When clever discipline becomes child abuse

Remember the story a few months ago about the 15-year old  girl who was forced to get up in front of the whole school and announce that she was pregnant? Or the 14-year old boy whose parents forced him to stand on the street with a sign declaring that he’d receive Fs on his report card?

New research is just now confirming what most sane parents already knew: humiliating punishments actually do more harm than good. And that’s certainly the case with the newest entries into the ”it-seemed-like-a-clever-idea-at-the-time” category of parental stupidity.

Child sitting in a corner

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Does it matter whether you’re smiling while you change that diaper?

Great article by Tara Parker-Pope in the NY Times Magazine this week. It talks about whether women like childcare more than men. The answer, according to the researchers is, Yes.

But here’s my question: What the hell difference does it make whether you enjoy it or not?

Guys are doing more and more around the house—more than double what they were doing in 1985. The stats show that women are still spending twice as much time with the kids than men are. But those studies are notoriously flawed. They don’t take into account that men spend an average of 7 hours/week more than women commuting to and from work. They don’t count playing with the kids at “spending time” with them, and they usually don’t count the many other tasks men do in the general service of the family: plumbing, lawn mowing, dish washing, etc.
That said, the Times article raises some interesting points. Some excerpts:
“Researchers from the University of Virginia recently asked 181 academics with young children how much pleasure they experienced from various child-care tasks.”
“On 16 out of 25 child-care tasks — like changing diapers, taking a child to the doctor or getting up in the middle of a night to attend to a child — women reported statistically significant higher levels of enjoyment than men. The only parenting issue that gave women less pleasure than it gave men was having to manage who does what for the child. Over all, women’s scores were 10 percent higher than men’s.”
The whole article is here.
In addition, you can take the quiz yourself here.

Come on, Huggies–you really think dads don’t know when to change diapers?

I’ve been watching the media and its portrayals of dads for two decades. And for most of that time, the media has joyfully portrayed fathers as incompetent buffoons, unable to care for their children or handle even the most basic household tasks. As a guy who’s been a stay-at-home dad and who is actively involved in my kids’ lives, I’ve always found these portrayals offensive.

So now, a good 12 years into the 21st century, Huggies–a company that really should know better–has jumped into the fray with yet another annoying campaign, this one called “The Dad Test.” In one ad, the voiceover says, “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads… alone with their babies….” Really? The implication here seems to be that dads are more likely to leave their babies to stew in their own juices than moms. Otherwise, why would “dads… alone with their babies…” be such a scary prospect?

If you’re interested in getting Huggies to cut the crap (okay, bad pun), sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/we-re-dads-huggies-not-dummies

Mr. Comfort

Dear Mr. Dad: I work pretty long hours and love playing with my 2-year old daughter as much as I can. But whenever she gets hurt or upset, she screams for her mommy. I know she’s not deliberately trying to hurt my feelings, but it still stings. Is there some way I can comfort her without needing to get my wife involved?

A: You’re absolutely right to try not to take your daughter’s behavior personally. And it’s great that you’re not giving up. Since your daughter spends more time with mom, it’s perfectly normal for her to have designated mommy as “the one to go to when something’s not right.” She’s probably put you into a different role: “playmate.” That said, it’s still important that you learn to help her—and that she learn to accept your help.
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The Real Poop on Toilet Training

Dear Mr. Dad: My son seems to have no interest in potty training. He’s almost 3 and many kids in his pre-school already use the potty. My wife says we shouldn’t push him, but I don’t want him to be the only one left in diapers. What’s the right age to start potty training and how can we I encourage my son?

A: Some children are completely out of diapers by age two, others can take years longer, so there’s nothing about your son’s age that automatically makes him “too old” for diapers. The bottom line, so to speak, is that your son will start when he’s ready. Pushing him may actually hinder the process.
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