“If you’re good at relationships, you’re good at life.” – Melinda Blau
My idea of good time is to think and write about relationships. Fifteen books and a hundred articles later, I’ve come to a powerful conclusion: If you’re good at relationships, you’re good at life. I’m also good at writing, and the two passions fit well together.
This is how I got here:
As a Child…
I first became interested in the dance between people as “the baby” in a household of adults. I’d sneak out of my room, crouch on the second-floor landing, and eavesdrop on conversations between my parents and much-older siblings.
I’d roam the dorms, a warren of rooms where girls gathered in rollers and bunny slippers. I listened to everyone’s problems. I can’t remember the face, only her story.
As a Young Adult…
My earliest jobs were in educational publishing, editing and writing textbooks and teacher’s guides. “Learning Kits” were all the rage in 1976 when To Buy or Not to Buy, a collaboration with Ralph Nader, was published. A year later, I segued into journalism, writing my first service piece for New York, “How To Get Out of Your Job Rut.” No mere coincidence, I’d been in one myself.
In my Thirties…
I had covers stories in New York, on health, sexuality, learning issues, sexual abuse, and the then new practice of family therapy. I also wrote for The New York Times, Utne Reader, American Health, and other national magazines. My work resonated with a wide demographic: GLAAD honored an article on gay parents (far from mainstream in 1993), while the American Legion gave its “Heart of America” award to my “New Family” column in Child.
My first book, Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Coparenting (inspired by my own divorce) was published in 1994. I was on Oprah and GMA, and testified at a Senate hearing on at-risk families. I wrote another thirteen books, some solo, some co-authored, and a few as the “ghost.” In 2001, I became the voice of the original “Baby Whisperer,” Tracy Hogg, and wrote three New York Times bestselling books based on her work. Two recent titles, Consequential Strangers (an exploration of social ties beyond family and close friends) and Family Whispering (a guide to nurturing our most significant others) were cited in Shareable’s annual “best of” lists.
In 2015, my words are spread by social media and consumed on screens. I am a regular contributor to Huffington Post, home to my Q & A column, “Dear Family Whisperer.” My writing is also featured on LinkedIn and a number of online magazines, including Psychology Today, Shareable, BeliefNet, and Rewire Me. This is my fourth website.
In recent years, I’ve also done a fair amount of speaking, sometimes to small groups in cozy living rooms, where I make a brief presentation and then include everyone in the conversation. Other times, I speak to large groups — teachers, parents, grandparents, anyone interested in how to have a better relationship — in other words, everyone! I’ve spoken in Paris and Brazil and hope to add other international audiences in the future. As my youngest grandson put it, “Minna, you’re so lucky that you get to go all over the world and help people learn about families.”
I continue to care about relationships and to make them a priority in my own life. If you’re good at relationships, you’re good at life. Fortunately, I have lots of people to practice with: my partner; my children and grandchildren; my siblings and assorted other players in our family drama; and my friends, near and far. I am grateful, too, for the many consequential strangers who touch my life in Manhattan, Miami, Paris, Northampton (MA) and, for four glorious weeks in summer, on the beach on Fire Island.
Why so many homes? That’s a much longer story.