21 posts categorized "Parenting"

Delayed Gratification equals Success: do you believe it?

September 29, 2014

My line of work brings me into contact with lots of schools, many of them charter schools or alternative schools.  One site visit last week brought me to a charter school in a low-income neighborhood, where the administrator stated a few times that the staff believes in the studies of delayed gratification where they result in better adult outcomes: more success in school, career and life.  

I had never heard of the "marshmallow experiment" wherein researchers presented children with a marshmallow, stating that - if they waited - they could have two marshmallows instead.  That was in 1972.  After following those same marshmallow kids, the ones that delayed their marshmallow desires to wait for the two marshmallow treat were the ones that got better grades.  AND: they dealt with stress better and they were less likely to be obese and on and on.

Having never heard of this study and having never really noticed my kids' abilities to delay gratification, I suddenly started to notice.  My teenager wolfed down some brownies the other day immediately when she got home from saying "Oh my god, I am so hungry."  My five-year old boy spied a new Matchbox car at the store, and when I said: "your birthday is in just a week; let's put this on your wish list!",  he burst into a tantrum unable to fathom waiting.

Does this mean they will be less likely to succeed when they grow up?  Should I be training them to withhold pleasure and delay gratification?


Elitism & Parent Volunteers: It happens to all of us

May 01, 2014

A few times now, I have read "When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose".  A few of my circles of friends on Facebook have been reading, thinking, and commenting on how this article opens our eyes to the diversity of our circles and the importance of living inclusively.

In my first world, at this moment, I am living this.  I am stuck in the middle.  My daughter is in an elective class at school that culminates in an end-of-year competition and trip.  The whole year is littered with performances, extra fees for transportation or uniforms, required after-school practices.  This has consumed my daughter's free time as well as our discretionary income.

All along, parent volunteers of this class have oozed accolades for this trip: "It's so worth it.  The kids have a fabulous time and they learn so much."  Also: "The first payment of the $550 trip fee is due in two weeks."

Uh, OK.  When I talk to other parents, they tell me how much this is a priority for their student to participate in the competition and trip.  So, "we make sacrifices in other areas so they are able to attend".  

What if even just putting food on the table is a sacrifice?  What if the student's bus pass is a sacrifice?  What if a new pair of shoes to replace the ones with holes is a sacrifice?  That means there is nothing left for $32 uniform shoes or $15 bus fees (called "optional") or - definitely not - the $550 competition and class trip.

When I ask what a student should do if they cannot commit to this intensive course, I am told: "Students can opt to take the 'intermediate' class if they feel that the time and financial commitment of the 'advanced' class is too much for their families."  Really?  So, if I cannot afford the Algebra textbook, I should just take Pre-Algebra, even if the Algebra course is the appropriate level for me?

This whole discourse makes my blood boil, and perhaps we do it to ourselves by affording to rent in the "good" neighborhood and attending its privileged public school.   I wonder how these discussions would be on the other end of town?

The good news is that we do have the privilege to make some sacrifices and our student went on the trip.  The bad news is that our student has friends in the same class whose families couldn't send their students on the trip.

When we fight: Kids say the darndest things

February 04, 2014

This morning, my boy woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  He didn't want breakfast, he didn't want to get dressed, he didn't want to go to school.  He was sour, through and through.  He was wearing on his dad's patience with every "no" and refusal.  Negativity rose further to physical manifestations.  Our boy threw a dish rag at his dad.  And, to climax: "I don't want you to be my dad anymore!"

I wanted to give our boy & his dad some time to cool off.  I said to our boy, "That isn't loving or kind," which is sometimes my auto-response to negative comments or behavior.  

Kids say the darndest things, even things like "I hate you, Mama".  Many times, these statements are made in the heat of a moment; they are things they might not really mean.

Before long, and before we were heading to school, our boy went to his dad to apologize.  "I'm sorry, Dad".  And, his dad to him, "I'm sorry, too.  I was just frustrated."

No doubt these moments happen in your household, too.  How do you diffuse the situation and close the loop?  How do you make amends?

UM on OMamas - Simplicity Parenting 101

December 11, 2013

In case you didn't catch the interview with The Oregonian's OMama, Amy Wang - check out her online article: 

Simplicity Parenting coach offers Portland course

While Amy and I bonded over pho, she took copious notes to learn the basics of Simplicity Parenting. We both had to laugh when she admitted that her week had been too hectic to really check out the new blog before we met. I know when I first read and reviewed Simplicity Parenting  I was far too busy with summer camping trips to even think about decluttering or setting a screen policy.

Face it, in this busy age, there's never really an easy time to begin to simplify. That's why the movement has encouraged three things above all else:

  1. Create "Small Doable Changes"
  2. Celebrate incremental success 
  3. Build a support network

If you are ready for more than a five-minute article based on a one hour lunch, then I hope you'll come to my free intro workshop and/or join the growing movement by signing up for my January workshops.

In anticipation of  the holidays, here is a fresh post from my new blog on Christmas Countdown vs. Simplicity Slowdown

May this season bring your family true fun and festivities!

Darcy Cronin is a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy's Utopia.

Simplicity Santa - FREE Simplicity Parenting Intro

December 03, 2013

Do you get overwhelmed by the stress of the holidays? Are you tired of adding more stuff to your already cluttered home? Do you want to start the New Year with less stress and more family joy?
Come to a FREE Simplicity Parenting Introduction:
Where: Milagros Boutique - 5433 NE 30th Ave (NE Killingsworth)
When: Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
RSVP: darcysutopiapdx@gmail.com or just post a comment below
Learn about the growing parenting movement that helps you simplify your schedule, declutter and destress your life. Based on the book, Simplicity Parenting; Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, this free holiday-inspired workshop will be led by certified Simplicity Parenting Coach, Darcy Cronin. 
urbanMamas is partnering to host this essential holiday event, and will be providing yummy snacks and wine. uM is also excited to announce that Darcy will be a guest blogger @UM. Darcy has been blogging at Sustainable Family Finances for almost five years, and will add a new perspective to our community. Learn more at her new blog, Darcy's Utopia.
So, whether simplifying has been on your perpetual to-do list for a while now or you're just curious, this free intro session is your way to find out about this alternative parenting movement. 
Darcy Cronin is a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy's Utopia.

Minimalist Parenting

March 20, 2013

We are happy to announce that friend of urbanMamas and local mama Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks is a published author. Her book Minimalist Parenting written with Christine Koh of BostonMamas is at your local book store right now. Or you can order from Amazon.

Not only did they publish a book, but they also lead a free fourteen day Minimalist Parenting Camp with tasks and activities to start implementing the ideas and concepts from the book. I signed up and give myself five badges. I still need to do some of the tasks, but they set it up so well that I can go back and do them when I have time.  

My mother and mother in-law were unclear about my badges (which I posted on FaceBook) and the ideas in general. Was it let your child do everything? So you do a minimal amount; therefore a ‘minimal parent’? Where were the ‘hands on’ parenting tasks? How did Self Care, Decluttering, and 20 Minutes of Style fit into parenting? I explained that the idea is to give parents more space (physical, mental, emotional) and more confidence (in our appearance, abilities, and knowledge) in order to give more to parenting, not less. I think they got it. And after they read the book, they will really get it. I know I got a lot out of my camp tasks and look forward to finishing them over spring break.  

So let’s celebrate. We are proud to be a sponsor of the Minimalist Parenting Portland Book Launch Party on Saturday, April 20. Just click and register. Hope to see you then.










Best Advice for First-Time, New Parents

November 02, 2012

A colleague of mine has a two-month old daughter.  Back at work while his wife enjoys another month at home, he still looked a little foggy and fuzzy as we caught up last week.  Beyond what baby gear essentials they needed, he wondered: what piece of advice did I (parent to three, eldest being 12) have for him?

My answer, which I learned from watching my own mother (full-time bread-winning, bread-making mama like me): ask for help when you need it, offer help when you can.

Continue reading "Best Advice for First-Time, New Parents" »

Little People & Politics

October 11, 2012

I am a single mom with two little girls (ages 6 1/2 and 8). With the elections coming up, we watched bits and pieces of the presidential debate. This prompted a lot of questions which makes my little political mama's heart race with joy: Finally; they're old enough.

We started talking politics 4 years ago, but they were so young. We talked about how there's a president and a little bit about his role, but there's only so much a 2 and 4 year old can "get". This time though, I think they're starting to get it. With the debate running in the background, we discussed government and the various levels. We talked about voting and how/ why it's important. All of this lead into a discussion about women's suffrage and how women used to be viewed as less important than men. Oh the shock! Here I have spent all of their childhoods talking about how people are equal and we should treat everyone the same (no matter sex, race or the sandwich in their lunchbox). My girls were dumbfounded to find out that the rest of the world doesn't and hasn't always felt the same way.  

Albeit a rather hasty and muddled conversation, something registered with them- they have both commented on our talk since that night and even still will randomly ask questions about women & their rights.

We live in a country where - in spite of all of it's flaws - we have the right to vote. Women have a voice and they are booming... if we let them. 

A friend recently emailed and said that I had to watch the OPB special "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity" (based on the book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn). One night, after I tucked my girls into bed, I cozied up under the quilt and got lost in the stories of women and girls around the world. Every story was full of tragedy and loss and yet each one was flanked with a gutsy heroine that was bringing hope to these cities and villages while fighting an uphill battle against the community and traditions.

It hasn't been all that long that American women have had the right to vote or demand that their voice be heard. I'm curious, how are you handling these delicate issues with your girls? Do you talk about how their counterparts in other countries are growing up, how some of our own relatives and predecessors have suffered real, blatant barriers because of gender?  And for those of you rearing little men, how do you talk to them about women's rights?

Parent Statements: euphemisms of judgement?

July 11, 2012

"My child doesn't get much media", said the mama to me as we watched our kids sit in front of a video, "so he is totally sucked in when he gets it."  I said: "Oh."  I feel like I have heard myself say the same thing of my own child.  

Later that weekend, after allowing my child to have a juice box offered by another child, I said, "My child doesn't usually drink juice," noting my child's high-energy response to the drink, "so he is totally hyper when he drinks it."

As I hear myself saying the above, I hear my unspoken thoughts "your child shouldn't drink juice".  Then, I hear the other mama's unspoken thoughts (or what I assume they could be): "your child shouldn't watch videos".  I had a sinky feeling in my stomach.  I am juding.  I am being judged.  But, it doesn't sound like it, does it?

No doubt you have heard similar statements before.  Maybe you have even made them.  Does it feel judgy only if one is already sensitive to the issue?  Or, this might go into the category of "over-thinking" things.

Time's new cover: extended breastfeeding

May 11, 2012

Everyone's talking about it, so why don't we?  What do you think of Time's new cover?  Are you an extended breastfeeder?  What does this image say to you?  

Benign 'Neglect' of Our Children?

September 19, 2011

For six years now, I've been volunteering as a high school coach at Cleveland High School. For the first two years, the head track coach coordinated some sort of honorarium for me -- a lot less than the salaried assistant coaches make (somewhere around $1,000 a month for roughly 20 hours a week of work, plus more for some weekend meets), but it was something! In the past few years, I've been coaching cross country, and the booster club hasn't seen it in their mission to bestow funds upon we running volunteers. I don't go every day -- last year it was only two or three days a week, because I was parenting my three boys solo and often didn't get home from school pickup until it was almost too late to catch the kids before they were off on their run.

My husband just left again last week for more overseas Army duty, and I have somehow wangled a great babysitter who can watch the boys for me -- I'll be able to go almost every day and meets too, and since the season only has six weeks left in it, I estimate it will cost me $500 or $600 in child care. Yes, to volunteer, for no pay whatsoever.

This has been a big point of contention for my husband. He has never been very supportive of my coaching; as an abstract thing, it seems great, but in reality he sees it as "ignoring my family" "for strangers." If I have to pay for the privilege? All the worse! We're locked in an unwinnable battle of wills. The way I see it: I'm giving back to the community that brought me into the running world (I ran track for Cleveland in the early 90s, and was nurtured by a wonderful woman, a mother herself, who even bought shoes for me when my cheerleading shoes gave me shin splints -- her son is a lead designer for Nike, so it was a bargain, but still!). I'm doing something I love -- working with high schoolers -- that I don't have the patience to do for a career (I would have gone into teaching if investment banking hadn't come along and stolen me; I have little patience, though, with school bureaucracy, and would likely have lasted this long as a public school teacher). I get to run four or five days a week; something I never do without the support of daily practice, and makes me happy, fit, and healthy. Most of all, I feel that I'm making a difference for these kids. Most of the coaches are men, and it's a co-ed sport; the girls tell me often that they appreciate my support and my conversation. It feels like the right thing to do and I always come home from practice and meets in a glow.

That glow does not extend to my husband's point of view on the matter: in his perspective, I'm leaving my children with a babysitter, spending family money unwisely, and neglecting my duty as their primary caregiver to do something that's benefiting other people's kids. Of course, I'm the parent on the ground, to use a militarism, and I get my way. But leaving aside the personal details of our argument, how do you negotiate this sort of balancing act? Is it ok (in your opinion and situation) to "neglect" your children if you're doing good work for the community -- volunteering for the neighborhood organization, the PTA, a blog that supports a needy community that perhaps doesn't directly help your children? How about support groups and church outreach? Political causes and extremely low-paid non-profit work? Co-operative projects and buying clubs and knitting circles? When you're doing something that doesn't directly, immediately benefit your own children, how do you suss out the justification for this benign "neglect"?

Children Allowed, but not welcome

August 11, 2011

Recently, I had to use a Groupon (or one of those types of offers) for a facial.  I booked 6 weeks in advance, or even more.  I was excited.  I hadn't had a treat like this in a long, long time.  The morning of the facial, my sitter for the day cancelled, and I was home with my 7-year old daughter all day.  Rather than forfeit or reschedule, I decided to bring her along.  I told her our plan for the day, which included chores, lunch, the facial, some errands, and free swim.  She was excited.  She packed her bag for the day, which included a book and some water and a small snack for her to have during the 60-minute facial.  I know my girl.  She would be cooperative.

I suppose I didn't give it too much thought.  I suppose I could have.  It was a one-person operation, I figured.  We would disturb only ourselves.  I have actually had to bring a child with me before to a bodywork appointment and it was fine.  I was extremely put off by the response I received when the aesthetician opened the door.

She took one look at me, then looked long and hard at my daughter.  The look on her face was baffled, confused, and irritated.  She said, "OH", with a tone that I heard to mean "What the heck is *this*?" and "I don't do kids here."  I explained, "My sitter backed out at the last minute and this is all I could do."  She said, "OH." a few more times, with the same tone, exaggerated and really annoyed.  I tried to put the tone aside and so I could enjoy the 60 minutes I had been looking forward to for weeks.

My daughter was silent for those 60  minutes.  I forgot she was there.  She was reading and having some water and playing pretend games in her head.

Even if it was not explicit that kids were not allowed, it felt like the business operator's response indicated kids shouldn't be there.  I've been into some stores before that literally seem to flinch when I walk in with my kid(s).  Sometimes, I'm made to feel like the kids are a disease.  When it comes to airline travel, kids are an annoyance to other travelers and there is the constant proposal that there be kid-free sections of the plane.  Restaurants and supermarkets (like a Whole Foods location in Missouri) are following the kid-free movement, outright banning children or implementing the ban during specific hours.  (Ever take the kids to Happy Hour?  Always!)

Are there places you wouldn't bring your children, even if kids are technically allowed?  Are there circumstances under which you would support the kid-free movement?  Do you think the kids should be allowed to come along wherever you are entitled to go?

Parenting Philosophies, Approaches: How did you decide?

April 01, 2011

When it comes to parenting, so much of it is "what feels right".  When our first daughter was born, it seemed that our approach to parenting was one that would distort our young-adult lifestyle as little as possible.  While we certainly adapted some of our interests and hobbies to her needs, we did not slow in our galavanting around town, gallery hopping, visiting with friends at happy hour, walking tours, hiking, adventuring, dining out, hosting rambunctious gatherings of friends.  She sort of went with our flow, always.  We were lucky that she was so easy going.  At the time, none of our friends had children of their own.  At the time, parenting felt organic and natural, though we had not read books on parenting philosophies per se.  It felt like parenting mean that we exposed our child to our lifestyle, and she would absorb it all.  We would model, and she would follow.

By the time we had our second daughter, we were making more friends with children.  Perhaps due pressure to subscribe to a parenting philosophy and perhaps with the proliferation of websites like our own where we could discuss every minutia of parenting to such a fine degree of detail, we began to try to gravitate toward  an approach, a discipline, a philosophy.  Our daughters went to Montessori preschools that we loved.  There, we were exposed to the Love and Logic approach, and it resonated.  Then, the girls went on to a public charter school, which is one of only a few schools nationwide to be a demonstration school in Positive Discipline, an parenting approach to new to us as new parents at the school.  Over time, we read the books, subscribed to the approach, and even attended workshops on the topic as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

When I was a child, my parents never went to any parenting workshops.  Now, I see on the urbanMamas exchange an assortment of parenting workshops and classes, featuring a variety of approaches and philosophies.  There are books and books; I can’t keep up with them.

A newer urbanMama recently asked me:

How do you find out about these parenting approaches, and how do you find the one that works for you?  Did you stumble upon them, sort of how I did, learning about approaches through our school communities?  Did you more deliberately research techniques and disciplines?

'Get calm, first': How to deal with teens, and the rest of 'em, too

August 16, 2010

The story on NPR this morning about the biology of teenage misbehavior led with something like an excuse for the kids -- it's the hormone's fault, and not just that even -- but the scenario laid out as an introduction felt very familiar. Sure, it was about hair spray and a new couch, nothing I'll probably have to deal with exactly (no girls here, for one). How should the mom deal with what was, it seemed, an escalation of conclusions jumped-to? "Get calm, first," said psychologist Laura Kastner. I'd missed it while listening to her piece, but that's the title of her book: Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens.

Is an eight-year-old a tween? How about a three-year-old? Because these are the strategies I use (and often kick myself for having forgotten to use) with my kids. Kastner says the arguments between parents and older children often resolve to "emotional flooding"; in other words, rational thought is frozen while we go black-and-white. I'm good. You're bad. In the example argument, both mother and daughter are explaining why they hold the position they do; daughter describing her rationale for hairspray on the couch, mom wondering why she didn't remember the "simple" instructions; both seeing their own position as inherently well-intentioned and, well, correct. When we attribute the best of intentions to our own actions, we're often, subconsciously, attributing the worst to those who act in conflict. Emotional flood ensues.

What to do? Remember: when we ask "what were they thinking?", answer with "nothing."

Continue reading "'Get calm, first': How to deal with teens, and the rest of 'em, too" »

Parenting, home-keeping: Work that we love?

July 12, 2010

The thing is, this day pictured here was a hard day, as days go. Many of the days are hard. My sister was babysitting, a rarity for a Saturday, and Monroe wouldn't be left behind while I biked to the farmer's market. It's easier by myself. I can really chat with the vendors, a thing that is always fascinating and lovely; I can buy all the produce and meat and cheeses I want, quickly, and proceed with photographing or browsing; I need never chase or carry or negotiate with a strong, strong-willed child. Monroe cried, fussed, screamed, begged with tears in his eyes and hope in his voice, 'go wif you?" I couldn't resist him, I went, I could barely talk with anyone, I had to rush through my list and never once got to photograph a pile of radishes.

But this picture, as so many of my pictures are, is of joy. And as I look through my photographs I see all my children's personalities, and I see many moments of joy, moments that spark out amongst the hardness. I see much work, but I see love in that work, I see that it is all work that I love, every minute of it. The washing dishes, the gardening and the bread-kneading and the lacto-fermenting, the biking and carrying and chasing children, the bringing to events both minor and major, the "talking to children, answering questions with questions, and treating each child’s thought as a special contribution," these are the things I love most!

I have been reading two pieces meant, I am sure, to spark discussion and controversy. The first was a piece in Salon by Babble blogger Madeline Holler. The second -- also written about by Madeline, curiously -- is a cover story from New York Magazine by staff writer Jennifer Senior. Holler spends a lot more of her time comparing her own personal life -- and how hard, indeed, it is -- to the lives of others, specifically the "radical homemakers" of whom Shannon Hayes writes.

Continue reading "Parenting, home-keeping: Work that we love?" »

Different repsonses to mama vs. papa

January 04, 2010

We recently received this query from our Facebook mail which we rarely check.  This urbanPapa writes:
A nut we have been trying to crack for weeks at our house is how to reestablish some equilibrium in the way our son responds to mom and dad. It has been very frustrating for mom to be ignored (selectively) or at least not taken as seriously. Asking that things not be done/touched, staying down for naps . . . often create long drawn out dramas. When I say exactly the same thing or channel my grandpa and count to 3, he responds, which in itself is pretty frustrating for mom. I should have prefaced everything by saying we are fortunate to have a very even-tempered and thoughtful kid . . . as two-year-olds go we have nothing to complain about.

That said, I suspect something profound is at work here. When I am home alone with him on weekday mornings (mom has already left for work), he comes in and will climb into bed and nap beside me quietly (I sometimes remind him that it is still quiet time). On the weekends when mom is in bed too, this becomes impossible as he is constantly talking and squirming about. I think there's some payoff in the push-pull of these interactions with mom that reinforces the behavior . . . I just don't get what is so different between the two of us other than my deep voice.

Ross W. Greene and the 'Explosive Child'

February 26, 2009

A few years ago, when I was first understanding my son, Everett, and his behavioral difficulties, I read Ross W. Greene's The Explosive Child. Now that he's at the Pioneer School, a special school geared toward children who have major trouble adapting in the general education environment, and many of the members of the schools' staff have been through Greene's workshops. His approach for dealing with challenging kids, called "collaborative problem solving," is now taught in workshops and MESD-sponsored book groups around the city.

I was surprised, then, when I told several of Everett's teachers that I had just ordered Greene's newest book, Lost in School, a follow-up to his previous books that lays out a framework for how parents and schools can work together to help challenging kids succeed. They hadn't yet heard of it. (What, do you people not have GoodReads?) I've read a few chapters of Lost in School, now, and I already recommend both books to anyone who has a child with behavioral challenges, whether they're like Everett's or more strictly diagnosed (the autism spectrum and ADHD are also maladaptive disorders and can be approached with Greene's philosophies). When adding the new book to my GoodReads shelf, I decided to review the The Explosive Child; I've copied the review after the jump.

Continue reading "Ross W. Greene and the 'Explosive Child'" »

Teen Parenting on OPB's Think Out Loud

August 21, 2008

It is not every day that I catch anything on OPB these days, but this morning the stars aligned and I heard an interesting Think Out Loud show on teen parenting.  Here's how OPB describes the show:

What is it like to be a child with a child of your own? In Oregon, between 2004 and 2006, 5,263 teenage girls became moms. One in ten of the babies born were fathered by a teenager as well. This is how we are used to hearing about teen parents -- as unsettling statistics. In the third installment of our As We Are series, we'll explore some of the stories behind those numbers by inviting three teen parents into our studio to share their experiences.

What is daily life like for these teens as they become parents (long before the world considers them grown-ups)? The data tells us that many of them drop out of school, but how and why do they make this decision? If they stay in school, how do they juggle the responsibilities of academics and parenting or books and breastfeeding? Who can they turn to if their own parents can't -- or won't -- help them out? How do babies intersect with the already complicated world of adolescence?

There were two very different guests and some interesting call-ins.  One thing that really struck me was the enormous difference in these young mothers' own parents.  If you weren't listening in at 9 AM, you can hear the rebroadcast tonight at 9 PM or listen at your convenience here.  And of course you can comment on the show's blog any old time.

Did you hear the show?  As a middle-aged parent (there, I said it), it is hard for me to even remember being a teenager, let alone think about parenting during that volatile, self-centered time. 

Is there a war against parents? Some say yes

August 20, 2008

Do you struggle with long work weeks?  Lack of time to spend with your kids?  Shuttling your kids from school to camp to other camp to your neighbors', so that you can get to your job?  A lifestyle that seems too fast-paced for the health of our kids, and an economic picture that makes a slower pace seem impossible? 

Do you wonder why it is this way?
If it has to be this way?  Do you crave a society with strong family values but cringe at that term because of all that it has become associated with?  Head over to Activistas to ponder these issues in the context of the book The War Against Parents.  Quite a title, huh?

Sharing Responsibilities with Partners: Why it is the way it is

June 14, 2008

Seems that Father's Day 2008 might go down in history as one that generated one ton of discussion about what exactly dads do these days, how they fit into the parenting scheme.  A few places worth checking out, in our opinion:

  1. Local dad Eric Miller wondered over on Activistas if the paternal can be political, too, or if we mamas have a lock on that. Like, why is it a mothers movement?
  2. OPB's Think Out Loud talk show on 6.13.08 celebrated the 100th year of father's day by asking fathers about their parenting roles (some fascinating comments - go ahead, add yours). 
  3. And the Sunday NY Times 6.15.08 features a story by none other than Lisa Belkin (think Opting-Out) called "When Mom & Dad Share It All."  A feat, by the by, that is apparently not at all the norm.  She leads with this situation - sure drew me in:

On her first day back to work after a four-month maternity leave, Amy Vachon woke at dawn to nurse her daughter, Maia. Then she fixed herself a healthful breakfast, pumped a bottle of breast milk for the baby to drink later in the day, kissed the little girl goodbye and headed for the door.

But before she left, there was one more thing. She reached over to her husband, Marc, who would not be going to work that day in order to be home with Maia, and handed him the List. That’s what they call it now, when they revisit this moment, which they do fairly often. The List. It was nothing extraordinary — in fact it would be familiar to many new moms. A large yellow Post-it on which she had scribbled the “how much,” “how long” and “when” of Maia’s napping and eating.

“I knew her routines and was sharing that with Marc,” Amy recalls. She also remembers what he did next. Gently but deliberately, he ripped the paper square in half and crumbled the pieces into a ball.

Wow.  He ripped it in half.  Her list, ripped. in. half.  Good move - or bad?  It depends, of course, on the couple.  But what intrigues me isn't so much who does what (we've covered that before, right here and surely at home many times over!), but WHY we do what we do.  Who works the reduced schedule?  Why?   Was it by choice or created by employment constraints (like access to health benefits, higher pay, more flexible environment)?  Do you wish you could change it, but feel like you can't?   Or maybe it's all good.  And if so, we're all ears about how it came to be.


Parenting DVD Recommendations

April 24, 2008

I've had 2 great parenting books on my nightstand for over 4 months. It's very embarrassing  really.  I started both and enjoy both, but it seems there is always something else to read -newspaper, books for my book club, emails and blogs. I try to relay the information I gather during my short reading sessions to my partner because I know he isn't going to read the whole book. Sometimes I just can't relay the information as well as the author. 

A fellow urbanmama has a similar situation. She writes:

Can tell me your favorite parenting DVD and why? I am reading a ton of parenting books and am just trying to find something that my husband and I could watch together, rather than me reading a book and trying to "summarize it" for him!  We can't afford to go to a classes right now (both time and money reasons), so I would like to at least do this much to make life a little more harmonious with our 4 year old!

My recommendation Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting  (which also happens to be one of the books on my nightstand).  My partner and I saw Mr. Kohn speak last time he was in town.  Luckily, it was really affordable and my partner could come. I would highly recommend the book, DVD or seminar.  I wasn't necessarily "wowed" by his concepts, they were more like a light bulb going off. "Of course! Why haven't we been doing this all along?"  Do you have a favorite parenting DVD?