For 10 years, David Schwimmer made you chuckle as earnest, feckless Ross on Friends. But in his feature directorial debut, Trust, he will infuriate you and make you cringe — especially if you’re attempting to parent a teenager. Unlikely as this shape-shift seems, Schwimmer in real life has been focusing for the last seven years on the very unfunny subject of sexual predators. Trust is based on the story of a father he met while involved with a Santa Monica rape treatment center, and it is really a horror story for the Internet
Parents of high-achievers are getting the message: Stop the pressure. But what happens when your kid is the one refusing to let up?
My daughter, Kerry, like most college-bound high school juniors, just took her SATs. Watching her prepare, I found myself on board with the movement to reduce academic anxiety in kids. In her new film, “Race to Nowhere,” a mother named Vicki Abeles examines the high-stakes culture that has invaded some schools, creating unhealthy, unprepared and stressed-out
Whether it begins with a trial separation, or moves directly to divorce, the break-up of a marriage is a difficult and painful experience for everyone involved, especially for children, even under the most amicable of circumstances.
While mom and dad may find themselves deeply questioning their own life choices, their child may be quietly questioning how they may have contributed to their parents’ parting. Their reactions may include anger, depression, anxiety, sleep-loss, as well as a fear of being separated from mom or dad.
Some kids seem to have an almost infinite capacity to take the cares and responsibilities of their parents’ relationship onto their own shoulders, all too readily blaming themselves for whatever difficulties their mother or father may be facing, especially when it comes to marital disagreements or difficulties.
Their behaviors, sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, can often change. A child who once may have enjoyed sleepovers with friends or going away to camp may suddenly become a reclusive homebody, refusing opportunities and invitations to engage with the world.
Others react by seeking to spend as much time as possible away from their familiar surroundings and parents, associating them with pain and
In 1990, Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota published a striking finding: About 70 percent of the variance in IQ found in their particular sample of identical twins was found to be associated with genetic variation. Furthermore, identical twins reared apart were eerily similar to identical twins reared together on various measures of personality, occupational and leisure-time interests, and social attitudes.
Bouchard’s study, along with many others, has painted a consistent picture: Genes
Several weeks ago my new book, “Parentless Parents,” was published. This is the third book I’ve written that deals with mourning and loss. And while you might assume I’d be the last person you’d want to meet at a cocktail party, I’ve been told otherwise. I smile; I
One of the most frequent comments I get from parents is, “I just want my kid to be happy.” Though an admirable and common objective, happiness is one of the most neglected family values in 21st century America. Few parents grasp the essential meaning of happiness for their children and fewer still understand how they can help their children to find it.
Parents’ efforts at helping their children gain happiness are undermined by the distorted messages that popular culture communicates to parents about happiness — that happiness can be found in wealth, celebrity, power and physical attractiveness. Yet research and anecdotal accounts of people who have these attributes show that pursuit of these “false idols” can actually cause unhappiness.
By understanding how happiness develops, you can help your children find true happiness. The real causes of happiness are all within your children’s control, so they can actively do things that foster their own happiness.
Self-esteem is a powerful contributor to
Recently I’ve taken a hard look at the advice we give to kids who are being bullied and challenged all of us who work on this issue to do better. Now I want to question the common advice we give bystanders. This is critical for two reasons; we rarely admit the complex role bystanders play in bullying and I’ve never seen us publicly acknowledge that often the reason bystanders don’t come forward is because they don’t have confidence in the adults to do what’s right.
Being a bystander:
It’s not like any of us look forward to the opportunity of confronting a bully, as we saw in the recent Dateline special. Ironically, it can often be harder to confront a bully we’re close to than someone we don’t know or don’t
Parents have always struggled with how to talk with their kids about sex, but in a world where pornography is a mouse click away, the conversation is more complicated than ever. A rather alarming number of adolescents — girls as well as boys — seem to be looking at porn online and using it as inspiration for their own “sexting,” blithely sending explicit pictures of themselves to their crushes and posing suggestively on their Facebook profiles.
This state of affairs suggests that some teens may feel that they’re expected to have extensive carnal knowledge at an early age — because everyone else does. Here’s where you come
Yesterday, two things happened:
I had two separate conversations with new parents about how having a baby can be like a wrecking-ball to a marriage, especially in the first year.
Three different people asked me what tips I’d give parents who want to raise empathetic children.
These conversations are related.
First of all, I want new parents everywhere to know that it is totally normal for that adorable bundle of joy to cause a tailspin in your marital satisfaction. An abundance of research shows that this happens to the vast majority of couples: Statistics vary, but most studies indicate that 70 to 90 percent of couples report being less satisfied with their marriages after a baby is born.
Here’s the thing: Just because it is totally common for us to start feeling, say, hostile, toward our partner when junior comes home from the hospital, it doesn’t mean that those feelings are harmless — to the marriage or to junior.
In fact, hostility between parents can seriously harm a newborn baby’s nervous system. When parents fight, baby doesn’t feel safe, and this is one of the most important things for proper emotional, intellectual and even physical development. Far from being oblivious, pooping blobs, babies are highly attuned to the world around
Whoever said you can’t go home again should have added that you also can’t go back to a same beloved getaway spot with a toddler and enjoy it nearly as much as when you used to go before she was born.
This was evident over the weekend when our family went to Moab so my husband Rick could run a race in which we have both previously participated three times over the past seven years. The former visits were a mix of hard work (the race) and about as much fun as is legally allowed in Utah (3.2 percent, to be exact). Returning with a 2-year-old proved to be a blast for her (almost every cup of water she drank from came with a straw), if not even more hard work for Rick (the race and then the toddler) and me (the toddler and then the toddler). There might have been some adult fun, save for the lack of a bottle opener.
“Hi, Mommy,” my daughter said, innocently enough, from her Pack ‘n Play just before 7
For three years after my 9-year-old son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I figured he was the problem. After all, I was getting constant calls from his teachers, complaining that he was misbehaving or hadn’t done his homework, or had lost another field trip permission form. At home, he’d routinely melt down, taking out his frustrations by picking fights with his younger brother and me.
Like so many other parents, I’d read dozens of guidebooks. Many contained wise advice, and most suggested complicated routines and discipline
As you wait in the check-out line at the local drug store, a mother takes out a small travel bottle of hand sanitizer. She proceeds to use it not only on her own hands, but on her children’s hands as well. Or, you reach for the peanut butter to make “PB and J” for your child’s school lunch. Suddenly you remember that your child’s school has a “no-peanut”
Perhaps it’s my writerly instincts, but I’m always on the lookout for connections and metaphors. Someday I hope to uncover a grand theory that unifies all of my life’s pursuits, but for now, I’m content finding a few parallels between being a writer and a stay-at-home dad.
Communicate With Precision
The clich goes that a writer must “find his or her voice.” Sound advice, but what does this mean, practically? I’ve come to understand it as a close attention to mechanics and musicality. Every detail, from word choice to punctuation, plays a part in how a story or essay unfolds. No matter how engaging the content, the reader tunes out if the narrator doesn’t command
Remember the comedy film, “Failure to Launch,” where Matthew McConaughey played Tripp, a 35-year-old slacker living at home? That was back in 2006, when unemployment was below five percent, the real estate bubble was still inflating and the term “boomerang generation” had yet to become a household word.
Today, due to one of the weakest economies in a generation coupled with burgeoning student debt, many young (and not so young) adults have been forced to seek the refuge of their parents’ home. According to recent surveys, almost a third of adults age 34 and under are living with their parents. What the surveys don’t show is the toll it can take on familial relationships and
The first and only time I saw Robert Bly, author of “Iron John,” the touchstone of the modern “mythopoetic” men’s movement, I was in college… and I wasn’t sure I was impressed. Although I found the man captivating in many ways, I wasn’t convinced that the manhood he was talking about in poetic terms (and accompanied by a lute, no less) was something I aspired to recapture. Beating drums in the woods never seemed to come naturally to me; to me, it sounded more like feminism for guys than the stuff of manhood.
At the time, I was immersed in the sport of rowing — a male bonding experience that had little to do with poetry and a lot to do with the testing of physical
I was at the dog park recently and watched as a middle-aged man played with his young son and their dog. They were throwing around a ball and running back and forth. The dog and the kid returned back to dad, each with the same expression, awaiting the same response: “Great job!” And they got it every time no matter what they did.
It was pretty sweet, really, and I couldn’t help but smile when the boy and the dog both got patted on their heads at the same time, but it made me wonder a bit about how we praise our kids and how we confuse unconditional love and unconditional approval.
A while back (in the early ’80s) when I was just starting out, there was a group for women on the West Coast that was dedicated to the fostering of self-esteem and empowerment. These are good
I was sitting at my desk, reasonably patiently, downloading songs from iTunes for my daughter. As she sampled the songs, I couldn’t help wondering what the heck she was listening to these days and why it was even allowed on the radio. Things have changed so much since I was a kid, it seems. After one particular song, I could hold my tongue no longer.
“Do you know what he means?” I half
Last week I called my brother Leon, who lives in Jerusalem, to wish him a happy birthday. As soon as he answered the phone, I knew something was wrong.
“Is everything all right?” I asked.
“Not really,” he murmured in response. “I had to put Lyle to sleep.”
Named for the Texas country singer Lyle Lovett, the dog had been Leon’s companion in Israel since the time he made aliyah 15 years ago. I didn’t know quite what to say, other than, “I’m so
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “helicopter parenting” as a way to describe the way today’s 20-somethings (Gen Y) were hovered over in childhood by their parents. As a life coach to 20-somethings and consultant to corporations with Gen Y employees, I’ve seen the effects of an even more intrusive child-rearing style that I have coined as “cockpit parenting.” Cockpit parents did more than hover. They sat right in the pilot’s seat of their child’s life, charting the course and navigating all of the twists and turns. And they often remain there well into their child’s
News flash: My daughters have a new baby brother! No, don’t congratulate me–I wasn’t the one who gave birth (I’m happy to report). My ex-husband and his wife had a baby, which makes him my…umm…stepson once removed?
I’m pretty sure there isn’t a name for that relationship. It’s complicated. Anyone who is involved in a blended family knows how complicated it can get; if you’re not involved in one, just imagine how complicated it might be, then multiply that by
It seems the public can’t get enough of Charlie Sheen these days. Every day seems to be another media interview, re-publication of alleged text messages, or re-publication of tweets that Charlie has supposedly sent out. It is almost as though Charlie, having attacked CBS and those associated with his long running and highly successful sitcom “Two and a Half Men”, has used the dispute to promote himself, and his “lifestyle” in a rather odd way. While one could speculate that there are any number of causes to Sheen’s latest public ramblings, the problems now seem to have become more personal in
In the last year I’ve wed a beautiful woman, sired a genius child, and at last become a writer (with my first book released and my articles published in periodicals from The New York Times to Hustler). It has been, by any measure, an extraordinary year, which is why I was as shocked as anyone to recently find myself weeping in the Oklahoma City airport. I wouldn’t have expected it, but there I was, a grown man with a family and a career, huddled in a corner with tears pouring down my face, a turn of events all the more surprising (even to me) when you consider that I was crying over my cat.
Yes, I publicly wept at the Will Rogers Airport over the sudden death of Junior, the gray American short-haired who’d been my friend and companion for the better part of 10 years. I wept because the cat who wanted nothing more than to weasel his way between my legs to take a nap on the ottoman was gone, gone forever from snuggling up beside me, sleeping beside me, sleeping atop
A powerful community depends upon its members’ willingness to step outside themselves and stand in the shoes of their neighbors. A name for this ability is “empathy.” It is the essential bridge that changes the person next door from a resident into a neighbor. Without empathy, we would have neither friends, neighbors nor a community.
The Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan recently completed a review of 72 studies of empathy among American college students. Each study used the same standardized