kottke.org posts about parenting

The children’s menu: the death of civilization

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2010

A restaurant owner opines on the importance of the dining experience.

Mr. Marzovilla welcomes young children at his restaurant, even discounts their meals on Sunday evenings, and is not above serving a simple appetizer portion of pasta to please little ones. But he has strong opinions about food, and about the messages parents convey to their offspring through what they eat. Children’s menus aim too low, he argues — they’re a parenting crutch.

My favorite stuff for kids

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2010

Over at Playgrounder, I shared some of our family’s favorite gear for kids.

An improvised toy: Old Fashioned Quaker Oats canister ($4). You know, the big can. Buy it, eat oatmeal for months, and then give it to your kid when you’re done with it. It’s a drum, a car garage, a cave, a shaker, a block carrier, a hat, an echo chamber, a steam roller, a doll’s bed, and flower pot. Basically the perfect cheap, replaceable, recyclable, open-ended toy.

Pretend Christians

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2010

From the inbox over at the Freakonomics blog, a family in Texas pretends to be Christian so that their children won’t be excluded from play dates.

We found by experience that if we were truthful about not being regular church attenders, the play dates suddenly ended. Thus started the faking of the religious funk.

Thankfully this doesn’t seem to be an issue in Manhattan. (via clusterflock)

Obama: Daddy of the United States of America

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2010

Tom Junod says that the key to understanding how Obama governs is to look at how you’d imagine he might raise Sasha and Malia. Specifically, Junod compares the President’s community organization roots with the parenting technique of positive discipline.

You don’t have to win, we were told at the positive-discipline workshop. Your child is not damaged, morally, if your child wins, if the battle is withdrawn, or, better yet, never joined. Our culture has viewed parenthood in terms of decisive moments, but it’s better to view it in terms of development, as a continual process, and to be in it for the long haul. Nothing lies like the moment of truth, and if there’s no powerlessness, then there are fewer power struggles. If your child has a problem with authority, it’s likely that you have a problem with authority, or your lack of it. The answer is to return it to your child in the form of choices, while you set an example. Your example is your authority. Positive discipline does not mean no discipline; it means that discipline is a matter of teaching mutual respect, rather than making your child suffer. “Children do better when they feel better, not worse,” is what it says on my kitchen cabinet, and so when faced with intransigence, parents have to respond by stating their expectations, repeating the rules, and then giving their children the love and support they need to follow them. Always try to include, rather than isolate; avoid labels; don’t negotiate, but don’t escalate, either. If your children are not doing well, either take them out of the situation or remove yourself. You — and they — can always try again.

It is a philosophy that could have been minted by Cass Sunstein, the White House advisor who is developing ways to “nudge” citizens to make the right choices without them being aware of the manipulation. It could serve as a precis for how Obama has dealt with Joe Wilson, not to mention Skip Gates and Sergeant Jim Crowley, not to mention Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was never threatened but rather told to “think carefully” while answering the protests of the Iranian presidential election with the truncheon and the gallows. One could almost hear Obama saying, “Use your words, Mahmoud. Use your words.”

The piece is interesting throughout, but I particularly liked this observation:

Barack Obama, then, is not the agent of change; he’s the fulfillment of a change that is already occurring culture-wide, in every place but politics. That’s why the Republicans fear him so much; why, while waiting for him to fail, they just come off as the political party for people who want to hit their kids.

Snack nation

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2010

Americans are cramming their kids full of snacks and that may not necessarily be a good thing.

Between 1977 and 2002, the percent of the American population eating three or more snacks a day increased to 42 percent from 11 percent.

Also, this is a great use of quotation marks:

Kara Nielsen, a “trendologist” at the Center for Culinary Development, a brand development company in San Francisco, cites the proliferation of activities, from soccer to chess club to tutoring sessions, that now fill children’s afternoons.

That’s actually not a “real” “job”, is it? (via @megnut)

Unassisted home births

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 04, 2009

Whoa, I had no idea that giving birth at home without a doctor or midwife was a thing that people were doing now.

After giving birth to her first baby in the hospital, Schoenborn, 31, chose to have her next four children at home — by herself. Although her husband was in the house during the births, he didn’t help with the deliveries.

“My hospital births were very managed,” says Schoenborn. “I wanted privacy and to be free of internal exams. I wanted to give birth in an upright position and they want you to lie down. I feel birth is an instinctive process and in the hospital they treat women like they’re broken and birth like an illness.”

Bedtime stories via webcam

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2009

A Story Before Bed allows you to record yourself reading a bedtime story to a faraway child…maybe you’re away from home on business or a grandparent who lives in another state or just working late. When storytime rolls around, the child sees the book onscreen plus a video of you reading it to them. Slick.

Killer vaccines and the killers who kill with them

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2009

Wired has a long piece by Amy Wallace about the anti-science anti-vaccine crowd.

Ah, risk. It is the idea that fuels the anti-vaccine movement — that parents should be allowed to opt out, because it is their right to evaluate risk for their own children. It is also the idea that underlies the CDC’s vaccination schedule — that the risk to public health is too great to allow individuals, one by one, to make decisions that will impact their communities. (The concept of herd immunity is key here: It holds that, in diseases passed from person to person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune.)

Update: I am on Team Tom Scocca on this issue:

Anti-vaccine activists are degenerate idiots who deserve to get polio and live out their days in iron lungs while Child Protective Services takes away their children to be properly raised. Or tetanus. Get lockjaw and shut up and die. What’s the point of living in 21st-century America if not to avoid dying of stupid, easily preventable disease?

And Slate has an article about the effects of unvaccinated children on those with weak immune systems.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t question others’ parenting choices. But the problem is literally one of live or don’t live. While that parent chose not to vaccinate her child for what she likely considers well-founded reasons, she is putting other children at risk. In this instance, the child at risk was my son. He has leukemia.

(thx, cedar)

Update: Ben Goldacre on anti-vaccine scares as a cultural thing, not a science thing:

There’s something very interesting about vaccine scares. These are cultural products. They’re not about evidence. If vaccine scares were about genuine scientific evidence showing that a vaccine caused a disease, then the vaccine scares would happen all around the world at exactly the same time, because information can disseminate itself around the world very rapidly these days. But what you find is that vaccine scares actually respect cultural and national boundaries.

(via lined and unlined)

The sorta kinda maybe legal child snatcher

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2009

Gustavo Zamora Jr., a former Army ranger, has retrieved more than 50 children for parents left behind when someone else takes the kid to another country. Nadya Labi tags along as Zamora attempts to recover a boy from Costa Rica for Florida lawyer Todd Hopson.

If your ex-spouse has run off and taken your children abroad, and the international legal system is failing to bring them back, what are you to do? One option is to call Gus Zamora, a former Army ranger who will, for a hefty fee, get your children back. Operating in a moral gray area beyond the reach of any clear-cut legal jurisdiction, Zamora claims to have returned 54 children to left-behind parents. Here’s the story of number 55.

Lack of parental pressure turns nos into yeses

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 18, 2009

When the usual methods of getting your child to do something fail, perhaps try the exact opposite approach instead.

They direct the parents to temporarily back off almost entirely: to stop asking their child to do the desired behavior and say it’s OK not to do it at all, stop offering praise or other rewards for doing it, and mask their attitude of engaged enthusiasm or frustrated rage with an appearance of bland disinterest in whether the child does it or not. What happens next, frequently, is that within a day or two the child starts doing the behavior with no prompting from parents or anyone else.

The explanation of why this technique works is pretty interesting. We’ve tried it a bit recently with Ollie and his extreme disinterest in brushing his teeth and we’re seeing some promising results, although I imagine this works better with slightly older kids.

When it’s your kid, it’s not babysitting

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 26, 2009

New father Paul Drielsma thinks that the language around fatherhood needs to change.

Scour the parenting forums on the Internet and you’ll find the common lament that “DH” (darling husband) expects a medal whenever he “babysits” junior for a few hours. I have little sympathy for DH in these cases, but maybe a step in the right direction would be to stop using language that suggests hired help — to stop referring to DH’s job in the same terms as somebody who could legitimately stick his hand out at the end of his shift and demand a tip. DH isn’t babysitting, he’s parenting, and just changing that one word changes, for me at least, all sorts of connotations.

Teach your kids to argue

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2009

Teaching your kids how to argue doesn’t make them quarrelous; it makes them consider other points of view, particularly those held by others.

Let’s face it: Our culture has lost the ability to usefully disagree. Most Americans seem to avoid argument. But this has produced passive aggression and groupthink in the office, red and blue states, and families unable to discuss things as simple as what to watch on television. Rhetoric doesn’t turn kids into back-sassers; it makes them think about other points of view.

I had long equated arguing with fighting, but in rhetoric they are very different things. An argument is good; a fight is not. Whereas the goal of a fight is to dominate your opponent, in an argument you succeed when you bring your audience over to your side. A dispute over territory in the backseat of a car qualifies as an argument, for example, in the unlikely event that one child attempts to persuade his audience rather than slug it.

(via siege)

At the playground (ya know?)

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2009

Apologies to those of you who descend upon this site for the current and interesting; I’m interrupting for a little personal blogging and parental advice interlude. Something happened to Ollie and me earlier today and I’m still upset about it for reasons that are unclear, so I needed to get this off my chest.

I took off work a little early today to take Ollie to the playground. We’d been there about 15 or 20 minutes and he was happy playing in his favorite plastic car. Another little boy, probably about 2.5 to 3 years old, came up to him in the car and after standing there for a moment, slapped him in the face. Now, I’ve seen enough accidental toddler flailing to know that this wasn’t it. And then he slapped him again…pretty hard. I could see Ollie drawing back, shocked and perhaps getting ready to cry. As I moved over to Ollie to intervene, the kid slapped him again and was rearing back to do it again. I grabbed his hand, said, “hey!” and moved him away from Ollie a bit.

Now, this is normal playground stuff. Usually the hitting isn’t so weirdly premeditated, but whatever…they’re too small to hurt one another unless there are shovels or sharp sticks involved. Usually you just let the kids figure it out themselves but not when one kid is just slapping the other one just for the hell of it. And in that case, the parents usually move in, settle things down, one kid apologizes to the other, everyone rolls their eyes — kids! — and everything’s fine. It’s not about discipline, it’s about teaching kids how to deal with these situations through sheer repetition.

So, I’d moved the kid away from Ollie, just a foot or so…I didn’t yank him away or anything. (I wouldn’t even have touched him if Ollie hadn’t been trapped in his car…I couldn’t just get Ollie out of the situation easily.) I repeated “hey…” and started in on the standard toddler anti-violence speech that leads to an apology, blah blah blah. The kid smiles at me like the cat who swallowed the canary and starts to run off. I took hold of his arm again so that I could finish making the peace. (Sort-of side note: We looked at a bunch of preschools for Ollie, which are not so much schools as they are organized social mixers for pre-K kids. Many of the schools stressed conflict resolution for the “twos and threes”…getting the kids playing well together and helping them work though their problems with each other is important. That’s pretty much what I was trying to do here.)

Then this kid’s mom finally appears. She yanks her kid away from me and says, “hey, what are you doing?”

“Your kid was slapping mine. I was trying to…”

“I know that. I saw.”

A bit stunned by that, I tried again. “Ok, I was just trying…”

She goes right to eleven. “How dare you! You were going to hit my child!”

My eyes and mouth are wide as this point. “What?!”

“You were going to hit him! You’re an adult, much bigger than him, you shouldn’t be hitting little boys!”

We went back and forth like this for a bit and I finally just said, “Ok, whatever. Listen, lady. I didn’t hit your kid and I wasn’t going to hit your kid. Period.” She eyed me suspiciously and moved away with her son. Ollie and I left shortly afterwards; I was pretty upset and just wanted to get the hell out of there.

On the walk home, I felt sick to my stomach. For one, I was shocked by the woman’s reaction to her child’s misbehavior. And then that she thought that I was going to hit her kid. Had she pressed the point, it could have gotten ugly…she could have called the police to have me arrested. For performing normal playground toddler intervention kiss-and-make-up! Then I started thinking that maybe I had been too rough with her son without realizing it. That really made me feel ill. It occurred to me while talking to my wife after the fact that maybe I should have let the kid walk away after he smiled at me… perhaps I have the right to protect my kid from abuse but I shouldn’t attempt to “parent” the other child in any way.

So, I guess my question for the more experienced parents in the crowd is: what’s the etiquette here? Am I being naïve in thinking that the playground is a collective parenting situation when it comes to this sort of thing? Or is touching or parenting another person’s child, no matter how slightly or what the intent, strictly off limits in this overprotective and litigious society? (Just to anticipate a common question — If your roles were reversed, would you be comfortable with someone parenting Ollie in that situation? — I’d say yes, if Ollie was slapping some other kid around, absolutely…break it up, make the peace, and move on.) I know you weren’t there and this is just one side of the story, but I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts, either in the comments or via email. Thanks.

Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2009

Another article about how uptight parents are raising sheltered kids.

The crime rate today is equal to what it was back in 1970. In the ’70s and ’80s, crime was climbing. It peaked around 1993, and since then it’s been going down. If you were a child in the ’70s or the ’80s and were allowed to go visit your friend down the block, or ride your bike to the library, or play in the park without your parents accompanying you, your children are no less safe than you were. But it feels so completely different, and we’re told that it’s completely different, and frankly, when I tell people that it’s the same, nobody believes me. We’re living in really safe times, and it’s hard to believe.

I can’t remember where I heard this little story recently but the gist is that a family originally from somewhere in Africa but now living in the United States went back home for a visit. In this particular country, the kids all leave the house at 6am and don’t return until dinnertime. They get up, pack a lunch, and they’re just gone. And the kid from the family living in the US didn’t do this…he couldn’t really do much without his parents and hung around them the whole time, which the other kids thought was weird.

The short rise and deep fall of Todd Marinovich

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2009

Todd Marinovich was supposed to be the best quarterback of all time. Instead, his life got derailed by drugs and alcohol and even more drugs. His dad has to be the all-time worst sports parent in the history of horrible sports parents…it was difficult to get through page 2 without wanting to FedEx Marinovich Sr. a punch in the face.

For the nine months prior to Todd’s birth on July 4, 1969, Trudi used no salt, sugar, alcohol, or tobacco. As a baby, Todd was fed only fresh vegetables, fruits, and raw milk; when he was teething, he was given frozen kidneys to gnaw. As a child, he was allowed no junk food; Trudi sent Todd off to birthday parties with carrot sticks and carob muffins. By age three, Marv had the boy throwing with both hands, kicking with both feet, doing sit-ups and pull-ups, and lifting light hand weights. On his fourth birthday, Todd ran four miles along the ocean’s edge in thirty-two minutes, an eight-minute-mile pace. Marv was with him every step of the way.

Update: In 1988 Sports Illustrated ran an article about Marinovich while he was still in high school: Bred To Be A Superstar. (via josh)

Green Eggs and Toast

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2009

By the time your kid is 2 or 3 years old, you’ve likely read her favorite book more than 50,000 times. Luckily, says Tim Bray, you can switch it up after awhile.

In this scenario, you change the words: “I do not like blue eggs and ham”, then once again the pregnant pause, and the toddler leaps in with the correction; maybe in a sort of disturbed and urgent tone. You respond “Oh, right, green eggs…”. After a couple of times she realizes it’s a joke and you get giggles with each correction.

We’re well into stage one with Ollie, although stage two is likely just around the corner. We’ve been playing a game recently where we ask him whether different objects have wheels or not.

“Does the bus have wheels?”

“Does Mommy have wheels?”

Running out of whys

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 05, 2009

A dialogue with Sarah, aged 3: in which it is shown that if your dad is a chemistry professor, asking “why” can be dangerous.


DAD: Why do the molecules have a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail?


DAD: Because the C-O bonds in the head are highly polar, and the C-H bonds in the tail are effectively non-polar.

No clear goal

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 02, 2009

Due to parental guidance toward more structured activities, kids are getting less free play time than they used to, which may make them less creative, less socially adept, inflexible, and less intelligent.

The child initiates and creates free play. It might involve fantasies — such as pretending to be doctors or princesses or playing house — or it might include mock fighting, as when kids (primarily boys) wrestle and tumble with one another for fun, switching roles periodically so that neither of them always wins. And free play is most similar to play seen in the animal kingdom, suggesting that it has important evolutionary roots. Gordon M. Burghardt, author of The Genesis of Animal Play, spent 18 years observing animals to learn how to define play: it must be repetitive — an animal that nudges a new object just once is not playing with it — and it must be voluntary and initiated in a relaxed setting. Animals and children do not play when they are undernourished or in stressful situations. Most essential, the activity should not have an obvious function in the context in which it is observed — meaning that it has, essentially, no clear goal.

Dirt is good for you

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 28, 2009

Studies indicate that kids who are exposed to bacteria, viruses, worms, and dirt have healthier immune systems.

He said that public health measures like cleaning up contaminated water and food have saved the lives of countless children, but they “also eliminated exposure to many organisms that are probably good for us.” “Children raised in an ultraclean environment,” he added, “are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.”

One of the decisions we made even before Ollie was born was that he was going to be a dirty kid. We wash our hands often with non-antibacterial soap and water, especially after being on the subway, but otherwise don’t worry about it much. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used the antibacterial hand sanitizer that seemingly comes bundled with toddlers these days.

Update: See also The Germ-Phobic Mommies.


posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2008

Joan Acocella discussed the current state of overparenting, aka spoiling, helicopter parenting, hothouse parenting, or death-grip parenting.

Marano thinks that the infant-stimulation craze was a scandal. She accepts the idea of brain plasticity, but she believes that the sculpting goes on for many years past infancy and that its primary arena should be self-stimulation, as the child ventures out into the world. While Mother was driving the kid nuts with the eight-hundredth iteration of “This Little Piggy,” she should have been letting him play on his own. Marano assembles her own arsenal of neurological research, guaranteed to scare the pants off any hovering parent. As children explore their environment by themselves-making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration-their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated, Marano says. “Dendrites sprout. Synapses form.” If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems “literally shrink.”


posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 17, 2008

A small number of kids in NYC are going to what their parents call “unschool” (i.e. home schooling with an unstructured urban twist).

With Benny, Mr. Lewis went on to say, “we embraced a hybrid between home-schooling and unschooling. It’s not structured, it’s Benny-centric, we follow his interests and desires, and yet we are helping him to learn to read and do math.” They read to him hours every day. “It’s about trying to find things we both enjoy doing,” Ms. Rendell said, “rather than making myself a martyr mom. The terror of home-schooling is you have to be super on all the time, finding crafty things to do.”

Here’s the Babble article on unschooling mentioned in the article.

Molecular gastronomy for four-year-olds

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2008

Slate writer Sara Dickerman’s 4-year-old son won’t eat his vegetables so she decided to try some molecular gastronomy to fool the kid into eating his broccoli in little spheres.

The tomato water doesn’t really transform into spheres so much as blobs with little tails of clear gelatin. And here my son begins to get really nervous; realizing that he will have to eat not only something tomato-flavored but something that in shape and overall texture most closely resembles a tadpole.

Amazing switched at birth story

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2008

I just finished listening to this amazing episode of This American Life about two babies who were switched at birth and didn’t find out FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS even though one of the mothers knew all along.

On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families. One of the mothers realized the mistake but chose to keep quiet. Until the day, more than 40 years later, when she decided to tell both daughters what happened. How the truth changed two families’ lives — and how it didn’t.

The worst part about the whole thing is that the mother that knew, Mrs. Miller, always treated her non-biological daughter differently, like she wasn’t really a full part of the family. The Millers sound like awful people.

Taking all the fun out of the playground

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2008

Children’s playground equipment has gotten safer but less fun.

When litigation piled up in the early 1980s, the industry responded by raising insurance premiums and adhering closely to safety standards set up by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Unsurprisingly, few creative ideas made it through these standards, lest any innovations be dangerous and result in more injury. God forbid a child jam his finger or scrape her knee.

But what the new, safe equipment is missing, of course, is the stuff that, according to Moore, makes play fun and crucial to early-childhood development: variety, complexity, challenge, risk, flexibility, and adaptability.

One of the most difficult aspects of Ollie’s newfound mobility is balancing his need to explore freely and his safety.

The girl in the window

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 06, 2008

This story about a “most outrageous case of neglect” was extremely difficult to read at times, but it’s an amazing tale.

“It’s mind-boggling that in the 21st century we can still have a child who’s just left in a room like a gerbil,” said Tracy Sheehan, Danielle’s guardian in the legal system and now a circuit court judge. “No food. No one talking to her or reading her a story. She can’t even use her hands. How could this child be so invisible?”

There’s a collection of video and audio that accompanies the story as well. (via waxy)

Baby’s First Internet

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2008

Illustrator Kean Soo and writer Kevin Fanning created a book about the internet for babies: Baby’s First Internet.

Do not stop to think or edit:
You must be the first who said it.

You heard a brand-new band? What luck!
You’ll be the first to say they suck.

I’d read it to Ollie but do 1-year-olds understand cautionary tales?

David Carr, The Night of the Gun

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 18, 2008

NY Times columnist David Carr has written a book about his days as a junkie who cleaned himself up only when twin daughters came into his life. The Times has a lengthy excerpt; it’s possibly the best thing I’ve read all week.

If I said I was a fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke, would you like my story? What if instead I wrote that I was a recovered addict who obtained sole custody of my twin girls, got us off welfare and raised them by myself, even though I had a little touch of cancer? Now we’re talking. Both are equally true, but as a member of a self-interpreting species, one that fights to keep disharmony at a remove, I’m inclined to mention my tenderhearted attentions as a single parent before I get around to the fact that I hit their mother when we were together. We tell ourselves that we lie to protect others, but the self usually comes out looking damn good in the process.

Carr’s book is not the conventional memoir. Instead of relying on his spotty memory from his time as a junkie, he went out and interviewed his family, friends, enemies, and others who knew him at the time to get a more complete picture.

A former colleague interviewed Carr two years ago in Rake Magazine. (via vsl)

Kids make for unhappy parents?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 09, 2008

Some recent studies are showing that having children do not make parents happier and that childless adults may be more satisfied with their lives.

Simon points out what any parent knows very well: Children, especially young children, can create lots of work and stress. “There are very many positive things that come out of having kids, but it’s a mixed bag,” she says. “They are demanding. They are a responsibility, and it’s a responsibility that doesn’t end.”

Very true. But as Jonah Lerher points out, what is true on a day-to-day basis may not the same over the long haul.

Changing a diaper isn’t enjoyable, and teenagers can be such a pain in the ass, but having kids can also be a profound source of meaning for people. (I like the amateur marathoner metaphor: survey a marathoner in the midst of the race and they’ll complain about their legs and that rash and how the race seems like it’s taking forever. But when the running is over they are always incredibly proud of their accomplishment. Having kids, then, is like a marathon that lasts 18 years.)

My take is that the kids aren’t the problem; it’s all the other stuff. You just aren’t able to do all the stuff you used to enjoy doing before you had kids and if you think you can, of course you’re going to be unhappy when it doesn’t work out that way. You need to be prepared and make a conscious choice: “I’m choosing to enrich my life with a child *but* as a tradeoff, I won’t be able to live the way I was before.” Even worse, many don’t have a choice. When both parents need to work to make ends meet and there’s no extended family to pick up the slack, throwing a child in the mix can add stress into a situation where time and money are already scarce. As noted at the end of the NPR story, the US doesn’t value family as much as it could.

But Simon says that the importance of studies of parental depression lies in their providing a groundwork for fighting it. “People ought to understand where this unhappiness comes from,” she says. “I would say it’s not from their kids per se, I would say that it comes from the social conditions in which contemporary parents parent.” Parents, says Simon, are far too often left on their own and have very few support systems. “We don’t have family friendly policies,” she says. “We don’t allow people, I believe, as a society to reap the full joys of parenthood.”

No pregnancy pact?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2008

Regarding last week’s story about the Gloucester teen girl pregnancy pact…well, maybe there was a pact and maybe there wasn’t.

But at a press conference today, Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk emerged from a closed-door meeting with city, school and health officials to say that there had been no independent confirmation of any teen pregnancy pact. She also said that the principal, who was not present at the meeting, is now “foggy in his memory” of how he heard about the pact.

As Marco Carbone said, “TIME could have covered that story much more responsibly.” And that goes for all the blogs too, kottke.org included.

Pregnancy pact

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2008

A group of high school girls in Gloucester, MA (about half of the 17 total pregnant in the high school, none older than 16) made a pact to get pregnant on purpose. One the girls resorted to impregnation by a 24-year-old homeless man.

The girls who made the pregnancy pact — some of whom, according to Sullivan, reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives and plans for baby showers — declined to be interviewed.

(via buzzfeed)