Hello parents and other soldiers of fortune. I'm still writing to you from book leave. This week I've been writing about how kids change a marriage and talking to some fascinating researchers, including Lauren Papp of the University of Wisconsin, who worked on a project on which 100 couples kept a diary about all their disagreements. In her study, as opposed to other studies, kids were the No. 1 source of arguments. In other studies, it was money. Papp also found that conflicts that parents have in front of their kids are more heated than those they have without the kids, which she guesses is because the kid is the cause of the conflict. For example, Teen X wants a later curfew, Parent A disagrees, but Parent B thinks it's OK. Parent A does not believe Parent B is being a team player, and it gets personal and the wheels come off the marital bus. Sound familiar? It may or may not have happened in my house this morning. I’m @luscombeland on twitter and always read the mail that comes to firstname.lastname@example.org, so feel free to write to me and tell me what you fight about in front of your kids. If you dare.
You've probably heard of Tiger Moms, or noticed the way that Western habits seem to get picked up by teens in other countries. A new paper argues that East and West are both shaping each other's parenting, even though the values in each are often quite different. "Good parenting," says the paper "is not uniform the world over." Child and Family
Babies love music. But they're not so nuts about Megadeath and Wagner as they are about, say, the Wiggles. Now a baby food manufacturer has worked with scientists and musicians to create the song that is most likely to make your infant smile. Some of the stipulations for the tune: "It had to be in a major key, be simple and repetitive, and have a broad range of dynamics to keep the baby surprised and tuned in." Here's what they came up with. Warning: it's a major earworm. TIME
Tag this one as a high class parenting problem, but some folks are upset about the change in the underwear of American Girl dolls. No, they haven't started wearing thongs. That would be more Bratz's speed. The issues is that the undies are now attached to the dolls. People think it looks cheap. This is nowhere near the biggest problem I have with American Girl dolls. The biggest problem I have is that they cost about $115. People
Doctors might be getting closer to predicting Autism Spectrum Disorders sooner. Usually kids aren't diagnosed before the age of two. But a new study has found that in "infants with autism, the nerve cells in the cortex of the brain, which receives incoming information from the environment, including sights, smells and sounds, grew and expanded at a blistering pace between six and 12 months." If this study's findings bear out, kids might be identified by as young as six months. Motto
It's probably too late to use this advice for President's Day, but there are ways to make traveling with teens more fun. My favorite tip—just ignore them if they get grumpy—doesn't make the list, alas. Washington Post
Looking for a good present for a baby shower? Here's a little roundup of the newest stuff, although, honestly, I still think your classic baby books are always a good fallback. Pat the Bunny rules. TIME
I'm not really a fan of those jokes about how dads always louse things up when they're home with the baby. Aren't we past that already? We really need some good jokes about how moms louse things up when they're first home too, just to even the playing field. That said, this video is adorable. You don't have to watch it all. Just catch the dad's serious face. And the moonwalk. YouTube And then there's adorable dad/daughter ballet class. These guys are all in. TIME
PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types
Scarlett Johansson, actor and mother of one.
"Somebody once described [having a child] to me as your heart growing this other chamber, and I think that’s really profoundly true. Your capacity to love something, at least in my experience, deepens to a whole other space. I think I was afraid that life would change, and it does; it dramatically changes. But I feel in a lot of ways more myself now than I did before.”
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