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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dearth of parenting teen markets

I smell an opportunity. Been researching parenting magazine markets for a few story ideas and essays I’d like to pitch and I’ve found few that really offer any opportunities to write about preteens and teenagers.

Most of the parenting magazines feature adorable infants, toddlers and preschoolers on the cover. I'm not likely to pick one up in the hopes of finding something applicable to my children. A look at the content proves my instinct correct. It seems that parenting articles in these pubs stop at the age of 10, sometimes 12. I suppose we parents are no longer in need of such valuable advice as proffered in these magazines after a certain age. Either that or the situation with our children is deemed too far gone.

Those few articles or markets I could find tend to fall into one of the following categories:

• Teeny-bopper magazines such as CosmoGirl, Y, Teen People, American Cheerleader, etc. (with very few focused on anything related to boys).
• The biggie issues of teen sex and pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders and depression.

Now what of those parents who just desire to see their own story reflected on the pages of these magazines? Nothing earth shattering, mind you, but definitely impactful on the homefront.

I’m thinking of how to encourage entrepreneurship in your child when they are too young to get a job (particularly when their social life starts costing more money). Or how to encourage your kid to stay focused on school when they are far more interested in, say, MAD TV.

I’m looking for articles by fellow parents with strategies for boosting my kid’s self-confidence (and I’m not talking at age 5 or 6 when, in my personal experience, that have it in spades). Or how to negotiate the minefield of talking to the opposite sex. How about how to navigate change of any kind?

How does a parent teach a child organization? Is it even possible? Is it too late? Or how does a parent learn to embrace their child’s inner packrat and resist the overwhelming urge to purge?

I’d like to see some great book lists and reviews for kids of varying ages and reading abilities. There’s so much crap being published as “young adult fiction.” It would be helpful to have someone weeding through the haystack to find the literary gems that reside in every publishing house.

There are Web sites devoted to teens with special needs, both medical and emotional, and for Christian teens and organic teens. But how about your basic run-of-the-mill teen? Did find a site or two from UK and Canada. However, they are not interested in submissions from Yanks.

There are plenty of books about parenting teens. But I’m pressed for time and won’t read an entire book. With the exception of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” I didn’t read any books about parenting little ones and I’m not likely to start now that they are older.

But I would like to pick up an occasional magazine and be able to relate to an experience, laugh at the absurdity of parenting and get some useful tips to employ in my household. And, selfishly, I’d like to be able to pick the brains of fellow parents and experts and write on these issues.

Anyone out there with some deep pockets?


Dawn said...

My theory why it wouldn't work as someone working for a parenting (well, pregnancy) magazine:
--Advertisers. There are tons of folks who will advertise in a parenting mag directed to younger kids. Theoretically, parents want the same things -- highchairs, diapers, sippy cups. Much harder to market to parents of teens.
--Child development gets less predictable as children grow. The younger they are, the more specific their developmental tasks are. It's harder to give general advice for indivdual teens while potty training tips are fairly generic.
--Parents are less consumed with parenting minutiae as their kids age. I don't think this reflects a lack of interest as much as it speaks to teens being such unique people and again, toddlers no matter how unique are still toddlers.

And Baby magazine, which was for the LGBT market, specifically looked for teen stories but they went under. I believe Mothering does, too, but their outlook is very narrow.

I think you might want to look at "women's" magazines to see about placing articles about teens. I believe their demographics skew higher (you can download their PR info on some sites and that'll tell you their target market).

Wendy Hoke said...

Thanks for your comments, Dawn and Amy. And thank you for reading CI.

Dawn, you are correct. It always comes down to advertising, as my hubby, the former mag advertising guy always says. Though I have to say, we spend a LOT of money on our kids (hence the very pressing need to encourage them to make their own money) and they covet many things advertisers sell in bulk -- movies, clothing, electronics, entertainment, etc.

And your point about child development being less predictable is a good one. All the more reason, in my mind, for finding the universal.

I've researched women's mags and there is potential there, but many are still focused on the younger child. Still, maybe there's a way to convince them of the hue and cry of those of us left hoping to share experiences and wisdom.

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Wendy.

Magazines are so last century. You don't need deep pockets. Here's an idea. Create a website filled with the kinds of information you're looking for. Make the informaiton so compelling that readers have to have it, then slap a subscription-only firewall on it.

If you're doing the writing, the cost is your time and a few pennies for webspace.

If you want to check out the market, start a separate blog and go crazy on the subject. Make sure that all the existing dinosa... err parenting magazines hear about what you're doing and give you a blurb and link.

If you want the perfect example of how to do it, look at the story behind the Tightwad Gazette.