Do You Read Me, Baby?

reading to newborn

reading to newbornDear Mr. Dad: I have a two-month old baby and I love to read to him. My wife thinks I’m wasting my time and that there’s no sense reading before he starts learning words. Is it too soon to be reading to my son? If not, what should I read?

You’re definitely not wasting your time. In fact, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do. Admittedly, for the first few months, your reading won’t seem to be having any effect. And it doesn’t really matter what you read: a Wall Street Journal article, the menu from that Chinese takeout place down the road, or your high school calculus textbook. It’s not about education. Besides being a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to snuggle together, the goal is simply to get him used to the sound of the language and to have him associate reading with comfort and fun.

“When children have been read to, they enter school with larger vocabularies, longer attention spans, greater understanding of books and print, and consequently have the fewest difficulties in learning to read,” writes Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. If that doesn’t convince your wife, try this: 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems. I can’t guarantee that reading to your baby will keep him from getting arrested 13 years from now, but there’s no question that reading is an important habit to develop, and there’s no such thing as “too early” to start.
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#Men’sHealthMonday: Are Men Becoming the New Women?

tamh - talking - public domain via bing images

tamh - talking - public domain via bing imagesWe use a lot of sex stereotypes in our everyday speech, most of the time without realizing it. Sometimes even the most gender-neutral phrases carry a strong stereotyped message. In most cases, the words are harmless, but other times they’re dangerous.

Take, for example, the word “behave” as it’s often used in schools. For decades, we’ve been telling boys in classrooms that they should “behave” properly: sit still and be quiet—behavior that’s strongly associated with girls. Unfortunately, that’s not the way boys learn best. Boys get the message that girls’ behavior is “right,” and that that there’s something wrong with boy’s behavior. Parents are told that their sons have ADHD, and they rush out to find a doctor who will confirm that “diagnosis.” As a result, way too many boys are drugged unnecessarily.

Read the rest of this article on the Talking About Men’s Health blog, here.

Developing Infant Language Skills + Selfies, Sexting, and Growing Up

Nicola Lathey, coauthor of Small Talk.
Topic: How to develop your child’s language skills from birth to age four.

Issues: Why the babbling stage is so important; How to encourage your baby’s first words; Communication techniques to calm your toddler’s tantrums; the truth about pacifiers, baby signing, and the impact of TV on language development; language acquisition in bi-lingual homes; causes for concern and where to turn for help.

Janell Burley Hoffman, author of iRules.
Topic: What every tech-healthy family needs to know about selfies, sexting, gaming, and growing up.
Issues:
Having the tech talk (for big kids and little ones); learning to use the tech your child is engaged in; passwords, peers, and how to avoid being a creeper; sleep, kids, and devices; maintaining manners and rules away from home; how to create your own iRules contract.

Are Men Becoming the New Women?

Dear Mr. Dad: A few days ago, I was talking to my 11-year old son about needing to take responsibility for his behavior, and I told him to “Man up.” I started thinking about that phrase and wondered about all the gender stereotyping we do without even realizing it. Are expressions like Man up harmless parts of the language?

A: You’re right. We do use a lot of sex stereotypes in our everyday speech, most of the time without realizing it. Sometimes even the most gender-neutral phrases carry a strong stereotyped message. In most cases, the words are harmless, but other times they’re dangerous.
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The Human Spark

[amazon asin=0465029825&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Jerome Kagan, author of The Human Spark.
Topic:
The science of human development.
Issues: Why claims of the impact of attachment are based on misinterpreted research; the intertwined development of language and morality; the limited effects of childhood on later life; the role that culture and historical era play in an individual’s development of traits.

Formula Feeding Your Baby without Fear

[amazon asin=B009S7O084&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 1: Suzanne Barston, author of Bottled Up.

Topic: How the way we feed babies has come to define motherhood–and why it shouldn’t.

Issues: Breastfeeding rates are steadily rising in the US, but by three months after the birth, 64% of women are either supplementing with formula or have ceased to breastfeed completely; giving support and guidance for parents who feed their babies formula.