Best Parenting Articles from Judith Warner of the New York Times

Judith Warner writes a column for the New York Times and I was lucky enough to be able to interview her after I have been reading her many awesome parenting articles over the past few years and months.  I also got to read her book Perfect Madness, which I loved! I have also posted many of these articles for my readers.  Here are some favorites for parents:

When did you start writing and when did you know that you wanted to be a reporter?

“I started writing at age 10 or 11 and knew it was something I wanted to do, but making it a career was definitely not a linear progression.  I knew I loved to write and loved to read, but that did not necessarily make it a career.” Warner wanted to do a major in creative writing, but couldn’t get into the creative writing program.  “What I was able to get into was an advanced Journalism class, and I worked for the college newspaper and found out that journalism was something I could definitely do.” After college, Warner participated in a training program at the New York Times and thought it was not really what wanted she wanted to do.  Warner then started to get her PHD in graduate school in comparative literature, yet she dropped out when she saw her friends from college had already started publishing their books.  “To be honest, at 25, I thought my life was over and when I took a leave of absence from school to write fiction and do some freelancing, I decided to never go back.  It was not until the past 6 or 7 years, since 2002, that things really fell into place.”

What is your favorite topic to write about?
“That really depends on the outcome.  I have the best experience when I am proud of results of my articles.  Of course, I have the most fun when I am writing a funny piece.  My columns that are funny are the ones I am most proud of and I love doing that.” Warner says that it is important for her to “tap into something emotional that people are going to relate to.  This could be something political, something about life at home, or a topic having to do with memory, even.” She says that she likes to strike a nerve, not necessarily a nerve of anger, “but strike a nerve where people want to write back with their own stories and not just their opinions.  I love to establish a connection through my writing, I don’t always think about that going in, it is afterwards when I realize the connection that I have created.”

What advice do you have for our young writers?

“Follow your passion, work on your skills.  Put in the time! Writing does take time, and young writers have to learn how to improve and how to be edited.  Knowing what it is like to be edited and then to be able to improve on their writing and be open to improvement is essential.  We think when we are younger that our writing is fully formed and perfect, but we need to grow into our voices and this takes time.” Warner also adds that young writers need to be “willing to put in the time and sweat.  Aspiring writers should look for opportunities to be part of something, like the school newspaper.  On a school newspaper there are built-in people to work for and learn from.” Lastly, Warner says that it is “important for writers to realize they are writing for a readership and this can be different than writing for yourself.”

You have written articles that really hit home with parents, how do you find such great topics and do you like writing about parenting?

“I never think of myself as a parenting writer, I do not write “how-to’s” like in parenting magazines.  I see myself writing about daily life and the topics that can be considered parenting ARE, for me, JUST THE stuff that comes up.  What I see myself writing about is really the culture of parenting.” After reflecting on her progression as a parenting writer, she says, “I have got much more compassionate to parents and the things they do, I have less articles written from a place of annoyance or outrage, and much more compassion. I can see where they are coming from, and am less judgmental than I once was. I think my readers enjoy not just advice, but also stories and my reflections as little vignettes of how I am getting along.”

Thanks Judy!

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