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]
"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]
"I don't want my girls to be children who are perfect and then, when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly and so they will be ugly too. They will get older and their breasts will lose their shape and they will hate their bodies, because that's what women do. That's what mommy did." Some lovely Friday-morning encouragement for all the moms.
"Farmer's Dilemma" is a short, sad and beautiful comic about family and acceptance. From Sam Alden's art blog, GINGERLAND.
Blogging about parenting. Little Seal is about Emily Rapp's son Ronan, who is 2 1/2 and has Tay-Sachs disease. Count on Rapp for a jolt of humanity and perspective amid the mundane. Her Bad Mother is Catherine Conners, a working mom devoted to her husband and children, who chronicles the ups and downs of parenting, balancing it all with humor and poignancy. She is not afraid to speak out against mothers who believe that their way is the best way to raise kids. These blogs are among the 25 Best Blogs 2012 per Time magazine.
The Mom Stays in the Picture - When Allison Tate wrote about how "Too much of a mama's life goes undocumented and unseen... I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them", it resonated with many other women. "To read through the notes that came with the thousand-plus photos (and yes, we have read every single one) was to read the minds of today's mothers. Over and over you told us that you don't look the way you want to look, don't look the way you once did. Even when joining a movement created around the motto 'I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother,' you felt the need to apologize." (via middleclasstool's other half)
Over the past few weeks, I, along with ten of my closest friends, have taken turns saying our goodbyes to our college bound kids. For some of us, this was a virgin voyage; for others, it was the beginning of an empty nest. [more inside]
Science is Rewriting the Rules of Reproduction Aarathi Prasad's new book investigates taking sex out of the reproduction equation. [more inside]
"When the jubilant couple were wed in June, they exchanged personalized vows and titanium rings, cheered the heartfelt toasts and danced themselves breathless. Then, as the evening was winding down, unexpected questions started popping up. One after another, their guests began asking: Are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids?" [more inside]
During his tenure as Mayor of New York City, "public health autocrat" Michael Bloomberg has attempted to regulate trans fats, smoking and sugar-filled sodas. Now, he has a fresh target: moms who don't breastfeed. Beginning September 3, NYC hospitals participating in a new, voluntary program: Latch-On NYC (press release / posters / FAQ -pdf-), will make formula less accessible, to encourage moms of newborns to breastfeed instead of using formula. [more inside]
A new piece for the Awl, by writer Amy Sohn "The 40-Year-Old Reversion" satirizing the group of parents she parties with in Brooklyn, has sparked some pretty harsh criticism around the web, from scenester blogs, mainstream sources, and parenting sites alike. But others see it as a very useful lesson about contraception.
The Mommy-Fight Site. What does it mean to raise a child in "America’s highest-income, best-educated Census area? D.C. Urban Moms and Dads might be as close as it gets to a field guide to parentis Washingtonianis" [more inside]
"Look mom. I can tell from the way you haven’t looked me in the eye since fetching me from my crib well before dawn that you’re upset about last night. Waking up every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours isn’t easy for me either. In my defense, my blanket really did keep coming off, I was thirsty, and…I can’t remember the other reasons, but I’m sure they were equally valid." The Honest Toddler is blogging about his experiences as a child, from helping mommy get potty trained to his view of one-year-olds to organizing the 34th Annual Toddler Unification Conference. His "The Truth About Car Sleep" is particularly brilliant. He also dispenses his wisdom via twitter.
Snow White's Scary Adventures - A Retrospective [via mefi projects] The author can't post it here for obvious reasons, but I can. I think. Now to wipe these tears from my eyes...
Tomorrow, May 31st, will be the last day of operation for the ride Snow White's Scary Adventures at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The ride has played a significant role in my family's life for the past decade (my son is autistic, and has ridden the ride more than 3,400 times), and I wrote a retrospective about the history of the ride. This is a subject that is too close for me to post on the Blue, but Matthowie and Jessamyn both suggested that I post about it here. The linked blog post itself contains links to a four part series about my son, and also a link in the footnotes to the single best reference site on the web for the ride in all its permutations. I know it's just a silly old fairy tale dark ride, and not on many people's "must-see" list when they come to Disney World, but I hope my article can help at least a few people understand why it really is an important piece of history.
The most recent cover of Time magazine is causing a lot of controversy. The issue explores attachment parenting and its rise in popularity. Some see attachment parents as selfish, while others swear by it. Either way, attachment parenting and extreme breastfeeding are now part of the national conversation.
"What appears as discipline or “tough love” from one perspective often appears as abuse from another."
On Tiger Moms: "What the controversy surrounding Chua demonstrates, however inadvertently, is that parenting techniques are always grounded in basic assumptions about the way things are and what matters to us. And they are always guided by some answer to the most fundamental of ethical questions—how to live?" [more inside]
With Season 2 of Game of Thrones to begin on Sunday, it's important to review the various life and parenting lessons we've learned from the show.
"Redshirting" is the practice of holding eligible children back from kindergarten, with supposed advantages for them academically. Though there are questions as to it's efficacy long term.
Given or Taken – an ABC television documentary by the usually excellent 4 Corners looks at a period in the nation’s history when unwed mothers were forced, coerced or tricked into giving up their babies- often without holding or even seeing their newborn. Writer Kim Berry describes a little of what it was like to be relinquished by her teen mum.
"My daughter thought it would be funny/rebellious/cool to post on her Facebook wall just how upset she was and how unfair her life here is; how we work her too hard with chores, never pay her for chores, and just in general make her life difficult. She chose to share this with the entire world on Facebook and block her parents from seeing it. Well, umm... she failed. As of the end of this video, she won't have to worry anymore about posting inappropriate things on Facebook..." (youtube video, contains cursing) Background. Original thread on Facebook.