Boys Will Be Boys, Even If They Dress Like Girls

Dear Mr. Dad: I came home a little earlier than usual, walked into my bedroom, and saw my 6-year-old son sitting in front of the mirror, wearing one of my short dresses, heels, and applying mascara. He didn’t notice me at first because he was so busy talking to himself in the mirror. But as soon as he did, he scooted past me as fast as he could and went straight to his room. I’m worried and would like to talk with him about this, but he’s been avoiding me for days. What should I do?

A: You say that you’re worried, but you don’t say what, exactly, you’re worried about. If it’s simply that he was wearing your clothes, that’s probably not a big deal. In fact, at your son’s age, it’s a healthy sign. Playing dress-up gives kids a chance to explore what it might feel like to be someone else—even someone of the opposite sex—and that’s a skill that’s important as he learns about empathy.

If you’re worried that he may be gay or have a gender identity disorder, the chances are pretty slim. Pretending to be of the opposite sex is by no means an accurate predictor of anything–especially at your son’s age. To put this in perspective, ask yourself whether you’d be as worried if your son were a girl and you caught her trying on her dad’s clothes. For some reason, we’re generally okay with girls who dress like boys, but boys who dress like girls set off all sorts of alarms. Interestingly, children are often even less tolerant than adults of their peers (especially boys) who don’t wear the clothes they’re “supposed to.”
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When it Comes to Farting, Forget “Excuse me.” How ‘Bout “You’re Welcome,” Instead?

As parents, we all teach our kids to say “excuse me” after passing gas and burping. And we frequently find ourselves reminding them with a sarcastic “excuuuuse you.” But according to some new research about farting (yes, amazingly, there is such a thing), we should actually be thanking the kids instead.
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Making Grateful Kids

Giacomo Bono, co-author of Making Grateful Kids.
Topic:
The science of building character.
Issues: Understanding what gratitude is and why it’s important; the surprising ways being grateful affects us; practical strategies for fostering an attitude of gratitude in your home and life.

Stop Summer Learning Loss + The Science of Building Character

Sharman Johnston, early childhood and education expert.
Topic:
How to stop summer learning loss.
Issues: On average, teachers have to spend 4-8 weeks at the beginning of the school year re-teaching material from the previous year that the children have forgotten; how socioeconomic level affects how much knowledge a child loses over the summer.


Giacomo Bono, co-author of Making Grateful Kids.
Topic:
The science of building character.
Issues: Understanding what gratitude is and why it’s important; the surprising ways being grateful affects us; practical strategies for fostering an attitude of gratitude in your home and life.

Will You Please Get a Room? Please?

Dear Mr. Dad: We have two boys, ages four and nine. The nine-year-old has no problem sleeping in his own bed, but the four-year-old constantly wants to sleep with my husband and me. I don’t mind an occasional “sleep over”–especially when my husband is away on business and the bed seems so empty. But lately, my son wants to be in our bed every night. That seems a little old to me. Is co-sleeping with a four-year-old okay?

A: I wish I could give you a definitive Yes or No, but the real answer is the completely unsatisfying “It depends.” There’s a lot of controversy out there about co-sleepng (or “the family bed” or “bed sharing” or whatever else you want to call it). Some authorities, such as the Children’s Health Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics say the practice is dangerous and they point to studies that show that the incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is higher when babies share a bed with parents. Others say that sharing a bed is fine, and they point to the fact that something like 80 percent of the world’s families practice co-sleeping. Unfortunatley, neither of those answers applies to your situation: At four, your son is far too old for you to worry about SIDS. And, like it or not, about 80 percen of the world’s families live in much, much smaller spaces than we do in the U.S., and the option for famiy members to sleep in separate rooms isn’t even on their radar.
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Understanding Baby’s Mood + Happy At-Home Moms + Avoiding Judgmental Parents


Megan Faure, author of The Babysense Secret .
Topic: Learning how to understand your baby’s moods.
Issues: Creating a baby-centric routine and struggle less to get your baby to sleep; understanding your baby’s sensory world and signals to avoid overstimulation, which leads to fussiness.


Rachel Compos-Duffy, author of Stay Home, Stay Happy.
Topic: Secrets to loving at-home motherhood.
Issues: Embracing the choice to stay home with confidence; taking care of yourself guilt-free; mentally and physically recharging every day, and more.


Deborah Copaken-Kogan, author of] Hell is Other Parents.
Topic: Tales of maternal combustion.
Issues: A collection of witty, smart, funny, poignant essays on dealing with intrusive and judgmental other parents, modern working parenthood, raising a family on inadequate income.