Things I’ve learned as a parent, or want others to learn.
April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. And as a parent, making our children aware of alcohol and responsible drinking should happen early, appropriately and repeatedly.
But first let me drop a bit of awareness on you…
In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once. By 2020, that number had dropped to 44%. Some credit this decrease, in part, to an increase in parents talking to their children openly and honestly about alcohol.
This past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Responsibility.org, whose mission is to facilitate these lifelong conversations between parents and kids. I’ve learned a ton from my interactions with the organization and strive to impart some of that knowledge to my readers… and of course, to my son.
So, in honor of Alcohol Responsibility Month, I thought I’d do just that — have a conversation with my 11-year-old about alcohol.
As I was coming up with questions, I realized I hadn’t had much in the way of father-son chats about alcohol. I knew he’d seen me and his Papa drink — and probably more often during quarantine. But what did he really know? What had he actually observed? How worried should I be?
Below is our enlightening (and entertaining) discussion.
You can’t swing a mismatched sock without hitting someone giving you parenting advice. Talk shows and books, blogs and social media, teachers, therapists, other parents, your parents — it’s everywhere and it’s constant. And as we’re a year into a pandemic, lord knows we need all the advice we can get. But I also know I’m not always ready to digest it.
Speaking of parenting advice, I recently sat in on a conversation with Jessica Lahey. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, is a New York Times bestseller. She’s also a teacher and a mom, and chock full of delicious parenting know-how.
Jessica crammed a lot of wisdom, feedback and advice into our hour-long chat, sponsored by Responsibility.org. And while a lot of what she shared rang true, I found myself terribly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with good and helpful information, but overwhelmed, nonetheless.
Quarantine life has been taking its toll on me lately, and most days I feel like I’m just getting by. I was tempted to give in to my anxiety, chuck all this info out the window, and hope for the best (a common defense mechanism for me). But this time I took a different approach.
For I’m excited to once again partner with Med-IQ to educate parents and caregivers about flu season. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end of my post. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the symptoms and treatments for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.
Pandemic numbers continue to rise. Kids continue to learn virtually. Cold weather is pushing us further into quarantine. And if there wasn’t already enough to worry about, flu season is still in full swing. Peak flu season generally lasts from December to February. Every year, millions of children contract the flu — resulting in thousands hospitalized and many dead.
A while back I shared about the symptoms of pediatric flu — in particular how they compare to COVID-19 and the common cold. This time I’m focusing on treatment options, specifically antiviral medications.
First of all, I want to reiterate that getting yourself and your family vaccinated is the best way to prevent contracting the flu. CDC reports show that a vaccine reduces the risk of getting flu to between 40% and 60%, depending on the year and strains of flu going around. That’s great, but still leaves an average 50-50 chance of contracting the flu. So how do you best treat it?
Partway through Trump’s first year in office, I wrote the predecessor to this post. As we near the end of his term rampage, who would have thought I’d be able to create an entirely new list of 26 horrifying words associated with our 45th president? Anyone who’s ever heard him speak (or Tweet), that’s who.
Over the last four years, I, like so many others, have thought “Surely this can’t get any worse” more times than I can count. Each time I was proven wrong, as Trump’s ego, ineptitude and callousness one-upped itself on a near daily basis.
As a parent, I’ve also had more difficult conversations with my son than I can count. In the last 12 months alone, we’ve discussed enough terrible topics to fill a lifetime. How in the hell were we supposed to be prepared for all this? The chapters on global pandemics, police brutality, psychotic leaders and domestic terrorism were missing from my parenting handbook.
So sit back, raise a glass (or two) and help me toast an alphabet we hope to never repeat. Again.
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THE ABCs of TRUMP, Part 2
Warning: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.
A is for ALTERNATIVE FACTS
When a kid exaggerates out of embarrassment or self-centeredness, it’s a fib. When it’s Kellyanne Conway defending false claims about the overblown attendance of Trump’s inauguration, it’s a bald-faced lie. The moment we began to realize the amount of fucked-up fiction we were in for. • Alternative As: Antifa, asinine
B is for BULLY
Trump is the quintessential bully, in that he finds pleasure in cruelty, equates intimidation with power and has no sense of remorse. He also likely doesn’t know what “quintessential” means.
C is for CONSPIRACY THEORY
If there’s a conspiracy floating around, you can bet Trump either started or promoted it. A suspicious sampling: anti-vax/vaccines cause autism, Biden/Ukraine connection, climate change denial, COVID-19 conspiracies (of which there are legion), “deep state,” Epstein didn’t commit suicide, Hurricane Maria death toll, Obama “birther” conspiracy, QAnon, Russia investigation counterclaims, Stop the Steal/voter fraud and impersonation, Trump Tower wiretapping, wind turbines cause cancer.
For the full list, check out THE ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA PAGE dedicated to Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories. • Extra Cs: Charlottesville, China, coronavirus, coup
As parents, we’ve had to have a lifetime of difficult conversations with our kids, all within the last 12 months. Few of these are talks we’d ever expected to have, much less in such a short time span. Luckily, kids can be amazingly resilient.
Yet this resiliency doesn’t happen on its own. It comes from having those hard discussion with authenticity. It comes from creating a safe space for children to express and experience their emotions, and then helping them find their way past.
If you’re like me, you’re making things up as you go — extreme on-the-job training. Yet modeling authenticity is vital to both ourselves and our kids. Whether it’s peer pressure to drink or watching a rage-filled mob overrun the US Capitol, teaching our children how to respond to life — regardless of what it throws at us — is one of the most important jobs we have.
Around this time four years ago, there was a barrage of articles, posts and memes declaring 2016 the “Worst Year Ever.” Between Trump getting elected, Brexit, Orlando, Zika and an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths, we thought it couldn’t get any worse than that.
But then 2020 came along.
Alright… this is where I’m supposed to impart some wisdom. To share valuable life lessons I’ve learned during this never, ever ending pandemic. To give you pointers on ways to talk to your kids about responsibility and resilience. Unfortunately, I got nothin’.
Luckily, I know someone chock full of wisdom and pointers. I recently sat in on a chat hosted by Responsibility.org, featuring parent coach, Washington Post columnist, author and hilarious human, Meghan Leahy. To give you an idea of why I enjoyed Meghan’s talk so much, I’ll be sharing my favorite quotes from the conversation throughout this post. First up, my absolute favorite:
“Everyone is a hot, hot mess.”
If you can’t relate to that even a little bit, you’re in a state of deep, blissful denial.
Lest you think I and my family have all our shit together, guess again. In between the cute IG pics and the occasional informative blog posts, our life is a series of bumps, mishaps and near catastrophes. Several times a week, I apologize for yelling at my kid. School is a source of constant stress; ADHD is a sonofabitch and not at ALL suited to distance learning. Screen time is through the roof. We almost never eat dinner together. We order takeout multiple times a week — often from more than one restaurant. My hermit-like husband works ’round the clock. My projects have slowed to a crawl, leaving me frustrated and hopeless at times. I’ve fed my insecurities by keeping Amazon in business, perfecting my margarita, and with much too much actual food.
I’m excited to partner with Med-IQ to educate parents and caregivers about pediatric flu. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the symptoms and treatments for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.
If you’re like me, anytime anyone in your family has the slightest sniffle, cough or ache, you immediately think “COVID!” The cloud of uncertainty and isolation we’ve all been living under these last six months has been beyond frustrating, and it’s about to get even more so. Welcome to flu season!
Take the constant stream of information (and misinformation) about COVID-19. Mix in the start of the strangest, least educational school year ever. Sprinkle with an unhealthy dose of cold and flu season, and how that all plays into the global pandemic. It’s a recipe for disaster — or at least a whole lot of stressed out parents.
I’m excited to partner again with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about obesity, a chronic disease. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.
I’ve learned a lot during the many years I’ve dealt with obesity. First and foremost, that no one can fight my battles, make lifestyle changes or advocate for my needs but me. Sure, there’s a never-ending stream of information and influence from media, medicine and society in general. But not all of it is helpful to me — and much of it isn’t helpful to anyone.
I’ve also learned a lot about speaking up for myself to those treating my obesity. Between having conversations with experts, reading educational materials and sharing my own stories, I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge — and I once again want to share it with you.
So… FIFTH GRADE. Even under normal circumstances, that phrase brings a mixture of shock, awe, gratefulness and stress. So let’s throw in a global pandemic and some at-home, online learning for added effect, shall we?
Needless to say, the last few months of fourth grade were not what we (or anyone else) had planned. I’m sure there are some kids out there who thrive at distance learning. My child is not one of them. His ADHD, combined with a penchant for non-stop, action-packed video games, made for some very frustrating attempts at on-screen classes. We made it out the other side alive, which I consider a win.
Also needless to say, Jon and I both enjoyed the hell out of our class-less summer. But now here we are again — the excitement of a new school year mixed with the stressful virtuality of it all.