy to camouflage. As he matured and entered a mainstream educational institution, Ben’s distinct characteristics were evident. Concealment was no longer an option. Although exposed, Ben was still sheltered within our local community.
Now as an entrepreneur, blogger, and autism advocate, I’ve made the decision to openly discuss Ben. Am I entitled to share his story? Some may argue that it’s our narrative. They would be right. But these parables only encompass a chapter of my life. For Ben, they comprise the entirety of his biography.
Time, and Ben, will determine if I’ve made the correct choices. Parenting is subjective. Even with the greatest intentions, guardians make mistakes. We trust the successes outweigh the failures.
In the meantime, I relish my personification in the history of Ben’s adventures. Hopefully, Ben will appreciate his personage in our family chronicle, as well.