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Birth of blogs for parents
Cecily Kellogg was carrying twin boys last fall when she became very ill, eventually losing both babies. Concerned people checked on her and spread the word of her condition, and she received hundreds of supportive e-mails.
Most of the sentiments came from people Ms. Kellogg had never met in person, but who felt as if they knew her as they checked in with her almost daily on her Web log (blog), called … And I Wasted All That Birth Control (http://zia.blogs.com/wastedbirthcontrol/), or read about the tragedy when others in the blogging community wrote about it.
“When it happened, I was getting about 3,000 to 5,000 hits (people accessing the log) a day on my blog,” says Ms. Kellogg, 37, of Philadelphia. “I was really touched by that.”
It was the latest in a chain of events that made Ms. Kellogg’s story compelling reading. A former substance abuser, she often writes about her past, her tattoos, her struggle with weight loss, her husband (who now has his own blog), politics and her hope to become a parent.
Blogging — already a force in media and politics — has found a solid place in the parenting community. Parents (and would-be parents) have yakked for years — over the back fence, at the neighborhood coffee shop, at the corner playground. Society is moving at such a fast pace, parents sometimes don’t even know their neighbors’ names, let alone their thoughts on Montessori schools or their ambivalence over having a third child.
Enter the Web log, where for a low or no cost, you can have your own forum. Call it a catchy name — some of the most popular are Zero Boss, Chez Miscarriage and This Woman’s Work — and write some short, insightful or funny observations, and you might find yourself with a following.
For the uninitiated, bloggers put it all out there, warts and all. Raw emotions in real time often make for dramatic, explicit reading. Bloggers swear, admit they may not love their husbands and detail bouts with postpartum depression.
“Blogging is a way for parents to share experiences at their own convenience,” says Julie Moos, a managing editor at the Poynter Institute, a journalism education organization in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ms. Moos is also a blogger (http://roughdraft.typepad. com/mominthemirror) and the founder of Dot Moms (http://roughdraft.typepad.com/dotmoms), an online digest and directory of parenting blogs.
“I have found it a great tool to connect with other parents,” says Ms. Moos, who is married and has a 9-year-old son. “I work long hours. I’m not home a lot. Our neighbors don’t have kids. Blogs are an interesting balance of intimacy and anonymity.”
Dot Moms links to more than 600 mom blogs and 70 dad blogs. That is just a small portion of what is online. Dave Sifrey, chief executive of Technorati, a San Francisco company that tracks blogs, says there are about 125,000 parenting blogs — up from 80,000 a few months ago.
Mr. Sifrey says blogs are a natural growth from parenting sites that feature chat rooms and message boards.
“The main difference with chat rooms and blogging is with blogging, you have to have accountability,” he says. “On a bulletin board, who knows who you are? A blog is your personal space. That URL is yours, and you start to build an identity.”
Searching some of the most popular parenting blogs has revealed some surprisingly good writers. Some are writers by trade, such as book author Jennifer Weiner (http://jenniferweiner. blogspot.com). Most blogs, however, are written by men and women with a decent command of the English language and a good story to tell.
“Blogs are definitely more interesting if someone has overcome a struggle,” Ms. Moos says. “The writer is honest about things everyone struggles with.”
By Joy Overbeck
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