By Sharon Miller Cindrich
Moms-we cook, we clean, we carpool. We are parenting experts-and often good ones-on everything from potty training to puberty, and we love to share our experiences with fellow comrades.
When I first started writing, I looked to my fellow parental comrades as just that-a juicy pool of parenting experts. Many of my article ideas were sparked by conversations with other parents about how much TV was too much or how to handle bedwetting on vacation. Not only would these conversations trigger a great story idea, but they came complete with juicy quotes and enthusiastic experts.
Using real, live parents in your writing adds credibility. Your connections with parents who are willing to share their stories with the world may be very appealing to an editor. When plunking in real moms (and dads), follow these guidelines:
Mother, may I
Make sure you ask permission before adding another parent’s quote or experience to your article-even if you are keeping her name anonymous.
Don’t forget Grandma
Parents, grandparents, care givers, aunts, uncles and even teachers-whether they are parents at the moment, for the day or were parents years ago, may have valuable insights that you can share. Don’t forget to draw on those less obvious resources that work with children regularly or deal with parents on a daily basis.
They’ve got e-mail
E-mail is easy, convenient and offers interviewees some time to compose an answer they are comfortable with. Send out a call for interviewees through e-mail, and always state the publication that you’re writing for, the subject of the article and the policy on using real names in the piece.
The mom who told the whole playgroup about her great new birth control method may be happy to share her insights with friends, but reluctant to put it in print. When writing articles with sensitive topics, it is sometimes best to search for sources outside your immediate circle. Post a call for interviews on your blog or the “Magazine Rack” here at www.mommasaid.net/magazinerack.aspx.
As your reputation as a “parenting reporter” grows, your network of experts may even start coming to you with new ideas that could trigger great articles.
Sharon Miller Cindrich is the mom of two, a columnist and author of E-Parenting: Keeping Up With Your Tech-Savvy Kids (Random House, 2007). Her next book debuts in the fall of 2009. Learn more at www.sharonmillercindrich.com.