Not living in fear.

Imagine this scenario. You are at the beach and your kids are playing by the surf with friends, making sand castles and climbing on the groynes. A man comes up and asks them to pose for a quick shot, they happily oblige and wave at the camera.

This is all unbeknown to you until you stumble upon a tourism brochure with your kids plastered across the front. You didn’t give permission for the photo to be taken and you certainly didn’t give permission for it to be used as a form of marketing.

What do you do? Complain, go absolutely nuts, contact a solicitor, try and get it banned, sue them, have a stiff drink and blast them in every forum you can think of?

I’d certainly do some of those things if it happened to me.

But you see that scenario did happen to me, except i wasn’t the parent i was one of the kids. I’m in the blue swimming costume with the daisy and my older sister is in black on the left.


We came across the brochures in an box at my parents the other day when we were sorting through old photos. It was nearly 30 years ago now and it made me think of our reaction at the time. We took the brochures to school, showed our friends and enjoyed a very brief spell as minor local celebrities. It was a good thing.

I asked my Mum and Dad if anyone expressed any concerns to the contrary. No, why would they? It was just an innocent shot of a bunch of kids at the beach enjoying their summer. Why would anyone think of it as anything else?

They did phone up the council, not to complain, but to request a larger print to frame. You see the reaction at the time wasn’t one of fear or anger. It was one of pride. Fancy that.

When did everything start to change, what’s so different now?

I know there are people out there who might raise an eyebrow over my choice to put pictures and details of my children online for all the world to see (should they choose to). Everyone has their own level of comfort but for me it will be a sad day when the joy of my sharing pictures and memories is overcome by the fear of them being seen as anything more untoward.

So now the weather is changing and it means more trips down to the seaside, more chances for us and the boys to have the sorts of days captured in that cover shot.

There may be days when i forget their swimsuits, or there may be days they fancy running about naked, just because it feels free. Naked running generally becomes more illegal as you get bigger so i will encourage them to tick that box off the life list now.

As me and J watch them enjoying everything that is good about being a kid our eyes will be locked firmly on their smiling faces, not casting backwards glances over our shoulders.

You see we made a choice and the choice is not to live in fear.


P.S. I have a new book OUT NOW! You can nab it on Amazon here or in your lovely local bookshop :)


45 thoughts on “Not living in fear.

  1. rosieapple1

    You are right. The world has changed but we should not fear it. There are a minority of people out there that do awful things but the idea of them shouldn’t prevent us from seeing things like this so negatively. My parents and I would have been as proud as you and your parents if my brother or I had been on the front cover. What a lovely memory for you and your sister :-)

  2. tiasmum12

    I totally agree, plus I love the fact Tia can look back on it all when she’s older. I know some people use nicknames, but we don’t even have one of those for her so it would feel so unnatural writing one. How cold that you were a local celeb though!! I grew up in Sussex (Brighton) and I remember brochures like that well.

  3. notafrumpymum

    I love this post, and such a good point made. In school we have to send letters out to all parents if there is even the smidgen of a chance their child will have their photo taken. Oh, to remember when a camera provoked only 2 reactions, the hider or the show off, a much innocent time!
    Very cute photo, you little supermodel you! Xx

  4. Emma

    What a great picture and I quite agree- it’s gone too much the other way, at the expense if a lovely moment like that. Love the swimsuit :-)

  5. Mummy to boyz

    I couldn’t agree more – people say to me sometimes about sharing my pictures but it’s just a photo.I thought that the little boys either side of you looked a bit like F & S -are they related to you – the boys in the pic not your sons I’m not that sleep deprived lol x

  6. Notmyyearoff

    I love I our costume and you all look do happy. My mum keeps telling me “it was a different time back then”. Shame it’s all changed isn’t it? I was thinking about this the other day and I remember we used to play out by ourselves till it got dark. If you see a bunch of kids now by themselves it’s instantly seen as trouble making.

    1. hurrahforgin

      We used to play out all the time too. Actually quite a few of the kids around here do as we live in a quiet area with no through roads. I love the sound of it :) x

  7. cariemay

    I wonder whether it’s the prevalence of the Internet and digital media that has pushed it the other way? The knowledge that if it’s in one place it’s in a hundred more? That possibility that even if taken originally for an innocent purpose it can get warped and manipulated? I know I wouldn’t be happy if I found my children on a travel brochure without my knowledge and yet my parents would probably have reacted as yours did.

    For us and living in the world we do, it’s all about balance; choosing to believe that the majority of the world doesn’t come with nefarious intent, and choosing the level to which we’re comfortable sharing our lives. For example, I’ve got loads of pictures of my children in the bath but they’re never going on the Internet, and H and I chose to use pseudonyms for my blog, to make it a little more difficult to google them when they’re all grown up.

    I wonder whether our children will look back at us in 30 years and marvel at how trusting we are?

    1. hurrahforgin

      I never knew you used pseudonyms Carie!
      I think you are right though, it probably is due to the internet and social media, it makes the consequences seem worse.
      Oh i am would still be very unhappy if the brochure thing happened now – probably more from a permission perspective. x

  8. Mummy Glitzer

    I think it is really sad how times have changed. Whilst I read that statistically the prevalance of kidnapping etc isn’t actually any higher than years gone by certainly the change in the way we get the news has made us more alert, paranoid even?

    I am with you. I spoke to my husband at length before I started sharing pictures of Harry and he was concerned at first but he is obviously a huge part of my life.

    1. hurrahforgin

      I think people think the risk is increased as you hear more about it now and they catch more people. But you have to remember its still a very very tiny minority x

  9. Dean B

    What a cutie! You still are ;) As for posting photos, I still worry about that sometimes at the back of my head, especially when you read/hear about horror stories happening to other bloggers. (I’ve had this post saved in my draft for ages about this! But keep forgetting to finish it. Hehehe). Stories about their photos being used/stolen and worse edited. When I first started, I didn’t post photos of little T showing her face, but I just got tired of doing that! I just refuse to be paranoid anymore. And let things be, though I do understand why other bloggers aren’t comfortable about posting photos of their kids on their blogs. x

    1. hurrahforgin

      I haven’t really heard of seen of many bad things happening – perhaps that’s why i still feel like i do! I think you juts have to make a decision that feels comfortable to you – i might change my mind though, who knows x

  10. Tim

    COuldn’t agree more. It’s a shame we have all become so paranoid these days, often with good reason. Like you, I don’t have a big problem sharing selected photos and details of my children’s lives. There’s so much else in the world for us to be fearful and paranoid about – my blog is one of the few places where I can celebrate the joys of life rather than its terrors. Maybe that makes me naive. I hope not.

  11. Katie @mummydaddyme

    I struggle with this on a daily basis. (well perhaps not daily!) ;) But because I share A LOT of photos of my girls I worry that they will get into the wrong hands. But then my husband is more rational and says that if you were worried about simple snapshots then you should be worried about going out the house and walking down the street in case someone looks at them funny. Which is very true. I like to celebrate the joy and happiness on my blog, and it brings us so much as a family that those good points outweigh the bad. x

  12. Olivia FitzGerald

    That really is quite shocking isn’t it? And I bet nobody thought anything of it.
    My article on blogging mummies has been published and it’s up on my blog if you want to have a look?

  13. sarahmo3w

    Good for you! My kids are now beyond that age and they do have to cover up – although my 8yo daughter will insist on walking round the village in a leotard and I will let her do that until she feels uncomfortable with it. I don’t put recognisable pics of my kids on my blog because at 12 going on 13 my eldest could end up being bullied for it. I don’t want to stop sharing stories about him and his siblings, so I protect him by not sharing pictures. Most parent bloggers don’t take that stance and it would be lovely to share the beautiful photos I take of them, but his safety and happiness is more important to me.
    Incidentally, when he was a baby back in 2001 some Japanese tourists took his photo without asking permission. I was delighted because it meant he was cute. I had no concerns about what they were doing with the picture.

    1. hurrahforgin

      Sounds sensible to me Sarah, i haven’t really thought much about the impact when they get older but as they start school i will have to think about it again.

  14. Complicated Gorgeousness

    Great post. I was really rankled by a recent blog on Huffington Post about why we shouldn’t blog about the children. These blogs are a celebration of their lives and so easily deleted if they hate it when they are older. Cute pics – you have all the model agencies after you now ha ;) xx

  15. helloitsgemma

    This. Was. My. Childhood.
    Freedom. Without cares. In retrospect it wasn’t perfect and we took too much for granted. See jimmy Saville. Children had freedom, I waked home from school, played in the park and the woods without adult supervision. But I had no voice. Things were brushed away. We hear more now, we listen better and as a consequence we think we see more and we fear more. I’d love my son to have the innocence and freedom that I had. We need to fine a balance.
    I’m absolutely certain I had that freaking swimming costume which kind of freaks me out.

    1. hurrahforgin

      You are so right – it is about finding a balance but its a very difficult thing to do. I juts don’t want to let the fear impact on all the good stuff about being a kid. And how weird about the cossie ;)

  16. Donna

    Agree completely! Quite a few photos of my children are used on marketing material for a lot of things – Some I know exactly what they’re used for, others I only have a vague idea. But all of it is pride really, I love that my children’s images can be used for marketing – It doesn’t really bring me any concern or worry. I don’t think I’d mind a beach photo being used like that either – Obviously if someone was taking sneaky photos for more …. didgy reasons then I’d be concerned.
    PS. I voted for you in all three of the categories you’ve pue badges for at the bottom of the post :) Before I saw the badges too! x

  17. Suddenly Mummy (@suddenly_mummy)

    I do agree with you in general – I think there’s a deal of hysteria over photos and the vast majority of the time there’s really no danger. On the other hand, I do also see the viewpoint that there’s a case for respecting the privacy of your children, especially as they get older.

    But as a foster carer and adopter it is imperative that pictures of my child, or the children I care for don’t appear on the internet. Obviously I don’t post recognisable pictures of them on my blog or social media accounts and I use pseudonyms for them all, but this may also be the reason for all those letters from school asking for permission for photos, or asking parents not to take photos at school plays etc. I know, I really do know that these restrictions are hard on other parents, but parents like me really do have to protect the identities of the children in our care. Some of them could be at risk from birth family members, and not all adopted children are adopted into families miles and miles away – my son’s birth family live in the next town. It’s not so unlikely that a friend of a friend on Facebook might just be a friend of his birth family. I don’t want him to be traced that way. I have to keep all my children away from photo opportunities – we were recently caught unaware at a press event covering the official opening of new equipment on our local park last week and I had to shepherd the children away from the local paper’s photographer. If I hadn’t been with them and they’d appeared in the local paper…..

    So please, lovely parents, try to be understanding of people in my position when those annoying ‘no pictures’ instructions are issued at your child’s next nativity!

    1. hurrahforgin

      Gosh what a minefield for you. From that perspective i totally understand where you are coming from and protecting your children is way more important that other parents getting a shot of the school play etc.
      As mine get older i will definitely review what i share x

  18. franglaisemummy

    Go you! I continue to put photos of my kids online – dressed – because you can’t live in fear. Fantastic post, brilliantly written as ever x

  19. Californian Mum in London

    Yes, one has to make the choice for themselves. A couple of people have asked how my kids will feel about having their photos and lives shared on my blog. But I focus on it as a nice keepsake because I don’t think it’s any worse than sharing loads of photos on facebook.

  20. Abby Boid

    Good for you. Most people are wonderful. The world is not as scary as the media want us to believe. And if kids have to grow up frightened well, what is the point really? It’s hard to stand brave when faced with so much perceived fear. Good on you for doing it and posting about it.
    Ps – fab photo :-)

  21. Jenny

    Absolutely amazing post. I can see that when we were growing up it would have been an amazing thing and now it would be a frightful thing. I can’t pin point why or when exactly everything changed around. It’s scary the world we live in now and the world we grew up in. I do genuinely get scared for my kids when they are older. I used to be able to play around the neighborhood with all my friends biking and playing games in the street walking to the local store for pop. No way would I let me kids out of sight to do such things now. It’s a weird feeling. What a great post. Gets us all thinking. Once again congrats on the mad blog finalist. I get your post to my inbox because I just love your blog. and I look forward to meeting you!!!! Great post here too, has Bibs best writer written all over it. lol :)

  22. Actually Mummy

    Very well said. I do think we are all over-anxious online, and we get ourselves and those around us more stressed about it all than we need to be. That said it is probably a good thing that we are cautious. Just as long as we see it for what it is, and as you say, allow our children to be children for as long as possible.

  23. Caro

    This is bang on Katie – and a sad state if affairs too. I once took some photos at a friends BBQ; pics of my mates having a laugh, their kids, the garden, the food… I’d planned to post the memories of our day on Facebook and mentioned this whilst at the table.

    I was a little taken aback when our friend’s wife got a little bit shirty and asked ‘if she could respectfully request, NO photos of their daughter to be uploaded.’

    She said that she didn’t feel comfortable having pics of her daughter online for all and sundry to see. I mentioned privacy settings but she was adamant.

    Oddly enough, she and my friend are now divorced.

    Said woman would probably be appalled to learn that I have documented my pregnancy and the first year of my darling Twinkles lives on a blog. Perish the thought.

    When I’m writing — and uploading my pics — I’m not thinking of the trolls, paedophiles or other miscreants that may be trawling the internet. I’m thinking of my beautiful family and the memories that I’m compiling for them.

    It’s so sad that something so lovely is threatened by vile human behaviour.

    But as you say, we will not live under the cloud of it. I refuse to live in fear of these minorities. Perhaps if more people started to, we’d be back to the carefree life of days gone by?? Here’s hoping.

    Caro X
    AKA The Twinkles Momma

    1. hurrahforgin

      It is sad and it is a shame but i guess everyone has to make their own choice for their own children. I still try and be sensible and i might very well change my mind as they get older but for now i really don’t see any harm or risk. Thanks for your comment lovely xx

  24. Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    Things are so different now and sometimes it’s so hard not to let fear take over but I think it’s important for it not to as otherwise it ruins everything that should be enjoyable about being a child. I’m not going to lie though, the thought of J and C being old enough to go out on there own terrifies me and I doubt I will ever sleep!! x

  25. TalesofaTwinMum

    I’m with you – I try not to let fear rule my life. It’s bizarre how much the world has changed in just a few years since we were kids (we aren’t that old are we?!!) I hate the idea of including pics of my kids in my blog and having to blur out their faces. I know people who constantly live in fear of everything – they don’t shop online, don’t do online banking or use Twitter or Facebook for fear of someone stealing something from them. I’d hate to live like that because I’ve gained so much in my life from using the internet and blogging. I suppose it’s all about balance and making sure you live your life with a reasonable amount of caution but without taking it too far. Loving the photo! xx

  26. Honest Mum

    Love that poster and this is something I’ve questioned and debated a lot over the years-when I started my blog in Nov 2010, I didn’t post a single picture of my first child and for quite a while but I made the choice that I would share my kids and a lot more of my life, it felt comfortable and we all have different comfort levels as you say. I agree with Helloitsgemma’s comment that it’s a balance, let kids be kids but be sensible. Thanks for this!

  27. Kerrie McGiveron

    I read this a few days ago but have only just had time now to comment gah!
    I really thought that this was great. My parents would have done exactly the same. I personally don’t bother censoring my blog pictures as I am of the opinion that ‘Big Brother is watching you’ anyway but that’s another story. I do think that kids should be allowed to be kids. Of course as parents we just have to be literally their ‘guardians’ and do what we think is best for them.
    Great post, as always x


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