You guys rock! I seriously have no words to thank you! Last week I gingerly sent out a survey to determine the future direction of the blog. Your response has been so overwhelmingly helpful! I now have a 33 page pdf document with your insights and feedback to guide me any time I am confused about the course for this blog. Thank you so. very. much!
While your responses were as diverse as you all are, there are so many similar threads running through the feedback. I’ve been poring over the individual comments with great fascination during the past week and will continue to do so for a long time to come. In the meantime, I want to put together here a quick summary so it can serve as the guiding star for this blog as we move forward. I’ve closed the survey for now to start collating the responses, but any time you have additional feedback, please feel free to comment on this post or send an email to me directly at sumitha @ afineparent . com. Again, thank you so much!
Here we go –
1. What do you like/dislike the most about the ‘A Fine Parent’ website and its content?
You guys were amazing about sharing what you liked :). Here are some of the main reasons you like this site –
- It is from a “real” parent about the real problems we face.
- It addresses some of what we all go through on a daily basis, some of which is hard to discuss and not covered on other sites.
- It is practical, concrete, honest, clear, good writing, empathetic and challenges us to be better parents, and better people.
- There are actionable items every week making it more than something to “just” read.
- It contains graphics and the charts (this came as a total surprise to me!)
- It has a good ratio of time to read:value of information (love the way that was framed – thanks!)
- It strikes a good balance of unattainable ideal and what we can actually do/try to do in real life.
- It is well researched, well thought out and backed by science, but also includes personal stories and examples.
Many of you were shy with sharing your dislikes :). From the few responses regarding dislikes here is what we have –
- The lack of color and lack of visual appeal in the articles. I have a LOT to learn here. I’m still an early stage student of this science/art form! Thanks for pointing this out – will spend some more time learning it.
- The scroll-triggered sign up box at the bottom. This pop-up appears only when the page is scrolled past 50% of its length helping me reach out to parents who are really invested in this. As some of you pointed out though, these are likely the parents already signed up! After some hacking, I’ve replaced the sign up form with a link that makes it easier to email the article to family/friends, if you find the article helpful. Please let me know if it still bothers you.
- The signup form at the top. I feel a little torn here. While I love every parent who stops by this site, my commitment is to parents that are committed to this for the long-haul. So, I want to make it easy to sign up. At the same time, I can see how annoying this box can be after you’ve signed up. Sadly, I don’t know if the technology exists to show it only to those who are not already signed up 🙁 For now, I am looking for ways to remove it from mobile version of the site (or switch the site to a different theme). Please hang in there.
- The bit about how the articles are skimmable in every email. I hear ya – it’s gone 🙂 I will put it once in a while as a quick reminder, but not in every mail.
- Apologizing for personal shortcomings in some of the articles, which shows guilt and self-judgment as a parent, and not a good example of the “good enough as I am, working on becoming a better parent” philosophy. Long sigh. Guilty as charged. Working on it. Thanks for your support and encouragement in that wonderful comment!
(I’ve included the feedback about the length of the articles in the next section.)
2. Is the “One topic per month, one in-depth article on that topic each week” format working for you? Do you prefer that we switch to a free-flow format instead of sticking to a fixed topic throughout the month? Do you prefer that I publish shorter articles instead of the long, detailed ones?
Almost unanimously, all of you are in favor of the “one topic per month, one in-depth article on that topic each week” format. While some of you commented that you wouldn’t mind a few adhoc articles in the middle, most of you expressed strongly that I should not change this. Yaay! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know that this format resonates as much with you as it does with me!
Regarding the length of the articles, many of you said it’s fine the way it is, while some of you said you definitely prefer shorter articles. To get a better idea, I tallied up the scores and here is what we have –
So, for now, I am going to leave the length as it is while continuing to try making it easier to skim through, and put more effort into editing to trim it as best as I can. My hope is that, in the weeks that you are very busy to squeeze reading the article into your schedule, you will give it a quick skim and at least pick up a couple of ideas you can try out in your households.
3. Are there any specific topics you want me to cover over the next 6 months?
Wow, this section has been such a treasure trove of information! While some common themes like discipline, patience, education and preparing kids to handle whatever life throws at them came up often, each response was pretty much unique. If I wrote just one article on each topic, I would probably still not be able to cover all the topics in a whole year 🙂
What I am hoping to do is address as many of these as possible under a broader umbrella of a monthly topic (for example, one of you asked for an in-depth article about how to praise the right way and that’s a perfect topic for discussion during our next month’s theme of mindset).
That said, this question (and #6) brought up a couple of severe deficiencies – quite a few of you want more articles about raising siblings, a topic I am sadly unable to cover since I have only one child. Also, some of you requested specific articles for either younger/older age group kids – again something I am not experiencing at present. I would love to bring in more writers for the blog, but currently, I do not have a budget for it. Any volunteer writers among our fine parents who might consider sharing some tips/stories? If so, please do contact me at sumitha @ afineparent . com and we’ll figure out how to go about it!
4. Are you signed up for the weekly email notification of the articles? What made you choose to either sign up, or not sign up?
Most of you are signed up for the weekly email notification, while a small percentage of you receive it via RSS. What surprised me is that many of you have been here from even before the blog launched! Most of you signed up because the basic premise of the blog resonated with you, and/or you want to make sure you don’t miss the weekly articles. Thank you so much for the trust you have placed in me! I will do my best to live up to it. (And if I fall short, I hope you will let me know in the same kind and supporting manner you’ve responded in this survey – you have my email 🙂 ).
5. How much of what you read are you able to apply in your everyday life? What helps you or keeps you from trying things in your household?
The answers here are quite varied – from “not able to translate what I read to action at all” all the way to “almost everything I read, I try to apply” – which is quite expected since we are all in different seasons of life and in some seasons, change is possible and in others change has to wait.
Some of you have said that you are able to implement some of what you read right away, but as time passes, things start to slip again. Don’t worry about this – it is quite normal as well. In fact this was my biggest issue when I started – I seemed to get the hang of things and then slowly, it would either start slipping or I would fail quite grandly and get disheartened. What I have found, at least with myself, is approaching the same topic from several different perspectives helps solidify the concept in the mind and makes the change effortless (or at least, requiring less effort). Which is what I hope to do through this blog (both for myself and some of you who face similar challenges).
Many of you have stated that you already have many of these in place in your lives, and follow the blog along as support to stay on track. Thank you so much for sharing that – it is from watching parents like you that has given me the hope and willingness to keep on this path!
Finally, my hope is that irrespective of where you are in the spectrum, the blog become a small little voice in your head that gently leads you back on track, should you happen to stray away.
6. What are your biggest fears as a parent? What is the one biggest challenge you are facing right now?
This was the most gut-wrenching part for me to read. If you are reading a blog like this, it goes without saying that you are a good parent who is invested in improving yourself as a person and the way you raise your kids. Very few of you feel confident enough to say that you have no fears, however. Many of you worry if what you are dong is enough, or if you are doing it the ‘right’ way. You worry that in the busyness of everyday life, you may be missing out on enjoying the little moments that matter. You worry if your kids will grow up to be resilient, confident, competent, kind-hearted, happy, grateful, responsible or any of the other values that your hold dear to your heart. You worry if you are a good role model. You worry if it is too late, if you have somehow damaged your kids already. And so much more.
And it’s funny how much of it I can relate to! The more I hear from you all, the more I realize – no matter how different and diverse a bunch we are, at the core we are all very similar. We have similar dreams and aspirations. We have similar fears and worries. Consequently, we see challenges in very different areas of our lives but they are all rooted in similar hopes, ambitions, anxiety and trepidation.
I hope though this blog that we all learn slowly to let go of some of these fears and worries – to just focus on the moment and make the right choice as we see them now, and not worry about the implications on the future; to not let our own past experiences interfere with that ability to make that right choice; to be authentic and real and live our lives in line with our values; to be kind and forgiving, gentle and nurturing — both to ourselves and others; to improve ourselves each day just a teeny little bit and look back someday and say from the bottom of the heart – “I did OK”.
Your response to this survey is an incredible gift to me that I cannot thank you enough for. You were deep, sensitive, emotional, humorous and just downright human in your feedback, and that means so much to me. Many of my questions, doubts, worries about the blog have been answered.
In addition to all that I have tried to capture in the summary above, there were some other great practical suggestions — like including afineparent in the “from” field of the emails I send out because when you just sign up you don’t know who sumitha is; to mix up the short and long articles to keep things interesting; to include a resources page; to include inspiring stories from other parents — some of these I have implemented and others are on the to-do list.
So once again, thank you! As some of you know I am taking a “break” from my job right now. This site has provided me a productive pursuit that both brings immense meaning and fulfillment to my life, and helps me stay on track in my own quest to become a better person and a better parent.