Category Archives: Resources & Recommendations

Family Mission Statement and Talking About Sex…

So we worked on our family mission statement this weekend, and I read the Bruce Feiler chapter about talking to your kids about sex.

We’re enjoying taking the mission (he calls it branding) slowly… what do we stand for, really?  What are the most important things to all of us?  When my J. and I talked about this before, our kids were younger and not part of our conversation.  Now that we all have something to bring to the table, it feels more important, and better.

*EPIPHANY!*  At dinner this evening we were talking about the words that represented our family.  It was an okay conversation, but then I had an epiphany.  I asked my daughters, “How would you want to describe us to, let’s say, a friend from college who can’t go home for Thanksgiving.  How would you want to complete this… “Come to our house… it’s _______; for Thanksgiving we always ________; my mom ___________; my dad _____________.”  Then our talk really evolved.

As for the sex chapter– the basic premise is what I’ve always suggested. Here is a link to all the places sex appears on my website.

And now, I’m feeling like the Secrets of Happy Families blog posts are coming to an end.  I’ll check back in on them now and again.  I would really suggest, if you feel like you’ve had your fill of parenting books, or if you are looking for one, that this is healthy part of a parenting library.  Even if you feel your “parenting booked out” I would add this one to the shelf.

Talking With Your Children About Awful Things

There are times when we have to talk with our children about the most awful things.  When your child reads something in the paper, or hears about something from a friend, you may have to have a conversation you weren’t prepared for.  You can do it. Keep in mind these basic guidelines…

  • wait for the questions
  • clarify the question being asked– many times our prior knowledge and fears make us think something more complicated is being asked
  • answer as simply as possible
  • you are allowed to say I don’t know
  • your basic responsibility is to reassure your children how much you do to keep them safe, including helping them learn how to keep themselves safe.

If you have specific concerns about your child and his or her anxiety, please call your pediatrician for a referral.

In essence, having this conversation is showing your child how you think about the world and deal with what feel like unspeakable acts.

Fifty Dangerous Things… sign up for a discount code that brings the price of the book down to $19.95 This is from the people who brought us where kids learn to play with fire and build things with real tools. It’s in California, and for kids 8 years old and up. The founder, Gever Tulley, has a TED talk with an overview if you want to read more. Looking for a gift for kids under 10 who like music? My cousin made an album that I didn’t have to like, but I really do– the lyrics speak to adults too– “cranky mommy” seems real, not forced. There are two songs dealing with divorce– one the emotions, one the practical aspects. And another one that challenges all of us to get off the phone/internet and be there face-to-face.

Holiday Gifts?

December is here. Toxic? The Zhu Zhu pets have high levels of antimony, a chemical that probably isn’t good for you. Teenagers have not developed the dorsolateral section of their pre-frontal cortex, which explains driving accidents in teens– according to research and the latest Allstate ads.

Dog Whisper as Parenting Advice? I think not.

Ahh, how optimistic I was when I picked up the Style Section this morning. And how sad was I when I saw the article about parenting children with techniques from the Dog Whisperer. I mean, really. If you haven’t checked out the concerts at Housing Works on Crosby Street, you should– they are intimate venues raising money for a good cause. Shopping for the holidays? If you’re into the pretend Zhu Zhu hamster that seems to be all the rage, I’ve found the best prices here at DigitechToys . Other stores I really like (remember, there’s no relationship here except for my personal one, as of yet!) Nova Natural Hearthsong , Magic Cabin here you can use code MC499 for $4.99 shipping. I still love the Moonjar for a present, and a few friends have pointed out that there are other similar banks out there, some with 4 slots (an extra for investing).

New Sesame Street +

Not loving the new Sesame Street. Characters saying things like, “Nah nah” to each other, and still the same format of modeling more negative interactions than positive. New on my radar is Moonjar Classic Moneybox which has 3 places for money– save, share, spend. My children will be getting this– even though we plan charitable giving as a family (microlending, giving to charities that benefit children) this seems even more appropriate for young children and really, the first step.

Baby Einstein Gives Back, So to Speak…

Baby Einstein offering refunds because it cannot “make your baby smarter” (and in fact is really not good for their eyeballs and depth perception). I started to understand how stage mothers get their reputation– having agreed that my daughter could be in an NYU Grad Student film that shot this weekend– my way of giving back since I haven’t donated financially since graduation. Thankfully she had a good time and the filmmakers were great. I was keenly aware of every emotion– wanting to make sure she hit her marks, understood directions (physical and emotional) and found myself feeling a bit impatient/guilty if they had to do another take because she looked over at me at the wrong time, let’s say, when the camera was rolling. I played a new game! For families with children ages 6 and up, the game Family Matters makes a great gift. Invented by a dad from NYC, this board game ensures the family playing will have fun, interesting and important conversations. Even though we aren’t in the same family, the creator, David, and I played the other day– touching on subjects as cute as “what’s your favorite pie” (and why) to a faux “family crisis” involving a teen who has started to smoke. The game is well thought out so you can easily choose big issues that are age appropriate. It also won the “Dr. Toy Award” for best new game.