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I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

When I first saw the title of this article on the New York Times Parenting blog, I literally sighed out loud.  With anti-girly girl movements, stay-at-home-mom shaming, which seems all very obvious to me, I expected this piece by Catherine Newman to be yet another trash talk on the girly-girl, and it is, but only kind of.  What I like about this piece, is that the author clearly points out expectations and differences between male and female.  Newman talks about her daughters not-nice qualities in comparison with her sons overt niceness.

I know that our sweet-hearted son, who is 13, has always had the experience of niceness being its own reward. What can I do to help? he asks. Please, take mine, he insists, and smiles, and everyone says, “Oh, aren’t you nice!” and “What a lovely young man!” (Or sometimes, because he kind of looks like a girl, “What a lovely young lady!”) But, if I can speak frankly here, you really don’t worry about boys being too nice, do you? He still has the power and privilege of masculinity on his side, so, as far as I’m concerned, the nicer the better.

Compare this to…

I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.

 

It’s a hard topic and it’s definitely gender/biological sex specific.  Stereotypically people expect girls to be nice and boys to be masculine, AKA, physically strong and emotionally immature.  I like that Newman points out her own hypocritical tendency when discussing her son versus her daughter, though I’m not sure this was intentional.

But there is one thing that Newman insinuates about gender which follows the girly-girl bashing. Newman, like many others’ writing about girls, the color pink, girl play, likens niceness to naivety, and, typically masculine characteristics of sloppyness and brut behavior to success.

Here is the part where all of this negative gender stereotyping happens, whereas before, her observations about her son and daughters character didn’t directly relate to their future success.

She is a beautiful kid, but she is also sure and determined in a way that is not exactly pretty. Which is fine, because God help me if that girl ends up smiling through her entire life as if she is waitressing or pole-dancing or apologizing for some vague but enormous infraction, like the very fact of her own existence.

I picture her at the prom in stripy cotton pajamas, eating potato chips with both hands. I picture her slapping a patriarch-damning sticker on her jacket. I picture her running the country, saving the world, being exactly the kind of good bad girl that she knows herself to be. And I think: You go. I think: Fly! I think: Take me with you.

And I just have to add that I hope no parent ever hopes for their son or daughter to be at prom, eating potato chips, with both hands. Unless you want your kid to be either overweight or poorly behaved, or both…

How to hold a Breastfeeding baby for caregivers and spouses

Holding a breastfeeding infant can be a challenge for anyone other than the breastfeeding mom. We want to hold babies close to our bodies partially because instinct tells us this is right, and also because of typical media images.  Baby books, TV shows and movies all show us the two typical ways to hold babies.  One hold makes baby happy (cradle hold) and one sad (out, away from body.) The latter hold is always performed by the unknowing, un-maternal/paternal adult holding a baby straight out, arms fully extended away from their body, and the baby hovering in the air hysterical.

But, what if a less dramatic version of the out-and-away hold is actually better, less upsetting and confusing for the baby?

The reason the cradle, hug-baby-in, hold doesn’t always work for breastfeeding infants is simply because they associate that hold, the closeness of it with breastfeeding. So, instead of the baby becoming calm, she may instead begin to root images-1(beginning signs she wants to eat) and unless you’re also giving bottles you can’t soothe her in the way she wants.  Instead a modified football hold might be best. [Elbow at your side, baby laying longways on your arm, and arm extended out.]

images

 

Signs baby is rooting and therefore likely to become upset with the non-breastfeeding adult:

-Trying to lick or suck on your arm, chest, neck…anywhere.

-Burrowing into your chest, arm.

-Baby rubs hand on your chest/breast.

-Crying when diaper is dry, and has recently slept.

Sometimes infants are perfectly content in the cradle position, but usually only for a limited time. I try to hold b.f. infants in the modified football hold, very high up on my shoulder, and on my legs, while sitting.

Next time you have a fussy infant, and you see any of the rooting signs try changing your hold, so that the baby is away from your chest. If the baby has recently eaten, you’ll find she will likely immidiately be calmed once away from your chest.

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NYT Parental Involvement

NYT Parental Involvement

“We believe that parents are critical for how well children perform in school, just not in the conventional ways that our society has been promoting. The essential ingredient is for parents to communicate the value of schooling, a message that parents should be sending early in their children’s lives and that needs to be reinforced over time. But this message does not need to be communicated through conventional behavior, like attending PTA meetings or checking in with teachers.

 

…Conventional wisdom holds that since there is no harm in having an involved parent, why shouldn’t we suggest as many ways as possible for parents to participate in school? This conventional wisdom is flawed. Schools should move away from giving the blanket message to parents that they need to be more involved and begin to focus instead on helping parents find specific, creative ways to communicate the value of schooling, tailored to a child’s age.”

 

Reading this article, by Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris, I strongly agreed with what their research, and motivation for their research found, and, yet something feels weird about saying “STOP being involved!!” Why? Because there are so many parents who really aren’t there. There are parents from different all socioeconomic backgrounds who don’t take the time from their lives to see what’s up with their kids.  So this article, that I agree very strongly with, also feels slightly dangerous for the parents who will simply skim through and feel justified that they are doing the right thing by stepping away, because when it comes to the President’s initiative for programs like “Race to the Top” what I think he, and other programs like it are trying to do is simply point out that parents involvement does matter. They are trying to reach out to a group with generations of subpar, or just simply lacking of any parental role-models, and say “you actually do have an effect on your child’s future.”

 

So, for the parents who are already doing things like attending every PTA meeting, or doing their child’s homework for them, or simply sitting idly by while they do homework, you can stop, not just for them but for you.   But for the wider range of parents who aren’t talking, and who never sit by their kids, being encouraged to do a little of that isn’t a bad thing. The “overachieving” parents should take a tip from the underachievers, and vice versa.

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Talking About Race: SLATE

Talking about Race: SLATE

Here is a pretty good, short essay about why white parents should talk about race with their kids, by Melinda Wenner Moyer.

So if children as young as 3 develop racial prejudices when left to their own (cognitively biased) devices, it may help for parents to intervene and, you know, actually talk to their kids about race. “Don’t you want to be the one to suggest to them—early on, before they do form those preconceptions—something positive [about other races] rather than let them pick up something negative?” asks Kristina Olson, a University of Washington psychologist who studies social cognitive development and racial bias. “White parents seem very, very resistant to talking about race—even really liberal ones—and they have this attitude of ‘I wouldn’t want to talk about it because it would make it real to my kids.’ But inevitably, it’s their kids that show these really strong race biases.” In fact, Olson says, when parents don’t talk about race, kids may infer from this silence that race is especially important, yet highly taboo—basically, the last thing you want them to think.

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Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

I was attempting to write a post about car seat safety, but I soon realized that while I can speak about certain common mistakes, there are some car seat safety rules I needed refreshing on myself.

Savanna’s Safety/Happy Ride Tips:

  • Make sure your car seat is secure! It should be snuggly fitted to the seat, and depending on your baby’s weight, rear or forward facing.
  • Tighten those straps! Straps should be very snug around babies shoulders, you should not be able to put a finger between strap and baby.
  • Remove thick sweaters, coats and snowsuits! I see people making this common mistake, not only do thick sweaters and jackets prevent you from tightening the straps correctly, they also cause your baby to overheat. Overheating for infants can be especially dangerous, and for older babies and toddlers it’s uncomfortable. Your baby will, understandably becoming very irritable within seconds of being in the car.  A screaming, hot uncomfortable baby is no fun when you’re stuck in traffic.
  • Don’t leave too small objects in arms-reach of baby! (chocking hazard: everything you leave in back with your child, unsupervised, should be bigger than the cardboard tube used for toilet paper.
  • For longer rides, make sure your baby is comfy! Make sure to dress baby in light, comfy clothing.  Give your baby a clean, dry diaper, and make sure babe has been recently fed. Have a water or milk bottle close by and a toy (bigger than toilet paper role).

Resource Tips: So, to supplement this advice, is some real car seat safety from Parents.com. Obviously there are better, maybe more credible sources, but I think this one is a little more accessible. I specifically like tip #5, I didn’t know the positioning for this, but luckily have be doing it right!

Mistake #5: Using the retainer clip incorrectly
Test your seat: The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place.

The danger: When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.

Fast fix: Parents often move the clip as they maneuver their child out of the seat, so check the clip’s position every time you buckle up.

For other tips check out these sites:

Safercare.gov

AAP

SafeNY

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Pink Guns

UnknownSemi-new action toys have come out, and they’re pink.  The color pink has become controversial in its own right, but throwing weaponry into the mix brings up a whole new set of dialogue, “Why pink? Why weapons? Should girls and boys be playing out aggression? Are weapons bad? Are pink weapons bad? Is aggression good?…” Where I live, most parents are anti-fake weapon play.  The mere pointing of a stick with the added “pow-pow” nearly brings parents to tears, likely fearing this role-play is somehow indicative of their parenting and the adult their kid will grow up to be.  I am not apart of this mode of thinking. Kids role-play all sorts of things, they pretend to be a dog or a turtle, and yet we don’t fear children will grow up to have be “furries” or “plushies”. cc_subculture_lead_130220_wmain Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Exclusive Golden Edge Bow by Hasbro is being talked about simply because it’s pink.  Toy weaponry is old hat. The focal point of the new weaponry toys is that they’re pink.  Nerf guns have been around for years, in varying blues, oranges, greens and blacks, and while Nerf guns have suffered some criticism revolving around the presumed aggression, or warfare the gun may promote, I can assure you the criticism never once revolved around the color.  Unknown-1 So why now? Why does pink, and all things typically female create such cultural upheaval?  We all know the argument against pink, I’ve written about it before, i.e., “pink is bad, it upholds gender stereotyping and women’s oppression.” Or something like this. First of all, a color cannot do these things, that’s just absurd.  Second of all, we shouldn’t look at something that loosely represents an idea of “female”, and chastise it, we should embrace it and change whatever negative meaning it might have held. In order to progress, and continue equality among men we need to actually think that Women are equal, and not place blame on things like pink, makeup, tight clothes, etc., to each their own.  And while I don’t wear pink or know how to properly apply make-up, I also don’t think that these things in anyway represent, or are cause for women’s oppression. I urge you to think about this topic. Consider what the color pink and weaponry play means to you, and why.  Read the New York Times post I linked to about the new “girl” Nerf guns, written by Hilary Stout and Elizabeth A. Harris.  I’d love to see some comments about this topic!

Shifting Ideas: Parenting Books

While I was reading Nurture Shock, by PO Bronson Ashley Merryman, this was a while ago, something came to me about how dramatically parenting styles shift.  This isn’t so much shocking as just simply annoying.  How do parents and caregivers stay on track when the theories on child rearing are constantly in flux, when do we get to just stay still and know we, parents and caregivers, are in fact doing everything right?

….NEVER.

I despise most parenting books, not because the advice in one given book is intrinsically bad, or harmful to society.  I despise the parenting book epidemic, because when we take one parenting book on attachment parenting, and one book on, well just anything else, and mix them together in the brain of one mom or dad,  then these books do become harmful.  Again, not because anything in them is particularly wrong, but because the different styles, and modes of parenting discussed are all different, and in the end don’t help parents and or caregivers do what they do any better. The mix of these books usually only create insecure and ultimately, and most disruptively, inconsistent parenting styles–where an all goes type of parenting happens. And trust me, this does not bode well for anyone, from parents to child to outside caregiver.

I think this is why I liked Nurture Shock so much, Nurture Shock, while it talked about parenting, and children, the book basically stayed clear of any child rearing styles which are not based on science.  Nurture Shock primarily dealt with childrens’ brain chemistry, and based on extensive research essentially shut down many parenting philosophies.

My point is, the moment I had was this.  While I liked and found value in Nurture Shock I also take the studies and the purpose of the studies with a grain of salt, the same I do with other parenting books, well maybe a tablespoon of salt for Nurture Shock, because, and this is the important part….  I take it lightly because I realize that the theories discussed in this book, like most other parenting/child rearing books will one day be disproved, yet with another scientific study.  Why?  Because our research is guided by where we are economically, socially and where we wish to be in the future.

When time, moral codes and cultural shifts occur, so does our idea of good, or right parenting.  We theorize and parent based on theories which claim to uphold or produce a specific type of person.  We perform attachement parenting, or cry it out method, not because it is necessarily easy at the time, but because we picture these things affecting and making up the adults our children will become, and this is good… kind of.  We should imagine, and think about our parenting and caregiving styles as something that will directly affect the adults babies will become.  But we should also know that this too will change.