The End of Brain, Child

Brain, Child magazine just announced the summer 2012 issue will be its last. The magazine was always a niche publication with an estimated 2008 circulation of 36,000.

In their announcement, the editors (and publishers) Jennifer Niesslein and Stephanie Wilkinson cite usual suspects of the tough environment for print publications, high fixed costs, and the competition from free sources as reasons for Brain, Child’s demise.

I have only read a few issues of the magazine, but I will miss the unique perspective on parenting. A full roundup of comments can be seen at Motherlode.

Brain, Child wasn’t without flaws. The magazine’s tag line has long been: “The magazine for thinking mothers.” In addition to being sexist, it implies an elite snobbery of the mothers who read the magazine as being better than the unwashed masses who made do with Parenting magazine. While defending the tag line, one of the editors hinted at a persistent political bias as well.

Some essays published by Brain, Child showed a lack of “thinking” by contributing mothers. A writer who is self-described as “fat and forty” changes pediatricians because she does not want follow dieting advice for her daughter. She further emphasizes the point by using terms like “top of the growth charts” and “top of the pack” when discussing her daughter being big and heavy.

But aside from quibbles with individual articles, Brain, Child produced writing that was entirely different from other major parenting publications. The long-form essays allowed for more intricate details of the lives of mothers and in-depth analysis of parenting issues. However, the length of each piece likely contributed to the death of the publication.

The editors promise to maintain their website and Facebook page as they transition to a new model.