plus, report cards are killing us |


September 23, 2016

You know that cool couple who seemed to have it all together? They had a bunch of kids, some of whom were adopted, and yet were still really interesting artistic people with a life outside parenting? Plus they were really good looking and never went out in their Ugg boots and everybody wanted to be their friend? Yeah, well they split up. The Brangelina breakup has some serious implications for the way families work these days and I'm going to be watching it to see how this couple, who always seemed really engaged in the welfare of their kids and in trying to do what was best for them, handle their conflict. A reader wrote to me last week with a very moving story of how she had lost contact wither her 18+ year old son. She says she was a very involved mom, but after the divorce, the son moved to the dad's house when he didn't like her rules. Now she can only find out how he's doing by stalking him on social. She's the third mother that I've heard this happening to. Any more of you out there? I'd like to know. (Our conversations will not be public unless you want.) I'm at  

We know a child’s early years are crucial to their development. But we know so little about the people who work with kids that age. At least 50% of all early childcare workers are part of the informal economy, paid in cash and/or working out of their own home. Here’s a snapshot of what that workforce looks like. Childtrends

Well this is ironic. After Chinese parents who wanted more than one kid suffered for years, and after thousand of Chinese babies were adopted overseas, the Chinese realized they needed more children to create enough growth to support the elderly. So the government relaxed the one-child rule. Now a new problem has arisen. Not enough sperm donors. TIME

This father does science experiments with his little kids. While I am very alarmed by any kids who can do anything involving candy without first eating most of the candy, this looks like a totally fun thing to try. Check out his most popular experiment at the Dadlab on Instagram. (And Dadlab if you’re reading this, please find slightly less cheesy music.)

Your kids are too clean, at least in some people’s opinion. The authors of a new book, Let Them Eat Dirt, offer up five dirty habits you should encourage in your kids. (I’ll wait, while you go throw out the antibacterial soap.) TIME

Remember that whole thing about how you mustn’t give your baby peanuts until you were sure they weren’t allergic? Yeah, that might not be the best idea after all.  A little bit of exposure to peanuts at a very young age might be a good way to prevent allergies, the thinking now goes. Turns out the Chinese might not be the only ones who sometimes take a parenting idea too far. TIME

All stay at home moms are unhappy and if they say they’re not, they’re lying. Wait, wait, wait, this is not my opinion, this is another working mom’s opinion. And she’s written a book about why all women should be in the labor force. For what it’s worth, for my story on marriage recently, I interviewed a therapist who said he felt that women would be happier if their marriages and families weren’t their only project. On the other had, some enterprising SAHM could write a book about how all working moms are really unhappy—at least some of the time—and she would be right. New York Post

A lot of our current benchmark parenting techniques are having an unfortunate effect on our kids, says this psychologist. The emphasis on grades and achievement is leaving no room for kids to learn empathy. And that is going to be a problem, not just for them but for their communities. We wouldn't want to create a society in which people felt so disaffected and ignored that there were all sorts of populist uprisings, would we? Oh. Wait.   TIME

When I had my first kid and was struggling to breastfeed, I would wake up in the early morning, hear the little guy stirring and getting hungry and dread the fact that the only way to feed him was via my incredibly sore and uncooperative body parts. I often thought about running away and letting someone else handle the problem.  For some reason I focused on going to New Jersey. Instead I switched to formula. (Oh, stop tsking. The kid had to eat. And I got it down by the next one.) Turns out my fantasy was boringly normal, except for the part about New Jersey. TIME

TIME, the one that doesn't need a power source, has a great story this week about the sports protests on its cover. If you haven't had time to really understand what that story is about—what with all the homework and school lunches and planning— or even if you have, it's a great, interesting read. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention occasionally that we have a cool subscription package for families, which gets you TIME, Time for Kids, some cool books and puzzles. Check it out here.

Procrastinating. It's the worst. Your kid won't do something, so you keep asking and they dig in further. Here's a  guide to why kids procrastinate and what you can do about it. My kids are too old for most of these techniques. But I did try timing how long it took to unpack the dishwasher (about 30 seconds) and after that my son didn't have to be asked quite as much. So, kind of an endorsement. Fatherly

PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types

Mark Wahlberg, actor and father of four, rapping on the fly for his daughter.*

"I'm your 45-year-old father and I got to rap / and if you keep misbehaving I'm a give your behind a slap/
It's called a spanking / Later on in life you're gonna thank me / 'Cause all the advice that I'm giving you is good for you/ and if not, your butt and behind is gonna be black and blue."

*Eds note: PFFT is not an endorser of celebrity parenting methods, merely a communicator. 

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