Offbeat Mama is becoming Offbeat Families

Header illustrations by Ellen Forney, with Blondie's transition managed by Brett Wiseman.
This weekend we're flipping the switch: Offbeat Mama will become Offbeat Families. The title of the site will change, the URL will be switch to offbeatfamilies.com (although all the old offbeatmama.com links will still work), and one of the header characters has undergone a transition from "blonde soccer mom" to "blonde soccer butch/stay-at-home-dad/transdad/fey uncle/gender-queer auntie/tomboy daycare provider/whatever ze wants to be."

(Oh hey, and as long as we're talking about the header illustrations, did you know that the artist who drew them, Ellen Forney, has an amazing new book that just came out? Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir just hit the NYTimes bestseller list! Yay, Ellen!)

This re-brand has been under consideration for a long-ass time, and we're super excited about what it means for the site…

More inclusive

This has always been an issue. Here's how the naming of Offbeat Mama came to be:

  1. Offbeat Mama was named to match Offbeat Bride
  2. Offbeat Bride's brand was based on my book
  3. My book was published by a women's press… so of course the title is targeted to brides.

So yeah, I originally named Offbeat Mama to be parallel with the Offbeat Bride brand: Offbeat [Female Identity]. It made sense, back in 2009.

Ultimately, however, the name has never been inclusive… especially as the site's mission grew to include all of those who are interesting in children and families, whether they be parents (of any gender), child-free family friends, or daycare providers. As our mission statement says:

We like supporting and inspiring parents and caregivers who are moving beyond mainstream visions of parenting. We welcome anyone who's interested in families, whether you're pre-parental, in the process of becoming a parent, or choosing to live childfree.

Offbeat Families feels like it finally aligns our name with that mission.

Less mommy-bloggy

When that "Beautiful" post went viral last week, we got emails from a few people who were confused and thought that Offbeat Mama was one woman's personal blog. This confusion makes sense, since there are a ton of personal mommy blogs out there with names like The Redneck Mommy, Punditmom, Scary Mommy, Design Mom, etc x a bajillion. By reframing the site's name around families, it makes it immediately clear to new readers that this is not a personal blog, but rather a publication catered to nontraditional families.

The downside: non-parallel branding

Ok, this probably only matters to me. See, Offbeat Bride is a singular identity. "I am an Offbeat Bride." Offbeat Home and Offbeat Empire are both singular objects. "I have an Offbeat Home. I love the Offbeat Empire." And then there's Offbeat Families, which is a plural object. "I am Offbeat Families." Nope, doesn't work. "I have Offbeat Families." STILL DOES NOT WORK. It would have been awesome if I'd been able to get Offbeat Family (singular object), but someone's already using that for their personal blog… so oh well. Plural object it is!

Ultimately, inclusivity is the top priority with this rebrand, and so I'm willing to introduce a little wobble into the offbeat brand in the name of ensuring that more of the site's readers feel welcome and acknowledged. Hoorah!

We'll be flipping all the switches this weekend while most of y'all are still recovering from your tryptophan hangovers, so hopefully you won't even notice. The RSS feed will stay the same, and the old offbeatmama.com URL will still work, so readers shouldn't have to change anything. That said, there may be some lingering weirdness early next week — we'll keep you posted!

UPDATE NOV. 24, 2012: The transition is now complete. If you have any technical issues, please report them here.

  1. Yay! I like this a lot. As someone several years away from having children, I always felt a bit odd sending Offbeat Mama links to my boyfriend… ("I swear, this is not a hint!")

    What happened to the Offbeat Kin idea that was suggested at the beginning, Ariel? That's singular.

    12 agree
    • Offbeat Kin was one of dozens of suggestions over the years, but it never felt like a fit.

      • I remember having the conversation with you about Offbeat Mama vs Offbeat Family or Offbeat Parent way back in the day before OBM launched. Im stoked you decided to embrace the change because now I feel I can forward the articles to my non Mama parents!

        4 agree
  2. It's funny that just the other day I was thinking, "Offbeat Mama . . . but what about Offbeat Papa? Or Auntie? Or . . ."

    I think Offbeat Families sounds just fine; it sounds more like a community, I think. And I can still say, "I have an Offbeat Family, and here are some other Offbeat Families. Aren't we cool." :-3

    24 agree
  3. "I was an Offbeat Bride. I have an Offbeat Home. I love the Offbeat Empire. I read Offbeat Families."

    BLAMMO.

    33 agree
  4. This news has made me so very happy!

    4 agree
  5. As someone who never totally identified as a Mom, Mama, or Mother, but still felt like a Parent and a person who created a family, I wholeheartedly endorse this change. Even though the symmetry gets thrown off a tiny bit, I think it's totally worth it!

    9 agree
  6. I will pipe up to say I love Offbeat Families, and it feels much warmier and fuzzier to me than Offbeat Family. 'Families' suggests a community of like-souled and different-minded people who come together in overlapping circles of support, discovery and sharing. 'Family' is lonely. I'm glad your hand was forced 😉

    45 agree
  7. I was an OB, I have an OH, and I'm a conglomeration of many OFs.

    News of the switch makes me very happy to hear! Especially since I'm constantly sending links to my husband (who will be a stay-at-home dad). Just seems more inclusive!

    4 agree
  8. SO Happy about this!!! ROCK ON!

    1 agrees
  9. I like Offbeat Families. Sounds like a community – supportive, advising, helping, inspiring, working together. Offbeat Family sounds like a small group against the world. Families is much more inclusive – we are all Offbeat Families :)

    10 agree
  10. Awesome! My husband and I were discussing this the other day, when I suggested he write a guest post about something or other. He didn't feel like he should because of the name. Guess that excuse is gone now!

    2 agree
  11. What I appreciated about Offbeat Mama, especially toward the beginning of the site, was how the name highlighted what many of us are attempting in terms of identity integration – how do I integrate being offbeat with becoming a parent?
    More and more, for me, the answer to that question is not an individual person's answer. It's an answer that includes the many families that I belong to, support, and am supported by. The longer I'm a mama the more my parental identity is a family identity – in part because of the ways in which my family is offbeat.

    So I love this shift. A good, brave choice from good brave people.

    5 agree
  12. Is it strange that it took me a minute to realize why the change was even needed? It was kinda like when you stare at a word so long that it looks like its spelled wrong; I've thought of Offbeat Mama as all-encompassing for so long now that I quit noticing the "Mama" part a while back. So reading today's post I was like, "Why would they…Oh. OHHHH…of course."

    That might say more about my doofus nature than I intend, but what I mean is, YAY! Now new people will know what we've known all along!! :-)

    5 agree
    • Yeah, that's how I've always felt about it too — Offbeat Papas are right there in the nav bar of the site, and I hope the content speaks for itself… but it also makes sense to get the title better aligned with the content.

      That said, the switch does include a significant amount of work behind the scenes (DNS redirects, search engine settings so we don't lose our pagerank, server set-ups, header redesign, lots of text changes, tons of administrative shifts in our content management tool, etc etc etc), so it wasn't a change I took lightly…

  13. Thank you!! Being a queer dad in a culture that only recognizes moms is so frustrating. Even though Offbeat Mama has always felt inclusive in practice, the exclusive name often has made me feel slightly uncomfortable commenting or otherwise participating. I belong to so many online "mama/mothering" groups simply because there's no alternative. I must admit that it's hard to not internalize the message that sends. Thank you for creating a space that doesn't just have an asterisk after "mama" with fine print that says "dads and other caregivers welcome, too". I hope that other sites will follow the lead!

    28 agree
  14. Ariel, if it makes you feel better, as a daughter of divorced parents, whose father embraces more of a created family than his family of adoption, not knowing his family of origin, and with multiple step-parent/commited spousal families – I have Offbeat Families! Totally works for me!

    7 agree
  15. Not quite as catch as "Offbeat Mama", but "Offbeat Families" is a more accurate description of the site and seems more inviting to non-mamas and that is worth a little loss in catchiness.
    Good job.

    2 agree
  16. I think this is fabulous! As a childless (right now) offbeat Auntie, the name change is much appreciated. Not that I didn't avidly follow Offbeat Mama before, but I always felt a little weird when I would tell someone I found a really great article on a site that sounds like it caters only to moms. I get a lot of weird looks… 😛

    7 agree
  17. I am SUPER excited about this change! As a transgender dad pregnant with our first child, the name offbeat mama didn't stop me from reading this awesome site/blog, but I do feel more included now! Thanks :)

    8 agree
    • I totally concur, especially as the queer-identified, non-gestational mama of the aforementioned child-to-be! 😀

      4 agree
  18. Yay! I love this! My husband always gave me odd looks when I told him about cool articles I read on Offbeat Mama, and I always ended up trying to clarify that I was NOT actually trying to convince him to procreate RIGHT THIS SECOND. 😉 Love "Offbeat Families."

    4 agree
  19. I also think this is great. "Family" is one of my favourite word ever, so this is a great change.
    And also, as a foreigner (french) point of view, mama isn't really a word you like to refer as for yourself.
    I think that families also opens up to an international (not english speaking countries) audience.

  20. Hooray!!! I love posting OBM stories on our org's facebook site, but since we're all about families, it always felt a little disingenuous. No longer!!

  21. will i need to update my rss reader?

    1 agrees
  22. Is it just me – but was there an announcement actually on Offbeat Mama about this? Even a link to this post? There must be Mama readers who only have Mama in their rss who will have no idea this is coming….

    • Don't you worry: I've got a roll-out plan complete with an announcement schedule. Readers will not need to make any changes to their rss readers. If everything goes according to plan, the transition will be completely seamless across web, social media, rss, and email newsletter.

      Of course things can always go wrong, but for now: a little faith, please! :)

      3 agree
  23. I love the change, because there was always a part of me that felt bad reading Offbeat Mama when my partner and I have barely agreed on kids. Offbeat Families though, well, we definitely have those.

    1 agrees
  24. I am SO glad! There have been many times I've wanted to comment, but I didn't feel really comfortable – this works!

  25. Count me among the ones happy about this, even as a straight cisgendered woman.

    6 agree
  26. Offbeat families is a statement of fact, while offbeat mamma has some minor connotation of "hey I'm weird and different, deal with" in a good way. I only noticed that undercurrent with the two names side by side.

  27. I think Offbeat Families is a better fit than Offbeat Family. Making it singular kinda still gives it "someone's personal blog" feel, whereas saying Offbeat Families feels like a collective, a village, a place where there are many different types of an offbeat family. So YAY!!! And I have to admit, now that it won't be offbeat mama, I think it'll be more inviting for my husband to read. :)

    2 agree
  28. Count me among the number of those who is thrilled about this change!

    Oh, and I loooooove that the re-designed header character looks just like me. Just so you know. It's me. I'm sorry that I apparently kidnapped that six year old. She looks happy about it though.

    Actually… this probably isn't helpful, but have you considered tweaking that little kid so that she or maybe he doesn't look like a mini-me of the adult character? Different hair color or slightly different skin tone? Just as a nod to multi-racial families or adopted or to suggest a caretaker versus genetic relationship? It could be interpreted so many ways!

    I know, I know. Everybody's a critic! Still love it.

    • Yep, it was considered and discussed with the illustrator. We decided against it because it felt too heavy-handed. Do we know that blond child is related to that blond adult? Do we know that blond adult's gender identity? Do we know if that baby in the sling is adopted, or if the woman carrying it is disabled? Do we know if the pregnant Asian woman's fetus is half-Latino? Do we know if it was conceived with a sperm donor? Do we know if the Asian is a veteran or Deaf? We don't. We don't know a lot of things about these characters, that's by design. The illlustrator and I decided that we wanted to leave the illustrations a bit more open to interpretation.

      1 agrees
  29. This is so great! I was telling a man I know who recently adopted a son with his husband about the site and I felt totally weird about it even though I knew he would love the site. As a side note though, while I was planning my wedding and visiting offbeat bride all the time I always wished that the site would feature the odd wedding with two grooms (maybe I've missed them?). The same couple that I talked about before had the most amazing wedding possibly ever but I've always hesitated to tell them they should send their wedding in because of the name. I do realize though that in wedding industry it really is the exception that the man plans it rather than the woman where as with parenting in this day and age that we live in men are more and more becoming equal or in some cases more involved than the moms.

    • As a side note though, while I was planning my wedding and visiting offbeat bride all the time I always wished that the site would feature the odd wedding with two grooms (maybe I've missed them?).

      Yep, you've missed 'em: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/gay In fact, we published one just a couple days ago! :)

      Offbeat Bride's name is completely fixed for a whole variety of business, technical, and legal reasons. I totally understand inclusivity concerns with the name (which people have complained about for years), but there are no plans to change it.

  30. Love it! I'm no mama, but I've always enjoyed reading the blog. I think it makes so much more sense to call it offbeat families – surely a move that will extend and enhance the community!

  31. For me, it will simplify things. I won't have to reassure my guy friends and say every time: "You just go check that post on Offbeat Mama. It's not just about mamas, don't worry!"

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