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How Did We Survive Childhood Before the ’90s Safety Nannies Came Along?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

When our first son was born in 1991 we were told to lay him on his tummy at naptime — never, ever on his back because it would increase his risk of choking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By the time our second child came along in 1994 the experts had decided that parents should never, ever let their children sleep on their stomachs because it increased the risk of choking and SIDS. A month after he was born the experts told us that we needed to buy a wedge that forced our son to sleep on his side. This would prevent choking and lower the risk of SIDS. Thus was our introduction to our generation’s obsession with hypervigilant parenting.

We were instructed to bathe our kids in Purell, sterilize everything that touched our bubble children and were told to instruct them about inappropriate touch from the moment they exited the womb. Instead of letting our children explore the neighborhood, entertaining themselves in the great outdoors, parents were encouraged to prop their children up in front of Dora the Explorer so they could vicariously experience her adventures in the safety of their playrooms (while munching on organic peanut-free multi-grain crackers and drinking hormone-free organic milk). Good parenting also demanded scheduling and supervising every minute of a child’s day.

This video is a nostalgic reminder of the freedom children have lost over the years.

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3 Lessons Feces-Hurling, Gay, German Radicals Can Teach American Parents

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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LifesiteNews.com reported on March 28:

As parents in Germany have protested a new pro-homosexual “sexual diversity” curriculum in their schools, homosexual activists have attacked them by hurling feces and destroying their property, according to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, which documents anti-Christian incidents in Europe.”

“Protesters were physically attacked and it was felt that the police failed to protect the parents’ basic right of assembly,” said a statement from the Observatory describing incidents at recent rallies in Baden-Württemberg and Cologne.”

“They were spit at, eggs were thrown, and little bags with feces or color. Cables of loud speakers were torn out,” the organization says. “Pages were ripped out of the bible and used to wipe backsides, then formed into a ball and thrown at the parents.”

H/T Prof.lw

Not so long ago, this story would induce little more than a shoulder shrug and a bit of pity for the poor folks living in such a place.

That is Germany–not America right? I’m safely tucked in the Bible belt. Besides, we have enough problems of our own–why worry about what’s going on in another country?

At some point, it’s wise to step out of our own house and check to see if our foundation has eroded. Now is that time. A steady drip over time becomes part of the landscape hardly noticeable, then it erodes more than you can imagine right under your nose.

This incident, although in Germany, is worth looking at a little more closely. Not just because of the shocking depravity of the acts involved, what is more important is to understand the plight of the parents. It’s a good reminder to check our own foundations and compare what is currently happening in our schools to the rights of parents.

Our similarities might surprise you.

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A Conservative and Libertarian Fiction Writing Contest

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Government-approved bedtime reading….

As if the Feds haven’t done enough, now they have taken to telling Grandma that she only truly loves the little ones if she feeds them healthy snacks. After all, nothing says “Granny loves you!” like a big helping of “applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.” Worse, they’ve turned bedtime into an opportunity for government propaganda, enlisting Grandma in the effort to push the latest “approved” dietary standards with a special tale aimed just at the kiddies.

This cheesy effort deserves to be either ignored or ridiculed; so of course, we’ve chosen the latter course. That brings us to announce Liberty Island’s second writing contest: “Can You Write a Better Bedtime Story than the USDA?”

We’re looking for short pieces, 400-1000 words long, which demonstrate your total mastery of the form of a Federally-approved children’s book. Draw inspiration from our first writing contest, “Can You Write Better than Maureen Dowd?” The winning entries will be collected and published on Liberty Island.

Entries are due by April 30th. Email Submissions@LibertyIslandMag.com with “Nanny Contest” in the subject line.

So channel your inner First Lady, and remember–it takes a village to grow an organic vegetable garden in the White House yard. Or something.

*****

Also check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more about Liberty Island: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.”

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Is Your Child a Stealth Dyslexic?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Do you have a highly intelligent child who struggles with writing and spelling? A child who, despite good scores on standardized tests, is performing below his “potential”?  If so, you may be the parent of a “stealth dyslexic.” According to learning experts, dyslexia manifests itself in a variety of ways beyond the most common form where individuals reverse letters and have difficulty learning to read. Indeed, stealth dyslexics often learn to read quite easily because of their outstanding memories and ability to compensate for their deficits.  But because of this, their learning disability is often not detected until later in life.

According to school psychologist Jim Forgan,  ”These highly intelligent or gifted children compensate for their dyslexia because they learn to rely upon their outstanding memory, keen intuition, and general smarts to work around their reading weaknesses.” Stealth dyslexia often goes undetected until the child is in third grade or older. “Your child may have stealth dyslexia if they are very smart and can read but don’t enjoy reading and rarely read for pleasure. Many of these children don’t read for pleasure because it’s laborious and mentally exhausting,” says Forgan.

Teachers often think that these obviously smart kids are lazy, inattentive or “not applying themselves” because they have precocious verbal skills and many, in fact, have high verbal IQs. According to the Davidson Institute, there is often a huge gap between the child’s verbal skills and the ability to read and write, especially as the student progresses to more difficult assignments in the middle school years. The Davidson Institute says that children with stealth dyslexia tend to exhibit some of the following characteristics:

1. Difficulties with word processing and written output.

2. Reading skills that appear to fall within the normal or even superior range for children their age, at least on silent reading comprehension.

3. Difficulty remembering how to form individual letters (resulting in oddly formed letters, reversals, inversions, and irregular spacing.

4. Difficulty remembering the sequence of letters or even sounds in a word.

5. Difficulties with sensory-motor dyspraxia, or motor coordination problems resulting in handwriting problems.

6. An enormous gap between oral and written expression.

7. Spelling errors in children’s written output that are far out of character with their general language, working memory, or attention skills.

8. Persistent difficulties with word-for-word reading skills, resulting in subtle word substitutions or word skips; which can result in significant functional problems, especially on tests.  This occurs despite the appearance of age-appropriate reading comprehension on classroom assignments or standardized tests.

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Conservatives Should Be Defending the Mets’ Daniel Murphy

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

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I’m never one to tell anyone to divorce their spouse. I’m a big fan of marriage. With that being said: I really hope Boomer Esiason’s wife takes a long, hard look at the man she’s married to.

The controversy started when Mets second basement Daniel Murphy asked for a mere three days paternity leave to join his wife who recently gave birth to their son in Florida. The three days is written into his collective bargaining contract, and while it is technically allowed, apparently few fathers in major league sports take advantage of any paternity leave. On a morning radio show today Boomer Esiason, explained to his morning show cohost Craig Carton, how he would’ve handled the situation:

“Bottom line, that’s not me. I wouldn’t do that. Quite frankly, I would have said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.’”

In short, Esiason would have told his wife to undergo major and medically unnecessary abdominal surgery in order to avoid three days of missed work. The surgery would make her recovery exponentially more difficult and painful and would complicate future pregnancies. Esiason isn’t a doctor or soldier, he’s a retired NFL quarterback who is under the unfortunate impression that what he does matters enough to put his wife through a painful and unnecessary medical ordeal in order to save himself the flack now hitting Murphy.

Unfortunately for Murphy’s wife, the c-section was necessary, and Murphy flew down to spend time with his wife and newborn son for several days while she recovered. To his credit, he pushed back against criticism, as did his manager Terry Collins.

While Mike Francesa, another radio host, used the situation as an opportunity to rail against paternity leave — declaring it obsolete and unnecessary — we should be cheering paternity-leave policies like that of the MLB and question why it’s only three days long. While discussing the controversy Murphy explained why taking the paternity leave was important to his family,

“We had a really cool occasion yesterday morning, about 3 o’clock. We had our first panic session,” Murphy said. “It was dark. She tried to change a diaper — couldn’t do it. I came in. It was just the three of us at 3 o’clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to. I wanted to scream and cry, but I don’t think that’s publicly acceptable, so I let him do it.”

We always hear from conservatives how important it is for fathers to be in the picture. It’s time for the men of the conservative movement who overwhelm Twitter with their sports talk during every big game to put their money where their mouths are and come to Murphy’s defense. Murphy took advantage of paternal leave that is written into his contract for a reason; he used the time to signal to his wife and child that they are his number one priority, despite his high-powered career. That declaration should be met with praise, not mocking or scorn.

Photo credit: AP/Evan Vucci

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Governments’ Desperate Efforts to Encourage Childbirth

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.

In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”

Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.

Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.

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The Girls Season Finale: Second-Guessing Steinem Feminists

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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If there’s one refreshing thing to be said of the season finale of Girls, it’s that Lena Dunham is not a stereotypical feminist after all.

The series finale of Girls opens with Hannah bumping into Adam’s looney sister who is now living with her equally nutty downstairs neighbor, Laird. Newly returned from a hippie commune, the pair are expecting their first child. Hannah asks and is granted permission to touch Caroline’s womb, which she does so with an expression of both doubt and awe. In the next scene, Hannah walks into her own apartment and she touches her own womb in absent-minded contemplation. She is then quickly distracted by an acceptance letter to graduate school in Iowa.

In her typical selfish fashion, Hannah presents her grad school acceptance to Adam minutes before his Broadway premiere. If it wasn’t so sweetly presented you’d think it was a vengeful move. Consequently, Adam feels that his performance has been thrown off. As a result, their relationship goes into full meltdown at the stage door after the show. Adam is outraged that Hannah presented her success to him before he went live: “Why can’t anything ever be easy with you?” he questions angrily.

The well played plot point mirrored Shoshanna’s own struggle at Ray’s rejection. “If memory serves, you’re the one who jettisoned me a while ago,” Ray comments before Shoshanna interjects, ”I want you back,” explaining, “I made a mistake…this entire year of freedom was just f-ing stupid…you make me want to be the best version of myself, and I just want to pretend that I was never not your girlfriend before.” “You pushed me forward in a lot of ways and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Ray explains before finishing with, “but right now, we’re in two different places with very, very, very different goals.”

In the post-episode commentary, Dunham focused on the idea that “relationships aren’t easy,” but the full impact is smarter than that: The episode that begins with the announcement of a pregnancy ends with Hannah’s excited expectations for what Iowa may bring. Embracing second wave feminist legacy, Dunham’s pregnancy metaphor introduces the next battle in the Children versus Career war, questioning the point of male/female sexual relationships.

Rupert Holmes once penned a beautiful line regarding two characters parting in the series Remember WENN: “This is what happens to love when people are in love.” Love is more than a sexual high, a status symbol, or a comfort zone. Love is required work, firstly on the part of one’s self. In their me-driven environment, second wave feminists created the idea that a romantic relationship, not unlike a commune, is nothing more than the temporal cohabitation of two individuals with shared interests. That ideology gave birth to the “Selfie Generation” of which Hannah Horvath is Queen.

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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”

Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.

What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.

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Men achieve fertility at 12 years old and can father children all the way to 96. Women have a narrow fertility window of around 16 to 40. That’s a fertility gap of up to fifty years!

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A VIDEO for World Down Syndrome Day: Dear Future Mom…

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

People with Down syndrome can live a happy life.

That’s the message of the inspiring video created by CoorDown, an Italian organization that advocates for children with Down syndrome.

The video says that CoorDown received an email in February:

I’m expecting a baby. I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?

Fifteen children with Down syndrome from around the world reassure this scared mom unequivocally: People with Down syndrome can live a happy life!

Sadly, many of these frightened mothers will choose abortion — studies say up to 90% of children with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated before they take their first breath.

The beautiful children in this video admit that life with a disabled child can be challenging:

Sometimes it will be difficult. Very difficult. Almost impossible. But isn’t it like that for all mothers?

But oh, the hugs! And the smiles of these children!

Dear Future Mom: Your child can be happy. Just like I am. And you’ll be happy too!

What a great message for World Down Syndrome Day today!

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‘Barack and Michelle Are All of Our Parents Now’

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

PARENTALS

 

Barack and Michelle Obama are fine parents, they really are. They have two gorgeous and well-behaved daughters, and the Obamas have kept them mercifully free of the spotlight. I can’t say any more about them than that, because I don’t know any more than that — which is exactly how it should be.

But the Obamas aren’t my parents, and they aren’t your parents. But ThinkProgress represents the repressive and reactionary mode of thought that we are wards of the Great Men who rule over us.

No.

We are not their children. Our politicians, left and right, serve us at our pleasure — and it’s high time we reminded them of it.

******

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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What Did Your Parents Most Want You To Be?

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Our Bodies, Our Only Sense of Self

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The MSM’s latest fetish, college girls-turned-porn stars for tuition money, smacks of the rotten legacy of second-wave feminism’s “our bodies, our selves” mantra. Take the story of Belle Knox, a Duke University fresh-girl forced to do porn for the tuition money. While her sleaze-bag of an agent attempts to milk her 15 minutes with stories of a poor girl turned out by multimillionaire parents (a story she later changed when chatting with Piers Morgan), Belle Knox views herself as anything but a victim.

The 18-year-old appeared on front pages across the globe and sat down with Piers Morgan for a CNN interview using only her stage name and claiming that she was not ashamed of what she was doing and, in fact, felt ‘empowered’ by her career.

I’m not being exploited. I love what I’m doing and I’m safe,’ insists the women’s studies major.

Women’s studies major. Good thing she’s in porn, considering her future career choices at this point don’t rise far above McDonald’s worker (and we all know how poorly they’re paid). Seriously, though, paying for your women’s studies degree by doing porn? Has anyone stopped being sucked in by the rich-girl lifestyle to consider that glaring irony? Or the fact that her women’s studies major has justified her career choice?

She told her student newspaper in an interview last week: ‘My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was five-years-old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.

‘The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.’

The vapid meanderings of Belle Knox illustrate the very scary impact of the second-wave feminist notion that our bodies really are our selves. Beyond our physicality, we have nothing left, no brain, no feeling, to “lose” or invest in a sexual encounter.

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9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Megan Fox

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in August of 2013 as “9 Politically Incorrect Secrets to Keep Your Daughter from Twerking.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

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What the….???

If you don’t know what twerking is yet, I’ll explain it one more time. To “twerk,” as the kids say, is not your average Jennifer Gray/Patrick Swayze dirty dancing. In fact, it makes their bump and grind look like the foxtrot. I was in Oklahoma last year hanging out with my cousins at a rodeo bar (yeah, I know it’s cliché but when in OK City, it’s A-Ok to go full-on cowgirl). I was beyond perplexed when I realized I brought my red leather cowboy boots down hard on some poor girl’s fingers on the dance floor. What were her fingers doing on said dance floor, you might ask? She was twerking. Imagine, if you can, what kind of position a girl must be in to have her hands on the floor and ass in the air, while gyrating around like an acrobat on LSD. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty ugly. I can tell you that I and the five other people I was with had a great time discussing and laughing (as was the guy she was twerking on, btw). No one thinks this is sexy. It’s a big joke. It’s as if the guys in the room (not men) are all waiting to see who they can fool into trying this “move,” which is nothing more than a scene from a XXX movie.

This video pretty much sums up how ridiculous and stupid people look while twerking.

So, what can you do about it, you who have daughters and a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that they too might slide down the way of tongue-out twerking?

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18 Year Old Sues Parents for Tuitution, Living Expenses

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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A good working definition of discipline may be the aligning of perception with reality. I may perceive that I can eat pizza and cupcakes without consequence. But reality will bear a different result.

Children who go without discipline enter adulthood with an unrealistic sense of entitlement. One young adult, newly loosed upon the world, just set a new bar. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A New Jersey high school honor student, who is also an athlete and a cheerleader, has sued her parents for school money after she says they kicked her out of their home when she turned 18, the Daily Record of Parsippany, N.J., reported.

Rachel Canning’s father told the newspaper that his daughter isn’t telling the whole story and that she moved out because she didn’t want to do chores or keep a curfew, among other disagreements.

[Her father says,] “She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home, and she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live under your rules.’”

The young woman argues “she’s an unemanicipated student,” whatever that means, and her parents should therefore pay her tuition along with living and transportation costs.

Her attitude proves emblematic of that embraced by the culture at large, particularly in relation to public entitlements and subsidies. She would force her parents to sustain her life without submitting to their terms. Similarly, rent-seeking constituencies condone the use of force against taxpayers while resisting any accountability.

If the account of Canning’s parents can be believed, her costs would be covered if she chose to abide by their rules. Instead, she demands to live as she wills, while demanding support from her parents.

A hearing on the case is set for today. Look for additional commentary here at PJ Lifestyle, and listen to extended reaction on my Fightin Words podcast.

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Common Core: As Untested as the U.S. Speed Skating Suits

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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In the wake of disappointing results from the U.S. speed skating team at the Sochi Olympics — no U.S. skater finished higher than 7th place —  skaters, coaches and experts associated with the sport are looking for answers. Some quickly rushed to blame the untested, high-tech suits, designed specifically for the team by Under Armour. The Washington Post reported:

Had the Americans trained hard enough? Had they overlooked something the medal-gorging Dutch had figured out? And what about the Mach 39, devised in collaboration with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, no less? What had happened to the propulsive blast it promised to deliver?

Reporters wanted to know. And some U.S. speedskaters started having doubts.

Delivered by Under Armour to the team on Jan. 1, as contracted, the Mach 39 had never been worn in competition before the Sochi Games. So how could the U.S. skaters know for sure that the air vents down the spine translated to speed? Where was the experiential proof that the relocated zippers and high-tech fibers helped their performance more than hurt it?

“The reasoning behind that was we wanted to keep the suit a secret in case other people found out about it, and they had enough time to switch their technology,” explained U.S. speedskater Brian Hansen, 23, of Evanston, Ill., asked why the athletes hadn’t competed in the suit before Sochi, given prototypes to train in instead.

The team hastily voted to switch back to the Under Armour suits they had worn in the World Cup races, with no better results. Sensing a potential rift with a major sponsor and a lot of money at stake, the U.S. skaters quickly began to shift the focus away from the suits and the U.S. Olympic Committee jumped to extend its contract with Under Armour through the 2022 Games.

Now that all the Olympic excitement is winding down, it’s worth thinking about the extent to which our children, under the new Common Core Standards, have become lab rats in an experiment much bigger than the one the U.S. speed skating team participated in during the Sochi Olympics.

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5 Adventure Books for Reading-Reluctant Boys

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

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Recent research has demonstrated that young boys are falling behind girls in reading comprehension and that part of the problem may be that they are less enthusiastic recreational readers. There are lots of theories on why this is, and how to correct it, but one of the most common solutions is simply to provide more reading material targeted specifically to boys. Of course, that’s a political-correctness minefield (after all, if we “gender” things like adventure and science, are we now excluding girls from those things?). But the way I see it, there are also plenty of young girls who also crave traditionally “boyish” reading material who are also left adrift in search of their next adventure fix, so everyone wins if more of that material is produced or brought to light.

I was one such girl — as a middle schooler I loved few things more than Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and the swashbuckling tales of C. S. Forester. As a grown-up, I often feel nostalgic for those yarns as I slog through the drier, more nihilistic literary offerings that will supposedly enhance my mind. So, for the next few months, I’m going to review some forgotten gems of adventure fiction. If you have a reluctant reader, maybe curling up with him (or her) and one of these books will inspire the same love of reading that I found in my first fictional adventures. Here’s a list of classics to kick it off.

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How Do You Survive When Your World Shatters?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

“And now I know that every single day, the best and the worst, only lasts for twenty-four hours.” — Tricia Lott Williford

Two days before Christmas in 2010, amid the festive pictures of family Christmas celebrations, cookie recipes, and excited discussions about plans for the holidays, some terrible, heart-sickening news began to spread through my network of Facebook friends and acquaintances:

Stunned by some news. Please pray for a friend and her young family. The husband and father was unexpectedly taken to heaven for Christmas.

Pray for Tricia Williford as her husband went to heaven this morning. They have two little boys, Tucker and Tyler. What a sad day this is.

Three years later, I have fresh tears in my eyes as I re-read those words and I think about the shattering of lives, dreams, and families in that one terrible moment. How does a family survive such a profound tragedy? Can those shattered pieces be fused back together again? What does that really look like? I mean, in real life, starting with how you get out of bed the next day and how in the world you explain to two little boys that their daddy has died?

Tricia Lott Williford, a writer and editor — and a fabulous storyteller — had a blog at the time of her husband’s unexpected death at age thirty-five. Her bio explains, “On the day of her husband’s death, an unknown someone posted a link to her blog on Twitter with the words, ‘Please pray for this woman. Her husband died this morning.’ Overnight, her blog went viral and her community of readers grew exponentially.” Tricia continued with her long-established discipline of writing every day and shared her story, in all its brutal transparency, with friends and strangers around the world. Her story has now been turned into a book, And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimedreleased February 18th.

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Student Survival Tactic: Think Big

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Most folks first became aware of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he dared to speak out against Obamacare in front of the architect himself at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Carson about 20 years earlier when my mother handed me his book Think Big. At the time, I was an above-average student who struggled in the public school environment. Despite being intellectually acceptable (but economically unqualified) for entrance into a prestigious private school, my own public institution refused to allow me to skip a grade because they felt I’d suffer socially.

As if being the #1 nerd in the room qualified me to be crowned Prom Queen.

An outcast, I’d spend most of my time feigning illness or sick with stress, looking for a reason – any reason – to get out of going to school. I knew my mother was right; I couldn’t run away forever. But, I didn’t have a reason to care enough to face my battles. What I needed then is what so many young people need now: A perspective greater than their own. They need to learn how to Think Big.

And so my mother encouraged me to encounter the story of Ben Carson, a young African American boy from the projects who rose out of the ghetto mindset by seeking a perspective greater than his own:

“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”

Carson’s illiterate mother required her 2 sons to turn into her 2 book reports a week. This practice turned Carson into a habitual reader, classical music listener, and Jeopardy! aficionado. His love of learning and imaginative fascination with science developed into the desire to become a neurosurgeon:

First, we cannot overload the human brain. This divinely created brain has fourteen billion cells. If used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over. Second, not only can we not overload our brain – we also know that our brain retains everything. I often use saying that “The brain acquires everything that we encounter.”

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How Will Spanking Bill That Allows Bruising Restore Parental Rights?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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From the AP via Yahoo: 

A Kansas lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow teachers, caregivers and parents to spank children hard enough to leave marks.

Current Kansas law allows spanking that doesn’t leave marks. State Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, says she wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and that could leave redness and bruising. The bill also would allow parents to give permission to others to spank their children.

It would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body, or with a belt or switch.

Finney says she wants to restore parental rights and improve discipline.

Under the guise of “restoring parental rights and improving discipline,” this bill neutralizes parents’ authority and their ability to protect their children from harm.

To say that it is permissible for teachers and babysitters to strike a child with up to 10 blows opens the door to child abuse.

Parents don’t need permission from the state to discipline their own children– and parents need to stop asking for it. The state has cast a shadow of fear of prosecution over parents. In doing so, it has created a generation that feels powerless to control their children–so many of them abdicated their responsibility. Giving teachers and babysitters the right to leave whelps and bruises won’t fix that.

If the state really wants to restore parental rights and improve discipline in schools, it needs to get out of the way. Stop viewing children as if they were a national resource to be regulated and cultivated. Give parents the respect and support they deserve.

Discipline is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. A course of discipline that’s needed to keep one child alive can destroy another. Parenting is a skill, one that is learned through trial and error and can only be tempered by sacrificial and unconditional love.

Here is a recent Facebook post from a mother,

He’s not even 2 yet and he’s so hard to keep up with! I’ve never had to take naps until now! In ONE week, he had a cold, then an ear infection, flushed my bra down the toilet, swallowed 2 marbles, set my stove on fire, (long story), choked on a sucker (which was the hardest and scariest moment. Never had my [paramedic] husband say LET’S GO TO THE ER NOW! That was scary. We ended up not going-he was fine, thanks to his daddy! Then tonight he stuffed 3 popcorn seeds up his nose. I’m sooooo tired, need prayers for strength…Thank you for understanding why I haven’t done much to the house.

You can’t legislate parenting any more than you can pass a law that will create good kids.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock,  Sofi photo

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How Bill Clinton Stole a Generation’s Innocence

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

bill-clinton-weiner

At a Shabbat (Sabbath meal) this past week, conversation veered into the political realm, as it often does when my husband and I are guests. We began to discuss the likelihood of Hillary Clinton running, the papers recently unearthed by my former colleague Alana Goodman, and about how Bill’s wandering eye could impact Hillary’s campaign. Around the table were three young people, ranging in age from about 9-17. Adult participants in the conversation soon realized that it was impossible to conduct a conversation about the Clintons with children present, and soon, the mother (rightfully) asked for a complete change in subject. Before doing so we reflected how sad it is that a president’s legacy cannot truthfully be discussed with innocent ears listening.

For how long can this mother shield her children from the topic? If Hillary runs, perhaps only a few more months. With the Clintons back in the news, pundits will be (and should be) discussing how ready America is to relive the sex scandals of the ’90s. Anyone who believes that Bill has learned his lesson need only look to Anthony Weiner to understand that old dogs can’t, and won’t, learn new tricks. Bill’s wandering eye, both in the past and, in all likelihood, the future, will be a topic of conversation for as long as a Clinton occupies the White House.

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3 Terrible Male Role Models for Girls

Saturday, February 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Last spring one of my friend’s teenage sons worked up his courage and asked a girl to the prom. He asked her very much like Harry Potter asking Cho Chang out in the Goblet of Fire, a scene that touches my heart every time I see it. Harry Potter stumbles, he stutters, he barely squeaks out the invitation. When this young man asked a girl to the prom in a similar clumsy way, her response was not the gentle letdown that Cho gives Harry.

This girl said: “Really? That’s how you’re asking me? Ask me again, but do it better next time.”

Of course girls have been swooning over romantic heroes since Heathcliff stalked the moors in Wuthering Heights, but at least these fictional characters were grown men. Our young women’s romantic expectations today are being poisoned by terrible male role models. No, not violent action stars. Not brutes or lawbreaking bad boys. These terrible role models are the impossibly perfect young men of romantic movies, who say the right thing at the right time, always look terrific and never stumble over words or have a single pimple. Today, young men in romantic movies are as suave, charming, and witty as a grown-up, because they are written by grown-ups. Here are three who are terrible role models. Young women who watch these improbably perfect young men and think that they exist are setting themselves up for disappointment.

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If Fatherhood Falls in a Forest…

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

TheParisReviewFatherhood has been undergoing a dramatic redefinition in recent years, amply covered by journalists, scientists, and sitcoms. That’s why the Tweet I saw today (“Do fathers make good writers? Do writers make good fathers?“) was clickbait I eagerly lapped up.

The article I wound up reading, “The Pram in the Hall,” revealed more about its author, Shane Jones, than it did about writing or parenthood. Jones is admittedly image-obsessed, and that’s evident when he spends most of this article talking not about the unique challenges parenthood poses to writing, but about the challenges it poses to his carefully cultivated personal and professional image.

He writes, “In our culture, fatherhood means baggy khakis and cars with side-impact airbags—it’s something of a joke.”

I don’t see how that’s something of a joke — I just see a comfortable man in a safe car. And people in the book world aren’t known for their glamorous good looks and fashion sense, either, so I’m not sure how any of that is a threat to his career. Have you been to a publishing trade show lately? Clint and Stacey would have a heart attack.

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Who Takes Parenting Advice From Billy Ray Cyrus?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

In light of pop star Justin Bieber’s unfolding meltdown, Miley Cyrus’s father is desperately trying to milk his 15 minutes out of the whole situation. Bieber’s exploits are tabloid and bandwidth fodder (why else would I be writing about him?), and Cyrus wants a piece of the pie, which led to this hilarious quote:

“A lot of people do ask me for parenting advice,” Billy told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson, at the Grammys when she asked what advice he would give the troubled teen star.

I won’t even bother sharing with you what the advice was. Would anyone want their child to turn out like Miley? Sure, she’s famous and wealthy, but she also suggestively licks metal while half naked and put the word “twerk” into the phrase of 2013.

While writing about the epidemic of vaccine refusers and the link between this horrible parenting decision and ex-Playboy Bunny Jenny McCarthy I came across this incredibly depressing statistic: 24 percent of American parents trust celebrities for parenting advice.

So there you have it. The beginning of the end of Western Civilization. When we all start dying of whooping cough or venereal diseases caught while sitting half naked on wrecking balls, we can all look back at this moment and know why.

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Did You Hear What This ‘Feminist’ Said About Your Mom?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Sustained on its mother's broken dreams.

Sustained on its mother’s broken dreams.

The source of an argument says nothing of its validity or truth. You need not be a woman to present a truth about abortion, or a drug user to present a truth about drug policy, or a parent to present a truth about child-rearing. Insisting otherwise, criticizing an argument based upon who makes it, commits ad hominem. Nevertheless, when someone opines on a topic they have no experience with whatsoever, it remains wise to temper exuberance with humility.

Amy Glass, writing for Thought Catalog, provides an object lesson in her recent piece on motherhood and marriage in which she confesses “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry.” In a tone of profound condescension, Glass delivers an arrogant screed against our mothers and wives. She reflects:

Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing, why on earth are we settling for average?

If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?

One wonders how Glass’s own mother might regard that assessment. Perhaps all children owe their mothers an apology for being born. After all, as Glass presents it, motherhood trespasses upon a woman’s potential greatness.

I want to have a shower for a woman when she backpacks on her own through Asia, gets a promotion, or lands a dream job not when she stays inside the box and does the house and kids thing which is the path of least resistance.

Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back.

Imagine the heights to which women might ascend if they abandoned the insignificant work of nurturing the next generation.

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