An interview with Doree Shafrir on the past and future of online parenting content
I know this is not one of AHP's 'recommendation' threads but... I would love to know if there's a podcast out there that's similar to the way Forever 35 is described on its landing page, but that DOESN'T talk about self-care as necessarily involving products? I read this piece and thought: wow, these sound like people I want to listen to. Then I went over to the landing page. There's a massive heading about talking about serums. The first sentence of the next paragraph adds mascara. I am - personally, you do you etc etc - **SO VERY DONE** with the idea that cosmetics are a reliable route to 'self care' and while it sounds like they cover a lot of things I'd love to be listening to (I'm in my mid-40s), I cannot bear more product talk. Any pointers, I'd be much obliged.
IRL community matters so much - and parenting is a huge part of community.
We live in a big city but within, there is the neighborhood community, and at smaller scale, our street community. We care for each other. For example, three of my neighbors are widows - all over 65 y/o, and we help care for them in a myriad of small acts. We have done this for years, never expecting a return - as a way for my husband and I to teach our sons how to be good citizens. My boys shovel walks, return garbage cans to backyards, mow grass, my husband fixes the squeaky fence gate, etc.
TW~ When our older son Olivier tragically died this winter (innocent victim of gun violence), we were completely shattered - but this community we had nurtured, turned around and cared for us in a manner we never expected. Neither of us have family close by. We were humbled by their love, kindness and support. Through parenting, we cultivated an environment where mutual aid is the norm, not the exception. We dearly wish we hadn’t needed a “return on our community investment”, but the reality is that sooner or later we all need a little help from our friends. I can’t help but think that social media by robbing us from IRL interactions and thriving on reactionary content, is responsible for the empathy deficit that seems pervasive these days. And a little empathy goes a long way in creating and maintaining healthy communities. A world where widows can continue to live independently in their own homes, and where their 20 year old helpers can walk the streets at 10pm without fear of deadly violence.
I saw someone ask this on Twitter and didn’t see any answers so I would love to pose it here: what, exactly, does all this “build community” talk mean in concrete real terms? I would very much like either examples or a check list or an assignment….?
I love Forever 35 podcast (my friend Dr. Lizzie Cleary was interviewed on there not too long ago) and I wasn't aware of the newsletter -- just subscribed!
When it comes to online communities for parents and especially moms, I find there are two circles that likely overlap like a Venn diagram: one is hyperlocal (for needs like finding secondhand gear, getting nanny referrals, where are the best playgrounds, etc.) and one is personal (the type of women you'd actually like to hang out with, and usually ones who have similar backgrounds). Layer on to that is another potential circle that is based on special interests (special needs kids? sleeping problems?).
There is immense value created in these communities. But I think we are still figuring out the economics of community building and community belonging. Even if we argue that such communities create value to participants, regardless of any monetary output or gain to such participants, communities don't exist for free. And there is very much a live question as to how we build these communities so that members are not just consumers and participants, but also the ones who build and reap the economic rewards. Because on Facebook groups, it's Meta that reaps the economic rewards. On Substack, it's currently Substack and the individual creators. Considering Substack paid subscriptions appear to be trending heavily towards community building, Substack needs to figure out how to fold in community members and participants into the economic benefits (perhaps pushing into web3).
My husband recently took command of a military unit. I am ecstatic because for the first time in forever I can go back to being a part of a small community - and now I'm helping to build and create the culture within the unit's families! (The first things we're focusing on are what needs there are within the unit, how can we meet this needs internally, what resources I can link to on the installation and within the greater community, etc.) I am so looking forward to this!
I'm also focused on creating my own community of local support - which means defining who my people are then finding areas where I can find them. (I can rely on fellow command spouses, but finding like minds can be difficult.) For instance, I practice Centering Prayer - so where are the local groups that meet for it? Or are there other meditation groups focused on silence with whom I can practice CP as they do their thing? I'm fascinated by the intersection of theology and social justice, so where are those folks hanging out and how can I get involved? (Hint... I usually start with nuns. :D)
One of the unique things about being in the military, especially on a 2 year tour, is how quickly I have to either throw myself into things and start building relationships... or accept isolation. In my experience there's not a real middle ground (and that was even pre-COVID). This becomes a reason that I focus on building relationships within the military, then turn to locals. For instance, we can move into a new area and check out a local Catholic church - but they won't let us serve until they've had a year to get to know us to make sure we're good Catholics. The parish on base accepts us dang near instantly - and as soon as they discover we want to serve we're on all the lists. :) My biggest stumbling block right now is that my people (Centering Prayer, meditation, social justice and theology, etc) can be hard to find on an installation,, which forces me out into the community to find these pockets of wisdom and strength.
Does anyone have a good answer to the same question but for dads?
That thing where you know *exactly* what safe sleep FB group she’s talking about.
Honestly, I am now the parent of school age kids and one thing that strikes me is that it was so much easier to make friends when my kids were babies. We all knew we needed support and were THERE for each other. It seems like the more self-sufficient the kids get, the less the parents around us interact, if that makes sense?
Oh this is interesting to me! I'm a new mom (babe is less than a year) and at least right NOW I feel very well supported by my Bumper group on Reddit, a local neighborhood mom group where we swap resources, and carefully choosing the mom content folks on Instagram. Also I have been on Babycenter for a loooong time. I stumbled across their "toxic inlaws & family" support groups at one point and never left. I'm happy to learn about Doree's newsletter though!
As a mom who is about to turn 35 tomorrow, the timing of this couldn't have been more perfect. I'm still on facebook but haven't really posted in the past month and have been missing mom spaces. Doree, I just subscribed and I'm looking forward to reading all of your posts!!
My kids are grown, so I'm not as on top of this as I used to be, but: Damn, do I miss the days of the decidedly-not-mainstream Hip Mama message boards in the early 2000s. They (and their successors) eventually imploded, but that info exchange and solidarity changed my life, and I'm still friends with so many of the women I met there. Maybe we should resurrect now and call it Hip Meno, cuz many of us are headed there if we're not there already...
I’ve been listening to Forever 35 off and mostly on since it first started. Doree and Kate have honestly dropped nuggets of wisdom on me that fully changed my life. Specifically, I now read for actual pleasure rather than reading (or not reading) literature because I feel like I have something to prove to my literature degree.
I didn’t know that Doree had started a parenting newsletter- now subscribed!
7 years ago when I first gave birth, the Longest Shortest Time Facebook group saved me. And then promptly (wishing 6 months) dissolved into infighting. I joined tons more Facebook groups only to never really find my people. Then the forever 35 group changed my life again because it felt safe to talk to people about superficial things, but also feel seen. I’ve since completely left Facebook. I only superficially skate across Instagram, and I’ve felt more disconnected. But then it’s also less of a time suck (more reading what I want to read).
I admit, I hesitate to try discord. Somehow engagement with strangers doesn’t scratch the itch it once did. Maybe because I am finally starting to make a few real friends. Maybe something else. I don’t know.
And yet here I am typing this comment into the abyss.
Anyway. I’m so glad you did this interview Anne! I’m very excited to dive into Doree’s newsletter.
Thank you so much for sharing Doree with us! I hadn't been made aware of her. I try and unpack a lot of the motherhood and identity issues in my Substack, The Mother Lode, which I launched in November 2021. I also have found a very welcoming and forthcoming group of mothers on Not Safe for Moms Group, which yes, is Facebook, but it just feels really good to have a space where it safe to talk about things many people DON'T talk about in mom groups. I also love what Mom Life Comics does on Instagram; it isn't a community. But it does make me feel seen in a very refreshing way.
(Tangential to the rest of this discussion, but I worked with Doree once and she was an amazing editor!)
Man, I miss the military mom blogs of the early 00s! Army Wife, Toddler Mom, Homefront Six, etc were mainstays to me a decade before I had kids!