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Night is Day and Day is Night: Parenting Bloggers and the Media

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The way that conventional media thinks it can best reach parents is through presenting what's wrong--the latest tragedy, crisis or failure. The way that parenting bloggers say they want to be reached is through being inspired.

The way that conventional media thinks it can reach parents is through "what's new." The way bloggers say they want to be reached is through 'what's real"--"what's authentic.'

The New York Times published an article about mommyblogging today that captures many of the acknowledged good points about parenting blogging- the community, the support- and furthered many of the stereotypes behind mommyblogging- that many just do it for the pageviews, or potential sponsorship. I'm in the middle of launching a new parenting book in today's media landscape, and I see clearly an often unstated reason why parents love to blog: to create their own narrative of the struggles and joys of parenting.

We are clearly the midst of an upheaval in communicating with parents. The underlying assumptions of conventional media and the influential parent bloggers who represent the views of millions of other parents seem to be worlds apart--day is night and night is day.
Now granted there are legions of bloggers who write about parenting and legions of media outlets and within each there is huge diversity. But a three-hour conversation with a group of leading Mommy Bloggers in Washington last Thursday, March 11th, provided a stark contrast between the two worlds.

My book, Mind in the Making, will be released in five weeks. This book is a tour of the latest research in how children learn best and how we can keep the fire in their eyes burning brightly by developing life skills. As my daughter says, it unlocks the doors of academia by taking us into the labs of scientists conducting actual experiments (in addition to the book, the experiments were video taped and there will be a video book--a Vook).

This book was written with the online community commenting throughout and I sat together with social media leaders in Washington DC to talk about what parents want online.

We said to them--you are hugely influential and get lots of people approaching you these days. What drives you crazy? That was enough to spark a wide-ranging and insightful long conversation:

I dislike parenting just being seen as Moms. There are Dads too.
I hate the crisis or problem approach. Don't tell me how I have it all wrong. Inspire me. Be positive.
I hate being approached as if I am just a Mom and all I am interested in whether or not my kids "poop is purple" or how to get kids to sleep through the night. Moms are smart and we want to be approached as smart people.
There is a big hole. Most of us have moved beyond the feeding, diapering stage but then most parenting information drops us. We want conversation and guidance about growing a person.
I hate the assumption that parenting is black and white and whatever happens is your fault. The blame-game. OVER!
I hate being approached as if parenting is a competition--it is you against others.

One of the bloggers asked where each of them gets parenting information.
Mainstream media? No because its approach is what they just said they don't like.

Word-of-mouth and blogs? Yes.

Facebook? Yes.

I countered: Lisa Belkin of the New York Times' "Motherlode" told me that if she uses the word "guilt," her readership goes way up.

We all know that true confession and being snarky goes on in blogs, big time. But still another bloggers speculated:

I think a guilt backlash is coming in parenting. We do feel insecure at times, but we are sick of the Super Nanny approach. We are looking to be connected to others, to give and take, and not just be told.

Are these bloggers right? I came home and saw the mere shadows of what used to be huge magazines and newspapers on my kitchen table and was again convinced that these bloggers are on to something important. I've been in the parenting world for more than three decades, and I've answered countless parenting advice columns in magazines and newspapers. Things are different now. We are in a transition and perhaps conventional media should listen to what these parents say they want and experiment with providing it.

Okay: Parenting Bloggers weigh in, please!

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