Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour: Parenting in the Digital Age



Meagan Francis has been writing, blogging and podcasting about parenting for the better part of 20 years.

You might not know her name, but odds are good you’ve seen a photo of her:

That’s Meagan, in the hot pink dress. And that’s one of her (four) boys under her arm. (Meagan also has a daughter.)

If you have kids — and you probably do, if you’re listening to this podcast — you know that look on her face. You’ve felt that combination of frustration and determination. And that, likely, is why the photo went viral and remains wildly popular.

What you may not know is that the “surfboard kid” photo is 16 years ago. The boy under Meagan’s arm is now a 20 year old man she calls “mellow,” “sweet, and “reserved.”

The moral(s) of the story:

  1. Whatever you are experiencing today will not last forever. At age three, Meagan’s son was a “holy terror.” (Her words.) He would hide under clothes racks when they went shopping and was. uh, difficult to control at times. It’s easy to assume, when that’s your daily reality, that that’s how your kid is — and how he will BE. It’s easy to assume that unless you crack down (a.k.a, figure out the “right” way to handle this behavior), your kid will turn into an out-of-control juvenile delinquent. But that is not necessarily the case. What is true: Your child will grow. You will grow. Life in 15 years — or even next week! — might look very different than the current moment.
  2. Photos (and stories) on the Internet do last forever. Meagan discovered the photo about 6 years ago while going through a box of photographs. She posted it on her Facebook page with an encouraging story — and then, it took on a life of its own. The photo went viral and has surged in popularity at least 3 separate times, often in slightly different forms. Meagan has noticed that “people’s reactions to the photo tend to vary based on what caption is on there.” Some moms see it and are supportive. Some — especially those who see it in the iteration posted above, think, “I’d never!”
In this episode, Jen, Janet & Meagan discuss:
  • How a photo from a family wedding turned into the viral “surfboard kid” meme
  • Raising lots of boys — and coping with silly questions, like, “So, you gonna keep trying for a girl?”
  • Life as a #momofboys
  • How family dynamics change over time
  • Responding to internal (and external) parenting pressure
  • Parenting as a single mom
  • Why you might want to get a cat (Meagan’s son says getting a cat was the “best thing she ever did for the family”)
  • Learning to communicate via sarcasm & joking (Also: What to do when your kids’ “joking” hurts your feelings)
  • Navigating screen time & social media
  • Encouraging character, civility & safety online
  • Why you DON’T need to constantly monitor your child’s whereabouts and grades
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

The Mom Hour — Meagan & Sarah Power’s popular parenting podcast

Helicopter Parenting & Bulldozer Parenting are Bad for Everyone — Including Parents — NBC News article by Meagan (mentioned at 33:20)

Surfboard Kid Backstory — Meagan explains the story behind the viral photo (& what’s happened since)

What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant ParentsNYT article mentioned at 20:34

Dolly Parton’s America –– excellent podcast recommended by Janet at about 38:00

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