Mom Bloggers, A Force To Be Reckoned With

By Lisa Belkin, Huffington Post

Mom bloggers, you’ve got clout. (And probably Klout — though with the recent revamp of that system it’s hard to tell who has what over there any more.)

A study released this weekend shows that while only 14 percent of American mothers have a blog (and you thought it was everyone you knew?) those who do are more politically aware, socially involved and, might I add, better educated, than the average woman with children (52 percent have a college degree compared with 37 of mothers nationwide.) They are wealthier too (with an average household income of $84,000 which is $14,000 higher than the national average.)

(A side rant here. If Mom bloggers are so smart, why does the press release from Scarborough Research, which conducted this survey, fall back onto that old — offensive — riff on how they are somehow ignoring their kids in order to feed their egos online. “Did your mom ever send you to your room?” it begins. “Was it so that she could have some time to blog?” Didn’t the New York Times Style section learn that hard lesson for everyone when it was excoriated by mothers who blog after running a piece titled “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand.” And I like to think I played a tiny role in making it clear that these are creative, savvy, business women redefining modern parenting when I wrote a New York Times Magazine piece about the leading practitioners here. Okay. I got that out of my system. Back to the data.)

Of course what interested these marketing researchers was the spending habits of this niche, and the conclusion was that Mom bloggers are willing to put their money where their values are. They are 69% more likely to buy organic food on a regular basis, 46% more likely to purchase locally grown food, and 49% more likely than all mothers to buy eco-friendly cleaning products (and 89 percent more likely to pay more for them.)

There were nuggets in the report for those marketing political candidates, too. To wit: “Mom Bloggers” say they “always” vote in presidential elections (76 percent) and statewide contests (45 percent) and they identify as Democrat (29 percent), Republican (25 percent) and indpendet (29 percent) in almost equal shares. They are twice as likely to have donated to a political organization over the past year, 85 percent more likely to base their support on a candidate’s views on the environment, and 39 percent more likely to have volunteered in a campaign or social cause.

What interests me about the data, though, since I am not a marketer but rather a personal and professional consumer of blogs by parents, is the role these sites have come to play in modern parenting. That was not among the data in this particular study, so let’s use the comments to start accumulating our own.

Certainly few of us raise our children based solely on conversations or information found online. But I do believe that these play an increasing role in our thoughts and choices. What I find most compelling as I wander around them each day is twofold. First, each of us only knows the intimate workings of one or two households — specifically the ones in which we have lived. So, the way other people do things is essentially a mystery. We catch glimpses, but they are only that.

Blogs, however, offer an open window, and sometimes a door. We get to see how others handle the dilemmas of parenting, and, in years of covering parenting in an electronic world, I have seen many a time when a parent’s mind was changed by the virtual conversation. I remember posting an email from one reader asking how to properly punish her 13-year-old for her messy room and pouty moods. Hundreds of readers gently but insistently told her to choose her battles, and that perhaps it was better for the long game to just close her daughter’s bedroom door. She wrote back to say she had taken the advice, and that her relationship with her tween was transformed, and that she was relieved to have a place to ask things she would never share face to face for fear of being judged.

And that is the second power of these virtual conversations. They allow honesty through anonymity.

Parents need to talk. But they can’t always talk completely truthfully. In part that is because of the cycle of posturing we all seem to inhabit, where we can’t admit we are struggling because no one else seems to be. Mostly, though, I think there are things we don’t discuss openly because it is not our privacy we would be breaching, but our children’s. Their struggles, and setbacks and weaknesses cause us pain, but to share them would be to tell their secrets.

Either way, the result is often the feeling that we are the only ones navigate any particular rocky route. Until we go online. On thousands of sites we get to open up about things we can’t quite say out loud, and hear back from far more people than could ever fit in our actual circle.

Which blogs play this role in your life? What bloggers do you read regularly, and what do you take away from your visits?