I think about that twitter essay from Mike Reynolds often lately.

As my sons get older, I’m involving them more in the stories I’m telling and content I’m creating. Often branded content. And, lately, there’s been resistance. And it’s hard. The guilt is there.

The boys love to go off on their own with their YouTube channels creating random videos about LEGO or books or whatever. It’s easy, I help set up a camera and lights for them, and they come get me when they’re done to do an edit.

But when it comes to the content I ‘need to do,’ I find myself coaching, urging, asking for retakes, and managing the situation much more closely.

And then there are the times when I have an idea in my head about how awesome a piece of content could be and I get no buy-in from the boys. None.

And as I sit there begging, telling them ‘we have to do this’ because of a client, my mind drifts back to the piece from Mike and how he simply doesn’t take photos of his daughter, let alone cajole her to create branded content. As I sit there promising money for their savings accounts or to buy LEGO I feel dirty.

Is it worth it?

For me, monetizing the content on my sites is how I raise money for Team Diabetes Canada.

We’ve had great adventures at hockey games

on weekend trips to the coast

and exploring all the things

But along the way there are times when I’ve had to twist arms and beg. And it’s not fun for anyone involved.

The great lady of parent blogging, Dooce, had a crisis of guilt recently that led to her taking a long break away from creating any content.

Armstrong says for her, the breaking point on blogging for a living came when one of her two daughters refused to go on an outing that was part of a sponsored post plan. There were tears, and with her child pleading with her, Armstrong decided she could no longer bear the invasive requests of the advertisers. “I did it for as long as I could, until I was like, I cannot be that person any more,” she says, simply.

And then there’s the drama surrounding Daddy O Five that has hit the fan this week. This father makes YouTube videos he calls “pranks” involving his wife and 5 children. He breaks their video games, convinces his kids they killed a sibling, trashes their rooms, and yells, curses, and plays incredibly abusive mind games with them. “It’s just a prank, bro.”

All for clicks. Hundreds of millions of them in fact.

He’s faced harsh criticism for his content and posted rebuttal videos this week where the kids say everyone is just jealous because they have all the video games. Sounds like a guy who is begging and pleading and promising to get his kids in his videos to me.

And then I remembered Mike’s posts, and I put them all together and .. well .. big guilt trip.

I’m not at the semi-retirement moment that Dooce had, but I am much more aware than I’ve ever been about what it means to involve my kids in the content I create and how they must have a say in that content.

There is a time when being a blogger flips from having fun to becoming a job. It’s not an instant switch, it’s more like a slow change. You don’t really notice it until one day you catch yourself in the mirror and you’re like “woah, I have grey hair.”

When we start out blogging, we’re telling our personal stories about relating to a squirming, pooping, pile of screams. The stories may involve our children, but they are our stories we’re telling. Then slowly, as your kids age, and get personalities, and play a bigger role in the routine, it’s their stories we’re telling too.

And that’s where permission has to come in. There can’t be convincing. There can’t be baiting. There can’t be anything other than a complete buy-in or it doesn’t happen.

So now, before I agree to do any work with a client, I pitch the boys what I’ve been pitched. I ask them if they want to be a part of it, if they have any ideas for how we can spin a story. If they’re in, great, they’re in. If they’re not, then it’s up to me to go solo or turn the opportunity down.

I’m a parent blogger, my stories involve my kids, they just do. Now I just have to be hyper aware that those stories happen on their terms.

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