TIME Parenting

7 Things to Do Before Your Kid Goes to College

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Teenager loads car for college Blend Images - Terry Vine—Getty Images/Brand X

Teaching them to do laundry and how to open a bank account are important, but don’t forget to spend time together and have fun

For the millions of parents who will send a son or daughter off to college in the fall, this is the summer of lists: making travel arrangements, picking meal plans and ordering linens and other items for the dorm.

But two lists, in particular, are of the utmost importance: One will help kids with the realities of being on their own for the first time. The other will prepare them—and you—for the emotional toll of this major milestone.

The first list is practical. As parents, we pride ourselves on getting our kids ready to leave the nest and soar on their own. But then reality sets in—and the kids land with a thump.

I remember feeling like a terrible parent when my oldest, Emma, called home at the beginning of freshman year to ask me how many stamps she needed to mail an envelope and where to buy them.

My good friend, Mindy, says she felt like a failure when her daughter called to ask, “Do you separate laundry by weight?”

Another friend, Ruth, who has seen three children through college, recalled a litany of first-year cluelessness: “How do you know what light bulbs to buy?” “How do I send a box by mail?” “How do I find a dentist?” “I think I broke my foot. Did I?”

Whether such ineptitude is a byproduct of us having overindulged our kids is beside the point. No need to beat yourself up now. Just use this summer to teach a few of life’s basic skills—and save yourself some panicky late-night calls, not to mention feelings of parental inadequacy.

  1. Teach them to do laundry and then insist that they do their own—clothing, sheets and towels—for the entire summer. By the time they get to college with a roll of quarters in hand, they’ll have the hang of it.
  2. Teach them the basics of banking—how to use an ATM card, how to write a check (or make a payment online), how to deposit money and how to balance their account. As an added bonus, then ask them to teach you how to use Venmo.
  3. Teach them how to navigate public transportation. Most kids go off to college without access to a car, and obviously they won’t have you to schlep them places. If they don’t already know, teach them how to get around on buses, subways and trains, and then take away the car keys for a while so that they gain confidence.
  4. Teach them how to cook a few things. While most freshmen are on some kind of meal plan, knowing how to cook at college can come in handy. Many dorms have communal kitchens, and it can be fun to occasionally make a meal and eat with friends. And just in case your kid ends up living off campus at some point, knowing his or her way around the kitchen will be useful. Plus, making a point of cooking and eating together a few times a week over the summer is a nice way of spending time together as a family.

That said, don’t be surprised if the last thing your teen wants to do is hang out with you. As I wrote at the time, the summer before my daughter left for college, she went AWOL. As far as I was concerned, Emma went out with her friends too much, spent too much time at her boyfriend’s house and stayed out way too late.

Over time, I came to understand that Emma’s uncharacteristic rebellion and moodiness were her ways of “soiling the nest.” In order to make it easier for her to leave in the fall, she was going to make my husband and I so miserable that we couldn’t wait for her to go. In other words, she was doing exactly what she was supposed to do—getting ready to grow up and out.

Given all this, emotions can run high, so as promised, here are a few more tips to make it easier to let your son or daughter go:

  1. Make sure your grad sets aside some one-on-one time with you, your spouse and any sisters or brothers, and does so regularly through the summer. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s fun. (This does not include going to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy stuff for college.) Head on a hike, take a walk on the beach, go out for lunch or coffee, watch a movie—whatever makes sense for your family.
  2. If you can manage it, take a family vacation. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy (and can even be a long weekend away). My friend Ellie and her husband, David, took their kids on a road trip up the California coast before their eldest went off to college. “All the kids have said it was their favorite trip we ever did,” Ellie says.
  3. Buy them one beautiful thing. This advice comes from Lisa Heffernan, cofounder of Grown and Flown, a parenting blog for teens and older children. “This moment, these last days, are worthy of commemorating,” she says. “Do not let them slip by unmarked. Jewelry and watches are traditional choices for senior year, but beauty and meaning, not expense, are the salient factors in this purchase.”

On that front, I indulged Emma—something I don’t usually do. I bought her a somewhat extravagant comforter for her bed at school to make her feel cozy, comfortable and at home. It was my way of tucking her in from afar.

TIME Family

The Top 10 Interests Dads Share With Their Kids, According to Facebook

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A thumbs up or "Like" icon at the Facebook main campus ROBYN BECK—AFP/Getty Images

Facebook figured out Dads and their kids' shared interests for Father's Day

In honor of Father’s Day—it’s this Sunday, buy your presents now!—Facebook pulled data on shared interests that dads have with their kids.

The social platform pored through its 1.28 billion active monthly users to find self-identified fathers and their 18-and-up children to compare their “Likes” in topics including movies, TV shows, athletes, and musicians. It then broke down how things differ between father/daughter and father/son shared interests.

The contrast was pretty stark. Dads’ and daughters’ most liked movies, for example, is The Notebook. Dads and sons were into Star Wars. Dads and kids of both genders “liked” The Hangover the most. The most surprising and stereotyped data, however, was for television. It turns out that Dads and their girls are really into Teen Mom!

Here’s the top 10 shared TV show likes for fathers and daughters:

  1. NCIS
  2. Teen Mom
  3. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  4. Grey’s Anatomy
  5. Duck Dynasty on A&E
  6. Criminal Minds
  7. House
  8. The Secret Life of the American Teenager
  9. True Blood
  10. Pretty Little Liars

The father/son TV favorites have no overlap:

  1. Family Guy
  2. SportsCenter
  3. MythBusters
  4. Tosh.0
  5. South Park
  6. Band of Brothers
  7. Two and a Half Men
  8. The Walking Dead
  9. Futurama
  10. Sons of Anarchy

And now here’s what fathers and both of their children “like” to watch:

  1. Family Guy
  2. Tosh.0
  3. House
  4. NCIS
  5. The Office
  6. Duck Dynasty on A&E
  7. The Big Bang Theory
  8. Two and a Half Men
  9. Sons of Anarchy
  10. MythBusters

Now you know what DVD set to get Dad for Sunday. You’re welcome.

TIME Family

Neon Trees Singer: How I Told My Dad I’m Gay

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees
Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees Mike Windle—Getty Images

The Mormon frontman for rock group Neon Trees tells how he came out to his conservative father—and shares a note for his dad.

My father and I had always had a fascinating relationship. For a long time growing up, I didn’t know what he did for a living. I knew he made a reasonably high amount of money a year; during my teen years, we went from eating chicken casseroles at home to going out every meal. I would raid his drawer for loose change, steal his favorite socks and always use his cologne. I never thought twice about not asking—he was my dad. But he wasn’t necessarily someone I really wanted to be friends with. One evening, we got into a heated fight over something trivial (most likely how I dressed) and we both said things we didn’t mean but couldn’t take back: He told me I was “disappointing” and I followed up with, “All you are to me is money.” I still feel a chill go down my spine when I think of that spat.

Things distinctly changed for the better when I decided to go on a post-high school graduation business trip to the northwest with my dad. On that trip, I became a full-blown vegetarian in protest of my father and his coworkers’ bloated steak dinners (I haven’t eaten meat since). And he accidentally saw a journal entry of mine that confessed how much I didn’t like him. Both broken-hearted, we pulled off at a truck stop to use the facilities and ended up talking for hours outside on a picnic table. There, he confessed he just wanted to understand me. And I confessed I didn’t hate him, I just felt that I didn’t know him.

A few months later, I left on a two-year mission for the LDS church, and for a life where communication with family was reduced to letters and weekly emails. When my family said their goodbyes, my father broke down sobbing and began to tell me how sorry he was that he wasn’t the father I needed. Over the two years I served as a missionary, my father and I got to know each other through letter-writing. I learned of his rebellious streak, of how hard he worked to build a career to provide for all of us. I learned how much he loved my mom. I learned we had built a wall between us out of ignorance.

When I decided to come out as gay to my friends and family, my dad was the only person I was scared to tell. With everyone else, I only had the natural anxiety or curiosity of declaring such an important part of who I was. But with my dad, there was so much uncertainty. My dad had never been overly vocal with disdain for homosexuals, nor was he ever outwardly disrespectful. In fact, I can’t remember talking about homosexuality at home. It never even really came up at church, despite what so many have said we Mormons preach on Sundays. The uncertainty came from not knowing if my relationship with my dad would suddenly change, or simply break apart because of my confession.

My mother’s reaction was loving amidst a few questions. She wanted me to tell my dad because she “couldn’t lie to him for too long.” I don’t think she actually was concerned about the lying part—I think she simply wanted to talk about it with someone, and would probably tell if I didn’t.

So, I called him. He was driving to a meeting, and I was in New York City preparing for a photo shoot. I sat in my hotel room, turned a on video camera and pressed “record,” just in case he reacted in a crazy way and I could have the evidence to show later. I felt relatively calm, but I also wondered if telling my dad that his second-born son liked boys was a good idea while he was at the wheel. Once I had him on speakerphone, I began the conversation as normally as possible.

“Dad, I have to tell you something…”

The concern in his reply made it worse. What if this was the last time he would ever sound concerned about me? What if, after I told him, he wouldn’t talk to me anymore?

“I’m gay.”

“You are?”

There was genuine shock in his voice. I began to overshare, telling him I had known since I was three years old. That I didn’t have a boyfriend but had had experiences. That I still loved the church, but didn’t feel like I really fit in the last few years. He said he still loved me, “of course,” but didn’t understand how someone would come to the conclusion they were gay. I let it slide, because that ignorant response was coupled with love.

Before we hung up, I welled up with tears and told him I needed his acceptance because we had worked so hard on maintaining a father/son relationship. He was the only person I cried in front of while coming out. He made a joke that if I was kidding, I could just hang up and call him back and say so. We laughed.

Weeks passed, and I saw my parents. Nothing felt different, and nothing was different. Christmas. New Years. All incredibly normal and uneventful. When I came out to the world a few months ago in Rolling Stone, my dad was his typical undramatic self. I thought it would have been nice if he called and asked how I was handling everything—something parental. A few days passed, and that’s exactly what happened. He told me that he had heard from various coworkers giving support and love. I think it helped him realize that it shouldn’t be a big deal to him, because it wasn’t a big deal to them.

Today, he’s one of my favorite people in all the world. He has an odd sense of humor, and he always makes me laugh with his outlandish jokes. And I have a note for him here.

Dear Dad,

I’m starting to look like you more and more, and it freaks me out. I am doing everything I can to keep my hair and not get a belly like you. But it may just be inevitable. I am so happy I inherited your calm nature, though. As I’ve gotten a little bit older and wiser, it’s come in handy. I also inherited your work ethic and drive. I know we don’t share the same passions, but I think we both had to build something from nothing.

Dad, thank you for marrying mom and being so great to her. You deserve more time away from your cellphone and office desk. You and Mom succeeded in raising four fairly well-adjusted kids, and I hope I see you in more Hawaiian shirts, smiling and enjoying the rest of your life. We, your kids, think you’re the funniest guy ever. (That counts for something because we’re pretty snobby and don’t laugh at everything.) My favorite memory of you will probably always be the passion you have at my band’s shows. You sing and dance louder and harder than the 14-year-olds in the front row. You don’t have to do that, but you do.

Dad, thank you for accepting me every time I threw something new at you. My latest weird hairstyle… The times I took your money and socks and cologne.. And accepting that I like guys. You should know I sincerely have faith. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do have that. Thank you for showing me the importance of family and telling me about Jesus Christ. I should have been the guy that turned my back years ago, but I can’t because I feel his teachings are true.

Dad, I love you.

Oh and, Dad, please be kind to the guy I bring home someday. I know that will be weird for you, but I promise that if I love him, you will too. Let’s cross that bridge—together—when we come to it.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Love,

Tyler

 

Tyler Glenn is lead singer and songwriter of the pop band Neon Trees. The group just released their third record, Pop Psychology, and is on tour now.

TIME Family

If You’re a Strict Parent, Your Kid Is More Likely to Smoke Pot

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Getty Images

Overbearing parents may be putting their children at a greater risk of using drugs

A study conducted in six European countries reveals that children who have strict parents are more likely to smoke cannabis, as well as use tobacco and alcohol. The team, led by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention, observed the relationships between parents and their children in Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the U.K., Slovenia and Portugal to determine what parenting style best prevents drug usage.

Over 7,000 adolescents between 11 and 19 years old were asked if their parents had a more controlling or lenient parental style. The study found that parents who reasoned with their children were most effective in persuading their kids to abstain from drugs.

“Our results support the idea that extremes are not effective: neither authoritarianism nor absence of control and affection,” Amador Calafat, the main author of the study, told the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Calafat noted that different styles of parenting are helpful in varying situations: when dealing with a child’s school performance, parents who assert low levels of control are the most effective. But, when protecting students from drugs, Calafat asserts that “a good relationship with children” is essential.

TIME Family

10 Brilliant Grilling Gifts for Father’s Day

The Big Green Egg smoker The Big Green Egg

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.

From smokers that can fit an entire hog to the best tongs for nighttime grilling, here are 10 fantastic Father’s Day gifts.

1. The Big Green Egg XXL
This cult-favorite smoker can hold a whole hog.

2. Weber Smokey Mountain
This inexpensive smoker is a great way to try the trend.

3. Double-Duty Grill
Perfect for the urban dad, the Hot-Pot BBQ features a charcoal grill hidden under an herb planter.

4. 18-Inch Grill Tongs
These Weber tongs are great for small foods such as shrimp or vegetables.

5. Pit Mitt
This flexible glove can withstand temperatures of up to 475°.

6. Pizza Stone
This fantastic ceramic pizza stone can be used on a gas or charcoal grill.

7. Herb Infuser
Charcoal Companion’s Herb Grid has hinged gates that hold herbs for extra flavor.

8. Sturdy Skewers
Double prongs keep the food in place.

9. Korean Barbecue Insert
This cast-iron round insert keeps thin-sliced meats from falling into the coals.

10. Illuminated Tongs
These tongs feature detachable LED lights for night grilling.

More:

TIME Crime

This Is the Weirdest Catfishing Case Ever

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Tete sea catfish Getty Images

And Mani Te'o thought he had it bad

Most Catfishing fairytales don’t end in a happily ever after—they end in crying, maybe a marred football career, and a cameo on MTV if you’re lucky. But this particularly sordid case of fraudulent social media identity takes the cake.

Alabama.com reports that a Tuscaloosa woman created a fake Facebook account to track her live-in niece’s online activity. According to court records filed Tuesday, 19-year-old Marissa Williams had been inviting men she had met on Facebook over to the house and blocked her aunt from seeing her profile when she was asked to stop. And so Tre “Topdog” Ellis was born, so that Williams’ aunt could see what her niece did online and teach her a lesson about talking to strangers.

Things went downhill from there.

At first Williams just asked Topdog to come over and get drunk. Then she offered to have sex with him if he paid off her $50 phone bill. Then she asked him to “kidnap” her from her unhappy home and, oh yeah, shoot and kill her aunt if she interfered. And to top it off, Williams created plots for Topdog to sneak into her aunt’s room to murder her, her aunt’s fiancé, her cousin, and the family dog if he had a chance on his way out.

When police were called (obviously) and talked to Williams her response was IDK, JK, LOL. Translated to an approximate, Yeah I asked him to murder my family, but I didn’t mean it. SMH.

Williams is currently in county jail on charges of solicitation and murder. If the prison has wifi, she should be chipping away at that $30,000 bail in no time.

[Alabama.com]

TIME psychology

10 Life Lessons You Can Learn From the Smartest Older People

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Matt Hind—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

I’ve posted before about research into the most important life lessons we can learn from older people, taken from Karl Pillemer‘s excellent book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

Here’s another take on the same subject:

Before the 50th reunion of Harvard Business School’s class of 1963 they asked them what lessons they would pass on to younger people.

This isn’t firm scientific research — but we ignore it at our peril. We can learn much about life from those who have seen it to the end.

The site has a lot of content but I’ve gone through and curated the bits that I felt were most useful and insightful. Hat tip to my friend Nick for the pointer.

 

LEADERSHIP

ANONYMOUS:

I would have been a better leader if I had been less cocky in my early career, and more confident in my middle career.

 

ROBERT K. BOWMAN:

A successful leader:

  • Knows as much as he can about his organization’s mission
  • Believes in the mission
  • Communicates the mission clearly
  • Points the way
  • Gets out of the way

 

CAREER

RON LESLIE:

Steps to find fulfilling work:

  1. Take the initiative to investigate the places you think are of interest. Ask good questions.
  2. Go with the self-assurance of having written on an index card each of your past accomplishments(including where you simply helped other people do their thing) in three forms:
    1. A simple phrase; e.g., “top salesman in New York office for three years”
    2. A three-sentence statement of the problem, your solution, and the result
    3. A one-page explanation or anecdote to share if asked to give details
  3. Use those cards deftly to encourage people to talk to you — showing you listen on their level and understand whatever they tell you. Remember: The more they talk, the smarter they’ll think you are.

 

MARRIAGE & FAMILY

RALPH LINSALATA:

  • Tell your spouse and children that you love them every day, no matter how you feel.
  • Do not bring your problems home with you.
  • Realize the joy that comes from helping your spouse and children excel in their fields of interest and enjoy themselves.
  • Develop within your family a sense of obligation to help others.
  • Spending quality time with your family — not just time — is critical.
  • Choose a spouse who will understand and support you, and one for whom you will do the same. Life is much better if you can help each other grow and expand your knowledge, experiences, friends, and capabilities.

 

RON LESLIE:

The sweetest words in the English language are, “Granddad, would you like to …?”

 

BUSINESS

DONALD P. NIELSEN:

  • Not all decisions turn out well. Be prepared to deal with problems over which you have no control.
  • Almost everything will require more money and more time than you think.
  • Never settle for “good enough.” Always strive for excellence.
  • Set high expectations for yourself and those with whom you work.
  • Move quickly to deal with people issues.
  • Hiring smart, driven people is a ticket to your own success.

 

WEALTH

WARREN BATTS:

I was born in 1932 and grew up during the Depression. In the beginning, poverty was the level to which I aspired. When I reached it, my next goal was to get out of debt. That took several years. Then my goal was to become financially independent. After reaching independence, more money was not a great motivator for me. My interest became trying to make a difference — making the company I worked for successful, and working for my church and other volunteer organizations.

 

GROWING OLDER

ANONYMOUS:

Retire to something — not from something. Stay engaged. Be physically active and intellectually curious.

 

CHARITY & SPIRITUALITY

J. LAWRENCE WILSON:

If one is devoted solely to promoting the welfare of himself, his family, and his friends, life can be barren. Charity, faith, and spirituality enrich one’s life. Faith or the belief in a power greater than oneself seems to be important for humans, for spirituality is a part of every culture. If this spirituality fosters concern for the welfare of others, it is of great benefit to society. No matter what a person’s professed faith, I admire him if he is charitable.

 

HAPPINESS & SUCCESS

HENRY A. GILBERT:

Success and wealth are being a lover and being loved.

Success is using your tools and powers to enhance the lives and success of others.

Success is capitalizing on economic opportunities yet treating others with over-reaching kindness.

 

J. LAWRENCE WILSON:

When I think back over my career, I am struck that my fondest memories are of people rather than experiences, places, or accomplishments.

 

TURNING POINTS

RALPH LINSALATA:

What did I learn from the turning points in my life? Look for great colleagues, role models, and teachers. Be certain to understand the opportunities relative to the risks, and how the risks can be avoided. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and act accordingly. Play to your strengths while you work, but work on your weaknesses.

 

GERALD (JERRY) WOLIN:

Many things that happened in my career were the result of random acts. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to recognize the right moves.

 

LIFE’S LESSONS

JOSE M. FAUSTINO:

I switched fields twice in my academic career — I believed the entire experience was part of growing up. The lesson here for young people: Do not hesitate to switch interests, majors, or fields of concentration. Find your preference or your passion, then focus on it to your heart’s content.

Success is a journey – not a race. Prepare well, retain good practices, and make a habit of effective strategies:

  1. Do not be content to be average. Mediocrity breeds boredom, poor opportunity, and an unsatisfactory lifestyle. Instead, decide to excel in everything you do, and be distinctive, if not unique, in your approach.
  2. Take well-analyzed risks, particularly when there is everything to gain and little to lose. Do not be afraid of rejection when you have competently and ethically tried to succeed.
  3. Be skilled in political strategy. Interpersonal, leadership, and motivational skills are all important for success, but few consider political strategy. In my mind, there is organizational politics in any group with more than three people.

 

JOHN A. MOELLER:

An important lesson in life is learning whom you can rely on, depend on, and trust, and whom you cannot. Only experience and “gut feel” can teach this. Human nature and values — whether of business owners, top management, associates, or staff — vary all over the place. Steering your life, family, career, time, investments, and loyalty toward those you can trust and rely upon is a priority.

Never forget where you came from, and always remember what you are here for. Be true to your values and faith. We are here for a purpose. Enjoy the ride.

Here are more life lessons from the wise.

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Related posts:

What’s The Most Important Life Lesson Older People Feel You Must Know?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

MONEY Shopping

The Three Cardinal Rules for Father’s Day Gift Giving

Homemade I Love Daddy sign
Courtney Weittenhiller—Getty Images

Dads like being acknowledged, but they can do without elaborate displays—and certainly don't want money being wasted. Follow these rules and you'll be OK.

Su Young Kim, a 30-something owner of a salon in California, was surprised by what her father asked for as a Father’s Day gift. “He said that if I was going to waste my money on something he didn’t need or want again this year, I might as well just give him the cash and save us both some trouble,” said Kim.

Most fathers aren’t quite as blunt, but according to my annual anecdotal survey of dads, they pretty much want what Kim’s dad wants. Not cash, necessarily, but for their kids to not waste their money.

No wonder Father’s Day is the tiniest American gift-giving holiday, accounting for $12.5 billion in consumer spending this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending on Mother’s Day, by contrast, was estimated at more than $20 billion.

And no wonder Father’s Day can be a frustrating holiday for gift givers. Most want to surprise, delight, and honor their dads, for good reason. Instead, however, too many sons, daughters, and spouses end up either spending too much money, getting something off the mark or silly, feeling guilty because they didn’t put in much thought or effort beforehand, or some combination therein. To avoid the pitfalls, here are three cardinal rules, endorsed by dads, for fool-proof Father’s Day gift giving:

1. Keep it Simple

This year, and every year that I’ve surveyed fathers, what I hear is that their identity as fathers doesn’t mesh well with lavish Father’s Day celebrations. It seems there’s something unmanly, or “undadly,” about being pampered. Dads pride themselves in providing for others, and they can feel uncomfortable when the tables are turned.

Even though most dads downplay the significance of Father’s Day, there is nothing more important to them than being fathers. According to the 2014 Dove Men+Care Dad Portrayal Research Study, 94% of American fathers prioritize their families over their careers, and three-quarters say they organize their lives around family so they can spend more time with their children. So, regardless of how “undadly” it feels to be celebrated, fathers are likely to feel hurt if they’re not feted on our national day devoted to fatherhood.

Dove also posted this video celebrating dads that made me cry, and then made my husband cry when I made him watch:

How do you balance the need to honor dads without going overboard and making them feel uncomfortable? The solution is to keep it simple. Katy Short, a financial advisor and mother of two children under 5, wrapped up her brilliantly simple Father’s Day plans in one sentence: “We’ll give him lots of kisses, some cologne he wants, and then we’ll dance.”

2. Spend Wisely, Not Wastefully

When I ask dads what they’d like for Father’s Day, many start their response with something they want that’s in the best interests of their kids. “I want my son to get a job,” is a common answer, usually followed by laughter or eye rolling. “I want my kids to be happy,” is another one I hear regularly.

Or like Kim’s father, they respond in a way that essentially says they want their kids to spend their money wisely. Evidently, fathering doesn’t take a holiday. In some ways, the gift a son or daughter picks is a measure of the lessons they’ve learned (or not) from their father. When you spend wastefully on Father’s Day, dads are likely to think that they’ve failed to teach you to not spend wastefully. Your dumb spending reflects poorly on their roles as fathers, even if what you’re spending money on is your dad.

Most dads are gracious when receiving gifts. But when handed presents such as flashy sunglasses or expensive cufflinks, they are probably thinking something along the lines of What did I do wrong? Didn’t I teach this kid about the value of a dollar?

It’s not that dads don’t want budget-busting lavish gifts—they just don’t want them from you. Instead, if your father has been needling you to read a particular book or try a sport, make a Father’s Day gift by showing him you were listening. Then wrap it up in a bow by asking him to discuss the book or play the sport with you. Above all, for heaven’s sake demonstrate that your father has done a good job raising you by not wasting money on something he doesn’t need and will never use.

3. Be Thoughtful

This is the golden rule for all gift giving, of course, but it applies big time for Father’s Day. For the most part, dads want to feel appreciated, and to spend some quality time with their families on Father’s Day. When pressed for an actual gift they’d like to receive that costs actual money, the top choices I hear from fathers are typically celebratory events like sharing a special meal together or tickets to a ball game. Evidently, kids know their dads pretty well. Of those who are purchasing gifts for fathers (or husbands on behalf of younger kids), the top two categories are greeting cards that thank dad for all his does (63%) and special dinners or outings where the crew can be together and have fun (43%).

Russell, a father who preferred not to use his last name for fear of offending his less-than-perfect gift-giving son, summed up what he wants and what he thinks most dads want this way: “It has to be something personal. They have to spend time thinking about what their dads would really like, or spend time with them–like making a breakfast in bed or spending the day fishing.”

Russell got a gushy handmade card and a bottle of wine from his adult daughter last year, and he said both were perfect because they were so incredibly thoughtful. His daughter had taken the time to learn about wine, and had researched his tastes to pick out just the right bottle. And Russell told me that he still has the gushy card – along with every other one he’s received since his daughter was old enough to draw.

_____________________________________________________

Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., is a consumer psychologist who is obsessed with all things related to how, when and why we shop and buy. She conducts research through her professorship at Golden Gate University and shares her findings in speeches, consulting work, and her books, Decoding the New Consumer Mind and Gen BuY.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

FDA: Pregnant Women Should Eat More Fish

For the first time, the federal government is recommending a minimum amount of fish to eat each week

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and young children should eat more fish, according to a draft of updated diet recommendations from government agencies released Tuesday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency had previously advised limits on maximum fish consumption during pregnancy. They are now for the first time recommending a minimum instead, as additional research reveals fish’s health benefits.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” FDA Acting Chief Scientist Stephen Ostroff, M.D., said in statement. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

The new recommendations say women and children in these populations should consume 8-12 ounces (approximately 2-3 servings) of fish that are lower in mercury — like shrimp, salmon, tilapia, catfish and cod — each week to aid fetal development and growth. The guidelines discourage consumption of tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark, which are associated with higher levels of mercury.

TIME Family

Paternity Leave and Why Men Need Feminism Too

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Kei Uesugi—Getty Images

A dad who wants to stay at home, or take more time off, is not just considered less of a man, but less committed as an employee. That needs to change.

Happy Fathers’ Day, American dads: our society still does a crappy job of encouraging you to be fathers! A new study from the Boston College Center for Work and Family has found that new dads take paternity leave only to the extent that they’re paid to–i.e., not a lot. As the Washington Post reports, the majority of men who get two weeks’ paid leave take two weeks, those with three weeks take three, and so on. And per the Families and Work Institute, those lucky guys are few; only 14% of employers offer any pay for “spouse or partner” leave, compared with 58% for maternity leave (mostly through temporary disability insurance and very rarely at full salary).

I can believe those studies because I lived them. When my first son was born, I took six weeks off–the one week of paid parental leave my company offered at the time, plus some accumulated vacation. I wanted to take more, but it would have been unpaid, my wife was getting ready to take leave from her own job at the time (as a librarian, so you do the math) and they’re not giving diapers away.

Spending those few weeks at home with a cranky, leaky, smelly baby was exhausting and overwhelming–and to this day I wish I’d had more of it. And I was one of the lucky ones, by U.S. standards; unlike most fathers, I at least had some paid leave, fairly generous vacation, and, once I went back to work, a reasonably flexible job that allowed working from home. (It’s worth noting that the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave, and that a number of countries also require paid paternity leave.)

As the Post article says, dads’ choices about leave (and moms’) are largely pocketbook decisions–a lot of those fathers are principal breadwinners and don’t have the luxury to decide otherwise. But all that’s intertwined with social expectations. Women get mommy-tracked and end up earning less. Dads are considered providers first and nurturers second. A dad who wants to stay at home, or at least take more time off, is not just considered less of a man but less committed as an employee–a slacker, a scammer, a liability, a beta.

It’s true no matter how successful you are–say, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who missed all of two games from a 162-game season for the birth of his baby and got blasted by male sportscasters. (Some suggested he “hire a nurse” or tell his wife “C-section before the season starts.” Love you too, honey!)

It’s fitting that these studies should come along at the same time that pundits are debatingCan men be feminists?” because few issues so clearly answer that question: Yes, duh, no matter what Pharrell Williams says.

We have a habit of talking about feminism as if it’s something women do to men or men do for women–that feminism uplifts women at men’s expense. (See the Shailene Woodley “I’m not a feminist because I love men” argument.) If men identify as feminists at all, goes the corollary, they’re “allies” who are being altruistic (or trying to get laid). The cultural politics of this attitude aside, it just doesn’t square with the real world of running a household and paying the bills. Paternity leave is a practical lesson in why men should be feminists, not just because it’s right and fair but because feminism–in its simplest sense of treating people equally and not constraining them with artificial gender roles–benefits men too.

OK, to borrow the famous phrase: “Not all men.” Sexism hurts and limits women much more than it does men, and women experience forms of misogyny that men will never experience (see the #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign). As a man, you can profit handsomely from sexism–but you profit most if you want to be a certain kind of man as the culture defines it: one who derives his self-worth from work and money, who conforms to traditional masculine roles, who sees himself as the backup parent who “babysits” his kids occasionally but delegates most of that work to the little woman. Don’t like that setup? Man up, candyass! Get back to work!

Not everyone is in a heterosexual relationship and has kids, of course. But when you’re raising kids with an opposite-sex partner, the whole op-ed page, Internet-comments-section caricature of feminism as a zero-sum game looks especially silly and disconnected from nuts-and-bolts, bill-paying, time-managing life. When you’re in a family, you’re not an isolated representative of your demographic group. You’re part of a team, and something that holds back your partner holds you back too. If women are paid unfairly, sure, that’s worse for women. But for a husband, that’s also a wife who’s bringing less money into the household. It’s less security if he loses his own job. A husband who can take paternity leave means a wife who doesn’t have to shortchange her career, which means more stable finances. Women who lean in give men the option to lean out, and vice-versa.

When women have more choices, in other words, so do men–including the choice to actually be present as parents to their own babies. A saner set of policies for parental leave and a more open-minded attitude toward parents’ roles would be the best Fathers’ Day gift we could give America’s dads. And for that matter, its moms and kids.

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