Friday: Things I've found this week.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Parenting Stories of the Year. 
1. D.C. as best city to raise kid- Parenting magazine names D.C. as the best place to raise your kids.

2. Over-parenting as the new bad parenting- Atlantic magazine published a piece that claimed that this generation of parents has lost its way. In “How to land your kid in therapy” Lori Gottlieb argued that too many of us are over-parenting and, in effect, setting children up to fail

3. Kids not wanted- Some restaurants revealed a deep anger from many childless adults, and even some parents, at what they see as this parents’ generation inability to rein in their children in public places as well as a perceived entitlement parents display.

4. The Sandusky scandal- Though this terrible, still-unfolding story was not about parenting, it did raise questions about our collective responsibility to children. The scandal brought down a folk hero and forced many of us to examine what we might have done differently had we been in the Penn State chain of command.

5. Parental responsibility in childhood obesity- This summer a commentary in the Journal of American Medical Association suggested parents should lose custody of obese children in extreme circumstances. What seemed like a provocative theory became reality when a Cleveland mother lost custody of her obese son because the county said she was neglecting his health. The commentary and the case triggered difficult questions about who is to blame for the health crisis.

6. Leiby Kletzy- One of the worst events of the year was the killing of little Leiby Kletzy. The 8-year-old got lost on the first day that his parents let him walk home from summer camp and ended up being “helped” by a true monster. His story terrified parents across the country and is one of those events that many of us will remember with chills for years to come.

7. Dads can’t have it all either- Two attention-getting studies this year found that fathers are increasingly struggling with balancing careers and families. The Families and Work Institute reported that men are feeling stressed by the increasing burdens on them to succeed professionally and be nurturing caregivers.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research survey found that fathers who live with their families are more involved than ever before. The same survey found the majority of fathers think being a dad is a tougher job now than it was 20 or 30 years ago:

8. Sarcastic parenting- This year saw the rise of sarcasm in parenting, from Tina Fey’s irreverent and beloved “Bossypants,” (Reagan Arthur Books, April 2011) to the profane take on bedtime stories, “Go the ---- to Sleep,” (Akashic Books, June 2011) by Adam Mansbach. The latter was a best-seller before it was even available and inspired a slew of copycats.
The trend must say something about our need to lampoon our reluctant transition into parenthood. But who reading these could keep a straight face long enough to explain exactly what?

9. Screen time debate- Common Sense media reported that young children are using electronic media at staggering levels, with infants and toddlers spending twice as much time with screen media as books.
At the same time, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a reiteration of its largely ignored plea to parents to withhold “screen time” from the youngest children. Many parents, meanwhile, say the official advice is not keeping up with either the realities of parenting or the increasing benefits of modern technology.

10. The changing relationship between parents and their adult children- Adult children stampeded back into their parents’ home in recent years and with them the notion of hands-on “parenting” took on a longer shelf life.
The book “How To Raise Your Adult Children: Real-Life Advice for When Your Kids Don’t Want to Grow Up,” by Gail Parent and Susan Ende (Plume, August 2011) came out this summer. Disguised as an extended Q&A, it was really a collection of letters that revealed the angst older parents harbor when dealing with their still-dependent grown children.

Bring in 2012 with love, peace, and happiness. See you next year!

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