People often ask me how I plan the features in Metro Parent. And the truth is it’s more and less complicated than you’d expect. As any reporter/editor will tell you, we’re always absorbing information through the prism of our “beat,” which in journalism jargon means area that we cover. A daily newspaper reporter may have the crime beat, for instance. Or a woman’s magazine editor may have the fashion beat. And, well, guess what I have? Parenting, of course. Gold star for you!
And so, because I’m always aware of my beat, I can’t help but constantly have that “parenting” switch turned on. When I’m talking to my friends, reading the newspaper, shopping – whatever the task – it’s there in the back of my head. And yet I still have a natural bias that affects my overall selection. For me, it’s about what I find interesting. I check myself on my bias with every story, and I challenge myself to be open to areas that don’t interest me or to steer away from pet topics in which I’m too enamored or hit too close to home. But I must confess that this month’s cover story has my bias all over it.
When I read an article on Salon.com called “6 Signs You Could Be a Highly Sensitive Person,” I identified with five of the six signs it cited. “That’s me,” I thought. For instance, I am extremely sensitive to my environment. So much so that under the right circumstances, bold colors or a TV blaring in the background can make me anxious. Another sign: I was described as “sensitive” or “shy” as a child.
And so, with my little wheels turning, I knew I wanted to cover this topic from that perspective – that of a child and, of course, his or her parents, who are trying to shape this sensitive little soul. I truly, personally hope that our story on raising a highly sensitive child gives you insights into your own little tender heart, yourself or someone you know.
Our camp feature this month (yes, it really is time to start planning that) is an example of when I totally challenge my content selection bias. “To Be or Not To Be … in Drama Camp” is a question I never asked. Being in the spotlight was never something I was comfortable with, but I know a lot of kids who are little hams. On a side note, I felt encouraged to read that theater camps are really open to shy kids – and that the experience can help them feel more empowered. So maybe I should have gone to theater camp after all. Maybe your child should too.
And, finally, our third feature of the month should be everyone’s bias – parent or not. The issue of child care in this country is something that’s prompted me to step on my soapbox for years. As much as politicians love to espouse their commitment to families, they fail on one of the most profound issues affecting millions of American parents – helping them procure safe, affordable child care. This month, we kick off a series on this issue with a look at how poorly our country is doing in this regard, with some comparisons to other countries that, frankly, put us to shame. I hope that we finally have a national conversation on this issue. No – a national movement! Parents and kids deserve so much better. And you don’t have to have a “parenting” beat to recognize that.