Monday, July 13, 2009

I hate most parenting magazines

I unexpectedly received a mainstream parenting magazine in the mail the other day. I need to call to find out why, but I'm putting off the task.

Once I inadvertently got signed up for a subscription because I had put myself on a mailing list for samples and didn't return a card specifically opting out of subscribing to the magazine. I got customer service to cancel it and not charge me after all, but it all seemed very underhanded to me.

It's possible I got signed up for this current one because Mikko's Grandma recently signed him up for a kids' magazine subscription, and maybe this was a package deal. That's all I can guess at the moment.

I flipped through the mag anyway, wondering if I'd like it enough to read it if it is indeed free.

I quickly determined that you couldn't pay me to read it. Even if it's free, I want to cancel the subscription.

First of all, flipping through it is a misnomer, because most every page stuck at an advertisement. One of the first ones I flipped to was a scare tactic for the pertussis vaccine. Then there was the full-page one on the back for toddler formula. Most of the ads weren't anything out of the ordinary: disposable dipes, bright plastic toys, and all the other gew-gaws your average American parent thinks are necessary. I will freely admit that I make use of some of the wares being advertised. But I kept thinking that these were all things that didn't need advertising. And I did think to send a letter condemning the formula ads in particular, since formula companies, ethically speaking, aren't supposed to be advertising at all!

Then there were the articles. The raising of fears and the urging of coercion, and the veiled advertisements even here. My favorite was the page of snack suggestions, which recommended feeding kids Jell-O to learn colors (no, seriously) and Cheez-Its with letters on them to learn the alphabet. Huh-wha? Yes, let's make sure our preschoolers are getting their full RDA of gelatin and cheez, shall we?

mothering magazineTo keep this from being just a rant about what I don't like in parenting magazines, let me plug my fave mag of all time: Mothering. And, no, they're not making me say this (or paying me, sigh...).

There are ads (something's gotta pay the bills), but they're for companies you root for, ones that need the attention. And the articles celebrate parenting in relationship rather than present it as a task to be done just so.

It's so odd, because my uncle was visiting one day when my parents were here and was flipping through my issue of Mothering and said to my parents, "So, this is the guilt magazine, I see." My parents chuckled along. And I couldn't even figure out what he meant.

mothering magazine interiorI processed it later. I guess he saw that it encouraged breastfeeding, organics, traditional foods, cosleeping, unschooling, and so on, and decided that it would make everyone as uncomfortable as it made him.

But, for me, since I already embrace those precepts, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel like there's someone out there who knows me, a whole heap of someones in fact, and that they're going to support me in every issue.

And when I want more support, I can head off to the discussion boards to chat and listen.

Mothering's even cooler now, because it's introduced a new digital interface. It's eco-friendly, internationally accessible, substantially cheaper, and easier than print to read in a dark room while breastfeeding your baby to sleep! Parfait, non?

So, that's my plug for Mothering magazine. What magazines do you read that make you feel all warm and squishy inside, or inspire you to think deep thoughts, or challenge you to change your ways? Please share, so I have more good parenting magazines to read, to replace the trash in my mailbox!


Jenny said...

Mothering is my favorite too! I started getting it about a year ago after I wrote a long rant about why I didn't like Parenting or Parents or one of those other mainstream things. One of my friends gave me her copy and I read every word. I even enjoy the ads, like you said. I am always going to when I have a question about something. If there's not an article about it, you can just ask on the forums! My only complaint is that I wish it came every month and not just every other month.

For me, Mothering isn't the "guilt" magazine. It's the magazine that helps me feel good about my parenting choices. Those OTHER magazines are the guilty ones!

Anonymous said...

I was going to write a post for this magazine, but you've already done it for me! I'm just going to link to this article whenever I get around to it!

Mothering is awesome and I wish I knew about it years ago, rather than months into already having a child. Mainstream parenting magazines are full of crap. There are some good tidbits in there, but they are swimming around in a pool of questionable advice, annoying advertisments, and product reviews that make me want to vomit.

Lauren Wayne said...

Totally! I really find the forums so helpful and communal, and the magazine like soaking in advice from an older, wiser mother. I feel like the mainstream mags write to their advertisements or reprint scare-tactic government press releases and call it a day. Grr.

One other thing I love about Mothering: the poetry throughout! It's so rare to find poems (good poems, at that!) in magazines nowadays. They always make me happy.

TheOrganicSister said...

My MIL continues to order Family Fun for us. It's a cute enough mag; lots of fun activities and crafts. I would have liked it as a little girl but Zeb is none too interested. And it's run by Disney so it's full of Disney related ads and other crap. It's certainly not the worst. It isn;t exactly a "parenting" mag though so that's probably why. But I do wish she'd stop renewing it because it never gets read!

Body and Soul was a magazine I did like though. But I cancelled it in an eco-fit. It's not like it said much I didn't know or couldn't read about online anyway. ;)


Lauren Wayne said...

I used to love Cricket as a little girl, because it was full of stories. I think it's still out there.

Highlights for little kids (forget what exactly it's called) is what MIL has us signed up for, and I think it's got some good ideas for crafts and such, too. Probably too good. I worry that when Mikko's a little older, he'll make us do them all. Ha ha! I'll check out the Family Fun website for some ideas.

Body and Soul looks cool, too. It's strange that an eco-mag wouldn't have a digital version, isn't it?

A friend I know loves Brain, Child, because of the fact that it's "the magazine for thinking mothers." I liked the one issue she loaned me, but I wanted to read a few more before I cemented my opinion. But I haven't gotten around to it. Anyone want to vet it for me? :)

Oh, in obnoxious news, I got my newest copy of the unasked for parenting rag, and the cover stories include how to get your kids to stop sleeping with you. In better news, an article on how to take your baby everywhere is illustrated with a baby in a pouch carrier.

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