Parenting: Here we go, a Monitor blog for parents

What an international daily newspaper can contribute to parenting

Andy Nelson/Staff/File
Here we go – the Monitor's Modern Parenthood blog. (A 2001 photo of Missie Duffy schlepping her son, Patrick, to the library in Manassas, Va., captures one prototypical American parenting duty.)

As we launched Modern Parenthood, there was great discussion about what the Monitor – an international daily online newspaper – could bring to the parenting discussion.

We thought a lot about what we – as parents who want to raise good global citizens – are interested in ourselves. We care about the world and want our kids to, too, in everything from the way they treat each other, us, and the larger society they live in, to the ways they use technology, from video games and social media to Internet research for homework

We have been as fascinated by the Tiger Mother as we were her ideological mothering opposite, the francophile Bébé mom. We have pondered David Brooks“The Social Animal,” an amazing psychological odyssey through the behaviorial DNA of a hypothetical family’s successes and failures, morals and motives. We follow educational debates (the merits of testing, homework, and teacher performance), we think a lot about about the coarsening of our world, from the media’s sexualization of children to real and portrayed violence. We think about technology and want to co-opt its better nature for the benefit of our kids and find ways to solve its worst problems.

We also had to admit, we’re sometimes fascinated by the popular stories about how high-profile families – from the Brangelinas to the Obamas – live their lives; after all, for better or worse, the ravenous media make them influential.

Our aim is to bring light and leaven to family stories that would interest our thoughtful readers, no matter what role they hold – mom, dad, kid, aunt, uncle, grandparent.

Our growing roster of guest bloggers is full of big thinkers, great writers, and funny observers who will translate news and trends through a parenting filter. Our lead blogger, Stephanie Hanes – a Yale grad, who spent some intense years reporting for the Monitor from Africa, and returned as a mother to the States to report magazine cover stories on family trends for us – will set the tone for much of our family focus. And we have many regular Monitor news contributors who will occasionally pitch in their own blogs on family matters – whether it’s their own experiences, observations of news trends, or snippets from their reporter’s notebooks from far away places (wait till you read our Mexico City bureau chief Sara Miller Llana’s blog on a Mexican mom’s tortilla-making expertise). All of them are the kind of people who’d pique your interest if you fell into conversation with them at the playground, Starbucks, or a PTA meeting.

Whether you have toddlers or teens or an empty nest, we want our family lens to magnify topics important to you – and we hope you’ll communicate regularly with us – privately at by e-mail, or publicly on the Monitor Facebook page – to let us know if we are.    

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to