Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children

Illustration by Giselle Potter

Excerpt from this article:

There is a hunger in our culture for true stories from the parenting trenches where life is lived mud-flecked and raw. I’ve written extensively, intimately, damningly, about my children for seven years without once thinking about it from the point of view of their feelings and their privacy. A few months ago I stopped.

I wish I could say that I deeply reflected on the ethics of writing about my children and heroically pivoted myself out of a concern for my character, but here’s what really happened: My father called.

He called me after reading a blog post I had written about my son’s first signs of puberty. It seems an obvious line-crossing that I wrote about such an intimate detail, but I did. At the time I didn’t pause for a split second; I was more than willing to go there. I had been writing and reading extensively about parenting tweens. I knew people might be mildly shocked, but mostly interested.

…I was always the narrator, the main character, even if I was also the storm-tossed heroine, the hot mess in mom jeans who couldn’t get the overalls on her 2-year-old. Or figure out fourth-grade fractions homework. I was working out my issues. My kids were always satellites to the big round-faced moon of me.

I’ve shamed their eating habits in chat rooms. I have Facebooked the things they’ve said. I have skewered them horribly, but also with great interest and affection, as a collector might do to some butterflies.

 

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Kids’ Screen Time is a Feminist Issue

google search trends shows increased volume of searches for kids screen time since 2010

Excerpt from this article:

The new poster child for bad parenting is the parent texting their way through dinner, while the kids do the same.

But let’s get real. When we fret about excess screen time as bad parenting, what we’re really talking about is bad mothering. After all, mothers still do more than three times as much routine child care as fathers do, and almost four times as much solo care, according to a 2011 study by Lyn Craig and Killian Mullan.  When we worry that parents are shirking their duties by relying on an electronic babysitter, we’re really worrying that mothers are putting their own needs alongside, or even ahead of, their kids’ needs.

It’s a worry that rears its head any time someone comes up with a technology that makes mothers’ lives easier. As mothers, we’re supposed to embrace—or at least nobly suffer through—all the challenges that parenting throws at us. We’re supposed to accept having little people at our heels while we’re trying to buy the groceries, make dinner, or go to the bathroom. We’re supposed to accept the exhaustion that comes from working a full day at the office and a second shift at home before falling into bed for an inevitably interrupted sleep. We’re supposed to accept the isolation that comes from raising children in a world that regards a crying child as a crime against restaurant patrons or airplane travellers.

The mother who hands her child a smartphone is taking the easy way out of these challenges. But since so much of parenting consists of situations in which there is no easy way out, I’m deeply grateful when somebody offers me a cheat. I love being able to hand my kid an iPhone in a restaurant so we can go out for dinner on a night when nobody feels like cooking or cleaning up. I love knowing I can get a few quiet minutes for a business call — if I let the kids watch Netflix. I love being able to have an actual conversation with a friend while my kids enjoy their Minecraft time. Steve Jobs may have banned iPhones and iPads for his own kids, but I bet he would have rethought that position if he’d actually spent every day at home with them, instead of off running Apple.

 

Surprise! Online Mom Culture Might Be Helping Moms Feel More Confident

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There’s been a long held assumption that competition and insecurity, rather than camaraderie and support, are the driving force behind the rise of online mom culture. A new report from Pew Research Center suggests otherwise.

In short: Millennial moms are more assured in their parenting and most likely to seek advice online. This suggests that the digital-mom universe is not the cesspool of judgment it is often made out to be. Those long Facebook threads about breast vs. bottle or co-sleeping vs. sleep-training, the endless think pieces on work/life balance, the viral personal essays—they’re all part of a vast and growing ecosystem. Too often labeled as “mommy wars,” those conversations seem to be doing more to make women confident of the mothers they are, rather than demoralized by the mothers they are not.

 

 

You Already Knew Parents Post on Facebook More Than Others. Now Find Out How Much

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Some of the more interesting findings came from its U.S.-based study. For instance, new American moms post 2.5 times more status updates, 3.5 times more photos and 4.2 times more videos than nonparents, per Facebook’s internal stats. And hey, the updates work: New parents’ posts (those from moms or dads) about their babies get 37 percent more interactions from family members and 47 percent more interactions from friends than their general posts.

“Parenting has become a digitally shared experience… Technology enables parents to share the joys, challenges and questions inherent in raising a child with their family and friends both near and far on a regular basis. Instead of mailing holiday cards or school pictures, they’re sharing their child’s milestones through photos and video online.”

 

How Moms Use YouTube Videos: New Trends and Insights

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Excerpt from this article:

With a world of information at our fingertips, moms are going online with questions big and small. To better understand what this looks like for moms, and how online video fits into their lives and decision-making process, we partnered with TNS and Ipsos and surveyed self-identifying moms, ages 18-54, who watch videos online. We found that 83% of moms search for answers to their questions online. And of those, three in five turn to online video in particular.

We know that two of the main reasons moms use YouTube are for how-to and DIY ideas. As moms turn to YouTube more and more, brands have a great opportunity: to be there and provide useful content when moms are looking for help, product know-how, or even ideas.

Motherhood, Screened Off

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Parents today are often chastised for being distracted by their devices, for devoting more attention to their phones than to their children. I concede that Twitter provides, at times, a more witty conversation than the one I might have with a 6-year-old; that there is, in fact, always some excuse to turn to the device and tune out a small child’s rant about the problem with peanut butter; that the feeling of productivity the phone engenders is as addictive as it is false.

But it seems safe to say that our own parents probably gave more attention to their myriad daily tasks than they did to their children, too, and even did so in their children’s presence. I see my mother, circa 1982, the bills spread out on the kitchen table, her checkbook in front of her; I hear her on the phone as she is writing down directions to someone’s house. The difference is that those tasks, by virtue of not all transpiring on one opaque device, were tangible and thus felt legitimate.

I have started to narrate my use of the phone when I am around my kids. “I’m emailing your teacher back,” I tell them, or, “I’m now sending that text you asked me to send about that sleepover,” in the hopes that I can defang the device’s bad reputation, its inherent whiff of self-absorption.

Samsung’s Funny Mother’s Day Ad Reminds You How Bad Your Mom Is at Texting

Excerpt from this article, which details an ad that:

… looks at how your mom probably uses text messaging—or rather, misuses it. The whole thing is pretty funny, and nicely pokes fun without getting too mean. And it sticks the landing by reminding you that you shouldn’t be texting with Mom at all this [Mother’s Day].

You’ll also notice that some of the moms’ phone numbers are visible in the spot. If you dial them, you get to hear what they have to say in their voicemail messages.

You can also show off your mom’s funniest texts using hashtag #TextsFromMom for a chance to win a Galaxy S 6 edge.