Birth, crazy girls, death, and vacationing at the beach. How do all of these things come together in one common medium? Blogging. Blogs can look like anything from a white background with black font to a colorful background with music, videos, pictures, and colorful text. Common sights on blogs are headers with pictures of family members, especially with stay-at-home Mormon mom bloggers. This group of bloggers blog about their life experiences raising kids and general family life. The header is the first part of the blog that is seen by readers; this group of bloggers often makes a collage behind the title of the blog in order to show off the family. Mormon mom bloggers are significantly different from other bloggers because of the unique worldview that they possess. In order to understand the worldview of Mormon mom bloggers and see how they are different from other bloggers, we must look at some details of the Mormon mom blogs: the ways Mormon mom bloggers are unique, reasons Mormon moms blog, safety concerns with the internet, the ways blogging affects daily life, and how blogging may influence the future of their children.
Why They Are Unique
All of the blogs that I am following have at least two things in common: religion and occupation. All of the blogs’ writers are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The members of this religion are Christian and are often referred to as “Mormon.” These “Mormon” bloggers have many things in common when it comes to beliefs because they all belong to a church that is the same throughout the world, due to a central governing head. There is also a culture that connects the members of the church together because of the vast differences from protestant Christianity, including an abstinence from alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, pre-marital sex and other potentially harmful behaviors. The Mormons are also different from other churches’ members by having volunteer assignments commonly called “callings.” The author of The Inman Clan describes it in “a call to compassion”, “… I have been released from being 2nd counselor in the primary to being called as the compassionate service leader. This is my first time with a calling in the Relief Society” (Inman, par. 1). The author is picking up an entirely new challenge to help those in her church the way that they need it the most.
Another way to see how Mormon mom bloggers are unique is to look at the article “What was virtual becomes personal.” In this article by Alex Williams, he follows a group of stay-at-home Mormon mom bloggers that raise money to help a fellow blogger they have never met after a plane crash left her close to death. These bloggers used their own money and talents to raise funds to cover the medical and general costs during her recovery. This means that they are stepping outside of the Internet world and entering hers at a personal level. They are doing something that would normally be expected from family and friends and doing it themselves when in reality they never met her.
The writers of the blogs also share the same occupation: they are all staying home to raise families instead of working on their careers linked with their college degrees. The blogger, Queen, relates this in an interview: “We decided before we had children that I would stay home with them. We felt it was important for the kids to have me be the one to teach and guide them, and not miss anything when they were little. I quit working when we moved two months before our first was born” (1). Each one of these families now lives off of the one salary from the husband and as a result sometimes struggles with financial problems.
After looking at the Mormon mom bloggers and how they are unique because they stay at home and are Mormons, it is possible to see how these attributes contribute to their worldview. A portion of their worldview includes the values of being religious, giving services, and raising children. In order to discover other aspects of their worldview, it is important to look at why they blog.
Why They Blog
Mormon mom bloggers blog for several reasons: they are stuck at home; they want to keep in contact with friends, family and the real world; and they want to receive and give support. The Mormon stay-at-home mom bloggers often have their hands full of cleaning, kids, and general family business. Though sometimes the bloggers admit to not having much to do or being lazy, other times the way that blogs are written reveals the truth of thousands of diapers and tears that can cause anyone some level of insanity and a need for a release somewhere. Many of these women seem to use blogs for just that: a way to get out of the house without ever getting a babysitter for the kids. They use the monitor as a portal to talk to other moms and people with common ties to find out how many kids can really live in one room and get ideas to keep the children quiet during church. For example, in the post “Oh Baby” the author of Past, Present, and the Unknown announces the pregnancy of her third child and how all three will be in the same room for some time. A reader, Kristie, responds with, “It's amazing how many kids you can fit into one room...we did 5 for awhile:-) [It's] just the mess they leave is much more concentrated!” (A, par. 1). This comment helps the author know that it is all right to have three children in the same room for a while. It also adds a bit of humor and a release into her life that may not exist with two and soon to be three children in the home.
Another reason for blogging is to keep in contact with family and friends that no longer live nearby. Queen describes why she continues to blog, “My extended family likes to keep up with our family, and comments and feedback on my blog (and theirs) keep us connected” (5). In the article “Mom's online blog shares quads' stories” the author Josh Duke quotes a blogger, Jen: ‘“I love it,’ [she] said. ‘It just provides a good social path to interact with people and keep them updated on our family's journey’”(2). The article and the interview both show examples of why this blogging community blogs. The first reason of both blogs was to keep in touch with family and friends. The blog from the article, “Mom’s online blog shares quads’ stories,” also explains that the blog has now led her to meet with other parents with quads (quadruplets) and with people around the world interested in how the children are growing. “While the blog initially started as a way for family and friends to follow the progress of the boys, it now has about 1,000 subscribers and about 2,000 individual readers a day” (Duke, 3). The amount of people checking the blog shows that it is not only family that checks it anymore and that others around the world are interested in the family.
The last main reason stay-at-home Mormon mom blogger blog is to give and receive support during trying times of raising a family. An example of this is from the blog Terrors in Tiaras. In the post “Unfit” she discusses how one of her daughters is complaining about how unfair her mother is with ballet class and school requirements. The reader, James 1:5, responds with this comment, “Well, I've been trying to think of a way to broach this sensitive subject with you for awhile now...whew...pressures off!:) Thanks for being an encouragement to all of us who consistently(sic) fall short of our children's expectations” (Queen, n. pag.). This shows that she understands what the other mother is going through now with children not agreeing with rules and decisions that she has made. This comment was helpful not only to the original author but also to others who read and commented on the post.
Another way that readers provide support for the author is by offering tips that they have tried when problems arouse, such as lice treatments. In the blog, The Inman Clan, in the post “lice” the author is writing about how her youngest daughter has head lice and the chemicals to kill the pests could be considered dangerous and is looking for other possible options. The reader, Family, offered this suggestion,
I have a great concauction (sic) that worked. Totally natural. Tea tree oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, Rosemary oil, olive oil and water. I put 2 drops each in a spray bottle and spray it in am and pm. In hair, on beds, on coats, carpet, EVERYWHERE! We use it as a rinse after every bath. It worked For us. Good luck and death to lice! (Inman, n.pag.).
This post helped the author find a safer and better smelling option than the chemicals. Other parents that read the blog also were able to view the comment and try it out if they too were experiencing an infestation.
The Mormon mom bloggers also write about the hard days that they may experience. One blogger explains this in the article, “Parents use blogs as journal to share with friends, family.” “For instance, Owen ‘was not an easy baby’ for the first six months. On a rough day, Maxwell might post about her crummy experience. Receiving encouraging comments from friends and family helped. She sees the blog as a record of things, and tries to be real.” (Johnson, 2). The comments that these bloggers give and receive help with the big trials such as lice but also everyday things that build up over time.
After looking at why Mormon mom bloggers blog it is because they need a release from the daily trials of raising children, they want to keep in touch with family and friends, and to give and receive support and encouragement. These reasons for blogging attribute to their worldview and includes caring for themselves, their family and friends, and others around the world that also blog. Safety concerns are another area of analysis to explore in order to discover more of the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers.
It is easy to see the safety concerns that are present while blogging about family online. A few of the possible problems are home burglary, child abduction, identity theft, and stalking. Everything that is posted online can be seen from anyone around the world and used for good reasons or some very bad ones that could harm the family. Blogspot.com has one safety feature that anyone with a blog can decide to use; this feature is a private blog. It makes it so that the author of the blog has to invite others to view the blog instead of an open web address. The second popular safety feature is to change the names of those mentioned in the blog and not mention where they live. This is one that can allow all family members access to family happenings without risking the safety as well.
The private blog feature opens to a page that requires a login to view the website and explains the blog is only open to invited readers. After logging in, all of the normal blog parts are present. The text, background, and layout are the same as it would be with a public blog, but the blog is not allowed to be viewed by others. One downfall of this type of safety feature is that less computer literate reader have problems viewing the blog as the blogger Queen explained, “The first one I started was private, and then I began a public one that was easier for my less computer savvy family members to view” (2). The blogger wanted to keep in touch with all of her family but also wanted to keep everyone in the family safe so she decided to try another solution as well, fake names.
The fake names used on a public blog allows anyone to view the blog and get the same information out of it. The only difference is the name associated with the faces of family members and the location name, while the blogger queen is very thorough with blotting out names and information other bloggers are not quite as careful with the system of changing names. The blog, Terrors in Tiaras, changes the names of the family to princess names. The children (all girls) are called Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, while the mom and dad are Queen and King. The children’s pictures are posted on the side of the blog with the fake names underneath so readers can see what each on looks like and possibly leave a comment about or to one of the girls. Another blogger that is very popular online also uses the fake names in order to protect the children not only from predators but also from embarrassment from friends, “Elizabeth Thielke… cloaks the identity of her children by referring to them as ‘Busy Boy’ and ‘Busy Girl.’ "I take reasonable precautions…”(Johnson, 3). This keeps their feelings and their family safe from those that could try to harm them.
After looking at the safety concerns of the internet and how the Mormon mom bloggers deal with those concerns with private blogs and fake names. This shows the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers includes safety for their family and friends because the world could be a dangerous place. In order to see more of the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers it is necessary to look at how blogging affects daily life.
Blogging and Daily Life
Blogging affects daily life with the amount of time in writing and reading blogs and in the way the blogger views her job as a mom. Time is an issue because it takes time away from what would be time with children and family, but when tied in with the way events are viewed it begins to seem funnier and the anger is worn away.
The amount of time it takes to blog about a day or an event varies by the author and so does the time spent reading blogs. The time that is used for blog related activities is time that is normally not spent with children. The blogger, Queen, described her blogging habits, “I spend maybe two to five hours a week writing and way too much time reading. Maybe five or so hours, sometimes more if I have the time. Kind of scary when you add up all that time” (16). As the blogger describes she did not realize how much time she was really spending reading blogs. She is like another blogger in an article by Bonna Johnson entitled, “Technology tempts mom bloggers.” “I do the majority of the work when my older children are at school and my young sons nap” (3). Another blogger from the article “Mom's online blog shares quads' stories” talks about how she finds time to blog, “Despite trying to keep up with the boys, Jen still finds time to update her blog at least every other day. She usually has to do it while the boys are down for their afternoon nap or late at night after they fall asleep” (Duke 3). This shows that the moms do not take time away from their children to pursue their own fun. The mothers that blog use their free time during the day to do what they want to in order to communicate with family and friends and get back a bit of their sanity. During the time that they are online some bloggers read other blogs as well as Queen points out, “I follow about 70 blogs on blogger —some of them more closely than others, as well as about fifteen that are private and don’t update on blogger. Blogger says I have 34 followers, and I have at least 10 family members that read my blog every day but wouldn’t have a clue how to subscribe on blogger!” (9). This shows that she uses most of her free time on blogging while her children are at school. The blogging mom still focuses on the family while they are awake and around the house, but once they get the chance they do the things they want and need to do.
Blogging also affects daily life of Mom bloggers by allowing them to think back on the experiences of the day and write about what happened. The blogger Queen explains her feelings: “I think my blog also helps me to think about my parenting in a more positive light” (6). When Mormon mom bloggers blog about the family they do not want to complain about everything that happened during the day so it allows the mothers to look at things from a different perspective in order to write about it in a humorous manner. Bloggers also sometimes need to get another angle on the event by asking other about details of the day. Queen gets some of her information for the blog from her husband while talking about things together. She describes how her husband feels about the blog: “He’s fine with it and usually likes it. He only reads it occasionally, though. Most of the time I tell him the stories I post or ask him for specifics on things that I don’t remember, so he knows what’s on there even if he doesn’t read” (15). This means that even though he does not read the blog and she does not spend time with him while writing it she still makes time to discuss the day with her husband though indulging in some personal time.
While looking at how blogging affects the daily lives of the Mormon mom bloggers it is evident that they care about their alone time and spending time with family as well as how the blog makes them feel about their job as a mother. This shows that the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers includes not only the ideas of quality time with family and the importance of being a stay at home mom, but also the significance of having time alone to reflect and relax. In order to see more of the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers it is necessary to look at how blogging affects the future of the children involved.
Influencing the Children’s future
The stay-at-home Mormon mom bloggers blog about their families, including the children and what happens to them on a regular basis. The children mistakes and triumphs are all posted online for the world to see, which could mean problems when they get older.
While interviewing Queen for about the blogging community that she belongs to I asked her about what her kids would think about the blog in the upcoming years of teenage life, “I suppose that they will be a little bugged I told people about their temper tantrums or dumb things they did, but hopefully not too much. I do worry a little bit that some of my readers will not realize how much I love being with my kids since I tend to complain about their behavior more than praise the good things they do” (14). This shows that she is still going to post their happenings but hopes that they will be able to see the humor involved that they probably did not see at the time it happened. The bloggers tend to use the blogs as a journal to share with family and friends but it will also allow the children to be able to see what they were like before they could actually remember. She also points out in the quote that she posts more about the mistakes than the successes. This is probably due to the fact that her children are normally succeeding in the things they do and it is not quite as funny or entertaining to write or read about. Another blog responds about how she handles blogging with children and how it will affect them in the future. In the article, “Technology Tempts Mom Bloggers,” by Bonna Johnson, she states that, “Now that her oldest daughter is 6, Reeves says she thinks twice about what she writes: ‘If I start to write something about her and think it might embarrass her, I don't’" (3). This shows that the Mormon mom bloggers care about how their children will react to the stories that are shared online. With oldest being only six years old the mother is already worrying about what she will think of it now and in the future trying to preserve not only her daughter’s feelings but also their relationship in the future.
While looking at how blogging affects the children involved in the stay-at-home Mormon mom blogs it is evident that it affects their worldview. The sense of caring for the children’s feeling and relationships now and in the future is a part of the worldview of the Mormon mom bloggers.
Worldview of Mormon Mom Bloggers
The worldview of the stay-at-home Mormon mom bloggers is unique among the average blogger online. Their worldview consists of the values of being religious, giving services, a sense of caring for the children’s feelings, relationships (now and in the future) and caring for themselves, and their family and friends and those around the world that blog; it includes quality time with family, the importance of being a stay at home mom and raising children, safety for their family and friends. Religion is a major part of the culture of the Mormon Mom bloggers because it is a vital part of their life; for them it is not just a Sunday morning trip to a sacred building - it is a way of life that they live each day. It molds the way that they raise their children, their careers as stay-at-home moms, and every part of daily life.
Service is also an integral part of their culture because it also has to do with their religion because it is strongly emphasized within the church. It is also something that is considered normal among the group because it is expected that if someone can help, they will. This changes their view of the world from other bloggers because someone else’s problem suddenly becomes their own, because they are trying to help fix it.
Caring is part of their worldview because they care about many things that are happening or that did happen. They care about feelings, bonds that link them to others, and those that just share the Internet with them. The caring nature of this group of bloggers changes their view of the world because it changes how they respond to others and makes them think twice before doing anything in order to keep as many people happy as possible.
The time that the bloggers share with their families is very important to their worldview because without the time with the family there would not be anything to blog about. The family is the reason that they blog which means that they must love to be around the family to write about it on a blog. It is also the reason that raising children and being a stay-at-home mom is important to them. It means that they get to be around the thing they love most: family and their children. The safety that is involved with creating a blog is also in this part of their worldview because it is the reason they try hard to keep it safe because if they lost something in the family it would be the greatest lost imaginable.
After looking at how the worldview of Mormon mom bloggers involves so many detailed ideas related to faith and family, it is evident that their worldview is essentially stated in their title. They have a unique niche in the blogging world, but even though they are different from many other bloggers and occasionally wary of them, they still reach out of their homes in much the same way as they reach in: with love.