Archive for the ‘ Parenting Advice ’ Category

Author of ‘Parentology’ Says A Dirty House is Healthier

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

You know better than anyone that one-size-fits-all parenting doesn’t work. While Cry It Out is a savior to one mom, co-sleeping works best for someone else. Author Dalton Conley, Ph.D., decided to use scientific methods to “study” these and other popular parenting ideas on his own children. (i.e., They kept their house dirty to see if germs were good or bad.) The result is his refreshingly honest, funny and relevant book called Parentology. We asked Dalton, a sociologist and professor at New York University, some questions:

KK: What is Parentology?
DC: It’s feedback parenting using the traditional scientific method but applying it to your kids. You read about a particular issue, something like, ‘Should I feed my kids their dinner after it fell on the floor?’ You inform yourself with the latest research and then try a little experiment. It’s less haphazard than straight trial and error.

KK: So should let kids eat food that fell on the floor?
DC: For a long time, it’s been thought that we want to minimize kids’ contact with germs. But research shows we’re not getting enough of them, and there’s been a recent increase in autoimmune diseases and inflammation. Kids with dirty floors have fewer of these issues. So we continue to have a very dirty house and not worry about it. So far, so good.

KK: So what is your verdict about Cry It Out versus co-sleeping?
DC: We came down on the side of the Sears family bed. In our case, our daughters had been in the NICU for five weeks. We felt, by the time we got her home, we wanted to maximize the level of physical, emotional and verbal contact with her. Her circumstance led us to make a choice that was against the recommendation of everyone else in our circle of family and friends. This illustrates the fact that even though we think of science as abstract rules, for each kid, what works is going to be different.

KK: What is the takeaway hypothesis of your book?
DC: We’ve heard a lot about Chinese parenting and French parenting. These are cultures without a lot of immigration with long histories and traditions. We’re an immigrant country. We reinvent things. We make up religions such as Mormonism and Unitarianism plus sports like baseball. I believe our haphazard parenting methods are fine. We’re not going to stop worrying about our kids ever, and it’s all just one big experiment.

Plus: Are you ready for another child?

Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do
Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do
Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do

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Sexually Abused Mom Gets Real in Her Memoir ‘On the Edge of Insanity’

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

On the Edge of Insanity by Valerie Smith is a deep memoir about a mother who was sexually abused and really struggles to raise her children. Read about her story in her own words, below. Note: Valerie Smith is a pseudonym–you’ll understand why. And read more here about how to protect your child from a predator.

“This book is a journey of myself. I was middle-aged single mother who had a mental breakdown which was brought on by the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. My children were 3 and 6 when all hell broke loose, and I believed that with therapy I would be able to help My family progress emotionally and all move on to a better life.

It did not happen that way–regression therapy took 19 years. By the time I was given a clean bill of health, my children were in their twenties.

Before therapy, I had a desire to sexually abuse my baby boy. It’s true. But I didn’t want that to happen. It took immense strength not to harm him. Looking back, it was the biggest hurdle I had to bear. Therapy helped me get through it and never touch him inappropriately.

During those years of treatment, I was put in solitary confinement three separate times. First for two weeks, then three weeks and then finally a stay of three months, starting with being thrown into a padded cell and a new course of medication, all in psychiatry units. I was diagnosed initially with schizophrenia and then as a psychotic depressive in remission. In addition to regression therapy, I had a course of a six-week sex abuse therapy, and then I came to terms with the fact that I had been sexually abused by my  father. I was always aware that my uncle and neighbor had sexually abused me, but it took longer to admit that my father did it to me, too. With this knowledge , my fight for survival intensified and, as my father was dead, I was unable to confront him.

Being raised in a large family, I longed for affection and emotional fortitude. I tried to discuss my findings with my family,  but on my older brother showed compassion.

Finally, after those years of struggling to care for my  children, I achieved mental fortitude, and my goal of becoming a good mother in every way.

If you’ve been abused, this is real. You need help with your darkest and most depressing thoughts. Ask someone. Find help. Reach out.

If you notice signs of sexual abuse in any child, speak up. Talk to someone, anyone. Most importantly, always go with gut feelings.

Let’s stop sexual abuse right now.”




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‘Prison Baby’ Author Deborah Jiang-Stein Says Sometimes Girls Should Throw a Punch

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Prison Baby author Deborah Jiang-Stein was born in prison addicted to heroin just like her mother was. Deborah spent her first year of life there and eventually went into the foster care system and got adopted. Today, she is a national speaker and founder of The unPrison Project, a nonprofit working to empower and inspire incarcerated women and girls with life skills and mentoring to plan and prepare for successful lives after prison. She’s the author of the brand new memoir, Prison Baby (Beacon Press.)

Today, one of her biggest roles is mother. Here’s what she has to say about teaching her daughters to stand up for themselves–even if they need to throw a punch.

“When one of my daughters was in third grade or so, I got a call from her school’s aftercare program that alarmed me. She’d punched a boy in the face and split his lip open. When I picked her up, the teacher pulled my daughter and me aside and reminded us about the no hitting rule. The aftercare worker didn’t know the reason for the incident. So at the time I just agreed, and repeated back the words, “No hitting.”

As she and I walked out of the building, she cried, hugged my waist and said, “You always told me that if my body was threatened, I should fight back.” I didn’t remember that I’d said that, but it sounds like me.

Right then I knew there was another story behind the story. As it turns out, two of her classmates, both boys, had pinned her down and had teased her about crushing on another boy. All in fun, and kids play around like this. But I’ve raised my two daughters as fierce, gentle warriors. I’m raising them to hold love and kindness in the highest esteem and also to stand up for what they believe. And to physically defend themselves if they are physically attacked. It’s survival—how simple is that?

If she’d been a boy, would I’ve been called into school? We don’t expect girls to scrap around in a fight. We don’t expect them to compete with boys either.

A few years earlier in a school parent conference, her homeroom teacher, a socially-conscious instructor who we adored, made me a proud mother when she said: “Your daughter’s a hard worker and a delight in class. “

“But,” the teacher went on, ”whenever we lineup in the hall for transition time, she fights her way to the front of the line.”

I remembered my school days when the boys would rumble around in the hall and the girls lined up nicely waiting for instructions from the teacher. I was a rumbler, too.

I asked the teacher if any other girls did this, or just my daughter. Turns out, just her, along with most of the boys.

“Are you speaking to the boys’ parents about their scrapping around too?” I asked the woman.

We both sat in a silent teaching moment. “No,” she said. “Good point. I haven’t talked to the boys’ parents about their sons ruckus in line.”

Social expectations carve deep into our parenting and teaching. I’m raising my girls to show up as gentle and kind and fierce human beings, all in the same bundle. From generation to generation, I learned this from my progressive parents, and I’m sure also from my incarcerated birth mother with whom I spent one year in prison where I was born. But it was a year where I’m sure women surrounded me with love and strength, wisdom and kindness.”

Read the rest of her story in Prison Baby.

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Is Calling a Girl Bossy Bad? Sheila Heen on Ban Bossy

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Last week, I posted about the great new book, Thanks for the Feedback. This week, one of the authors, Sheila Heen, tells me what she thinks about calling girls bossy. Is it bad? Is Sheryl Sandberg onto something with her Ban Bossy campaign? And by the way, how do we handle all the unwanted mom-to-mom advice that often feels so judgmental?

Check out the awesome advice Heen has below:

KK: What do you think about the Ban Bossy campaign? How bad is bossy?
SH: Being called “bossy” as a little girl is like most feedback we get as adults–mixed.  It undermines the value of the skills it takes to speak up or provide leadership in a group.

But the feedback that we’re being bossy also contains information about how we are impacting those around us that sometimes we should learn from. Maybe someone feels unheard or dismissed or steamrolled. That is important for leaders to understand.
So when my daughter is called bossy (as I was), I want her to hold onto the initiative and being willing to try, and I want her to learn that real leadership is marrying that with empathy and engaging others.
KK: Women are often giving each other advice about babies, parenting and everything else. Why does this hit so close to home?
SH: It’s easy to hear well-intended coaching (“have you tried a wheat-free diet?”) as judgment that you’re doing it all wrong. Particularly when we’re first-time parents, or trying to figure out our second child, our own anxiety about being the perfect parent and not ruining our kids forever can amplify our sense of accusation, even when the mom offering the tip is well-intended.

KK: Why is it often so judgmental?
Because it often is. Every parent is doing some things well (our kids eat healthy and already know their ABCs) and others less so (Noah nap? Never. Yes, he’s a basket case.)  These reflect our own values and upbringing, as well as our kids’ challenges and temperaments. In your house, discipline and table manners get instilled early, while next door table manners are nonexistent but potty training is completed before age two. So when we offer neighbor mom “suggestions” for teaching table manners, we are trying to be helpful, but we’re also not-so-secretly wondering why the heck she hasn’t taken care of this before middle school.

KK: What helps?
Remember that you are in charge of how you hear mom-to-mom advice, and work to extract the judgment and hear the coaching as simply coaching. It’s advice, and it’s your job to decide what’s might work for your kids and your family. The fact that the neighbors do it differently doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong. And even when the advice is 90 percent wrong – would never work for your son – that last 10 percent can sometimes be of value, sparking an idea that does work, and the payoff is worth it when you finally toss the last pull-up.

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Cool Book Alert: Learn Chinese Easy with Chineasy

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Cool book alert: Chineasy by ShaoLan, a successful mom entrepreneur and now the author of a book that makes Chinese easy for kids–and their parents. See what she has to say below, and check out a character from the text:

“The Chinese language has long been considered the most difficult major language to learn, largely on account of the vast number and complexity of the characters. Being a Taiwanese native now living in London, I am acutely aware of this fact. When I began to teach my British-born children Chinese, I realized just how difficult Chinese characters are for a non-Chinese native speaker to learn. It was like torture for my kids! So I spent many years looking for a fun and easy way to teach them how to read Chinese. After years of searching, I realized that none of the methods out there were engaging or efficient enough. So I did what any entrepreneur would do, I created my own method to learn how to read Chinese characters.

I created a methodology that breaks down thousands of Chinese characters into a few hundred base building blocks. When these building blocks are combined, they form compounds that can in turn be combined to create phrases. Through this method learners can quickly build a large vocabulary of characters with very little effort.

By making the characters pictographic and by explaining their history I found that my children could more actively retain what they were learning. The illustrations gave the alien forms of Chinese characters a frame work in which to be views. This started with simple characters such as fire 火 and mountain 山. But once a child knows these, it is not a big jump for them to learn that a burning mountain is a volcano 火山. My first book which will be released on March 10th features just over 400 different characters. Once I had finished writing this book my children knew all of them and that was only through including them in the artistic process of selecting one interpretation of the character out of the 6 or 7 provided by the designers. I think what appeals to them about the illustrations is how graphic they are. They are colourful and they are simple – some are also quite cute. When looking for artists to illustrate the characters I looked at a lot of different possibilities, but most were too fussy or too Chinese looking. My children were born in the UK and so Western styles of illustration appealed to them more. I have found that applying this modern and universal aesthetic to the characters allows people to abandon the preconceptions they have about the language.”

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