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Should Parents Decide Whether Their Kids Are Vaccinated?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

boy getting a vaccineThe measles outbreak at Disneyland has been all over the news for weeks, sparking much debate and controversy. Should Disneyland ban unvaccinated kids? Should schools ban unvaccinated children? I think the answer is obvious; we should make vaccinations mandatory across the board, the only exception being for medical reasons as verified by a doctor. After all, 92% of physicians attribute the recent outbreak to parents not vaccinating their kids. (Why this number is not 100%, I am not sure.) However, a surprising number of my generation disagree. A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 41% of millennials, specifically men and women 18-29, think it should be up to the parent to decide whether her child should be vaccinated. To put that in perspective, only 20% of adults 65 and older feel that way.

Four out of every 10 20-somethings would rather the parent decide whether his child should be spared from having a potentially deadly disease instead of the government making it mandatory. Why does my generation feel this way? Pew Research Center said it’s because we haven’t experienced the repercussions of living in a world without vaccines. Older adults remember the days when infectious diseases, such as measles, were not under control. Those who are “Generation Y” are blessed to not know that world, though I worry we might be headed back in that direction.

That reasoning may partially explain why a surprising percentage of millennials are anti-mandatory vaccinations; however, I think there is something else going on here. TIME deemed us the “Me Me Me Generation” nearly two years ago, and it’s easy to see why.  We are narcissistic. We want to make our own decisions. When we are parents, if we aren’t already, we will feel that we are entitled to call the shots. And I love that mindset when it comes to making decisions that directly affect your child and are not potentially life or death. Want to homeschool your kids? Great. Want to put your baby in the car without a car seat? That’s where I draw the line. Ultimately, I hope that, whether we end up making vaccinations mandatory or not, this new generation of parents will see the incredible importance of vaccinating their kids.

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Hannah Werthan is the assistant editor for Parents.com. She loves everything her fellow millennial women love, especially brunch. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Image via Shutterstock

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Tags: , , | Categories: Health

Sharing Clothes With Your Kid: Cute or Creepy?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

mother and daughter looking at clothesDo you borrow clothes from your tween daughter? If the answer is “yes,” you’re not alone. One in 5 mothers raids her daughter’s closet, according to a recent study from the money saving website Coupon Codes Pro. When I was younger, my mom and I swapped wardrobe items all the time. When it came time to pack for college, I found myself unsure which items were hers and which were mine. Our love for clothes — specifically each other’s — turned into a way for us to keep our bond strong while I was away at school. Several years later, the first item to make it’s way into my new home was a box of clothes from my mom to get me through the winter. Talk about Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants happening in real life. It’s been fun to share clothes with my mom over the years, especially since she was pretty young when she had me and we sometimes felt more like friends than mother and daughter (which I guess could be a good and bad thing). But I do think there is a point when you take things too far.

When Bethenny Frankel decided to wear her 4-year-old daughter Bryn’s pajamas, I thought that it was straight up creepy. I don’t think middle-aged women should be wearing tiny Hello Kitty pajamas under any circumstances. I can’t look at that picture without feeling uncomfortable. Was Bethenny trying to prove that she’s the same size as a preschooler? Should we be worried? The former reality star fired back at haters through her Twitter account, saying it was a joke and she did it to make her daughter laugh. Either way, I’m not laughing.

Frankel is not the only one to wear her young daughter’s clothing. Nicole Richie stepped out in 6-year-old daughter Harlow’s shag coat last month and put up a picture on Instagram. Though it is a little strange, I feel better about this wardrobe steal. Perhaps because it is an oversized children’s coat that looks normal on her petite frame. I would have never known this was a girl’s jacket if Richie hadn’t captioned her photo “Thanks for letting me borrow your jacket Harlow.” Fans seem to approve of this look, too — saying things like “so spot on” and “cute <3″ — whereas Frankel’s look received a lot of hate.

I think the lesson learned here is that you should only wear your daughter’s clothing if it doesn’t look like you are wearing your daughter’s clothing. It should be age-appropriate and fit well with your existing wardrobe. Let’s go ahead and say kids’ Hello Kitty pajamas will always be a fashion don’t. Am I right?

Fun Ways to Flaunt Your Bump
Fun Ways to Flaunt Your Bump
Fun Ways to Flaunt Your Bump

Hannah Werthan is the assistant editor for Parents.com. She was raised to love a good sale and thinks the best clothing deals come from her mom’s and friends’ closets. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Mother and daughter image via Shutterstock. Image of Nicole Richie via her Instagram

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Celebrating Christmas AND Hanukkah: Are My Kids Going to Be Totally Confused?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Asanta holding a menorah year ago today, my now husband asked me to marry him. I will never forget all of the happiness and joy around the occasion. However, once all of the excitement died down a bit and I found myself buried in copies of Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings, people started asking me what we had decided about our religions. Was I going to convert to Catholicism? Was he going to convert to Judaism? Hadn’t we thought about what we were going to do? To think that I had thought the hardest part of this getting married thing was explaining to our New York crew that we could, in fact, have a lovely wedding in the South. We ended up having a spiritual wedding with both Catholic and Jewish elements, which seemed to disappoint everyone equally and was a compromise both of us had happily agreed upon. But even with that behind us, the greater question, more apparent than ever during the holidays, is what the heck we’re going to do about our future children.

It’s not like we’re the only couple in the world that is interfaith. Not many studies are done on families’ religious stances, but, in 2008, the Pew Research Center found that over one-quarter of people lived in religiously-mixed households. One can only imagine that this number has grown substantially since then. According to a recent article in PBS, it’s not uncommon for interfaith families to pick one religion and stick with it; however, they also interviewed several families who chose to embrace both of their faiths equally. In other words, people are doing all kinds of things and you can really choose your own adventure.

It is tempting to me to invite Santa and Hanukkah Harry to our house every December, but I worry that my kids will get confused. Will they think everyone celebrates a mishmash of holidays? I will say it was truly surprising for me to see the number of books on celebrating both holidays — someone even made a “Hanukkah and Christmas: Picture Books Featuring Interfaith Celebrations” Pinterest board! (Wait, is everyone already celebrating a mishmash of holidays without me?) I also worry that the meaning behind each holiday will get lost along the way. Hanukkah is actually not that big of a deal to my family, so I’m OK with Santa stealing the show a little bit. but I’m not going to be happy when the Easter Bunny comes knocking at the door during Passover Seder. For every family, the holidays work a bit differently. I guess we’re just going to have some growing pains.

Hannah Werthan is an assistant editor at Parents.com. Working at Parents inspires her to talk about having kids all the time, which slightly terrifies her husband.

P.S. These treats are sure to be a hit at any kind of holiday party.

Not-so Frosty the Snowman
Not-so Frosty the Snowman
Not-so Frosty the Snowman

Image via Shutterstock.

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How Our Fixer-Upper House Is Preparing Us for Parenthood

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

suburban houseI got married about three weeks ago, and everyone has asked how married life feels. I think it feels about 0% different that non-married life. However, five months ago when my husband and I bought our “baby” a.k.a. our house that needed some serious love, it most certainly changed my life forever. Last week, my colleague wrote about how her puppy is preparing her for parenthood, which inspired me to consider some of the ways our house is prepping us to be parents. We may not have pets, but I am confident our home is giving us key lessons in how to raise a baby as a team.

  1. We’ve made a lot of first-time home renovator mistakes that turned out to be OK. There was that time my husband took a sledgehammer to the tub and ended up bursting open our toilet with his backswing. It was, quite frankly, disgusting and I freaked out. It was like a diaper blowout that we weren’t prepared for times 1,000. But as we ran (literally) the surprisingly heavy toilet and its broken parts through the kitchen and out the back door, I couldn’t help but laugh. Part of me wants to write a book on what not to do when doing construction on a house, but part of me thinks failure is part of the fun (really!). I hope failure in small doses is part of the fun of parenting as well, because I’m now super prepared for it.
  2. If we could have a giant baby monitor on the house, we probably would. We don’t live in our house currently, since we’re down a toilet and a kitchen and other essential things for the moment. But we’re complete hover parents. Every time we’re out we’re thinking, “Should we stop by the house?” “Should we check on the house?” “I wonder how the house is doing.” As if the house could magically do a cartwheel or something. We just don’t want to miss it.
  3. It’s really exhausting. I cannot emphasize this enough. All I can think about here is the movie Neighbors when Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne decide to go out to the club with their baby. The movie is really silly, but I think that scene is gold. I highly recommend watching just that scene. Anyway, the night comes to an end early when they fall asleep getting ready. Yep, I can relate. We’re mostly sticking to the suburban life these days, which is fine because I’d pick sorbet from 16 Handles over overpriced drinks (almost) any day.
  4. We end up spending the extra $$ to make sure everything runs smoothly. We are totally DIY when it comes to this house and are actively trying to keep costs down as much as possible – think first-time parents with cloth diapers – but sometimes you just have to splurge a little to keep your sanity. Sometimes I have to buy a little chocolate from the Home Depot checkout line when we spend hours in there. I get hangry looking at tile grout, OK?
  5. Our work will never be done, but it’s so worth it. Well, that almost goes without saying.

Parents, I don’t know how to do it, but I guess I’ll figure out some day, because I’m not doing this house for nothing. But seriously, I hope you give yourselves credit for all of the hard work you do every day. And I hope you’ll join me in grabbing some chocolate every now and then. You deserve it.

P.S. Our house doesn’t actually look anything like the photo above.

The Complete Guide to Babyproofing
The Complete Guide to Babyproofing
The Complete Guide to Babyproofing

Image via Shutterstock.

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What Should the Future of Girl Scouts Look Like?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

girl scout badges on vestThe New York Times recently ran an article about the decline of Girl Scouts and what some advocates are proposing to do in order to raise those numbers. The sad truth is that the number of Girl Scouts has fallen from more than 4 million in 2003 to 3 million. That is obviously a huge drop, and, as a former Girl Scout, I believe something should be done. Advocates are calling for the Girl Scouts to return back to its roots of camping and the great outdoors. They believe that the 2011 swaps in badges to make room for a more STEM-focused curriculum has hurt membership. Girl Scouts should be focused on outdoor activities and skills. I’m not so sure I feel the same way.

I loved being a Girl Scout, but it was definitely not because I enjoyed camping. In fact, I think we went camping one time and I begged to go home roughly one hour after we set up the tent. But we did plenty of other things that helped us grow and develop as young women. What made Girl Scouts so special? It allowed us to learn things and have amazing experiences that we would have never gotten in the classroom. My troop earned our badges spending the night on the U.S.S. Hornet, writing our pen pals across the globe, and learning proper etiquette by having a tea party. The possibilities for earning a badge seemed endless, and we tried to do almost every type of activity. And this was all well before 2011. I can’t even imagine how much girls are able to accomplish today through the program.

If some troops are interested in spending more time in the wilderness, I wouldn’t want to stop them. In a recent survey of 2,000 scouts in grades four through eight, nearly half wanted more outdoor badges. As an urban girl with no outdoor skills, this is somewhat baffling to me, but I think it’s a great idea to give that opportunity to girls who want it. However, I also think the development of new badges in STEM areas has been very helpful and useful, and my hope is that they stick around, even with the proposed addition of more outdoor badges. In my opinion, the message should be that there are lots of outdoor badge opportunities for Girl Scouts, but the program also has badges that are beneficial in helping your daughter succeed in the twenty-first century. It’s a great hybrid of honoring tradition and being progressive. To me, that sounds like a win-win situation, and it sounds like a program that I want my future daughters to join.

Are your daughters part of a troop? Make these apple pops for the next meeting:

How To Make Apple Pops
How To Make Apple Pops
How To Make Apple Pops

Image via Shutterstock

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