Humans are thrust into parenthood with only 9 months notice. We possess no real assets to help us, virtually no education or parenting skills. Parenting is the most complex human task, but we act as if everyone just picks up the skills magically. Obviously this is not the case. Why don’t we teach our children how to be parents? Maybe by the time our parents were finished with us they were to exhausted to teach us these important lessons.
At 23 years, holding my tiny first baby in my arms, I was astounded by her delicate beauty, and in the same instant, the weight of this new responsibility oppressed me. I held a new creature in my arms, who was dependent upon me every instant she drew in breath. My job was to raise her into a happy, healthy adult. And how, exactly, was I to do this? I felt like a kid myself. Luckily, my wife had more of an instinct for parenting than I did.
Parenting and Blogging as a Learner
At 42, now, I have four children and a bouncing baby blog, one and a half years old. I have acquired a lot of parenting skills, and I am seeing connections between creating a successful blog and raising happy children. I thrust myself into blogging with as little knowledge as I had when I began parenting. “What do I do with this thing now?” I asked myself, again. But, so many tools are available to assist.
In acquiring both positive parenting and blogging skills, valuable information is available, but you have to discover it on your own. Books, websites, and people exist, ready to help, but you must dig for the answers independently. Few things make you feel more frightened and vulnerable than parenthood, and the same feeling sets in when you create a blog.
Parenting and Blogging Hybrid Skill Sets
People have studied parenting for a long time, and scholars like Robert Epstein provide valuable insights about what a child needs. Epstein’s “What Makes a Good Parent?” in Scientific American analyzes decades of research and combines his own new study of 2,000 parents, to pin down 10 essential parenting skills in order of importance. I have found that most of them apply to creating an infant blog.
Epstein reveals that any kind of person can become a competent parent. Anyone can learn the essential skills involved. The same is true of blogging, and I will explore how parenting skills are applicable to blogging. Good parents make great bloggers because they have already practiced.
Epstein’s top 8 parenting skills applied to blogging look like this:
1. “Love and affection.” Find a topic that you are passionate about and love. You will care for your blog and show your affection by nurturing it with quality time and content. You express affection through action, and a blog requires daily care just like a child. For best results, you should spend time each day working with your blog. Yes, you should publish daily if you want to have a healthy blog, but you should also work on things like design and layout most days. This kind of commitment requires love.
Also, show your love by learning something new about your content, blogging, SEO, marketing, or writing. You can become a better blogger over time just as you can become a better parent. Love, affection, and empathy for others are the most important skills you need to develop a blog, and the steps that follow will be easy if you have this foundation.
2. “Stress management.” The stress that you experience as a blogger transfers in subtle ways to your blog, so you must take action to reduce and manage your stress levels. For example, you have committed to blog daily, so you need to learn how to handle that pressure effectively. Mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and meditation are all useful to manage stress. You also need to develop awesome time management skills so that the blog does not overtake your life completely.
If you allow it, stress will cause friction in the love you feel for the blog, creating serious damage. But, if you work with the blog daily in a positive way, the resilience will transfer to the blog instead. Your blog will be better able to handle times of stress if you are positive and balanced most of the time.
3. “Relationship skills.” Part of your blog’s wellbeing depends on healthy relationships with other people – readers. This requires effort on your part to learn about who your audience is and how to fulfill their needs. Most of the time readers are looking for answers to their questions in your blog. Establish a close and trusting relationship with your readers by working to help them.
Implied here is the need to develop healthy relationships with others in your family. So, you cannot allow the one blog to interfere with the other important human relationships you have. Find a balance so that you can support all of your important relationships.
4. “Autonomy and independence.” Your blog provides you with freedom of expression and action that is unique to writing for an audience. Many studies have found blogging encourages autonomy and independence in learners. You might be free from a boss if you make money at it, but even without financial gain, you learn to work independently, communicate with other people, manage your time, and maintain a consistent routine.
You can express and develop your individuality through your blog, but you must also remember that the blog has a life of its own that you must nurture. Ideally, the blog develops a certain amount of independence once you have really developed it. The older the blog becomes, the less stressful and time-consuming it should be, and if it isn’t, then you need to adjust.
5. “Education and learning.” Whatever your blog’s purpose, educating and teaching the reader will be a part of what you do. For me, research and teaching are enjoyable tasks, so it is easy to share the knowledge I have acquired. All blogs should promote education and lifelong learning, even though the topic may be a niche.
6. “Life skills.” Whether you blog about fashion, dating, or higher education, your specialty should instill positive life skills for the social world we live in. In many cases, this aspect might be subtle, but then, we search the internet looking for answers and knowledge about life, even if the skill may seem trivial. If you write about something you value, you will be conveying life skills to your reader.
7. “Behavior management.” Everything that you do online is modelling a form of behavior, and even your style of blogging conveys an attitude. Make use of your positive energy to make a difference in your readers. So many elements in our culture promote callous behavior, but you can be a positive force in resisting the hate. From the way you write your blog posts to the way you comment and interact with your readers, behave with kindness and empathy so that you are a force for good, elevating society rather than bringing it down.
In parenting you have to be careful how you act because children model everything you do, but a similar thing happens online when you spread negativity to your readers. This has to do with the development of emotional intelligence, which according to child psychologist Dr. Tali Shenfield, “refers to the ability of a person to manage his emotions in a healthy way and to respond appropriately to the feelings of others.” Emotional intelligence has become increasingly important over the last few years as people have explored different kinds of knowing.
8. “Health.” Ideally you should promote health and wellbeing in the lives of your reader. This is oftentimes subtle. But, for example, I write about blogging and include in my writing methods of concentration, stress management, mindfulness, and meditation because I find the ideas are valuable in maintaining my own health and the health of my readers. If you blog about gaming, there will be instances when you can talk about maintaining a healthy balance in life, getting the sleep and nutrition you need. This is not to say that you will be talking about health all the time, but when it’s appropriate, be a positive influence on your readers.
Becoming mindful of how you parent and blog makes you a better writer, blogger, and citizen within your global community. If it all begins with love and kindness, you will head in the right direction, becoming successful, influential, and a positive force in our culture. In the process, do your children a big favor by teaching them blogging and parenting skills. They will be handy one day in the distant future.