Setting The Tone For Modern Parents

Dana Points with her family.
Dana Points with her family.

Editor’s Note: For more “Moms We Love,” click HERE.

Dana Points claims to be one of those people who needs eight hours of sleep a night. Frankly, it’s difficult to see how she can possibly manage it. Between overseeing the entire editorial and creative process of one of the country’s most important parenting media resources, parenting her own two young sons, Leo and Eli, and still finding time to catch up on the Times and the stack of New Yorker magazines piled up by her bedside table, Points’ days are never slow and never boring.

Maybe she manages it all because she foregoes Facebook as a general rule. But more likely, it’s because of the singular focus she brings to each aspect of her day. As the editor-in-chief of Parents magazine and American Baby and content director for the Meredith Parents Network, Points has an overwhelming list of items to tackle each day, on top of being a parent herself. “I think it starts when you become a mom,” she says. “You just have this laser focus on the fact that you need to leave to go home to your children at a certain point, and in the meantime you have to be hugely productive.”

It’s clear she brings the same kind of attention to all aspects of her life. She wears a Jawbone bracelet which tracks her daily sleep activity, the number of steps walked, and time spent idle versus active. “It’s like one of those bracelets they give prisoners to keep them within a certain distance of the house,” she jokes. “But it’s very motivating!”

As the steward of the 87-year-old brand that is Parents magazine, Points uses her motivation to deliver a meaningful issue each month—something she takes very seriously. “I get to do something that is creative and meaningful, with a great team of people, for the absolute best reason out there, which is helping people raise healthy, happy kids,” she says.

And while she is not afraid to take a stand on hot-button issues like child vaccinations and gun control, Points is equally proud to serve a multi-platform environment, like Parents’ website, where bloggers, editors, contributors, writers, and readers have often differing points of view and are allowed to speak freely. “In a digital environment, you have a whole community weighing in on the topics at hand, and you have to let the conversation happen publicly and in real time, but at the end of the day, you must also know what you stand for and why,” she says.

Points has little trouble relating to the concerns of her readers because, as a parent, they are her concerns as well. She’s a modern mom trying to figure out how to embrace technology and encourage its healthy use in her sons. “My oldest child, Leo, is 12. He has a smartphone, and he’s on some social platforms. Already I can see the temptation to let how many people are following you be the barometer of your happiness, or constantly be distracted, or feel the need to check your feed,” she says. “We really are fighting that in my house. I’m not a luddite. I love technology, actually; it plays such a valuable role in everyone’s life. But I also think that you have to be the master of your technology and not the opposite.”

Points often finds herself back in unfamiliar territory as Leo and his younger brother, Eli, age 9, move into new developmental stages. “I may be the editor of Parents magazine, but I have to study up on raising a preadolescent just like everybody else,” she says. “The tween years, heading into adolescence, is a period similar to the toddler years where you just thought you had things finally figured out and then: ‘Whoa!’ Every fresh developmental stage of my kids’ lives is all new to me.”

The speed at which each new stage comes and goes is something Points knows all too well, so she makes a conscious effort to enjoy her children in the moment. Thus, her no-Facebook choice. “When I’m with my kids, I want to be with my kids. I don’t want to be constantly checking my feed or tweeting,” she explains. Plus, she is committed to breakfast each morning with all five members of the family, reading a book at night with Eli (they are currently working through Brother from a Box by Evan Kuhlman), observing Shabbat, and regular movie nights where the family inevitably argues over whether they’ll watch “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” for the 4,000th time. These are things that matter.

When she was 3, Points was burned in a hot water accident. She underwent a skin graft and was left with visible scarring. “I grew up with princesses and Barbies, and I played with them and loved them,” she shares. “Growing up in this culture with a visible imperfection—going out in a bathing suit, picking out a dress for the prom—forces you to pick a lane: You can either let it mess you up, or you decide that you will go out and be who you are.” It’s pretty evident which lane Points picked for herself at a young age. She’s been striding down it, full force, ever since.

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