Friday, November 8th, 2013
Have you seen Bethenny Frankel’s new talk show? The SkinnyGirl entrepreneur tackles some serious issues on Bethenny, her new daytime show. Parents attended a taping that covered everything from fashion advice to a discipline debate to a discussion on body image. After the taping, Parents sat in on a blogger Q&A with Bethenny as she talked about spanking, healthy eating, and spending quality time with her 3-year-old daughter, Bryn.
What’s your best advice for single moms?
BF: Prioritize. You don’t really have a lot of free time so, you have to be organized and efficient. Quality time is the most important thing with your child. You have to sleep. I don’t have a nanny, so the minute I get up it’s game time until 8 o’clock when it’s bedtime. I try to get sleep so I feel good all day and we can do great things together. I work really intensely and hard and do two shows a day, which is really difficult, but I cram it all in so that the other time is free time, but there’s no manicures, there’s no me time. I just go right to pick her up from school to make it great for the both of us.
During the discipline debate segment during this morning’s taping there was a lot of discussion about spanking and about the new trend of shaming. What are your thoughts on disciplining this way?
BF: Just to be clear, I didn’t have that much of a problem with the woman telling her daughter to hold the sign [on her Facebook saying she had used the site inappropriately], but I would never do that. It’s not even in the realm of possibility, nor is hitting. [The Facebook photo] just didn’t create such a visceral reaction in me, but hitting does. Although, I remember when a teacher told me I looked like I’d gone through an egg-beater because my hair was messy and I do remember that being traumatizing. I still remember that and it was third grade. I think you can reason with children. They feel your energy. You have to be calm and direct. My daughter is young, until you get older you don’t know, but I just wouldn’t lay my hands on anyone.
So what is your tactic for disciplining, since you’re not a spanker or a shamer?
BF: Just consequences. If I say “no” and my daughter disobeys me or she cries [because I say “no”], it’s okay, you can cry. People cry when they get sad. You can cry. Let her go through it, but I think you can’t take the path of least resistance. A lot of times when a kid is crying a parent just wants it to stop so they give them a toy or a treat. I’m willing to sit through it, even at a restaurant, even if there are other people there. Not a crazy tantrum because I’m not going to ruin someone else’s meal, but I’ll let it go for a second. It does end. You have to be patient about it.
With a daughter and the show, how do you still prioritize healthy eating for yourself and Bryn with such little time?
BF: It’s just ingrained in you, but it’s not always perfect. Yesterday I was with her in the morning and I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I had half of one of those big sprinkle cookies because it was her snack time. I had part of that for breakfast which isn’t the ideal breakfast, but I don’t really get overly caught up in it. Then for lunch I had sushi and then at dinner I had a veggie burger. It’s kind of all balanced out. I’m not always healthy, I had French fries last night, but I had French fries with a veggie burger. It’s all in moderation. You want to be the person who’s here and drinking green juices every day or like Ellen [DeGeneres] where it’s all raw and organic and vegan, but that’s not going to happen.
As the face of the SkinnyGirl empire, and after the discussion of body image duing the taping today, how do you plan to teach your daughter to have a positive body image amidst all the noise?
BF: I don’t think it’s a teaching thing, I think it’s a living breathing thing. I hear moms saying “I look fat in these jeans” or “I was bad” or “I’m going on a diet” and all of those are cues that children hear from a young age. There is none of that in my house at all. There is no noise about exercise or working out. She just eats what she wants. I do see other kids that are very focused on food and they want to eat it all and they want more and vice versa, kids that won’t eat at all, but she’s pretty balanced. I happen to be lucky that my daughter isn’t someone who is obsessed with food. It’s about not having all of that stuff in your house. If you have chicken nuggets and processed food and they get used to that, that’s the slippery slope. I’m proud of the fact that she likes healthy food. And then I don’t mind, have ice cream, or pizza, or chips, but there’s a base that’s healthy. She just likes brown rice, or pea soup, and greens, but of course she can have ice cream. There are no “no’s.” I think that’s another problem is that parents are big on restricting. I was the house with cut up fruit and sliced turkey and other people had Cap’n Crunch and you were so excited. Or Twinkies! I don’t have that stuff in my house, but if you’re somewhere and you want to: have it.
When you do have down time, what do you like to do for you time and what do you like to do with your daughter?
BF: Oh my G-d when am I by myself? When I’m by myself, yoga or talk a walk with my dog, just go somewhere in the city. I’ll take a walk along the river or get a coffee somewhere. Sometimes it just feels free to be alone. I’m a person that likes to be alone and I’m not alone that much. … Just walk and wander. Do nothing, mindless nothing. When I’m with my daughter anything. The playground, biking, the park. Just fun things that I think are an adventure. It’s so nice, it’s so fun together.
Do you have any plans of how you two will spend the holidays?
BF: The traditional traditions. I love doing the Christmas tree with her and taking her to see the windows and to Central Park and Rockefeller Center. I’m very big on activities, whether it’s pumpkin-picking or carving pumpkins or apple-picking and making apple pie out of it, cooking, we’ll definitely do Christmas cookies, we’ll definitely do the tree-decorating and the house-decorating. That’s the best thing about kids, they make you young again. You have somebody to do all these great activities with that as an adult we sleep, we workout, when you’re single you didn’t do all these fun interesting activities. Life’s pretty active with her. There’s not really a moment that’s not filled.
A lot of times I’m exhausted, but I’m not a sit-in-front-of-the-TV mom. I want to do great, interesting things with her. It doesn’t mean we have to go to Europe to the Eiffel Tower, it just means sit on the playground or have a picnic. You feel good about yourself. What you put into your kid you get out.
To watch the discipline debate on Bethenny, tune in Monday, November 18. Check your local listings.
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Friday, October 4th, 2013
Flu season is approaching, but that won’t stop Tia Mowry. Parents chatted with her upon the launch of a new flu vaccine and she shared tips for dealing with a sick baby, having a different parenting style than her twin, Tamera, and she let us help her cement her upcoming Halloween plans!
P: What makes you so passionate about this health issue in particular?
TM: I’m a busy mom. I’m always on the go. I’m an entrepreneuer, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a working mom, but my family’s health is my number one priority and my health is my number one priority. To be honest with you I never realized the importance of the flu vaccination, but after really understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on the entire family—because we all know once a mom is down or sick it’s instant chaos—I realized that it was really important to make sure that flu vaccinations were a part of my family’s annual routine.
P: What would you say to the mom who is nervous about vaccinating her child?
TM: When we think about vaccinations, we think about needles. Needles aren’t, I don’t think, anyone’s best friend. That creates a sense of fear when it comes to vaccinations. One thing I love about FluMist Quadrivalent: it’s needle-free. You know you’re not going to have a crying child leave the pediatrician’s office, which is a plus. (Editor’s note: The flu mist is for children ages 2 and up.) The other thing is, it’s FDA-approved, and when I know things have been FDA-approved I feel ok about that. I want to protect my child in the best way that I possibly can.
P: When Cree does get sick, what are your non-medicine ways to help him feel better?
TM: The first thing that I do when my son gets sick is give him extra extra extra love and extra attention. Kids get scared. They don’t know what’s going on with their bodies and things are happening that doesn’t normally happen, they’re sneezing, they’re coughing and they get scared. Just to support them in a way that they feel comfortable, whether that’s letting them sleep with you, taking a nap with them, doing soft gentle things with them, I think is beneficial.
The other thing is: Vick’s has always been huge in my family. It just helps. I actually put Vicks on the bottom of his feet, it helps with coughs and it really really works. Instead of just applying it on the chest or the back, I apply it on his feet and put little socks over. Then I get a humidifier going and he’s fine.
P: Speaking of mom advice, you came out with your book of pregnancy tales and advice last year. What is the single most valuable piece of advice you want pregnant moms to know?
TM: The most difficult thing for me was worrying that everything would be okay. The best thing that I could say is “just relax.” I know it’s easier said than done and I’ve been through it already, but the more relaxed you are the better it will be for you and the baby. Don’t get on the internet and try to look at every wrong possible scenario that could happen. And sleep while you can. Everybody would tell me this, but I would not listen. Make sure you get as much sleep as you possibly can because when you become a mom—sleep, what? There is no such thing as sleep.
For moms in general, follow your instincts. I believe we have been born to do this, to be moms. We’re natural nurturers, so trust your instincts. Go at your own pace. I never realized how much judgment comes with certain parenting styles. Do what’s best for you and your family and that’s ok. If you are an attachment parent and you have the type of style, that’s fine. If you’re not, that’s fine. Don’t judge other moms. I think that’s the worst thing you can do to any mom and any child. Whether it’s breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every parent has their own journey.
P: Your sister, Tamera, is also a new mom. Are your parenting styles similar or different?
TM: My sister and I have very different parenting styles. I’m definitely more of the attachment parent. I sleep with my son. I pay close attention to his emotional needs. If I could have breasfed until he was 2, I would have. I loved breastfeeding. That’s why we came out with Need Milky, because I was devastated that my milk dried up after three months. I’m not going to spank my child. I don’t believe in spanking. I was spanked as a child, so I have an interesting perspective about that. I do believe in setting boundaries. I think a child definitely has to understand their boundaries because when they go out in the real world not everything is going to go their way, but I don’t think that spanking is a form of discipline that works for everybody.
P: As twins and as co-stars you are so close, how do you deal with a clash about parenting styles?
TM: I’m going to be honest, that’s why I say “don’t be judgmental.” Sometimes I would think “Oh my gosh, are you judging me? Are you judging my parenting style? Do you think I’m not a good mom or a good parent because I’m co-sleeping with my child and you’re deciding not to?” We’ve realized that we have different lifestyles. There’s a reason why I do what I do. I work a lot. When I’m gone from my child, to then be able to sleep with him and to be able to feel his hand on my face and to hear him go “Muhmuh” in the middle of the night it melts my heart. Whereas, Tamera, she’s more at home so maybe she wants to have a little break. What helped us with that clash is not judging one another. We do what we do because it’s what’s best for our families, not that we believe one is the right way or the wrong way of parenting.
P: It’s interesting because obviously you came from the same family, but have very different interpretations of the events that you both experienced and how that translates to your sons.
TM: It shows how your children are watching. My sister’s way of parenting is very close to my mom’s way of parenting, whereas I’m like the free one. I’m the free bird. I like to try different approaches and have a mind of my own in a way. So I say, “Ok that worked for you, but I see it differently.” It’s interesting when you have your mom saying, “Honey, why does your 2-year-old still have a bottle.” And I say, “If he wants to have a bottle—this is what I mean by listening to him emotionally—he can have a bottle.” I know he’s not going to be 9 years old with a bottle, so if he wants to suck a bottle right now and that’s bringing him comfort, that’s fine. I trust my child in his development.
P: Speaking of age and developmental milestones, I know that Cree is 2. What is your favorite thing about this age?
TM: My favorite thing about this age is that I can now communicate with my child. I can kind of understand what he’s saying. There’s a lot of babbling. I love the way when I’m driving and we’ve been in the car for about an hour and he wants Mommy’s attention he says “hand, hand, hand” and I can reach back and give him my hand. I like the way I’m able to understand him more, he’s able to understand me more. I like the way he’s able to have his own point of view now or his own interests. He likes Curious George. He likes Thomas the Train. He was not too fond about the Chica show. That’s fine. I like that. Little bits of his personality are coming out.
P: Now that he’s vaccinated and there is no fear of going out and catching the flu, what is your favorite autumn and winter activities that you’re looking forward to sharing with Cree?
TM: My son loves being outside. He’s living up to his name, Cree, after a tribe of Native Americans who were warriors who would travel around the world. He always wants to go out and about. We love going to The Grove in L.A. For winter there is Santa Claus and there’s this big huge tree and he gets to meet Santa Claus, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. I also just got him a new wardrobe at Zara. I love ZaraKids. He’s looking like a little Jay-Z, he has on these puffy bubble jackets with these cool corduroy pants and boots. I can’t wait to dress him in fun fall clothes.
P: Speaking of dressing up, Halloween is upon us. Do you have a costume planned for him?
TM: I have to tell this story. I was working last year for Halloween, I was doing Baggage Claim. My husband took my son around the block for Halloween. My husband dressed as Mario and my son was dressed as a frog. It was so cute. For the other one he was a boxer—I had to get him more than one because it was his first Halloween. This year I think I want to be a Geisha with the whole makeup, but I don’t know what Cree could be.
P: Maybe a little sushi roll?
TM: Oh that’s such a good idea! That is so cute. And then what should my husband be? A samurai!
P: Will he go trick-or-treating with his cousin or is Tamera’s Aden too young?
TM: He will be dressed up and I think that will be great. I’m thinking about having a huge Halloween party at my house and having all cool punches and desserts and food that’s very Halloween-themed. That’s what I want to do.
P: I know that Instant Mom is coming up. Is your character’s mothering anything like what it is with Cree, or maybe when Cree gets older?
TM: I think where Stephanie Phillips’ parenting skills are right now is kind of like how I was when I first had Cree. When you’re a new mom, you’re a fish out of water. You don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s trial and error basically. You can read all these books and get advice, but you kind of have to go through the experience yourself. So it reminds me of that, when I was a new mom. People would say that I’m a fun mom and I’m a hot mama and Stephanie is that. She is a hot, fun mom. She definitely has not lost who she is and her essence as a woman now that she’s become a mom and that’s how I am. But I add a lot of my own personality to my character, that she is just a lot of fun but when it comes down to discipline she’s serious with the kids. She feels “I know I’m your mom and you want me to be your friend, but at the same time I’m the mom.” But for me, my goal is to be the best mom I can possibly be.
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Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Parents caught up with tennis star, humanitarian, father (and now snack-creator) Andre Agassi upon the launch of his new snack line for kids, Box Budd!es. Agassi teamed up with V20 Foods to create snacks from milk boxes to granola bars.We particularly enjoyed the fun new Peachy Apple Fruit Pouch as a twist on traditional applesauce. The chocolate granola bars win the Parents vote since they’re the perfect size for a lunchbox treat, with only 100 calories and 5 grams of sugar each. Not to mention, all of the proceeds from these foods benefit the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. But aside from this endeavor, as dad to Jaden, 11, and Jaz, 9, this pro has plenty to say about healthy eating, kids and sports, and teaching your child kindness.
P: What got you started on the nutritional front for kids?
AA: The impetus was about education and it morphed into educating on two fronts. All the money goes to my Foundation for Education, so we can educate our future, and we also educate parents on how to make better choices for their kids.
P: The snacks are a bit healthier and the proceeds support education, but I have to imagine taste was a factor. Were Jaden and Jaz your taste-testers?
AA: They were two of them, let me put it that way. Their cousins were four more and their friends. As we got closer to the end product it became a fun thing in the house. We would line up all these blind taste tests and cut them into little tiny squares so you could compare them and then they would all do their little notes about them. It was actually a pretty fun process.
P: So are applesauce and chocolate milk some of their favorite foods?
AA: We have the same dilemma every parent has in that you keep your kids living a well-balanced health lifestyle and it starts with educating them on their choices and forcing them to eat something healthy before they eat something that’s not as healthy.
P: What are you tricks of the trade in getting them to choose that healthier option?
AA: Well, it’s a mandate. If you want something that’s unhealthy for a snack, you first have to eat an apple. You want to go to dessert, you have to finish this on your plate. It’s filling them up on the good stuff before they choose the bad stuff. If they ask for snacks, as long as they eat something healthy they can have the snack. We don’t discriminate against the snack as long as they start with the healthy option.
P: I know that you are involved with the Boys and Girls club, an organization that mixes education and athletics. Do Jaden and Jaz play sports to keep active and healthy?
AA: Yeah. My son plays baseball, full stop, and my daughter’s on two hip hop dance competition teams. She is rock hard now and she’s nine. I didn’t even know bodies could do those movements. It’s crazy to watch her do it.We’re there at competitions and games cheering all the time.
P: In your autobiography, Open, you talk a lot about how tennis felt pressurized for you. How do you keep athletics, or dance, or physical activity in general fun for your kids?
AA: Well, we’re not the kind of parents who expect them to do this for a lifetime. We try to nurture what they gravitate towards and they both found their niche pretty quickly. We just support it. There’s nothing to push them at. They just have to see through their responsibility. It’s really smiple: You’re going to fulfill your responsibility. Jaz is part of two dance competitions. She doesn’t have to do it next year, but this year I say, “You’re going to every practice, you’re going to go to every competition.” Same with Jaden—he can make his choices year to year if that’s what he chooses, but I harp on being responsible.
P: Through your Foundation and all of the wonderful causes that you’ve been a supporter of, giving back is clearly an important value to you. How do you go about instilling that value in your children?
AA: All of those things I did that led me to education. I got tired of sticking band-aids on issues and I wanted to give the tools for real systemic change. But I will tell you this, and one thing I’ve learned most profoundly as a parent: children will learn from what they see way more than what you tell them. So the fact that I’m in New York right now for two days and I’m not home with them, they want to know where I am and why I’m going. I walk them through what I’m doing, as an example, with Box Budd!es. They all of a sudden realize that I’m not really doing something I want to do—I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to leave them—but I have to because it is the right thing to do. So they see that more than telling them. Next thing you know on the weekend they’re having a lemonade drive for the ASPCA to save pets and animals. It’s remarkable how that correlates.
P: I know that Jaden has a birthday coming up, he’s about to turn 12. Do you have birthday plans?
AA: Both of them actually. Jaz wants to take her entire dance team to the Jabberwockies. So that would be the third year in a row she wants to do that. They’re better athletes than anyone I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. They’re remarkable what they can do. Jaden, his birthday is late October so he’s still sort of morphing back and forth between a very understated barbeque with just a few friends or a big movie night with his entire team.
P: Will you serve Box Budd!es at the birthday party?
I’m gonna push this as much as possible. I hope this brand builds. I hope that when people see that seal, that logo, that this is really going towards our future, that they trust the source, and that 100 percent of all my proceeds are going directly to our future.
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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
The 2013 U.S. Open Tennis Tournament has finally come to an end, which means that the season is winding down and the players’ schedules lighten up. For the dads on the ATP tour, this means some added family time. Top ranked players James Blake of the United States, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland share how they manage being a dad while playing, their most memorable moments with their kids on the tour, and their favorite things to do in New York during the grand slam. Turns out, even the tennis players who travel the world up to 42 weeks of the year value the same parts of parenting as you.
James Blake, dad to Riley, 1
What has your most memorable moment been with your daughter, Riley, on the tour?
JB: It’s every day. Every day is something new, it’s so much fun. The first time she walked was the day before I left for Atlanta and I couldn’t be happier that I was still home. I watched her walk across the basement floor and once she realized she could walk…just nonstop. I don’t think she’s stopped walking since then. It’s been a month and a half and I don’t think she’s stopped walking or running. And she’s started to mimic. So when I say “night night” she says “night night” back. Every day is so much fun.
What do you most look forward to doing with her now that you have officially retired from the game to spend more time with your family?
JB: I’m looking forward to being around and not even thinking about missing another milestone. I’m lucky to have that luxury, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Lleyton Hewitt, dad to Mia, 7, Cruz, 4 and Ava, 2
What was your funniest or most memorable moment with your kids on tour?
LH: Some of the best moments are when I’m taking them on court after I’ve had a good win—that’s obviously pretty special. I’m fortunate enough that I have kids who are young enough in age that I can still be playing on the tour and they can understand what dad’s doing on tour. Travling a lot, your priorities change, obviously. It’s not so much about my schedule as much as it is about their schedule and what’s best for them.
Stanislas Wawrinka, dad to Alexia, 3
What’s your most special moment you’ve had when your daughter travels with you?
SW: The first time she came to see my warm-up match in Basel last year was great. She was really happy. It’s more important that when she’s on the tour, she’s really happy to be at Daddy’s work. I like to play with her at night and when I have days off.
Has she been to New York? What do you like to do with her around the city?
SW: Yes, last year she was here. She went to Central Park a lot. For a kid it’s not easy in New York—it’s a big city. It was not easy for us because I leave early in the morning and come back late. When I had a day off I went to Central Park with her to ride the horse carriage and she loved it! She said, “I want to do it with Daddy and Mommy!” It was a great memory.
Image: James Blake by Herbert Kratky/ Shutterstock.com
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Friday, August 30th, 2013
Parents caught up with renowned authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus just before their latest book, The First Affair, hit store shelves. Known best for their breakout novel The Nanny Diaries and its sequel Nanny Returns, Emma and Nicola have since moved from nannyhood to motherhood. Here the writing team chats all things Nanny Diaries, being moms to their 3-year-olds—a daughter for Nicola, a son for Emma—and their latest must-read for moms.
How were The Nanny Diaries born?
EM: We heard mothers who neither stayed at home nor worked complaining about their help. It was a very one-sided story because the help was never really interviewed and didn’t have a voice. We really wanted to talk about everything we had witnessed and experienced and that whole side of the conversation. We set out to write Nanny Diaries.
NK: We never imagined that it was going to create a very large career change for us or that we’d be sitting here talking to you about our seventh book 13 years later.
How did working as nannies affect your parenting style and your relationship with the people who take care of your children?
NK: As a nanny I ran a very tight ship. If you sort of establish what the rules are day one then you never have to do it again because they know their boundaries and kids find that very comforting. As a parent, it’s a disaster. Sophie runs roughshod over me all the time. We always sensed that being a parent and being a nanny are not the same things at all, but G-d they are not the same things at all. The other great thing that I feel like I got from being a nanny, why I would recommend it to anyone for at least a year as a twenty-something job, is that I really viscerally understand how fast this is going to go in a way that I don’t think you can unless you’ve raised kids. I don’t sweat a lot of things. I just know that it’s going to be fine. A lot of people say raise your first like your fourth. And she was my fourth. She was my 31st in many ways.
Does your experience as a nanny have an affect on the way you treat your babysitter when she comes over?
EM: It’s always at the very front of my mind. I am constantly aware of her perspective in this and that she never becomes part of the woodwork to me. I think something that really shocked me as a nanny were parents who sort of assumed the worst from the get-go. People who didn’t accept the benefit of the doubt. I see through her eyes. Also, I’m so touched and humbled by the effort that she makes, the level of good thinking that she does for my child.
NK: I’m so appreciative. When I come to pickup at the end of the day I just want to hand them a flask of whiskey. I’m like “Oh my G-d, you’ve been with twelve 3.5 year-olds all day. Are you ok?”
EM: I would walk in with a beer if I could.
Do you think your books—from Nanny Diaries all the way through The First Affair—appeal to moms?
NK: I hope so.
EM: I think just because you’re a mom it doesn’t negate, if anything you’re probably more enhanced, that you’re a woman trying to find your place in the world.
NK: We try to write the kinds of stories that we like to find the time to read now. They have to be a page-turner because you are just too tired for anything where you don’t have a question that’s keeping you going. We like to write stories about some aspect about being a woman that hopefully resonates with everybody. I think our moms are our most loyal group. I also think moms don’t really want to read about being moms when they get some down time.
EM: I don’t. I don’t want to read anything.
NK: When you go to a fiction place, that’s not my escapism.
EM: Maybe that changes when you have like an 18-year-old.
I’ll check back then. What initially drove you to write The First Affair?
NK: I think certainly when the most memorable occurrence happened in recent history it was something that really struck us because we are the exact same age and because we made so many mistakes in our early 20s. We were so lucky to come of age before the internet when those mistakes didn’t follow us into our first job interviews. They didn’t follow us even into our next relationships.
EM: To us, this story was a fascinating place to spend some time. The tremendous thrill of being in a secret like that and the paralyzing burden of being in a secret like that, especially when your sense of yourself is just beginning to be form…. Then for a mom, your sexuality, your relationship, it does tend to get pushed to the side. You’re just trying to get through the next five minutes. And to take yourself back to a time when this paradox is a 360 [from life now], it was everything you were in. We have the reader ask for herself, would I have chosen that? Would I have followed him? Would I have kissed him? Would I have called him back? For us, certainly, as mothers writing it, it was a great place to spend five hours a day. For a mother reading it, it’s just a totally different problem sequence than what you’re in for your day-to-day life.
With all of these public scandals that have exploded in the media recently, how do you feel about raising children, specifically a daughter, in a place where not only this is happening, but it’s happening for the world to see? How do you navigate that?
NK: I get overwhelmed by a lot of things. There are things that I get overwhelmed by before I even get to that place. Sexting I get overwhelmed by. The internet. The fact that the average age of first porn exposure is now 8. Even if you have netnanny on your computer, they’ll go to someone’s house who doesn’t. I think we’re a generation who is going to have to relinquish a lot of control and try to give our children the best context that we can for the information they’re going to get bombarded with and hope for the best.
There is a great line in Tina Fey’s BossyPants in the prayer for her daughter when she says may her daughter avoid the eyes of the creepy soccer coach because it’s not the beauty that draws him but the damage—which is incredibly astute. So my first and foremost goal is to create a child who doesn’t have a gaping hole in her soul. So I’m hoping that Sophie is not wounded. That chocolate cake will just be chocolate cake. That her married boss will just be her married boss. That none of these things are going to hold the power and the magnetism because she won’t be trying to work through some childhood trauma. That’s my job.
On the flip side, coming up as a man in this world, how do you go about raising maybe a respectful child or a child who is aware?
EM: I was thinking Tina Fey is exactly the quote. I think we have to aim to just keep—and not moreso with a young man than a young woman—but to just [let them] know how loved they are and to have love be a clean, balanced part of their lives.
As authors, are you big readers with your kids? What are their favorite books?
NK: Sophie just discovered this book that I’m obsessed with. It’s called Visitor for Bear. It’s about a bear who has a sign on his door saying no visitors allowed and this little mouse just wants to hang out. It is the cutest story and now I need to get her the rest of the series. It’s really funny. Sophie walks around the house going “No visitors allowed!” “Vamoose!” “This is insufferable” “Intolerable!”
EM: My son is going through, as they all do, a huge vehicle phase. Mostly it’s about looking at vehicles and choosing our favorites and me being told what my favorite is when it’s not. The Richard Scarry books, like Things That Go, anything with tons of pictures. We recently got into a series called Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold. If I could give a shoutout to anything in the childhood world I have to say Daniel Tiger. I want to write a love letter to everyone on that staff. It is so perfectly thoughtfully lovingly done. And as a parent it is the one thing out of everything that we dip in to that really helps.
Watch this video to hear more from Emma and Nicola about their journey from Nanny til now.
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Monday, July 8th, 2013
Last month, Chris Noth presented a generous donation to Nourish Now—an organization that brings meals to families in need—on behalf of BV Wines. Parents spoke to Chris about how his work (both on-screen and on the hunger relief effort) impacts his life as a father to his 5-year-old son, Orion, from dealing with dinnertime pickiness to spending time together before Orion heads off to full-day school.
P: How does being a father impact your perspective on the issue of hunger relief?
CN: As a father your instinct kicks in and you want to make sure your kid is safe and well-fed. People don’t really know that 1 in 6 Americans don’t have access to food, that 17 million children are living in food-insecure households. Like me—I didn’t know that. It’s inconceivable to me that if you have a child that they would be food insecure.
P: Speaking of nutrition and healthy eating, your son is at that age when it can be difficult to feed your child, not due to lack of resources but due to pickiness. Is Orion a picky eater?
CN: All kids have their own peculiar tastes, I think. For instance, Orion doesn’t like spicy foods. He loves strawberries. He’s a big cheese eater, too, by the way. I was surprised at that. He loves cheese. Loves Parmesan cheese [laughs]. We’re just now getting him to eat meat; he wasn’t attracted to any kind of meat. But, then, he loves certain seafoods.
I try to trick him of course because he’s in that superhero-fascination age. I say, “You gotta eat this if you wanna be like Spiderman, kiddo. You gotta finish this up.” It’s an ongoing challenge. We’ve made vegetables kind of fun for him to eat. But we also use the old tricks of the trade. My son, for dessert, he doesn’t like chocolate—believe it or not—but he likes mochi. He’s crazy about mochi. So if he knows that he’s gonna get his two mochis at the end of the meal, he’s gonna clean that plate.
P: Do you sometimes disguise the vegetables in tastier items?
CN: She [my wife] is very good at that, at chopping vegetables up and blending them into things so he thinks he’s getting a French Fry but maybe it’s beets. I mean he does love those salty things that can be a little dangerous.
P: What about school lunches? What are you most excited or most nervous for with him going off to full day kindergarden?
CN: We just had our kindergarten meeting, so he starts next year. It’s a huge huge step. He had a very tight community at his preschool and so did we—with the teachers. It was just such a nourishing environment. I hate to say this, because it’s ridiculous, but it’s like from that [preschool] environment to kindergarten it’s kind of like he’s going to university in his eyes. He’s nervous. But, it’s still a really small community.
P: Since you split time between New York and L.A., when you and Orion get to see each other and you are in the same place, what are some of your favorite things to do together to celebrate that father-son bond?
CN: He’s into baseball. A Yankee game has got to be on the list. He’s obsessed with Derek Jeter; he’s very upset about his injury [chuckles]. You know, I love taking him, believe it or not, I want to see a couple of shows on Broadway. He digs that. He’s seen Spider-Man twice. I’m trying to see if Matilda is the show for him. Although, I desperately don’t want him to be an actor.
P: Why is that?
CN: There’s enough…entertainment isn’t one of the things we lack. Actors are not something we lack. Do we need another actor? G-d no.
P: Obviously charity work is very important to you. Is volunteerism and giving back something that you hope to encourage as Orion gets older?
CN: Thanksgiving we went to a local church that I found through the food bank. I think it would be a nice thing for him always to know about these things. He didn’t really quite get it, he was having fun, you know, asking to serve things, but he will get it. I think it’s important for every child to understand what’s around them, what the problems are and to be a part of the solution as they get older. I didn’t do it as a kid, frankly. I wasn’t aware of it. It is about awareness and then action.
P: Aside from volunteerism and helping out those around you, what would you say is the most important value you hope to instill in Orion?
CN: Generosity. I want him to be strong, but a gentle man. I want him to be able to see the difference between something that has real value and something that doesn’t.
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Monday, June 17th, 2013
Photo credit: Amy Sussman/AP for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.
Last week, Parents caught up with Maggie Gyllenhaal at the 125th Anniversary celebration of The First Aid Kit by Johnson & Johnson. After hearing from Safe Kids Worldwide about preventing childhood injuries, we spoke to Maggie about how she keeps her two daughters, Ramona, 6, and Gloria, 14 months, safe, and what she does to stay relaxed even in scary moments.
P: When you first became a mom, were you the nervous type?
MG: I was young when Ramona was born. I was 28 and still kind of a kid in a lot of ways. I wanted to be cool about everything and easygoing. I didn’t realize that the way to be easygoing is to do some preparation, to actually have a diaper bag with the things you need! Because if you do that then you don’t have to constantly be worrying, “Oh G-d! They need a snack and where am I going to get something?” I know all that now! Also my second daughter is much more easygoing with her own bumps and bruises. She’ll fall over and kind of get up and be fine. Not always, but she’s a different personality than my first.
P: Who puts on the Band-Aids at home? You or Daddy? Does Ramona or Gloria have a preference?
MG: I’m not sure Gloria has ever had to have a Band-Aid, yet. And Ramona definitely prefers me for that kind of thing, although Peter is happy to do it, too. She’s definitely more of a mama’s girl.
P: Have you had any scares with Ramona?
MG: I look at my girlfriend who has three little boys and they have been in and out of the hospital. They have gotten broken bones and stitches and my kids haven’t had any of that stuff…yet. It’s partially to do with their personalities. Ramona definitely is super active, but she’s also cautious.
There was one time when Gloria was about 4 weeks old that Ramona slipped. We were staying at a friend’s house in upstate New York and I was downstairs with our newborn. All I heard was a big thud and crying. I went upstairs and Peter was holding Ramona’s ankle in this way and looking at me in a way that I thought, “Oh my G-d she broke her ankle, and we’re upstate, and I have a 4-week-old, and it’s like 100 degrees.” And I really thought something terrible had happened and, in fact, it was nothing. But I think the way that she’d fallen he just thought, Ok sit down. Let me check it out. Peter was a soccer player, so he knows all about injuries. I remember that as a really terrifying moment, because when you have a tiny baby you are so sensitive, and my heart was just so open in those first six weeks in particular. So I still was not fully functional. I didn’t know how I was going to manage taking her to the emergency room with a newborn. Thank G-d I didn’t have to.
P: You mentioned that your husband is great with these sports injuries. Is Ramona going in to sports or dance?
MG: I think she’s just active the way a kid is active and loves to do cartwheels and round-offs. In her school they do a lot of that stuff. She’s very strong. But, I don’t know yet what she’s going to be.
P: If you end up on the sidelines, how do you make sure she’s safe being an active kid?
MG: Well, like they say, some injuries are part of being alive. It’s just the same as…I think about heartbreak for my children or even the social stuff that goes on between friends. It prepares you for being an adult where you get hurt all the time—not as much physically. I think about that sometimes, too. If you ever fall as an adult—slip and fall—how incredibly jarring it is. As kids they’re doing it all the time, just falling over.
I think the ways that you hurt yourself both physically and emotionally as a kid are ways of preparing you for dealing with those same kind of things as a grownup. So, I don’t think it’s the end of the world for people to get hurt, but I do think that you have to be careful. I think you have to keep an eye out for them and you have to keep boundaries.
I thought before my kids were born that I was just going to be so easygoing. In fact, I find that it’s easier for me and it’s better for them to be really clear about what’s safe and what’s not. What’s okay and what’s not.
P: When they’re with their Grandma Naomi, do you leave behind instructions?
MG: My mom has said, “I’m allowed to give her more treats than you do. I am allowed to let her stay up late. That’s my job.” It’s part of the gift of being a grandmother.
Click here for tips on how to be prepared in 12 scary situations.
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Friday, June 14th, 2013
“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage,” I used to sing gayly on the blacktop at recess as I jumped rope. It all sounds so nice and simple, like a present wrapped in a bow. But as we all know, life is not as easy as the jingle had us believe when we were young, particularly the part about having kids.
More women are beginning to discuss the struggles and more serious medical side-effects of giving birth— specifically postpartum depression—but the subject still feels taboo. Director/writer/producer Jon Avnet hopes that his new YouTube series Susanna on the WIGS channel will help eliminate the stigma associated with the condition. The drama tells the story of Katie (Anna Paquin), a new mom suffering from acute postpartum depression, and her younger sister Susanna (Maggie Grace), who must step in to care for her newborn niece when it is clear that Katie’s illness is dire.
According to Postpartum Support International, 15 percent of women experience major or minor depression after the birth of their child. Yet, so many of us are in the dark about the condition and its symptoms. Like Katie, women experiencing postpartum depression often feel a lack of connection to the baby they were so looking forward to meeting. As a new mom, Katie feels rejected, like her baby is a stranger to her. Avnet combines Katie’s feelings of insecurity with the sleep deprivation and uncertainty that every new mother experiences to create a relatable and powerful story.
Each episode is a quick but impactful 10-minute view into Katie’s world, showing suffering mothers that they are not alone, postpartum depression is more common than we think, and there is no shame in talking about it and seeking help.
Susanna starring Anna Paquin and Maggie Grace debuts with six episodes Friday, June 14 on WIGS.
Click here to watch a preview clip of the series.
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