TIME health

Study Shows Benefits of Breast-Feeding as Popularity Continues to Rise

May 21, 2012, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTIN SCHOELLER FOR TIME The May 21, 2012, cover of TIME

A look back at TIME's 'Are you mom enough?' cover story, which charted the rise of attachment parenting

Word that a new study has found that children who were breast-fed for longer ended up smarter and richer will be welcome among one group of mothers in particular, those who practice the “attachment parenting” style that supports a longer-than-average time before weaning. (The study looked at babies who were breast-fed for at least a year, versus those who did for less than a month; some attachment-parenting adherents breast-feed their children for far longer.)

Those mothers — and the man who introduced the world to attachment parenting, Dr. Bill Sears — were the subject of a 2012 TIME story which, controversially, ran with a cover image of real-life mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breast-feeding her 3-year-old son. And, as the story explained, even as some criticized Sears and his ideas, at least one of his pieces of advice seemed to be permeating society: breast-feeding was more common than it had been in decades.

As TIME’s Kate Pickert put it:

Fans and critics of attachment parenting can agree on two things: there has been a sea change in American child rearing over the past 20 years, and no one has been a more enthusiastic cheerleader for it than Sears. Slings and carriers, like the kind Sears sells on his website AskDrSears.com, are now on every list of must-have baby gear. Breast-feeding is more popular than at any other time since the baby-formula boom of the 1950s. And despite public-health warnings against it, in 2005, according to the CDC, 19% of 2-month-old babies slept in beds with their mothers, a phenomenon almost unheard of 20 years ago.

“So many of the ideas of attachment parenting are in the culture even if you don’t believe in Dr. Sears per se,” says Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé, a new book on French parenting, which Druckerman says demands far less of mothers than its American counterpart. “This is a new common sense.”

According to a 2014 CDC report, about a quarter of U.S. babies were still breastfeeding (though not necessarily exclusively) at 1 year.

Read the rest of the story, here in the TIME archives: The Man Who Remade Motherhood

TIME Family

Being a Stay-at-Home Mother Is Not a Job

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

I was able to do nothing but focus on giving my daughter the best early years at home that I could provide. That was a gift. Not a career

xojane

Alright, calm down. Before you get angry, you should know that I was a stay-at-home mother of my daughter for five years. I proudly made that choice, too, so I’m not speaking out of ignorance/anger/first-wave-feminist desire to put women down for their decision to parent from home.

And I definitely understand where the desire to complain about being a stay-at-home parent like it’s more rigorous than some lousy 9 to 5 comes from. I lived it. It was really hard. I was lonely a lot. There were many days I wanted to call in sick.

I also understand a stay-at-homer wanting to validate her or his life choice by calling it a “job.” We get a lot of grief from academics and professionals, and we’re very often belittled by our society for not contributing anything “valuable.” There’s a sense that we need to defend ourselves against a culture that wants to make us feel inferior or useless because of the way we’re spending our time, but trying to argue its worth by identifying it as something identical to a full-time career isn’t helping the cause. If you’re proud of how you’re living your life, there’s no need to rephrase it to make it more palatable to those who don’t agree with its worth.

Being a stay-at-home mother to your own kids is not a “job,” no matter how difficult it is or how hard we work. Period. Getting to do nothing but raise a person you opted to bring into the world is a privilege, and calling it anything else is ignorant and condescending.

Sure, parenting is hard work, but so is going camping or throwing a party for a friend; I don’t go around calling those things my “jobs.” And FUN FACT: While there are obviously labor-intensive tasks involved with running a household like cleaning and cooking, those are things every person has to do (or pay someone else to do) regardless of their status as parents, and they don’t define our life’s work.

Obviously, staying at home and taking care of people in lieu of working for wages is a valued lifestyle, but it is not a “career”; people who retire early to care for their elderly parents don’t suddenly tell everyone they’ve gone into the health care profession. Choosing to care for your own small child is no different.

Statistically, it’s unbelievable that I was able to afford being a SAHM at all. I found out I was pregnant three months into a relationship with a guy I’d met our senior year of college. I wasn’t the type who ever wanted children, but the minute I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to keep her. Never mind that I was still living with my parents after moving back in with them during a mental breakdown my sophomore year at an out-of-state university four years prior. Never mind that I was only employed 15-ish hours per week and was due to graduate a few weeks later with a BA in English. Nope! We were havin’ a baby!

The wonderful, unassuming young man with whom I was about to take this ill-advised journey had earned his way through college as the Art Director for the student magazine, and he was able to start working a full-time, professional job literally two days after we graduated from college in May 2007. I started working part-time as an administrative assistant, but I was upfront about being pregnant and knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay on after having my daughter, especially because my pregnancy was rough on my health from the start.

After I gave birth, I worked part-time while my mother watched her free-of-charge, and for the first couple years, we participated in the government’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which helped provide tons of nutritious groceries for myself while I was pregnant and nursing, then later when my little girl was eating solid foods. Once my partner had moved to a more profitable job, we were able to quit the program, and I kept working freelance writing and acting gigs here and there. We survived the 2008 financial crisis (which happened the week we were away getting married all by ourselves, incidentally), and my husband got a new job three hours away from my family.

For a while, I kept plugging away at freelance work when I could find it, but was always confined to staying at home. Ultimately, though, I made the choice not to take the first mediocre full-time job that came along that required me to not be with my daughter in her early years in exchange for a paycheck that would just go back into childcare. We didn’t have any extra money, but I was able to do nothing but focus on giving my daughter the best early years at home that I could provide, and she was happy and healthy. That was a gift. Not a career.

During this era, I tried joining mommy groups and was constantly astounded by how many women reveled in bemoaning our apparently torturous conditions. Don’t get me wrong; it was nice to have people who could empathize with the frustration of existing in a perpetually disheveled state while someone literally screamed in my face a dozen times per day instead of clearly stating her requests. I loved The Feminine Mystique, and I fully understand that mothering isn’t completely fulfilling to most women.

However, the negativity that comes behind SAHMs’ unabashed martyrdom is belittling to the entire parenting community. For example, I listened with real compassion to one woman I befriended who spent a year (and thousands of dollars) on fertilization treatments to conceive her second child, only to begin whining about how much it sucked being pregnant once it finally happened. Other women in that social circle were happy to join in with her complaints; I was quick to leave.

I’d like to say that this was the scene at just one or two of the groups I desperately tried to fit into, but the truth is, for every mother who is happy with her choice to be a stay-at-home mother, there are at least three who are using its tribulations as a means to smugly declare their superiority to anyone within earshot.

“Mothering is the hardest job in the world!” is a phrase I’ve grown to loathe, but only because of the unemployed, self-righteous idiots who love to proclaim it after spending all their energy harping on their children or bitching about their spouse’s ineptitude. The mothers who don’t have time or interest in repeating that overused trope are the ones who recognize that the stay-at-home lifestyle is an incredible freedom they were in no way obligated to participate in, or are actually working to support the children they decided to contribute to society.

No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you’ll spend all your time and energy is a hobby. It is a time-consuming, sanity-deteriorating, life-altering hobby — a lot like a heroin addiction, but with more Thirty-One bags. Whether you call it a “blessing” or a “privilege,” the fact remains that having someone else foot the bill for a lifestyle that only benefits you and your close family is by no means a “job.”

Have some self-respect, own up to your decision, and call it what it is: a lifestyle that is hard but definitely worth the struggle to you. The people out there who actually have jobs will appreciate you much more if you’re not going around whining about a way of life that is most parents’ dream.

Liz Pardue-Schultz wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: I Am About to Become a Stay-at-Home Parent and I’m Terrified

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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 Family

I Don’t Want My Daughter To Hate Pink

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

I suddenly felt ashamed of putting a bow on my daughter’s head

xojane

“Good thing you put a bow on her head, so we know she’s a girl.”
A good friend sent me this text as a joke after seeing a photo of my daughter wearing a tiny silver headband with a bow on it.

This friend knows me incredibly well. She knows that most of my baby’s things are not specifically gendered. She knows our nursery is outer space themed: blue and gray with robots. She knows earlier that week she’d met us in the park where my one-month-old was rocking a Captain America onesie. (My daughter also has several Batman and Superman onesies — and Wonder Woman, obviously.)

But despite my friend knowing we’re just as likely to put our kid in a t-ball uniform as in a tutu, the joke bothered me. I suddenly felt ashamed of putting a bow on my daughter’s head. It was as if all my progressive, feminist street cred was choked out of me with the twist of a shiny ribbon. My gut reaction was to respond quickly (and truthfully), “This is the first time we’ve ever put a bow on her.”

I was about to hit send on this disclaimer text when I had an epiphany: I was feeling embarrassed because I put my daughter in something feminine, because feminine means frivolous and silly. This is NOT OK.

Society teaches us boy stuff is awesome and girl stuff sucks, even for girls.

It’s awesome when my little girl is dressed like Batman or a dinosaur, but why isn’t it just as awesome when she’s dressed like a ballerina? And how did I somehow fall into this way of thinking?

I grew up as a little girl who liked to climb trees while wearing frilly dresses. I’d say that is still a fair description of who I am today. I am feminine in so many stereotypical ways: I love shoes and make-up and getting my nails done is one of my favorite forms of “me time.” But these are things that I feel the need to justify. I find myself adding disclaimers and pointing out the ways in which I am not as traditionally femme: I’m a comedy writer. I know how to change a tire. I’m a lesbian.

But why can’t I just be a woman who kicks butt? Or better yet, a person who is a whole complex being, and as such has a blend of masculine and feminine qualities? To be human is to have a mix of traits and the faster we acknowledge that we aren’t cardboard cutouts predetermined by the way we urinate, the better off society will be.

Yet here I was ready to begin subtle coding on my one month old, apologizing for girlhood, womanhood, and femininity. “Cool girls” like boy stuff. “Cool girls” don’t wear bows. Girl stuff is silly.

Forget that. Femininity is not less than masculinity. It is a different kind of strength, but it is powerful and wonderful and deserves our respect. And that respect is way, way overdue. Why do we associate weakness with wearing lipstick? Didn’t lipstick-wearing women do the tough task of giving birth to and raising many of us? Weren’t suffragettes rocking high heels when they fought for, and won, our right to vote? Wasn’t Rosa Parks in a skirt when she became the catalyst for a civil rights movement? There is nothing fragile about feminine power.

Now, I’m not saying I’m suddenly going to cover my daughter in pink and bows. It grosses me out when people pretend like it’s shocking for a girl to be in blue or for a boy to snuggle his baby doll. Women are often still forced into femininity and trapped by it. We need the extra push and support when we do things that don’t fall in line with gender expectations. I love a woman who defies stereotypes and I hope my little girl has a thousand more women like Janelle Monae to look up to. Luckily, my wife, her mama, is one of those role models: a comic book illustrator working in the very male world of superheroes.

We don’t want our kid to feel confined by her sex, or societies expectations for gender roles. My wife and I have no idea at this point how she will identify later, but I want to make sure that as we present the world to our daughter it’s a world of “and,” not a world of “or.”

She is allowed to love sports AND fashion. She can spend her allowance at Game Stop AND Sephora. I don’t want her to grow up thinking that in order to be thought of as intelligent or treated as well as “one of the boys” she has to turn up her nose at anything “girl.” Or that girls who are smart and love to read can’t also want to be cheerleaders or love cute, fluffy things.

I want my child to grow up with no concept that any door could, or should, be closed to her. I want her to feel entitled to walk into any room and enjoy anything she wants to enjoy, but I am suddenly aware that needs to include pink rooms, too.

Amanda Deibert 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 Talk To Kids About Art

Mother and daughter in art gallery
Getty Images

Even when you know nothing about it

It’s not always easy to talk about art. As the dancer Isadora Duncan is quoted as saying, “If I could say it, I wouldn’t have to dance it.”

Still, art is good for kids. Studies show that when they get into art, they’re more empathetic and more involved with their communities. They have higher career goals, better critical thinking skills, and better academic outcomes. Yet schools are increasingly finding art is squeezed out of their curriculum in favor of more “useful” subjects.

So how can a parent start good conversations with kids about art?

Barbara Hunt McLanahan, executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York, says that the first thing parents need to understand about art is that “there’s no right and wrong. That’s the joy of it,” she explains. “Especially today when there’s so much emphasis on testing and standards. With art, you can encourage individuality. It’s good to be different.”

Parents may feel like they’ve got to be experts in art to talk about it, but McLanahan suggests a different perspective: learning along with your kids. “Side by side learning is one of our philosophies,” she says. You don’t have to know everything to start a conversation on art with your kids – you just have to be curious, and willing to learn.

For more parenting tips, news and guidance, sign up here to get our free weekly newsletter, TIME for Parents.

Michelle Lopez, Director of Community Programs at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, suggests starting conversations about art with elementary school kids with three simple questions. When looking at a work of art, start by asking, “What’s happening?” Give them a chance to form some opinions by asking, “What do you see that makes you think that?” Then keep exploring with, “What else can we find?”

Middle school, McLanahan says, is a good time for kids to start getting curious about the artist. Parents and kids can talk together about questions like, “Why would an artist make those choices? How would the piece change if they’d made a different one?”

As students move into high school, Lopez says, art can be an interesting way “to get to know your children as they get older.” When looking at art, kids often “project their views, thoughts, and emotions.” Then parents can “demonstrate that you respect their ideas or disagree” – all within the “safe space in the conversation about the artwork.”

The most important thing for parents and kids at any age to know about art? It’s pretty simple, McLanahan says: “Have fun with it. It’s all about having fun.”

TIME Parenting

How Not To Raise a Narcissist

A young girl's reflection in the mirror
Getty Images

New study looks at what parents do too often —or not often enough

If you can’t figure out where your uber-beautiful, ultra-exceptional 7-year-old’s selfie obsession came from, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection. Should you put the brakes on all that love and affection and take the kid’s self esteem down a notch? Or do you just need to remind the kid that he or she is sooo much better than other kids that narcissism is unnecessary?

The answer to both questions is a definitive no. According to new research out of the Netherlands, overvaluing the awesomeness of your kid is partly to blame for raising nasty little narcissists. Withholding affection, on the other hand, lowers the kid’s self esteem, but does nothing to affect narcissistic tendencies.

Eddie Brummelman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, wanted to test out two competing theories of where narcissism comes from. One school of thought holds that kids become narcissists when their parents withhold warmth and affection; by putting themselves on a pedestal, the theory goes, they get the approval their parents never gave. Another theory blames parents at the other end of the spectrum: when they overvalue their kids’ abilities, leading their kids to internalize their own supposed exceptionalism.

What’s so wrong with a little narcissism? The field of research is new, but some evidence suggests that narcissistic kids are more aggressive than other children and more prone to addiction, Brummelman says. “When they don’t get the admiration they want, or when they’re criticized or rejected by others, they tend to become more aggressive,” he says. It’s not pretty in adults, either. Full-grown narcissists, of course, don’t often have the best social and relationship skills.

For a year and a half, Brummelman and his colleagues questioned 565 children in the Netherlands aged between 7 and 12—when signs of narcissism first start to emerge—about how much love and affection they felt from their parents. The researchers also surveyed the parents, asking them the degree to which they believed their child was more special and entitled than other kids.

The results were clear. When parents overvalued their children, believing their spawn to be more special and entitled than others, those children were more likely to be narcissists.

MORE: Why Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women

“Children become more narcissistic when they are put on a pedestal—when they are given the feeling that they are more special, more entitled and more unique than others,” Brummelman explains.

They also found evidence of a much healthier kind of internalization. Kids had higher self esteem—the feeling of being happy with oneself as a person—when their parents showed them affection and appreciation. Treating your kids with warmth seems to make them internalize the notion that they’re valuable as individuals. Withholding affection, on the other hand, had no effect on narcissism.

The field of childhood narcissism is so new that scientists haven’t yet come up with science-backed parenting advice to combat it. But Brummelman says that clinicians are looking into effective defenses. “One approach, given our findings, might be to teach parents to express warmth and affection to children in a way to raise their self esteem without putting children on a pedestal, without conveying to them that they’re more special and more entitled than others,” Brummelman says.

Though it seems slight, that parenting tweak may make all the difference. “Self esteem is more about feeling good about yourself,” he says. “Narcissism is more about wanting to feel good about yourself.”

For the most interesting and useful parenting news of the week, sign up here for TIME for Parents, a free weekly newsletter from TIME.

TIME Family

‘I really don’t think that my son’s circumcision is any of your business’

pregnant-woman-silhouette
Getty Images

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

Strangers shouldn't be commenting on such private matters

xojane

I am reaching for the bananas hanging above the table, when something hard and round falls down by my feet and starts to roll. My belly, now the size and shape of a watermelon, has knocked over the apple display. Again.

I swing my basket to the left and look down, but all I see is the watermelon belly. I lean to the side, as the front view is no longer reliable. I spot the apple. I bend down awkwardly to retrieve it. I continue through the produce section, holding the basket behind me because it no longer fits in front.

After 41 weeks of constant growth, I can’t pinpoint where my belly ends and where the protruding corners and tabletops begin.

Watermelon baby has also blurred the lines between my personal space and the world’s opinions. For the past several months, strangers have been informing me that, by the look of things, the baby should arrive any day now.

On the day that the baby should have arrived, I went down to the public pool. The Internet assures me that there is nothing like a feeling of weightlessness to take your mind off the wait. I may have felt light, but the other swimmers reminded me that I didn’t look it.

“Mommy, look at her belly!”

“Yes honey, there’s a baby in there. There might be TWO babies in there!”

After many conversations like this, I am not surprised when the friendly man behind me in the checkout line starts talking. Does he want to predict the baby’s weight? Perhaps he wants to put his mouth near my navel and start singing a lullaby. This has happened before. Maybe he’d like to predict my weight?

He looks vaguely familiar. Tall-ish. Skinny-ish. Freckled. I will never guess his weight or sing to his navel. That’s not normal behavior.

Stranger: “So, are you having a boy or a girl?”

This is a favorite pregnancy icebreaker. From another mother, it might come with a knowing smile, like saying, I’ve been there too, I know how it is to wait and wonder and dream of dark round eyes and soft skin.

Alternatively, it is an easy and awkward admission that the entry of a new little life has left you speechless. Me, too, strange man.

But no, perhaps you are speechless for another reason. Perhaps you just can’t stop staring at my belly button, which has popped out like a turkey timer at the front of the watermelon. Like an awkward third nipple on my belly. Guess I should answer.

Me: “It’s a boy. Maybe.”

Stranger: “Oh, that was my guess. I knew because your belly button is sticking out.”

Me (in my mind): Like a turkey timer or a third nipple?

I try to think of something to say about his belly button, because that kind of compliment deserves a witty reply. Nothing comes to mind. I don’t spend much time thinking about other people’s navels.

Me: “You’re very observant. Thank you.”

I turn away and step forward in line. He bounces behind me, moving into my line of sight while also forcing people in the neighboring lines to move aside to accommodate our respective personal bubbles. They don’t need to be so polite, because he doesn’t seem to have a personal bubble. Mine has apparently been popped by the watermelon.

Stranger: “So, have you thought about circumcision?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

I would take another step forward, but my belly is already about to ram the person in front of me. There’s no escape.

Stranger: “Oh, you know, are you going to mutilate your child without his consent?”

He actually said that.

Me: “I think I forgot something back in the meat department. Uh, have a nice day.”

Leaving my position at the front of the line, I head for the safety of the refrigerators. I remember the many discussions I have had with my husband on this very topic. It is a fraught one, at the intersection of religion, culture, freedom, privacy, identity, and physical self-determination. It is not something I am remotely interested in reviewing with a stranger in the grocery store checkout line. Or anywhere else.

I also wonder at what age it becomes inappropriate to talk about a child’s genitals. With strangers. In public.

I’m flustered. My pregnant belly draws more attention than I ever anticipated. It has been offered a seat on a crowded bus. It has been adored by my immigrant neighbors in a language I don’t understand, but in a tone that’s unmistakable.

For many months, I’ve been sharing my physical body with a tiny human, a feeling that is both extraordinary and surreal. This does not mean that other, full-size humans have leave to touch my stomach or make loud, public comments about my body. I am not sharing it with the world, just the tiny soul that I am bringing into the world, and only for the few brief months when that soul cannot survive on his own.

I loop around the refrigerated section into the bakery, so intent to escape the store that I almost overlook the same gentleman standing by the display of organic dark chocolates and pomegranate juice. He is waiting for me. I join the back of the line at another register. He follows me.

Stranger: “So, have you thought about circumcision?”

Me: “I really don’t think that my son’s penis is any of your business.”

And yet, somehow it has become his business, just like my protruding belly button. The corner of a clipboard peeks out from his shoulder bag, and suddenly I recognize him.

I have passed him before, outside of this very same store, where he has tried to catch my eye. Do I know what happens in the slaughterhouses? Have I heard of Proposition 8? Don’t I agree that the city budget should be reformed? Would I like to sign the clipboard, to send a petition for redress?

Most recently, it is a referendum to criminalize circumcision in neighboring San Francisco.* Holding the clipboard and talking with him about the policy implications of such a ban had felt like a logical exercise. We could discuss the issues and weigh the importance of religious traditions against the rights of a minor to physical self-determination, debating the role that government should play in this kind of decision. Confronted in the cashier’s line, talking about a real live child — my child — felt like a personal affront, not an abstract policy concern.

There is a line between talking in abstract about the surgical status of the foreskins of all male children in the city, and talking about the foreskin of the child that is currently residing in my uterus.

It is the same line that stops the cashier from asking what I plan on doing with all those condoms, and keeps a stranger from commenting that I must be fat because of all the ice cream he just watched me eat. The line marks the place where my personal space begins and where your public interest ends.

Large as it is, my pregnant belly does not push me into the realm of public comment.

*And for those of you concerned generally about the foreskins of all the boys in San Francisco, the referendum was dropped from the ballot because it was decided that city governments cannot pass independent regulations on medical procedures.

Angelyn Otteson Fairchild 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.

MONEY Kids and Money

The Hidden Downside to Rewarding Your Kids for Good Behavior

150305_FF_kids_1
Alamy

Giving your kids treats for getting an A at school or doing chores can come with surprising consequences, a new study suggests.

Next time you want to show your children you’re pleased with their perfect report card or good behavior, skip the visit to the toy shop.

Though your intention might be to reinforce responsible or thoughtful actions, new research suggests that providing treats like money, toys, or sweets can backfire on parents. A study published Wednesday in the Journal of Consumer Research found that children who receive more material rewards grow up to be more, well, materialistic.

“Parents don’t want their children to use possessions to define their self-worth or judge others, yet loving and supportive parents can also use material goods to express their love, paving the way for their children to grow up to be more likely than others to admire people with expensive possessions,” said authors Marsha Richins of the University of Missouri and Lan Nguyen Chaplin of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

By using possessions to reward—or, on the flip side, punish—children, parents may be setting the stage for long-term overconsumption, the study found. Children raised in households where acts of discipline involved giving or taking away belongings were more likely to continue rewarding and defining themselves with material things. They also grew up to admire people with expensive possessions and judge people based on what they own.

If that doesn’t sound bad enough, materialism in adulthood has also been linked to reduced feelings of well-being, marital problems, and financial difficulties, the authors noted.

Of course, many parents might wonder what they can do to reinforce good behavior without using material rewards. While the authors caution that using experiential rewards (say, a trip to Disneyland) can also make kids more materialistic, teaching your children to be grateful can mitigate the negative effects of any rewards you provide.

“One viable strategy might be to encourage gratitude in children—reward children, but also teach and encourage them to be thankful for the people and things in their lives,” they wrote. “Gratitude has been found to increase the value placed on connections to people, mindful growth, and social capital.”

For help walking the fine line between giving your child too much and giving them just enough, see how first-time dad and MONEY writer Taylor Tepper learned the secrets to not spoiling his child.

TIME Parenting

How to Parent Like an FBI Agent

Jose Luis Pelaez; Getty Images/Blend Images

No, you won't need any bugging devices

Ever feel like parenting would be a lot easier if you just had a full-time security team at your beck and call? And maybe an interrogation room?

You might not be able to swing that on this month’s budget, but Jack Schafer, a psychologist who and former FBI Special Agent, says parents can benefit from the tips of his trade. Here’s what he learned during 15 years conducting counterintelligence investigations – and how it applies to parenting.

Create the Illusion of Control
FBI agents are trained to de-escalate conflicts by giving subjects a choice, which helps them to feel like they’re in control. And “the feeling they have some control over a situation can work wonders, even for children,” Schafer writes in his recent book, The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over. Parents can do this, he says, without giving up any true authority. The trick: offer kids a choice between two options that both work for you. They can’t have anything they want for dinner. But do you know in advance you’re going to pick up food on the way home? Give them the option to choose between two good options.

Follow the Scarcity Principle
FBI profiling shows what many parents already know; that people tend to like things they can’t get much of. If you tell your kids not to do something, they want to do it even more. So how can a parent set clear boundaries without making kids eager to cross them? Let your kids know you trust them, Schafer says. When his daughter brought home a boyfriend she knew Shafer wouldn’t like, instead of forbidding her to see him, Shafer told her he trusted her to make the right decision. The boyfriend never made a reappearance.

Ask Indirect Questions
Especially as they get older, kids get suspicious they’re being interrogated, even when their parents don’t really work for the FBI. So asking direct questions isn’t always the best way to get the answers you’re looking for. Instead, use a classic FBI interrogation technique. “The best way to find out how your children really feel… is to ask them from a third-party perspective,” Shafer says. So if you want to know what your kids think about a sensitive topic, try bringing it up indirectly. Instead of asking, “Have you been drinking?” try starting a conversation with a hypothetical: “My friend’s son got caught drinking. What do you think his parents should do?” You might not get the answer you were looking for. But you’ll get to know your child.

Show Empathy
Another way FBI agents get people to open up is by letting someone know they understand what he or she is experiencing. “Demanding, threatening, or cajoling a response typically ends in a shields-up reaction” from kids, Shafer says. But empathetic statements, he’s found, can be much more effective, like: “You look like you are thinking about something pretty serious. You look as though something is really bothering you.” Greeted with this kind of empathy, kids will often share their thoughts freely. “Most teens want to tell their parents what’s bothering them,” Shafer says. “They just need a little encouragement and the belief that talking to you is their choice.”

Work the Case
The biggest thing parents can to connect with their kids? Just hang in there. In Shafer’s work, he’s observed that “The more time you spend with a person, the more influence they have over your thoughts and actions.” If parents aren’t around, kids start to take their cues from other kids. But “the more time parents spend with their children, the more likely the parents will be to influence them.”

Read next: How to Parent Like a German

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TIME

Sheryl Sandberg Wants Men to Lean In, Too

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Emely—Getty Images/Cultura RF Young girl dangling from her fathers arm

The new #LeanInTogether initiative promotes equality at work and at home

The latest Lean In initiative isn’t about women at work — it’s about men.

In the spirit of #HeForShe, Sheryl Sandberg and her team launched Lean In Together, a new campaign designed to help men promote gender equality at home and at work. It involves a partnership with NBA and WNBA stars, and includes specific tips for how men can Lean In, too.

They’ve also produced a short video with Makers, about how famous women like Hillary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were able to achieve partly because of support from the men in their lives. As Sandberg puts it, “being a parent’s not a full-time job for a woman and a part-time job for a man.”

Here are the #LeanInTogether tips for how men can Lean In at home:

1) Be a 50/50 partner, by equally sharing household duties.

2) Be an active father, even if you’re not perfect — kids with active dads have better self esteem.

3) Close the wage gap at home, by not valuing chores done by boys (like taking out the trash) more than chores done by girls.

4) Challenge gender stereotypes, by making sure your kids play with diverse toys and see diverse characters in books and movies

5) Help your daughter lead. Not calling her “bossy” is a start — also encourage her to be assertive in other ways, like introducing herself to people.

6) Don’t tell your son to “man up,” which can be just as damaging as calling a girl “bossy.”

There are also some tips for Leaning In at work in a way that supports your female colleagues — check them out here.

Read next: More Sex—and 7 Other Benefits for Men who Help Out at Home

 

TIME Parenting

8 Simple Ways to Avoid Raising Spoiled Kids

savings jar
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First up, get rid of that piggy bank.

No one intends to raise spoiled brats, but it’s sometimes hard to see the consequences of your actions several years down the road.

Ron Lieber, personal finance columnist for The New York Times, offers his advice on the subject in his new book The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart about Money.

Here are his eight most practical tips:

Hand out on a regular allowance.

Commit to doling out the funds once a month or once a week, and offer raises on birthdays.

But there’s a catch: Allowance money shouldn’t be given to children as a reward for chores completed.

“If they do (their chores) poorly, there are plenty of valuable privileges we can take away, aside from withholding money. So allowance ought to stand on its own, not as a wage but as a teaching tool that gets sharper and more potent over a decade or so of annual raises and increasing responsibility,” says Lieber.

Instead, let allowance work as “practice money,” and let children learn about finances by controlling their own allowance.

Keep their money where they can see it

The cover of Lieber’s book shows three mason jars labeled spend, save and give. This is his preferred method for helping children track their finances.

“I hate piggy banks, and the problem begins with the metaphor itself. Pigs are dirty, and they eat a lot, so piggish behavior isn’t something to aspire to,” writes Lieber. “Meanwhile, ceramic or metal containers are problematic, since we want kids to be able to see what’s inside and watch it grow.”

Let them spend

Allow for a little bit of impulse, but also teach your children the difference between wants and needs. Show them where to draw the line between high quality and high dollar.

“My wife and I are still debating exactly where we’ll put the line,” Lieber writes. “I’m making the case for a broad-based ‘Land’s End Line.’ If we adopt it, that means we’d pay whatever Land’s End (my definition of a suitably mid-priced merchant that sells quality clothing) would charge for any clothing needs, even if an item comes from some other designer or shop. Anything with a price to the right of the Land’s End Line would be a want.”

Help them save, but only to a point

Money in the savings jar should be collected with a goal and timeline in mind, Lieber writes.

For younger children, the concept of time and goals are already fuzzy enough, so keep it short and specific.

For teenagers, their savings goals might be a bit loftier – it might be earmarked for a first car or senior class trip – and they might outgrow the jar system. Help them establish a savings account and transfer their allowance there automatically.

Use an app

Use Allowance Manager to make automatic weekly payments to your children’s accounts. They can spend their money with prepaid Allowance Cards and track their purchases with mobile and desktop apps.

Lieber also recommends FamZoo, another family banking app that also offers prepaid cards and money tracking functions. It also has an IOU feature that lets parents owe money to children and vice versa.

Show them how you use your money

Accordine to Lieber, a remarkable “64% of kids said they had no idea what their parents were giving, if anything,” so he suggests parents make an example of their charity while also giving kids a chance to get involved.

Let children help decide where mom and dad should donate money and time and teach them how to vet the worthiness of charities asking for money by evaluating if they provide essential services or goods to those in need.

Throw around less cash but more imagination

Lieber pokes at the problem with elaborate birthday parties and bar mitzvahs (for example, this stage show in honor of one Texan youngster) and Tooth Fairy inflation. It can all lead to materialism. But he offers some advice: Do things more modestly, but make them more special.

The Tooth Fairy can (and should!) visit to stay in line with lore, but Lieber encourages parents to put their own twist on the tale. Maybe your Tooth Fairy leaves glitter on the windowsill or gets caught on camera.

Birthdays are still cause for celebration, but in lieu of expensive gifts, Lieber suggests requesting party guests’ parents spend about half what they normally would and donate the other half to charity. This also eliminates the envy-inducing gift opening ceremony.

Finally, let grandparents break all the above rules

Accept that grandparents are the X factor. They’re bound to come through with the North Face jacket your teen is dreaming of while you’re striving to tow the Land’s End Line.

“We’ve found that grandparents will gleefully disrupt this attempt at standard setting with spontaneous bursts of generosity,” write Lieber. “Still, as long as it doesn’t happen too often, the continuum will hold if we parents apply it consistently.”

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Read next: How to Parent Like an FBI Agent

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