Stories about: Blogging as therapy

My teens want to start a blog together–what are the pros and cons?

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, is Children’s Hospital Boston’s media expert and director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. Take a look at his blog archive or follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston

Q: We have a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who are at the same school. They have voluntarily given up Facebook because of the time drain it can be, and both have fairly heavy academic loads. They are interested in starting a blog together. What are the pros and cons?

Benefits of Blogging in Roseville, CA

A: Dear Benefits,

What a great way for adolescent siblings to connect and use their creativity together! This kind of self-expression that can be incredibly powerful—even therapeutic—for teens pursuing the developmental tasks of finding themselves and connecting with their peers. But it can also be as much of a time sink as Facebook. To help them focus their efforts and make the time they spend on this project rewarding and positive, ask your teens these questions:

“What is the mission of your blog?” Do they want their blog to focus on sports, or music, or issues in their school, or what it’s like to be a teenager? Maybe they want to offer their different age, grade level, and gender perspectives on issues that interest them both. Having a vision and mission will help them focus their blog, limit the time they spend updating it, and create a unique niche in the blogosphere that will draw readers.

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Our Patients’ stories: Processing my son’s cancer

Caroline Rider used to work in publishing before her three children were born. Life was going according to plan until her son, Charlie, got sick. After that her world tipped upside down, and in the shuffle Caroline found herself publishing again, but in a different capacity than what she was used to.

Charlie

When Charlie, my then four-year-old son, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in October of 2006, my structured and predictable life came to a screeching halt. I had always prided myself on organizational skills that let me run a household of five with calm and ease, but after Charlie’s diagnosis concepts like “predictable” and “calm and ease” went out the window. It was a very scary time for my family, but it didn’t take long for me to find an outlet for my fear that became a safe harbor against our sudden turmoil.

Four days after Charlie’s diagnosis, I wrote an e-mail to update my friends and family about our situation. A week later I sent out another, and then another a few weeks after that. Overall I sent 39 ‘Charlie Updates’ during the course of my son’s four-year battle with cancer. Initially the updates were a way to share lot of information about Charlie’s progress with a lot of people, and do so in a quick and efficient manner. However, as the months and years passed, the updates became just as much of an emotional support as it was an information sharing strategy. Writing about our ordeal helped me cope with the problems my family and I were facing. It was cathartic to write it all down. It took away the burden of having to retell the story over and over again, but it also helped me to focus on the day-to-day. Once I wrote an update, I could put the unpleasantness of certain situations behind me and focus again on getting my family back to what had come to be considered normal.

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