Plus, boys are cliquey, too |


Dear parents,

August! Summer! Lots of family time! Lots. Almost every summer in years gone by, I would have caved in to my kids' demands to buy an inflatable pool by now. "We will never use it!" I said every time. "The water's too cold! And it will get slimy!" Nevertheless, in the face of begging—and of my own childhood memories of summers in the pool—I nearly always bought one. And my kids never used it. "Too cold!" they'd say. "Too slimy!" By October, when the vinyl floor was a bio-hazard, I threw it out. This year we haven't bought a pool, because my kids are too old for that kind of nonsense. I miss it.

If you have any ideas/stories/conunundrums you want to offer, I’m still at or @luscombeland on Twitter.

P.S. If you like this newsletter, please 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.

Is it possible that the obesity arises from habits that set in very early? A new British study found that coaching parents to comfort their infants with something other than food led to a lower Body Mass Index by the time the child turned three. This seems like it could be a very simple, if somewhat expensive, solution to a health problem that is becoming increasingly worrying. BBC

"I am guilty of mistaking dirty dishes for inactivity. Dirty dishes in the sink are a sign of well-fed children. I am guilty of mistaking a messy entrance way, scattered with school books and jackets, as inactivity. Our messy entrance way is a reminder that we have a place to call our own—one that welcomes us in day after day." This is a lovely short essay by a father about the standards to which we hold stay at home moms. Motherly

Well, this is all sorts of awesome. Hundreds of mothers in the Philippines attended a mass-breastfeeding event. And it was sponsored by the government. It's like a hall full of living Madonna paintings (the first one, not the singer). TIME

From the obscure but interesting file, a large new study of the way seventh grade students mix has found that boys tend to cluster together and be more cliquey than girls. And that popular kids stay popular over the years and unpopular kids remain so. The study was conducted by, of all organizations, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as a way of modeling how disease might spread among students. But it discovered all sorts of other interesting things as well. LSH&TM

A new movie, Three Identical Strangers, delves into the ever fascinating nature or nurture question, or as I like to phrase it the "Is it my genes or my parenting that caused my children to behave so badly?" question. The film follows three identical triplets who were separated at birth and placed in three families to see the impact of different types of parenting, the thinking being they were genetically the same, so any differences must be from their environment. They discovered each other later in their lives and there were many fascinating similarities; they all smoked the same brand of cigarette, for example. Some much darker stuff happened to them too. This article, which, (spoiler alert!) is full of spoilers, suggests that the real lesson of the movie is that children belong, where possible, with their biological families. But the movie also calls into question the whole idea of conducting experiments such as these. IFS

Flexible work boundaries, which are thought to be family friendly, are often exactly the opposite, a new study out of Virginia Tech has found. Even the expectation that employees might be available outside non-work hours adds stress to family lives, the report suggests. It makes people anxious and never able to really bring their full attention to their families. “Our research exposes the reality: ‘flexible work boundaries’ often turn into ‘work without boundaries,’ compromising an employee’s and their family’s health and well-being,” write the authors. And on that note, I urge you to finish up reading this, put down your email delivery device, and go have some real fun.

PFFT: Parenting from Famous Types

Carrie Underwood, singer and  parent of one and half

"This morning, Melissa, my hair and makeup artist, was starting to put my makeup on and he’s all in his pajamas and he said, ‘No, don’t do that!’ and I was like, ‘Why, baby, why are you upset?’ And he said, ‘I like you just how you are.’"


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