There’s a common parental refrain, “If you’re not bleeding, I don’t want to hear it! Figure out how to work it out!”
Siblings fight. It’s part of how kids learn to resolve conflict. Parents expect it, shrug it off, and tell their kids that, one day, they will be best friends.
However, aggressive behavior between siblings can have an impact on kids’ mental health, says a new study from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, published in the July issue of the medical journal “Pediatrics.”
Study authors indicated that victimization among siblings could be just as harmful as peer bullying.
This is startling news for parents, who see the sibling dynamic as the ideal relationship for practicing independent conflict resolution.
How can parents set the stage for this kind of learning without opening the door for one sibling to victimize the other?
Parents should start while the kids are young, suggests Lauren Bondy, a licensed social worker and founder of Parenting Perspectives, an Illinois consulting agency offering workshops, courses, and counseling services to families.
“Parents can do a lot of things when kids are younger than 4 to teach them the skills to work conflict out on their own,” Ms. Bondy says.
Young children need to be taught about the effects of their behavior in firm but kind ways, she says. She cautions parents to avoid making young children feel bad about their actions because they are still learning how to deal with their own emotions and how to interpret others’ feelings.
Bondy encourages parents to “respond in a loving, teaching way” and to remember that “harshness breeds harshness.”
As children grow older, parents can talk with kids during calm, neutral moments about ways to resolve conflicts, including walking away, ignoring unwanted behavior, and establishing a compromise.
Once kids have these tools, parents should allow them to freely explore them, because jumping into conflicts and resolving them for kids can actually promote a bully-victim dynamic, Bondy says.
“Frequently parents jump in with their own perception of who is right or wrong and lecture and punish them. They often expect more from the older child and feel they need to rescue the other one. In actuality, this is setting up a victim mentality; the older child feels bad about who he is and the younger child ends up feeling incapable,” Bondy says.
Parents do need to intervene if a child loses control and begins to hysterically kick, scream, and throw things, she says. In that state, she says kids are not capable of hearing anything. The only thing to do is remove the child somewhere she cannot harm herself or anyone else and let her calm down. Teaching kids self-calming strategies can facilitate this process.
Parents also need to be on the lookout for intentional, repeated victimization between siblings, Bondy says. While conflict is developmentally appropriate, an imbalance of power in the relationship can be harmful.
While many siblings have aggressive relationships and feel that it is a fair fight, the difference in ages can set the stage for an imbalance of power, says Timothy Davis, a Massachusetts child and family psychotherapist and author of “Challenging Boys.”
“Aggression between siblings, especially younger ones, is normal, but some measure of it, particularly if there is an element of fear and intimidation or harassment, becomes really worrisome,” Dr. Davis says.
If you’ve followed the news over the past week, you've probably noticed a shift in the very definition of the American family. As public opinion and state laws have evolved increasingly to tolerate and embrace gay marriage, so has the legal system – the Supreme Court this week invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act and effectively ended California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.
Gays and lesbians who want to marry and receive recognition under the law are the obvious winners. But that the Court has been expanding marriage recognition, rights, and protection to same-sex couples is a part of a bigger trend – an expansion of marriage that has positive effects for children specifically, says Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York.
"The fact is, there's lots of research indicating that the biggest beneficiaries of marriage are children," Mr. Pertman says. "They get social benefits, economic benefits – they get a big range of benefits from marriage. The list goes on and on."
Pertman, whose organization researches policies that affect adoption and works to improve adoption laws, doesn't think that the court has been swept up in a pro-gay marriage, pro-children crusade. He points to the different ways that justices arrived at their two important decisions this week.
"If you look at it ruling by ruling, the California [Prop 8] ruling, for instance, it has a very different rationale than the DOMA ruling," Pertman says. "Both seem to be saying: 'All families are created equal, and all children should be protected' — but [the] California [decision] didn't really say that, [it] said the litigants didn't have standing." (The court ruled that proponents of a ban on gay marriage passed by California voters did not have the right to defend that law in federal courts).
The court also ruled that the backers of California's Proposition 8 didn't have standing to challenge lower-court rulings about the 2008 ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/How_this_weeks_Supreme_Court_decisions_affect_Pa_NJ.html#Ktv31eVBwAR5XHEP.99 Pertman's stance is that the positive impact on children's lives is a good thing, but one that has come about haphazardly and not through any beneficent design on the part of the country's top court.
"The powers that be — the courts, and the legislatures — I rarely think they put their money where their mouth is," Pertman says. "What they say is, 'The children are the future, children are our more valuable resource, children are this, children are that,' but the truth is when push comes to shove, it's the adults and adult concerns that take priority."
The story, Pertman suggests, leads back to the ancient currency of Washington: clout.
"I wrote an op-ed saying children don't lobby and children don't vote, and they pay the price for that," he says.
What makes a parent?
The answer to this seemingly simple question is, in practice, torturously complex, if the recent adoption case of 3-year-old Veronica Brown is any guide.
Veronica, a Native American, spent the first 27 months of her life with her (non-Native American) adoptive parents. The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday that a federal law doesn't compel her to be sent to live with her biological father, who is petitioning for custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. This leaves her ultimate placement up to a South Carolina court.
The actors in the case include:
- Veronica's adoptive parents (Matt and Melanie Capobianco), who can make a compelling case simply through the time and care they've already given to this young child.
- Her biological father Dusten Brown, who abandoned Veronica before birth but now wants to step up and take custody.
- Her biological mother, who saw a brighter future for Veronica in a loving adoptive home.
- The US court system, which must balance upholding the letter of the law as interpreted by judges and justices with the actual human outcomes of its decisions.
- And the Cherokee Nation, which views the case in the greater context of the cultural assimilation (and destruction) wrought by white settlers on Native American culture in general, and via a historically flawed adoption process in particular.
What unites all of these actors is, nominally, an interest in Veronica's "best interests," a phrase that's no easier to disentangle than "parent." What makes Veronica's case so compelling for an outside observer is the overwhelming power of the forces that tug at her.
If you watch a divorce proceeding and custody battle from an outside perspective, your heart goes out to the children involved, who are being torn between two parents who presumably love them and will care for them to varying degrees to be determined imperfectly by a stranger in a robe. Lives hang in the balance, and two whole families are swept up in the conflict.
Veronica's case has all that tension, plus hundreds of years of historical conflict, the painful question of "what is biological parenthood worth?", and sufficient legal intrigue to escalate the fight to the highest court in the land. All actors involved claim to be acting in Veronica's best interest, but by the sheer weight of their numbers, they can't be - the fight itself has the potential to (adversely) affect the rest of her life.
The proceeding also raises the question of heritage — what is it worth to be aware of your own heritage and connected, on a daily basis, to your own history? Tribal governments have struggled for years with out-of-tribe adoptions shrinking their extended families, and the sense of loss is dramatic and palpable.
Louis La Rose (of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) testified during a hearing on the Indian Child Welfare Act:
"I think the cruelest trick that the white man has ever done to Indian children is to take them into adoption court, erase all of their records and send them off to some nebulous family ... residing in a white community and he goes back to the reservation and he has absolutely no idea who his relatives are, and they effectively make him a non-person and I think ... they destroy him."
Is the Cherokee tribe, in effect, a parent with a compelling interest that might make the Veronica Brown case more than a question of a former non-involved father versus a stable, committed adoptive family? Is there legal ground to consider and value that relationship? And would Veronica be better off if there was?
However these questions are ultimately decided, it's troubling to know that there will, inevitably, be more Veronicas caught up the in courts in years to come — but also comforting to understand that these cases have been increasingly decided by mediation in recent years, as we collectively come to grips with the impact a custody fight can have on the person for whom all the fighting is supposedly for: the child.
Wondering how to talk to your teen about weight? Tread carefully, suggests a new study from the University of Minnesota published this week in the medical journal “Pediatrics."
Talking about weight loss and obesity might do more harm than good, the researchers found.
A survey of more than 2,000 adolescents and their parents revealed that while discussions of healthy eating and lifestyle can promote healthy choices, talking about it in terms of weight loss and obesity can drive kids to try dangerous methods of weight control, including diet pills, laxatives, fasting, and purging.
Adolescence is marked by intense peer pressure, and can involve anxiety over self-image and emotional extremes. As tough and independent as teens may insist they are, their self-esteem can be fragile. Many endure bullying from peers about their weight. All are bombarded by an onslaught of images depicting the “perfect body” in magazines, billboards, advertisements, and on television. If parents jump into the fray with even gentle cajoling about their waistline, or nagging about their weight, they run the risk of pushing teens to explore extreme methods of weight control.
That does not mean that parents should avoid the subject entirely. With teen obesity rates at 18 percent, nearly three times the rates seen 30 years ago, promoting healthy eating may be more important now than ever.
The good news is that opening up the dialogue with teens about healthy eating practices can have a positive impact “regardless of the size of your adolescent,” says study author Jerica Berge, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
So how can parents spark conversations about healthy eating without pushing kids to a dangerous extreme?
“The more positive the message the better,” Ms. Berge says.
As every parent knows, very few things are more enticing to teenagers than the things they have been told to avoid. Instead of focusing on what they should not be eating, parents can talk about how fruits and vegetables will make their teens strong and healthy.
There are many advertising campaigns out there promoting foods that can lead to weight gain. The more messages teens receive from adults in their life promoting healthier foods, the better, Berge says. The study found that for teens living in two-parent families, hearing about healthy eating from both parents had a more positive impact than in families where one parent remained silent on the issue.
Parents can turn to pediatricians for additional support in having these conversations. While health care providers probably already are tuned into this issue and most often include discussion of weight and body mass index (BMI) as a routine part of office visits, Berge says that calling pediatricians before the appointment and mentioning that they would like some help discussing healthy eating could be helpful.
Regardless of when parents bring up the topic, Berge emphasizes that parents frame the discussion in as positive a way as possible.
It’s an interesting experiment: The creators of Snapchat, the social app for sharing photos that disappear in seconds, have just introduced SnapKidz, a non-social photo app for kids under 13 with Apple mobile devices (it’s not yet available for Android). So, true to its name, it’s basically the snap without the chat. It’s also the ephemeral photo-sharing app without the ephemeral part. Kids’ photos don’t necessarily disappear in SnapKidz; they can be saved to their iPhone’s camera roll. The way it works is, kids can “take photos and videos, add captions and drawings,” according toSnapchat’s guide for parents, but they can’t create a Snapchat account (so they can’t provide the company with any personal information, which would be a violation of the kids’ privacy law called “COPPA”), add friends or send or receive snaps.
So the main reason why it’s an interesting experiment is that Snapchat’s defining, game-changing characteristics – which created a new category of digital socializing and “safety” (from what some found to be the exhausting self-presentation and daunting permanent and uncontrollable nature of social media before it) – aren’t part of SnapKidz. Which makes it much safer.
App safer, but what about kids?
The thing is, while this may make Snapchat much safer, it doesn’t make kids much safer. Kids can just move on to other apps that provide both photo effects and sharing – on Apple or Android devices (search for “photo editing,” “photo effects” or “drawing” in Google Play). Or they can just use SnapKidz to play with photos, save them, and – and then share them with friends with a myriad other photo-sharing tools, such as via texting, emailing, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And if not tipped off in advance (that they’ll be redirected if s/he says s/he’s under 13), it won’t take a determined kid long to figure out that he or she can just delete SnapKidz and start over – “delete the app, re-install it and sign up for a new account with a false birth year,” as my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid writes at Forbes.com.
Kids vote with their feet
This well-intended product development is fine – maybe it’ll catch on with kids and they won’t lie about their age to get Snapchat so they can play with their friends+spontaneity+photography rather than just photography. But it shouldn’t give anybody a false sense of security. Products and laws designed to keep kids safe never quite seem to get the fluidity of both kids and social media. If they find a product too safe (i.e. restrictive), they can simply move on. They vote with their feet (and their workarounds). Which is why it’s silly to depend on safe products and laws rather than on the power of informed, loving parent-child communication about kids’ social experiences wherever they play out – on devices and in digital spaces just as much as in all the other parts of life.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier blogs at NetFamilyNews.org.
How many times have you signed your child up for swimming, soccer, gymnastics, violin or piano lessons, camp only to hear, “I don’t want to go”? It’s hard not to be furious – “But you said this is what you wanted” – especially when money is involved. Sometimes your child has been involved with the team or the lessons and says, “I want to quit.”
There’s no doubt that parents have hopes and expectations wrapped up in their child’s learning experiences. And what of the parent who never got the opportunity for anything extracurricular and is proud to be able to afford these opportunities for his child? Or the parent whose childhood was formed by her camp experiences, yet her child stubbornly refuses to go to camp?
Fears pop quickly to the surface: “She’s a quitter.” “He never can commit to anything.” “What will her boss do when she decides one morning she doesn’t want to go to work?” “He just gives up.” Those fears lead us to all kinds of bribery and manipulation to get our kids to do what we want, what we think is best, never realizing how powerful our own agendas are.
“How far should I push and when do I let it go? Don’t I have to set high expectations?”
“I can’t let it go because he’s missing this incredible opportunity.”
“She’s being an unappreciative brat. Everything has to be her way. She has no consideration for what we have gone through to make this happen.”
It’s hard to let go.
The truth is that kids may want to join something, and if it doesn’t turn out the way they wanted, they will want to quit. Wouldn’t you? We jump to the “quitter” conclusion way too quickly and decide that our child will never follow thru on anything.
Do you remember being pressured to do something you didn’t want to do? Did you ever think something was a great idea and then changed your mind? Of course you did. That didn’t make you a quitter.
Youth is about taking advantage of opportunities to try out all kinds of different things. Most children don’t know where their passions lie for many years to come. If a child hits on an activity that is of great interest she will stick to it; but if she tries something that isn’t what she wanted, she will want to stop.
Many kids find nothing of interest until high school, college or even beyond. We need to present opportunities to our children with the expectation that if it clicks, great, if not, oh well, let’s try something else. When he finds a match for his interest, he will stay. Knowing that requires our trust in our child’s potential. Think of these opportunities as a smorgasbord giving your child a taste of many things. Some are good, some not.
What to do in the face of refusal or desire to quit:
• Look at all the facets. Could it be the teacher, particular instrument or sport, or other children involved that your child doesn’t like? Perhaps your child is feeling stressed and over programmed and simply needs a break from activities.
• Acknowledge your child’s dislike, boredom, wish to stay home. Acknowledgement does not mean agreement. “Sounds like you changed your mind/are not happy with this program anymore/don’t feel like going today.”
• Use logical consequences. If he wants to quit, let him know about the teacher or director’s point of view. “She is expecting you. You will need to let her know that you won’t be coming. I’ll get the number so you can call.” “The team expects you to be there. We need to show up today so you can talk to the coach.”
• Problem solve. Make sure you feel balanced so you don’t become resentful and reactive. “So you want to change your mind. We all do that from time to time. I have spent quite a bit of money on this program. While I don’t expect you to take responsibility for that, how can we make this fair for both of us?” Then go to the bargaining table and come up with something that works for both of you.
Remember, everything you offer or make available to your children is your choice. You can always say, “No. I don’t want to do all that driving,” or “We can’t afford that this year.” If you try to make your child happy by going out of your way, you will react strongly and forcefully if he decides later he doesn’t want to do it.
So take your child to the smorgasbord table, let him sample and decide for himself. His own motivation and engagement, whenever it comes, will serve him well.
Minnesota is experiencing the worst power outage in its history — on June 21, an intense storm savaged the tree canopy throughout the Twin Cities, leaving more than a half million people without power and making an articulate argument in favor of buried power lines
My Minneapolis neighborhood, Longfellow, looks like it was attacked by a cheesed-off Paul Bunyan. My wife Becca and I work from home where we care for our 2-month-old son Josiah, and our power's been gone since 9 p.m. on Friday night. Excel Energy says the power will be back by Wednesday — but trying to restore a power grid is more horseshoes and hand grenades than a precise art.
The experience has been one of the most challenging things our young family has faced, right up there with the whole "giving birth" thing. But the process has been nothing if not educational.
Treasure That "Peak Moment"
As I write these words, Becca is happily snuggled in a comfortable hotel bed with our son. The room is cool and clean, and I'm able to use wireless Internet to work. A bit less than 24 hours earlier, the two of us were cooped up in an increasingly dark, muggy house. Our son was nearing peak volume (just this side of "jet engine" on the decibel scale), and we were both exhausted and frustrated — with each other, with the situation, with the electric company, with life in general. The ice cream sandwiches had melted. The bratwurst had gone bad. We'd arrived at a dire place.
Looking back, that moment was a precious gift. A horrible, unpleasant, madness-inducing precious gift, but a gift nonetheless. I wish I'd done more to listen rather than talk. I can see how heat, stress, and disrupted routine can stack up. But with a bit of teamwork, we survived.
And I can now view it from the other side of the mess with the knowledge that while things can get highly unpleasant, we can pull back together, rally, and recover.
Change the Venue (If You Can)
Once a power outage (or the minor natural disaster of your choice) has severed your links to everyday life, consider taking a step further and embracing the experience. Travel, if you can. Move into different digs. Spring for a hotel, if it's doable. Is the cost of two nights at a decent hotel something we had budgeted for? Absolutely not. Would we rather spend this money on Josiah's college education, or a trip to Lake Superior's North Shore, or basically anything else? Naturally.
But was it money well spent? Absolutely. We are cool, our baby is happy, our phones are charged, we're back in touch with friends and family and one another. When you hit a hard wall, mix it up — bring in friends or family, take a trip, check into a hotel or otherwise change the game.
The Social Media Safety Net
The sunny flipside of Facebook's in-your-face interface is that when the going gets tough, your friends and family are there. Soon after losing power, Becca posted about it on Facebook; I jumped in to some other friends' threads about the storm and its aftermath. Friends have invited us over for meals, offered us air-conditioned respites, and even (after we'd arrived at the hotel) offered to put us up in their homes, baby and all. Reach out on an open forum, and you may be surprised at how many people offer you a hand.
Context is Golden
At some point — assuming that we aren't consumed by a solar flare or something — power is going to return. The air conditioning will function again, and we can once again do seemingly trivial but absolutely essential things like cooking a meal and storing things in the refrigerator. At that point, everything we do will seem that much easier and more natural. The everyday struggle of raising an infant while working from home will feel like an effortless ballet compared WITH the humid, stressful, messy experience of being without electric power for days during the summer.
And the next time this happens, we'll be ready to ride the storm, as a family.
You probably know Mayim Bialik from "The Big Bang Theory" (or "Blossom," if you're old). But if you're a parent, you may well know her as a notable practitioner and advocate for a form of child rearing known as attachment parenting (a subject that we've reported on in the past, here and here). It's always dangerous to try to summarize anything as complicated and emotionally charged as an entire style of parenting, but loosely put, it's a philosophy that endorses a mix of practices including long-term breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and child-carrying (as opposed to stroller use) in an effort to (among other things) foster a secure, nourishing emotional bond that will last for the lifetime of the parent-child relationship.
She told Yahoo!'s omg! site this weekend that she's tired of strangers approaching her as a precursor to a fight about parenting. And if you're a parent, you know what she's talking about.
While there are a few parenting practices that are universally endorsed — not, for example, leaving your baby in the car seat on a hot day while you go grocery shopping, but just about everything else falls into some sort of ambiguous gray zone. From nutrition to breastfeeding to educational practices to sleep schedules, there's no aspect of a young child's life unworthy of comment, argument, and sometimes vicious debate.
This seems to be because children are seen as a sort of shared resource, to be collectively protected and cared for, a hangover from the "it takes a village" hey-day of child rearing that has mostly receded into a nostalgic fog. It's loving in theory (and often in practice — one of the things a new parent experiences and appreciates is the kindness of strangers), but it can lead to awkward interactions. My wife has been approached multiple times by total strangers who feel empowered to inquire as to her breastfeeding practices. That she is then congratulated for doing the right thing for our child (as opposed to the pro-breastfeeding lecture she might have gotten for saying, "oh, we feed him formula,") only slightly dampens our annoyance at being subjected to the Parent Your Child MY Way police.
Now, there's evidence that breastfeeding has real health benefits, particularly for the first month (and quite possibly for the first six, and so on and so forth in a declining line up until college graduation). But to what extent do we have the right to ask (or even demand) that other people do something to potentially enhance their children's lives?
It's possible that the mom in question may have a medical challenge, or be an adoptive parent, or be unable to produce enough milk to help her baby thrive, or any number of other personal stories that make breastfeeding (or exclusive breastfeeding, or breastfeeding until the child can ask for milk in eloquent complete sentences) difficult or impossible. Having to work a 9-to-5 job and a second job to make ends meet could be among those factors — not everyone can schedule lives around feeding and pumping.
As for Bialik, that her status as a celebrity and public advocate for attachment parenting should lead to occasionally heated conversations with total strangers can't come as a total shock. But personally, I won't be judging her. I've got a baby to raise. Turns out it takes a bunch of work.
If you Google "books for children," you're going to be overwhelmed by links. Dozens of retailers, libraries, blogs, and media institutions publish their children's book recommendations annually, monthly, sometimes weekly or daily. You'll choose a site that seems reputable and hope for the best, but how can you be sure? What's more, the recommendations are typically formatted into lengthy vertical lists that can wear down your patience and your computer mouse's scroll wheel.
While we at Modern Parenthood understand the value in filtering out the best children's books from the bad, we wanted to do away with the scrolling and introduce an aesthetic sensibility to boot. So we made a children's book word cloud (click here for a larger, more readable cloud).
For the uninitiated, word clouds are a way to visualize word choice. Text is entered into a word cloud generator and out comes the words which appeared most often in the text. The generator uses size to represent frequency, so words that are small in the cloud were used less in the text than and words that appear larger.
These generators even let you input whole phrases, or in our case, titles of books. We combined titles from nine must-read children's book lists, including lists from Barnes and Noble, the Boston Public Library, ChildrensBooksGuide.com, etc., and put them into a word cloud generator. What came out, and what you see in small format at the top of the page (again, click here for large format) is a word cloud that displays the children's books most frequently mentioned by must-read children's book lists. If a book was mentioned on multiple lists, it will appear larger in the world cloud.
Within the word cloud are timeless treasures like "A Wrinkle in Time," "Where the Wild Things Are," and "The Little Prince," along with forgotten gems like "Maniac Magee," and "The Rainbow Fish."
We've also written about some of the books in the word cloud. Monitor books reporter Molly Driscoll interviewed the author of the "Magic Tree House" series last summer. Mary Norton's "The Borrowers" was made into an animated movie by the famous Japanese animators at Studio Ghibli. The movie, "The Secret World of Arrietty", was reviewed in the Monitor last winter.
Do you like looking at book lists in a word cloud or do you prefer a more traditional format? Let us know on Twitter: @Modparenthood
Today the sun will shine for 18 hours, 50 minutes and 1 second.
Now I realize that in December, when the days are short and the imposing darkness begins to wear on me, I’ll regret having said this: I’m tired of the sun. My body needs the kind of peace that only a dark, starry night can provide.
At first I was looking forward to being in Oslo on June 21, the longest day of the year. The best remedy for a grim Norwegian winter is the buildup to the summer solstice. But I went on a whirlwind trip with the Foreign Press Association into the Arctic Circle where, for five days, I didn’t see a cloud in the sky. Just the intense, bright yellow sun. In northern Norway towns like Kirkenes, Honningsvåg, and Vardø, the sun doesn’t set for 60 days. Even when the peak of the midnight sun has passed, twilight increases by just 40 minutes each day. There isn’t a proper dark night from April through August.
The first two days I was charmed by the whole thing. Sunshine all the time! Having to wake up about four hours earlier than I’d like didn’t feel so tough because the brightness and surprisingly warm weather lifted my spirits.
After a few days I started to feel tired. The sun was there when I got up at 6am for a press conference with the prime ministers of Russia and Norway, and at 2pm when we drove to the Norwegian-Russian border for a ceremony. When I clambered into bed at 11pm, I could see the sunshine bursting through the ineffective hotel curtains. My eyes opened for a moment around 3am and the blazing sun made me feel like I had fallen asleep watching television in the middle of the day. Even after eight hours of sleep I still felt like all I’d had a power-nap.
By the end of the week I was programmed to fall asleep when the lights were simply turned off. I nearly nodded off during a Power Point presentation by an oil company executive.
Fortunately for them, localers are used to 60 days of sunshine in the summer and 60 days of darkness in the winter. I spoke to a native of Finnmark County in the High North and he said besides being a little more tired than usual in the summer, he didn’t find it too challenging. “We aren’t depressed drunks in the winter, nor are we hyperactive in the summer,” he said, debunking ubiquitous myths. “It’s really not a big deal.”
I was lucky enough to have the chance to go to North Cape (Nordkapp in Norwegian), a 1,007-foot-high cliff with a plateau that attracts tourists from around the world to see the midnight sun in the summer and northern lights in the winter.
North Cape is the second northern-most point of Europe, a mere 2,102.3 kilometers from the North Pole. It has restaurants, a small chapel for weddings, a museum, a theater with a short video about the natural beauty of the High North, and a cheesy souvenir shop.
The midnight sun can be seen from 14 May to the 31st of July. The sun reaches its lowest point from 12:14 – 12:24am during those days.