Plus, homework heats up |


Hello stewards of our future human resources.

I write this to you from my desk as I eat the lunch intended for my child but that she declined to take because I made it. As another grown-up explained it to me: "You always make the wrong lunch, plus you make it wrong." And yes, to spare you the effort of asking, it is indeed (partly) a Vegemite sandwich. My mother made lunch for me, and I was equally disdainful, and now I feel bad about it. I have a friend whose mother rose early to make hot lunch for her, which she carefully poured into the toilet every day. So having your kid decline a delectable spread every now and again is a parental rite of passage. Lots of new studies to think about in this newsletter.. Let me know if you ahve thoughts. I'm at or @luscombeland on Twitter.

P.S. If you like this weekly update, please feel free pass it on to a friend. And if you got it from a friend, sign up here for email delivery each Friday. You know, more or less.

Got a super awkward kid who likes to focus on stuff but is not really good with navigating everyday social situations? Are you worried they will end up friendless and alone? Relax, s/he will be fine. Maybe even better than fine. At least according to this guy and a whole bunch of other super-brainiacs. TIME

As somebody whose daughter went from winning a prize for in math in middle school to losing pretty much all interest in it by high school, I am completely bewildered as to how we can keep girls interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) subjects. Here’s one view from a successful woman engineer. Motto

And here's a very small experiment that suggests that girls who are shown the point of technology early on and given a chance to express some competency are more interested in it directly after. Perhaps this might be a signpost to a way forward or perhaps there are just some people, girls included, who just aren't that into linear thinking. Geekwire

While we're on the subject of learning: homework. The battle over it rages on. One Canadian mother decided to tell everyone on Facebook that her kid wasn’t doing any more and went a little viral. But a lot of  NYC schools, for example, that have decided to dispense with homework have faced pushback from parents, often especially those with fewer resources. This is partly because what schools suggest to replace homework are activities that are infeasible for working parents or those of lesser means. New York Times

Most people are in the school that favors some homework and if you want your kid to be better at homework, then try raising them with more than one language. A new study suggests that bilingual children can focus better. No, your high school level French probably doesn't count. Child & Family Blog

Poor kids do much better in families when there is strong parental involvement. And a new study has found that contrary to popular opinion, and in the face of considerable challenges, poor parents often do a pretty amazing job. ScienceDaily

Starting at age 12, girls show symptoms of depression much more often than boys. That's earlier than was previously believed.  The authors of a new study say they're not sure if that's because of the changes in hormones or because of the changes in the reaction of the outside world to these girls as the hormones take their physical effect. University of Wisconsin

The girls-and-depression thing may be why New Zealand has declared that teens who watch the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why should watch it with an adult. This seems like a perfect way to make sure teens sneak away and watch the miniseries on their own, or with groups of similarly depressed friends, but whatever, Kiwis. The show is about a girl who kills herself and according to a teenager of my acquaintance (who watched it without adult supervision, ahem), it does, "like, romanticize suicide." Um, thanks, Netflix. TIME

In news that many of us will struggle to believe, most teens take a voluntary break from social media—eventually. TIME

On the odd occasion that people have asked me, as a working parent, how I personally do it all, I usually say “Badly.” According to psychiatrist Gail Saltz, it’s common to feel, especially as mothers, that we’re not doing a very good job. That’s OK. Motto

A handy reminder from that noted parenting expert, Jimmy Fallon. Kids don’t really understand what "a job" is or what we do all day, even if we work inside the home. And that’s the way it should be. What they do understand is that whatever we do often makes us grumpy. Fatherly

PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types

Chris Pratt, actor and father of a son

"[Our son] is so charming that my plan is to just let him take care of us as soon as he's old enough."

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