TIME

More Men Need to Talk About Miscarriage

Facebook mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan
Rick Wilking—Reuters Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks with his wife Priscilla Chan at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort on July 11, 2013.

Aaron Gouveia writes for his site The Daddy Files.

Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for helping all fathers

Mark Zuckerberg just told the world about his emotions following his wife’s multiple miscarriages. The world. Nobody asked him to. And that’s a great thing.

Miscarriage is not a pleasant topic. Despite the fact that almost half of all pregnancies end with a miscarriage, it’s still very taboo and uncomfortable for many people to discuss openly. And that’s just among women. Men and miscarriage? That conversation hasn’t taken place in hushed tones—it’s been largely nonexistent.

Zuckerberg wrote that he and his wife Cilla have been trying to start a family for several years and went through three miscarriages before their current pregnancy. Then, in candid fashion, he describes his feelings through those tough times.

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience. Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you – as if you’re defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own.”

I know exactly how Zuckerberg feels from personal experience.

My wife has been pregnant eight times in seven years, but we have endured five losses during that span—four miscarriages and a medically necessary termination. We were both crushed, but only one of us was expected to show it.

I thought it was my job to stay strong. After all, it’s her body and she’s dealing with the physical repercussions. And the fact that almost no one asked how I was doing further drove home the point that this was her problem, and my job was a supporting role.

The problem with that? I wasn’t strong, and I had no idea how to deal with what I was feeling.

Should I mourn this baby? Should I even consider it a baby? Is it whining if I bring this up to my wife who is going through the physical pain of loss as well as mental? Am I, as a man, even allowed to be this upset over what happened? I didn’t know the answers and no one I knew was volunteering any, so I pushed everything deep down and ignored it.

As you can imagine, that was a mistake. A mistake that ultimately strained our marriage and was only fixed when I finally agreed to talk things out with a counselor, and began sharing my thoughts about pregnancy loss online.

Only then did I find my people. Only then did the floodgates open and I heard from men everywhere who were going through the same struggle. I realized far more couples had experienced miscarriages than I ever imagined, and finally I realized I wasn’t alone. Shedding that feeling of isolation was an anvil off my chest. It was a rescue boat coming to get me off a desert island.

“In today’s open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn’t distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well.”

Everyone deals with grief in hisor her own way. But I greatly respect and appreciate Zuckerberg’s willingness to detail his personal struggles with miscarriage in order to potentially help others going through the same thing. The sooner we include more men in the miscarriage conversation, the better.

From one dad to another, thank you, Mark.

Aaron Gouveia writes for his site, The Daddy Files.

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.

TIME Family

A Mom Called the Police on My 3-Year-Old Son After a Playground Accident

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

"She wanted to press charges," the police officer told me. I'm not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler

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I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this. I generally prefer not to write about my son, out of respect for his privacy, and I don’t want to put myself in a legally questionable situation by writing about what happened. But it’s been several days since the incident and I’ve still got a crazy cocktail of rage, panic, and sadness churning inside my chest and I don’t know how else to get it out.

Here’s the short version: A mother called the police after my son and her daughter collided in a playground accident. That really happened. He’s 3.

The longer version is this: I was sitting on a bench, in a spot where I could see the entire circular track the kids scoot and ride their bikes around. When my son didn’t complete his lap in a timely manner, I stood up to look for him and saw him standing with a family including several children. He’s extremely social and often stops to talk and make friends, so I assumed he was just chatting with them.

A minute or so later I heard him yelling “Mommy, Mommy.” I ran over to find two children sobbing hysterically, a little girl and my son.

A woman sitting nearby volunteered, “I saw the whole thing! They ran into each other. They’re both just scared.” I gathered my son into my arms and comforted him, telling him it was OK, that it was an accident.

“I didn’t mean to knock her over,” he sobbed. He then repeatedly tried to apologize to the little girl and her mother, who ignored him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he sputtered over and over.

“Is she OK?” I asked the little girl’s mother. She told me her tooth was wiggly and bleeding. My son was still hysterical, so I picked him up and started to move to another corner to continue calming him down.

The other mother motioned to me not to leave.

“What do you want from me?” I asked her. “It was an accident.”

I didn’t mean it in a sarcastic way at all — I wasn’t sure if she wanted money, or my contact info, or in what way she expected me to help. I was (probably stupidly) prepared to do what she asked for. The last thing I expected was what she said next.

“I called the police.”

“YOU CALLED THE POLICE?” This is the point at which I have been mentally punching this woman for days now.

“Your son hit my daughter,” she said. “I called the police.”

At that moment, my internal Mama Bear rose up to her hind legs and bared her claws. “He’s 3 YEARS OLD. It was an accident,” I snarl/yelled. I have never in my life felt a sense of assertiveness so strong for my own self, but when it came to my kid, I felt an unprecedented sense of agency and strength. I knew I would stand up for my child in absolutely any way needed to protect him.

“She’s crazy,” shouted the witness. “I saw the whole thing. They ran into each other. It was a total accident.”

I asked the witness if she would stay until the police arrived, then scooped up my hysterical 3-year-old and marched to the other end of the playground, where I stewed as he asked questions like “Why did she call the police? Am I going to jail? Is the little girl OK? Is SHE going to jail?”

When the police car rolled up outside the gate of the playground area, I let the woman tell her side of the story before walking over to talk to them.

“It’s my son,” I volunteered. “He’s sitting right there, in the green helmet.”

“Look,” the police officer tried to explain to the other mother, “I can see him crying from here. It was an accident. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”

The mother, who had a shaky command of English, then leaned down to her daughter and asked her to translate to the police that “the mother” (me) hadn’t shown up for 10 or 20 minutes after the accident, which was a complete lie. I’d actually been running my stopwatch as my son went around the track so I know it hadn’t been more than 2-and-a-half minutes since he’d set out.

Again, the police explained that it was an accident and there was nothing they could do about it.

“It’s a park,” said the officer from before.”Kids are running around all over the place here.”

They offered to call an ambulance for the injured little girl, which the mother accepted. I stayed back while they loaded her in and finished their interactions.

From my vantage point I could see another family member or friend who had been with them telling her version of the story to a large crowd that had collected. From her broad “wooshing” hand gestures, I could see that she was intimating that my son was some sort of reckless danger to society on a 3-wheeler scooter. I somehow managed to not stomp over there and ask her to stop regaling the park with stories about my 3-year-old son at least until he had stopped sobbing.

When the family was on their way, I asked the police officers if they needed my information or anything. They said no. “She wanted to press charges,” he told me. I’m not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler.

“I can see the woman over there telling everyone the story…” I began.

“Yeah, he’s a maniac, right?” the police officer said winkingly, before he and his partner headed on their way.

It’s been a few days since this happened, and my son seems to be fine. He got a scare, but he’s back on his scooter and hasn’t mentioned the incident again. He’s always been very conscientious about watching out for pedestrians while on his scooter, but it can’t hurt for him to be even more so. We haven’t yet been back to the area of the park where the collision happened, but I think that’s more because of my fear than his.

Because while he’s fine, I’m not. I’m furious. And I’m scared. My black son just had his first police interaction at age 3.

I have tried to be understanding of the panic the other mother probably felt when her daughter was hurt. My son knocked his teeth back into his gums in a fight with a slide and had to be held down in the ER while he got stitches where he bit through his own tongue. I know how it feels to be scared for your injured child. I feel terrible, as did my son, for the little girl who was hurt.

It’s still hard for me to understand how a fellow mother could call the police on a sobbing 3-year-old. But I want to believe that she simply didn’t know what to do, and called the police out of fear and confusion. I even want to believe that she was trying to lay the groundwork to sue me, that she wanted money. I want to believe those things more than some things I could believe.

I’m glad the police were reasonable and straightened things out. Perhaps in this instance, it was best they were there to handle what was obviously a touchy situation. In this instance. This time.

But to be the mother of a black son is to be scared for them, constantly. Black mothers know this better than me, have known it for a long time. I am not the person to tell that story.

I don’t know if there was a racial component to what happened this time, but I can’t help but flash forward to someday when someone may wrongfully point their finger at my son again, someday when he’s not an adorable 3-year-old, someday when I’m not there to speak for him.

And I think that’s why my guts are still roiling days later, why I am still feeling emotional about an incident that everyone seems to agree was crazy, but over now. That I shouldn’t let it get to me. It got to me. I’m not over it. I wish I was.

But if nothing else, I am glad I felt that Mama Bear rise up inside me. I am glad that I knew, in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would and will always do anything, ANYTHING to protect my son. Because, unfortunately, he lives in a world where he needs a little extra protection.

Emily McCombs wrote this article for xoJane

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.

TIME Parenting

How to Get Your Kids to Actually DO Summer Reading

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It doesn't have to be a chore

As anyone will tell you, kids who don’t read over the summer actively lose some of what they learned the year before.

Summer reading lists are great, and the world is full of them, including this one from the American Library Association. But how can parents get their kids to turn to books when there are so many other distractions that beckon them?

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With elementary age kids, says literacy advocate Jen Robinson, it’s good to read aloud – even long after kids can read for themselves. “Kids who are read to even after they can read on their own are more likely to continue to enjoy reading as they get older,” she says. And “reading together gives families a common vocabulary, and a springboard for all kinds of interesting discussions.” Parents can get their kids to think about the book with questions like “What do you think will happen next? Do you think that was a good ending?”

Middle school kids probably don’t want to have their parents read aloud to them. But there’s no reason parents can’t read along with them, says Andrew Medlar, president of the American Library Service to Children. At this age, “aspirational reading is very big,” he says: kids are “wanting to be grown up, and be perceived as grown up, and learn about what the teen and grown up world is all about.” It’s a great time for parents to pick up the same book their kids are reading, and start a conversation about it.

Kid not a reader at all? Try Tech Hacks to Help Struggling Readers

High school students are starting to become more independent, Medlar says. So it’s a key time to leave reading materials out that “they can discover.” They also have a lot more reading for school, Robinson observes. So parents can start conversations with them about “how to find time for pleasure reading–and how to keep the assigned reading” from feeling like “drudgery”–so that kids develop, and keep, a lifelong love of reading.

TIME career

Working Women Are Planning More, Which is Why Some Are Freezing Their Eggs

If egg-freezing is Plan B, women need a Plan C

Women seem to have gotten the message that if we want to have both professional success and a family, we better plan it out. That’s the point of a New York Times piece this week that concluded that millennial women are leaning away from “leaning in” and instead scheduling family phases into their career plans.

MORE: The Truth About Freezing Your Eggs

Here’s how the Times’s Claire Cain Miller puts it:

You might call them the planning generation: Their approach is less all or nothing — climb the career ladder or stay home with children — and more give and take …“They’re anticipating that in some way they’re going to have to dial down or integrate their career and their life,” said Caroline Ghosn, chief executive of Levo, an online professional network focused on millennial women. “This reality is something that people are a lot more transparent and open about.”

When you’ve grown up with as many conflicting messages about work and family as millennials have, that kind of attitude makes sense. We’ve been thoroughly disabused of the notion that having both a thriving career and a family at the same time is easy–or even possible– and so the natural reaction is to stagger them; first one, then the other. In most cases, women choose to focus on their career first and family later. But that’s a tricky gamble, because fertility declines with age.

That’s where egg-freezing comes in. For a generation of women who tend to be more practical about plotting their career and family trajectories, egg-freezing is marketed as the best way to do just that. With a frozen egg, they’re told, they could easily start a family throughout their 40’s. Fertility marketers call it an “insurance policy” that can help women smash the biological clock.

That’s an idea with obvious appeal to young women. “It gets into all the mixed messages that women are constantly told. Like “you can have it all, you can’t have it all.” With dating: first it’s like ‘don’t settle,’ then it’s like ‘marry him already,’” says Eileen, a 28-year old who works in education, is considering freezing her eggs when she can afford it. “Everyone’s like ‘do this, do that’ and it feels like you’re never getting the truth about what you can do and what you can have.” (Eileen asked that her full name not be used, because of the personal nature of this fertility decision.)

Jen Statsky, a 29-year old TV writer, says she’d consider egg-freezing just to give herself more flexibility. “I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky with my career and I’m happy with where I am at 29, but there’s so much I want to do. I enjoy my life the way it is right now,” she says. “And theoretically I can’t see being ready for a child before the age of 35 or 36. I would push it to 50 if I could.”

Eileen feels like anticipating a family could keep her from making a radical career switch at this stage of her life. “If I were to start a new career in this point in my life, of course as a female you’re always thinking: how would that work out, how would I get years under my belt without leaving the workforce?’”

Dilemmas like these, combined with recent technological advances, have led to a surge in procedures. Since 2009, egg freezing’s popularity has increased more than tenfold, and fertility marketers are predicting that by 2018, more than 70,000 women will be freezing their eggs. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” label from the procedure in 2012, after the quick-freeze vitrification method was developed (scientists discovered that quick-freezing eggs worked much better than slow-freezing them.)

If you want to know more about egg-freezing, check out our recent magazine feature on the topic here.

There’s just one problem with using egg-freezing to help plan the perfect career trajectory: it doesn’t necessarily work that well. Although egg-freezing is marketed to anxious women as an “insurance policy,” there are not yet any major studies about success rates. And initial numbers obtained exclusively by TIME suggest that in 2012 and 2013, only 24% of egg thaws resulted in a live birth.

So if women are using egg-freezing to plan their perfect careers, they need a plan B.

 

 

TIME Parenting

The Yelling Diner Owner and the Toddler’s Parents Were Wrong

Stephen Camarata, PhD, is the author of The Intuitive Parent

Parents are the only ones who should discipline a child—but they should have a game plan for when tantrums happen (take it from a father of 7)

The recent episode at Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine—when a 21-month-old toddler’s extended bout of crying caused the diner’s owner to kick out both the child and her parents—highlights the difficult decisions every parent must make when taking a young child into a public place. Both the parents, Tara and John Carson, and the diner’s owner, Darla Neugebauer, made poor decisions that day.

First, Neugebauer crossed a line. Neugebauer and Tara Carson disagree on whether the crying went on for an hour or only 10 minutes, and on whether other customers were bothered by the noise. But it doesn’t matter. No non-parent—in this case, the diner owner—should ever take it upon themselves to discipline or correct someone else’s child without first getting permission from the parents. If I were in the owner’s shoes, I would have respectfully requested that the parents do everything they could to console their child. And because I love children and can usually get them to calm down, I would have offered my own services. Regardless, Neugebauer’s justification that yelling “This needs to stop!” did, in fact, cause the toddler to stop crying does not meet the standard of parental consent.

On the other hand, every parent should try to keep their child from having an adverse effect on those around them, and it doesn’t seem like the Carsons made a good-faith effort. No child is perfect. Even mild-mannered toddlers will throw tantrums in front of crowds of people. In my experience—which includes raising seven children of my own—the first step is to try consoling your crying toddler, and if attempts to calm them fail, the second step is to take them outside. Allowing a child to cry for nearly an hour in an enclosed public space—if this version of the story is true—isn’t courteous to anyone in the diner, including the owner.

Parents need to prepare a game plan before their child throws in a tantrum in a restaurant. For instance, when my wife and I went shopping with a young child (or two or seven), one of us would be prepared to take a child out of the store in the event of a meltdown. This duty usually fell to me, and I would go to the car with my upset son or daughter until the storm passed. Then we would go back into the store. We had a very simple game plan, and it worked for us. Your game plan should depend on the temperament of your child, the atmosphere of the public place you’re in, and the number of people around you. But since these situations are inherently stressful—it is all too easy to succumb to anger or embarrassment—do have a game plan in place before you find yourself mid-way through a meltdown. It will minimize your stress as a parent, serve your child’s learning needs, and show courtesy for your fellow shoppers or brunch patrons.

In my new book The Intuitive Parent, I call for a return to instinct-driven parenting. Think of it less as a one size fits all set parenting style, like the recently popularized “free range” and “helicopter” parenting trends, but rather a common-sense approach to navigating today’s panic-inducing claims about child behavior and development within your own parental comfort zone. Drawing on my research as a professor and specialist on child developmental delays and disabilities, and on my personal experience as a father, I have found that the recent craze to push children to behave or develop in one way or another almost certainly backfires. A better solution is to use your instinct as a parent to its full advantage, finding a middle ground between encouragement and discipline that suits your individual child.

The situation between the Carsons and their two-year-old was a missed opportunity for intuitive parenting. Some parents seem to have the mistaken belief that setting limits or saying “no” to a child is harmful to their psychological development. In truth, a toddler must learn that there are certain places, like a busy street, and certain activities, like touching a hot stove, that won’t be allowed. Imposing limits on a child’s behavior, without disciplining to the point of abuse, does not psychologically damage the child in any way. In fact, I would argue that consistent consequences are a key component of intuitive parenting, because they provide valuable feedback to the child’s developing brain. That might make it less likely for a tantrum to interrupt your next family breakfast, and less likely that you’ll get interrupted by a diner owner—which is best for everyone.

 

Stephen Camarata, PhD, is a professor in the department of hearing and speech sciences and a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is a children’s speech expert and the author of THE INTUITIVE PARENT: Why the Best Thing for Your Child is You.

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.

TIME Parenting

Dude, Where’s My Changing Station?

Ashton Kutcher is trying to make fatherhood less gross

I hate Ashton Kutcher. You hate Ashton Kutcher. Everyone in America over the age of 30 hates Ashton Kutcher: The floppy hair. The roguish charm. The 28” waist. He’s the worst.

And now he’s campaigning for World’s Greatest Dad by bragging about how he changes all of his kid’s diapers. (Or, as the Babble headline proclaims “Every. Single. Diaper.” Cue Seinfeld:

Which makes me want to hate him even more.

Fathers run the gamut in terms of what duties they assume. My wife and I don’t keep score, but I do a lot of diaper changing. Because we’re all hostage to our own experiences, I assumed this was the norm. Then a few years ago I found out that one of my friends does zero diapers. As in: None. Through two kids. This arrangement seemed freakish and weird to me, but his wife doesn’t mind and his kids turned out great and they’re a happy, wonderful family.

By the same token, I always assumed that husbands and wives fight through the midnight feedings and sleep training wars side-by-side. But then another buddy of mine admitted that every time his wife had a kid, she and the baby would spend the first several weeks in the in-law suite in their basement. This way he could stay upstairs in their bedroom and get enough sleep to handle the other kids and his day job. When he first told me about this arrangement, I was kind of gob-smacked. I didn’t think marriage could work like that. But some of them do. And they can work really well. (When I joked with him about his wife’s omni-competence, he deadpanned: “She’s like a Terminator sent back in time from the future. And I’m just hoping her mission is for the good.”)

With all due respect to Kutcher for his marital arrangement, you don’t even get on the shortlist for Father of the Year until you’ve spent 20 minutes kneeling in the handicapped stall of the men’s room at Chuck E. Cheese trying to clean up a 4-year-old girl who just crapped her brand-new Disney Princess big-girl underpants while her 6-year-old brother stands sentry.

But as much we might roll our eyes at Kutcher, he’s actually doing us all a service by pointing out one of the great annoyances of fatherhood: The paucity of changing tables in men’s bathrooms.

Because of his commitment to diaper changing, Kutcher has launched a minor campaign for more changing stations in public men’s rooms. Which is great.

A few weeks ago I was at a big-box store that had no changing station in the men’s room. So I headed out to the parking lot, where, standing in the beating sun, with the temperature at about 100 degrees, I changed my daughter on the Cheerio-covered floor of our minivan. And I kept thinking, I used to be somebody.

Children are lovely little dignity sinks, siphoning away the sophisticated parts of our selves a little bit at a time. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation.

We do this at great personal cost and for great society benefit. Old joke: What do economists call babies? Future taxpayers. We’re changing diapers so that everyone else can collect Social Security and Medicare checks in 2038.

But if the federal government is willing to make a big push on “transgender bathrooms,” the least society can do for us is make it standard practice to put Koala Care stations in the men’s room, too.

Because at the end of the day, Ashton, my buddies, and me are all in this together.

This article originally appeared on Acculturated

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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.

TIME Parenting

10 Pieces of Classical Music Your Toddler Will Love

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A sanity-saving playlist

Listening to classical music with your toddlers can boost brainpower.

Not theirs. Yours.

As a parent of a child under the age of 5, I know you can only spend so much time listening to “We Are the Dinosaurs” on repeat before your neurotransmitters suffer irreversible damage.

But if you can get your young kids into classical music, you can swap out that Laurie Berkner for some Beethoven from time to time, say during a long summer vacation drive, and earn your brain a musical respite. And they’ll be primed for more interesting musical taste down the road.

The key is to start with the kind of orchestral works your toddlers are most likely to get into on their own. That means short, melodic and upbeat.

Here are 10 kid-tested pieces of classical music to try.

1. Carmen Overture, Georges Bizet

The plot of Carmen, one of the most popular operas of all time, may be R-rated, but the wordless overture is fun for all ages. Alternating between military pomp and a romantic melody, the piece is perfect for marching around the living room.

2. In the Hall of the Mountain King, Edvard Grieg

Grieg later admitted that he hated this piece for its cheesiness, but that’s exactly why your kids will love it. My daughter and I pretend we’re sneaking into the troll king’s castle during the slow start then running away during the brash finish.

3. William Tell Overture, Gioachino Rossini

Rossini’s final opera was supposed to be a serious drama, but these days it’s mostly remembered for an overture used as the theme song to the “Lone Ranger.” Kids will like the fast-moving catchy melody, which suggests the feeling of riding on horseback.

4. The Flight of the Bumblebee, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

This is another classical work that kids immediately understand because it is so literal. The speedier modern interpretations, especially, bring to mind a bumblebee, the kind of everyday insect that kids have probably seen firsthand.

5. Radetzky March, Johann Strauss I

When Austrian military officers first heard this upbeat march, they began spontaneously clapping, a tradition that is kept alive by audiences today and on most recordings. It may take younger kids a while to learn to clap on the beat, but they’ll enjoy figuring it out.

6. An Der Schönen Blauen Donau, Johann Strauss II

The junior Strauss’ most famous work, known in English as The Blue Danube, has the stately air of a fancy ball. If your toddler can’t get enough of the coronation day dance in Frozen, this will be a popular song to listen to while twirling around the house.

7. Hungarian Dance No. 5, Johannes Brahms

Thanks to his famous lullaby, Brahms was probably already your child’s favorite classical composer as an infant. This Hungarian dance, particularly in the peppy orchestral versions, will make him popular in the toddler years too.

8. Hoe-Down, Aaron Copland

The final section of Copland’s Rodeo ballet is great for toddlers who like to troop around the house in a cowboy hat talking about Sheriff Woody and Jessie the Cowgirl. Their attention may wander at times, but the central riff returns soon enough.

9. The Barber of Seville Overture, Gioachino Rossini

If you’re middle-aged, your first experience with classical music was probably seeing this piece performed by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Even without the slapstick visuals, there are enough fun moments in this piece to keep young kids engaged.

10. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Though not as danceable as some of the other songs on this list, Mozart’s famously light piece is engaging and energetic. Toddlers who have already gotten into orchestral music through the rest of this list will appreciate it.

 

TIME Parenting

If a Toddler Getting Yelled at Makes You Happy, You’re a Bad Person

Darlena Cunha is a journalist who writes about parenting.

Any parent with a crying child needs a helping hand, not a tongue-lashing

Over the past few days, we’ve seen that Americans—or at least many of those engaged in Internet comments sections—think it’s OK to yell at a baby. Not just OK, but laudable.

After Darla Neugebauer, the owner of Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine, yelled at a 21-month-old child for crying, the child’s parents complained on social media, and many came to the diner owner’s defense.

According to these commenters, kids these days need to toughen up. They are all special entitled snowflakes. This teaches the child a valuable life lesson: that she is not the center of the universe. And the parents are even worse. They’re indulgent, they’re weak, and they never care if their spawn is throwing a tantrum. Thank goodness a stranger finally had the temerity to do what irritated adults having to share a space with a toddler have wanted to do for ages.

It takes a village, after all.

That refrain has been circling the Internet. It takes a village to raise a child. So the Internet is raising one from afar.

Only, we have no village. This adage stems from a time when real-life communities actually existed, when neighbors and friends and extended family lived close together. It refers to a time when people could discipline someone else’s child if necessary because they had earned that right by being a presence in that child’s life long before any reprimand occurred. These village adults knew not only their names, but their ages and who their siblings were and how incredibly irrationally frightened they were of bees. They had asked the kids for help gardening or mowing lawn, and they had offered emergency child care when their parents needed help. They were, in all actuality, a village working together to raise the children.

A diner owner pointing and yelling at a child she’d never seen before in her life and will likely never see again is not “a village raising a child.” It is an adult reacting to a toddler like a toddler and totally overstepping her bounds as a business owner and a professional. A further dress-down on social media is not a life-lesson for the family members, who were likely tired and frazzled, just passing through on their way to visit family in another state. It seems to be the ranting of someone so entirely fed-up that she could no longer contain herself and took out her angst on an innocent, albeit hungry, baby.

It’s an understandable reaction: Who hasn’t wanted to tell a disruptive kid to shut up? But most of us haven’t. Because we know we are not that child’s village. It is not our place.

Our “village” raised the businessmen and women who shout on their cellphones at swanky lunch places as though the details of their lives are more important than anyone else’s dining experience. It raised the party-goers who drunkenly interrupt others’ meals with their self-centered revelry. It raised Neugebauer to think that going off on strangers as a professional in her business setting is not only acceptable but necessary.

I, for one, would rather raise children to respect others, have empathy for others, and reach out in obvious times of need. Any parent with a crying child for more than a few minutes needs a helping hand, not a tongue-lashing. It takes a village. So let’s bring the village back.

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.

TIME psychology

Our Young Men Are Telling Us They Can’t Cope

Stephen and Joyce Singular are the authors of The Spiral Notebook: The Aurora Theater Shooter and the Epidemic of Mass Violence Committed by American Youth

What James Holmes, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez and Dylann Roof say about our propensity for violence, and inability to handle emotions

On the day that Aurora theater shooter James Holmes was convicted on two dozen counts of first-degree murder, a 24-year-old man opened fire at few states to the east in Chattanooga, Tennessee, leaving five military personnel dead. That same day Dylann Roof was given a trial date. The coincidence of tragedy seemed to send a message: we’re producing twenty-something, male mass killers faster than we can prosecute them. Since the 1960s, mass shootings have risen 10,000 per cent. And since taking office in January 2009, President Obama, wearing an expression of baffled and profound sadness, has stood before our nation fourteen times and addressed the latest massacre. Why is this happening now?

Every one of these shootings has at least one thing in common. The killer, struggling with personal crises, decides that the only answer to his dilemma is to unleash a horrific act of violence. The Chattanooga shooter, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, had recently blogged that “life is short and bitter.” He felt trapped inside a “prison.” He was depressed and didn’t know how to cope. In the spiral notebook that James Holmes sent to his therapist a few hours before going into the theatre with a semi-automatic weapon, he listed the things that he’d turned to help himself and his “broken brain”: going into graduate school to study neuroscience and his own mind; getting a girlfriend in the winter before the massacre; and putting himself into therapy so that a mental health professional could give him her feedback (when he repeatedly told Dr. Lynne Fenton that he wanted to kill “a lot” of people, she prescribed Zoloft).

He took the medication and when it failed to alleviate his symptoms, she doubled and then tripled the dose. When that failed, he began buying guns and ammunition. Based upon what we know today, at no point in his treatment was there any serious discussion about the emotional underpinnings of his torment and gathering rage. Meds were the answer, the system told him, until they weren’t anymore — with the rest of us left to deal with the consequences.

In the weeks leading up to the massacre, Holmes communicated often with his parents in Southern California. He told them what he was buying at the grocery store and eating for dinner. He didn’t say anything about collecting an arsenal and planning mass murder because he didn’t want them to think he was “weak.” He couldn’t show them any vulnerability, so he showed them mass violence. Throughout the trial, his mother and father sat about ten feet behind him with expressions of perpetual shock and grief — for their son, for the victims and for themselves. They didn’t know he wasn’t coping because he was afraid to tell them. They weren’t aware that in his notebook he’d written:

“Violence is a false response to truth while giving the illusion of truth… I have spent my entire life seeking the alternative so that the question of how to love and what to live for may be addressed.”

But he couldn’t answer that question on his own and when he looked for help he couldn’t find it. James Holmes’s state of weakness is our collective state of weakness and confusion as a nation. We force children to learn math and science, but what about penetrating their own their feelings? How many times during the day do you confront your emotions or use some coping mechanism to resolve conflict?

For the past fourteen years, the United States has taught itself and the world that the solution to complex political problems is violence — mass violence that once unleashed will bring those problems to an end. There is no evidence that this is true. Our young men are telling us —screaming at us — that they don’t know how to cope with themselves and they’re turning to the only answer they see around them. When do we start to teach young people how to confront their emotions, how to resolve conflict without violence, and how to see what their real strength comes with acknowledging inner pain and starting to work with it instead of denying it?

Our country has gone through a long struggle to accept gay marriage and other complex social issues. We’re at the very beginning of a similar struggle to understand ourselves emotionally and to find solutions. Our young men are trying to tell us something critically important. It’s time to listen.

Stephen and Joyce Singular are the authors of The Spiral Notebook: The Aurora Theater Shooter and the Epidemic of Mass Violence Committed by American Youth.

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.

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