Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivikkah in our household) is upon us, bringing about the start of the winter holiday season. What better time, then, to think about our families? Regardless of our relationships with our families, there’s no doubt that, for better or worse, they shape who we are.
Just in time for the holidays, Natalie Angier took a look at the changing American family over at the New York Times. Not only is the make-up of American families changing, but it’s doing so at a rapid pace:
“Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago.”
I only have to look as far as my own family to see this. I’m the child of two immigrants, my mother having moved to the United States when she was a toddler, while my father emigrated from Israel at 28. I now currently live with my husband, our son, and my brother, who has lived on and off with us for the last seven-and-a-half years. Keep reading »
In the back of my mind, I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t in my current profession, I would absolutely love to be a sex health educator.
I remember being that kid — the one whose parents gave her all sorts of illustrated books geared at children illustrating your body and all the “special changes” it went through. I dutifully pointed out these pictures to any friend that came over for a playdate, much to their surprise, disgust or delight.
When I was in high school, I was the regional community service leader of a Jewish youth group. In between organizing canned food drives and playground clean-ups, I instituted a workshop on safe sex, complete with an accompanying VHS of a “90210″ episode on condoms. Hey! It was the mid-’90s and we were all for everything and anything Beverly Hills. #DylanAndKelly4Ever.
When I was teaching high school, I would have students come up to me after receiving a sex ed lecture asking if I could help them make an appointment with a local clinic just to get checked out. Hearing that one in four sexually active women have HPV really seemed to sink in (this was before the vaccine was regularly available). Keep reading »
There are a lot of worries parents might have as their child heads off to school: academic struggles, not getting along with teachers or classmates, bad behavior. The potential consequences for these concerns are worrisome as well. As a mother (and one who used to teach high school social studies), I don’t think it’s all that unusual to fret over things like these.
But one thing I didn’t think I’d have to be worried about is the possibility of my son being suspended for his sense of style. A 13-year-old 8th grader from Kansas was recently suspended for wearing a Vera Bradley handbag while attending school.
Suspended. For having a quilted bag. Seriously. Keep reading »
This week, many kids, including my own, are headed back to school. And, like anything parenting-related, school brings along with it its own heaping pile of judgement. What school do you send your child to? Public? Private? Charter? Or do you homeschool or unschool? Regardless of what might work best for your own child and family, there is plenty of public opinion that will tell you that whatever you’ve decided is inherently wrong.
Slate.com decided to take the helm with a piece by Allison Benedikt called “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.” We’re not even into the article and the judgements are flying. Clearly we’re off to a great start. But at least Benedikt acknowledges it:
“I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve.”
I am a former public high school social studies teacher. I am a product and proponent of the public school system, and do my best to support to support local public schools (especially when it comes to music and arts programs) whenever possible. I also send my son to a local private elementary school. And I totally understand Benedikt’s line of thinking.
Keep reading »
When it comes to mothering and the so-called “Mommy Wars,” the one debate that will seemingly never die is the one centered around breastfeeding. I’ve written extensively about breastfeeding in the past, and in my day job I work on finding accessible ways to educate pregnant women about breastfeeding, in the hopes that they’ll at least be open to trying it out once their baby is born. I’m of the mind that “breast is best,” but I’m also painfully aware that we as a country and society do not make it easy in the slightest for women —particularly working women or those from lower socio-economic backgrounds— to breastfeed. I was a big fan of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week and I try and support women who want to breastfeeding but lack resources/information/help. I also try to support and provide information for pregnant women who aren’t sure about whether they will nurse or not. And, when possible, I help connect parents who want their babies to have breast milk with mothers who have an excess supply. I also will not shame, harass, or harangue a woman who chooses to or needs to formula feed their baby for whatever reason.
I will, however, call out someone who uses faulty logic as reasoning for not nursing her hypothetical future child. Karla A. Erickson’s “Explaining Why, Next Time, I Won’t Breastfeed” was a recent op/ed in the Iowa Press-Citizen that purports to use breastfeeding as the cause of uneven and unequal division of labor when it comes to parenting. Keep reading »
“So? What are you having?”
Throughout my pregnancy, that was the number one question I received, tied only with: “How are you feeling?” At first I was polite about it, telling folks that it was too early to tell, but that we weren’t finding out anyway until the birth. After I passed 20 weeks, I attempted to answer all the Nosy Nellies as diplomatically as I could. I said that we would be happy with either a boy or girl, as long as the baby was healthy. Yet as my belly expanded, my patience shrank and I found myself coming up with more creative ways to answer the increasingly frequent queries over “what” we were having. “Fingers crossed it’s not a kitten!” was one of my favorite go-to replies.
And, for those keeping track – no, we did not have a kitten, but rather a beautiful baby boy. Still, the questions kept coming. Since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl (and because, you know, colors are for everyone), my son wore a rainbow of onesies, which only seemed to confuse folks. Multiple times a day I would have people question why my son was wearing purple. Or pink. Or even yellow. I did not get the same stares or questions when he donned his blue, green or brown onesies. Our society, one that is heavily entrenched in traditional, stereotypical gender roles, seems to want to plug children into these boxes as quickly as possible — even before they’re born — and that can be both frustrating and confusing. Keep reading »
If the last nine months have taught us anything, it’s that Royal Baby Fever is a real thing. Princess Kate has most likely amassed more headlines than any other woman when it comes to her pregnancy. And, with the Royal Baby having finally descended upon us, I have a feeling that the royal family will not be out of the spotlight anytime soon. It seems as if everyone has a stake in this baby.
In fact, many people have already doled out copious amounts of advice to Princess Kate, from Snooki to baseball player David Ortiz. Many websites and morning shows have also chimed in with their own cutesy bits of mothering advice for Kate. And, that’s sweet in all, but in reality, it’s all just show for us. None of this — and I hate to burst your bubble — will actually impact Kate or Will when it comes to their new baby boy. Keep reading »
Apparently, when it comes to maternity care costs in this country, I lucked out big time. Seven years ago, when I found myself pregnant for the first time, I had just switched from my own insurance to my husband’s much better one, and had only one, $25 co-payment for the entirety of my pregnancy — including the delivery. That’s it. Twenty-five dollars got me multiple visits with my midwife and a hospital birth (albeit a short one — I was in and out of the hospital in 10 hours, my choice).
Yet, my experience is certainly not the norm when it comes to maternity care costs in this country. The New York Times recently looked into why the U.S. has the most expensive maternity care in the world … despite not necessarily being at the top when it comes to quality of care. The facts are both absolutely terrifying and downright maddening. According to the Times article, prenatal and delivery charges can cost upwards of $50,000, depending on whether the mom-to-be has insurance or needs a C-section. Even for those with insurance, there is still the possibility of a costly birth, especially if your policy does not include maternity care coverage. Keep reading »
What do you think about when you hear “teen mom?” Perhaps you think about someone who was arrested for heroin recently, or maybe about someone else who came out with a sex tape (aka made a pornographic movie) with James Deen. Maybe your thoughts immediately went to shameful ad campaigns by Candie’s or New York City on preventing teen pregnancy. You might not have thought, however, about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who prepared an epic 13-hour filibuster on Tuesday in hopes of blocking SB 5 — a bill in front of the Texas State House that would not only ban all abortions after 20 weeks, but would also close 37 of the state’s 42 clinics, making abortion access in Texas virtually null.
But Sen. Wendy Davis is both a badass reproductive justice warrior and teen mother. Keep reading »
When I first read a review of Lauren Sandler’s new book, One and Only: The Freedom Of Having An Only Child And The Joy Of Being One , I was hopeful. As the mother of an only child (and with no plans at all to have any more children), I’ve had my fair share of judgement from others. I’ve been told I’m selfish, that I’ll live to regret this decision, that my child will grow up lonely, that he’ll end up resenting me and his father for not giving him any siblings, that he’ll feel burdened when it comes time to care for us in old age. The list goes on and on. I’ve heard variations on these remarks from family, people I know well, and complete strangers.
Trust me, this wasn’t a decision we came to lightly and it’s one that is constantly on my mind. In fact – shameless self promotional plug – my essay in my upcoming anthology about the myth of the “good mother” deals specifically with this topic and is titled “Yes. I Am That Selfish.” So to read about a book that thoughtfully takes on the notion of having one child — and debunks many of the myths commonly associated with it — felt a bit liberating. Keep reading »