MONEY Work/Life Balance

How to Get Ahead in Business Without Leaving Your Family Behind

work-life balance
Ivary Inc.—Alamy

Entrepreneur, husband and dad Sam Bahreini shares the work-life balance strategies that have worked for him.

Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” may have made more grown men cry than any other song: The story of a father who’s too busy working to spend time with his son cuts to our deepest fears as parents.

Even Chapin himself has said that the song scared him to death.

If you have work that you’re personally invested in and a family you want to spend time with, though, there’s naturally going to be tension between the two as they battle for your limited time each day.

I have an amazing wife and three kids, but I also have two businesses to run. In the first couple years running my startup, vacations were rare, and frequently missing family meals tested my marriage and my character as a father.

The tension you feel as a working parent is not necessarily bad—but if you prioritize the wrong things, you may look back on these years with regret.

Thankfully, you are not doomed to the depressing fate of Chapin’s song simply because you have a demanding job. There are practical ways to make sure your schedule reflects your priorities. Here are four strategies that have worked for me:

Communicate with your spouse

One focused conversation about boundaries can create a compass that keeps you on a path to happiness at work and at home.

Sit down and make a “too much, too little” chart together. Write down guidelines for how much time at work is too much, how many missed dinners are too many, what is considered too little time spent on work, etc.

Protecting everyone’s needs starts with setting clear expectations.

Keep family life consistent

This is especially important with young children.

If dinner is family time, you should be a part of it. Likewise, you should be present at kids’ activities.

Too many career advancements at once can ruin family stability and throw your life into chaos.

Don’t justify slipping away by saying you’ll make up for lost time later on. You can’t and you won’t. Invest in your current relationships with your kids so you still have relationships in the future.

Share the burdens and the vision

Help your family see the value in what you do when you’re not at home.

Include your spouse on work trips, for example. Let your partner help you make business decisions and be a sounding board for you.

Let your spouse have the final say

For the most part, these strategies have helped me keep my work-life balance in check. But when all else fails, my wife draws a line I don’t cross.

She reminds me when I’m putting in too many late nights, taking too many calls during family time, or spending too much time on email when I should be with the kids. When I get so focused on work that I start to drift away from my family, she pulls me back in—and I let her.

We often say a good business is “like a family,” but remember that like a family is not the same thing as having a family. No business should replace your actual spouse and kids. It’s good to work hard and push your limits, but don’t go past them.

If you do, you’ll be tired and alone at the finish line, and there will be no one at home to celebrate with you.

Sam Bahreini, a seasoned operations officer and entrepreneur, is co-founder and COO of VoloForce, a company that helps enterprise retail brands understand organization implementation through automation and simplification.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.


Scooters Leading Cause of Toy-Related Injuries This Christmas

Young boy riding scooter
Jill Tindall—Getty Images

Toys are leaping off the shelves faster than ever now that we’ve officially entered the holiday season, but a new study finds that many toys cause serious injury to children. The study, out Dec. 1, from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that an estimated 3,278,073 kids in the United States were treated in emergency rooms after suffering toy-related injuries from 1990-2011. Even more alarming, every three minutes a child was treated for a toy-related injury in the year 2011 alone.

Toys foster imaginative learning and creativity, but parents may want to consider the types of toys their children are playing with. Study researchers found that the rate of toy-related injury rose by about 40 percent between 1990 and 2011–– in part because of the increased popularity of foot-powered scooters. From 2000 onward, there was an estimated one toy-related injury every 11 minutes, and children who were injured thanks to scooters were three times more likely to break or dislocate a bone.

“All children should use safety precautions when using a scooter or other riding toys,” says Dr. Gary Smith, study author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “The first three safety tips I give for preventing injuries on those toys are: 1. Wear a helmet. 2. Wear a helmet. 3. Wear a helmet. Buy a scooter, buy a helmet.” He notes that any adult planning on giving a scooter to a child should also make sure to get a helmet that fits. And take worthwhile precautions: only ride scooters on flat, dry surfaces away from motor vehicle traffic.

Hundreds of toys are recalled every year for being defective (Mattel alone recalled 19 million toys back in 2007), and there are numerous other ways kids can inadvertently injure themselves while playing –– from choking on a Lego to getting hit with a rogue baseball. Yet, researchers found that falls and collisions (as opposed to other injuries such as ingestion or aspiration) were the most frequent cause of toy-related injuries among children in all age groups. Falls accounted for 46 percent and collisions were responsible for 22 percent of injuries.

While more than half of toy injuries are sustained by children younger than five, injuries due to riding toys like scooters were shown to increase later into childhood. A whopping 42 percent of injuries in children ages 5 to 17 were attributed to scooter, tricycle or wagon accidents, while only 28 percent of injuries in children under five were attributed to these ride-along toys. (Though, it’s worth noting, that young children are at an increased risk for swallowing or ingesting small toy parts.)

So, how can parents protect their children from toy-related injuries this holiday season? “First, follow a toy’s age restrictions and any other guidelines from the manufacturer,” says Smith. “If a package label says that children younger than 3 years of age should not use the toy inside, it often means that the toy poses a choking risk to young children because of small parts. In addition, parents should check the website,, to be sure that toys they already own have not been recalled, especially since there have been hundreds of toy recalls in the last decade.”

For more parenting stories and advice on raising a child in today’s world, check out the new TIME for Family subscription.


Why I Brought My Young Kids to a Ferguson Protest

Crowd with Hands in Air
Getty Images

The consensus was overwhelmingly that it is stupid, if not negligent, to bring children to a protest


This story originally appeared on

I was going to do some Thanksgiving prep the other day. You know, make a pie crust. Maybe even some stuffing. That’s what you do two days before Thanksgiving, right? Instead, my children and I spent the afternoon at a Ferguson protest in support of Michael Brown.

On our way to the protest, my teenage daughter shared a photo of herself and her sisters on a local news station’s Facebook page and immediately received dozens of negative comments about bringing children to a protest. Some suggested that Child Protective Services be called while others mocked her for everything from her presumed ignorance to her age to the color of her hair. The consensus was overwhelmingly that it is stupid, if not negligent, to bring children to a protest.

Living in Seattle, I’m nowhere near Ferguson. I’m as lily white as they come. I’ve never experienced racism, and in fact I’ve noted my own privilege plenty of times. I’m not sure that I used to notice it at all, or was even aware that it existed, until I moved to the troubled neighborhood of South Seattle a few years ago.

We were the racial minority in that neighborhood, but we were also the privileged minority. The police were friendly…to us. A young black woman was less lucky when a police officer punched her in the face next door to the Starbucks we frequented. I’m pretty sure that a lawsuit came out of that case, but the Seattle Police Department is no stranger to lawsuits. In a city that’s famous for its progressive values, it’s almost shocking to remember that here, too, was the site of the 1999 WTO protests and that just last month a judge threw out a lawsuit by members of the Seattle PD who felt that reforms designed to curb the use of excessive force violated THEIR civil rights. Seriously, I’m not making that up. They really tried to sue for that.

Last week’s protests were peaceful. Hundreds of high school students joined hundreds of members of the community to march through the streets of Seattle. The groups converged on the steps of the Federal courthouse, where a rally was held. We stood in the rain, hands up, chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.” We came together to lend our voices to the growing chorus of outrage against a system that rewards violent white men and institutionalizes the murder of black men.

Frankly, I would rather have baked a pie that day than attended a protest. But, as a mother, it’s my job to teach my children right from wrong, and you don’t do that with words. You do that by getting out there in the rain, with nowhere to pee, feeling a little awkward and wondering what you have to add to a racial discussion, but throwing your hands up and making your voice heard anyway. You do it by leading by example, not by ranting on Facebook. You do it by, cliché or not, being the change you want to see, and trusting your kids enough to allow them to be there, too.

Statistically, my kids had a dramatically higher chance of being harmed on the drive to the protest than at the protest itself. I decided not to let fear rule me and I made a parenting decision that introduced my children to social activism.

My young daughters held their hands up and joined in the chants, asked a few questions, and then played on the steps of the courthouse as the protest continued behind them.

Afterward, we walked away from a courthouse lined with police officers, knowing that we were safe and that we wouldn’t be stopped, harassed, or otherwise harmed as we walked. No one would detain or search us. No one would pull my car over for a “routine” traffic stop. No one would pay us any attention at all, unless to smile at my children or perhaps say hello. Unlike Michael Brown’s parents, I have the security of knowing that my children will see the friendly, smiling side of the local police.

A friend once told me that she doesn’t give the homeless money because she’s afraid of her children witnessing someone drunk or mentally ill. While she wants to help the homeless she sees asking for money on the streets, she believes that it’s simply too dangerous for her children to be involved. Although I understand her fear, I wonder how we expect to raise thoughtful, compassionate adults if we shield our kids from every unfortunate situation around us.

There are age-appropriate ways to discuss almost any topic with your kids, and we do our kids a disservice when we treat them as delicate hothouse flowers. Our kids are strong, and they can handle the sight of a man sleeping under a restaurant awning and can raise their hands in support of equality. It is those experiences that have led my children to organize neighborhood food drives and to declare their desire to be a police officer who helps instead of harms.

And, hopefully, it is those experiences that will lead my kids to a nuanced understanding of social issues instead of the simple comfort of a black and white worldview.

Ultimately, who knows how any of our kids will turn out. As parents, the best we can do is our best, and there’s no such thing as a perfect approach. But, today, let’s take a few minutes to talk to our kids about racism, privilege, and oppression, and to remind them that those in power aren’t always right, that the system isn’t always perfect, and that we have a voice to raise. And, then, let’s find a way to take action.

Because, in the end, it’s our actions, not our words, that truly teach our children.

Jody Allard is writer and mother living in Seattle.

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

TIME Parenting

Pregnancy Is Not a Disability

Pregnant Caucasian woman holding stomach
Jamie—Getty Images

Bethany Ramos is a contributor to

Yes, many women struggle with high-risk pregnancies—and tomorrow's Supreme Court decision may address some of their needs. But the rest of us need to buck up

Within your lifetime, pregnancy is going to happen to you or someone you know. Lots of women get pregnant every day. In fact, there’s probably a woman getting pregnant right this very second, as we speak… Think about it. Pregnancy is coming to a town near you.

I’ve been pregnant twice, and it was hardly my favorite time in life. I am so very glad to be done having babies for ever and ever and ever, praise #vasectomyjesus. With that being said, I have a bone to pick with pregnant ladies everywhere. Pregnancy is a part of life. Pregnancy is normal. Pregnancy is not a unique or particularly difficult experience.

As a side note, I know there are women who fall into the high-risk pregnancy category. That is an entirely different subject, and this friendly pregnancy rant does not apply. I have close family members who have struggled with high-risk pregnancies, and my heart goes out to these women.

But normal pregnant women everywhere need to buck up and sign up for a 5K while you’re at it. It’s a common practice to change your life dramatically once you see those two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Of course, you should make healthy, positive changes in your life while carrying a child — like quitting the blow and eating more vegetables and getting enough sleep at night.

Still, it really chaps my ass when pregnant women complain about their dire circumstances to anyone who will listen (especially on social media). A pregnant woman may look at you with her sad doe eyes in the breakroom at work and sigh about how she wishes she could have a cup of coffee to wake her up in the morning. (Newsflash — unless your doctor said that you can’t have caffeine while pregnant, you can have at least a cup of coffee a day.)

The same sighing-and-hand-wringing routine applies to all of the supposed pregnancy no-no’s: wine, sushi, hot baths, intense exercise, flying, scooping cat litter. Some women may decide to stick to the pregnancy don’ts list to the letter, and that is their prerogative. I have absolutely nothing to say about a pregnant woman’s personal choices — unless she makes them my business by sighing and staring at me while I drink my coffee.

I didn’t love being pregnant, but I didn’t let it change my life for the worse. I still exercised like I normally did, ate all my favorite foods (and drinks) in moderation, and went out to non-smoky bars with friends when I felt up to it. Pregnancy isn’t that hard.

Bethany Ramos is a contributor to, where this article originally appeared.

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

TIME Parenting

How Helicopter Parents Can Help Their Kids Apply to the Right Colleges

Courtney Keating—Getty Images

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

Is a private college worth the money? How about community college? Should you help edit essays?

In previous TIME articles, I used the technique of the internal debate to help readers decide whether to quit their job and, in another article, whether to marry their special someone.

Here, I use the internal debate to help parents resolve common dilemmas about college.

Parent: Of course, Leslie should go to college. These days, almost everyone does.

Alter ego: But so many articles, including one I’ve written for TIME, document how little colleges add to students’ learning and employability. Maybe there’s a better use of all that time and money.

Parent: But Leslie would kill me if I didn’t encourage him to go to college. For years, I’ve pushed college: Leslie asks, “Why do I need to learn this stuff?” and I say, “So you can get into a good college.” Leslie asks, “I hate taking that SAT prep course” and I say, “Don’t you want to get into a good college?” Leslie asks, “I’m sick of crew” and I say, “That’ll help you get into a good college.” And now I’m gonna say, “I’m not sure you should go to college”?!

Alter ego: Remember Longfellow: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Your desire to stick with a bad idea is a lousy reason to spend all that money and have Leslie spend all those years when there may be a better option.

Parent: What better option, community college?

Alter ego: Again, Leslie would kill me. Leslie would say, “I worked like a dog so I can go to a community college while my friends are off to brand-name colleges?!”

Parent: What about the military?

Alter ego: No way.

Parent: An apprenticeship?

Alter ego: I don’t want him to end up blue-collar.

Parent: You should mean Leslie doesn’t want to end up blue-collar.

Alter ego: Right.

Parent: You and Leslie are both being elitist. There’s nothing wrong with blue-collar work. And with nearly everyone going to college, the blue-collar job market may be better than for majors in sociology. And blue-collar jobs can’t be offshored.

Alterego: Blue-collar just isn’t him…nor me. No. No.

Parent: Start a business?

Alter ego: Leslie is no Bill Gates.

Parent: Work for a businessperson or a nonprofit executive?

Alter ego: Too unlikely to be good. Besides, Leslie needs more structure. Leslie is going to college. That’s it.

Parent: Okay then. I need to focus on the college selection and admission process. When I ask Leslie, “Have you narrowed your list?” Leslie tells me, “Leave me alone. I can handle it.” But Leslie is not handling it and may end up in community college after all.

Alter ego: Plenty of people start at community college and transfer to a more prestigious college than they could have gotten into as a freshman. Besides, that would teach Leslie a lesson.

Parent: That’s too costly a lesson. Leslie is just a kid and still needs my support.

Alter ego: Support is one thing but you’re thinking about commandeering the whole process, “suggesting” the colleges to apply to, breathing down Leslie’s neck to make sure the applications are on time, making sure the essays are perfect…

Parent: You know that’s dishonest.

Alter ego: I wouldn’t write the essays. I’d just edit them.

Parent: The amount of “editing” you’d do would deceive the colleges into thinking Leslie is a better writer and thinker than he is. That’s unfair to applicants that do their own work. Maybe worse, it conveys to Leslie that it’s okay to be dishonest to get what you want.

Alter ego: But every parent “edits” their kids’ essays.

Parent: Not every parent. Many parents feel that’s unethical and many others, especially low-income ones, don’t have the wherewithal to do it, let alone to spend thousands on a private college counselor.

Alter ego: Maybe I should hire one, if only to help Leslie pick the right colleges to apply to.

Parent: The school has a college counselor to do that.

Alter ego: The counselor is overwhelmed, in charge of a zillion kids.

Parent: The differences between colleges aren’t that great anyway. It matters far more what the kid does at college than where he does it.

Alter ego: Some things do matter, like, for example, how selective the college is. Leslie gets overwhelmed in the hard classes, is better as the big fish in the less selective pond.

Parent: But Leslie’s diploma will be more respected if it’s from the most selective college possible.

Alter ego: The difference in employability is just not that great. In fact, a too-demanding college could hurt Leslie’s employability: a lower GPA, make Leslie miserable and more likely to join the almost half of kids who don’t graduate even given six years.

Parent: Fine, limit the choices to colleges at which Leslie would be a big fish.

Alter ego: Location matters. Leslie likes the warm weather here in California and would like the option of being close enough to home to have the option of coming home for the weekend.

Parent: Are you sure that’s not what you want?

Alter ego: I’m sure. Leslie is still kind of immature.

Parent: Then there’s the issue of whether the college has the major Leslie would want.

Alter ego: All colleges offer many majors and Leslie isn’t sure what he wants anyway. Like so many kids, Leslie will probably end up changing majors. Sure, if Leslie were hell-bent on something anomalous like entomology or biomedical engineering, fine. But Leslie probably will major in something common like chemistry and if that’s too hard, switch to something like psychology or sociology. Every college has those majors.

Parent: But what about the college’s quality, like its U.S. News ranking?

Alter ego: A review of articles on that makes clear that a college’s U.S. News rank is a poor criterion for choosing a college.

Parent: Okay, public or private?

Alter ego: Mainly it’s the elite privates like Harvard or Stanford that give most students enough cash (not loan) financial aid to make it affordable. For middle-income people like me, other private colleges—unless the student is super desirable–usually give lots of loans but not enough cash. And loans have to be paid back…with interest. And student loans are among the most difficult to discharge, even in bankruptcy.

Parent: Maybe I can make this process much easier: Encourage Leslie to apply to three in-state public—and thus more affordable–colleges at which Leslie would be a relatively big fish in that less selective pond. Because of that, Leslie will probably get into all three. Then, Leslie can visit those colleges, talk to some students, read student reviews of the colleges at StudentsReview, Niche, Student Advisor, Princeton Review’s Best 379 Colleges, and the Fiske Guide to Colleges and pick the college that feels best. And I won’t go broke—I’ll apply for financial aid and compare the deals those in-state public colleges offer. That way, Leslie will be going to a college that’s a good fit, won’t have needed to take an absurdly hard schedule filled with AP classes in which Leslie would have to get mainly As, and not have to get up at 4 a.m. to freeze in his crew boat. And the college would be at least somewhat affordable and one that Leslie and I won’t be embarrassed to tell friends about.

Alter ego: Sounds almost too easy. I need to talk with some parents and the high school counselor.

Parent: Just be sure they don’t whip you into a frenzy. The parents in this suburban school go crazy. Some of them don’t have a life so they turn the college application process into a much bigger deal than it needs to be.

Alter ego: I’ll be careful.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on

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

TIME Parenting

Feds Say Circumcision Best for Boys

The ruling came as part of the first federal guidelines to address the procedure.

The benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure, U.S. health officials said Tuesday, in the first federal guidelines about circumcision.

“Male circumcision is a proven effective prevention intervention with known medical benefits,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. “Financial and other barriers to access to male circumcision should be reduced or eliminated.”

The CDC stopped short of explicitly telling parents to have their children circumcised, nothing that “other considerations, such as religion, societal norms and social customs, hygiene, aesthetic preference, and ethical considerations also influence decisions about male circumcision. Ultimately, whether to circumcise a male neonate is a decision made by parents or guardians on behalf of their newborn son.”

The guidelines specifically target adolescents and young men, populations who are more likely to be infected by sexually-transmitted diseases. The guidelines say that circumcision reduces the likelihood of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, and also reduces the risk of developing penile cancer. Overall, men who are circumcised are 44% less likely to be infected with HIV, the CDC said.


TIME Family

Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Ferguson

A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on Nov. 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Experts suggest that it's important to get the conversation going

We’d all love for our kids to be able to get along with all kinds of people. And school curricula are full of chatter about how to celebrate our diversity.

But the fact is, people from different backgrounds don’t always see eye to eye. And sometimes those tensions can raise deep questions for kids, like the nationwide protests that have erupted over the events in Ferguson, Missouri. These stories may be especially disturbing for kids when they involve children near their age, like Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin.

Race is such a tough topic that it can be tempting to avoid, especially for white families, who are three times less likely to discuss race than families of color, according to a recent study by the Journal of Marriage and Family. But race is an important subject for every family to address. Research suggests that kids who talk openly about race in their families are less prejudiced and that kids who make friends from different backgrounds have better social skills.

So how can we talk with our kids, not just about diversity, but about the tensions our differences can create?

Elementary School: Young children may be frightened by the images they see on the news, Cynthia Rogers, an instructor in child psychology at Washington University in St. Louis has observed. It’s important to let them share these feelings, and also to assure them that they are safe. But even at a very young age, studies have shown, kids already notice the differences between themselves and others. So, experts like Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, professor of psychology at Berkley, recommend that parents talk about difference. The central message to communicate: it’s okay to be different. In fact, our differences are something to explore and celebrate.

Middle School: Just as with anything else, kids learn best about race by actual experience, not lectures. As kids form friendships in middle school, encourage them to connect with kids from different backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to talk about those differences with your kids. And be open to the fact that your family isn’t “normal” to everyone else. In fact, when we connect with families from different backgrounds, we may learn just as much about how different we seem to them.

High School: At this age, students will be aware of big events like Ferguson, and have their own opinions, Marcia Chatelain, a Georgetown University professor with a focus on African-American history has noted. So parents can encourage high school students to share those thoughts and feelings. And also encourage them to learn about the history of race and civil rights, so that their understanding can grow as they absorb new perspectives.

The bottom line on talking about race with kids: just talk. We don’t have to have all the right answers for our kids to grow up with less prejudice. We just have to start the conversation. And if you want to go a bit deeper on how to use the events in Ferguson as a springboard for more discussion, a bunch of academics have put together some reading lists on Twitter under the hashtag #fergusoncurriculum

This post originally appeared in the T/Parents newsletter. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week.

TIME Parenting

9 and a Half Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman (And 1 You Should)

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Claire Howorth is the books editor at Time.

1. Do not say “Wow, you must have twins in there!” or “Did you swallow a basketball?” or “I don’t see any evidence!” In fact, do not comment on size, period. (Ever. Gestational status notwithstanding.) Some of us aren’t comfortable with how big we’ve gotten, and others aren’t comfortable with how small we are. “You look lovely!” will do just fine, thanks.

2. Do not, unsolicited, regale a first-time mom with stories of an episiotomy that left you permanently incontinent, or how you know someone whose epidural didn’t work so labor was more like writhing-silently-in-pain, make-your-best-Edvard-Munch-face twilight sleep from 1950s horror-flick lore. (If she wants to pursue anecdotal gore — and many of us do and will — let me her initiate that indelicate conversation.)

3. Refrain from telling her you think everything pregnancy- or childbirth-related is gross (even though it most certainly is). After your mom gained a gajillion pounds and sprouted stretch marks like a Holocene estuary, you arrived in a magical cocktail of bodily fluids, just FYI. The gross circle of gross life.

4. Do not touch the bump unbidden. If you want to feel the baby move, ask first. She will be delighted to place your hand exactly where you can best sense budding life — though fetuses aren’t really into command performances — or she’ll say “That makes me a little uncomfortable, sorry.” Either way, she will be so grateful you had the courtesy to ask, and you’ll feel like a gem for having done so.

5. Do not complain about how your partner’s pregnancy left you celibate. Some pregnant mothers supposedly go full-on Wilt Chamberlain; sorry you didn’t make it to the championships. But that’s beside the point — we don’t want to know about your sex life; we just feel bad for your partner that you’re whining about it publicly. Think of this as pregnancy’s little “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. (Unless we ask. Then by all means, please tell!)

6. Do not say, “So great you are having [your baby daddy’s] baby.” She is not pregnant with a dude’s baby; she is pregnant with their baby, or maybe she’s just pregnant with her own baby. I disagree with Mila Kunis about the “We’re pregnant” thing — I’m happy to share mine with my husband — but I’m not a vessel for his progeny. This little person is ours.

7. Do not follow up “Congratulations!” with “You’ll never sleep again!” Got that, Mr. Quentin Q. Qualifier? Let the exciting news go unchecked… For now.

8. Speaking of, leave the gender-value judgments to Congress. “Girls are such a handful,” or “Boys are kind of disgusting, and they fidget with their penises constantly,” are things we will be happy to discover on our own. Most of us are happy with whatever genitalia we reap, and we can’t really control which one that is.

9. Do not tell other people, unless you’re absolutely sure the parents-to-be are fully out of the closet (which you will know if you ask them), but especially if they have said something along the lines of, “We are only telling a few close friends and family for now.” They may be worried about miscarriage, but with modern medicine’s borderline-TMI abilities, prenatal testing can last well into the second trimester, and a fetus isn’t viable until about six months. If the mom and dad find out something has gone tragically wrong, a flourishing grapevine will make a painful, private decision that much more difficult. On a lighter note, they want to be able to share good news themselves.

9.5. Unless they have explicitly given you permission to post to social media, do not Facebook/Instagram/tweet/tumbl/myspace/Friendster/reddit/CERN their news, even if you think they are out of the closet offline. **GARBAGE TRUCK-IN-REVERSE NOISE** if you hear about their good news via a third party and feel the urge to post “Sally Jane Jenkins told Second Cousin Mark who told Steve the Acupuncturist who told me about the baby! Congratulations!” on a Facebook wall, or any other public place that is otherwise devoid of prenatal references. DO NOT DO THAT.

On the do side of things, it’s much simpler…

1. Hey, sweet Aunt and Uncle Now-Well-Informed, do share and enjoy your friend’s happiness! Celebrate, congratulate, be merry, and get excited to hold that delicate little nugget when he or she arrives! We can’t wait to have a huuuuuuge martini with you very soon.

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

TIME Family

Breakfast: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Bob Thomas;Getty Images

New study suggests morning meal is no academic cure-all

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day, especially for elementary school students. Everyone from parents, to teachers, to cereal manufacturers have touted the importance of a nutritional morning meal, but is there evidence to back the positive effect of breakfast on academic performance? A recent study has somewhat muddied the waters on this issue.

A 2005 study by Tufts University researchers found that elementary school children who ate common breakfast foods (oatmeal and cereal) once a day for three consecutive weeks scored better on a battery of cognitive tests—particularly on measures of short term memory, spatial memory and auditory attention. But a study out on Nov. 24, also from Tufts, finds that students enrolled in Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) programs did not obtain higher math and reading standardized test scores than students in non-BIC schools.

Like the national School Breakfast Program (which provides free or low-cost breakfast to children before the start of the school day), Breakfast in the Classroom meals are available to all students regardless of income level. However, BIC is served in the classroom after the opening bell—ensuring that children enjoy a well-balanced meal without having to wake up early and get to school in time for SBP. Students in 18 states across the nation have had the benefit of a free in-classroom breakfast with their peers thanks to BIC, a huge feat considering that millions of children live in households where a healthy breakfast isn’t an option. But while the immediate nutritional value of Breakfast in the Classroom is apparent, research is ongoing as to how the program affects academic achievement.

In order to ascertain whether students in BIC programs performed better academically, Tufts researchers looked at 446 public elementary schools in urban areas that served low income minority students—189 of which did not participate in BIC during the 2012-2013 school year, and 257 of which did. While BIC schools demonstrated increased overall attendance, there was no notable difference in academic achievement between BIC and non-BIC schools—specifically regarding standardized tests in math and reading.

The results are curious, because the increased attendance at BIC schools presumably means that more students are getting more instruction on important coursework, yet the scores didn’t point to better results. It’s possible that breakfast programs aren’t the solution to narrowing the achievement gap between children whose families face poverty and those who don’t, as educators were hoping.

Tufts researchers, however, insist that the study’s failure to duplicate previous findings that breakfast increases academic performance shouldn’t necessarily cause parents to doubt the benefits of BIC —nor the importance of a healthy breakfast in general.

“These findings should not be interpreted as a definitive conclusion on whether Breakfast in the Classroom affects achievement,” says study author and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy research associate Stephanie Anzman-Frasca.”There are a number of potential explanations for the lack of differences in standardized test scores across schools with and without Breakfast in the Classroom.”

One of those explanations might be that schools often encourage parents to feed kids breakfast on test days, so students who weren’t in the program may have arrived well fed anyway. There’s also the question of whether standardized tests are an appropriate measure for academic achievement. “Given the mixed findings across studies linking school breakfast and academics, it is important to continue to conduct research in this area, with longer-term follow-ups and multiple measures of academic outcomes, before drawing definitive conclusions,” adds Anzman Frasca.

Rather than abandoning the programs, she’s calling for more research. “Collecting multiple measures of academic performance, such as test scores as well as classroom behavior and attention, would be a good way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Breakfast in the Classroom’s impacts as research in this area continues.”

TIME Parenting

This Toy Is to Blame for a Huge Surge in Child Injuries

Injuries involving toys increased by 40% percent between 1990 and 2011

Toy-related injuries have risen dramatically over the past two decades — and one type of toy is largely to blame.

Injuries involving toys increased by 40% percent between 1990 and 2011, a new report from Clinical Pediatrics found, with about 3,278,073 kids sent to emergency rooms for toy-related injuries over the two decades, or about 149,000 cases per year.

The toys most likely to lead to injury: scooters, and other ride-on toys. The popular wheeled toy accounted for 42.5% of admissions to hospitals between 1990 and 2011 and 34.9% of injuries in children.

The report is the first nationally representative study in toy-related injuries over time, though the Consumer Product Safety Commission examines injuries annually. In the two most recent reports, scooters top the list of the most dangerous toys for kids.

In a statement to USA Today, the president of child-safety advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide says parents can help keep kids safe by buying age-appropriate toys and protective gear like helmets and knee pads with scooters and bikes.

Read next: Top 10 Toys of 2014

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