Baby Einstein and Other Paradoxes

In Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All, Time Magazine recently crowed that a study shows Baby Einstein and other "educational" videos for children under two are not just mental pablum, but actually hurt kids by potentially delaying language development. When Baby Einstein videos burst onto the mommy scene 10 years ago, targeting new moms with stats about how the programs stimulated children's brains, we were bad moms if we didn't buy them. Now we are bad moms if we did buy them. Although I never truly swallowed that these videos made children smarter, I always thought they were harmless ways to entertain a toddler while I got dinner ready, checked in with my mom or folded laundry. Now, it turns out I was a bad mom by letting my kids watch them.

Which seems to always be the message for moms. Practically every decision we make regarding child-rearing has the potential to turn us into a bad mother.

Make 'em eat broccoli? Your force-feeding might result in an eating disorder down the road. Let 'em eat what they want? You're contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.

You're also contributing to a nation of fat children if your kids don't exercise every day. Yet we are bad moms if we let our children get exercise the old-fashioned way by running or biking around outside. Because, as everyone knows, kidnappers and pedophiles lurk on every street corner looking for a neglected, vulnerable child to seduce. We risk being labelled "helicopter moms" (which may be good or bad, depending on the latest survey) if we sign them up for too many sports teams and structured afterschool activities.

Ditto with the Internet. Only bad moms let children use the Internet unsupervised. But you're also a bad mom if you don't educate your children about how to use this important technological tool by themselves.

See the pattern here?

Only bad moms put our children in day care, according to the New York Times' headline Poor Behavior is Linked to Time in Day Care (in smaller type, the article explained a national study showed the effect was slight, but we bad moms who used day care already got the message). And, of course, only bad moms hire nannies, the ones who might actually shake your baby to death, or illegal day-care providers who couldn't give the address in English to the fire department in an emergency, despite the reality that under-the-table childcare is the only kind many families can afford.

And the ultimate quandary: We are selfish moms if we work, and we are too unselfish if we don't work and turn into overinvolved mothers who live vicariously through our children and neglect our self-esteem and financial independence. (See Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake or Linda Hirshman's Get to Work.)

It's a cultural Catch 22 for the 80 million moms in the United States.

Do you catch yourself feeling like a bad mom even though you know you are doing your best to find some kind of balance in your life? How do you block out all the "bad" messages from friends, family, newspaper articles and television shows? How can bad moms unite and convince each other it's sometimes good to be a little less than perfect?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 7, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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First!

Posted by: newsahm | November 7, 2007 7:21 AM

On topic,

I find it pretty easy to tune out all the cultural crap that's meant to make people feel bad. There's so much conflicting information out there that there's no benefit to trying to take all of it seriously.

I think that, as usual, the key is balance. Yes, DD may watch an hour of TV a day. But she spends many more hours playing, reading books, running around and just cuddling with me. I don't think that hour's going to keep her out of college in 16 years.

Posted by: newsahm | November 7, 2007 7:38 AM

OK...
While I understand Leslie's larger point (no matter what moms do, we must have screwed up somewhere and everything wrong with society must be our fault, and we can never win -- plenty of days I agree with it), I'm going to come down very hard right now on Baby Einstein.

The reason television and videos, no matter how 'educational' the content, are bad, bad, BAD for babies and toddlers has to do with how we develop language. If a child is talked AT by a video or a TV screen or a Web application, he is not getting the benefit of language usage that he receives if a person would talk TO him, and allow him to talk back. We learn by using the language, by experimenting, by reacting to the reactions we get, by hearing and participating. That's why children in *some* day care settings don't do well -- in some centers, caregivers don't converse with the children. That problem also exists in some communities, where the children are not cared for and monitored. THe opportunity to develop those capacities is lost, and that shows up later when a child has difficulty learning to read for meaning.

So throw away your Baby Anything videos and TALK TO your child!! If you use a nanny/au pair, make sure he/she understands the importance of TALKING TO a child! If you use a day care center, make sure they understand the importance of TALKING TO a child!

If I could get more parents to understand this, I would be pretty much out of a specialty.

Posted by: educmom_615 | November 7, 2007 7:45 AM

In today's latest news, it turns out that being a little overweight isn't bad.

See http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/diet.fitness/11/06/weight.and.death.ap/index.html

"Being 25 pounds overweight does not appear to raise your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease, says a new government study that seems to vindicate Grandma's claim that a few extra pounds won't kill you."

So - ignore all the crapola coming down from all the "experts" and do what you consider best for yourself and your kids. If you feel you really must have advice, get it from someone you know and trust, whose credentials you approve of, rather than some pseudo-scientist spouting off publish-or-perish nonsense.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 7:49 AM

Guilt, guilt, guilt, the seasoning of motherhood.

My kids (my son in particular) watched the Baby Einstein DVDs. In fact, I think we have about 6 of them. They're each about 20 minutes long, and I used to park him in front of it for that length of time once or twice a day so I could take a shower or get dinner started. It's kind of hard/dangerous to cook things on the stove with an infant in a Baby Bjorn. Do I feel guilty? Not really. Slacker Moms Unite!

I don't know. We are so hard on ourselves as parents, but God knows the media is harder on us. For every study that says this is right or wrong or horrifyingly bad, there's another authority claiming otherwise. My best bet has always been to trust my gut and heart.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 7, 2007 7:51 AM

In other news, agents in Virginia raided a puppy mill with over 1,000 dogs receiving minimal to no veterinary care.

Meanwhile, there's a part-shepherd, part-spaniel, part-who-knows-what-else we adopted from the shelter last year who wants his belly rubbed.

I'll be back later; I've got something important to take care of. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 8:05 AM


I have never considered myself a bad mom!

As Frieda has said many times, there is enough guilt to go around for any mom about anything. (ease up on yourself!)

Short of something totally tragic happening to a child, no one action will ruin or make a child.

I am just glad that Sesame Street was acceptable when our kids were growing up!

OT to Leslie,

You were so enthused about running a pix with a column yesterday. Do you want to run one of the Creepy Van (tm)? The Hula Girl has a beautiful red skirt.


Posted by: Fred | November 7, 2007 8:18 AM

"Do you catch yourself feeling like a bad mom even though you know you are doing your best to find some kind of balance in your life?"

Nope. It's all a big bag of B.S.

I chose to ignore it.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 8:29 AM

"If you feel you really must have advice, get it from someone you know and trust, whose credentials you approve of, rather than some pseudo-scientist spouting off publish-or-perish nonsense."

Like a "new government study"?!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 8:32 AM

Okay, Fred, you got me, I am REALLY excited about running photos on On Balance. So everyone, send me your photos and permission to run them gratis, and I will see what I can do.

EducMom -- keep on preaching! Everyone needs to hear that message. There is no substitute for TALKING with young children. I talked to my first nonstop, and he spoke his first words at 10 months. When #2 came along shortly thereafter, I was too overwhelmed by Perry's sudden move to Minneapolis, working, and caring for two babies to talk to her much. I noticed when she was about 12 months old that she NEVER babbled, hardly made any noise at all. She talks wonderfully now (maybe TOO much!) but I saw firsthand the price a kid pays because a parent doesn't have the time or energy to speak directly to her.

And Newsahm, bravo!!! Balance is the key. Well said.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 7, 2007 8:53 AM

My child got bit in daycare, no skin was broken, not even a bruise. My response? Eh, it happens. I was told it had to be documented because some parents, well, you know. We're turning into a nation of people FREAKING OUT about everything. I'm not going to join the insanity, and believe me, THAT'S best for my child.

Posted by: atb2 | November 7, 2007 8:55 AM

One way to dilute out the 'bad mom' messages is to share the burden with the OTHER parent. If we really handed over half of the responsibility for raising our kids to their father, we might be able to lift our heads from the muck of 'badness' and think clearly. Moms do NOT have to be the primary parents!

Posted by: violinline | November 7, 2007 9:00 AM

In the classic Donald Duck story (Walt Disney's Comics & Stories No. 149), a traveling huckster named Professor Batty sells Donald an instruction manual for "Flipism," a philosophy under which people make all their decisions by flipping a coin. After many misadventures, Donald and his nephews wind up at a "ten-route interchange" on the freeway system. Which road to follow? Donald flips the coin, and finds himself stopped by a highway patrolman for going the wrong way on a one-way ramp. Hauled into court, Donald explains to the judge that he was following Flipism. The judge says he is not going to fine Donald the usual five dollars or so for going the wrong way, or the usual ten dollars or so for reckless driving. "But I am going to fine you FIFTY dollars for letting a dime do your thinking for you."

We raised our children without letting book writers (Dr. Spock?) or video producers (the new Professors Batty) do our thinking for us We did it with a combination of common sense, instinct, and remembering how our parents raised us. Why should you let anyone make you feel guilty? Is the book writers' or video producers' blood any redder than yours? No fear. No guilt.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | November 7, 2007 9:00 AM

"we are turning into a nation of people FREAKING OUT about everything"

So true! I am "non-American", and so are most of my friends - among us, we have kids in all kinds of schools. Consistently, the parents who have children in US schools, get called every time something goes slightly "wrong" during the day (somebody biting, somebody pulling somebody else's pants down). When stuff like that (and slightly worse) happens at my kids' school, I often only find out weeks later, following a casual remark by the kid. Most times, I'm sure, I don't find out at all, and I don't miss not knowing that Billy pushed Susie 3 times today.

Re: talking to your children - I don't know, Leslie, it also depends so much on the child's personality and individual development "schedule". Not that I disagree with the fact that talking to your children is important. No Einstein videos at my house! In fact, no TV at all before age 3.

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 9:06 AM

I'll cheerfully admit to some guilt (sometimes a lot), but sometimes it cancels itself out.

My son is in daycare now, which has produced some gut-wrenching moments. But it's a Montessori with no TV and awesomely healthy whole-foods meals and cool stuff to do, so suddenly I get a pass on the occasional pizza or video. Ha, take that, fearmongers.

What I've started to realize is that I'm his mum, period. The mistakes I make will hopefully not be catastrophic.

And also, say I did make a mistake that impacted his learning - the key thing would be to be willing to hear that, and work with him on it as soon as we realized it. The worst mistakes my parents made were not the ones they simply made, but the ones they perpetuated when all the evidence was against them.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | November 7, 2007 9:06 AM

On topic: the relentless discussion of parenting in the mass media is what scares me MOST about being a parent. I will just keep repeating the balance mantra ...

To educmom and Leslie's point - we saw firsthand how much exposure to language/speech helped my cousin's almost 6 year old twins. Frequent family dinners with 5-6 adults at the table meant they heard lots of conversation and were engaged by multiple people. They were encouraged to "use your words" when they were beginning to talk and we were patient while they worked out what they wanted to say... no leading the witness so to speak. ;-) They have amazing vocabularies now and except for when you ask them what happened at school can talk your ear off.

Posted by: tntkate | November 7, 2007 9:09 AM

"somebody pulling somebody else's pants down"

WOW! Does this really happen in school?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 9:10 AM

"Do you catch yourself feeling like a bad mom even though you know you are doing your best to find some kind of balance in your life?"

No. But then again, I hoist the standard of "Evil Moms Unlimited" with regularity.

"How do you block out all the "bad" messages from friends, family, newspaper articles and television shows?"

With laughter, and recognizing that someone is trying to snow us and sell cr@p we don't really need, or particularly want, during the commercials.

"How can bad moms unite and convince each other it's sometimes good to be a little less than perfect?"

Margaritas and/or crab cakes. Then we get to watch funny old movies.

Meanwhile, the kids can go and swap Halloween candy and complain about how mean and unfair we are.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 7, 2007 9:10 AM

"somebody pulling somebody else's pants down"

WOW! Does this really happen in school?

This happened while one of them was climbing up a play structure, and the other was trying to hold him back.

No big deal until the avalanche of phone calls - from the school to both sets of parents, from one set of parents to the other, from the pant-puller-child to the other one (to "apologize") and so on.

The kids were 5 years old at the time.

I just don't find this normal.

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 9:14 AM

"This happened while one of them was climbing up a play structure, and the other was trying to hold him back.

No big deal until the avalanche of phone calls - from the school to both sets of parents, from one set of parents to the other, from the pant-puller-child to the other one (to "apologize") and so on."

Sounds like a pretty smart kid who knows how to get to the top!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 9:17 AM

Stickynote- They're lucky it didn't turn into a sexual harassment suit.

Posted by: atb2 | November 7, 2007 9:19 AM

As ususal, you gotta own it people. We always tell our kids, do the best you can. We expect no more and no less than that. Same thing with parenting. Do the best you can. Everyone has limits. I'm sure looking back at your parents you see where the faults were. They likely did the best they could. Remember, at least for the first child, NO ONE has ever done this before. Its totally one the job training. If the worst thing my kids can say about me looking back is; she did the best she could, then that's o.k. with me.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 9:20 AM

This happened while one of them was climbing up a play structure, and the other was trying to hold him back.

Boxers? Briefs? Bikini?

Geez, some people get worked up over anything and everything. At least the kid didn't get yanked backwards so hard that they fell off and hit their head!

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 7, 2007 9:21 AM

Out of curiosity, do any of you know anyone who's actually torn apart about how they parent, beyond a little guilt here and there? I know one crazy person who won't put her kids in a car and she didn't let them crawl anywhere outsider her house (including her SIL's house) because of germs, but she wasn't torn, just crazy.

Posted by: atb2 | November 7, 2007 9:23 AM

I have a friend who is deaf. They always have the captioning on when they watch tv or a movie. Their daughter told them she is a "good reader" because she always read tv and movies. My point is only that not all tv is bad.
OT - if anyone hasn't seen Planet Earth (Discovery Series being re-run starting Sunday) it is one of the most amazing documentaries I have ever seen and I highly recommend it.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | November 7, 2007 9:25 AM

"This happened while one of them was climbing up a play structure, and the other was trying to hold him back.

Boxers? Briefs? Bikini?"

Harry Potter thong.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 9:31 AM

This blame-the-Mom (or blame-the-parents) phenomenon very conveniently leaves everyone else off the hook! I'd like to know why anyone ever thought raising children was a one or two-person job?

I block the guilt trip by recognizing the blame game benefits the status quo and serves to prevent working parents from demanding more from their employers and politicians.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 7, 2007 9:33 AM

Ever hear of "dads"? They're a neat, new concept in parenting.

Might want to look into that.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | November 7, 2007 9:37 AM

No, not all TV is bad, especially once kids get a little older. And the occasional Sesame Street episode won't be scarring. However, there are some snake-oil salesmen who sold parents on the idea that these videos were a substitute for parental interaction, and *that's* what's so harmful. It's common sense, of course, but now I have data to back me up!

The panting on the play structure story is funny, but you know if the parents were not contacted and apologies weren't given all around (I bet the kid at the top had to apologize for being first or something), the school could have been sued. Makes one understand so many people hate lawyers.

Posted by: educmom_615 | November 7, 2007 9:51 AM

Ever hear of "dads"? They're a neat, new concept in parenting.

Might want to look into that.
--------------------------------------------

Wow afsljafweljkjlfe ....you musy have read my mind. I was about to leave the same post. This is not a "mommy" blog. Why is the whole thing about moms and do right do wrong? Every single thing you wrote about Leslie applies to Dads as well, so why not address this blog as being about "parents" and be a little more inclusive.

In fact, there are really only 2 decisions that men can't make when it comes to parenting that I can think of are (1) breast feed or bottle feed and (2) c-section or vaginal birth. Although in both situations I think the Dad is an extremely important advisor.

So let's open this forum up and remember that in most situations there are two people involved in parenting.

Posted by: happydad | November 7, 2007 9:57 AM

"The panting on the play structure story is funny, but you know if the parents were not contacted and apologies weren't given all around (I bet the kid at the top had to apologize for being first or something), the school could have been sued."

Flash forward 13 years and the same two kids could be pulling down each others' pants.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 9:57 AM

"The panting on the play structure story is funny, but you know if the parents were not contacted and apologies weren't given all around (I bet the kid at the top had to apologize for being first or something), the school could have been sued."

Flash forward 13 years and the same two kids could be pulling down each others' pants.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 9:57 AM

ATB I'm the same way about biting. I don't WANT my kids to get bitten, but hey, it's normal preschool behavior by kids who don't yet have a handle on their emotions, or enough words to articulate them. Parents who freak out are doing their children and their schools a disservice.

And EducMom, you are on today. My kids have really and truly learned good stuff from tv. Highlights have been Sesame Street, Cyberchase, and ...Lizzie McGuire, because it has given my almost-tweens a nice little preview of their future.

Most of us grownups love a little tv, why shouldn't the little people get some too?

Posted by: leslie4 | November 7, 2007 10:01 AM

So let's open this forum up and remember that in most situations there are two people involved in parenting.


Happydad - you are indeed correct, however, the majority of the scrutiny rests with moms.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 10:02 AM

"kids have really and truly learned good stuff from tv."

Not when they were, say 18 months old, though, or did they?!

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 10:08 AM

"In fact, there are really only 2 decisions that men can't make when it comes to parenting that I can think of are (1) breast feed or bottle feed and (2) c-section or vaginal birth. Although in both situations I think the Dad is an extremely important advisor."

In what way???

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 10:11 AM

"Happydad - you are indeed correct, however, the majority of the scrutiny rests with moms."

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 10:02 AM

Riiiiiight. Because fathers are completely spared from the gossip circuit.

If anything, fathers are simply immune to criticism from the peanut gallery. Personally, I am willing to let the following people critique my parenting:
1. My kids
2. My kids' doctors
3. My wife

Any advice, criticism, gossip, or other useless critiques fall on completely deaf ears. If you don't fall into any of the three categories that I just named, I am not listening to you.

Be that as it may, it still hacks me off when I read an article that uses the word "mom" 800 times and the word "dad" appears never. While it's true that I will ignore your criticisms, I feel I'm earned the right to at least be acknowledged.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | November 7, 2007 10:15 AM

Happydad - you are indeed correct, however, the majority of the scrutiny rests with moms.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 10:02 AM

It's just easier to make Moms feel guilty! I think the Dads out there have something to teach us -- speak up guys! How many of you feel terrible that you let your kids watch Baby Einstein now that this new study is out? Ha, not many, I bet.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 7, 2007 10:16 AM

I don't have a child yet, but have heard that TV is bad for kids under the age of 3, I believe. (It could be 2, I don't recall). However, with most things, what is "bad" will be replaced in a few years with something new. So, it is all relative.

Think about what you are/aren't supposed to eat when you are pregnant. You weren't supposed to eat fish and now you are supposed to eat fish. Really, if you follow everything to the letter of the law you will drive yourself crazy. Do what you think is reasonsble and everything will be fine.

Remember, we are the generation who didn't use carseats until we were 10, didn't wear helmets when we rode our bikes and drank sugary cool aid. We turned out fine.

Posted by: Thought | November 7, 2007 10:16 AM

"How many of you feel terrible that you let your kids watch Baby Einstein now that this new study is out? Ha, not many, I bet."

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 7, 2007 10:16 AM

Why should I feel guilty? Everything I learned, I learned from the TV. What good would it do for me to teach my kids anything? I let them go straight to the source.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | November 7, 2007 10:25 AM

I join the voices saying it is unlikely that a child under age two will learn anything from television. But I doubt it hurts them either.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 7, 2007 10:32 AM

I really dislike the parental justification, "We did (or are doing) the best we could(can)." This statement really irritates me with its complacency and self-pat on the back.

No one does the best they can 100% of the time. So no one has raised their child to the best of their ability and can look back in complete satisfaction at 20 years of being parents. You have NO regrets? I'm not talking about whoops, shouldn't have let him run into traffic regrets, but the "I shouldn't have yelled" kind of regrets. We can all strive to do better and improve our relationships with our children, even if they are adults today.

The best thing is to look back once in sorrow at the regrets, then inside oneself
at how to make things better today, and move on. I'm not an advocate of constant guilt, but I do think self-reflection and striving for improvement does have its place.

Off topic: I'm reading "Why Gender Matters" by Leonard Sax PhD. A fascinating look at scientifically based differences between boys and girls (and surprising!). It's written for parents and teachers, so is very readable.

For instance, did you know that boys tend not to hear as well at certain frequencies than girls? Dr. Sax advocates that female teachers speak louder and put boys in the front of their class. He also notes that girls tend to "partner" with their teachers and boys have more of an adversarial relationship -- and shows how studies of primates in the wild show the exact same types of tendencies! (How male and female young chimpanzees learn to use a stick to get termites are one of the examples of how the primate genders differ). I absolutely recommend it!

Posted by: goodhome631 | November 7, 2007 10:33 AM

anne - "It's just easier to make Moms feel guilty! I think the Dads out there have something to teach us -- speak up guys! How many of you feel terrible that you let your kids watch Baby Einstein now that this new study is out? Ha, not many, I bet."

We're trying to speak up. :-)

Let my kids watch Baby Einstein? Nah, they're probably too old - I think the Baby Einstein phenomenon started later. But at different/appropriate ages, my kids watched Sesame Street, Barney, Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues, TeleTubbies, Bob the Builder, several Discovery channel/History Channel/Animal Planet shows, and various tapes and DVDs.

Does it bother me that someone will criticize me for this? Nope. The pediatrician - who we've been with for 16 years now - was fine with it; DW and I were fine with it. For anyone else, the response is "phhtttllllbbbb!"

That's a Dad speaking up, Anne. "phhtttllllbbbb!"

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 10:35 AM

Remember, we are the generation who didn't use carseats until we were 10, didn't wear helmets when we rode our bikes and drank sugary cool aid. We turned out fine.

True, but that's still a stupid thing to say. Using car seats and wearing helmets have been proven to be SIGNIFICANT positives. Watching TV, for instance, has not been proven to be a SIGNIFICANT negative (even though I am pretty opposed t it for kids anyway...).

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 10:35 AM

"speak up guys! How many of you feel terrible that you
let your kids watch..."

Can't tell you how many times I propped the brat in front of a Barney video just to go back to the bedroom and make love to my wife.

All together now:
I love you.
You love me.
We're a happy family...

or something like that. Thank you Barney!

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 10:39 AM

Fo4, you are awful :-)))

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 10:41 AM

Parents of toddlers and below, did you ever hear or say the words to your spouse, "Hurry up, the video is almost over." LOL! Good times!

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 10:44 AM

LESLIE, if you have so little self confidence that each little OPRAH "expert" can send you into a motherhood panic attack, you should seek help. And I am still pissed at my posts being pulled yesterday, considering the crap you have allowed on this blog.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 7, 2007 10:45 AM

"(How male and female young chimpanzees learn to use a stick to get termites are one of the examples of how the primate genders differ). I absolutely recommend it!"

Yah, I learned it WATCHING A TV PROGRAM!!!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 10:46 AM

I've never felt bad about letting my kids watch TV. This is because they are so smart that I figure I need to lower their IQs a little so that they can get along with normal kids.

Nice to have good DNA.

Posted by: barfster | November 7, 2007 10:47 AM

"phhtttllllbbbb!"

Gotta love ya ArmyBrat -- that's the most articulate response I've heard all day.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 7, 2007 10:50 AM

It is hard to block it out, especially when the comments capitalize on a difference of opinion between the parents. Our pediatrician was saying that we need to teach our son how to go to sleep on his own, and that it may include a few nights of cry-it-out. I'm not ok with that, my husband wants to try it, and I'm left with double guilt: if we do it I feel like we are abandoning him, if we don't, then I'm not teaching my son good "sleep hygiene".
Ugh.

Posted by: library | November 7, 2007 10:51 AM

ChittyBangBang,

Glad to hear it! But did you learn that male chimpanzees did not pay much attention to the "stick and termite lesson" from the "teacher" chimpanzee, while the female chimpanzees were attentive and learned much faster? The male chimps ignored the lesson, swung from trees, played, and consequently were much slower to learn how to do it.

I'd be interested if you did learn that already from TV, what particular program was it?

Posted by: goodhome631 | November 7, 2007 11:01 AM

Library, your pediatrician sucks. Find a new one.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 11:05 AM

This statement really irritates me with its complacency and self-pat on the back.

No one does the best they can 100% of the time. So no one has raised their child to the best of their ability and can look back in complete satisfaction at 20 years of being parents. You have NO regrets? I'm not talking about whoops, shouldn't have let him run into traffic regrets, but the "I shouldn't have yelled" kind of regrets. We can all strive to do better and improve our relationships with our children, even if they are adults today.

YIKES! Don't confuse best performance with best effort. I truly try to bring my best effort to each day. Some days the results are more stunning than others. Some days I am the super duper fun mom and some days I am the mom who yells. Do I feel good on the yelling mom days? No. Do I know that I'm not and don't want to be that mom every day? Yes. But I also know that I'm human. That I can't be super duper fun mom every day. Some days I get tired, some days I get frustrated - what am I going to do, beat myself up for being fallible? So, on those bad days, I dust myself off, resolve to make a better effort tomorrow and be done with that. For truly the only thing that I can do is try harder next time. Beating myself up is simply a waste of energy and effort. There are a lot of things where I would like to improve myself, and I work on those things every day, but I'm no more going to beat myself up for not being Donna Reed than I'm going to beat myself up for not looking like Heidi Klum.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 11:08 AM

But did you learn that male chimpanzees did not pay much attention to the "stick and termite lesson" from the "teacher" chimpanzee, while the female chimpanzees were attentive and learned much faster? The male chimps ignored the lesson, swung from trees, played, and consequently were much slower to learn how to do it.

Posted by: goodhome631 | November 7, 2007 11:01 AM

Sounds like a typical day! ; )

Thanks, Leslie. I'm a thesis paper away from my masters in reading education, and this is one of those topics that really gets me going.

And Chitty...NO BARNEY!! Barney is EVIL!! Aauuuughh!!!

Posted by: educmom__615 | November 7, 2007 11:14 AM

library, how do you feel about the pediatrician in general?

When we found the pediatrician we trusted, we tended to trust her judgment. That doesn't mean that we treat her like a deity or that we always do everything she says, but we trust her judgment because she has years of experience with literally thousands of kids; she knows our kids well; and she's always done the best for them.

So I'd tend to side with your husband - if the pediatrician says that this is the best solution, I'm willing to give it a try.

(If you don't have that kind of trust in your pediatrician, perhaps you should be looking for a different pediatrician. It took us three tries to find the right one, but that's a different story.)

In response to chitty's earlier comment on one of my postings: that's what I meant. I know this pediatrician; I know her credentials and I trust her judgment far more than I'd trust some new publish-or-perish "Government study."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 11:14 AM

DandyLion/Fo4:

"All together now:
I love you.
You love me.
We're a happy family..."

Actually, I prefer

"I hate you,
You hate me,
Let's get together and hang Barney..."

or

"...Let's hang Barney from a tree..."


(and the rest is pretty much unprintable)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 11:18 AM

library,
Babies are smart to cry when they find themselves separated from their parents and their cry is designed to get your attention! If they didn't, we'd have died out long ago - all the infants eaten by sabertooth tigers. So while I'd never criticize someone who goes the cry-it-out route, I think it goes against our nature. I found it easier to keep my munchkins nearby at night (during infancy) and use the futon downstairs for ah, recreational activities with DH. But kids survive either way (no more sabertooths) -- the question is what do you and DH need to survive?

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 7, 2007 11:22 AM

"...Let's hang Barney from a tree..."


(and the rest is pretty much unprintable)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 11:18 AM

JUST DON'T MENTION NOOSES!!! NOT THE EViL NOOSES!!

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | November 7, 2007 11:23 AM

I think on the Father/Mother parenting issue, Fo4 has already mentioned how if he even shows up to a school potluck he gets commended for being a great father. Right now, in our society, men get points just for being there. Women get dirty looks for what kinds of PJs their toddler is wearing, and negative comments from strangers about the best way to bring up the kid.

I watched a decent amount of TV growing up. Requirement was that I got my homework done, assuming I wasn't under any kind of punishment I don't remember them restricting the time I watched TV (or the shows, but they must have since there were a lot of things I didn't watch). I'd love to claim it was all intelligent discovery channel stuff but it wasn't. Watched a lot of stupid cartoons, and a lot of comic book cartoons. Watched the news and Discovery/TLC (the way it used to be, before both those channels went off the deep end). I don't even have cable now, read more than I used to growing up as well. Spent a lot of time on the computer. I'm sure that will be the next thing people whine about as being bad for kids. However I had a fun time writing stories on it (thereby learning office programs at an early age) as well as doing some Basic programming. This was in the days before cable internet, and when consumer dial-up was still in its early stages. I think TV can teach a lot of good lessons as long as it's done right. My sisters-in-law (10 & 12) have time limits on how much TV time they can watch. They watch a lot of cartoons, and Disney channel shows. I'm not sure restricting how much of this they can watch is as useful as if the parents sat down and watched the news with them (evening news was a staple growing up for me, and I am not that old) or watched cool Discovery Channel shows that expose other cultures and religions. Maybe the curiosity is just not there for the parents OR the children, and that is the difference. Okay, I am rambling, will stop now.

Posted by: _Miles | November 7, 2007 11:24 AM

I don't worry too much about all the parenting dos and don'ts. My sense is that we overthing these things. Mostly, I do what works for my family and makes sense for me. A little age appropriate tv is not going to hurt a child for life. A little candy won't either. And parents will make mistakes, some small ones, and some really big ones. The important thing is to be self-aware, so that you can tweak things that need to be adjusted.

Kids are pretty resilient and forgiving. It is ridiculous to expect perfection from ourselves or from anyone else. I do the best I can. I do read the advice, and I take what suits me and throw out the rest. So far, it's worked for my family.

BTW - Foamy, congrats on the wonderful news.

Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 11:24 AM

"...Let's hang Barney from a tree..."


(and the rest is pretty much unprintable)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 11:18 AM


Did you see the SNL skit where Charles Barkley beat up Barney? Now that was funny!

Posted by: pATRICK | November 7, 2007 11:34 AM

Off topic - I was transferred to my entry-level position 3 months ago, and did not get a wage increase with it. My wages are right in the middle of my company's range for the job. I am going to ask my boss for a wage increase sometime this week or next. Beyond stressing my skills, my improvement, what I'm learning in school, etc, any advice? Thanks.

Posted by: _Miles | November 7, 2007 11:34 AM

"The male chimps ignored the lesson, swung from trees, played, and consequently were much slower to learn how to do it."

And the male chimps spent most of their time wrestling with each other. It wasn't that big of a shocker.

"I'd be interested if you did learn that already from TV, what particular program was it?"


I can't recall the name of the program, I watch a lot of nature shows. A bunch of my co-workers also saw the program; I'll check with them.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 11:36 AM

Well, a *little* TV for little ones won't kill them, and it really is more useful to watch with kids than it is to send them off but limit their time. I think that's why I personally hate the Internet for kids -- it's far more isolating than TV. And please don't tell me all the good aspects of the net! I know how useful it can be, and I don't fear it -- I just don't like how everyone goes off and logs on and tunes out the real people around them.

Posted by: educmom__615 | November 7, 2007 11:39 AM

My ex-husband (my kids' father) watched tv basically non-stop throughout his childhood. His mom had a very successful real estate career and was never around (just a statement of fact, not a judgment); tv was his babysitter--remember that concept? He hated to read and never read. Oh--and he got 1600 on his SATs and has a PhD in statistics.

I was home with my kids full-time until my kids were 8 and 6 and talked to them plenty. My daughter talked at 10 months; my son not until almost 2 and a half. He didn't walk until 17 months, couldn't even recognize letters or hold a pencil going into kindergarten. And he loved--and still loves--watching tv and watches plenty. Now he's 9 and can not only walk and talk but reads like crazy, gets almost all As and scores well above grade level.

Plenty of other moms tried to tell me I needed to get him evaluated or otherwise suggested something was wrong with him, but I just wasn't concerned--I knew that each kid has their own personality and level of intelligence and as long as he was healthy that was all that mattered to me.

My long-winded point is that I think the whole notion of there being some formula for creating smart, perfect children--breastfeed them, talk to them, read to them, send them to a million activities, limit what foods they eat--if you do these things in the exact right way your kid will end up smart and a great student and happy and...what is the end game? They'll end up at a good college and with good jobs? Parents talk about wanting their kids to have every opportunity, play every instrument, every sport, etc and not wanting them to have to "miss out" on anything--I never really understand what the ultimate goal is. All I can think about is the coming generation who will be so exhausted by the time they have gone through academic preschool, tons of extracurricular activities, tutoring, honors classes, college, grad school...they'll all want to become gas station attendants or something because they'll finally crack.

I, too, fall into the trap of worrying about being a bad mom, but I do my best to try to stay true to my slacker-mom philosophy that being a good mom means loving my kids, keeping them safe, fed, clean and loved--and not micromanaging the rest. That doesn't mean I am some "free spirit" who will let them smoke pot or drink at home or stuff like that--I don't mean to imply that.(not that there's anything wrong with that...) It just means that I am not about "maximizing" their potential.

Posted by: maggielmcg | November 7, 2007 11:42 AM

"Beyond stressing my skills, my improvement, what I'm learning in school, etc, any advice? Thanks."

I would figure out what you are actually contributing that merits a wage increase.

Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 11:43 AM

Posted by: educmom__615 | November 7, 2007 11:39 AM

I think the internet can be a tremendously useful interaction tool when the child hits adolescence or pre-teen. I'm not talking myspace (though that's an interesting dimension for sure). There's a lot one can do on a computer that involves critical thinking skills, but kind of like TV, if you just leave the kids alone they'll go for the easy stuff (Myspace, listening to music...). I think if a kid uses the net for something, like say, school research, and then goes "that's neat, I want to learn more about x" and goes on to learn more about x that's great. Especially if they can interact with other people on the internet (age appropriate forums) in a productive way. However, I think the INTERNET itself limits kids from trying to be creative. Like i said when I was younger, we had a computer but no internet for a few years, and after that was slow dial-up. Well i had no youtube to waste my time with, and the games/programs on those old computers wasn't very impressive, so we HAD to be creative to use them. So that's my thought on that, it CAN be very useful, but I think like the TV, it requires parental involvement (and maybe like my in-laws, where the parents don't watch much News or History Channel/Discovery educational programming, they don't encourage their kids to do so. And when they want to research something, they don't go to wikipedia or webmd or whatever, so they're unlikely to teach the kids how to use the computer in that way either). See it always comes back to the parents, and their teaching/learning style, rather than the tools they use to achieve that.

Posted by: _Miles | November 7, 2007 11:45 AM

"Beyond stressing my skills, my improvement, what I'm learning in school, etc, any advice? Thanks."

I would figure out what you are actually contributing that merits a wage increase.


Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 11:43 AM

How does one quantify that? I'm not directly involved in anything that can really save the company money. I could stress completing my projects in a shorter amount of time, which technically saves money. Also higher quality of work and greater attention to detail in my projects, which would also save time/money since less erros will have to be fixed later on. But beyond that? I dunno. And maybe it's just me, but I hate doing this. I once read that men saw negotiating a raise as somewhat equivalent to playing a sports game; they are attempting to score and it is exciting for them. The women compared it to going to the dentist's office. I'm sure that's a pretty awful generalization, but count me in with those women.

Posted by: _Miles | November 7, 2007 11:48 AM

I second moxiemom's suggestion...own your decision and don't be bothered by criticism of others regarding your parenting style.

"OT - if anyone hasn't seen Planet Earth (Discovery Series being re-run starting Sunday) it is one of the most amazing documentaries I have ever seen and I highly recommend it."

Planet Earth was awesome, I'm thinking of getting it for my husband for Christmas. KLB it's not a re-run, it's a follow-up series...similar to Blue Planet.

Posted by: MV_78 | November 7, 2007 11:50 AM

Miles, you have a good point. I think things like myspace create isolation, which is not always offset online by the ability to explore IMO. People -- not just kids -- do tend to take the path of least resistance, and it's soooo much easier for a teen to have virtual friends than real ones, and I think that will have some long-term negative social effects for some of these kids today.

Posted by: educmom__615 | November 7, 2007 11:56 AM

Wait. We get MORE Planet Earth? That show RULES. If you have an HDTV, I advise getting an HD DVD player and getting the series in HD. It's hypnotizingly beautiful, not to mention full of information I've never heard before, like the bears eating the moths on that mountain. Crazy! And I love the perspectives at the end. You know, the ones about catching the wild dog hunt or the wild camels in the Gobi. I can't say enough about that show.

Posted by: atb2 | November 7, 2007 11:57 AM

Miles,
I guess that you have to be as specific as you can be, and note all the areas where you have surpassed standards or goals. It is hard to get a raise (beyond the yearly cost of living raise), if you cannot justify why you deserve it. You stated that you are in the middle, in terms of wages, for someone in your position. So it sounds like you don't have the argument that they are underpaying you. If you want to make near the top range, then you have to show how your contribution exceeds the average, and you have to have concrete examples. It is not enough to say that you have the skills and the education or are getting more education. You have to actually show that your contribution exceeds the level of pay that you are receiving. It has to be concrete, not theoretical.

Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 11:58 AM

_Miles, my advice is: don't expect the raise the first time you ask; plant the seeds instead.

You've said that:
- you're in the middle of the company wage scale for this job, which means that you can't argue for the raise as a matter of employee equity. You're already fairly compensated by their standards.
- you're not doing anything that would be highly visible and indicate to the pointiest-haired of bosses that you should be paid more, or that you're about to be hired away.

So, go into the boss and point out that
- you're doing your job very well; better than most others who do your job. (Don't run down the competition, just point out what you do best.)
- you're improving with experience; you're better this month than you were last month and you'll be better next month than you are this month.
- you're ready for increased responsibility.
- based on that, you think a raise might be appropriate.

I suspect that you won't actually get the raise on the spot, but don't be offended by that. You will have planted the seeds in the PHB's brain that you're an employee he can start to count on more. You'll be noticed more. And in a few months it probably will be appropriate to reward your hard/excellent work with a raise.

I accept that this might be difficult for you, but in the uber-geek worlds I inhabit it's difficult for tons of people, both men and women. I mean, I've worked with some extreme introverts who just don't feel comfortable asking for anything, let alone a tangible reward. But it's something you have to learn to do - if you don't ask for it, you certainly won't get it. Peter Lynch's advice on a related area is "practice on your spouse." Convince HIM why you should get the raise; if that works you're on the way.

And if the boss is going to be offended by you politely asking for a raise you think is justified, perhaps that's your first clue that you should be discretely looking around for a new boss.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 12:03 PM

"Peter Lynch's advice on a related area is "practice on your spouse." Convince HIM why you should get the raise; if that works you're on the way."

You will sharpen your skills by practicing on someone who is NOT IN YOUR BED!!

Spouses give a lot of lousy advice.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 12:07 PM

"You will sharpen your skills by practicing on someone who is NOT IN YOUR BED!!

Spouses give a lot of lousy advice."

Well, then don't ask him/her in bed!

Lynch's advice specifically related to investment decisions. Too many times somebody hears about the latest "can't miss" stock and invests without checking it out, resulting in yet more financial losses.

Lynch's view is that you should first research the story, then be able to distill it into a short description that's good enough to convince your spouse, and then you have to be able to answer his/her questions. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't buy because you're not investing, you're gambling.

I was applying the same principle to justifying a raise - if you can't convince someone who should be predisposed to support you, you can't expect to convince the boss - who might be predisposed the other way in the interest of controlling costs.

And chitty, if you can't talk to your spouse about matters other than the bed, I'm not sure you have a healthy marriage!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 12:13 PM

ArmyBrat

"And chitty, if you can't talk to your spouse about matters other than the bed, I'm not sure you have a healthy marriage!"

I'm not married.

Spouses are rarely objective abut each other.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 12:18 PM

""Happydad - you are indeed correct, however, the majority of the scrutiny rests with moms."

I agree.

For instance, I notice that yesterday, Dandylion advised only mothers to not chide their children for asking questions - no mention of the fathers, who are apparently free to admonish their children's questions at will, LOL. Of course, that may just be because Dandylion has such a love of mothers and so pays more attention to them...

Posted by: LizaBean | November 7, 2007 12:21 PM

"I'm not married."

I see.

Well, then I'll file your advice about marital relations in the same bin as the publish-or-perish Government studies.

"Spouses are rarely objective abut each other."

That's the point.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 12:21 PM

Thanks Emily and ArmyBrat, that really helps. And I might practice my spiel on my spouse. Of course he thinks I should get a raise...but that's because it affects his finances as well :) However, working my speech on him is a really good idea. My problem is...about 2 months ago, I was pretty indignant they didn't give me a raise with my transfer (even a small, lower than average raise). And I could provide a ton of examples of people who are paid more than me for less experience, lower technical skills, and less performance. However, just b/c they are getting paid more than me doesn't mean I deserve a raise, so that is not part of my justification. And unfortunately, as it has gotten closer to do or die time, I am getting less confident. I'm confident in my work yes, but not in substantiating why they should pay me more money. I have an inherent fear I'll be reprimanded (or worse) just for asking. That's how it felt when I tried to transfer over to this group, there were implicit indications that my wanting to be something other than an admin was bad and that it affected my job performance (even though I know it did not). This is a new boss, and I don't know how she'll work on this level. But I feel like if I don't ask, I'm going to hate myself for not asking. And ArmyBrat you are right, I won't get it if I don't ask for it. I'm not afraid of them saying no. I just hope they say something like "the money isn't in the budget right now" or some b.s. answer rather than "well we really don't think your performance is up to par." I would hate that. Thanks for the encouragement guys, and anyone else who wants to chime in please keep it coming, I am so new at this and can use all the advice I can take.

Posted by: _Miles | November 7, 2007 12:24 PM

Spouses are rarely objective abut each other.

Neither are paramours.

Or bosses.

So do your homework, practice your pitch (hint, work backwards--you always want to finish strongly!) and see what happens.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 7, 2007 12:25 PM

ArmyBrat

"I'm not married."

I see.

Well, then I'll file your advice about marital relations in the same bin as the publish-or-perish Government studies."

I wasn't giving marital advice, I was speaking as a manager who recommends raises.

I AM an expert on being a widow.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 7, 2007 12:26 PM

The whole: i did the best I could (or he/she it did) is so appalling to me.
My aunt will make huge excuses for people: oh, they're doing the best they can. When everyone has choices. And people make bad ones every day of their lives - and when those are compounded, it makes them worse.
My mom was well aware of my dad's tendencies, at least after the first child - probably before she even married him. But then she went on to have two more kids. Oh, well, she did the best she could (makin excuses for everyone - teaching her children to be involved in abusive relationships)? I'm not sure - maybe with an abusive husband and three kids and a house they couldn't afford, but those were all choices. She could have chosen a difft spouse, chosen not to have three kids, chosen to get a divorce sooner (they were 'staying together for the kids' - a fact - and I'll let you know, that's not a good idea). They had even told use FIVE YEARS before the divorce they were getting a divorce, so I would suspect they were talking about it before then.
Sorry, needed to get that off my chest...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 7, 2007 1:01 PM

I have not read this study Leslie references but I think a broader point is being missed here; specifically that many parents have bought in to the myth that we have to purchase certain products (e.g., Baby Einstein, daddy/mommy-n-me classes) to improve child development. Most, if not all, of these products are neither necessary NOR sufficient to make children smarter, better, faster, etc. Stay at home, work outside of the home, polka-dotted, striped parents, etc would probably do so much more for their kids by being kind, firm, and consistent in making and applying rules, broadening kids' minds and imagination by creating an environment that values learning, and keeping kids' minds and bodies active with regular physical activity. To be sure there are high cost ways of providing these things but the low-cost/no cost ways work just as well, if not often better.

Posted by: rlcooperman | November 7, 2007 1:15 PM

nicely said, rlcooperman.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 7, 2007 1:22 PM

chitty:

"I AM an expert on being a widow."

Hmmm. My condolences.

I take it that this means you're asserting that you're NOT the same entity who used to post as "hillary", which many of us believe you are because the posting styles are so darned similar.

"hillary" claimed to an African-American, lesbian graduate of Yale Law School (class of 1985) who works for the Federal Government. That doesn't jibe with being a "widow" - although who knows, maybe it does.

(Side note: if one were to actually believe the "hillary" claims, how hard would it actually be to find her? I mean, how many African American females graduated from YLS in 1985; how many of them work for the Federal Government as opposed to being partners at major law firms, or corporate counsels, or judges or politicians? I suppose that you could use the "lesbian" angle to eliminate any married women that turned up in that set - if there were any members of that set. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 1:23 PM

Atlmom, I'm in full agreement. I, too, suffered because of my own mother's poor decisions. She kept making the same poor decisions over and over (three marriages/divorces; her answer was to find another man to take care of her instead of going to school so she could support herself. She found herself alone at 42 with three young kids and two adult children, and surprise, no man wanted to take that on).

I made a conscious decision not to end up like her. When I ended my marriage, I was more than able to take care of my child (note: I did not breed out of control). My standard of living actually improved. And I will not have multiple marriages, either. Once was enough.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 7, 2007 1:27 PM

"The whole: i did the best I could (or he/she it did) is so appalling to me."

I agree. It's a ridiculous cop-out, not unlike the dreaded (by me) "s/he means well". End results are what count. So what if you do the "best you can" if the outcomes are crap?


Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 1:28 PM

Gee, I feel like crap now. But I take comfort in knowing I do so in miserable camaraderie with 80 million others. Perhaps we can get this folded into the upcoming presidential election. The candidate who can deal with the terrible MOM PROBLEM can lead the nation out of cultural morass, financial decay and spiritual drift into a brave new world of...well, into the Brave New World.

Posted by: lindsayhowerton | November 7, 2007 1:28 PM

"End results are what count. So what if you do the "best you can" if the outcomes are crap?"

So when someone screws up, that's it? They're just out in your book? I don't think that the "best you can" thing means there are no consequences - a screw up is a screw up. But I think it's always worth recognizing when the screw up wasn't malicious and understanding what was going on at the time, just on the level of how you deal with that person.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 7, 2007 1:46 PM

When I say I do my best, I sincerely mean that. It does not mean that every day, I am striving to be the most perfect mom ever. But it does mean that within the bounds of human fallability, I try to be the best person I can be. Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I slack off. And then I reassess and try again. What else can we ask from people?

Parents are people. They are not perfect. They are not infallible. They do not have unlimited energy and resources. Sometimes, they don't have a hell of a lot of insight into their lives. And yet, life goes on, and kids grow up, and people forgive each other. That's just life. And I am okay with that.

Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 1:51 PM

pepperjade, I don't know where women get the silly notion that pledging a life-long commitment to a man will increase their level of happiness, or standard of living for that matter.

Watching the movie Cinderella over and over again?

Walt Disney was a man. It's a conspiricy!

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 1:55 PM

"End results are what count"

I think it's the path that got you there is what's most important, but that's just me.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 1:59 PM

"So when someone screws up, that's it? They're just out in your book?"

No, of course not. Everybody screws up occasionally. I just hate it when people use "I did the best I could" as an excuse.

Probably I'm just scarred for life by my mother-in-law, though :-)

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 2:07 PM

"So when someone screws up, that's it? They're just out in your book?"

No, of course not. Everybody screws up occasionally. I just hate it when people use "I did the best I could" as an excuse.

Probably I'm just scarred for life by my mother-in-law, though :-)

Posted by: StickyNote | November 7, 2007 2:07 PM

I think it's another cop-out (with a few very valid exceptions) to claim, as an adult, that someone else ruined your life. I think once you manage to grow up, your life is your responsibility, and that you can no longer go on blaming others for your problems.

Posted by: Emily | November 7, 2007 2:11 PM

Do you think that people who are raised in poverty by drug addicted parents in shoddy schools should be expected to make the same quality of choices as someone who grows up in a middle class environmnent with supportive parents and great schools simply because they are both adults? Just curious?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 2:29 PM

First thing is, I don't do guilt. I figured out as a teenager that it was useless and pointless. When I make a mistake, I own up to it, and correct it if I can. Then learn the lesson, so I don't repeat the same mistake. Then move on.


Second:
I join the voices saying it is unlikely that a child under age two will learn anything from television. But I doubt it hurts them either.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 7, 2007 10:32 AM

Sorry, but I think this completely depends on the kid. Maybe neurotypical kids don't learn anything from TV until they're over two, but at 21 months my autistic kid knew every letter of the alphabet, upper and lower case, and all the single-digit numbers - from watching Sesame Street.

Talking to kids - again, I think it depends on the kid. I will never forget (or forgive) the pediatrician who still subscribed to the "refrigerator mom" theory, and when DH asked at the two-year well-child check-up about the kid's very limited vocabulary, the only response was, "Well, do you talk to him?"

That was so wrong. If that doc had done his job, our kid wouldn't have waited until 6 1/2 for a diagnosis, and the school district wouldn't have gotten away with only dealing with his language delay for 2 1/2 years.

Lessons learned - don't let the professionals get away with not doing their jobs, and don't let them blame us parents as a substitute for doing their jobs. When my kid has a problem I can't fix, I won't shut up, or give up, or go away until the professionals I'm consulting have behaved like professionals and done the job.

Posted by: sue | November 7, 2007 2:31 PM

Do you think that people who are raised in poverty by drug addicted parents in shoddy schools should be expected to make the same quality of choices as someone who grows up in a middle class environmnent with supportive parents and great schools simply because they are both adults? Just curious?

This is the 21st century. I expect them not to commit crimes, father love children and not kill anybody, pretty low bar for anyone, regardless of circumstance.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 7, 2007 2:41 PM

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 7, 2007 02:29 PM

Moxie, I gotta agree with you. I was the exception to the rule. Nearly all the other kids who grew up in the cruddy government subsidized housing where I grew up didn't make it out of the neighborhood; my best friend was the other exception. The apartments where I lived briefly when I was in elementary school were condemned as crack houses back in the late '80s. My elementary school has drop-out prevention in 4th grade.

But it's really hard for someone who has not experienced these things first-hand to truly understand this. There is a reason why poverty runs in cycles that are nearly impossible to break. It's usually through the intervention of the third party that helps a kid break that cycle. It was a third party who helped me break the cycle, and fortunately, my daughter will never know it.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 7, 2007 2:44 PM

Posted by: pATRICK | November 7, 2007 02:41 PM

Patrick: I work in the criminal justice policy arena, and stats show that children of criminals frequently become criminals. You can have all the expectations you want, but when criminal and antisocial behavior is the norm for these kids, this is the behavior you will get from these kids. Again, unless you have lived in these types of conditions, you really can't understand it, but research, as well as incarceration stats, shows this to be all too common. Can't tell you what the answer is, though. Lots of folks have been working on this issue for a long time.

Remember the movie "Trading Places"? Similar concept behind the movie.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 7, 2007 3:00 PM

Sue wrote:

"when DH asked at the two-year well-child check-up about the kid's very limited vocabulary, the only response was, "Well, do you talk to him?"

Based on this question, you took offense. I find that interesting and wonder if your DH was similarly offended-- after all, the question was directed to HIM not to you, so where you got the idea that the doctor was influenced by the "refrigerator mom" stereotype as basis for autism is unclear.

but it seems us women do this all the time-- I've been paniced because I've gone back to work recently and fear that people are judging me harshly because I must take time out of the day to pump. I was talking with my husband about this and he asked if anyone had critisized me for this. Well, no.

"In fact," he said, "didn't you tell me that when you brought it up with your boss he said that as long as you get the work done, he doesn't care what happens-- just keep up with productivity?" "Well, yes."

"Why not just work with presumption that when he said that, he really meant it?"

Good point-- why am I beating myself up over judgments by others-- judgments that I'm not sure are even been made?

Similarly, when the doctor asks "Do you speak to your child?" why not just assume that he or she is genuinely interested in finding out whether you (actually, your husband) are one of the many parents that don't know that it is beneficial to actually speak to your child even if they aren't holding up their end of the conversation? Lots of good people out there in the world do not know that it is wise to do this. why not work with the presumption that hte doctor was merely collecting the necessary preliminary information-- i.e., it was a question that had to be asked and wasn't meant as a judgment?

bottom line-- many women too often look for the deeper, hidden meaning behind things rather than take things at face value. Conversely, men are uninterested in (or unable to pick up on) the subtler messages behind what is being said. The result-- men are too often clueless and women too oten find offense where none is intended. Sorry for the generalization, but it is something that I've picked up on-- especially from this blog!

Posted by: baby-work | November 7, 2007 3:28 PM

Oops-- I just realized that I said that many women too often look for deeper, hidden meanings. That implies that I think us women should stop doing it. I don't -- I'm sure there are numerous advantages to yourselves and to the world in general when people seek meaning beyond the obvious. But we need to recognize when we are doing this-- and try not to drive ourselves crazy!

similarly, I think it's great that many men just work on what is "out there" and don't waste time and mental energy pondering other meanings. I just sometimes wish that my husband would pick up on what I want without my having to spell it out explicitly for him. I'm learning to be more direct with him, but it does feel foreign and odd sometimes.

Posted by: baby-work | November 7, 2007 3:36 PM

I hate Barney so much, we could devote an entire day to the reasons why.

I have passable self-esteem. But there is such a barrage of anti-mom messages in this country, you can't block it all out. Even if you think you are, some of it invariably seeps in.

Patrick, I am sorry I pissed you off by pulling your posts. They were out of line, especially given the topic of the day. And re:BBB's offensive posts, we have pulled a lot of those too. Just not the ones you speak about -- I explained that it was a weird day where I and all the On Balance editors were in meetings and unavailable simultaneously, and we missed the offensive postings. Sorry (again!).

Posted by: leslie4 | November 7, 2007 3:41 PM

I agree with Leslie that there is such a barrage of "bad mom" crap in the media, that even if you are not taking it to heart it's still easy to notice. For me personally, the fact that they all conflict is part of what makes it easier to tune them out. When I first had my son I was more susceptible to the bad mom worries and guilt, and then at some point I realized that no matter what you do, somebody is going to think you're a bad mom, so why worry.

Posted by: LizaBean | November 7, 2007 3:56 PM

Too often parents feel they have to have the latest thing or have the feeling that "everyone" is doing it so it must be good. We have to be smart enough to figure out what is best for our kids.

How about replacing the word "mom" with "parents" throughout the article? I don't take offense at dads being omitted but it is more than a little old to read stories on parenting and only have mom mentioned.

Posted by: floucka | November 7, 2007 4:11 PM

"I hate Barney so much, we could devote an entire day to the reasons why."

How could any good mother possibly hate such a lovable creature?

Go for it Leslie!

Posted by: DandyLion | November 7, 2007 4:22 PM

"How could any good mother possibly hate such a lovable creature?"

Can a good father hate Barney? 'Cause I sure do, for reasons ranging from its insipid music to its excessive political correctness.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 4:35 PM

floucka: "How about replacing the word "mom" with "parents" throughout the article? I don't take offense at dads being omitted but it is more than a little old to read stories on parenting and only have mom mentioned."

Generally I would agree with you, but in the context of this article, no. I think that the general agreement among this group of bloggers is that fathers don't react the same way mothers do, for a variety of reasons, including (1) that they're not the topic of much of the criticism, for whatever reason; and (2) that even if they are the topic of criticism, they just don't care that much about it.

(BTW, has anyone seen ProudPapa today? I suspect he's out celebrating the donkeys taking back the Virginia State Senate, but you never know.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 7, 2007 4:38 PM

"The result-- men are too often clueless and women too oten find offense where none is intended. Sorry for the generalization, but it is something that I've picked up on-- especially from this blog!"

Snort.

I've been having fun the last few days reading with an eye out for "offensive" posts, and it's amazing how many I've spotted. One was actually somewhat offensive to me (posted by a surprising regular). I wouldn't normally have been bothered by it, but I was purposefully looking to be offended, so I let it go. It's been a fun exercise.

Posted by: atb2 | November 7, 2007 4:50 PM

Not that we would have anywhere to put them, or that there aren't enough children being raised by the state, but if criminals are seen as bad role models, then why doesn't the state try to take their kids away and put them with other relatives? I mean, not all the relatives would possibly be criminals - and of course not all of them would take those kids in, but that would at least be trying something (of course, our legal system is overrun enough...).

I didn't mean to imply that everyone has all the resources at hand they need at all times. But when you have all your friends and relatives spending hours of their time trying to figure out why you married someone, when you are well aware of people talking about you (especially when they are also talking with you about the issues), then perhaps you should get it through your thick skull that there might be something wrong. Unless of course you don't want to give up your big house.

And, unless you think that your friends and relatives, who have known you forever, don't have your best interest at heart. Clearly there are plenty of friends and relatives to help out, and/or resources in the world to help out women in domestic situations that are less than idea (heck, my synagogue is having a program on it tonight).

Just sayin'.

Oh, and for the record, I wasn't a fan of barney, but when I watched it with my now 5 YO once or twice, it wasn't disgustingly annoying. That's the best I can say about it.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 7, 2007 4:55 PM

Patrick, I am sorry I pissed you off by pulling your posts. They were out of line, especially given the topic of the day

BWAAAAA! THAT'S A GOOD ONE LESLIE! Those were NOT out of line. I suspect that your bosses were monitoring the blog for once and our normal postings made YOU look like you weren't doing your job. To pull those posts is an absolute joke considering what I have seen you allow here for months at a time. You let that moron post the most vile things day after day, even welcoming it back and you then decide that my two little posts were out of line? What a hypocrite!

Posted by: pATRICK | November 7, 2007 7:51 PM

"Remember, we are the generation who didn't use carseats until we were 10, didn't wear helmets when we rode our bikes and drank sugary cool aid. We turned out fine."

"True, but that's still a stupid thing to say."

It's especially stupid to say when you realize that not EVERYONE from our generation "turned out fine." Talk to the parent of a child killed in a car accident or left brain damaged in a bicycle accident sometime and then say that to them.

Posted by: fake99 | November 8, 2007 1:40 AM

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