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.
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
'Loss is difficult at any time of life. It can be particularly difficult for teenagers, who are still navigating their way, sometimes clumsily, toward adulthood. They know they need help, but are sometimes reluctant to ask for it. And often, because of their youth, their loss may be the first death they have ever known.' For a year, a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer sat in on meetings of a grief group at Archbishop Moeller high school, for boys who had lost a parent... and learned The Rules of Grieving.
The Finnish welfare state gives every parent a box for their child. While so many politicians gnash their teeth and "think of the children", while cutting benefits or ignoring the massive number of kids dying from firearms, the Finns give every expectant parent a box. The box contains everything a parent needs to get started, including the box to sleep in (with a little mattress), and has been credited by public health officials with massively reducing infant mortality.
Amy Chua's anecdotal "tiger mom" manifesto meets some peer-reviewed data-driven research. Oh snap! [more inside]
Division of labor in child care: A game-theoretic approach The analysis shows that it is difficult to achieve the equilibrium of equal sharing of child care, even when this is the preference of the parents. This leads to a discussion of alterations and meta-strategies for couples who want to share care equally. Gender differences between parents are also modeled, including the impact these have on outcomes and equilibria.Full text PDF
Going through my parents' stuff didn't make me suddenly miss them, but I became more intrigued by them every day. I wanted to know more and more about them, to solve their mysteries. At the same time, I felt a corresponding, if conflicting, urge to speak, or write, about what many people seemed to think was unspeakable: my ever-present lack of grief. So I decided to combine these seemingly divergent impulses into an Tumblr blog called My Dead Parents, which I kept anonymous both out of respect for my family and because, after years of writing fiction, I wasn't sure if I could handle revealing so much about myself in writing.Anya Yurchyshyn writes about rediscovering her parents through their letters, after their deaths.
"One parental right that is coming under attack more and more is the right to administer reasonable corporal punishment." Blogger Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism (who was homeschooled) has written a detailed three-part series (1, 2, 3) describing how the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)'s mission to insure the rights of homeschooling parents has come to include making it harder for CPS or other agencies to receive or act on reports of child abuse. [more inside]
"Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do — and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five — spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares.... In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian."
I don’t like the feeling of disappointing my kids. But I refuse to give into this holiday overkill. I’m overwhelmed enough as it is. Today I gave all of my kids a bath. We read with each of them for the recommended 20 minutes. We reviewed our Math Facts. We practiced guitar. We sat together at the table and ate a meal that was NOT procured at a drive-thru. We played outside. Most days, I’m struggling to achieve all these things. I can’t have these haphazard, once-monthly overblown holidays take over my life.One mom talks about "bringing the holidays down a notch," 'cause ain't nobody got time for that.
Kelly calls herself “a flaming liberal” and a feminist, too. “I want my daughter to be able to do anything she wants,” she says. “But I also want to say, ‘Have a career that you can walk away from at the drop of a hat.’ ” And she is not alone. Via.
Yahoo's Blow to Work-Family Balance: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, the first pregnant woman to ever become CEO of a corporation, has ordered all telecommuting employees back to the office. (Previously on MeFi)
Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father [single-link Atlantic]
About a year after her participation in the groundbreaking Comedy Central documentary series the Comedians of Comedy, Maria Bamford was on stage at the Friars Club in LA when a heckler began shouting at her. What happened after that isn’t entirely clear, other than Bamford had a breakdown, walked off stage, and disappeared. She was found three months later selling clock radios on the sidewalks of Detroit. A fellow homeless person, who was also a Comedy Central fan, recognized Bamford and eventually her parents were contacted. They brought her back home to Deluth, Minnesota and began to get her help. Maria decided to document her recovery in a series of short videos called The Maria Bamford Show, which were first posted to the TBS networks' now abandoned Super Deluxe Web site. [more inside]
"Hiring a nanny is nervewracking. You want someone who's great with kids, who can speak three languages, and who has impeccable virtue, yet you also want someone who will work for free. It's a delicate balance. One Queens, NY couple has a very specific idea of the kind of adult in whose care they will leave their children: a lost soul who's willing to tackle the epic quest of slogging through their 65-question survey."
"Older parenthood will upend American society." "Is waiting to have kids a big mistake?" "Why do women believe they can delay children for so long?" "Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age."
"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?" [more inside]
The Parent Rap. Two parents rap about their life. [slyt]