Archive: June 2007

Truly Unbalanced Topics

Okay, it's true: Sometimes I stretch the topic of "balance" to cover intriguing subjects that have basically nothing to do with work/life balance. To take this to its logical extreme I've been collecting various posters' suggestions for utterly unbalanced topics. Here are my top five favorites for today's Free-For-All: Balance and People Who Think Dogs Are As Important as Babies. Balance and the Iraq War. Balance and Every Known Detail About Scarry's Second Pregnancy. Post-Breastfeeding Boobs and Balance. Polygamous Marriage and Work/Life Balance: A New Family Structure for the Future? Please add your own ridiculous ideas for future "unbalanced" topics....

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 29, 2007; 7:40 AM ET | Comments (346)

Working for the Work-Obsessed

By Rebeldad Brian Reid My old CEO, Mike Bloomberg, made the papers the other day. Actually, he makes the papers pretty much every day now, what with the whole presidential non-candidate thing and the trans fat thing and the global warming thing. But what caught my eye was that he made the Wall Street Journal for talking about his work-life balance. Or the lack thereof. The key to success, Bloomberg told graduates of City University of New York's College of Staten Island, is something that sounds a lot like workaholism: If you're the first one in in the morning and the last one to leave at night and you take fewer vacation days and never take a sick day, you will do better than the people who don't do that. It is very simple. And he joshingly admitted that the parenting thing wasn't his bag. I've managed to raise two...

By Brian Reid | June 28, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Breastfeeding Hiatus Is Over

Believe it or not, it's been months since we've talked about anything even tangentially related to breastfeeding. Hope you've enjoyed the break. Because it's over. Here's a roundup of stuff we missed during the hiatus. In April, Time Magazine explored Outsourcing Breast Milk, a modern version of the old "wet nurse" practice where lactating women nurse babies not their own. According to Time, some co-workers, sisters and neighbors are swapping babies. "It's a way of building that village or community that a lot of us crave," explained a woman who cross-fed her neighbor's baby. Eeeewww!* Did you know you can breast feed an adopted baby? La Leche League will tell you how to induce lactation in their pamphlet Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby. I'm pretty sure men can try this method as well. (As an aside, my husband called the concept of men trying to breastfeed "sick and perverted." I reminded...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (366)

Balance for One

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Varina Winder I'm 23 years old. I'm not married. I have no kids. No one depends on me for sustenance, physical or emotional. So why does my life feel so...unbalanced? Since graduating from college in 2006, I have found it almost impossible to find "balance" in my life. While I once juggled five classes, a job search, coordinating rent payments from my eight roommates, an internship and a part-time babysitting job, I'm finding it completely impossible to maintain that same act now that I'm an official member of the "real" world....

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 26, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (486)

First Is Better When It Comes to I.Q. Scores

A scientific study was recently conducted to add to a half-century debate about whether first-born children have higher I.Q.'s than their younger siblings. The study, conducted by Norwegian epidemiologists, analyzed military records of birth order and I.Q. scores of more than 240,000 men born from 1967 to 1976. The finding that firstborns averaged three IQ points higher than their next sibling were reported in Science and Intelligence journals and by the New York Times in Research Finds First Borns Gain the Higher I.Q. The Norwegian epidemiologists corrected for factors such as parents' education level, maternal age at birth, and family size in order to isolate the birth order factor. They also studied families where firstborn sons died, turning younger siblings into effective "firstborns." The differences in I.Q. varied by family, showing up in most but not all families, but the average difference was significant. Now, I.Q. is clearly not the...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 25, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (199)

Yum, Yum!

Time to get back to Lite Fridays. We've talked shoes and balance, hair and balance...Now let's talk comfort food and balance. The topic today: What are your three top favorite foods from childhood? What do your memories say about how you were raised and how you want to raise your kids? Mine were: Lemon Coolers. A round shortbread cookie, covered in powdered sugar and filled with explosive dots of lemon flavor. Available in New Hampshire, where my mom took us for a few weeks each summer to escape the D.C. heat (in the days before central air conditioning). Suzie Q's. A spongy rectangular chocolate cake filled with sweet white cream. There were four of us kids, and my mom had the devilish, former-math-teacher idea to make the child who cut the cake pick the last piece. So if you held the knife, you cut the Suzie Q into the most...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 22, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (211)

Single Purpose?

More women are single today (51 percent vs. 35 percent in the 1950s) than any time in recent history. Women are marrying later when they do marry. There is a new book on the subject, Now and Not Yet, that tackles being single from a conservative Christian viewpoint. I'm reluctant to broach anything having to do with God, but I'm going to try to do this topic justice anyway. The author is Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, living in Arlington, Va. In the book's introduction, she writes "Life is about more than marital status, and singleness is more than a holding pattern. This book is about redeeming the time between now and the not yet for which we hope." In a Washington Times interview, she explains "Today women have all kinds of career opportunities, but obstacles seem to be in the way of finding...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (393)

Skating Beyond Exercise Fits and Starts

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Thank goodness for the Washington Capitals and the genius who decided that the team needed to move to a new, gorgeous practice facility. The complex, perched atop a Ballston parking garage, has two of the smoothest sheets of ice around, a well-stocked pro shop and absolutely pristine locker rooms. Most important, it is a 10-minute drive from my home. That has allowed me to join a league and strap on skates on a regular basis for the first time since I was 12. It also guarantees me at least one good hour of exercise a week, up from zero six months ago. And the fear of being the slowest skater on the ice has shamed me into running -- at least a little bit -- each week. I'm not at the 30 to 90 minutes a day that the exercise experts recommend, but at least it's...

By Brian Reid | June 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Breadwinner

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Linda Nason McElherne After reading the article about Leslie's findings on stay-at-home moms in Newsweek (May 28, 2007), I am writing to let you know, I am apparently the one and only woman -- single, masters-educated, author, designer, educator who has had trouble finding a good full-time job after being home for 10 years with four kids. Starting at my divorce proceedings in 1999, I have struggled to get a decent job for eight years. Since I am raising four kids alone, I have to have a full-time job and two...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 19, 2007; 6:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Daddy's Home

Listening to National Public Radio last week I heard seven precious words: Scott Simon is away on paternity leave. Don't get me wrong: I like Scott Simon. But I was thrilled to hear he's taking NPR's paternity leave. Only a few years ago, the bravest expectant dads would slink into my office to whisper that they were considering taking time off when their babies arrived. Would they get fired? Not get a promotion ever again? Be ridiculed while they were out? (I'm happy to report none of their fears came true. What actually happened was that people barely noticed they were gone.) A male public figure like Scott Simon taking leave to be a dad first and foremost is a small, important step to expand child-care policies as a mainstream workplace concern, instead of being relegated to "oh that's a woman's issue" domain. More good news for moms and dads:...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 18, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (403)

Happy Father's Day, Dad

In honor of Father's Day, I asked writer Joel Rose to share his thoughts on fatherhood. Thank you, Joel. By Joel Rose My father worked nights. A 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift. I woke at 5 to be with him. He always brought home the newspapers, the New York Daily News, the Mirror, and a bag of jelly doughnuts. We sat at the kitchen table looking at the box scores and talking sports, me just being with my dad, us being together. He called me "Boy." By the time I came home from school, he was gone. I still get up at 5. I make coffee, go to my desk and work. Once my boys get up, I'm theirs. I follow them into the kitchen and make them breakfast. While they're eating. I make their lunch. I give them their vitamins and a glass of water, pick out their...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 15, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (325)

Buying Time

By Rebeldad Brian Reid A couple of years ago Mike, one of my local at-home dad buddies, received a burst of attention when he was featured in a couple of national media outlets detailing his theory on at-home parenthood. It's a simple theory: If you decide that you are going to leave the workforce and stay home with the kids, raising the kids should be your prime concern. Not the cooking. Not the floors. Not the toilets. So Mike outsourced pretty much everything he could. Dinner, most nights, was takeout. And the soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach was someone else's problem -- he happily paid for housecleaning. After all, his logic goes, if both spouses are dog tired after a long day, why should at the at-home parent automatically be saddled with assembling the chicken cacciatore? The big objection to this kind...

By Brian Reid | June 14, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Pro-Choice or No-Choice?

Twenty years ago, I sat in a friend's kitchen talking with her mom, a 50-something mother of three children. I'd known their family for years. My friend's mom changed my life forever when we started discussing, rather hypothetically, abortion. "I had one," she said. "After my three kids were born. I got pregnant by accident, we didn't want a fourth child, and I had an abortion. It was the right thing to do -- and it wasn't a big deal." That was one of the only times a mother talked to me about ending an unwanted pregnancy. Most women I knew who'd had abortions were closer to girlhood than motherhood. They'd been terrified about the responsibilities of raising a child -- something they knew nothing about. Abortion had been an unpleasant but welcome solution to a problem they couldn't face. My friend's mother was different. She knew exactly what having...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 13, 2007; 6:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Back on the Career Track

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Carol Fishman Cohen In Leslie's anthology Mommy Wars, there's an essay by Washington Post reporter Lonnae O'Neal Parker about her husband vetoing the family's annual Christmas photos shortly after she left her job to stay home. Lonnae's story really struck me. I remember when I had been home full-time with my kids for four years, and my husband sold some stock we had bought a few years before -- without consulting me. I was angry with him. But I was also hurt, because despite my MBA and prior successful finance career,...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Blog to the White House

One of the most powerful unintended results of widespread Internet access is that individual voices can be heard in new ways on a national and international scale. You no longer have to be a journalist, a politician, an activist, writer or a hugely successful businessperson to make your opinions known. You don't have to work outside the home. You don't even have toleave your home or your desk, which is why mommy bloggers and mom Web sites have become a lifeline for working and stay-at-home mothers, who historically have often been too busy to organize in politically effective ways. BlogHer, a powerful online consortium of over 11,000 female bloggers, just announced a new campaign to use the Internet to harness women's opinions about the biggest global issues in our lives. The results will be funneled into BlogHer's Election '08 Voter Manifesto. BlogHer asks women to consider two simple questions: What...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 11, 2007; 6:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

School's (Almost) Out

Yesterday was my kids' final day of school. We got home from the last-day musical and the children ran through the house screaming with excitement. Ahh, summer. I felt like running from the house, screaming in fear. How do we survive the summer in the age of micromanaged parenthood? Gone are my mother's days, when she opened the screen door at 9 a.m. and told us to come back in time for lunch and then repeated the drill in the afternoon with instructions to come back in time for dinner. Children today need constant structure and guidance, as well as swim lessons, play dates, reading and math drills so they don't fall behind their classmates, and daily applications of sunscreen and tick repellant before they step outside. This is -- arguably -- fine for the kids. But it's exhausting for us parents, whether you work or stay home. A few...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (361)

Parenting Like a Man

By Rebeldad Brian Reid As the father of two girls, the phrase "you throw like a girl" makes my skin crawl. Boys have no intrinsic advantages in tossing a baseball. The only real difference is that boys tend to be handed baseballs more often than girls. Girls -- strong-armed as they are -- are taking back the phrase as a source of pride, and you can now get all sort of athletic apparent emblazoned with the "throw like a girl" motif. Along the same lines, "parenting like a dad" has long had a derogatory ring that harkens back to a stereotype -- cemented into the collective unconscious in 1983 with Mr. Mom -- of the bumbling fathers. But now we are also beginning to take the phrase back. The latest in this welcome and overdue effort comes from Men's Health, which is running a lengthy piece titled "Raise Kids Like...

By Brian Reid | June 7, 2007; 7:40 AM ET | Comments (460)

Women in Black & White - Results Are In!

In late 2006, two mothers -- one black and one white, the white one being me -- decided to explore the interdependency of black and white women in the United States. The resulting Women in Black and White national report explores how life, love, work, motherhood, money, sex, religion and relationships differ for black and white American women. The survey grew out of a series of conversations between me and another writer and businesswoman, Paula Penn-Nabrit, who lives in Westerville, Ohio, with her husband and three sons. It is important to emphasize that this survey was not random, or scientific in any traditional sense. It was not a Washington Post-Newsweek poll or endorsed by the Washington Post or Newsweek. All answers were self-reported via Internet survey, and Paula and I conducted the analysis afterwards, leaving open the possibility of unconscious bias. Many questions were intentionally provocative to spur discussion and...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (437)

One Is My Happy Number

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Rachel Powell For my husband and me, there was never any question. We did not agonize over our decision or worry that we were doing the wrong thing. We were going to try for one child. If we were lucky enough to get that one, we would be done. It wasn't because I was older, which I was (35). It wasn't because I have had polycystic ovary disease since I was 17 and had been told that my ovaries would probably be too scarred to work correctly if I tried to...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 5, 2007; 6:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You "Done?"

In the last year, two friends, like me in their 40's with three young children, changed their minds that they were "done" having kids. Now, they each have a new, fourth baby -- nearly a decade younger than their three others. Their babies are divinely cute. My friends are giddy with happiness, acting like grandparents with their first grandchild. The three older children help with baby care, making the moms' second swing at motherhood far easier. But when one of my friends knowingly asked me if I were "done," I almost spit out my coffee. Right now, I can't imagine having another child. My husband, an only child, originally wanted five. After two, he suddenly changed his forecast that three would be perfect. I agreed -- I grew up in a large clan and my philosophy has always been that children should outnumber the adults. But three is plenty chaos...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 4, 2007; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (362)

Does Sanity Trump Balance?

About 10 or 15 years ago, every expert on working motherhood began talking about the need for "balance" between work and family. Following the work-work-work 1980s and 1990s, the new concept of "balance" was critical to accomodating work and family demands. The term helped women (and eventually men, too) justify asking for jobs with minimal travel, bosses who understood the importance of taking one's child oneself to the pediatrician, a nanny who didn't spit nails if you had to stay at work an hour late, etc. But like so many phrases that become overused, "balance" has become a vanilla-flavored catch-all. In a recent New York Times Life's Work column, After Baby, Boss Comes Calling, reporter Lisa Belkin wrote "This growing demand for balance, or what I prefer to call sanity..." Her words made me realize: I don't want balance in my life. I'm not a see-saw. No day feels "balanced"...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 1, 2007; 7:10 AM ET | Comments (345)

 

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