TIME celebrities

Robin Williams’ Family Remembers the ‘Gentle, Loving’ Actor

Zelda Williams
Zelda Williams arrives at the Abercrombie & Fitch: “The Making of a Star” Spring Campaign Party in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2014 Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP

His children and second wife release heart-wrenching statements about Williams' death

Robin Williams had a child with his first wife, Valerie Velardi, and two kids with his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams, the woman who had been his first kid’s nanny. At the time of Williams’ death, he was married to his third wife, Susan Schneider. It all seems pretty complicated, but clearly the family all had a lot of affection for the man they were all connected to. The kids, Zak, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody, 22, and his second wife Marsha all released statements about Williams’ death and they’re pretty heart-wrenching.

Zelda’s is the saddest.

“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”
— Zelda Williams

Zak and Cody have less to say, but it’s just as heartfelt.

“Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”
— Zak Williams

“There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.”
— Cody Williams

And clearly, Marsha, who also worked on some of Williams’ films as a producer, still had a lot of affection for her former husband.

“My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous — and yes, brilliant and funny — man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
— Marsha Garces Williams

TIME Family

Mom Says She Was Booted For Changing Diaper at Restaurant Table

Baby in nappy on changing mat.
Baby in nappy on changing mat. Lisa Stirling—Getty Images

A debate over parenting manners breaks out in a Texas pizzeria

A Texas mom told a local news station that her dinner out came to an abrupt end when she changed her baby’s diaper on a chair in the dining area of a restaurant.

Miranda Sowers says she was alone at Brother’s Pizza Express in Spring, Texas with her three children, ages 8, 4, and 4 months, when she realized her youngest needed a diaper change. But, Sowers says, the restroom didn’t have a changing table and she didn’t want to herd all of her kids out to the car, so she did what she had to do.

“I thought you know what I’ve got my own changing pad, she’s tiny, she fits right here on the chair.” she told KHOU, a Houston TV station. “So I laid her down quickly and quietly changed her diaper.”

While Sowers saw this is an inoffensive act of convenience, claiming that no one saw her do it, restaurant employees and patrons had a different take.

“As soon as you start opening the diaper, people start complaining about the smell of the diaper,” manager Donny Lala told KHOU. “Last thing I want is a customer throwing up.”

Comments on the story from KHOU readers were mainly against table-side diaper changing. Many self-described parents deemed Sowers inconsiderate: “Gross! I would have used the changing pad on the bathroom floor or gone to my car. Why do people feel so entitled?” wrote one reader.” Others urged the restaurant to install changing tables.

According to KHOU, the incident prompted the restaurant to bring the Sowers’ their food in t0-go containers and they were asked to leave. Sowers has since filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Brother’s Pizza Express hasn’t backed down, but it might consider installing changing tables in the bathrooms. Brother’s Pizza Express did not respond immediately to calls for comment about the incident or the reported lack of changing tables in their restroom.

TIME Family

Andrew W.K. Gives Powerful Advice to Liberal Son Slamming ‘Super Right-Wing’ Dad

2nd Annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards - Arrivals
Musician Andrew W.K. arrives at the 2nd annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards held at Club Nokia on April 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Frazer Harrison—Getty Images

"The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won."

Musician, brony advocate and Village Voice advice columnist Andrew W.K. sent a powerful message to a self-proclaimed “liberal democrat with very progressive values” bashing his right-wing father that has been resonating throughout the Twitterverse.

“Son of a right-wing Republican” wrote:

I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics … Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Andrew W.K’s response was one that begged for compassion and understanding, in spite of ideological differences.

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you.

According to Pew, Republicans and Democrats are more divided by political and ideological lines in 2014 than they have been in the last two decades. There’s been an increase in antipathy as well — polling found that 27% of Democrats see the Republican Party as a threat to the nation’s well-being, while 36% of Republicans saw the Democratic Party as a threat to national well-being.

Andrew W.K. continued:

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist – the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

In the end, the columnist’s advice was as follows:

Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind – the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. Don’t feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to.

[Village Voice]

TIME Family

When Couples Fight, It Affects Fathers More

Markus Haefke—Getty Images

Husbands and fathers, take note

Men, it is frequently said, are very good at compartmentalizing—usually when they’ve done something wrong. But new research suggests women can compartmentalize too, especially around family.

A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology looked at the effect marital squabbling had on parents’ relationships with kids. The researchers found, not surprisingly, that when a couple fights, that spills over to the relationship each parent has with his or her offspring. But, interestingly, this effect does not last very long for moms.

By the next day, most mother-child relationships were back on an even keel, while the fathers still reported things were tense. “In fact, in that situation, moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension,” said the study’s lead author, assistant psychology professor at Southern Methodist University Chrystyna D. Kouros. “Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child.”

Are the moms compensating for their lousy relationship with dad by looking for human bonds elsewhere? Are they making a pre-emptive strike, even subconsciously, in case there’s a custody battle? Do they not care so much about fights with their spouses? Or do they just need someone to talk to? Kouros says it’s not clear why the women are more able to isolate the relationship with their kids from the tension they feel toward their spouse, but there are several theories.

It could be that because women’s parenting role is more clearly defined, they don’t allow their marital woes to negatively affect other relationships in the family. Or it could be that the women are compensating and seeking support from their kids that they would normally get from their husband. “If the first theory is true, then the fact that moms don’t show the same “spillover” between their marital relationship and relationship with their child is a good thing, ” says Kouros. “However, if the second theory is true, then leaning on your child for support is not a good thing for the long-term.” In psychology this is called “parentification,” and has been linked to depression and other mental health problems in kids.

The data was gathered by asking more than 200 families to make daily diary entries for about two weeks, in which they rated how the marriage was going and how the relationship with their kids was going at the end of each day. It’s possible that what was causing the marital tension and the grumpiness with the kids was something that only affected the fathers. A bad day for a guy at work, for example, might be the source of stress in all his relationships. Kouros admits this third variable is possible, but says the study has some specific data that suggests that’s not always the cause.

“The findings of our study show that it’s men who have marital tension and their wife shows symptoms of depression that are the ones that carry over that marital tension to their relationship with their child on the next day, whereas all men appear to do this on the same day,” she says. “This is consistent with some other studies showing that when men have marital stress and some other stress, like work stress, that’s when they are more likely to compromise their relationship with their child.” The wife’s depression points to the marital tension as being the source of the man’s inability to communicate effectively with his kids.

In other words, if you have to fight with your spouse, keep it quick and fair. For the children.

TIME Parenting

I’m a Male CEO and I Decided to Lean Out

I realized that the only way to balance fatherhood and my job was to step back from the role as head of my company.

Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself. Here is my situation:

● I have three wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.

● I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every two to three weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car, or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.

● I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford, where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high-risk obstetricians and conducts research on on prematurity, surgical techniques and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful and infinitely patient with me. I love her; I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job. MongoDB is a special company. In my nearly four years at the company, we have raised $220 million, grown the team 15-fold and grown sales 30-fold. We have amazing customers, a great product that gets better with every release, the strongest team I have ever worked with and incredible momentum in the market. The future is bright, and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be “all-in” and make the most of the opportunity.

Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given that the majority of the company is in New York and my family is in California.

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have a meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice, the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

In one month, I will hand the CEO role to an incredibly capable leader, Dev Ittycheria. He will have the task of leading the company through its next phase of growth (though thankfully not of commuting across the country while doing it!). I know the company will be in great hands; his skills fit our next phase of growth better than mine do. And I will be there to help (full time, but “normal full time” and not “crazy full time”) in whatever areas he needs help. More about the announcement can be found in today’s press release.

I hope I will be able to find a way to craft a role at MongoDB that is engaging, impactful and compatible with the most important responsibilities in my life. As great as this job has been, I look forward to creating one that is even better.

Max Schireson is currently CEO of MongoDB, Inc., transitioning into the Vice Chairman role in early September. This piece originally appeared at Max Schireson’s blog.

TIME Family

Mom Sells ‘Brat’ Daughter’s Katy Perry Tickets on Facebook

US-POLITICS-SPECIAL OLYMPICS-PERRY
Singer Katy Perry performs at a concert in celebration of the Special Olympics on July 31, 2014 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN--AFP/Getty Images) MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images

Said she "didn't deserve" the tickets, and they sold in 5 minutes

It’s old-school discipline with a social media twist: when one North Dakota girl acted like a “brat,” her mother reportedly sold her Katy Perry tickets on Facebook to punish her.

In a Facebook post which started “daughter is a spoiled brat and doesn’t deserve these tickets,” Fargo, N.D. mom Cindy Bjerke sold her daughter’s Katy Perry tickets for $90 within five minutes of posting. They were reportedly sold on Fargo/Moorhead Online Garage Sale Facebook page, which requires administrator privileges to view.

Bjerke’s punishment drew criticism from other parents, who thought she didn’t need to publicly humiliate her daughter. “I think a lot of parents are like me where they feel like they’re being bullied about how they should parent their own children,” Bjerke told local media outlet WDAZ. “It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, you’re always wrong to somebody.”

The post was then removed by the Facebook page’s administrators.

TIME Family

Sisters Make You Popular, According to Baboon Study

Christian Heinrich—Getty Images/Imagebroker
Yellow Baboons with babys sitting on a trunk, Moremi Nationalpark in Botswana, Africa. Christian Heinrich—Getty Images/Imagebroker

Mothers pass their high ranks onto their daughters, and sisters help give that a boost

A study of dominance in female baboons reveals two keys to a high rank in primate society: a close bond with your mother and a circle of supportive sisters.

Duke University biology professor Susan Alberts and her colleagues studied a population of yellow baboons in Kenya, observing the rise and fall of females on the baboon social ladder.

“Daughters of high-ranking females generally mature more quickly, produce more offspring, and have better access to food and mates. It’s like being born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” said Alberts.

Baboon mothers often assist their daughters in competition for food and mates, helping establish their daughters’ position in the animal kingdom.

Researchers also discovered the power of sisterhood among baboons; female’s with many sisters were more likely to reach the rank of their mothers.

Sisters are willing to gang up on rival families in order to boost their siblings’ rank. But when it came to competition within the family, that support drifted away; baboon sisters helped each other only as long as their own rank wasn’t in jeopardy.

The study, published in August’s issue of Animal Behaviour, suggests that the secret to the Kardashian family’s popularity might not be its reality show, but rather sisterhood. And that baboon theory could also explain why Kim is always the queen bee.

MONEY deals

A+ Back-to-School Deals Priced from 1¢ to $1

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Catherine MacBride—Getty Images/Flickr

To get your business during prime back-to-school shopping season, stores have launched wild price wars on school supplies, starting for as little as 1¢.

We’ve compiled a checklist of some back-to-school deals that just might seem too good to pass up: None runs more than $1, and one is available for a single penny.

But before filling up your (online or actual) shopping cart, take note of a few caveats. First, despite the fact that these offers are from national retailers, prices can vary from region to region, so the deals at your local store may be different than the ones below. Second, in many cases these rock-bottom prices are only available in-store, not online. They’re essentially “loss leaders,” existing mainly to entice you into the store, where you’ll perhaps be tempted to buy other things, some of which just might be (the horror!) full price.

Lastly, customers may be limited as to how many of these super-cheap items they’re allowed to buy, to stop some bargain-hunting hoarder from cleaning out the entire store and ruining the sale for everyone else. For the most part, the prices below are valid through Saturday, August 2. If you miss out, don’t sweat it: A whole new set of back-to-school deals is sure to appear like clockwork in the Sunday circular.


When you spend at least $5 at participating Office Max and Office Depot stores, you’re allowed to buy their store-brand colored folders for a penny apiece (limit of 10 per household).

15¢ to 20¢
The “Less List” of sale items at many Staples includes two-pocket folders for 15¢ and 70-page one-subject notebooks for 17¢.

25¢
Kids’ scissors, 12-inch rulers, 6-inch protractors, and 4-oz. bottles of glue are among the back to school standards priced at a quarter each at Office Max and Office Depot.

50¢
Pick up a 24-pack of Crayola crayons (normally $1.47) at Walmart and Staples (normally $1.99).

One-subject notebooks and 5-inch scissors go for 49¢ apiece at many Walgreens.

$1
Five-pack of highlighters (normal price: $4.29) at Staples

12-pack of Bic pens (normally $1.99) at Office Max and Office Depot

12-pack of colored pencils or two-pack of Sharpies at Dollar General

Absolutely everything at Dollar Tree

TIME Family

No ‘Loud’ Children Allowed in California Restaurant

California's Coastline A Top Tourist Destination
The entrance to Old Fisherman's Wharf at sunrise in Monterey, Calif., on April 6, 2013 George Rose—Getty Images

The establishment, much to the chagrin of some parents and tourists, has banned high chairs, booster seats, strollers and crying babies

One restaurant on the Monterey Peninsula’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf is turning heads with a policy aimed at preventing patrons from bringing loud children or infants into the eatery.

The Old Fisherman’s Grotto has explicitly laid out its policy with both signage and on its website stating that no high chairs or booster seats will be permitted on the premises, while loud children and crying babies are not allowed to sit in the dining room.

The policy, which the Grotto has had in place for at least two years, has been met with shock and disbelief from tourists and parents visiting Monterey.

“I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you don’t take them to them, they don’t know how to behave, and they shouldn’t be kept hidden away, so I think it’s ridiculous,” tourist Teresa Colombani told KSBW news.

However, the restaurant’s owner is sticking to his guns.

“If a place has the rules, that’s what the rules are,” owner Chris Shake told the broadcaster. “You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you.”

Despite the criticism from the occasional passerby, Shake said the policy has yet to affect his business.

“I haven’t had a down year for over 20 years, and our business continues to grow.”

TIME Parenting

If Cars Can Monitor Left-On Headlights and Rear Obstructions, They Should Be Able To Save Trapped Kids’ Lives

Today, technology saves your car battery—tomorrow, it could save your child

Thursday is National Heatstroke Prevention Day, so here is a little fact for your awareness: In the past 20 years more than 670 U.S. children have died of heatstroke in hot cars. To date this year KidsAndCars.org has recorded 18 such fatalities, including the death last week of a 10-month-old girl in Wichita, Kansas, who was unknowingly left in a vehicle on a 90-degree day.

Our national advocacy nonprofit works year-round to educate parents and caregivers about these dangers, including a nationwide “Look before you lock” program. But education is not enough when all it takes is a simple change in a daily routine to cause a parent to drive past their childcare center and forget their child in the back seat. Current state laws require putting your baby in a rear-facing child safety seat, which has saved the lives of thousands of children in car crashes. An unintended consequence of this shift is that when out of sight, quiet little unobtrusive passengers can slip out of mind.

How can we prevent this failure of memory? The auto industry obviously recognizes that we’re human and our memories often fail us: our cars are able to warn us if we leave our headlights on, our keys are in the ignition, a door is open, we’re low on fuel, if our seatbelt isn’t buckled… If we can monitor our headlights or gas levels, we should be able to get a signal that a child has been forgotten.

Some of the technology options currently on the market include car seat monitors and alert systems, key fobs connected to car seats that sound a reminder and weight-sensitive mats. One system activates when the driver has opened the back door to strap in the car seat, and then sounds a reminder chime when the driver leaves the vehicle. Mobile apps have hit the market, such as Cars-n-Kids Carseat Monitor, which connects with the carseat via a sensor, or the Amber Alert GPS, which tracks your child in or out of the car.

These after-market systems may be useful reminders to some people, but they have not all been tested, and they are not the failsafe solution we need in every vehicle. Furthermore, a 2012 study on “Evaluation of Reminder Technology” sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that a few of these systems were not always reliable.

Safety is something every family deserves. It shouldn’t be optional, like 4WD or leather seats. And it shouldn’t be political. The federal government and automakers along with safety advocates have the ability to solve this problem.

KidsAndCars.org recently launched a petition to push the Obama Administration to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide funding for research and development of innovative technologies to detect a child left alone in the rear seat of a vehicle, such as infrared breathing sensors (a technology that already exists in certain baby monitors for the home). We also spearheaded an initiative to adopt federal safety standards that require all vehicles to be equipped with trunk release latches to prevent trunk entrapment, safer power window switches to prevent strangulation, and brake transmission shift interlock systems so children cannot inadvertently knock a vehicle into gear. In March, the DOT issued a rule requiring rear visibility systems, such as cameras, as standard equipment on all new passenger vehicles by May 2018.

Today, technology saves your car battery. Tomorrow, it could save your child.

Susan Pepperdine is the public relations director of KidsAndCars.org, a national nonprofit group dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles.

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