Family Circle

Letting Go of Your College-Bound Teen

Written on July 8, 2014 at 10:52 am , by

By Rob Lowe

Today is my son Matthew’s last night home before college.

I have been emotionally blindsided. I know that this is a rite many have been through. My son will go to a great school, something we as a family have worked hard at for many years. But looking at his suitcases on his bed, his New England Patriots posters on the wall and his dog watching him pack, sends me out of the room to a hidden corner where I can’t stop crying.

One of the great gifts of my life has been my two boys and, through them, exploring the mysterious, complicated and charged relationship between fathers and sons. As I try to raise them, I discover the depth and currents of not only our relationship but ones already downstream, the love and loss that flowed between my father and me and how that bond is so powerful.

After my parents’ divorce, I spent weekends with my dad. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was incapable of enjoying the day’s activities because I was already dreading the inevitable goodbye. Trips to the mall, miniature golf or movies had me in a lump-throated daze long before my dad would drop me home and drive away.

Now, standing among the accumulation of the life of a little boy he no longer is, I look at my own young doppelgänger and realize: It’s me who has become a boy again. All my heavy-chested sadness, loss and longing to hold on to things as they used to be are back, sweeping over me as they did when I was a child.

In front of Matthew I’m doing some of the best acting of my career. I smile like a jack-o’-lantern and affect a breezy, casual manner. Positive sentences only and nothing but enthusiasm framing my answers to Matthew’s questions.

“Do you think it’s cold in the dorms in the winter?” he asks in a voice that seems smaller than it was just days ago.

“Naah!” I lie, having no idea what his room for the next four years will be like.

This line of questioning is irrelevant anyway, as Sheryl is preparing for any possible scenario, as is her genius. We all have our strengths; among hers is the ability to put anything a human being could possibly need in a suitcase. Or box. Or FedEx container. She is channeling her extraordinary love and loss into a beautiful display of preparing her son for his travels.

The clothes are off the bed and zipped into the bags. The bed is tidy and spare; it already has the feel of a guest bed, which, I realize to my horror, it will become. I think of all the times we lay among the covers reading Goodnight Moon and The Giving Tree. I think of all the recent times when I was annoyed at how late he was sleeping. I’ll never have to worry about that again. I make up an excuse to leave and head to my secret corner.

For his part, Matthew has been a rock. He is naturally very even-keeled, rarely emotional. True to form, he is treating his impending departure as just another day at the office. And I’m glad. After all, someone’s gotta be strong about this.

I’ve been worried about how Johnowen, our youngest, will handle the departure of his big brother. Only two years apart, they are very close in that vaguely annoyed constant companionship that brothers can share (if they are lucky).

Now what will happen to their NFL rivalry and smack talk? The nightly ear-splitting deconstructing of Scandinavian dubstep EDM? The incessant wrangling about what guys and what girls are coming by and when? Life is breaking up the team that kept me in loving consternation until all hours of the morning and throughout those never-ending summer nights.

Our house is not the same now. Sheryl and Johnowen and I, overnight, have a completely different dynamic. Quieter, gentler, deeper in some ways that I cannot understand. Matthew’s dog, Buster, has stopped eating, which is maybe not a bad thing considering his weight issues. I had a 5:30 a.m. call on set the next day and I used it as an excuse to sleep in Matthew’s room. I told myself I did it to have some quiet to get to bed early.

My children have always made me feel. They have always taught me, changed me, always for the better. I hope I have been the best dad I could be and that I have succeeded more than I failed. Having them in my life turned me into a man. Now, with my long-distance longing and worry, covered by electric excitement about the future for Matthew, I realize that saying goodbye to him has turned me into a boy.

And now, we will both grow up.

 

Rob Lowe is a film and television actor and the author of Love Life (Simon & Schuster). 

Powdered Alcohol: The New Kool-Aid of Teen Drinking?

Written on July 8, 2014 at 9:11 am , by

By Julie D. Andrews

We were visiting my brother, his wife and their kids in Georgia. It was our first time in Peachtree City, a picturesque suburban haven, where it’s hip (and safe) for teens to flit around on backwoods paths to ball fields and drive to local cupcake shops in decorated golf carts. The place seemed so first-kiss sweet and innocent.

Yet, I still can’t forget what happened there. Largely because it just wasn’t the sort of thing you imagined going down in such a pleasantville. As my sister-in-law filled us in on the neighborhood news, she told us of a local dad who found his 16-year-old son, early on a Sunday morning, coiled at the bottom of the family hot tub, limp and lifeless.

The honors student, who attended a nearby Baptist church and played junior-varsity soccer, had bought a package of Mojo Diamond Extreme Potpourri at a nearby convenience store, taken it home and smoked the OTC synthetic marijuana. In one puff of smoke, there vanished a just-beginning life, so bursting with opportunity and hope and yet-to-be-had tingly moments that the sheer thought of this boy’s final breath still sends a jolt through my spine.

Teens are impulsive. They’re experimental, feel invincible and can rapidly get in way over their heads. Over Memorial Day, soaking in a hot tub at my sister’s house in Maryland, I couldn’t help but think of this tragedy, and want to level with my A-student, every-sport-playing 12-year-old nephew about the dangers of youthful experimentation—dangers that exist for every teen, no matter their GPA or extracurriculars.

What’s the latest newfangled intoxicant? Powdered alcohol. On April 8, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted label approval for Palcohol packets, then, 13 days later, rescinded that approval. The government called the approval an error, but the manufacturer, Lipsmark, soon announced its plans to tweak and resubmit labels for final approval.

Powdered alcohol is discreet—therefore, ideal for covert underage drinking. As Senator Chuck Schumer, who called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban Palcohol, pointed out, it can be easily slipped into pockets and shoe soles, and brought into parks, concerts, you name it. It can be cavalierly sprinkled onto food, mixed with water or snorted—a particularly big cause for concern.

Snorted alcohol immediately alters the brain. While no research has yet been done, preventing us from knowing the full risks, we do know that snorted alcohol is absorbed—and can intoxicate—instantly and that doing so may significantly impair judgment and motor skills. Worse, predicts Joshua Lafazan, a member of the Syosset School Board and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, powdered alcohol could “certainly lead to many more instances of alcohol poisoning for youth.”

It’s not your kids, it’s the age and the time and the hormones and the peer pressure. Call it what you must, but talk to them.

 

Julie D. Andrews is a writer living in New York City. Her new book, Real Is the New Natural, dismantles the negative, destructive messaging about body image and beauty bombarding us daily under the guise of health. 

 

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on July 7, 2014 at 10:30 am , by

“Thank you #FamilyCircleMagazine for the recipe, and the cute idea of putting it in jars!” says Instagram user @ashmarie122 who snapped a shot of our Banana Pudding. The traditional southern treat is easy to prepare and personalize—she left out the bananas for an all-vanilla indulgence! Create an entire Low Country-inspired feast with these down-home recipes.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

Moms and Daughters Bond While Working Out with “Biggest Loser” Trainer Cara Castronuova

Written on July 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm , by

Learning about fitness and health is as easy as having fun—that’s what celebrity trainer Cara Castronuova has in store for her camp-goers.

Camp Kid Warrior in Patterson, New York, which is open to boys and girls ages 7-18, will focus on eating balanced meals, an assortment of exciting workouts (including Zumba, martial arts and kickboxing) and, most important, getting kids inspired by fitness.

With a staff of motivational athletic counselors, the camp is offered by Cara’s very own nonprofit organization, the Knockout Obesity Foundation, which gives children in need the chance to exercise and keep at it.

Traditional camp activities like arts and crafts, fishing and archery will also be offered.

Learn more about the program and the organization by visiting knockoutobesityfoundation.org.

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WIN IT! Family Circle Summer Shopping Spree Sweeps With RetailMeNot.com

Written on July 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm , by

Let digital coupon site RetailMeNot.com foot the bill for all your summer shopping needs by entering Family Circle’s gift card giveaway sweepstakes. There are four $500 visa gift cards up for grabs. Here’s your chance to WIN! See official rules, here.

 

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on June 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm , by

“We are berry patriotic!” says Instagram user @mommi_swag, who re-created our Berry Kabobs.  The All-American dessert is easy to make and a surefire hit! Find other patriotic treats at here.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

Turn a Boring Summer Day into a $10,000 College Fund!

Written on June 25, 2014 at 11:31 am , by

By Robb Riedel

The rev of a lawn mower. The chirping of crickets. The hypnotic melody of an ice cream truck. It’s official: Summer has finally arrived! Which means the three words mothers dread the most can’t be far behind: “Mom, I’m bored.” It seems by the time school’s been out for a mere week, there’s already nothing to do.

But boredom isn’t necessarily a negative, especially when it could result in winning some cold, hard cash for college. All your child has to do is invent the winning outdoor activity in the Clif Kid Backyard Game of the Year contest. Relish a rare moment of tranquillity by charging your kid with the task of inventing a new, fun fresh-air activity that doesn’t promote violence and can be played by children ages 6 to 12. Your kid might get inspiration from your own childhood, when unstructured time meant heading outside to play tag, build a fort or ride a bike through the neighborhood. Kids can also check out previous finalists’ creations, which include creative games like Tortoise & the Hare Ball and Sidewalk Chalk Adventure.

Go to clifkidbackyardgame.com to enter the name of your child’s game, a description and a photo. The kid who creates the best activity will win a bike and helmet, a special block party for family and friends and, most important, a $10,000 educational scholarship!

There’s no better reason to send kids outside to play! The contest ends July 3, so there’s ample time for them to perfect their game’s rules and submit photos. For more information, visit clifkidbackyardgame.com.

Getting Back to What Matters Most

Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:37 am , by

By Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama

As my family prepares for an upcoming out-of-state move, I’ve been forced to think about what home means to me. I’ve always believed home is a feeling, not a place. More specifically, home is the feeling of peace and completeness I feel when I am surrounded by the people I love.

But recently, my definition of home has expanded. Home is also living Hands Free.

What began as small changes to let go of distraction, pressure and perfection has become a necessity—like water, air and food. Each day, I need time to connect to what matters in some form or fashion. I need time to rest, laugh, listen and breathe.

Smelling my daughter’s freshly washed hair … feeling sunshine on my face as I wait for swim practice to conclude … jotting down writing ideas in a notebook … tight hugs before we go our separate ways … my Hands Free moments are home to me now.

But I must be realistic. As much as I would love all moments in life to be calm, present, safe and undistracted, it is simply not possible. We live in a fast-paced world saturated with duties, deadlines and devices. In a world inundated with distraction, it is easy to get far from home.

Yet with almost four years’ experience living Hands Free, I am able to detect when I am getting too far from what matters. No longer am I willing to push and pressure and “yes” my way through life to the point that I lose sight of everything that matters most.

Here are some of the difficult truths I say to myself when I am getting too far from home. These “red flags” help me realize when I need to say no, re-establish my boundaries or reassess what matters and what doesn’t.

My distraction radar says:

“You’re overwhelmed.”

“You’re staying up too late.”

“You haven’t sat down all day.”

“You’re eating at the kitchen counter.”

“Your heart is racing.”

“You are complaining more than you are being positive.”

“You are quick to anger.”

“You are bullying yourself.”

“You are trying to do too much at once.”

When I hear these painful truths in my head, I don’t ignore them like I used to. Nor do I make excuses or get defensive. Instead, I do one of the following actions to bring myself back home:

• I lower the bar. I remind myself nothing has to be perfect, just “good enough for today.”
• I turn away from the outside/online world and turn toward my inner circle of friends and family.
• I take a walk. Even 10 minutes of fresh air and time for reflection helps me feel rejuvenated and less overwhelmed.
• I silence the inner critic with three powerful words: Only Love Today.
• I resist the urge to push myself beyond my limits and make a reasonable plan for getting one item accomplished at a time.
• I throw on a hat and stop fussing over my appearance.
• I treat myself with kindness and compassion like I would a friend who is going through a hard time.
• I say, “I cannot worry about that right now,” and stop obsessing over things I cannot control.

Whenever my distraction radar goes off, I try to do one of those things—even if it is for only a few minutes. These actions help me protect what is important in my life and keep me moving forward on my Hands Free journey. My friends, we cannot control all the circumstances of our life, but we can control some. When faced with feelings of being overwhelmed, take a moment to evaluate: Is everything I’m trying to do today necessary? Is there somewhere I can lower the bar? Is the feeling of home in here somewhere? Each day, take one small step toward what brings you peace and fulfillment. This way, you’ll never get so far from home that you can’t get back to what matters most.

 

Rachel is the New York Times best-selling Author of Hands Free Mama. She resides in Alabama with her husband and two daughters, who inspire her daily. You can join her on her journey to let go of distraction and grasp the moments that matter at www.handsfreemama.com

 

You Make It, We Post It!

Written on June 16, 2014 at 8:00 am , by

Nothing signals summer more than gorgeous ripe tomatoes! Instagram user @shoo_shoobaby did an impressive job re-creating the cover recipe from our July issue—Cherry Tomato Bruschetta. Try your hand at the other dishes that have graced our covers here.

 

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

Pick up a copy of our July issue, on newsstands now, featuring delicious Cherry Tomato Bruschetta!

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Too Sexy, Too Soon: You’re Wearing That?

Written on June 10, 2014 at 11:07 am , by

By Bruce Feiler

My girls are barely in their tweens, but the wardrobe wars have already begun. I can’t win every battle over clothes that are too skimpy, clingy or cheeky, but that’s okay. I’m learning to make peace—well, sort of—with their fashion sense.

It first happened to me last year. My twin daughters, who had just turned 8, came bounding into the room to show off the new outfits they would be wearing to an extended-family gathering. My eyes bulged. The dresses drooped provocatively off the shoulder and offered other peekaboos of their bodies. Sure, I figured I would one day face clothing battles with my children. Politicians aren’t the only ones who draw red lines. But so soon?

As a father, I find these conversations particularly challenging. On the one hand, I’ve internalized all the messages that I should not criticize my daughters’ bodies, compliment them merely for their looks, or in any way stifle their emerging sexuality. On the other hand, I don’t want them to leave the house dressed as pole dancers.

For years, I had what I thought was a sly way of handling this issue. Whenever my daughters modeled a new piece of clothing, I would say: “I don’t care what you wear. I care who you are.” Recently they’ve begun throwing my line back at me: “But I thought you didn’t care what we wear!”

Time to get some new lines.

The issue of appropriate clothing for girls has been the subject of increasing academic and popular scrutiny, fed by the likes of skimpy panties printed with “Dive In.” Abercrombie & Fitch (whose CEO got in hot water recently for saying he wanted to sell clothing only to cool, attractive kids) was forced to back down after marketing “padded” and “push-up” bras to little girls. Walmart bowed to parental pressure and yanked girls’ underwear that was printed with the words “Who needs credit cards…” on the front and “When you’ve got Santa” on the back.

While it’s easy to put the blame on stores, the real issue lies at home. I feel as if I’m constantly struggling with where and when to draw the boundary line. Is this worth picking a fight over? How about that? According to Sarah Murnen, PhD, a professor of psychology at Kenyon College, parents today face greater challenges than in the past because girls’ clothing has become more revealing. Her survey of popular shopping sites shows that a third of items were “sexualized,” including more than half of dresses and two-thirds of swimsuits. This trend is particularly alarming because her research indicates that when adults see girls dressed in sexualized clothing, they take them less seriously. “Teachers might be looking at these girls and assuming they aren’t intelligent,” she says. Still, it’s impossible for kids to withstand sophisticated efforts by corporations that prey on their desire to be popular, says Joyce McFadden, a psychoanalyst and the author of Your Daughter’s Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women. Parents can sometimes compound the problem. “We’re so afraid to talk honestly with our daughters about their sexuality that we end up leaving them out in the cold,” she says.

My wife, who selects the bulk of our daughters’ clothes in consultation with them, admits that she’s less concerned with what a particular dress or T-shirt says about the girls than with what the girls say for themselves. “My goal is to make them feel good when they go to school, so they can focus on what they have to say in class,” she explains. To do that, she prefers to let them pick out clothes they like, even if they’re a bit tight-fitting or short. About those outfits that set off alarm bells (not only with me, by the way, but with my mother- and sister-in-law too), she says, “My line might be drawn slightly differently from yours. I found those dresses to be a little mall rat, perhaps, but not risqué.”

But we agreed that we need to be more prepared for these battles in the future. So I came up with a few typical tween-teen retorts and then asked for expert advice on how to reply.

“Everybody does it.”

“Ooh, that’s a rough one,” McFadden says, “because it’s the precursor to ‘Well, Johnny is freebasing’ or ‘So-and-so gets to stay out until 4 in the morning.’ ” A little pushback—as in, “Well, in our family we do things differently”—is called for here. The critical step is for parents to make sure they are on the same page before approaching their children. Even so, “you’re going to have to compromise on some pieces of clothing,” says McFadden. “I had to give in on push-up bras with my tween. But don’t let these items take over her wardrobe.”

“It’s the only thing they sell.”

According to Sharon Lamb, EdD, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and co-author of Packaging Girlhood, children who make that observation actually have a point. “Still, it’s important to state your values,” she advises. “Say something like, ‘I don’t want to see you and your friends buying into these marketers’ schemes to sell teenage stuff to younger and younger kids. It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The marketers are the body snatchers, and I’m going to fight them!’ ”

“You’re such a square.”

Maybe, but parents need to embrace their old-fashioned standards, Murnen insists. “I told my daughter that I hope she develops a wonderful body image and a healthy sexuality but I don’t think that’s what sexy clothes are doing,” she says. Murnen went a step further and adjusted her own fashion choices. “I’m not a conservative person and I like attractive clothing,” she says. “But I’m careful not to wear styles with sexualizing characteristics because I do feel like I need to be a role model.”

“Mom wears these things, why not me?”

The smart answer is to point out to girls that as they get older, they will have more freedom to make their own decisions. But you’ve got to put your foot down for now. “This generation of parents are such sissies when it comes to setting boundaries,” says McFadden. “They concede to their children’s whims to make them happy, but those children have no internal compass. Limits are what make healthy, happy adults possible.”

“Fine, but I’m just going to change as soon as I get to school.”

When your daughters threaten to peel off layers once they leave the house, it’s time to redirect the conversation. “I would say, ‘I’m not interested in controlling what you wear, but I am interested in getting you thinking about what it means to be an attractive person,’ ” Lamb suggests. In fact, she often tells her college students that the species would die out if boys only wanted to have sex with girls who looked like Victoria’s Secret models. “We’re built to be attracted to people with different looks, personalities, talents, senses of humor and lots of wonderful things, she says.

So back to that family gathering and those barely-there dresses. Our girls were clearly flashing their approaching tweendom, and my wife quickly heeded the message. Shawls were procured, and their outfits instantly became more age- appropriate. A few weeks later, the three of them did a little hunting and located some websites that sold attractive clothing with more modest yet trendy-enough slogans: “I Love Music” and “Bee-You-Tiful” with a bumblebee.

Still, as we’ve been warned, the big battles are yet to come. McFadden encouraged me to stay strong. “Remember, you’re raising two young girls who are going to live a whole life,” she says. “Just because one episode doesn’t go well doesn’t mean an accumulation of similar messages won’t somehow trickle down. Be brave. Let them have the freedom they deserve, but still set guidelines that represent your values.”

When I first became a dad, I figured I would decide on a few core principles, state them firmly, and my children would know how to apply them. Now I realize I was wrong. I have to constantly find new, subtler ways to remind them what’s really important. Sexuality may be the most vivid example of this change. When I was growing up, parents thought the topic could be dispensed with by a single awkward sit-down about the birds and the bees. But these days, sexuality is everywhere. As a result, it’s no longer “The Talk” for parents; it’s a series of talks. It’s a conversation. And it can’t begin when the kids turn 12. By then, it’s too late. Our kids are already tuning us out.

In that way, I’m happy I had this first showdown with my daughters while they were still young enough to listen to me. If nothing else, we got
to practice what’s already becoming our little opera of daily life. They say, “I’m becoming a woman, Dad, hear me roar!” I say, “I’m a square, girls, but I can roar too!” And every now and then, I can even get them to smile, as long as I don’t rub it in that I can still make them laugh.

 

Bruce Feiler is a columnist for The New York Times and the author of the best-selling book The Secrets of Happy Families (William Morrow). 

 

Parenting Confessions: “Mom, Did You Ever Smoke Marijuana?”

Written on June 10, 2014 at 8:00 am , by

By Sue Sanders, author of Mom, I’m Not a Kid Anymore: Navigating 25 Inevitable Conversations That Arrive Before You Know It

“MOM, DID YOU EVER smoke marijuana?” my 11-year-old daughter, Lizzie, asked as we pulled up in our driveway, gravel crunching under the car’s wheels. Her question wasn’t totally out of the blue—we’d just passed a group of teenagers hanging out on our town’s main street, a smoky cloud hovering over them like a mass Schleprock—but I was still caught off guard. My husband muttered something unintelligible and darted from the car to let the dog out of the house. I sat, frozen with anxiety. Do I answer honestly? Or lie? Spinning possible answers like a roulette wheel in my mind, I opted for truth.

“Yes, I did. A long time ago, in high school.” I unclasped my seat belt and turned around to face her. Lizzie actually gasped. “Why?” she asked. She’s the type of kid who likes rules, the more of them the better.

And why indeed? I’d been curious, of course, but I also wanted, desperately, to escape my social awkwardness, the discomfort of living in a small southern city. That town fit me as well as the jeans I wore back then, so tight and claustrophobic that I had to lie down on my bed, exhale, close
my eyes and will myself smaller to zip them up. I guess I also wanted to see what I could get away with. (Quite a lot, it turned out.) Pot was forbidden and illegal—and sure to horrify my straitlaced parents. But mostly it was a social lubricant that greased my rusty social skills: The ritual of rolling a joint and passing it around a room of kids my own age was something I could spend hours doing.

Of course, I wasn’t going to tell Lizzie all this. I wanted to bare my soul but not get naked. I wanted to be candid with her, but I wanted my candor to be rated PG. So I simply told her I’d been curious. I admit, I gave it a little spin. I told her that way back then, marijuana wasn’t as strong as it is now and drug laws were different. I explained that kids can ruin their chances of getting into college or attaining a scholarship if they’re caught with drugs. And Lizzie already takes college, the concept, very seriously. She plans to study writing and cooking. This week, at least. (Not long ago, she wanted to be an elf.)

Shocked, Lizzie rushed into the house and raced over to her dad, shouting, “Did you know Mom smoked marijuana in high school!” He did.

Like so many other parenting challenges, this one thwacked me in the face. I’d been meaning to talk with Lizzie about drugs, I really had, but just never got around to it. Sure, I’d read articles about what you’re supposed to do. Then I’d forget, or get busy folding laundry, or my email would ding. Then again, maybe waiting for the perfect opportunity, the right teachable moment, to present itself is just another way of saying I was wrapped in my cocoon of denial and avoidance. Teachable moments have a way of playing hooky.

Later that night, after Lizzie and I had snuggled together and talked a little more about drugs—I’d asked her if she had any more questions, and she did—

I trawled the Internet, searching for parenting advice on various websites. And I discovered I’d apparently done everything wrong. I was supposed to bring up the subject of drugs way back when my sixth-grader was still in preschool, finger painting and sorting colorful plastic toy bears into muffin tins. I should have discussed “good drugs” versus “bad drugs” with her as I gave her a Children’s Tylenol or Motrin for her fever. I briefly berated myself for not reading more parenting books when Lizzie was younger. See, I’m not a big fan of “experts” telling me what to do— a residual and healthy distrust of authority from my adolescence—but I do believe these guides have their place: as kindling. While newly pregnant, I was given a popular book that forewarned me of all the things that could possibly go wrong with the baby I was carrying, arranged in a helpful trimester format of pure terror. I think it was called What You Expect to Go Wrong Will. But in bypassing this publishing industry of fear, had I missed out on the basic steps of parenting? Was I simply Doing It Wrong?

I closed the parenting website and opened Facebook. It was time to lean on my most trusted source of parenting advice—my friends. And so I posted a status update, a query, asking how other parents talked to their kids about drugs. The postings poured in. Most said they favored being honest about their history and discussing the legal and health ramifications. They warned me off any Reefer Madness fervor or hard-line demand of “Don’t ever do it.” Back in high school, I’d been on the receiving end of “Don’t ever do it.” I can personally attest that approach didn’t work. I didn’t “don’t ever do it,” quite a lot.

All of which confirmed what I already knew. It was better to trust my friends—and myself—than “experts” for commonsense parenting advice. Besides, there seems to be a new expert or parenting philosophy every time I flip open the newspaper or log on to my computer. I won’t always discount what they have to say. But as parents, we have to trust our guts too. Because you can’t plan for every question, and the questions come fast.

The other day, while I was having lunch, Lizzie came into the dining room, face furrowed, and asked, “What’s a virgin?” Choking on my seltzer, I asked what she meant. She went into the kitchen, came back with a container and pointed. “It says right here: virgin lemonade.”

 

This article first appeared in Salon.com.  An online version remains in the Salon archives. Reprinted with permission. 

 

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4th of July Gear For Your Pets

Written on June 5, 2014 at 12:00 am , by

By Cristina Corvino

Red, white and blue fur-ever. Let your pets in on the patriotic fun with a simple accessory or an all-out Uncle Sam costume. They’ll be dressed in their Fourth-of-July best!

Pose your pets in their finest red, white and blue gear and share the snapshots with us on social media, using the hashtag #FCPETS.

 

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