Thank God my mother isn’t pro-abortion; otherwise I might not be here. “You’re almost 37,” the doctor told her, “are you sure you want to start all over again?” When that line of thinking comes from a woman who declares she never wants kids, it’s selfish. When it comes from a medical professional, it’s crass. It’s downright evil when it comes from a politician. And when it comes from a supposedly non-profit bureaucrat defending “women’s health” it’s horrifying.
After listening to Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards defend the actions of her employees, including the facial dissection of living babies for their brains, Congress passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. President Obama vows to veto that bill along with another one that bans the murder of babies born alive after an unsuccessful abortion. I can’t decide who he’s a bigger fan of, Josef Mengele or Ted Bundy. Onan Coca refers to Obama as “one of the most ardently pro-death politicians our nation has ever seen”. And Obama has a slew of Americans, women included, supporting him in his deathly endeavors.
At least most abortion advocates are women who don’t want children in the first place. Good. Don’t conceive them. Because once you do and you choose to destroy your creation, you’ve transitioned from selfish to destructive, from narcissistic to nihilistic. You’ve admitted that nothing really matters, and when nothing really matters, you don’t really matter, either. Comedian Margaret Cho referred to an unborn life as a “clump of cells”. If we follow that line of thinking, so is she. Therefore, what gives her any more right to live than that aborted child? Nothing. And when “nothing” is your ethos, Death isn’t merely at your doorstep; it’s already been invited in for a cup of tea.
For all of those folks outraged at Ann Coulter’s “f-ing Jews” Tweet during the last Republican debate, I have one simple question: Where were you in 2007 when Ann Coulter expressed the belief that Jews needed to be “perfected” into Christians? There are two cardinal sins goyim can commit: Using the phrase “f-ing Jews” and proclaiming a belief that Jews need to convert to Christianity. Ann has broken both. So, what’s the difference between 2007’s offense and today’s?
Apparently, timing is everything.
My good friend and former editor David Swindle’s theory goes something like this: Ann is both comedian and pundit, using sharp wit to draw attention in order to extrapolate upon a political point. Sure enough, Ann responded to her viral critics with an attempt to start a discussion on Republican pandering towards Israel. Hers is a point well made: Republicans constantly pay lip service to Israel in an attempt to woo Evangelicals and Orthodox Jews. However, the reality is that Israel is a drop on their bucket list of political priorities. Israel is a budgetary line item best mentioned in the press during counter-attacks on peacenik Democrats. What’s worse, Ann’s f-bomb or W’s support of the Gaza pullout and subsequent election of a Hamas government in 2005?
But that was then and this is now, an era in which we receive and express outrage in 140 characters or less. Which is why the 2004 study illustrating a link between illegal immigration and anti-Israel views tweeted by Ann was sadly ignored. An essential point missed because, like, what does Israel have to do with Mexico? Most conservatives are too busy connecting Ann with Donald Trump and Donald Trump trends higher than Israel and Mexico combined.
Which leads one to ask, was Ann’s “f-ing Jews” a clever way to address the Republican/Israel/immigration trifecta by feeding off of the buzz created by Trump’s anti-Semitic supporters? Perhaps. The woman is in tune with the conservative world, after all, and let’s admit her timing couldn’t have been more precise. As a Jew I’ll agree that the phrase “f-ing Jews” is the equivalent of the N-word: You just don’t say it. To paraphrase Walter Sobchak, 5,000 years of persecution, you better believe you don’t drop the term “f-ing Jews.” But, I’ll also agree with my fellow Jewish conservative Ben Shapiro: Ann Coulter is still a better supporter of Israel than the pro-Obama Jewish hypocrites currently mocking her. And that is another point lost in the mire of the f-bomb.
The day I came across this Tweet referencing this Gallup poll titled “Majority Say Moral Values Getting Worse“:
The age of Obama has led to a real sea change in moral attitudes in a variety of areas. https://t.co/PuAUSa5VsE
— Avi Woolf (@AviWoolf) September 7, 2015
I also came across this story picked up by IMRA titled “On the Eve of the Jewish New Year, PM Netanyahu and his Wife Sara Host a Meeting of the Tanakh Study Circle at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.” The account of a politician’s Bible study reads, in part:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I am pleased to see you all here, including the President of the Supreme Court. Whoever participates, or has participated, in this Circle on a regular basis knows that I once said that the Tanakh is the rock of our existence. Simply put, there is no other significance to our being here without our link to our land and to his book. I read it every Shabbat, with my son if he is on vacation or without him if he is not. I draw great inspiration from it. We are presently finishing the Book of Deuteronomy. After it comes the Book of Joshua. The custom that I have with Avner is that after we finish the weekly Torah and Haftara readings, we simply read sections from the Tanakh. It always reflects on contemporary events. It always touches on the present and on the eternal life of humanity in general and our people in particular.
It is important to me that Israeli children read the Tanakh and establish their knowledge of our culture and our heritage, which are the story of faith, history and morality between man and man and between man and G-d, morality for all humanity. This is first and foremost.
I say this at a time when there is a contrary trend among the nations of the world, a trend that would continue to deny our rights and our link to this land and indeed to life.
What Netanyahu cites as a “global trend” I see on clear display in American politics. I see it in the Iran deal. I see it in Obama’s condemnation of Democrats who support Israel. I see it in the president’s brash lecturing of American Jews regarding their support of Israel. I see it in the federal government’s involvement in Israeli elections and the BDS movement. I even see it in the vicious sentiments of Donald Trump supporters. Anti-Israelism is on full display here in the United States. Anyone who argues to the contrary has their head buried in the sand.
What those of us who recognize this fail to ask is why. Why do our leaders feel so free to establish a culture of hatred towards Israel, so much so that they’re willing to negotiate with fascist dictators and spend millions of tax dollars intervening in foreign elections to prove their point? This is where that Gallup poll comes into play. Our morality has spiraled downward at a rapid pace, that is for sure. So, what do morality and Israel have in common? The Bible.
We, as a nation, have forgotten the Bible. Not that long ago, my mother’s Silent Generation would read from it every morning in public school. A simple Psalm, a prayer to a non-denominational Judeo-Christian God. This is the same God called on repeatedly by America’s founders and cited by great leaders like Abraham Lincoln who made it a point to draw political wisdom from Biblical text. “A house divided against itself shall not stand,” the Great Emancipator once quoted from Proverbs. We have forgotten this, the core of our cultural being known simply as the Word of God. As a result we have become a nation divided against our very self and this is why we’re falling.
This past weekend, the Duggars’ pastor, Ronnie Floyd, preached a sermon about Josh. Go figure. In it the pastor, who previously defended the eldest Duggar’s molestation of his sisters with the statement, “things like [the scandal] have happened before and will happen again,” explained that Josh’s infidelities via the Ashley Madison website were the result of a “sexual epidemic” in the country. “Sexual epidemic” is an absurd phrase, as absurd as the notion that molestation can be chalked off as an action, like infidelity, that happens every day. Babies are born every day. Just ask the Duggars. Are they perpetrators of a baby epidemic as well?
But, I digress. The pastor’s poor verbiage is only symptomatic of the real problem at hand, something I’ll dub the “fundamentalist epidemic” that we’re all vulnerable to, religious and secular alike. Anna Duggar recently stated that she’s taking part of the blame for her husband’s cheating ways. Why? Because her fundamentalist church has taught her that she didn’t put out enough, so her husband had to seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere. For the record, when a spouse pursues sexual fulfillment outside the bonds of marriage, that’s grounds for divorce. You don’t just get to go get your jollies on and come home to your wife and kids. If your wife legitimately isn’t satisfying your needs, you divorce her and move on. You don’t establish multiple accounts with a kinky cheater’s website while your wife is at home tending to your brood. I guess Anna’s pastor missed that line in the Bible.
Anna Duggar’s fundamentalist views have done nothing more than inflame feminist fundamentalists who point to her as yet another example of how the Bible holds women back. This is as equally absurd a notion as Duggar’s. If you want to have a real debate over a wife’s Biblical responsibilities to her husband, start with the fact that a Biblical marriage is a legally binding contractual affair with provisions that protect both partners equally and provide for a wife’s financial future in case of divorce. The Bible doesn’t force a wife to be her husband’s sex slave. Yet, what the Bible actually states about marriage and adultery and divorce doesn’t even surface in the debate. Why? Because it is easier to argue opinions – that is, man-made fundamentals – instead of facts.
But, if we focused on the facts, the story would be null and void. And this is juicy stuff. Sex always is. Not because it is an epidemic in and of itself as Pastor Ronnie would like us to believe, but because human depravity is an epidemic inherent from birth. Didn’t he read his Bible? Christians believe in redemption as a Biblical fact. But, in this instance, even redemption is subject to the romantic whims of the human mind. So-called advocates of Biblical marriage and “redemption” believe Anna is right to try to save her marriage. The Bible says otherwise, but that wouldn’t make for as good a story. Romantics have fueled the success of bodice-rippers for centuries; Josh and Anna are just the latest stars in the genre, this time with a Christian twist.
The Duggars set out to be a shining example of fundamentalist Christian living. In the end, they only managed to exemplify the fact that fundamentalism, in all forms, sells. The Bible instructs, “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” The media thrive on this concept, waiting to pounce on the sin because sin is an attractive justification to our depraved souls. After all, as Pastor Ronnie said, it’s happened before and it will happen again. That’s one fundamental you can count on.
Elaine requests, “In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Hillary Clinton”.
One line tucked into the bottom of a rather extensive, surprisingly impressive obituary of a New Jersey woman who passed before her time has caught the national eye.
And they say everyone in New Jersey votes Democrat.
Elaine Fydrych was a lifelong actress who pursued the theater at the expense of a burgeoning stand-up career. But, as it turns out, she wound up getting the last laugh on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This “loving daughter,” “beloved wife” and “devoted mother” went out with a bang. While her childhood appearance on the Philadelphia kids’ show Chief Halftown may have only garnered her local success, she will forever be a national name after her obit hit the Internet.
Elaine’s last words have taken political activism to a newer, more impressive height. It isn’t every day someone despises a candidate enough to incorporate their failure into a dying request. Kudos to her family for having the guts to print it. Then again, they probably want to leave the haunting done by Elaine’s discontented spirit to the denizens of the South Jersey area who don’t take her advice. Or, perhaps, to Hillary’s tour bus. After all, spirits can travel right to the source.
Personally, I would’ve aimed for Sanders, Trump and Bush in that order before Hillary. But she’s as good a target as any. The feminist mafia’s inevitable assertion of Elaine’s lack of sisterhood spirit will take on an especially creepy undertone. I’m sure Steinem will pull out her Ouija Board to address Ms. Fydrych personally. My guess is her manicured hands will be directed to the letters “H-A” at least twice over.
Dear Ms. Elaine Fydrych, wherever you are (personally I believe it is quite heavenly in your locale), thank you for giving us all a good chuckle.
Two Israeli app creators have claimed to develop the solution to the growing disillusionment with the false pretenses of social media: Angels Nearby. According to the Times of Israel:
Among the tools Angels Nearby employs is a search engine that connects people based on the type of help needed (lifts, loans, housing or feeding newcomers to town, etc.), “trust level” (everyone, Facebook friends only, friends of friends), and location (within 15 minutes travel time, etc.). Users seeking assistance type in the kind of help they need – home, kids, travel, pets, etc., and then their specific need.
Favor recipients can connect with the appropriate people offering assistance, choosing them based on trust level (for example, helpers with higher point ratings are assumed to be more competent and trustworthy; users are expected to use common sense before handing over their address to a helper).
The system operates based mainly on the willingness of the users to answer a call for help. While users earn points by a ratings system, there is no financial reward for those involved. Only active for a few months, the app already has a few thousand users in Israel. But, can an app really become “the go-to resource for community assistance and connection” its creators claim it will be?
The app’s potential really lies in the context of the culture in which it is used. Israelis are famous for being extraordinarily helpful to their neighbors. Aliyah stories are loaded with accounts of relative strangers pitching in to help out wherever needed. Israeli college professors made news earlier this year with their willingness not only to welcome students’ children into the classroom, but to help soothe them during lectures. Is it any wonder that an app geared toward volunteers would quickly garner so many users in a culture geared towards helping others in need?
How would this app fair in your neck of the woods?
Formerly Orthodox, still Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu was denied the ability to perform at the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Spain because he refused to endorse Palestinian statehood. According to the Times of Israel:
Festival organizers were driven by intense pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the reports said. Artists scheduled to perform at the event threatened to cancel their appearances if Matisyahu were to perform because he was “seen to represent Israel.”
The organizers gave Matisyahu an ultimatum, telling him if he would “sign such a declaration [publicly affirming his support for the Palestinians, he] can perform,” according to Spanish daily, El Pais (Spanish Link).
Although not Israeli, Matisyahu has visited and performed in the Jewish state multiple times.
In a statement on Facebook, Rototom organizers said that the move was linked to “the festival’s sensitivity to Palestine, its people and the occupation of its territory by Israel.”
The front page of the Valencia-based festival’s website features a two-and-a-half hour video on pro-Palestinian activists holding Palestinian flags and decrying Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Did you catch that? Matisyahu is Jewish, not Israeli. In other words, this wasn’t just about Israel, the pressure coming from the BDS movement targets Jews regardless of their nationality. The Spanish connotation, in this instance, adds the cherry to the creepy sundae. When flamingly liberal Jews like Jeffrey Goldberg observe, “In Spain, Jews are apparently still made to profess beliefs they don’t have,” you know there’s a serious problem.
In a statement responding to the incident, Matisyahu wrote in part, “Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements. Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform?”
John Podhoretz remarked, “There will be more of these loyalty oaths demanded of Jews–loyalties to anti-Zionism.”
Americans, by and large, tend to ignore the European music scene. After all, we’re the influencers of their pop culture. And it isn’t as if the Spice Girls were going to re-unite on this stage. Although this seems like a relative blip in music news, the ramifications are huge when it comes to the pushback against the BDS movement. Finally, overwhelming evidence exists that BDS isn’t just an Israel thing, isn’t just a movement against religious radicals in the desert. BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that targets Jews outright. Once again, Europe is caving to the fascists. Pray America does not.
According to State of Digital, the Internet is dumbing-down our kids:
At the age of just five, more than 50% of American children habitually use a computer or tablet device, while 95% of those aged 12 to 17 years regularly access the internet, spending more time online than their parents or teachers. 80% of American teens are active on social media.
Why should we care about how kids receive information these days? Because it affects everything, their future and ours. Attention spans are dropping and information overload is leading to a lack of comprehension of the deeper subject. 94% of US teachers confirm that students associate “research” with trawling Google and other search engines with Wikipedia cited by 75% of teachers as a source for their material.
No one wants to wait any more. Time is a drug and the need to feel satiated is of the essence. Why waste it on research, let alone synthesis? Isn’t that what Google is for? Not just to provide quick and easy (if incredibly inaccurate) answers, but to tell us how and what to think about our research topic as well? I remember the days when using Cliff’s Notes was considered cheating. Today, the employment of user-created “resources” like Wikipedia in the classroom aren’t only justified, they’re encouraged!
It isn’t just kids who seek out instant gratification thanks to our Internet-driven culture. Big sellers like Amazon are electing to publish the equivalent of virtual pulp in order to rake in the dough in short-term sales. Commenting on this “BS Machine” (BS, in this case, standing for “best-seller”) is author Ursula K. Le Guin:
“The readability of many best sellers is much like the edibility of junk food,” she writes. Nicely extending the metaphor, she warns of the effect of the books we consume: “I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese.”
In terms of education, the BS machine stands for something far more familiar, and horrifying than best-seller. An entire generation is being raised in the BS mindset, leading one to question (among other things) if Mike Judge didn’t have a prophetic moment when he penned Idiocracy.
In an interview promoting his new book The Intuitive Parent, Dr. Stephen Camarata balks at “…the marketing frenzy aimed at ensuring educational success, the neuroscience of learning and the heightened anxiety that has made parenting today a competitive sport.”
Quite frankly, it’s a refreshing read coming from the world of academia.
Camarata, a father of 7, advocates for old-school style parenting. You know, the kind of thing moms and dads did in the era before technology, when salvation was achieved through the embodiment of morals and values not benchmarks and scientific research. This kind of parenting, which Camarata refers to as “intuitive” is fairly logical: Get to know your kids.
Whether or not it is simple may be another matter entirely. In contemporary households where both parents (if present) are working, it has become easier to rely on an iPad or an extracurricular activity to keep a child occupied. “Occupying time” has replaced good old fashioned family quality time. Why should your kid spend time with you when they could be learning, even if it is from a machine? After all, learning is key, right? Academic success is how they’ll grow up to be successful adults, right?
This philosophy has led parents often view their child’s academic achievement as evidence that they are performing well as parents. Critical of much of what public education offers in terms of style and demand, Camarata notes:
Teaching children in an assembly line fashion doesn’t work. Children are not Toyotas or Nissans. Because schools are struggling, there’s more and more pressure to regularize things, which makes the situation worse.
Parents, he notes, are often the ones doing the homework that proves too difficult just so their child can maintain a good academic record. The question then becomes, who is the judge of this child’s abilities, let alone the arbiter of the parents’ validation? The teacher of course, and by extension, the public school system. Scary thought, indeed.
Camarata is right: It’s time to get back to our roots and focus on the success of our families. You know, the kind that can’t be measured via an interim report.
As a Gen-X/Millennial crossover, I have a number of friends who claim they don’t want children of their own. None of them can give a solid reason why. Most of them express fear of puking while pregnant or screwing their kid up for life as if they’re living in a television-reality of their own making. Some of their reasons are echoed among the 11 reasons Millennials don’t want kids according to Mic.com, along with a few even nuttier explanations as to why young folks are just too darned practical to procreate.
Numbers 2 and 3 seem to be intertwined:
2. There’s a strong fear of passing down mental health issues.
3. The population is already out of control.
Who knew the global warming crowd would be an effective method of birth control? Forget the fact that the birth rate in the Western world has steadily decreased as social and economic pressures have forced women into the workplace. Cecil the Lion was killed and there’s a hole in the ozone! Stop birthing this plague called humanity now! (And make an appointment with your shrink for a refill while you’re at it.)
Then, of course, there’s the massive “pressure” that comes with having children (obviously we’re not talking the ring of fire here):
6. With kids comes the pressure to make perfect choices.
Pressure from whom? Your buddies on Instagram? The trendy Kim Kardashian? Your mother-in-law? And now we suddenly know why a generation has decided to camp out in their parents’ basements: They listened to all those pro-failure speeches at graduation and are convinced they might as well not even try. Hence,
8. The world isn’t always a nice place.
Say the people who define humanity as the #1 killer of the planet.
In the end, the most “brutally honest” reason why Millennials don’t want kids?
11. Ultimately, a reason shouldn’t even be necessary.
And I thought Gen-X was supposed to be the slacker generation. In one line you’re worrying about what everyone else thinks and in another you’re claiming not to give a damn? If you’re that ambivalent you shouldn’t have children. Kids need role models and apparently some Millennials just don’t make the cut.
My husband is a huge tech geek. Therefore, as soon as we started talking about having kids he began researching what he thought was the obvious: Baby monitors, of course. And the stroller/car seat combo along with any other device that had convert-to-age capabilities. Before this child was in my womb he’d already made his shopping list. And apparently he’s not alone.
If you want a glimpse inside your man’s head during pregnancy, because God knows he’s not going to share his roller coaster of emotions with you, check out Instafather.com. A thoughtful combination of practical Dad advice, how-to’s and product reviews, Instafather provides free subscribers with email updates featuring a slew of well-researched information. The best part: It’s written in manspeak. No leaky boobs, no stress hormones: We’re talking the practical side of baby raising, with a fair share of compassion for mom thrown in along with a dose of humor for good measure.
My personal favorite is the Expectant Father Toolkit, an A-Z covering the basic products every Dad should make sure he has on hand. From Butt Paste to “wearable baby gear” (“I use it to get dishes and vacuuming done, but it’s also perfect for a mall or Lowe’s!”), this 101 guide covers the stuff he probably hasn’t already thought of, but will relish using.
What’s behind the site? Curator Andy Shaw explains:
What’s going to help? My handy, super useful (and funny) resources I put together after I did all the legwork for you. I’ve read the books and best articles, studied the “Top Lists”, and narrowed it down to the info you’ll most benefit from. My quick background: I’m a journalist, digital market, comedian, and dad of three (twins in May 2015!), so this content is combining the best of everything I do.
Shaw also has a keen understanding of what it really means to be a Dad: “BEING A DAD IS VITAL TO THE VERY CORE OF YOUR BEING BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE DEPENDS ON YOU TO THE VERY CORE OF THEIR OWN.” Ladies, read the entire article with a tissue in your hand. Then give your hubs a hug. Underneath that grown up version of rough and tumble boyhood is a really mature guy who is so excited to have a baby that he can’t help but want to do it all right.
Make my time their time.
For most of my childhood my father worked 60 hours a week. I’d see him for about 10 minutes each morning, a 45 minute dinner hour and as I grew older, for a few minutes before bed 5 days a week. Regardless of how much house work he had to catch up on during the weekends, he always made time to hang out with me and keep a tab on my life and my interests. His lunch hours were spent picking up albums for me at record stores or printing off web pages for me to check out before we had an Internet connection of our own at home. Despite his hectic work schedule I never once felt ignored, let alone forgotten.
Know when to hold them close…
One of my earliest sense memories of my father involves me standing at the bathroom sink, him behind me helping to scrub my hands after we’d built something in his garage workshop. Later those rough-hewn hands would take the time to give me a hug before my mother packed him off to the ER because he couldn’t breathe. He instinctively knew to reassure me before they left that I knew he’d be all right. Never let teenagers fool you into thinking your presence as a parent no longer matters. Even as we transition into adulthood we still want you there for everything that matters.
…and when to push them out of the nest.
Jaded by a lousy public school experience, I had no interest in even attempting college. Not only did my father find a major that piqued my interest, he did all the research and demanded that I move out of the house to live on campus. “You need to get out into the world. It’s time,” he said, point-blank. And he was right. College wound up being one of the best experiences of my life and the place where I met my future husband who is, in many ways, bizarrely like my father.
Always stay positive.
Everything has a bright side and every opportunity is an adventure. Even when hard work is involved or challenges are persistent, there’s always something to think positively about in my Dad’s playbook. Do you know how hard it is to manage that kind of attitude as a voting adult, let alone a parent with two jobs, a mortgage and college educations to pay for? Yet, the older I get the more the jaded cynicism of my youth gives way to the comforting ease of happiness exuded by my father …even if it was after a rant or two about taxes.
Take joy in my own talents and abilities.
My father could have been a professional singer. Instead, when presented with the opportunity to audition in front of some fairly influential people, he decided he’d better stick to his day job for the sake of his wife and kids. Nevertheless, he always managed to take joy in his talents, whether by participating in the local community players or simply singing at the top of his lungs in the shower. He developed enough of a local reputation to have more than one person approach him to inquire if he’d sing at their family event. And when he belted out Sunrise, Sunset at my own wedding the crowd stood in awe. “Hey, can we rewind this thing?” he asked when watching my wedding video. “I want to see my part again.” There is nothing wrong in taking joy in who God made you to be.
At my age, when friends announce that they are pregnant with twins, my surprise has been replaced the reaction, “Oh, they did IVF.” #40
— Miss JMV (@MonsoonPuma) June 15, 2015
I can’t think of one friend who willingly had kids in their twenties. They say the average age of a first-time mom is 26. Take a look around an OB’s waiting room and you’ll see why: the two prime demographics are either unwed mothers in their late teens/early 20s, or women nearing 40. Caught in the middle, my Gen-X/millennial crossover crowd is busy hearing their biological clocks tick. While we’re happy we didn’t dive into parenthood right after college, we don’t want to make the mistake of pushing babies off until they’re a near-impossibility either.
The fear of waiting too long to have children bears more consequence than the potential stresses of IVF. According to “Katrina Alcorn, author of the bestselling Maxed out: American Moms on the brink, … women who delayed having kids ‘to try to get a foothold in their careers or to get some financial stability’ are being pushed beyond their limits as they struggle with work-life balance and the the additional burdens that mid-life brings.”
When my mother had me at nearly 37 she was considered an anomaly. Today, she’d be 9 times more likely to be the norm. While they didn’t have to wrestle with the stresses of simultaneously caring for elderly parents and children the way Gen-X does today, my parents did face their challenges. Cultivating the energy to keep up with a young child is a task that gets harder with age. While it was nice to have a 12 -year break between college tuitions, they also had to raise the equivalent of two “only children” instead of siblings closer in age who could keep each other busy. The challenges of late-in-life parenting also have longterm consequences. Today’s 40-something crowd will, like my parents, wait nearly 20 years longer than most to become grandparents. If they’re still around.
The grand irony in the decision to wait until near 40 to have a child is in the finances, or lack thereof. Most couples, whether they are careerists or simply budget conscious, held off on having children because of the expense. Now, thanks to the Grand Recession, the burden of elder care, and the cost of childcare outpacing salary increments, all their hard work saving has pretty much been for naught. Like most in our generation whose early careers were greatly impacted by the economic crash in ’08, my husband and I had endless conversations about how we were going to manage to afford kids, let alone the stay-at-home lifestyle I wanted in order to raise them. In the end we always came to the same conclusion: We could easily scare ourselves out of having kids. What was better, pragmatism or pessimism? Fear or fearlessness?
40 isn’t too old to be a first-time parent. But why wait that long?
— 5minutesformom (@5minutesformom) June 13, 2015
The other day I came across a “Consequence Chart” when surfing parenting Tweets. It’s a simple list detailing consequences for various actions taken and it’s meant to hang in a common area of the home as a contractual reminder of punishments for childhood crimes like “using unacceptable words” and “disrespect.” It reminded me of the many corporate flowcharts I viewed during my 9-5 working days in HR. Thinking of those made me impulsively shudder. The last thing I want is for my kids to feel like they’re going into the office every day.
Which is probably also why I have quickly developed a near-seething hatred for “apps that teach your kids time management skills” like the one featured in Paranoia — er, I mean Parents magazine. Why does your 6 year old need a device when all you have to do is say, “It’s time to…”? Since when does a kid that young need to learn how to manage their time independently? Since kindergartens have become “skill-and-drill” factories in which free, imaginative play is sacrificed for the sake of academic excellence. After all, time management is a skill working mommies and daddies both have to excel at, so why shouldn’t junior, too?
In fact, working parents already acculturated to the corporate lifestyle crave parenting styles that provide a businesslike structure in the home. Along with contractual charts and educational apps, there is the infamous calendar containing a schedule loaded with color-coded blocks for before and after-care, playdates, homework time, extracurricular activities and social events. Parents used to having to overbook in order to achieve in a corporate environment have no problem pushing their kids into a high-paced bevy of activities in order to “keep up” with their peers and get smarter, faster. Some parents are so desperate to give their kids every “experience” on the book that they’re crowdsourcing funds to pay for it.
The question becomes, when did parents cease to be parents and begin being bosses of their own children? When is the last time you felt comfortable having a heart-to-heart about your bad day with your boss? The answer is, never. And if you’re the boss of your child, they’re not going to be comfortable expressing themselves to you, either. Being managed doesn’t equate to being happy. Nor, in fact, does it equate to being successful later in life. In fact, the primary accomplishment of corporate parenting is to bring more stress into the home, not less, for kids and parents alike.
Everything about our life together changed the minute we learned we were pregnant. The obvious changes were welcome ones. Loads of much-needed gifts, the rearranging of rooms, the changing of jobs so I could be the work-from-home mom I always wanted to be. Those weren’t the issue. It was all the seemingly mundane unexpected changes that seemed to carve us into being parents instead of just husband and wife.
9. The Sleepless Nights Start Now.
Around 5:45 one morning my husband dragged himself out of bed and got dressed for work. “Did you need to go in early?” I mumbled, half incoherent after yet another night of on-again, off-again, my-leg-is-numb-again sleep. No, he didn’t. He just couldn’t sleep, either. We were less than four weeks out from our due date and he’s busting a move at work to get things done in anticipation of his upcoming “vacation.” Because this is what you spend your vacation time on when you get pregnant: The baby that’s due any day.
8. Mommy-to-Be Builds Her First Nest in Bed.
Besides, 2 feet of bed space to move around in didn’t exactly bode him a good night’s sleep, either. It was easier to get up and go to work than to wrestle with the pillow fortress that had become my pregnant body’s nest during these last, huge months. We called it practice for dealing with a newborn’s sleep schedule.
7. You’ve Gone from Budget-Conscious to Budget-Paranoid.
Conversations about possible vacation locales now ended with, “It’ll be great to take the baby there when they get older.” Suddenly money was not meant to be wasted on fun. Food shopping becomes an adventure in coupon clipping. By month 5 we decided to avoid browsing the baby aisle, since price comparing diapers left us both in a bit of a panic.
6. Friends Are a Distant Memory.
We began seeing less and less of our friends. It started out with having to somehow get out of a dinner party invite thanks to my all-day-sickness. We weren’t ready to make the big announcement, so I had to claim a virus. Later on, rejections came in the form of, “I’m sorry, but my feet won’t allow me to stand on them for more than 10 minutes at a time,” or “I don’t think my body will fit into your apartment for that massive reunion.”
One of the first discussions we had as new parents involved how we were going to introduce technology to our child. For my husband, a computer geek and career engineer, the immediate desire was to get his kid pushing buttons fast. Suddenly he was ready to change cell providers just to get a more rugged phone that could be gnawed on or dropped repeatedly.
Then I gave him a quick quiz. How much screen time is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for children 2 and under? If you answered anything greater than zero, you’re wrong. Sorry, worn out parents of toddlers needing distractions in the supermarket, handing them your iPhone may cause more problems than it solves.
Recent statistics from Canada show that while 70% of preschoolers met recommended physical activity guidelines, that number shot down drastically to 7% of 5-11 year-olds and a meager 5% of 12-17 year-olds. Why? Because these kids are hooked on screens. And who can blame them? Most houses today have at least 2 televisions, 2 personal computing devices, and 2 smartphones readily at hand. Is it any wonder that Great Outdoors Colorado is spending $25 million this summer to get kids “off the couch and outside playing”?
The grand irony in all of this is that Steve Jobs, the man whose company revolutionized smart technology, didn’t permit his own kids to play with iPads. Neither do most parents in Silicon Valley, who prefer sending their children to schools like Steiner Waldorf “which exclude screen time before the age of 12 in favour of physical activity, art and experiential learning.”
Our grandmothers were blessed with a simple trip to the doctor and a confirmation 10 days later with a polite, “See you in nine months.” Today we’re slammed with monthly, bi-monthly and eventually weekly doctor or midwife appointments, several rounds of bloodwork and ultrasounds, and let’s not forget the bevy of paranoia-inducing information from family, friends, books and the infamous court of public opinion known as the Internet.
Whether you’re a pregnant mum or an expecting dad, here’s what I’ve learned that will spare you feeling overwhelmed so you can skip straight to the joys of pregnancy.
20. Enjoy sex.
I’m not saying you’ll stop having sex. In fact, sex can be a great way to induce labor in a healthy pregnancy if you’re at or over term. Just be willing to get really creative about it. And just start repeating the mantra, “The baby is asleep in the other room,” now. Mom, you’re going to feel the baby move while you’re getting it on. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it funny. But your guy won’t. Mentioning it might just send him to therapy.
19. Make room for baby.
You have a lot of stuff that you don’t need. Let it go. The more you bond with your baby, the less attached you are to pretty much everything else, making it super-easy to conquer any lingering nostalgia. Remember: A new tenant is moving in and they’ll be bringing their stuff with them. Lots and lots of really cute stuff that needs lots and lots of space.
18. Pack away your beloved breakables to share with your baby when they’re older.
Come across a family heirloom or precious collectible you can’t wait to share with your 12 year old? Put it in a clearly marked box in a safe space where you can see it, but they can’t. You’ll thank yourself in ten years.
17. Take some bump photos.
We didn’t do this religiously, but it was pretty cool when my hubby layered the photos to see how much baby and I had grown over the course of 9 months. It also makes all those, “My God, you’re getting huge!” comments a lot easier to handle. Remember, girls: when it comes to pregnancy size is an achievement!
16. Indulge in a magazine (or two, or three) that has nothing to do with being a mommy.
Sure, you can’t fit into those clothes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them. And the shoes. All the gorgeous, strappy, stiletto-heeled shoes…
Around week 20 I admitted to my midwife that I was taking some serious naps during the day. “Is that normal?” She looked at me like I was crazy. “This is your first, right?” When I nodded, she nearly laughed. “Enjoy it while you can!” Girl, if you have the time, take it. If you don’t, make it. Rest up and give your body the best chance to handle the workout that is labor. Just remember to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re feeling abnormally tired as that is a key sign of iron deficiency, a very common occurrence in pregnancy.
14. Establish family quality time with your partner.
Babies aren’t half as patient or forgiving of late work hours, household projects, or girls’ nights out as are two grown adults. Instead of waiting for baby to arrive, begin establishing time each day to spend together with baby. It’s a great way for daddy to interact with his little one who needs to hear his voice and feel his touch as well. It didn’t take long for our babe to perk up in anticipation of family time, stretch towards Daddy’s voice, and respond to our mutual touch.
13. Revisit your own childhood.
Make a list of all the great things you want to re-live with your kids. Toys, movies, day trips and the like. In certain ways you really do get to be a kid again when you have one of your own. Only this time you’re the one making all the decisions. It really is the best of both worlds.
12. Decide what you want to pass along.
You and your partner are now going to be integrating traditions from two different households. Have great parenting styles or cultural traditions you want to pass along? Talk about it now so a plan is in place when baby arrives. Kids don’t care what you do, they care how you do it. Stability is key. Get the negotiating (and the fighting) out of the way now.
11. Discuss with your partner what you want to do differently.
My mother’s best advice on parenting: “Parents are adults who have kids.” No one is magical or perfect. Admitting that there are things you’d do differently from your own parents doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it just means you are your own person. Don’t hesitate to take the meat and leave the bones when it comes to making your own parenting decisions.
So, some so-called feminist wrote a “scathing” review of Jurassic World in the Daily Beast, accusing the film of being overtly sexist because it features a corporate bitch who discovers her mothering instinct in the midst of rescuing her two nephews from an onslaught of wild dinosaurs. Let’s make one thing clear: If that woman existed in real life and pulled a car off her child, as women have the innate power to do when their child’s life is in danger, she’d be a hero. If she’s a Hollywood character, however, she’s just a figment — oh, sorry, “construct” — of the sexist male imagination. Pardon me while I hit the snooze button and roll over.
Before you get your anti-feminist panties in a bunch, here’s the bottom line: It’s sexy for American feminists (contemporary feminists, Western feminists — whatever we want to call the non-Paglia, non-Hoff Sommers crowd) to criticize Hollywood’s portrayal of women. Why? Because 90% of the mainstream audience doesn’t listen to a word these critics say about sexism, stereotypes or constructs. They do, however, get easily distracted by pop culture like children (or dogs) staring at shiny objects.
Case in point: Put Ayaan Hirsi Ali in front of a crowd to talk FGM and see how long it takes them to whip out their smartphones to see what Kim Kardashian is up to. Feminism has to be a First World Problem if it wants to get ratings on this side of the globe. Yazidis jumping from cliffs to avoid forced marriages and sex slavery at the hands of ISIS? Too heady. Too political. Too scary. Chris Pratt getting a woman hot and bothered for motherhood? Now that’s something people will click on. In fact, most women will click on it in the hopes of seeing, well, Chris Pratt.
What the Daily Beast feminists and their compatriots willfully choose to ignore time and time again is that Hollywood is a business. Action franchises are the only vehicles making money at the box office. What is Jurassic World but Indiana Jones meets dinosaurs? And why not? It is a Spielberg piece, after all. Notice the well-timed buzz regarding Indy’s resurrection with Pratt at the helm, a rumor started just as Jurassic World was about to be released? Indiana Jones, the franchise all about the guy going on an adventure and rescuing the girl. Why not use one guaranteed blockbuster as a vehicle to market another beloved formulaic action series to a built-in audience?
There’s some major heartbreak coming up on “The Simpsons” and we’re not sure our hearts can handle the pain.
Homer and Marge, one of TV’s longstanding married couples (27 seasons and counting), are separating this season…and Lena Dunham is the one to blame? What the what?!
In an interview with Variety, executive producer Al Jean used the term “homewrecker” to describe Dunham’s character. How grossly apropos.
Count on the marriage breakup and more this coming season on Fox’s long running classic that jumped the shark ages ago. (Just ask Harry Shearer.) The question for all pop aficionados remains, is there anything Lena Dunham can’t destroy?
In America if a parent is caught so much as verbally reprimanding a child in a harsh tone they run the risk of being reported to Child Protective Services. However, in Britain, a parent can walk away from accusations of beatings with a leather belt as long as they are an immigrant:
Immigrants should be allowed to “slap and hit” their children because of a “different cultural context” when they are new arrivals in Britain, a High Court judge suggested yesterday.
Mrs Justice Pauffley indicated police and social services should make allowances for immigrant groups, as she heard an application from an Indian man alleged to have beaten his wife and seven-year-old son.
…The father denied ever using a belt to strike the child but admitted he would deliver a “slap or a tap” to “keep him disciplined”.
In her ruling the judge concluded: “I do not believe there was punitively harsh treatment of [the boy] of the kind that would merit the term physical abuse.
“Proper allowance must be made for what is, almost certainly, a different cultural context.
The judge in the case didn’t bother to worry about the father’s history of spousal abuse or the child’s testimony that he is often depressed. She simply took the man at his word because of his immigrant status.
When does cultural sensitivity go too far? For decades, affirmative action policies have set the precedent for treating different people groups, well, differently. Now there are western courts using the same screwed-up logic to determine which kids get to be beaten and which are forced into protective custody based on their cultural heritage?
My own pregnancy roller coaster went a little bit like this: The test is positive! Hooray, we’re pregnant! Can’t we get this kid delivered overnight?! Oh. My. God, we have so much to do! And less than 9 months to do it in!
Our grandmothers were blessed with a simple trip to the doctor and a confirmation 10 days later with a polite, “See you in nine months.” Today we’re slammed with monthly, bi-monthly and eventually weekly doctor or midwife appointments, several rounds of bloodwork and ultrasounds, and let’s not forget the bevy of paranoia-inducing information from family, friends, books and the infamous court of public opinion known as the Internet.
Whether you’re a pregnant mum or an expecting dad, here’s what I’ve learned that will spare you feeling overwhelmed so you can skip straight to the joys of pregnancy.
36. Study various birthing methods so you can decide what’s right for you.
Doctor or midwife? Bradley Birthing? Hypnobirthing? Lamas? Do you want an analgesic or an epidural if the pain becomes overwhelming? If your water breaks before your contractions start do you want to wait it out at home or just head to the hospital? How long do you want to wait before labor is induced? C-section, yes or no? This is your baby and how they get out of your body is your decision. Seek out reliable expert advice, hit up YouTube for some videos of first-hand experiences, and make this one of the discussions you have with your partner and your healthcare provider early on.
35. Introduce yourself to the contradictions of parenting advice.
Welcome to the court of mommy opinion. You will be found guilty at least 50% of the time. Brush it off now. Your mommy instincts are going to kick in pretty quickly once you’ve learned you’re pregnant and they’ll only grow stronger with your baby’s development. To be sure, there are things to learn, but in the end you’re the mom. Trust your gut.
34. Make a Honey-Do List for your Hubby.
Now is the time to get anything and everything you want done around the house completed without complaint. All that stuff he’s been pushing off for ages is going to become high priority as he realizes he’s got 2 people to take care of now, not just a grown woman with a mind of her own.
33. Establish a flexible fitness routine.
Exercise is essential for pregnant women, especially desk jockeys like myself who habitually blew off the treadmill or the gym in favor of taking a post-work nap. Your energy levels will ebb and flow during pregnancy so establish a routine that will work with you and your changing body. Already working out, or concerned about what you should or shouldn’t be doing? Talk to your doctor. A few key concepts you’ll hear repeated over and over: 30 minutes of cardio daily and no lying flat after 20 weeks.
32. Cultivate a spiritual practice.
Pregnancy is a spiritual experience. If you haven’t talked to God in a while, take this time to get in touch. It can be as simple as getting outside for a few minutes and just saying thank you for the life growing inside you. There are a series of short meditations available on YouTube that are great stress relievers for pregnant moms. Whatever you choose to do, make it a point to maintain your practice once the baby has arrived. You’ll need those 5-10 minutes of quiet to stay on track in between feedings, changings and playtimes.
31. Celebrate this momentous change with your best girl buddy.
You have reached a huge milestone in the life of a woman. There is no better way to celebrate this empowering experience than to surround yourself with some serious girl support. Grab your mom, mother-in-law, best friend, or co-worker and celebrate either before or after the all-day-sickness dissipates.
30. Go shopping!
I became incredibly budget conscious when we found out our little one was on the way. Suddenly I’d start denying myself even the simplest of things because I kept thinking, “We’re going to have to buy diapers!” Give yourself a break that won’t break the bank. Even more importantly, don’t turn the gift of your pregnancy into a reason to judge or deny yourself. You are creating life. You deserve a treat.
29. Start and keep a journal about your pregnancy.
Your child will thank you later. Especially if she starts digging through her boxes to find the baby calendar you kept for her. “So, when did I start rolling over? Walking? Hm…”.
Watching a four year old boy jiggle his mother’s underwear’d-rear end was an odd way to open a TV show. Then again, it was the perfect kind of quirk for Bravo, a network devoted to mocking worship of all that is rich, fake, and wannabe-famous. This, of course, makes the “odd” in Odd Mom Out the antithesis of a real housewife: Jill, a brunette in a blonde world who lives in a walk-up and stays at home with her kids, opting out of the gym/spa/Me-Me-Me lifestyle of her absurdly loaded peers.
You’ll never hear it acknowledged openly in the premiere episode, but Jill’s gripes with the cold, heartless, endlessly superficial world of the Upper East Side elite are all rooted in her Jewish values. She is her children’s mother, nanny and best friend rolled into one. Foregoing sex with her husband, she runs to her son’s bed to comfort him during a series of nightmares. (Her WASP husband’s cold remark: “he needs to grow a pair.”) When her best friend Vanessa reminds her that she is indeed, rich, Jill’s reply carries the classic Jewish guilt trip: “When I was growing up there was some shame around being rich.” Best of all, the show’s tagline about being brunette (ahem, Jewish) in a blonde (ahem, white) world is challenged when her WASP in-laws attempt to convince her to get highlights during a spa day, sending her running for the hills.
Jill’s struggle to maintain her Jewish ethic in a foreign domain translates easily to the 21st century culture of judgmental parenting. Every decision she makes about her children is scrutinized by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, fellow Pre-K moms and, worst of all, the headmaster of the elite private preschool where her children attend. This isn’t just an upper class dilemma. 21st century Mommy culture has, more often than not, replaced critical thinking with critical opinions. Here’s a hint: When you’re almost at blows over the values of breastfeeding, you know it’s time for a reality check.
Still, Weber’s tongue-in-cheek comedy may translate better via book than television. No doubt the show’s charmer, she carries the dead weight of blonde boredom on her shoulders. Unless she can somehow humanize the caricatures she’s created in her Upper East Side yuppie cadre, viewers may fall asleep fast at jokes that could easily be boiled down to the length of a YouTube sketch. But, to be fair, pilots are never a good judge of a show’s character. Weber is preciously smarter than most in the Bravo demographic. Giving her character an artsy skull fetish (quite the hip trend in NYC as of late) provides wonderfully intelligent subtext. Is Jill the goth nihilist in the bunch, or is she the heroine who conquers the nihilism in her superficial universe, mounting their heads on her wall with the pride of a huntress?
In the end, Weber’s message is what makes her appearance on Bravo shockingly refreshing. It is a wise one, encouraging moms to stay true to their values and not cave in to social pressures when it comes to parenting. And if the Queen Channel of Social Pressures can sneak a message like that onto the air, perhaps there is hope for mommys after all.
Why hasn’t TLC officially cancelled the Duggars? Ask Jill and Jessa, the daughters who are going through “immeasurable pain” presumably because they have to re-live the humiliating experience of being fondled by their brother when they were pre-teens. They’re so humiliated that they booked an exclusive with Fox News to air their shame before an international audience. They’re so filled with pain, in fact, that they’re proceeding with negotiations to create their own spin-off for TLC:
Us Weekly reports that the Duggars’ adult and married children Jessa and Jill, along with their husbands, Ben Seewald and Derick Dillard, are in talks for their own spinoff series.
“They’ve invested a lot of time in developing these story lines and the last thing they want to do is to throw it all away,” a source told the magazine, stressing that Josh would not be part of the new spinoff. TLC declined to comment on reports of a spinoff and reiterated to The Huffington Post that no long-term decisions have been made regarding the ultimate fate of “19 Kids and Counting.”
The idea of a spinoff featuring the Duggar daughters isn’t crazy, given that they’ve become the stars of the family’s current show. In fact, last year a record 4.4 million people tuned in to see Jill get married, while Jessa’s wedding special brought in 4.3 million viewers this past April.
Jill Duggar Dillard is so traumatized by the revelation of her brother’s actions that she’s taking the time to post pictures of her own 2-month old on Instagram. What a great way to protect the privacy of your own children. What an even better way to keep in touch with your fans and potential spin-off viewers.
This isn’t about morals. This is about money. A magazine owned by a porn company started the fight and the Duggars aren’t going to back down, not with millions at stake. Spare your offense. It’s just business.
Parents today have a bevy of scientifically proven parenting methods to choose from when it comes to raising their children. Magazines don’t just talk about putting them to bed on time or making sure they eat their vegetables. Now, it’s all about how you do it that matters. Are you going to attach and hug the vegetables into their mouths? Are you going to free range and reason they’ll go to bed when they’re tired, school night or not? In the end, will they love you more or less for it? Dear God, what therapy am I preparing them for?!
Researchers at Brigham Young University recently determined that helicopter parenting can be severely detrimental to children. Unlike free range or attachment parenting, “helicopter” parenting, first popularized at the dawn of the millennium, involves parents “making important decisions for children, solving their problems and intervening in their children’s conflicts.” It makes sense that this level of over-involvement would have a lousy impact on a kid’s outcome. But, what is truly interesting about BYU’s latest findings has less to do with helicoptering and more to do with the emotional aspects of the parent-child relationship.
Now they’ve found that helicopter parenting combined with an absence of parental warmth is especially detrimental to young adults’ well-being. …Warmth is measured by parental availability to talk and spend time together. …Results showed that the lack of warmth intensifies both the decrease in self-worth and increase in risk behaviors in the young-adult children of helicopter parents. High levels of parental warmth reduced the negative effects, but did not eliminate them completely.
Helicopter parenting comes with its own set of problems. A lack of parental warmth, however, seems to come with baggage all its own. We all know that child abuse has negative long term impacts. But, do we stop to consider that,
“toxic” childhood stress has been linked to elevated cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and other physical conditions posing a significant health risk. The researchers suggest that toxic childhood stress alters neural responses to stress, boosting the emotional and physical arousal to threat and making it more difficult for that reaction to be shut off.
Physicians have noted the link between a child’s inability to emotionally connect with their parents and peer orientation. The emotional need that isn’t met at home is met through friends, resulting in “…a hostile and sexualized youth culture. Children end up becoming overly conformist, desensitized, and alienated; being ‘cool’ matters more to them than anything else.” What else is cooler in your college years than binge drinking every Friday night?
Helicoptering, attaching or free-ranging are all trumped by the decision to intentionally cultivate an emotional relationship with your child. Perhaps that’s why it’s time to put down the textbook, stop staring at your smartphone, and just start talking to your kids.