As a society, we’ve been talking about youth online risk for years, but we’ve only just begun to talk about young people’s resilience, which is what helps them keep risk from turning into harm. It’s important to know, as the authors of an important new report note, that resilience – the ability to deal with negative experiences without being upset by them – doesn’t come from avoiding risk, online or offline.
“Risk and resilience go hand in hand, as resilience can only develop through exposure to risks or stressful events. Consequently, as children learn how to adequately cope with (online) adversities, they develop (online) resilience,” write Leen d’Haenens, Sofie Vandoninck and Verónica Donoso of EU Kids Online in the UK.
Here are some things parents and educators need to know about resilience:
- What it enables: “Resilient children are able to tackle adverse situations in a problem-focused way, and to transfer negative emotions into positive (or neutral) feelings,” the authors write.
- Gender differences: Boys were less resilient at a younger age, girls were less resilient as teenagers.
- Online and offline inseparable: “Children with more psychological problems suffer more from online as well as offline risks” (resonant with findings of a just-released study in the US, published in the journal Pediatrics, about maltreatment's amplifying effect on a child's online vulnerability).
- Most popular coping strategy (but resilient kids usually use more than one): “Talking to somebody is the most popular employed strategy, regardless of the type of risk, especially among girls and younger children who tend to employ this communicative strategy more often.” The authors recommend encouraging “open communication, both at home and at school.”
- Other education needed: Teach children effective coping strategies, including blocking and abuse-reporting tools, but especially social-emotional literacy (I added the latter, based on other research and the authors’ advice that “special attention to children with low self-efficacy and psychological difficulties … is crucial.”
- It’s not either/or, but a spectrum: “Being resilient is not a simple ‘yes or no’ question, and … would rather be understood as a continuum from very low to very high resilience.” Over all, “girls, younger children, children with more psychological problems, those receiving more support from their friends, children whose parents mediated their internet use and children whose parents were low internet users were less resilient.”
- Parents’ own tech use a significant factor: Promoting Net use by parents “is crucial, as parents who are frequent internet users themselves feel more confident with the medium, and also feel more confident in guiding their children … promoting a positive attitude toward online safety and proactive coping strategies.”
- Mediation better than restriction: In terms of parenting style, the authors write that “monitoring or mediating approaches seem to be more beneficial for children’s online resilience than restrictive ones.” They add that more research is needed for different types of risks and on social practices of young people.
- Taking away the Net doesn’t help: It’s related to a passive or fatalistic approach that doesn’t build self-confidence or -efficacy online, the researchers found. “Going offline was related to missing out on online opportunities, and the problem could easily re-occur because the cause had not been tackled.”
- Educators key too: Teachers are needed to “stimulate their pupils to resort to proactive problem-solving strategies,” so “sufficient digital skills among the teachers themselves are therefore essential.”
Zooming in on young people’s top coping strategy: “Talking with somebody” was the most popular one regardless of the problem encountered,” according to the report. In the case of bullying, 77% of the victims talked to someone after an incident; 53% “did so after seeing disturbing sexual content.” But they often use several strategies at once – for example, “deleting unwelcome messages [41%] and blocking the sender [46%]” in cases of bullying and 38% and 40%, respectively, in cases of sexting. Did that help? Yes, the authors found, 92% of young people who reported deleting unwelcome sexual content and 78% of those who blocked the sender in bullying cases said those strategies helped.
It’s great to see research turning up substantive evidence of young people’s resourcefulness as well as resilience online. Remember that this research is based on surveys of more than 25,000 youth in 25 countries.
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.
According to a study published in the Journal “Pediatrics” earlier this month, a 12-year-old’s preference for what the academics described as “loud, rebellious, and so-called ‘deviant’ music” is a predictor of later delinquency; more so, even, than early delinquency.
In other words, a young teen who loves punk rock is more likely, statistically, to shoplift or vandalize cars at age 16 than a jazz-loving 12-year-old who has already stolen, the research found.
“Music choice is a strong marker of later problem behavior,” they wrote in the article.
Point, Tipper Gore.
There has been much research on the connection between music and problem behavior. (Oh, those Beatles with their long hair!) And while some studies have shown that these connections – especially those claimed in popular discourse – are exaggerated, others have found statistically important links.
In Canadian, Dutch, US, and Swedish studies, researchers have found that from the 1980s onward, young people who prefer rock genres such as heavy metal, goth, and punk consistently also display more risky behavior, such as drunk driving, speeding, and alcohol and drug use. Research also shows that certain hip hop music fans – particularly those devotees of gangsta rap – are more likely than their peers to be involved in gangs, minor delinquency, and alcohol and drug use.
But there’s still a lot of debate about the whys and hows. Do teens inclined toward anti-social behavior simply gravitate to anti-social music? Or do violent music lyrics make teens more accepting of violence? Do teens who start breaking rules with their friends gravitate to music that valorizes their behavior, creating a reinforcing cycle?
In this most recent study, researchers set out to create a theoretical base for exploring these questions. They asked adolescents already involved in a longitudinal study about their music preferences, having them rate 11 popular styles of music on a 5-point scale. They also asked them to fill out a self-reporting questionnaire that measures minor delinquency, where subjects say how many times they had committed minor offenses such as shoplifting, petty theft, and vandalism.
The researchers repeated this process four times, when the subjects were 12, 14, 15, and 16. They worked to control for gender and other factors.
While there is still a lot more to learn, they acknowledge, they did find what they believe is a new starting place to explore the connections between music and behavior: and that’s early in adolescence. What a teen listened to at age 12 had a lot more to do with her behavior at 17 than did her later music taste.
They say there still needs to be more work exploring the why – and that future research should try to distinguish between teens who seem to like “deviant media as part of a longer chain of problem behavior” and those who like particular styles of music because, well, they like it.
“Research needs to consider other young people for whom listening to music, which is often annoying to grown-ups, is energizing, comforting or simply fun, and functions similarly as adolescent-limited problem behavior," they wrote. "That is, as a test of personal and social limits.”
I celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. today. Perhaps it’s because my father spent part of his newspaper career traveling through Alabama to Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery covering the famous civil rights demonstrations led by Dr. King. Perhaps because King would be the same age as my father. But I think it’s mostly because King taught me how to be positively dissatisfied, something I hope I’ve conveyed to my children and students.
His was a simple message: how to object to injustice. “This isn’t right; something better is possible.” But there’s a crucial coda: “I can help to fix it.” Many have identified injustice; few have given the tools for change to the powerless. King, the legendary American, the Nobel laureate, the preacher, the courageous man, connects me to the essence of my work in education.
RECOMMENDED: Martin Luther King Day: 10 memorable MLK quotes
Working in schools, I know that children have an innate ability to flag injustices and feel that “something better is possible.” In schools, we witness these individual consciences making a difference every day, often in the face of the bland or arrogant voice of tradition saying “that’s just the way it is,” pleading for the status quo. But in their wonderful small ways, children refute limitations. In their small ways, they live those words that King seems to own: They have a dream.
Enacting dreams can become fraught. Teachers too are nagged by the voice saying “that’s just the way it is;” that teaching even the smaller kindnesses isn’t worth it. The voices of gossip, teasing, exclusivity or indifference plead constantly in our daily walk with classmates and colleagues around the schoolyard. Why does it grow harder to say “That’s not fair” to the little stuff, much less the sublime threats to civility? Teachers must clarify values and opportunities for leadership every chance we get, be it the barbed note passed in class, graffiti in the bathroom, the inward knife of cheating, or the put-downs given such celebrity in our culture of irony.
This may be the most important curriculum we teach. It is the part of teaching that deals with the essence of humanity, the essence of being a citizen, a friend. This is King’s curriculum, writ small: finding in the empathic connection to others the key to our own humanity and happiness.
We should sweat the “small stuff,” before it gets big. Working on the small stuff translates into progress on the sublime. Americans are faced with some robust epidemics: hatred, violence or “mere” indifference. If our schools are educating young adults who can learn to be positively dissatisfied – “This isn’t right; I can fix this” – there is hope for a cure.
It’s not that we don’t know the antidote. As the heroes of the civil rights movement have shown us, in America, Tiananmen Square, Prague, or Belfast, revolutions that overturn cruelty and oppression often begin with one person, a single voice saying: “That’s not right.” Perhaps it is by simply voting; perhaps facing down a tank; perhaps tackling the assassin. But the roots of such a stance lie in Dr. King’s thoughts. “It really boils down to this,” he said, “that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
RECOMMENDED: Martin Luther King Day: 10 memorable MLK quotes
Maya Angelou relied upon King’s most famous image when she instructed us to:
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Every year at this time, every day, we should celebrate this spirit – the right kind of dissatisfaction – King’s dream.
Todd R. Nelson is head of school at The School in Rose Valley, Penn. His father, Robert C. Nelson covered the Civil Rights movement for The Christian Science Monitor. 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.
It’s Friday, which means time for our (celebrity-heavy) parenting news roundup. Without further ado, we bring you....
Dad’s dating advice
Sam Fox, you heard it from your dad first. Taylor Swift is no good for you.
That’s right. Continuing a Tina Fey joke from the Golden Globes last weekend, Michael J. Fox at a book party Wednesday told the singer to “back off” from his 23-year-old son. (Not that there’s any rumor of interest, anyhow.)
“I don’t keep up with it all,” Michael J. Fox told reporters at Vulture.com, who actually asked him about this. “But Taylor Swift writes songs about everybody she goes out with, right?”
Indeed, the 23-year-old Swift is getting a bit of a reputation as a serial dater. Which in and of itself is no great surprise for a young celeb. The difference is that Swift’s exes tend to find themselves the focus of popular tween ballads. (Talk about never ever getting back together.)
The Vulture interviewer asked Fox what he would think if Sam brought home Taylor for a family dinner. His reply: He wouldn't know who she was, but he’d figure it out when he heard the hit breakup song on the radio. “‘Sam, You Piece of ... ’ Oh, that was the girl you brought home!”
And does this father-son dating advice apply to all singer-songwriters – or just Grammy winners who go out with Harry Styles?
New York v. Los Angeles
A new nugget to add to that “which is better, Los Angeles or New York” debate that you have with your West Coast friends: In a study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control this week, researchers found that New York appears to be more effective than its Pacific Coast counterpart at reducing childhood obesity for low-income preschoolers.
The researchers compared obesity rates among poor children from 2003 to 2011. In New York the rates dipped from about 19 percent to 16 percent, while in LA they rose from 17 percent to 21 percent, before dropping to 20 percent.
Public health officials came up with a few explanations for the difference: In New York people usually walk or take mass transit, while LA tends to be car-based. New York started early promoting exercise as part of its government program for low income women and infants. And in the Los Angeles study there were more Mexican-American children, for whom obesity is more common than for black and white children.
Let the monarch rule
So, we just couldn’t resist this.
If you haven’t yet put two and two together (and really, why would you), you might not realize that Kim Kardashian, princess of reality television land, and Kate Middleton, the real live Duchess of Cambridge, are both due to have their babies in July.
And Kardashian, because she’s classy like this, has magnanimously said that Middleton can have all the attention. For her part, Kardashian says, she’d like a little privacy.
So, lessons this week from Kim: Reality stars don’t always love the paparazzi. And the future King or Queen of England should be of more public interest than the future Kimye child.
Awesome. I’ll keep that advice in mind.
Forget the booties...
And to balance out the pregnant celebrity news, this week expectant singer Shakira and soccer star Gerard Pique held their baby shower. Their virtual baby shower, that is, with all the gifts going to UNICEF and underprivileged kids worldwide.
Shakira is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nation’s children’s agency, and said in a message on the virtual shower site that she and Pique wanted to celebrate the arrival of their first child by helping others. Web users can join the virtual shower and buy gifts like a $5 mosquito net, a $10 polio vaccine or a $37 baby scale.
"To celebrate the arrival of our first child, we hope that, in his name, other less privileged children in the world can have their basic needs covered through gifts and donations," the couple writes on the site.
Much of the world has heard about China’s recent run of horrendous air pollution levels. Some reports listed the PM 2.5 – the measure of the finest particulates in the air – at a whopping 993 milligrams per cubic meter. After ABC anchor Diane Sawyer called it “air-pocalypse” on the evening news, the worried emails from home started popping up in my inbox.
For some perspective, any number over 300 is considered “hazardous” by the US Embassy’s monitoring system, which has been measuring air quality for about four years.
Parents in Beijing – not even the most polluted city in China – have been agonizing over the fact that they’re exposing their children to unhealthy particulates.
I have older children – although they both happen, somewhat miraculously, to live in China. My son Daniel called us Saturday from Guangzhou (which is in the south: Guangzhou is to Beijing as Miami is to New York) to ask how we were faring. What could we say? Most expats spent the day indoors. New York Times correspondent Edward Wong tweeted: “Holing up with books and movies and an air filter.”
But I couldn’t do that – I had invited eight for dinner that night, and decided to venture a 30-minute walk to Sanyuanli, the local wet market, where I could buy high-quality salmon, vegetables and even a baozi (steamed bun) snack to fuel my shopping. I also walked back, dragging behind me my little-old-lady shopping cart packed with salmon for the main course, celery and onions and zucchini for minestrone, and Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and cauliflower for side dishes.
On Sunday morning, after a lively and delicious party (if I do say so myself) I woke up with a throat so sore I could barely swallow and pollution levels still soaring into the 600s, 700s, and 800s. The sky still looked like a storm was approaching, the sun hidden behind a gray screen. The air smelled as if six dozen cars had caught fire.
The parents of young children stayed inside for the most part, although one mom on the Beijing Mamas listserv wrote that she was venturing out for one activity that her daughter loved. But to get to that they were wearing face masks.
The air, in fact, generated a round of hand-wringing on the various listservs, e-mail chains, and blogs that Beijing expats follow. One London mother wrote to Beijing Mamas that she was pregnant and about to move to Beijing: “I am freaking out about the pollution in Beijing and how it will affect our lives and our health,” she wrote. “I am scared I will feel trapped indoors too afraid to take baby out or find the pollution depressing.”
The mothers responded generously, welcoming her to what some call “Gray-jing” and telling her about the Chinese love of Western babies, the wonderful ayis who take care of children, not to mention perks like inexpensive manicures.
Beijing parents did fret, of course. Bill Bishop, who runs a popular news-aggregating e-mail called Sinocism, wrote, “I have to say, the last couple of days have me seriously questioning why I have chosen to force my kids to breathe this air.” He added by e-mail that although he and his family put on masks, he was surprised that when he picked up his children from school few were wearing masks.
Trevor Marshallsea, an Australian-born expat dad who writes a blog called “The Tiger Father,” posted this: “Here we also talk about which brand of face mask is safest. We regularly check our iPad pollution apps and our Twitter air quality feeds (provided you can get around Chinese Internet controls). Children are kept indoors in schools on bad pollution days, and most of us invest in expensive – but quite necessary – air filters for the home.”
New filters can set you back about $3,000, while a three-year-old, used filter advertised on a listserv for 6800 RMB (or $1,094) was gone in seconds. Face masks range from the utterly useless fashion statements decorated with flowers and panda faces (popular with the Chinese) to contraptions that make a wearer look like Darth Vader (popular with expats who ride bikes around the city).
Earlier this year I bought a desk chair and some plants from a British woman who was leaving Beijing with her husband and two children. Why was she moving back to London? “I couldn’t stand the pollution any longer,” she admitted.
Expats here value the benefits the city confers on their children. Many of them are cared for by ayis who speak only Mandarin, so they grow up knowing at least two languages. These children are very much citizens of the world who have friends from every continent and can work their way through a falafel sandwich just as easily as a mouth-burning Sichuan dish. They tend to travel often, seeing parts of the world many can only imagine.
But they also might be playing a game of Russian roulette. One jokester wrote recently that a new tourism slogan should be: “The city that never breathes.” It’s almost funny.
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. Debra Bruno blogs at Not by Occident.
If you’ve been trying to warn your children about the pitfalls of social media relationships, you have a new spokesman: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Te’o’s story goes way beyond Facebook “relationship status” drama.
The dish, for those of you non sports fans:
Te’o became the darling of sports media after performing brilliantly on the field while suffering the loss of both his beloved grandmother and his girlfriend. Just days after getting the horrible news about the deaths, which occurred within hours of each other in September of last year, he led his team to a Cinderella victory over Michigan State.
He finished second in the voting for this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Te’o spoke openly about the pain of losing both women.
“Every morning I wake up and my girlfriend is not on the phone it reminds me that she’s gone ... I go through it every day,” he told the Boston Globe in November.
Problem was: the girlfriend wasn’t real.
Te’o, he and his family have said, was the victim of a hoax. He was “catfished,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said at a press conference yesterday – a reference to the 2010 documentary (which is subject to its own suspicions) that details a young man’s relationship over Facebook with a non-existent young woman.
“In many ways, Manti was the perfect mark because he’s the guy who was so willing to believe in others,” Swarbrick said. “The pain was real. The grieving was real. The affection was real.”
Much of Te’o’s relationship was built over Twitter, according to news reports, with occasional phone calls. The photos run by news media of the alleged girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, came from a different, unsuspecting woman’s Facebook page.
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online,” the football player said in a statement yesterday. “We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.”
When growing up in central Minnesota, we didn’t have a Frank Zamboni machine to clear the ice on our hockey rinks. I used to be a Zamboni with a garden hose.
We had to do everything ourselves – flood the rinks, build the sideboards, even create our own goals, which usually took the form of stringing anything we could find, from gill nets to gunny sacks, across a series of artistically welded pipes to corral the puck.
It shouldn’t have been this way. Hockey is to small-town Minnesota what intransigence is to Washington. It’s just part of the culture. Many towns in the region had hockey programs in the schools. That means they had mechanized ways to clean their ice. We didn’t, at least not always.
Town fathers (and at that time they were all fathers) decided that the community didn’t have enough money to support three winter sports. Basketball and wrestling were well enshrined. Hockey was a recreational afterthought – something you could do on your own, including helping maintain the rink.
This was fine with us. For years, we had the only indoor skating facility in the area. It was located in a Works Progress Administration-built arena. At one point, when the town decided to refurbish the hockey rink, my father, a wholesale lumber salesman, helped with the construction of the sideboards. Everyone showed up with their hammers and handsaws. Almost overnight, a dusty oval transformed into a glistening slab on which kids could mimic the moves of Bobby Orr.
The rink in those years was maintained by the town – public works officials used a front-end loader fitted with a rotary brush to clean the ice and a fire hose to flood it.
Eventually, however, recreation succumbed to commerce. A snowmobile manufacturer bought the building and we were kicked outdoors. The town built another rink, on two tennis courts nearby, but it was never as regal. The sideboards were cheap plywood, and cryogenic winds whipped off the lake on most days, mocking even our most stoic attempts to ignore the cold.
The town assigned one man, a ‘Mr. Sears,’ to clean the ice. But he was no match for the elements. The public works department had long ago found other uses for the loader, and the fire hose had turned into a garden hose.
When it snowed, we brought down our shovels and helped him clear the ice, in part because we knew it was the only way we’d get to skate and in part because we couldn’t bear to see his frozen visage anymore – the perpetually dripping nose, the cheeks flirting with frostbite. We’d tell him to go stoke the fire in the warming house. We’d handle the rink.
Flooding the ice was another matter. We’d all watch the weather forecast to figure out when to do it. It wasn’t because it might be too warm. It was because it could be too cold. Every winter, the temperature would drop to 40 degrees below zero for several weeks. When you pour on water at that temperature, it freezes before it spreads out, turning the ice into a terraced tundra.
It was about this time that I had my first encounter with a Zamboni. Each year my father would take a group of us down to the state high school hockey tournament in Minneapolis. The games were enthralling but no more so than this ice machine that would come out between periods, achieving in 7 minutes what it often took us 7 hours to do, and without putting Mr. Sears’s life in danger.
Inevitably, the championship game would end being between some small town from the “Iron Range” in the north – a Warroad, or International Falls, or Roseau – and some big school from the twin cities – a St. Paul Johnson, or Edina, or Burnsville. We instinctively sided with the Iron Range school, both out of geographical kinship and because we knew those kids, like us, had once used Montgomery Ward catalogues as shin pads and had shoveled their share of rinks.
They weren’t always pampered by mechanization.
So your children – and constituents – want you to get a family dog.
But before you head off to the SPCA or start browsing all those doggy photos on Petfinder.com (you’re getting a rescue dog, of course – even the liberals can’t mess with you on that one), take a moment to ponder the lesson of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Reagan.
That would be Labrador retriever Reagan, mind you, not President Ronald.
Over the past few days, a media storm has been brewing around the first term GOP governor’s dog status.
See, soon after Gov. Scott won the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, he delighted voters by publicly acquiring a cute yellow Lab. Thousands congratulated him on his choice to take home a rescue dog, rather than a pup from a breeder, a la President Barack Obama.
(Yes, the Labrador retriever, dog of the people. Not like those Democratic, non-shedding Portuguese Water Dogs.)
Scott held an online contest to name the animal, and then happily shared the winning moniker with his Facebook friends.
“The Scott family is proud to announce that the name (chosen by you) for their newly adopted pup is Reagan! Thanks to everyone who participated in the fun contest,” read his Facebook announcement.
But soon after Scott was sworn in as governor in January 2011, Reagan disappeared from public view. He was neither seen nor photographed. The press – thank goodness for the press – was on the case, but did not get satisfactory answers until this week.
Confronting Scott himself, reporters from the Tampa Bay Times demanded information on Reagan’s whereabouts.
The grudging answer: Soon after the dog came home, the Scott family decided they needed to give him back. You know, to go live on a farm somewhere. Or something.
(Anyone else have memories of similar explanations? Hands?)
In a further elaboration, which Democrats everywhere must love, Scott explained that Reagan “scared the living daylights” out of people. They had no choice but to return him.
It's just one example of the perils of dog ownership. Remember the Obama-Romney dog wars during the presidential campaign, and that story of how former Gov. Mitt Romney put his dog on the top of the car for road trips? Things to ponder, I tell you, before you start loading up on goodies at PetSmart.
Back in Florida, dogged reporters are still trying to figure out where, exactly, Reagan is today.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson said that Scott and wife Ann have a sweeter-tempered rescue Lab at home now. Her name is Tallee.
We have a big plane ride home today. Today – unless something changes and I decide to fly while being even more pregnant, which I promise is nearly impossible – marks the end of an era for our little family: The final journey of Baby M as Lap Child.
In other words, next time we’re going to actually have to pay for the little squirt to fly with us. She’s soon to be that age (2) where most airlines simply won’t buy the “she’s going to sit on my lap, really she will” rhetoric.
Prompted by this upcoming milestone, Husband and I decided to try to count up the number of airplane rides that our little freeloading jetsetter has flown. We got to 36, and then got tired of thinking. See, when you fly that much with a toddler, you don’t have much energy for anything else.
Still, spending that much time in the air has made Baby M an awesome traveler.
She helpfully points out to the flight attendants which cabin bathroom has the changing table. She’s happy to sit during takeoff and landing, as long as she has a window seat. She knows that the moving walkways at Baltimore-Washington International are way cooler than the ones at, say, Manchester Boston Regional Airport, and has no qualms about telling other people at the gate that they are about to go on an airplane, fast fast, and that we will soon go up-down, up-down.
She also knows that if she holds out, and threatens to create just enough of a fuss, her parents will let her eat salty pretzels and cheese crackers and ice from their sodas and anything-else-just-please-stop-trying-to-get-down-no-you-cannot-run-in-the-aisle.
This many flights with child has also made us better traveling parents. And because of this – and because I am a bit overwhelmed today with nostalgia and the uncomfortable recognition that traveling will soon cost much more – I thought I would share a sampling of the many lessons we’ve learned. You know, as a public service for the other new parents who suddenly find themselves checking in for a weekend flight (oh, those days of carry-ons are way gone) with two suitcases, a Pack 'n Play, a stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag, a crying child, and a dawning sense that this will not be the same as it used to be. Not even close.
So here goes:
1. Give up hope. Those days of catching up on your magazines or pleasure reading in the air? Over. Done. Your airplane ride will not be spent reading or sleeping or working, or even making conversation with that chatty person in 16B. No, those sky hours will be consumed by the child. She will devour them. Meanwhile, you will struggle to stay one step and activity idea ahead as you wonder why this flight is taking so darn long. This all is much easier if you just assume the flight is lost time. And eventually, you might find that you and toddler actually enjoy the rides together
2. Plan. You must have snacks, diapers, and water, and ideally another set of clothing. Maybe this is obvious for most other parents, but I’ve ended up with an angry, hungry, naked child by the end of at least one flight. It’s OK, she survived. But it’s better if you bring the gear. Along with an arsenal of activities more interesting than the in-flight magazine – anything from books to crayons to Post-it notes (awesome).
3. Let the child move when she can move. This goes along with No. 1. While waiting for your plane, you will not read or browse the duty free shop’s cosmetic section or sit for an overpriced meal in an airport restaurant. And since these options are gone, you might as well walk around with your kid. (Assuming he’s walking.) Up and down a terminal hallway, on the moving walkway again and again and again, up and down the escalator. It’s mind numbing. We know. And you also have to keep close attention to make sure they stay safe with all those moving floors and rolling bags and rushing people. But best to let them get some energy out while it’s possible.
4. This is less of a tip than a life lesson. The next time you travel without your toddler, you will be amazed at how easy it is. Four hours stuck on the runway? Whatev. Once you’ve done that on a completely full plane with a child on your lap (been there), you realize that if you’re on your own there’s really no problem. Take a snooze. Passport control seems long? Relax. Once you’ve squished into a developing world airport’s custom control room with a jet-lagged baby attached to your front, you realize that doing the same on your own is cake. Parenting can be all about new perspectives.
So take those for what they’re worth. And I’ll be back with tips for dealing with two babies on a plane sometime in the next decade. Maybe. Because, frankly, that thought makes me terrified.
Welcome to 2013.
If you missed any of these all important items this past week, never fear. That’s why we have our weekly parenting news roundup; our collection of tidbits that don’t quite make it onto our daily news page.
From slug to sprinter? Not so fast.
American kids spend way more time in front of screens – that’s televisions, computers, the whole collection – than is good for them, experts have found again and again. A lot of children also don’t get doctors' recommended amount of physical activity. But in a new survey published this week in “JAMA Pediatrics,” researchers say that the two are not necessarily connected.
In other words, just turning off the television will not transform Junior from a couch potato into an athlete.
According to parents’ answers to the survey, 70 percent of children aged 6 to 11 met the recommendations for physical activity (at least one hour a day), while 54 percent met the screen-time recommendations (less than two hours). Thirty-eight percent met both sets of guidelines. (And researchers say that parents likely overestimate their children’s exercise.)
While obesity was tied to both not getting enough exercise and spending too much time in front of screens, there were few other links, researchers said.
On the topic of celebrity train wrecks, we learned this week that Nadya Suleman – dubbed “Octomom” after the birth of her octuplets in 2009 – was back on welfare. A representative explained to the press that she had used up all of her savings after she entered a rehabilitation center last year for “anxiety, exhaustion and stress.” Apparently there was not enough cash left over from her solo porn video, which won a number of Adult Video News award nominations last year. Meanwhile, other news reports say that she has lost a lawsuit over a diamond ring allegedly stolen after a celebrity boxing fight.
Does anyone else out there just find this depressing? It’s as if this one woman is manifesting all of society’s neuroses about moms, sex, money and kids, all by herself.
Snooki words of wisdom for Kim. (Really?)
Luckily for her, Kim Kardashian will not have to face pregnancy alone. Along with thousands of fans, photographers, producers, family members and entourage members – not to mention baby daddy Kanye West – the reality star will have the guidance of new mom Snooki.
Remember, those of you who would rather forget all of this, that the former “Jersey Shore” star gave birth to a son, Lorenzo, this past summer.
Now, she says, she misses being pregnant, so is advising fellow reality personality Kardashian to “just relax and enjoy” it. Snooki admitted on MTV News earlier this week that she herself was not a huge fan of the whole pregnancy thing while it was going on, but says that she now finds herself longing for those good old days.
Snooki also gave the thumbs up to the Kimye relationship.
“I think Kim and Kanye are going to really good parents,” she said. “Obviously, they are in love with each other, and I think Kim has finally found her man. They both love fame and the spotlight so I think they are a perfect match and I think they are going to be great parents.”
Phew. I feel much more comfortable now. You?