Friends often try to assure me that people mean well, urging me to go easy on them, to be gracious, to give people the benefit of the doubt. "People don't mean to be offensive," they tell me. "They just don't know how to say it without coming across that way."Nishta Mehra writes about her family's experience with learning how to navigate the landscape of interracial adoption in a "post-racial" America: Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair.
What these friends don't understand is that when the act of defining your family structure becomes an expected part of every day of your entire life, you grow tired of being gracious. It's exhausting to have strangers view your life as an up-for-grabs educational experience. For my kid, it's to constantly hear the underlying message: "Your life, your family, doesn't make sense to me. Someone needs to explain it to me. You owe me an explanation."
It's the people who live comfortably inside majorities who tend to discount any sort of commentary from minorities as being "overly sensitive." And I imagine that it's hard to step back and grasp the fact that when the world you occupy is built to accommodate you, you fit inside the boxes. You make sense. You are expected.
An associate professor of biology with two children speaks more negatively about the effects of balancing work and family on his career: “It's a disaster.” [more inside]
It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently. [more inside]
In the garden of Dee’s Tots Childcare, amid the sunflowers, cornstalks, and plastic cars, a three-year-old girl with beads in her braids and a two-year-old blond boy are shimmying. These are Deloris Hogan’s 6:45 p.m. pick-ups. Nearby, also dancing, are four kids who won’t be picked up until late at night, as well as two “overnight babies,” as Deloris calls them. Dee’s Tots stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the children’s parents work unconventional hours, producing an unexpected cycle of drop-offs and reunions. One afternoon in August, the kids bounce on the center’s inflatable castles, rustle around at the sand tables, and eat a watermelon snack. Then it gets dark.
There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
Non-working women are more likely to spend their weekdays doing housework or caring for others, while non-working men are more likely to spend that time watching TV. Perhaps, then, it's not surprising how William Giraldi spent his paternity leave (spoiler alert: not parenting). Mallory Ortberg responds.
"At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set 'em free."
The Creepy Surveillance of Elf on a Shelf. How does the ubiquitous holiday tattletale work its behavioral magic? By teaching kids to expect that there's always someone watching.
Which box do you check when you don’t belong in any box? How do you navigate the world when the world is built on identifying with one group or another group, male or female, and the place that feels most right to you is neither? [more inside]
M. tells her friends. Marlo, aka gendermom, over a series of blog posts, talks about her first grade daughter's decision to tell her friends that she is transgender. (Trans Youth 101)
Having parents who go the extra mile to show their support can make a big difference. German Ad Doesn't Need Words To Speak Volumes About Supporting Your Kids (Huffington Post) and original ad on Youtube, Sag es mit deinem Projekt (Hornbach). [more inside]
"Are you the default parent? If you have to think about it, you're not. You'd know. Trust me."
All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power.[more inside]
The Day Care center in Los Feliz, Los Angeles is tweeting announcements and news. Updates include weddings, slacktivism, billing, sunscreen and the Special Person Of The Week. It alleges to be a real day care center. [more inside]
Joanna Goddard has been interviewing American women raising their children in other countries, to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. She's talked to parents in Norway, Japan, Congo, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, India, England, China, Germany, Australia, Turkey, and Chile. [more inside]
Eating healthy food and eating together is important. But if you hate to cook, what's the best way to do that? (SLNYT)
We were each other’s firsts. I was 16, a stressed-out immigrant kid, she was the daughter of Colombian Catholics who were quite fond of the church’s policy on pre-marital sex. So it took us quite a while to awkwardly, semi-defeatedly concede to each other that we had run out of excuses to avoid sex. “This weekend?” I said grimly. A very sweet Guardian piece called "My parents helped me to lose my virginity" by novelist Boris Fishman.
I haven't been blogging for a while. Now I'm ready to tell you the story. Just so you're prepared, the story ends with "in two weeks I'm having brain surgery." Or maybe that's how the story should begin.
A father finds pornographic websites in his 9-year-old son's browser history in a surprisingly charming and amusing first-person essay: “I know you were looking at porn.” A silence hung in the air between us as I tried to figure out where to go from there. He looked at me, eyebrows up and eyes wide open, on alert for whatever would come next. The past winter had torn up the road, and his still baby-fatted cheeks bounced along with the car as we headed back towards our house. The anticipation of my response was clearly getting to him. “Are you gonna say anything else?” “To be honest, I hadn’t really thought this far ahead,” I told him. “I only planned as far as this, telling you I knew.” [more inside]
What Should A 4-Year-Old Know? "She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always OK to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn't care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud." (ht sonika on FB for this)
The shortening leash on American children: We heard a lot about sneaking out, petty theft, amateur arson, drugs, and sexual experimentation from our older respondents. But as time passes, the picture of childhood looks a lot less wild and reckless and a lot more monitored. We asked parents how they would react if they caught their kids doing what they had done as kids. A typical response: "I'd probably freak out and turn my home into a prison."
A PSA by St John Ambulance illustrates the cost of overprotective parenting. [SLYT]
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign Chloe's Law. Chloe's Law, or the Down Syndrome Prenatal Education Act, requires medical practitioners to provide up-to-date and accurate information about Down syndrome with the accompanying diagnosis. Similar laws were passed in Massachusetts and Kentucky. Why is this necessary? Ask a parent or two and you find out how most doctors aren't up to the task. Fortunately, there are parents who will help them out (if they would listen).
One Bad Mother is a comedy podcast about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. Hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn (MeFi's own Tren), each week OBM covers some aspect of parenthood, like "the ramifications of teaching our kids fart jokes and songs about poop," "babies: still not relaxing," or, more seriously, things like partner resentment, and postpartum depression. Each week, in the "Call A Mom"* segment, Biz and Theresa talk to a guest who's got relevant experience or expertise on the topic at hand. But the best part of the show is the listener call-ins: Genius/Fail Time is "the part of the show where we share our genius moment of the week, as well as our failures, and feel better about ourselves by hearing yours"; and the "mom rant" allows exhausted parents to vent their spleen. The call-ins are so great because they're all about supporting other people in their day to day lives—it's through the lens of parenting, but the overriding philosophy ("this shit is hard and no one cares") is applicable to everyone's daily grind. [more inside]
Now, on the downslope of parenting, I have misgivings about my decision to stay home. It would be far too strong a word to say I have regrets. I don’t know any parent who regrets time spent with their kids, especially kids who have moved on to their own lives. Although I am fully aware that being a stay at home mom was certainly a luxury, staring at an empty nest and very diminished prospects of employment, I have real remorse.
"We sort our kids. We rate them. We chart them, and we measure their progress against the rest of the country and pray that they come out on the high end of the curve. And frankly, it's all horseshit. Every last bit of it. The competition industry is crushing us all." Drew Magary, at Deadspin, unloads on the idea that "these kids today" are little ninnies made soft by participation trophies and unscored soccer games. [more inside]
While interviewing Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday, David Bradley, who owns The Atlantic, asked two questions that elicited as frank a discussion of work-life balance as I've seen from a U.S. CEO. Pepsi CEO's Mother Had A Brutally Honest Reaction To Her Daughter’s New Job. (Previously)
What if we admitted to children that sex is primarily about pleasure?
I realized why my son was confused. He was thinking “accidentally getting pregnant” was like accidentally burning yourself because you didn’t realize the stove was on. “Sweetie,” I explained, “most of the time that people have sex, they’re not having it to have a baby. They’re having it because it feels good. So you can get accidentally pregnant if you’re having sex for pleasure and you don’t use effective birth control.”The consequences of talking honestly with children about sex, by Alice Dreger. [more inside]
Not everyone agrees on the best methods for raising kids. That becomes apparent when you examine the results from the 2010-2014 World Values Survey — 82,000 adults across 54 countries were surveyed to gain a better understanding of what they consider most important when raising a child, whether or not they were parents themselves. PBS NewsHour has an interactive quiz you can take to show which country has values closest to yours as well as a widget to compare the values of any two countries. You can see all the data in this google docs spreadsheet.
"When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices" asserts professor Adam Grant (of the Wharton School) in a NYT opinion piece entitled "Raising a Moral Child". Some research suggests that when parents "praise effort rather than ability, children develop a stronger work ethic and become more motivated" and Grant draws sharp distinctions between how shame and guilt affect us citing several experiments and studies which support the conclusions that when teaching children about moral behaviors "nouns work better than verbs" and "if we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave." Grant has written an entire book about how these concepts influence our generosity and success, and how powerfully feeling "guilt rather than shame" as children can shape us. [more inside]
"Q: What is the story behind Lunchbox Doodles and how long have you been doing it? A: It really started as a result of the fond memories I have of opening my lunch at school and reading notes my mother would place inside. While I can't remember specifically what they said, they had an impact on me. They served as a reminder that my parents were thinking of me even when I wasn't with them."
A Vancouver child has become the first person in B.C. to have three parents named on their birth certificate, under province's recent Family Law Act that features a provision permitting up to four parents. [more inside]
"Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else."
You named me... WHAT? Nine baby-naming rules.
Ellie Castellanos is a severely autistic thirteen year old artist whose prolific drawn art, animation, films, photographs and clay sculptures all share a distinctly colorful, vibrant and upbeat style. Her mother maintains an online gallery of her work, as well as sharing her story as it develops on the site and in a blog. She has also notably used Rickrolling as inspiration to create beautiful art. [more inside]
The Perils of Precocity by Thomas Beller.
An estimated 8.6 percent of parents now wait until their child is six to send them to kindergarten, hoping that their maturity and increased physical size will give them advantages in the classroom and on the sports field. However, the trend, called "academic redshirting" may actually be extremely harmful, according to recent studies.
The Big Father Essay. Some readers may find sections disturbing.
Matthew Ingram used the tools available to him to watch the online behaviours of his three daughters. Here is his (and his daughter's) story: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and his daughter's response.