Momma Data Takes Manhattan: BlogHer10 and Media Bistro

Forgive the negligent posting - this momma blogger is pleasantly exhausted after a week of "career development" and a few days away from the nest in the form of two conferences in New York City - the annual BlogHer convention and the annual Career Circus put on by Media Bistro, a great digital media organization.  As Barbara noted, no, I did not tweet from BlogHer, possibly an unwritten infraction. 

Met some remarkable and fascinating folks including some well-known parenting bloggers, including Katherine Stone who won a Bloganthropy Award at BlogHer10 for her tireless work at Postpartum Progress, her site that's almost single-handedly wrestled the stigma of postpartum depression away one post at a time while acting as a true resource to women in crisis.  She's a friend of science and rationality.  I've admired her for some time (see her link on my blogroll) and I'm happy to report she's passionate, smart and kind in person.  Funny too. Congrats to her.  Annie of PhDinParenting was there too - spoke on a panel about social action.  Woman's got a lot of resolve, moxie and a lot of fans.  She's taking on Nestle for "unethical business tactics" - must be the formula, no?  Don't know how often I actually agree with her positions but she's done well for causes.   Also met Dr. Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet, not your typical mommy blogger either who's also an astrophysicist and cancer surviver and blogs about it all.    

But one of the most persuasive folks I encountered there, Stephanie Roberts of Little Purple Cow Photography, was not at all outspoken.  In fact the soft-spoken Southerner just back from Nepal used very few words - which is how she approaches her work too, as a photographer of distant people and places.  Her soapbox? The gorgeous, vivid photos of people who don't look like us or live like us and whom she reported are quite happy counter to our expectations. 

So her persuasive "quiet" got me thinking.  If you've been here before you know I don't believe in silence but in giving out the facts.  Okay, at times, some opinions.  And some skewering of pseudo parenting advice (Jenny McCarthy) or authoritative and/or extreme recommednations not totally justified by evidence (APA's stringent breastfeeding guidelines) or downright dangerous "experts" (e.g., the former Dr. Wakefield) but I do try for "quiet" in one sense...

I don't mean to judge the choices parents make.  

Of course I have my own opinions, who doesn't.  I'd be stuck in my driveway or worse yet the cereal aisle if I didn't have any preferences.  But it's not my place to judge you or anybody else as a parent.  Or tell you how to feed, bathe, school, entertain, educate, discipline or otherwise raise your children.   Unless of course, you're cussing out your child in the grocery store, letting your first grader stay up until midnight (I'm a stickler for bedtimes), or other questionable acts that merit a call from social services or the principal. 

Now I may tell you the evidence behind your choice is solid or skimpy.  I may question the science behind expert advice.  I may call the news coverage simplistic.  But that doesn't give me the right to judge what's best for you and your kiddies.  Nor by the way does anyone else, unless you're standing before the judge in Family Court. 

Just as Stephanie holds up her images I hope to provide the scientific evidence as a lens so o.  And though I'm not nearly as gracious or humble as the photographer, I do hope I've learned some of her "quiet".  And if not, I will try harder, because truly, how is it any of my business whether you use cloth or disposable?  Or choose any other path?

So breastfeed, don't breastfeed.  Co-sleep, buy a crib. Work, stay at home.  Have ten kids, have one.  Invite the whole school, screw the the birthday party all together.  But don't tell me or anyone else what to do based on bad or stretched 'evidence".   Don't cherry pick the studies.  Don't make authoritative directives.  Don't try to scare me, guilt me or bully me.   Unless you wanna hear a whole lot of noise.   

But what do you think? Should mommy bloggers take a serious stand?  Even when it's clearly more of a personal choice not based on evidence? 


Dalia - Gen X Mom said...

I love this. I think this same way myself. (just tweeted about it yesterday). This is why on my "parenting" blog I talk about opinion. I really don't think there is any right or wrong in most issues. It is opinion and what works best for one may not work best for another.

TherExtras said...

Admitting that I don't tweet much when away from my pc, too. This week I only RT'd about 4/day from my phone. I don't text, and the work of sending text from my phone for twitter or email is more than I enjoy. From a purely sensory/motor aspect, I feel like my fingers are all the size of my big toe on the teeny, tiny keyboard - hit the wrong keys too many times.

I read the regular tweets of a few others from BH, and I am sure I would have enjoyed yours muchly.

Your second purple-fonted paragraph says-it-all and correctly. And you do it well.


I work hard to say - this is what I know - apply to yourself or your child as you see fit. I give as much background as is reasonable and try to be convincing but am often misunderstood. Just this week Janet Lansbury and I are going back and forth on tummy time for infants. I can't seem to get my point across on that issue.

I figure people vote with their mouse and click away if they don't like my slant/opinion.

I also warn parents to judge their sources of information. Trust your source, I say.

You are a credible source and an enjoyable read, Polly.

JoyMama has a post with a title something like - When Another Mother Says. Maybe she will come-in here with the url.


JoyMama said...

Did I hear my name mentioned? LOL!

Here's the post in question --
When a Mom Says Something Works: The GFCF Diet. It's over at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, a project title that I suppose some might interpret as judge-y, and some might call taking a serious stand...

As far as taking a stand, I rather figure that mommy bloggers ought to blog whatever we/they feel like blogging, but be aware that writing can involve consequences -- whether that's people voting with their mouse, or vociferously disagreeing in the comments, or whatever.

Here's a question for you: is "Don't make an authoritative directive" an authoritative directive?

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hey Ladies! Great comments! I should have pointed out that I don't mind when people take strong stands as long as they back it up. Seems to me there are any number of giving our kids a good headstart in life. Guess I'm just not comfortable telling other people what they should do with their kids - especially when the evidence is not clear. It's the biased info that gets me in a fervor! Obviously!!

Anyhow, JoyMoma, look forward to reading your essay when I'm at a bigger screen that this little mobile device - and great question - is no authoritative directives an authoritative directive??!!??!!! I wouldn't dare dream of making an authoritative directive. Merely a strongly worded suggestion! My wish, really!

Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...


I think there are different ways of taking a stand.

Sometimes I take a stand in terms of standing up for the choices I have made and my right to make them. I am not saying that my choices are better or that other people should make the same choices, but I am standing up for my right to make that choice and to not be criticized for it.

Other times I take a stand in terms of saying that something is wrong or bad. When I do that, I certainly do my best to back it up with evidence. That is the case with Nestle, and yes, it is partly "about the formula" (not the fact that it exists or that they sell it, but about their harmful marketing practices), but it is also about other things.

If you want to learn more, you can check out:

There I summarize the practices that Nestle is criticized for by experts and link to more information and evidence.

I agree about how wonderful Stephanie is. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet her and to be on a panel with her.

The Fearless Formula Feeder said...

Polly, I am so glad you were at BlogHer. It might just be a case of who tweets the loudest, but it seemed to me like a cliquey event of mommybloggers all on one side of the fence, and not the side I stand on. I'm relieved you were there to provide a bit of common sense and rationality.

I hope that I follow the same philosophy you detail in this post. It's at least what I strive to do. I love how you put it - it's okay to question the science/reasoning behind someone's choices, as long as you keep it to that. Unfortunately, I think this is what divides the sanctimonious types from the intelligent debaters. Yeah, we're human, we're gonna judge here and there. But at least we can keep gracefully quiet about it and realize that judgment is not the same thing as "authoritative directives". One is human, the other is infringing on other people's humanity. At least, that's how I think of it.

janetlansbury said...

Polly, I love this... And I totally agree (as long as you're not going to get bossy about it!) :)

I would never judge another parent. I do feel a little judgmental of supposed "experts", including a certain Dr. S, who give wonky advice that creates problems for parents and babies down the road. Still, it's none of my business..

My take on the mommy bloggers who take strong stands about parenting and are critical of others is that they are a tad insecure and thus defensive about their choices. (Psych 101, isn't it?)

We're all here on the web for positive, helpful reasons, presumably...

Barbara, you crack me up. I thought you made your point quite well about turning babies both ways! Like pancakes, right? (joke) And I love the way we can respectfully agree to disagree. You are the last person I'd ever want to frustrate!

Love to you all!