TIME Parenting

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from People Who Stare at My Daughter

They probably don't intend to be rude or mean, so I've learned to give them grace, and to teach them

We knew after our 20-week ultrasound our soon-to-be daughter would have many health issues, but we pressed on.

There were many questions of if there was cleft palate or cleft lip, as well as if her eyes would be wider or nose flatter. We knew to prepare ourselves ahead of time for the questions and stares. We stared ourselves, getting familiar with the intricately woven fabric of her face. Her slightly slanted eyes were wider than most. Her small nose was open on one side due to her cleft palate. She has a wider set chin and neck.

But she was ours and she’s perfect, and we’d tell the world about her and we would be fearless in sharing and teaching others about our daughter.

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It was when I took her to our local hospital for labs with her home health nurse that the stares began. I distinctly remember a couple stepping in line in front of us at the admissions desk, acting as if we were invisible, which was hard to believe considering they looked right at us. As we left the admissions area, the same couple walked past my daughter in her stroller, decked out with a home ventilator, oxygen saturation monitor and numerous other pieces of equipment that made her life at home possible. They gave us a side-long disapproving glance.

I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say or think, but on the inside, I was fuming. Didn’t this couple know all people are created unique and different? That society has placed way too much emphasis on what is considered “normal” by simply judging one’s outward appearance?

I didn’t know what to say that day. And the truth is, I’m still not exactly sure what to say.

What I do know is I’m still struggling myself with what to say to others with disabilities. What I do know is on that particular day, my mama-bear instinct came out and I wanted to lecture this couple on appreciating the beauty in each and every person, regardless of their disability or uncommon features. I wanted to set them straight and tell them their behavior was unacceptable. I wanted to yell at the world for thinking there’s a right way and a wrong way as to how people should look. That it actually is okay to have a cleft lip that’s not fixed yet, and it’s on her to-do list — right behind open heart surgery.

jodie-gerling-daughter
Jodie Gerling

But over the last few months, as we’ve ventured out more with our delicate daughter, I’ve learned in the beginning that I felt a sense of entitlement. I thought I could tell someone their response to my daughter was wrong and set them straight on how to treat others. However, I’ve since learned some new life lessons as I navigate these new waters.

1. Give them grace.

Know they’ve probably never had many opportunities to interact with children like my daughter. Give them grace that they might not know what to say, or how to look, or if it’s okay to stare. Acknowledge they’re trying, even if it’s not quite what I want to hear. Then give them the grace to walk into an uncomfortable conversation in hopes of bringing comfort to them on this topic.

2. Forgive often.

In the beginning, I took offense to so many things, thinking no one understood. But that’s just it: many don’t understand. And that’s okay. We’re in this together to learn together. Our family doesn’t have this all down, and our family and friends are learning right beside us. Before we had our daughter, we were these people too. People are going to say the wrong things, especially at the wrong times, like after a long day of appointments. But most of the time, they don’t know what they’re saying is wrong, they’re just trying to show support. It’s true many people don’t understand our journey, but that just means it’s our joy to help them understand, not to be offended and shut them out.

3. Be willing to talk.

I’ve learned to be willing to open up and say to a stranger staring at my daughter, “Isn’t she beautiful? It’s okay to stare at beauty like that.” Then I smile and ask if they have questions or would like to talk about her. Be willing to be the one to open the door of communication. Often times others are too scared to ask questions for fear of offending.

We’d rather they say, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to stare,” so we can say, “We want you to take in all of the beauty in her, not to look away as if to say she’s not worthy.”

4. Be ready to teach.

We have this bag we call the “Bunny Bag.” It has a big bunny stuffed animal in it, along with the book “Audrey Bunny” by Angie Smith, about a bunny with an imperfect heart, and a short picture book called “Mattie Breathes” by Tracie Loux, about what a tracheostomy is in children’s terms and concepts. We’ve lent them to friends and to our kiddos’ playmates so they can learn more about our kids’ little sister. We’re teaching our friends, and they’re teaching their friends. Nothing makes our hearts soar more than when our friends say, “Will you teach me about Chloe?”

5. Be courageous enough to keep on keeping on.

At times, we’ve wanted to shut ourselves in and not venture out anymore due to the many stares, the comments and the sidelong glances. But what does that solve? It doesn’t help teach. It doesn’t help our daughter to thrive and grow. It doesn’t encourage our other children that it’s OK to look different. So we keep on keeping on. We continue to share pictures of her and share her life with others.

jodie-gerling-family
Jodie Gerling

We don’t have it all figured out and we haven’t rehearsed some sort of speech to give each person who does a double take on our daughter. We’ve learned it’s not about feeling entitled to correct someone who says something wrong, but more about giving them grace and space to learn how to treat others with differences and disabilities. It’s more about gratitude for their desire to learn than it is about calling them out on the injustice of saying or doing the wrong thing.

Kindness goes a long way, and when it comes to teaching others about disabilities and differences, grace and kindness go much farther in the long road of changing the world’s view of what is considered normal.

This article originally appeared on The Mighty

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Travel

10 Quirky, Fun, and Cheap Summer Vacation Lodging Ideas

Usually around $100 or less for the opposite of a cookie-cutter motel.

Often, the best thing a traveler can say about a motel is that it was just like you’d expect. In other words, there was nothing memorable about the stay whatsoever. Instead of planning your summer vacation pit stops around basic hotels and motels that are serviceable—but also anonymous and utterly forgettable—consider venturing off the beaten path this summer. Here are 10 funky and unique kinds of lodging that are sure to create great memories for road trips and family vacations.

  • Treehouses

    Out ’n’ About Tree resort
    Woods Wheatcroft—Aurora Open/Corbis Out ’n’ About Tree resort

    It’s a cliché, but you’re bound to feel like a kid again if you get the chance to spend the night in a treehouse—perhaps while bringing along kids of your own. At Oregon’s Out ‘n About Treehouse resort (or “treesort), guests choose between more than a dozen different treehouse rentals, starting at $130 per night. The treehouses are reached by rough-hewn stairs, handcrafted spiral staircases, and swinging bridges. Most of the accommodations are 15 to 20 feet off the ground, though the highest treehouse is perched 47 feet up in a Douglas fir. There are quite a few independent Airbnb treehouse rentals around the country too.

  • Tipis

    First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Ulm, Montana
    Stephen Saks Photography—Alamy First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Ulm, Montana

    The tipis offered as overnight lodging from the Under Canvas operations at Yellowstone and Glacier national parks fall into the category of “glamping,” i.e., glamorous camping. With cots, mattresses, pillows, blankets, towels, and safari chairs all provided under a canvas tipi exterior, you’ll hardly be roughing it. Starting at $95 per night, it’s one of the cheapest options that can still be described as luxury camping. Some state parks in Montana, Minnesota, and North Dakota rent tipis for overnight stays as well.

  • Hike-In Lodges

    Hikers walk past the lodging area at the Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park, Montana.
    Matt Mills McKnight—Reuters/Corbis Hikers walk past the lodging area at the Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park, Montana.

    When the only way to get to your accommodations is on foot, one thing is for certain: There’s no way your sleep will be disturbed by the sounds of honking cars or road traffic. Beyond the tranquility of staying overnight in a hut or lodge reached only via hiking trails, guests get to enjoy the way that somehow conversation, food, and yes, sleep, are always better after long, active days in the great outdoors. Among the hike-in options around the country: The Hike Inn in northern Georgia, the backcountry Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet lodges in Glacier National Park, and the series of huts in the White Mountains of New Hampshire maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club (from $127 per person, dinner and breakfast included).

  • Lighthouses

    Pigeon Point Lighthouse Electric Candlelight
    Tyler Westcott—Getty Images/Flickr Pigeon Point Lighthouse Electric Candlelight

    The sound of crashing waves below, the salty smell in the air, and the views that stretch for miles of empty water are among the memories that you’ll come home with after a night spent in a lighthouse. At just $28 for a dorm bed and $76 for a private room, northern California’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel has to be one of the world’s most affordable lighthouses that welcome travelers. Other options include the Race Point Lighthouse in Cape Cod and Michigan’s Big Bay Lighthouse B&B.

  • Fire Lookouts

    150623_EM_QuirkyLodging_FireLookout_Webb
    Ei Katsumata—Alamy Webb Mountain Fire Lookout in the Kootenai National Forest in northwestern Montana

    Dotting the deep forests of the western mountain states, fire lookouts were built decades ago to be manned by rangers hoping to warn of forest fires as soon as they erupted. Modern technology has made fire lookouts less of a necessity. But the structures remain, and dozens of fire lookouts can be rented by the night or week. Montana has the most lookouts available for rent, with 20; Oregon has 19, while Idaho has 11. The Squaw Mountain Lookout, one of two fire lookouts in Colorado, is a 14-foot-by-14-foot granite lodge built in the 1940s at an altitude of 11,000 feet. The cabin, which rents for $80 per night, comes with an electric stove, refrigerator, heat, and beds, but no fresh water. Most important, the building is encircled with windows—it’s a lookout, after all—and the views are endless.

  • Covered Wagons

    Old western trailer functioning as a hotel room on Bar 10 Ranch Hotel, Grand Canyon, Arizona
    Alamy Old western trailer functioning as a hotel room on Bar 10 Ranch Hotel, Grand Canyon, Arizona

    OK, so spending the night in a covered wagon is sort of a gimmick. Inside, the accommodations are usually not all that different from the bunks in a basic state park cabin. But this is a seriously fun gimmick, especially for anyone fascinated with the era of cowboys, pioneers, and “Little House on the Prairie.” The wagon accommodations at Colorado’s Strawberry Park Hot Springs run $60 per night and include access to the natural hot spring pools. Some campgrounds, like Smokey Hollow in Wisconsin, have big wagons that can fit the whole family (from $70 for up to five people). And the Bar 10 Ranch, within striking distance of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, has a wide range of lodging options including 13 covered wagons.

  • Train Cabooses

    150623_EM_QuirkyLodging_Caboose_RedCaboose
    Alamy The Red Caboose Motel, Ronks, Pennsylvania

    Around the country, retired cabooses and train cars have been given new life as private nightly rentals at B&Bs and hotels. Iowa’s Mason House Inn, for instance, has eight rooms in the main house, which was built in 1846, as well as the circa 1952 Caboose Cottage out back. Over in Missouri, the Cruces Cabooses B&B consists of a pair of cabooses from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe lines that sleep five or six and rent for around $100 per night. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, the Red Caboose Motel welcomes overnight guests and daytime visitors to check out more than three dozen train cars on the property.

  • Yurts

    Treebones Resort offers ocean view yurts on Highway 1 in Big Sur, California known as glamping, or luxury camping.
    Lisa Werner—Getty Images Treebones Resort offers ocean view yurts in Big Sur, California.

    Yurts are basically tents. But they’re round, sturdy, and tall, meaning they’re tents that won’t leak, and that give you the space to stand up and stretch your arms. All in all, they provide all the fresh air of tent camping—without the claustrophobia. State parks in places like Idaho and Washington have tons of yurts at very affordable rates. The Treebones Resort in Big Sur, Calif., offers the more upscale yurt experience, with queen-size beds, running water, and redwood decks overlooking the Pacific.

  • Converted Jails

    Liberty Hotel
    Michael Weschler Guest rooms at the Liberty Hotel in Boston, which used to be the Charles Street Jail, often go for more than $500 per night.

    The more traditional way to spend the night in jail may not cost the “guest” any money, but we’ll go out on a limb and say that the former prisons converted into hotels are probably more comfortable. In 2007, the old Charles Street Jail in Boston was reborn as the $500+ per night Liberty Hotel (liberty, like freedom, get it?), a luxury property that preserved the old jail’s catwalks and 90-foot atrium as the centerpiece. More affordable voluntary jail cells can be found here and there around the country, such as the Jailhouse Suites ($99 per night) in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

  • Drive-in Movie Motels

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    Dimitry Bobroff—Alamy Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream Park in Escalante, Utah.

    There’s movie night, and then there’s MOVIE NIGHT. Motels in Vermont (Fairlee Motel & Drive-In) and Colorado (Best Western Movie Manor) both offer the exceptionally rare opportunity to catch a movie at the drive-in from the comfort of your bed. Yet another bucket list booking for movie nuts is Utah’s Shooting Star RV Resort, which in addition to RV sites rents Airstream Trailers from $119—and the property boasts a vintage on-site drive-in movie screen and films on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights.

TIME Family

Watch the Multi-Talented Ayesha Curry Score a 3-Pointer

It runs in the family

Ayesha Curry has some basketball skills of her own. Her famous husband, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, is an NBA champion, but, even at nine-months pregnant, Curry proved in an Instagram video that she’s got game too.

Hopefully, we’ll see the youngest (and cutest) member of the Curry family, Riley, scoring her own 3-pointers a few years down the road. She’s already been getting lots of attention for her candid comments at her Daddy’s press conferences.

MONEY Odd Spending

Disney World Is Now Selling ‘Poo’ in Giraffe, Hippo Flavors

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Getty Images

$3.99 a pop—or is it $3.99 a poop?

People will buy pretty much anything. Nowhere is this truism more on display than Walt Disney World, a.k.a. the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” a.k.a. home of the $100+ one-day admission fee.

The latest magic trick being pulled by the world’s most famous theme park destination is convincing guests that they want to buy and eat animal “poo.” At Zuri’s Sweet Shop, appropriately located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, customers get to choose among four flavors: elephant, hippo, giraffe, and tamarin. In more ways than one: No B.S.!

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, they’re of course not actual steaming piles of manure but chocolate, brownie, and fudge creations. An order of “giraffe” indeed looks like scat—a pile of mushy dark brown balls—but it’s made of chocolate fudge and caramel. “Hippo” consists of chocolate fudge, caramel brownie, peanut butter, and oats.

The gimmick and instant conversation piece is called “Match the Species,” and customers are encouraged to make a game of guessing which faux dung belongs to which kind of animal. “The animal handlers of Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked in conjunction with pastry chefs so that they perfected the look of the animal poop exactly,” the Kim and Carrie blog explained, after sampling Giraffe soon after the items made their debut in mid-June.

The sweet shop doesn’t list the items explicitly as poop or dung. But on customer receipts, your order will be spelled out as, say, “Poo, Giraffe.” Each order costs $3.99. After grabbing a bite, it’s probably appropriate to hit the souvenir shop, where you’ll find lots more crap to buy.

TIME Family

8 Iconic Children’s Book Authors Reveal Their Favorite Picture Books

Page-turners that children are sure to love

  • Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

    hug-machine-cover
    Atheneum Books for Young Readers

    “At a time in picture book publishing when so many illustrators seem to be mimicking television, or digital animation, and lacking individuality, it is refreshing to see art that is so personal and fresh. Mr. Campbell’s enormous talent is bursting off each page. I really want to HUG him.”

    Recommended by Tomie dePaola, author of Strega Nona and 26 Fairmont Avenue. The Magical World of Strega Nona: A Treasury ($35, amazon.com) comes out in October.

    To buy: $17, amazon.com.

  • My Bus by Byron Barton

    my-bus-cover
    Greenwillow Books

    “With few, carefully chosen words and simple, brightly colored illustrations, My Bus is a gem of a picture book. It has everything a preschooler could want—dogs, cats, a boat, a train, a plane, and of course, a bus. The ending is a joyous, perfect surprise, but perfection is no surprise from Bryon Barton.”

    Recommended by Kevin Henkes, author of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Kitten’s First Full Moon. His next book Waiting ($18, amazon.com) comes out in September.

    To buy: $17, amazon.com.

  • A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant

    a-splash-of-red-cover
    Knopf Books for Young Readers

    “Not enough children’s books address the subject of creativity as this book celebrates the power of our imagination. Melissa Sweet’s energetic and clever illustrations invite a child to explore the rich details of each page. Sadly, as the arts disappear from our nation’s schools, books like this are a valuable way to show children that creativity is all about connecting things.”

    Recommended by Marc Brown, author of the Arthur book series. He is the illustrator of The Little Shop of Monsters ($17,amazon.com), which comes out in August.

    To buy: $18, amazon.com.

  • When You Are Happy by Eileen Spinelli

    when-you-are-happy-cover
    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

    “This may seem like nepotism, but my wife’s picture book is my favorite. It gets my vote as ‘World’s Most Beautiful Book’ as it scores top marks in three categories: text, illustration, and message. Rarely has so much humanity been packed into so few pages.”

    Recommended by Jerry Spinelli, author of Maniac Magee, Wringer, and most recently, the picture book Mama Seeton’s Whistle ($17, amazon.com).

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee

    the-incredible-painting-cover
    Square Fish

    “My children responded enthusiastically to this fanciful story about the extraordinary canvases of an exceptionally gifted painter. They may, in part, have been reacting to my own enthusiasm for this clever, well-told tale. It is accompanied by illustrations that are both charming and comical, and are perfectly suited to the story’s Parisian setting.”

    Recommended by Chris Van Allsburg, author of The Polar Express, Jumanji, and most recently, The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie ($19, amazon.com).

    To buy: $8, amazon.com.

  • My Pen by Christopher Myers

    my-pen-cover
    Disney-Hyperion

    “On the cover of this stunning book, a hand is drawing a boy on a newspaper boat. What young child doesn’t dream this dream—to be the captain of your every fate—to draw yourself into your own universe? My Pen sweeps readers into the beautiful world of pen and ink drawings and minimal text, letting the pictures tell the story. Love it!”

    Recommended by Jacqueline Woodson, author Miracle’s Boys and most recently, the memoir Brown Girl Dreaming ($17, amazon.com).

    To buy: $17, amazon.com.

  • Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder

    fraidy-zoo-cover
    Harry N. Abrams

    “It’s a very clever twist on alphabetical animal picture books with fun and creative illustrations, and a really funny surprise ending. I admire how Heder shows the whole family playfully animating animals they made themselves out of found, everyday objects. It’s inspiring to read a book that encourages children to get up and make things and to actively use their imaginations.”

    Recommended by Laura Numeroff, author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the upcoming book series, Work for Biscuits.

    To buy: $17, amazon.com.

  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

    crayons-quit-cover
    Philomel Books

    “My granddaughter can’t get enough of this book. What I love about the idea of crayons having personalities is this is how all kids see and use the various colors of crayons. Totally original and hilarious!”

    Recommended by Rosemary Wells, author of the Max and Ruby series, Noisy Nora and most recently, Use Your Words, Sophie! ($17, amazon.com).

    To buy: $18, amazon.com.

    This article originally appeared on Real Simple.

    More from Real Simple:

TIME advice

15 Books for Recent Graduates

  • The Real Simple Guide to Real Life by the Editors of Real Simple

    real-simple-guide-cover
    Oxmoor House

    From salary negotiations to apartment decorating, the first year out of college is filled with a lot of new experiences. With this book, your grad can tackle any hurdle that comes up in the home or the office, with timeless-yet-practical advice from the editors of Real Simple. After reading a few pages, you might want this on your shelf, too.

    To buy: $19, barnesandnoble.com.

  • What Do I Do If…? by Eric Grzymkowski

    what-do-i-do-if-cover
    Adams Media

    From an attack by killer bees to a clogged toilet to a forgotten anniversary, this tiny book offers solutions for any disaster your grad might encounter when finally out on his or her own. Each sticky situation is marked by how likely it is to happen, how easy it is to prevent, and whether or not you need to respond quickly.

    To buy: $11, amazon.com.

  • The Road to Character by David Brooks

    the-road-to-character-cover
    Random House

    New York Times columnist David Brooks uses this book to distinguish “resume virtues”—skills that might look good to an employer—from “eulogy virtues”—morals and values that help us grow and form relationships. He encourages everyone to focus on the latter, and uses anecdotes, interviews, and psychology to give readers the tools to develop a more “moral character.”

    To buy: $17.50, amazon.com.

  • Way More Than Luck

    way-more-than-luck-cover
    Chronicle Books

    This book has 14 transcribed commencement speeches that encourage recent grads to be creative, be brave, and make their marks on the world. Speakers include Nora Ephron, Ira Glass, Tom Wolfe, and David Foster Wallace, and the book also illustrates the most inspirational quotes from each address.

    To buy: $15, amazon.com.

  • Do Over by Jon Acuff

    do-over-cover
    Portfolio

    First-time employees need the right tools and resources to make the most of their desk jobs. Do Over goes over four inevitable transitions: a career ceiling (when you feel stuck), a career bump (maybe you lose your job), a career jump (a possible promotion), and a career opportunity (usually unexpected and scary). This practical advice will help grads take advantage of all four transitions, and succeed in any field.

    To buy: $16, amazon.com.

  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

    the-opposite-of-loneliness-cover
    Scribner

    The eponymous posthumous essay that spurred this collection circulated quickly amongst college graduates in 2012 because it hit a nerve—everyone was looking for a way to stay connected to their friends when they went off alone in the world after leaving school. Keegan’s work—both essay and fiction—is a must-read for all young writers.

    To buy: $10, amazon.com.

  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler

    yes-please-cover
    Dey Street Books

    Poehler’s funny, honest memoir is filled with nuggets of advice all grads can use, with chapters organized into three sections: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like,” and “Be Whoever You Are.” While the move from college can seem intimidating, Poehler’s words remind everyone that the most important thing to do in life is to have fun.

    To buy: $10, amazon.com.

  • Edmund Unravels by Andrew Kolb

    edmund-unravels-cover
    Nancy Paulsen Books

    Consider this children’s book to be 2015’s version of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Edmund, an adorable ball of yarn, sets off to explore the world. He meets interesting people and visits exciting places, but ultimately, finds that he can’t head out into the world alone without a little support from his family.

    To buy: $13, amazon.com.

  • Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

    very-good-lives-cover
    Little, Brown and Company

    Rowling’s famous Harvard commencement address has been transcribed into a pocket-sized book of wisdom and inspiration that all graduates will want on their shelves. Rowling encourages all graduates to be creative and embrace failure in order to find post-graduate success.

    To buy: $12, amazon.com.

  • Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

    lean-in-for-graduates-cover
    Knopf

    Sandberg’s Lean In offered valuable advice for women who had spent years feeling frustrated in the workplace, but this graduation edition is targeted at young women who have yet to begin. Her guide equips them with the tools necessary to negotiate, participate, and lead in whatever job they land.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, Ph.D.

    the-defining-decade-cover
    Twelve

    This book explores the 20-something years with personal stories from the author’s clients, and scientific data to explain how the body and mind works during this crucial developmental period. For any millennial who feels overwhelmed or misunderstood, Jay’s analysis of young adult issues and advice for achieving success—both professionally and personally—will reassure and motivate.

    To buy: $9, amazon.com.

  • Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal

    Getting-There-A-Book-of-Mentors-by-Gillian-Zoe-Segal-Published-by-Abrams-Image-©-2015-Gillian-Zoe-Segal
    Harry N. Abrams

    Thirty industry influencers discuss essential career advice for young people about to enter the workforce. Most importantly, they focus on obstacles they faced at work, because those often were essential to their success. Mentors include businessman and politician Michael Bloomberg, trainer Jillian Michaels, and artist Jeff Koons.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

    Tiny_Beautiful_Things_book_cover
    Vintage

    Strayed’s weekly “Dear Sugar” column in The Rumpus is now in book form, with one of her most compassionate, thoughtful columns—titled “Tiny Beautiful Things”—leading the collection. Through a combination of her own experiences and honest advice, this book is filled with one-liners (“Be brave enough to break your own heart”) that all graduates will adopt as mantras.

    To buy: $11, amazon.com.

  • A Curious Mind by Charles Fishman and Brian Grazer

    a-curious-mind-cover
    Simon & Schuster

    Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer has talked to a host of accomplished people—from writers to actors to CEOs—to find out how creativity drives their work. These “curiosity conversations” helped him develop concrete advice for improving your professional and personal life.

    To buy: $16, amazon.com.

  • Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

    headstrong-cover
    Broadway Books

    Women’s contributions to science and research are often overlooked, so Swaby profiles the achievements of 52 influential and innovative women who have proven that the sciences aren’t just for men. If you know a young woman looking to break into this male-heavy field, they’ll appreciate this book of innovators.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

    More from Real Simple:

TIME Parenting

How to Help Your Kid Make Friends This Summer

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Getty Images

Different ages require different approaches

Summer’s a time to make new friends – at camp, at the pool, on vacation.

And making good friends has big benefits, according to Fred Frankel, founder and former director of the Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program at UCLA, and author of Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends.

According to Frankel, “friends are unique in children’s lives, because [the relationship] is a choice. It’s a mutual choice. And it enhances self-esteem.” In fact, according to Frankel, friendship improves kids’ self esteem even more than self-esteem training. It also protects kids from bullying.

But making friends isn’t always easy, especially for boys, who Frankel says are three times more likely to struggle with forming friendships than girls, perhaps because boys tend to be more competitive, and less likely to help each other in social situations.

The good news?

Parents can help kids lay the foundation for good friendships in elementary school, Frankel says, simply by setting them up on play dates, and then paying attention: both to the other children, and their own. What parents learn by listening in can help them nurture their own kids’ social skills, and encourage friendships with other healthy kids. Frankel also suggests parents start conversations with kids about the social situation at school. “Instead of asking what did you learn,” he says, try “Who did you play with? What did you do?”

By middle school, kids start to cluster into groups. And some earlier friendships may change or fade away. That can be painful, Frankel says, but it’s important to let them go. And not to get too focused on being part of the ‘right’ group. “Wanting to join the popular group is a big mistake,” Frankel says. “They’re not necessarily nice kids, just dominant kids.” So if kids get too concerned with being part of a particular crowd, says Frankel, parents should help them to refocus on building individual relationships, which is where real friendships are formed.

High school kids connect with each other based on shared interests, which “give them something to talk about,” Frankel says. The important thing, according to Frankel, is to “develop the interest first.” If a kid tries to get into a group that is interested in something she doesn’t really like, she “won’t have anything to share,” says Frankel. Parents can help, not by encouraging kids to make friends, but by encouraging kids to develop interests. Once kids find something they really love to do, Frankel says, the friendships will form naturally.

TIME Family

4 New Parenting Tips That Will Make Your Kids Awesome

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Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Parenting tips are everywhere but most have zero legitimate research behind them. So what does science have to say? And how can you remember what’s important so you actually use it?

Remember to WACC your kids.

No, I’m not saying to hit your kids. “WACC” is a good acronym to help you keep in mind 4 things that come up in the research again and again:

  • Work on yourself
  • Autonomy
  • Communicate
  • Community

These four things can make a big difference in whether you end up saving college money or bail money.

Let’s break down the how and why on these parenting tips so that your kids end up healthy, smart and happy.

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1) Work On Yourself

This is what many of the parenting books ignore — and it may be the most important.

Want happy kids? Then make sure you’re keeping yourself joyful. Happy parents make for happy kids and parental depression causes child behavior problems.

Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

Extensive research has established a substantial link between mothers who feel depressed and “negative outcomes” in their children, such as acting out and other behavior problems. Parental depression actually seems to cause behavioral problems in kids; it also makes our parenting less effective.

And this is not merely due to genetics.

Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

…although the study did find that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children, it couldn’t find any genetic component.

So other than feeling good about you own life, what’s key here? That ol’ work-life balance.

In fact, what’s the #1 thing kids wish for when it comes to parents? They wish you were less tired and stressed.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

In a survey of a thousand families, Ellen Galinsky, the head of the Families and Work Institute and the author of Mind in the Making, asked children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” Most parents predicted their kids would say spending more time with them. They were wrong. The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed.

Your stress isn’t just your stress — it’s their stress too. When you’re stressed out it hurts your children’s intelligence and immune systems.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

…Studies have shown that parental stress weakens children’s brains, depletes their immune systems, and increases their risk of obesity, mental illness, diabetes, allergies, even tooth decay.

Yup, you are a role model. So the first step to taking good care of your kids is taking care of you.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families:

Studies of young adults find that more than seven out of ten regularly measure themselves against their parents in terms of either their career or relationship status. – Glasman 2002

(For more on the research-backed ways to raise happy kids, click here.)

Okay, so you’re taking good care of yourself. What else do many of the parenting tips miss?

 

2) Autonomy

Tiger moms and helicopter parents: your children thrive when they have some room to be individuals.

Kids do better when they make plans themselves or at least have a say.

You should even allow them to pick their own punishments. It creates greater motivation to obey the rules.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

Scientists at the University of California and elsewhere found that kids who plan their own time, set weekly goals, and evaluate their own work build up their prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain that help them exert greater cognitive control over their lives. These so-called executive skills aid children with self-discipline, avoiding distractions, and weighing the pros and cons of their choices. By picking their own punishments, children become more internally driven to avoid them. By choosing their own rewards, children become more intrinsically motivated to achieve them. Let your kids take a greater role in raising themselves.

Which kids say they like going to school? The ones who get to pick which extracurricular activities they’re involved in.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families:

Children who regularly participate in structured extracurricular activities (including clubs and sports teams) of their own choosing are 24 percent more likely to report that they like going to school. – Gilman 2001

You don’t have to overschedule kids or be involved in every moment of their lives. Unstructured play has huge positive effects on children.

Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

Researchers believe that this dramatic drop in unstructured playtime is in part responsible for slowing kids cognitive and emotional development… In addition to helping kids learn to self-regulate, child-led, unstructured play (with or without adults) promoted intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, regulate their emotions and behavior, and speak up for themselves.

(For more scientific tips on how to make your kids smarter, click here.)

So everybody always talks about communicating with kids… but what’s that actually mean?

 

3) Communication

You know much real conversation happens at family dinner? 10 minutes.

I interviewed Bruce Feiler, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Secrets of Happy Families and he said the research shows most of the talk at the dinner table is “Take your elbows off the table” and “Please pass the ketchup.”

So what’s the best way to make use of those 10 minutes? Here’s Bruce:

So number one, the first big thing to be aware of is that parents do two-thirds of the talking in that ten minutes. And that’s a problem. So your first goal should be to flip that and let the kids do more of the talking. So that would be issue number one. Number two, I would say a great thing to do in that ten minutes is to try to teach your kid a new word every day. There’s a tremendous amount of evidence out there that one of the biggest determinants of success in school has to do with the size of vocabulary.

And I asked Bruce what he would recommend if he could only give one piece of advice.

He said: “Set aside time to talk about what it means to be a part of your family.”

Ask yourself: “What are your family values?” In business-speak: Develop a mission statement for your family.

Here’s Bruce:

Initiate a conversation about what it means to be a part of your family. Sit down with them and say “Okay, these are our ten central values. This is the family we want to be. We want to be a family that doesn’t fight all the time.” or “We want to be a family that goes camping or sailing” or whatever it might be.

Research shows whether a kid knows their family history was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being. Here’s Bruce:

…researchers at Emory did this study that showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.

Not having family dinner together? You might want to start. It has huge benefits.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.

Doesn’t work for your family’s schedule? It doesn’t have to be dinner. And it doesn’t have to be every night.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

Many of the benefits of family mealtime can be enjoyed without sitting down together every night. Even the folks at Columbia University’s center on addiction, the ones responsible for a lot of the research on family dinner, say having joint meals as infrequently as once a week makes a difference.

I know what some of you are thinking: isn’t all that talking going to mean more fighting? Yes. And that’s a good thing.

Moderate conflict with teens produces better adjustment than none.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

University of Rochester’s Dr. Judith Smetana, a leader in the study of teen disclosure, confirms that, over the long term, “moderate conflict with parents [during adolescence] is associated with better adjustment than either no-conflict or frequent conflict.”

When I interviewed Po Bronson, author of the bestseller NurtureShock, he said more arguing means less lying:

In families where there is less lying to the parents, there is more arguing. Arguing is the opposite of lying. Arguing is the way the kid decides not to lie. “I could lie to my parents and just do it. Or I can tell the truth and argue it out.” Those are the choices the teen has.

And what’s a quick trick for getting your kid to be honest? Po has an answer.

Say: “I’m about to ask you a question. But before I do that, will you promise to tell the truth?”

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

In Talwar’s peeking game, sometimes the researcher pauses the game with, “I’m about to ask you a question. But before I do that, will you promise to tell the truth?” (Yes, the child answers.) “Okay, did you peek at the toy when I was out of the room?” This promise cuts down lying by 25%.

(For more on how to have a happy family, click here.)

Final tip. What else do you need to do? Well, really, it has nothing to do with you…

 

4) Community

Tons of research shows religious families are happier. Why is that?

Further study has shown it’s the friends that a religious community provides. A community of ten supportive friends makes families happier.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

The most comprehensive study ever done on this topic, in 2010, gives some clues about why this might be. After examining studies of more than three thousand adults, Chaeyoon Lin and Robert Putnam found that what religion you practice or however close you feel to God makes no difference in your overall life satisfaction. What matters is the number of friends you have in your religious community. Ten is the magic number; if you have that many, you’ll be happier. Religious people, in other words, are happier because they feel connected to a community of like-minded people.

What influences your kids more than you do? Their peer group.

We usually only talk about peer pressure when it’s a negative but research shows more often than not, it’s actually a positive. Here’s what Po had to say:

The same kids who were very vulnerable to peer pressure turn out to have great grades, do well in high school, and go to college. As they get older in life they have great relationships with their best friends, their partners, and their parents. It turns out that thing that makes a kid in seventh grade very attuned to the thoughts and feelings of others around them is what makes them feel peer pressure. It turned out that peer pressure was dragging kids toward risk behaviors but it is also dragging them to do well at school, to care what their teachers thought, to care what their parents thought, to care what the school thought, and to care what society thinks. These kids that are invulnerable to peer pressure turn out to have low GPAs. Their motivation to study just wasn’t strong enough. It was entirely based upon themselves because they didn’t care what society thought.

And your kids need more family in their lives than just their parents and siblings.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families:

Studies of boys and girls find that the presence of a trusted nonparental adult increases feelings of support and life satisfaction by more than 30 percent. – Colarossi 2001

If you had to make sure one family member was consistently there for the young ones, who should it be?

Grandmom. Scores of studies show the incredible benefits that grandmom brings, like teaching kids to cooperate and to be compassionate.

Children who spend time with their grandparents are more social, do better in school and show more concern for others.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

Countless studies have shown the extraordinary benefits grandmothers have on contemporary families. A meta-analysis of sixty-six studies completed in 1992 found that mothers who have more support from grandmothers have less stress and more well-adjusted children… So what are these grandmothers actually doing? They’re teaching children core social skills like how to cooperate, how to be compassionate, how to be considerate. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah interviewed 408 adolescents about their relationship with their grandparents. When grandparents are involved, the study found, the children are more social, more involved in school, and more likely to show concern for others.

(For more of the latest research on good parenting skills, click here.)

Time to round all this up and add in that last ingredient that makes your kids love you back.

 

Sum Up

Remember to WACC your kids:

  • Work on yourself: Increasing your own happiness and reducing your stress have big effects on your kids.
  • Autonomy: Want them to be successful adults? Make sure they have a say in what they do — starting now.
  • Communicate: Family meals make a big difference. Tell them their family history. More arguing means less lying.
  • Community: Their peers have more influence they you do. Make sure Grandmom is around if you want compassionate children.

One last thing you need to keep in mind if you want a close relationship with the kiddos:

Love. Don’t just be guider, protector and enforcer. Kids are nearly 50% more likely to feel close to those who show them affection.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families:

People are 47 percent more likely to feel close to a family member who frequently expresses affection than to a family member who rarely expresses affection. – Walther-Lee 1999

They’re the next generation. They have the potential to be better than we are, so give them every chance. As Dr. Seuss said:

“Adults are obsolete children.”

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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The 16-year-old Meadow uploaded a baby picture of herself with her father, captioned: “Happy Father’s Day.” Since her father’s death in late 2013, Meadow has shared several old pictures of the Fast & Furious star on her Instagram.

For more celebrity Father’s Day tributes, head here.

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A photo posted by Meadow Walker (@meadowwalker) on

This article originally appeared on EW.com

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