Monday, 24 August 2015

Inclusive Blogging and the Childless Reader

Happy Monday, all!  As a blogger and person who reads blogs, and also someone who has lots of single friends and friends without children, I want to know how we can be sensitive and inclusive to childless readers.  I asked my friend Caitlin to give us the low-down and share some wisdom for the children-at-heart.  Enjoy! -- Christie

First off, I know myself.  It’s not always up to a blogger to make people feel inclusive; sometimes we need to know our own limits and when looking at a particular blog is going to be upsetting for one reason or another.

Also, I think those of us without children (who want them at some point) need to do things today.  Don’t wait to have kids to blow bubbles, color with crayons, lay in the grass, take naps, celebrate the seasons and holidays, make things, play with toys, read children’s books, or twirl in circles till you fall down.  Life is short and precious and there will never be enough time to squeeze everything in. Denying yourself the joy of doing “childish” things because you don’t yet have children is silly and only makes it hurt more.

This is a big one, and it also applies to conversations in real life: please don’t make broad pronouncements about what’s Best for All Babies/Children Ever.  This one really irks me, even though I know it often comes from a place of insecurity and/or concern.  As a mother you know how awful it feels when people judge your choices--now imagine that you haven’t even had the chance to choose.  We haven’t even had a chance to make any parenting decisions, and it is really insulting to hear people state that breastfeeding is the only way to go, or to hear someone laughing at someone else who tried cloth diapers but gave up, or to hear you state that daycare is evil.  Maybe we want to try cloth diapering.  Maybe we won’t be able to breastfeed for one reason or another.  Maybe we have to or want to put our kids in daycare and aren’t lucky enough to have family available to watch our kids.

(There is a BIG difference between sharing your story and what worked or didn’t work for you and Decreeing that All Babies and Children Must _______ in order to be happy/healthy/alive.  Sharing the benefits of breastfeeding is great; writing that formula will cause my child to grow up to be a serial killer is not okay.)

If posting about a particular activity or project that non-parent readers might want to do with or for nieces, nephews, or friends’ kids, feel free to gently point out aspects that might need careful consideration.  Such as: asking parental permission before posting children’s pictures on a blog or social media, securing buttons or avoiding long ribbons on handmade clothing and toys, checking about food allergies before giving kids snacks, etc.  The phrase “just a reminder to be sure to…” at the end of the paragraph is a great, neutral way to mention it.

If you happen to think of small alterations for certain projects or activities that could bump them into the grown-up realm, definitely add them to your post!  Some general ideas: changing the style or color(s), adding a sophisticated flavor that wouldn’t fly with kids or adding alcohol, or changing the intellectual level of a project or activity.  For example, instead of making a project with the book Little Women, make it with Pride and Prejudice.  Or just encourage your readers to embrace their inner child.  The best grown-ups I know are the ones who appreciate children and their world and aren’t afraid to enjoy the childish aspects of life.

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