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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…

This Kind of Picky Eater is Made, Not Born: Motherlode

Sally Sampson writes about picky eaters for Motherlode.

“To answer my original questions: What is a picky eater? Is it someone who won’t taste new things? Yes. Someone who knows exactly what they like? No. Someone who loves the spotlight? Not initially but maybe later.

Are picky eaters made, not born? Yes, but with a caveat: Maybe it is just semantics. I don’t define a picky eater as someone who has food allergies or sensitivities, sensory issues or an honest dislike of a particular food. After all, I hate peanut butter so much I can’t be in a room with someone who eats it. Ditto boiled eggs. A picky eater is someone who won’t try new things and won’t give a rebuffed food a second chance. That kind of picky eater isn’t born — he’s made.”

Homemade Playdough

My friend shared this play dough recipe with me, it’s particularly awesome because she added scented oils as well.  The playdough pictured below is vanilla/lemongrass fragrance with green food coloring and, peppermint/cinnamon with yellow food coloring.  Activities like this are great in these winter months!

-2 cups flourunnamed

-2 cups water

-1 cup salt

-2 tbsp canola oil

-1 tbsp cream of tartar (optional)

-Add food color and scented oils for fragrance.

Mix all together in a medium saucepan, heat on low, stirring until the dough easily pulls away from pot and is not sticky, about 5-10 minutes. As my friend said Sarah F. said, “Let cool and have fun!”

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Forbes: on Damaging parenting

Forbes: on Damaging parenting

I agree with all 7 of the negative parenting styles, or acts listed in this article. Parents and caregivers want to be there and protect their children, I get that,  and we should continue nurturing and supporting our kids and charges. However, Like most anything else excessive behavior can have negative results. Maybe next time you see your kid upset because another kid budged the line for the slide, don’t butt in, let your kid figure it out. Take small steps, it can be difficult to occasionally let your kids fend for themselves, but you might be shocked by what they’re  capable of, and what they can learn by experiencing these autonomous moments.

1-2-3 Magic: Review

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I recently read 1-2-3 Magic, by Thomas Phelan… I know, in the past I’ve talked negatively about mass cultivation of parenting books, mainly because over-reading tends to eliminate personal  authority and experience.  Why trust instincts when a book can tell you what to do? The truth is, sometimes parenting books can be helpful, specifically in reassuring parents and caregivers that what their child is doing is “normal.”

Children are constantly going through dramatic developmental changes, and often with these new and exciting shifts come earth-shattering tantrums. I have been going through this lately, and I must admit, sometimes reading a book can be helpful, mainly in reassuring me that the fits are normal and that the way I’m handling the tantrums is best for all involved.

1-2-3 Magic provides some helpful tips about discipline and motivation, 2 key factors when dealing with a tantrumy toddler.  We need discipline to make sure that during the tantrum phases we aren’t automatically giving into the irrational demands and poor behavior from out little ones.  And we need helpful motivation (for them) to make transitions easier.

What I like about 1-2-3 Magic:  It’s simple and honest, for example: “You’ll never like or get along with your children if they are constantly irritating you with behavior such as whining, arguing, teasing, badgering, tantrums, yelling and fighting.” (11) Here the author displays a simple and honest truth, which most parents don’t want to admit to, that is, it’s possible to not always like your children.  I want to insert here that the author rightly so differentiates between like and love, while you will always love your children despite their terrible behavior, you probably wont like them because of that same terrible behavior.

The counting of negative behavior is simple: Your 5 year-old  Jimmy is throwing a fit because you won’t give him chocolate, you say “1…” Jimmy continues, “2…” He’s still going “3, take 5(alone minutes)”

Promoting Start behavior is slightly more complex, only because there are many ways to see the process through.  You can chart, reward, time them, etc. I like that the author explains the difference between “stop” and “start” behaviors.  This is important because you don’t want to count your child, and negatively reinforce them when trying to get them to brush their teeth on their own.  That will only leave a bad taste in their mouth about brushing teeth (pun intended.)

What I don’t love about 1-2-3 Magic:  The author emphasises a no talk method while counting and even after the child has some minutes alone.  He explains that young children are not logical, reasonable people (true), and that by talking, and explaining details of why certain behavior is “bad” only leads to frustration for both parent and child.  The author thinks it’s best to keep quiet and not explain, simply count. I don’t like this because I think it’s important to *calmly* and *simply* explain why certain behaviors are wrong.  I have often had success by calming talking something out.

I think instead of simply eliminating communication parents and caregivers should be encouraged to both use a tactic like counting, coupled with a follow up explantation, i.e., “You had to take 5 because you hit me, and that hurts.”  The explanation should not be a monologue, it should be one simple, calm sentence.  I think children deserve to know what happened, and why they had a “timeout,” so communication is necessary. We don’t need talk to them like adults, but like people we respect, and whom we want to respect and communicate with us later in life.

One other thing that bothered me…. the author is heteronormative in his language and scenarios.  I’m probably, being overly PC, but it definitely stuck out to me, so if your someone who notices this type of behavior be warned, but also know that it doesn’t seem to affect the potential effectiveness of the 1-2-3 model. It’s just slightly disappointing.

Llama Llama Time to Share: A+

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Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney is a great book about sharing, a lesson and skill which is one of the hardest to teach and instill in children…and sometimes adults. The thing that I love about the book, and most of the Llama Llama collection is that it offers a lesson which can be easily identified by young children. Llama Llama Time to Share acknowledges the difficulties sharing can entail and the fun which is gained when sharing actually happens.

When the child I watch is having difficulty sharing I reference this book (we read it constantly per her request.)  She immidiately knows what I’m talking about and usually decides to do what Llama Llama would do. This book gets an A+ because the message is clear, relevant and worth learning.

Cloth Diapers: Discussed

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Disposable diapers, on the national level, have been a topic of discussion for some time because of their negative environmental footprint.  This environmental awareness has also led to a social pointing-of-fingers at playgroups and parenting sites.  The people who cloth diaper their babies are the best, and the people who don’t just don’t care about the environment, right?   Well, it’s not that simple, you know that.

While there are a lot of people who choose disposables for pure/mythical convenience, i.e., no extra laundry (true) and, no mess (myth!) A lot of people do not have the convenience of being environmentally friendly.

The choice between cloth or disposable diapers, could easily be described as a “white person problem.”  While the process of cloth diapering might be thought of as more time-consuming, and inconvenient, there certainly is a convenience, in being able to make this personal, and financial decision.  In order to successfully use cloth diapers you need:

$$$

Financial Costs:  While the accumulated, total cost of cloth diapers is less, the immediate, out of pocket cost, is more than purchasing a one-month supply of disposables.  This can be a huge factor for people of lower income choosing disposables over cloth; it’s a difference between say an immediate, one-time cost of $300-500 for cloth, versus a continual monthly cost of $70-100 for disposables.  The latter is a lot easier to swing for people on a month-to-month paycheck.

*I feel a rebuttal coming on:  Making you’re own cloth diapers out of shirts, towels and other cloth:  This is a great alternative, but it is time consuming, and for someone working 50-70 hour weeks this might not make personal sense.

Access to, or funds for washing machine/diaper service: This is an extra cost, and if you live in an apartment, or public housing you will likely not have a personal washing machine, and most laundromats will not let you wash diapers in their facility.

*If you have the time, you can wash diapers at home by boiling water on the stove, again another time and personal cost.

Stay-at-home parent/caregiver:  Did you know that day-cares only accept disposable diapers?  So, if you’re of lower income, and are unable to be a stay-at-home parent or provide in-home care for your baby you will likely send your baby to day-care, meaning you must use disposables.

All of this being said, I think cloth diapers are great, and I plan on using them when I have children, because I have the convenience of making this decision both personally and financially.   It’s important to be aware of the social and financial costs for people, and why that might lead to a parent not making an environmentally friendly diapering decision, so let’s not point fingers.

Below I’ve linked to some websites, which debunk, and sometimes confirm some myths of cloth diapering, such as (inconvenience and mess) and other sites that discuss the why’s and how-to’s of cloth diapering.  For more information and testimonials on cloth diapering, check out some of the sites below:

The Diaper Bank: 

“The vast majority of licensed day care centers do not accept cloth diapers, and require parents and caregivers to provide a steady supply of disposable diapers.”

The Eco Friendly Family:

What about those that only have access to community laundry facilities? It can be done!  Many families do use cloth with limited access to washing machines.  I recommend going with a simpler diaper like prefolds and/or a hybrid system like Flip.  The covers can be wiped out or hand washed easily and the durable inserts may handle being washed just once a week better than more complex diapering systems.”

Real Diaper Association:

“For cloth diapering, each family will probably need about 6 dozen diapers10.  The cost of cloth diapering can vary considerably, from as low as $300 for a basic set-up of prefolds and covers11, to $1000 or more for organic cotton fitted diapers and wool covers…. This means the cost of cloth diapering is about one tenth the cost of disposables12, and you can spend even less by using found objects (old towels & T-shirts).”

Healthychildren.org:

“…. A number of scientific studies have found that both cloth and disposable diapers have environmental effects, including raw material and energy usage, air and water pollution, and waste disposal. Disposable diapers add 1 to 2 percent to municipal solid waste, while cloth diapers use more energy and water in laundering and contribute to air and water pollution.”

Babble: 

If you’re going the cloth diaper route, this site rates some brands.