Posts Tagged: Underparenting

5 Quick & Easy Ways to Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem

We all want confident children, but research indicates that effusive parental praise can backfire. In one study, 80% of kids describe their parents' compliments as "not really true," "overblown" or "completely full of shit." Does this mean we're doomed to raise a generation of children who doubt themselves? Not if we stop praising them unnecessarily. Instead, parents should give their children truly daunting challenges that actually do warrant a flood of praise. For example:

1. Teach your child to do the Heimlich maneuver. Then, pretend that you're choking on a chicken bone. When your child "saves" you, thank him profusely, through tears. Be sure to tell everyone in the [...]


The 40-Year-Old Reversion

Once a month I get together with half a dozen moms from Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. We call ourselves Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts. They dubbed me a Hooker because I wear tight clothes and smile a lot. Sally, a stay-at-home mom of boys, is a Slut, because she’s always touching her body. The Drug Addict is a therapist who can drink a bottle of Cabernet in one sitting. (All names and some details have been changed so I don’t lose more friends than I already have.) Some work and some don’t. The working ones complain about their jobs and the non-working ones complain about their husbands. We go [...]


A Year Ago Today: Underparenting The Sweary Child

"My parents raised me with rules and standards, which I gradually learned to break over time. I can remember my mother remonstrating with me, probably in the middle-school years, for my overreliance on 'holy crap.' It was no doubt a relief to my father when I devolved into full foul-mouthed teenagerhood and he could go back to saying "dog-fucking son of a bitch" during Eagles games or whenever. But he didn't try to speed up the process."


Despite All His Rage, Billy Corgan Still Just Doesn't Make A Lick Of Sense

Pitchfork points to a doozy of a post Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan put up on his paranoid spiritualist website, Everything From Here To There. He is coming out as one among those who The Awl's Tom Scocca eloquently refers to as "degenerate idiots who deserve to get polio and live out their days in iron lungs while Child Protective Services takes away their children to be properly raised." Corgan writes: "I for one will not be taking the vaccine. I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the apperatus behind it all to push it on us thru fear. This is not judgment; it [...]


The Terror of Butt Elmo and Butt Pooh

The Awl's Tom Scocca takes Underparenting to a new level: "Diapers are for catching urine and feces. They represent neither entertainment nor education…. Butt Elmo, by contrast, represents a world in which it's not merely branding that's out of control but cross-branding. Every space is a promotional opportunity for something else."


The Birthday Party, And Its Preparations

Why was it that I baked the brownies from scratch? Well, first of all, there needed to be brownies. It's the kid's birthday, the actual birthday as opposed to the day we had the birthday party, and we were given to understand-in the way such understandings are given-that some parents like to send in treats for the preschool class on the birthday, to contribute to the birthday observances. Such things are done.


How To Treat The Screaming Magenta Two-Year-Old

The kid is in the playpen, also known as the crib, where I dumped him. The playpen is also known, officially, as a "playard," sales-portmenteau-style for "play yard," because somewhere between the time I was wearing diapers and the time I started changing diapers, "pen" and its overtones were dumped as being retrograde. Who would pen a precious child?

I guess I just did, and not (while we're unpacking the assumptions behind the Graco Pack N Play Playard) for the sake of playing. I did it to shut him up.


Is It Acceptable To Have Children?

Choire: Hello, I have some questions, at this time of "holidays" and "family" and "everyone in Brooklyn having a second and sometimes even third child, also often having two at the same time, because IVF" (I almost typed IDF, because of the news!) and I guess my main question is: how do people talk themselves into having children when the world, at least as we know it, is going to likely end during the lifetime of these children?

Ken: So you're considering having a child. Congratulations! Brooklyn is certainly a wonderful environment for children.

Choire: It is true that once every five years I think "HA, I SHOULD GET A [...]


Local Paper Has to Tell Today's Parents to Brush Their Kids' Teeth

"I had a lot on my mind, and brushing his teeth was an extra thing I didn’t think about at night." —How are you going to write little Carthage and Chanterelle's college essays for them if you can't even bring yourself to brush their teeth?



"Fuck!" the kid said, from the back seat of the car. They pick these things up from everywhere, the two-and-a-half-year-old children do. The child is like a runaway threshing machine rattling across the landscape of language, ingesting and scattering everything in its path: grain, chaff, string beans, feed buckets, chopped-up bits of mailboxes. How much of what your child says is understandable? the developmental survey form asks. You mean articulate? Or comprehensible? "The greens are taking care of the eights," he says. Or: "Welcome to Metro." Or: "I want a toaster in my ear."


No H1N1 Vaccine For You, Kiddo

"Keep calling back," the receptionist at the pediatrician's office said, ringing off. They were out of H1N1 flu vaccine, she had told me, and they didn't know when the next batch might be coming. So keep calling.

I would rather not keep calling. That was my third or fourth or fifth inquiry about the swine-flu vaccine, by phone or in person at the office while getting other shots for the kid. This is not because I am a hysterical parent, unable to bear the thought of my child going without medical intervention. I do not snap awake at three in the morning with flu panic, worrying that some filthy [...]


Stroller-Bullying on the Red Line

It was a mistake to get on the Metro train with the kid riding on my shoulders. I should have taken him down and buckled him into the stroller out on the platform, even if it meant missing the train. But I had taken the wrong branch on the decision-making tree, and there I was, standing up in a packed train car at evening rush hour, with one hand on the kid's ankle to hold him in place, and another hand on the overhead handrail, which meant there was no hand remaining to put on the stroller handle as the train jerked into motion and the clumsily half-set foot [...]


The Safety Seat Is Ruining American Family Life In Your Metal Death Box

When I got back from the men's room, the kid was out of his car seat. We were at a rest stop somewhere between Chapel Hill and Richmond, a quick break before driving on till lunchtime. It was raining, so my wife and I were taking turns staying in the car while the other person ducked inside.

He didn't need to use the restroom (another reason not to be hasty about potty training), but the slowing and stopping of the car had woken him up. So my wife had popped him out of the harness, and he was clambering happily around the back seat with her. I took her [...]


The Perils Of Storytelling As A Stranger: A Chat With Tom Scocca

Tom Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future has just come out in paperback. This distinctive American's-eye-view of China's capital is bracingly cerebral without didacticism, intimate and touching without the slightest trace of "self-realization." I loved it.

Maria Bustillos: There is so much I want to know about your book, and about China. How long has it been since you were last there? How has the book been received? How old is [your son] Mack, [who was born in China], now?

Tom Scocca: We haven't been back since I was doing the epilogue, in May 2010. The book's been received pretty well, I think. Or [...]


"Finding Out": From Cris Beam's "Mother, Stranger"

Cris Beam left her mother's home at age 14, driven out by a suburban household of hidden chaos and mental illness. The two never saw each other again. More than twenty years later, after building the happy home life she'd never had as a child, Beam learned of her mother's death and embarked on a quest to rediscover her own history. What follows is an excerpt from her nonfiction account, Mother, Stranger, published today by The Atavist. It is available as an ebook single for the Kindle, The Nook, the iPad or iPhone and other outlets via The Atavist website.

When I found out that my [...]


The Misplaced Child

There was a loud but muffled scream, and when I looked up, the kid was gone.

It wasn't that scary for me; I did know where he was, more or less. But this was what I was leaving my wife with, on the other end of the phone:

[Child's screaming.] Fuck! Shit. Uh, I gotta call you back- [Screaming continues in background.] [Call disconnects.]

I was standing by the elevator bank, all by myself. The screaming was coming from the other side of a closed elevator door.


How Awesome Would It Be to Have The RZA as Your Dad?

Self-professed recovering video-game addict the RZA (a.k.a. Prince Rakeem, The Abbot, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the RZArector, Ruler Zig-zag-zig Allah, etc.) tells his sons, "If it was up to me… You wanna make me happy? Four hours of video games a day is enough."


The "Family Bed"

The beeping came on as the backdrop to a predawn dream-beep-beep-beep-and then, mhmm, is that the alarm clock?-beep-beep-beep-but too faint, unless we'd dropped our alarm clock under the bed and then dropped a comforter over it-beep-beep-beep-so it was maybe the bus, outside, idling, somehow generating a high-frequency overtone to the rumbling-beep-beep-beep-beep-or was it hrmm just the pulse in my ears-tinnitus, the blood surge-beep-beep-beep-hmrff NO, it was definitely, somewhere, an ALARM CLOCK, but-


When Your Child Produces Dark, Foul, Adult-Style Excrement

About 20 minutes into his nap, the kid started crying. Naptime is usually pretty easy. This business about how little kids don't understand they're tired was always mysterious to me. My parents told me that when I was a toddler, I alarmed them by vanishing, having wandered off all on my own to sack out somewhere quiet with a pillow. Much to my pride and relief, the kid is the same way-if I don't put him down for a nap, he'll climb into bed on his own or flop down on the floor with a blanket. When you're tired, you sleep. What's so hard to understand?