Toilet training future adults

Please, please, please, think it through very carefully before you blog about your children’s bowel movements, or post a You Tube video of your child dancing naked and singing about successful defecation, and then zoom in for a close-up of the chef d’oeuvre the little prodigy has produced in the potty. You don’t think people do this? Think again. They do, but there’s a good reason not to. I’m not saying don’t do it because I’m prissy and think it’s gross. There’s a legitimate, non-prissy reason not to do it, and it’s important.

In about a dozen years, that kid who today is singing about his or her excrement is going to be in high school. Do you remember how mean kids can be in high school? If not, did you see Mean Girls? Or better yet, read Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, a horrifying window on the sick little world girls can make of school.

Imagine your potty-dancing daughter of two and a half when she’s fifteen. She’s sweet, pretty, a little shy, easily embarrassed, and has a mad crush on the same boy her school’s Teen Queen of Mean likes. Do you have any idea what it’s going to be like for your beloved and fragile daughter when that teen virago in her class Googles her and finds your blog, in which you wrote at great and loving length about the contents of your daughter’s diapers and what escaped the diapers, and the initial frustrations and ultimate triumphs of toilet training. Maybe there’s even a picture or two of the naked little cherub standing next to a potty filled with her first outside-the-diaper bowel movement. The Teen Queen of Mean chuckles to herself, and hits the “Share this on Facebook” button.

The absolute prize for embarrassing your future teenage child is this. I’m linking, but I’m not naming the child or parent in question, because I don’t want it to turn up on search engines. You’ll understand why if you read the whole thing. The sad thing is, this father has actually turned his baby blog into a book that has been published. There’s a link to the book on Amazon.com if you explore the website, but I’m not posting the link.

The more Mommy Blogs (and Daddy Blogs, but there are far more of the mommy variety) I read, the more I realize that it probably hasn’t even occurred to a lot of parents to think of their babies and toddlers as future adults. They’re so little now that it’s almost inconceivable, I suppose. As evidence for my hypothesis that hardly anyone thinks about this, I submit the case of Jon and Kate Gosselin.

I’ve written well over a hundred posts on this blog, and only two of those (this one and this one) have been about the Gosselin family. Nevertheless, according to my stat program, this is the top ten list of keyword searches that have brought people to my blog:

kate gosselin
hate kate gosselin
moralia blog
i hate kate gosselin
kate gosselin shrew
reasons to oppose obama
moralia
kate gosselin tummy tuck
hate the gosselins
kate gosselin is a shrew

Two of them are for my blog name, one for Obama (which makes sense, since I wrote a lot more about him than about the Kate Gosselin), and the other seven – seven! – about the Gosselins, and mainly about Kate Gosselin, whom a lot of people apparently (a) hate, and (b) think is a shrew. Keyword searches for my name (in both correctly and incorrectly spelled versions) didn’t even make the top ten list because of all the permutations of Gosselin hatred clogging it up.

So what does Kate Gosselin have to do with what I’ve been saying about toilet training? Here’s a clip from Jon & Kate Plus 8 that shows one of the sextuplets in training, with all the future-teen-embarrassing elements discussed above.

My point here isn’t to jump on the “I hate Kate” bandwagon, and I don’t make a habit of insulting other mothers. My point is that the Gosselins have allowed their children’s toilet training to occur on national TV, and amid all the choruses of “I hate Kate” there isn’t much said about the public potty training. People (mainly women) criticize Mrs. Gosselin for taking freebies, for being lazy, for nagging her husband, for being too hard on her kids, for being vain, for being this, that and the other, but nobody seems to think anything much of her making the bowel movements of future adults – and, more to the point, perhaps, future teenagers – a public spectacle.

In the video clip, Mrs. Gosselin says she knows some people are offended by the pictures, but insists that it’s part of the children’s history, and that they’re proud of themselves. Now they are, to be sure, but now they’re two or three years old. When they’re fifteen, they’re unlikely to be all that proud of doing what every other civilized member of the human race does as a matter of course. They’re far more likely to be embarrassed because their classmates can watch re-runs of them doing it on cable TV.

I repeat, I do not write this to attack Mrs. Gosselin – or Mr. Gosselin either, since he must approve as well. The point I am trying to make is that no one is talking about the privacy rights of these future adults. Mrs. Gosselin talks about people being offended. I’m not offended by the sight of feces; what mother of four could be? It has nothing to do with being disgusted, and everything to do with respecting individuals’ privacy, even if those individuals are not yet old enough to care about it themselves. I don’t think Kate Gosselin and the army of mommy bloggers bloggging away about their children’s BMs are bad mothers. I think it simply doesn’t occur to a lot of parents that their cute, chubby little cherubs are future adults who will have varying degrees of personal reticence and modesty. Some of them will laugh at the potty dance videos and not care that they were made public. Others will be mortified.

We, as parents, have no way of knowing what kind of teenagers and what kind of adults our toddlers will grow up to be. But grow up they will, and we would do well to remember it.

Comments 7

  1. Anne wrote:

    I agree. One of my children (age 14) regularly reads my blog, so that keeps me ever sensitive to what I post about them. Would I want someone posting personal, potentially embarrassing info about me? No. So why would it be okay to post that about my kids?

    When in doubt about a post about my children, I ask their permission. They’re teenagers, so that makes sense. But parents of younger children would probably do well to fast-forward in their heads and imagine asking that child when he/she is a teenager. No teenager I know would be okay with a poop post.

    Posted 13 Dec 2008 at 7:08 pm
  2. Emily wrote:

    My mom reads this blog, and she showed me this post because I’m 13 and she wanted my opinion. If my mom had done this to me, I would be SO mad at her, and SO embarrassed. Please, all you moms that blog, think about your kids instead of yourself.

    Posted 13 Dec 2008 at 7:40 pm
  3. Dianna wrote:

    I read Mrs. Russell’s blogs, routinely. This one is so very right on the money. Think about the news stories of a teen child who, as Mrs. Russell has posted, is right of the brink of reclusiveness. Has other problems to deal with and does not feel as “cool and in” as others in school. What happens to that teen if the “history” of his/her potty training is shared with schoolmates? We have all heard the horror stories of teen suicides. Not that this, alone, would be a reason for such a horrible and tragic occurrance, but one never knows. I am thankful children my age and all children prior to the world wide web never had to worry about what mom and dad have stored in memory that the world just might see.

    Posted 13 Dec 2008 at 8:06 pm
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  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh please. Get a life.

    Posted 20 Jul 2011 at 2:26 am
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Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Moralia - Celebrity culture on 27 Jun 2009 at 9:58 pm

    […] Jon and Kate Gosselin are celebrities of more recent vintage, and I’ve actually blogged about them before (here , here and here). […]

  2. From Moralia - Timehop on 05 Jan 2017 at 6:41 am

    […] Life with teenagers (I have two at the moment) is very different from life with babies. One thing that’s different is that you can blog about babies and post pictures of them on social media without their permission. Even when mine were babies, though, I was cognizant of the fact that they wouldn’t always be, and what parents write about little ones might not sit so well with them later. […]

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