Ross Parke, author of Future Families.
Topic: Diverse forms, rich possibilities.
Issues: Redefining “family”; changing parental roles; are two mothers (or fathers) good enough?; are multiple caregivers helpful or harmful?; how many “parents” are too many? (insights from the world of assisted reproductive technologies; overcoming the barriers to change.
Ross Parke, author of Future Families.
For dads, Southern California’s vastly diverse landscape offers an amazing opportunity to show kids what life is like on the open road. The experience is sure to be fun, and given the state’s diverse topography, the journey will be educational too. Unfortunately, it’s that same topography—combined with busy highways—that can make traveling with motorcycle passengers dangerous.
The following is a guide for keeping your precious cargo safe on an exploratory, family-friendly So-cal motorcycle trip.
Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is breastfeeding our new baby and when I look at them, they’re so connected and I feel completely useless. I try to do other stuff like baths and diaper changing, but feeding seems so much more important. One of my projects was to set up the nursery. I got the crib and changing table all set up and my wife told me we needed crib bumpers so the baby wouldn’t bang her head on the slats of the crib. A friend told me that crib bumpers are a bad idea. So I’ve got two questions: What can I do to feel less useless when my wife is breastfeeding? And should I get bumpers for the baby’s crib?
A: Let’s start with the second one. For readers who don’t already know, crib bumpers are soft pads that run along the inside of the crib and are designed to do exactly what your wife says: keep the baby from running into the slats or bars and getting hurt. Bumpers sound like a great idea, and millions of people—including me—have used them for decades. But new research shows that bumpers could actually be more dangerous than the injuries they’re trying to protect against.
It doesn’t get any snazzier than a 1965 cherry red Mustang convertible – the ultimate bachelor-mobile – a muscle car that was really a 1964 ½ model vehicle, which my Dad got about three years after his divorce.
This was how Dad stopped moping around. He bought this car, which he expected would make him the sexiest bachelor in New York City, and he took a vacation in the Caribbean to work on his tan and his tennis game, although it was the former that he seemed to concentrate on the most.
The Ford Motor Company had his number. He bought a brand new 1966 Mustang and followed that up with a new one each year through 1973 or so, by which time the Mustang had dropped its lightweight image and had powered up to a long, slender vehicle with plenty of juice, but little of the sex appeal that had made the early “Stangs” such a hit.
Raising girls is no easy feat, especially when that girl hits her teen years. That doe-eyed, daddy-adoring preteen who would talk your ear off and bat her eyes to get an extra scoop of ice cream is now filled with complicated emotions, and she may lash out and challenge your authority. No matter how much she pushes you away, teen girls need their parents to supervise (from a distance), support and most importantly, talk to them as they face these new challenges of growing up. The best way to get through the emotional teenage years is to understand what’s important to her and figure out how to relate.
Let Her Assert Her Independence
She is certain to test the limits and boundaries from time to time, but research tells us that teens do best when they are allowed to have and express their own points of view, even if they differ from yours. Just keep the lines of communication open and stay closely connected to her world, so you can help her navigate the path to discovering who she is. Allow her to decide such things as:
- When and how to change her hairstyle
- What she will wear (within reason)
- When to do homework
- How to decorate and organize her room and personal space
- Whom to invite to parties
- How to spend her allowance
Respect Her Privacy
No snooping. As she gets older, her personal space and belongings become more important to her and if she feels intruded on, she will feel the need to hide things and become closed off. Instead, let her know she can trust you to respect her privacy, as long as she has and continues to earn that respect.
Understand That Social Standing Matters
Things like style, popularity and image may not matter to you, but they are top of mind for your daughter and her peers. Don’t minimize what is important to her by dismissing her concerns about these things. You don’t have to get her the latest fashions on demand—that’s what an allowance is for, right?—but listen to her and help her find an appropriate resolution.
For example, if your daughter complains that her best friend is not talking to her and she has no friends, telling her to simply find new friends probably won’t help. It’s unlikely to be a viable solution and can leave her feeling like you don’t understand or can’t relate. Instead, encourage her to give you the details of what caused the riff and identify a solution to reconnect with the friend and get back on common ground. However, If the situation becomes worrisome, voice your concerns in a serious but nonjudgmental manner and discuss the serious nature of bullying, so you can identify next steps if it is truly a harmful situation.
Give Her the Right Tools to Be Successful
There are a few rites of passage that she needs your help reaching, no matter how much she acts like she doesn’t. Help her succeed by providing her with the right tools, and then give her the freedom to use them. For example, when it comes time for her to learn how to drive, help her study for her permit, enroll her in driver’s ed or teach her yourself. And when she’s applying to colleges, offer to proofread her essay and tour prospective schools with her. You can help her choose which college to go to, but then remember: The ultimate choice should be hers.
Researchers at UC San Francisco are looking for 7-12 year old boys and girls and their fathers to participate in a study of parent and child social interactions.
This study involves: A single 90 minute lab visit that includes several shared interactions between you, your child, and members of our research staff. We are interested in individuals’ physiology during social interactions so we will use skin sensors to measure things like heart rate and blood flow. In addition, a set of questionnaires will be completed, at your convenience, prior to the lab visit.
Benefits of this study: You will receive $80 for completing the study and your child will receive a small thank you gift. Also, you will be contributing to the knowledge of child development while engaging in new experiences with your child!
If you are interested in participating, please email or call:
Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab
Director: Wendy Berry Mendes, Ph.D
University of California-San Francisco
See the flyer for the UCSF Study here.