Are some things really better left unsaid?

FleaThis weekend, I had a row with a member of my family.

Actually, I don't do rows. So when I say "I had a row" what I really mean is that I said "Oh no, that's absolutely fine, really, don't give it another thought," then put the phone down and pulled faces at the handset for five minutes until I felt better.

But here’s the thing: I’ve always thought that people who speak ill of their family say more about themselves than anyone else. So I choose not to blog about my family.

Obviously, not everyone feels the same way – this week I read two amazingly honest, thoughtful posts about Mothers by Life with a Little Dude and New Mummy. Those are really moving posts and well worth reading if you haven’t seen them already.

There are only a few things on my “do not blog” list.  As well as my family, I choose not to blog about my love life – for one, it’s pathetically unexciting, and for two, it’s my choice to have a blog, and that’s not a choice the chap would ever make. Also, really, I don’t think Flea ever needs Google to turn up some post about my sexual antics.

I do sometimes blog about The Father although I edit heavily and try to always be aware that I’m talking about someone who doesn’t have a right of reply. So I try not to attribute motives to his behaviour, and only to blog about those things I really feel strongly about, that I wouldn't mind Flea knowing about later, and which I feel other people might have experience of, or insight into.

It’s such a difficult balancing act – I strongly believe that a blog only really works if you really put yourself into it. But I also believe there should be limits and that it’s important to be respectful of other people’s confidentiality and feelings when we blog.  I’m not sure I always get the balance right.

What do you think? What sorts of things are on your “do not blog” list? Do you tell people if you’ve blogged about them? 


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 24th November 2009 / 8:10 am

    I try not to blog negatively about anyone. Plus I don’t write anything much about people who don’t know I blog (only a handful do). The kids I try to think “would this embarrass them.” Also off limits is anything that my husband doesn’t like (I have to live with him) such as things about sex, reproduction – you get the picture.
    It often feels wrong to omit so much because, like you said, the blog is what I put me into and I want it to be truthful. And I think it is. Just not about ALL of me.
    PS Do you realise your comment system can sometimes act up/refuse comments?

  2. 24th November 2009 / 9:22 am

    I try to be open in my blog, but dont use the boys names, as they are too young to be included without their consent.
    I also try not to be overly critical about my family, but i am keen to show the good in addition to the bad, my blog is definitely not wearing rose tinted specs

  3. 24th November 2009 / 10:27 am

    Like you, I don’t blog about my closest family in any substantial way. It’s my blog, and if they want to blog their lives, they can do it on their own blogs. Sometimes it’s really hard. I would like to blog in more detail about grief and bereavement (because it is something so rarely discussed and it’s important that it is) but feel that it’s not my right, that it breaks confidentiality of some sort. I haven’t got my head around this at all yet, but think about it a lot.
    Sometimes, hubby criticises my content, and I always listen to it and change it if I agree with him.
    I don’t think there’s such a thing as an anonymous blog – once it;s out there, anything can happen to your content so I’d always treat anything I say as being made very public to everyone, including family. My general question to myself is – would I share this happily with my family friends colleagues? If yes, I press publish.
    That still means I’m honest and open, but also considerate of others.

  4. 24th November 2009 / 4:15 pm

    I’m always very careful not to blog about my extended family (and believe me, there would be some fascinating posts..) I once upset my Dad by writing a post about how much I hated boarding school, so now I think very carefully before I type. That’s also (partly) why I blog anonymously – I’m probably being over protective, but don’t want the boys to find all this stuff in the public domain with their names on once they are older….

  5. 24th November 2009 / 7:22 pm

    It was a hard decision for me to write about my family in that way and it is not something I do often. I sometimes mention my family in passing but very rarely a post like I did. I probably won’t write a post that open about my family again but it was 10 years in the making and its no secret in my family.

  6. 24th November 2009 / 7:31 pm

    I think it is OK to start completely at the other end: to define certain topics/clusters of issues to blog about, and then, by default … leave everything else out! It is not necessary to splash your entire private life or everything about all your close relationships to be an interesting read. Especially if the blog has some sort of angle and focus. If it is motherhood, then it does not have to be about sex (even if mommy hopefully is getting some sometime…. 😉

  7. 24th November 2009 / 7:52 pm

    I try to make sure that anyone I know could read my blog and not get upset. I mention the husband from time to time but he’s known as The Ball & Chain and it’s all in good fun. I quite often read what I’ve written out loud to him.
    I am being roundly taken to task on my other blog, Pond Parleys ( however for my cruel and unjust comments about green beans, would you believe!

  8. Liz (LivingwithKids)
    24th November 2009 / 8:40 pm

    I recently blogged about falling out with my sister. I didn’t go into detail but I just wanted to write it down because I knew I’d feel better – I’ve always found writing cathartic. (We’re speaking again now BTW, we fall out all the time). I’m a heart-on-her-sleeve kinda gal and so I don’t feel there’s much in my life that’s off limits… (I blogged about my mum’s operation knowing it was completely safe because she doesn’t really understand computers.) But it still astonishes me that anyone’s interested!

  9. 24th November 2009 / 10:18 pm

    Very interesting post – I had a minor falling out with my sister (like you, when I say this, what I really mean is she really irritated me but I didn’t say anything to her because that would have been confrontational) today and I am sort of tempted to blog about it. But then what if she reads it? If I’m not brave enough to tell her what I’m feeling to her face then how would she/I feel if I put it on the net? But then if stuff is bothering me it does help to blog about it…

  10. Muummmeeeee!
    25th November 2009 / 12:03 am

    I had a huge fall-out with my sister-in-law about 5 years ago and have never managed to get closure on the argument because she refused further contact with me. She’s since fallen out with pretty much every other member of the family so I try not to take it too personally. Would love to rant about her and my blog is anonymous – is that wrong?

  11. diane
    25th November 2009 / 12:12 am

    There are certain things I won’t write about on my blog – family members have done some really outrageous and upsetting things but I keep my mouth shut because it’s not worth the fall out of not doing so…
    My Dad is great because he doesn’t mind what I say about him as long as I don’t show his picture or reveal his name. I have written about my ex and my parents and some quite personal things, which might not be a good idea if I was a business journalist, but as I do a lot of first-person stuff I think it’s quite a useful showcase. And it’s that stuff that people relate to most and gets me the most positive comments.
    I recently wrote a post about a really hard time I was having, and my readers were so supportive, so I’m not really into worrying about putting on a happy face so people like me anymore (which I certainly was when I started).
    I wouldn’t use a blog to settle scores though, and think it’s unpleasant if people do so. It’s not quite true the ‘wronged’ party doesn’t have a right of reply, though – they could start their own blog, blogging is very democratic that way.
    I actually think more carefully about my journalism, and what I say about family and friends there, because they don’t really have a right of reply and I don’t want to take advantage of that situation (I’ve become more cautious about that over time, in fact). I’ve chosen not to write about certain things or held details back so as not to ruin relationships, and I definitely don’t regret that.

  12. 25th November 2009 / 7:34 pm

    I also do not blog negatively about family though some member give me ample material. *sigh* It’s just not worth it.

  13. 25th November 2009 / 8:07 pm

    My do not talk about are
    sex life
    Lack of sex life
    how infuriated I get
    How happy I get to the point of insanity
    I never talk about my family – why because it’s so fucked up
    I try not to swear either – I’m working on that
    Nice to meet you 🙂

  14. Janine Clements
    26th November 2009 / 2:57 pm

    It’s definitely something I’ve given a lot of thought to. My husband and my daughter both have complete anonymity in my blog and I don’t like to be personal about families or friends. Who know which friend or member of family might read it.
    Plus I don’t want to be too personal about myself. It’s a public domain so if you started blogging on not being able to cope or wanting to “kill your husband”, metaphorically speaking of course, social services could come knocking at your door and take you/your child away!
    This is a bit extreme of course, but it could happen.