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January 06, 2017

Happy New Year. Your humble parenting correspondent is on leave and I send this from the home office, where I am currently eating the school lunch I rose early to make and my child "forgot" the second day in a row. Cannot tell you how thrilled my teenagers are to have me home every afternoon. “Oh,” they note, carefully hiding any joy in their expression. “That’s right. You’re here now.” It’s lucky we have cats. They ignore me, but at least are not openly hostile and will consent to an occasional display of affection. May you too feel the love in 2017.

Peanut butter is back. At least that’s how I read the latest news, in which the conventional wisdom on feeding nut products to your kids is turned on its head. Some day in the future maybe we can live in a land where it’s safe to send a kid to school with a PBJ sandwich. And people say we aren’t making progress! Here’s a breakdown on how and when to introduce nuts to your infants.   TIME

What do you do with a 2-year old who hits? The WaPo's parenting expert has one approach. If you read the article, though, also read the featured comments. For me and for many commenters, this advice is a little lacking. (And really aimed at the parent who has nothing else to do but be a parent.) A 2-year-old who hits is not a monster. Nevertheless, he or she needs to be persuaded to cut it out. There will always be trial and error as to what persuasive techniques to use: time out, a big hug, more naps, a face-to-face chat. But I think one key tip is to make sure that the kid does not get what he or she was trying to get when he or she started hitting, no? Washington Post

Megyn Kelly left Fox and moved to NBC and it was partly work-life balance that prompted it. She wanted to spend more time with her kids. This is even though Fox offered her, reportedly $20 million to stay. Kelly, of course, is in an extremely privileged position; once you’re bringing in more than $15 million, who cares about that extra five really? How much caviar does any one family need? But by letting it be known that she chose to spend time with her kids, Kelly has let employers should know that this is a recruitment/retention tool that can be worth more than money. Man, would it be amazing to see more dads doing this. MOTTO

Utah dads who aren’t married to their kid’s moms are hard pressed to get much access to their kids if the moms give them up. Utah’s authorities argue that they’re doing what they consider is in the best interests of the child. It’s interesting that this problem arises in such a family-friendly state; perhaps the thinking is that placing a kid with two parents trumps biology. ELLE

Bit of a kerfuffle in Los Angeles after a local politician suggested banning all adults from playgrounds unless they’re there with a child. He’s trying to address the fact that drug dealers sometimes hang out in playgrounds and make them unsafe. But, as the Los Angeles Times points out, that kind of assumes all adults who go to playgrounds are creepy. The law already exists in New York City, which, because of the size of the apartments and the lack of gardens, has a lot of playgrounds. It works, but it’s kind of a pain. I’d like to propose a third way: this should be a temporary ordinance. Ban unaccompanied adults until the parents feel safe and populate the playground. Then they’ll do the policing, trust me. Los Angeles Times

I hesitate to link to this, because I hate it so deeply. A new book on parenting suggests that we stop saying things like "good job!" or "Say thank you..." because it's coercive or as the author put it: "all about control." Oh, please. This is preposterous and annoying and makes me embarrassed for the publisher of the book. By that measure any kind of instruction is coercive. Not to mention that if parents policed every word they said for any potential negative impact on their child, we'd never open our mouths. Here's the link. Feel free to ignore it: Wall Street Journal

As you probably heard, Debbie Reynolds died within a day of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. I loved Carrie Fisher—funny, spunky, authentic, fearless—and did not really connect with the oeuvre of Ms. Reynolds. But as a mother-daughter pair, they were quite a couple and an interesting mirror of our own families, as my colleague Susanna Schrobsdorff wrote this week. TIME

This is wonky, but solid and you don't have to read it all. A new study has found that instituting paid sick and family leave does not lead to greater unemployment. The study looked at 19 cities where paid sick leave laws were implemented, and in only three of them was there a rise in unemployment one year later. This is important, especially for workers in lower paid jobs, who have much less flexibility in their work schedule. For a lot of parents, a sick kid can literally mean a lost job. Center for American Progress

It’s probably not so fun to be the son of a politician. But there are some things you gotta suck up. Like lame photo-ops. I feel for Representative Rob Marshall from the great state of Kansas, whose teenage son decided his dad’s swearing-in photo might be a good time to dab (strike a pose that suggests you did something awesome.) And who got caught by Paul Ryan. He’s grounded, which is appropriate, but I get the feeling that a lot of parents of teens are relieved at seeing some evidence that they aren’t the only ones whose kids sometimes behave like knuckleheads. New York Times

In a criminal oversight, I missed this trend. Apparently “daddy” is totally over. The thing now is to have your kid call you “papa.” That’s how they’re doing it in hip parenting hangouts like Brooklyn and San Francisco anyway, says the Daily Beast.  In related news, the most popular baby names in New York City in 2016 were Olivia and Ethan, which just shows how much New Yorkers like Twelfth Night and furniture chains. TIME

PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types

Viola Davis, actor, stepmother of two and mother of one.

"When you have a child, you want to be a perfect mother. You feel like you have the absolute plan to be a perfect mother—and then you make a mistake, and we all make mistakes...It’s a part of life, and it’s a part of what makes us who we are.”

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