This week, we read about the murders of two young girls, Jessica Ridgeway, 10, in Colorado and Autumn Pasquale, 12, in New Jersey and realize the pain their mothers must feel at having lost their daughters. Then we see the mothers of the killers who turned in their own sons for these heinous crimes: We must try to hold on to our own humanity long enough to feel for their different kind of parental loss.
Mindy Sigg’s 17-year-old son confessed to the abduction and killing of Jessica in Colorado. According to published reports, her son Austin Reed Sigg is charged in the death of Jessica and in a separate attack on a 22-year-old runner, who managed to break free, in May.
Prosecutors say he confessed in both cases after his mother phoned police and he turned himself in. Investigators allege there is overwhelming DNA evidence against him. He was ordered held without bail; prosecutors are expected to formally charge him next week.
In New Jersey, Anita Saunders turned in her two sons, ages 15 and 17, for murder after reading their posts on Facebook. Her boys are now charged with murdering 12-year-old Autumn, allegedly lured to Saunders’s home by her sons with the promise of new bike parts.
These mothers, who turned their sons in for justice and perhaps for their sons’ own good, made personal sacrifice that is difficult to imagine, yet it is the ultimate act of parenting.
I have four boys, and if one were the victim I would find it impossible to see the child who had killed him as human, let alone as someone’s child. I would find it nearly beyond reason to feel sorry for the murderer’s mother, but I would be grateful beyond imagining to her for giving me my child’s killer.
Both of these mothers, Ms. Sigg and Ms. Saunders, did what was right for society by turning their children in to police. I have seen that kind of sacrifice and wrenching personal pain on my own mother’s face. Because of that I can see in them, the truth of their position as parents who did their best, but still their child failed the humanity test.
For close to 20 years I have stood by my own mother as she wrestled with the decision, time after time, of whether or not to call police when my younger, mentally ill brother, committed violent crimes. She would never call when he beat her or stole from her but when he, at age 23, described to us how he had attempted to strangle a pregnant teenage runaway, Mom and I turned him in and testified against him before a New Jersey Grand Jury.
Mom was devastated, but hoped by doing the right thing she could get help for my brother. And I hoped we could finally stop jumping each time we opened the newspaper, concerned that someone was harmed by someone we love.
It wasn’t the end.
The victim ran away again before the trial and my brother was released. He is now free, age 42, homeless somewhere in either New Jersey or New York and, given his string of arrests for more violence, I believe is dangerous. I know that she will be the one to turn him in if it happens, but it's hard to contemplate her, at age 82, having to do that again.
Prayer is all we have now and the knowledge we have done the right things by standing with the victims and not our own flesh and blood.
Back in 2010, Susan Jackson famously turned in her son Jason, then 28, for a double-murder in a drug deal gone bad. He pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence.
At the time she told reporters, "He's my child. I still love him as a mother loves her child, but I can't condone what he's done.”
In all these cases, and many more not in the headlines of the moment, the child failed the parent, but the parent did not fail to retain her values. In the end she kept right on parenting, leading by example even when leading meant walking through the fire with only hope to cling to for emotional survival.
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.
Here at Modern Parenthood we’re always keeping an eye on the news, and especially on those stories that might be of interest to parents and families. But to be honest, we don’t get the chance to share all the nuggets we see from around the country and beyond. There are just too many of them.
We thought about how we might fill this gap, and decided that maybe we could just slip some of these in for you on Fridays. You know, when nobody’s looking.
So here, without further ado, is our solution: the Modern Parenthood weekly news roundup.
Oct. 21 - 26
With election coverage and hurricane predictions dominating the news cycle, it’d be easy to ignore some of the parenting stories that emerged earlier during the week. Such as the southern California school yoga controversy. (“Yoga controversy??” I thought when I first read the headline.)
Yes, you thought a downward dog was just a downward dog. Not so, says a group of parents in San Diego County. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that a number of moms and dads with children in the Encintas Union School District are calling free yoga classes there unconstitutional for “indoctrinating youngsters in eastern religion.” The parents have threatened to take legal action if the classes do not stop, saying that school should not use taxpayer money to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism.
The school district, for its part, has insisted that religion does not play a part in the yoga classes, and that yoga at this point is a part of mainstream American culture.
Next up, parental worries that some coaches treat football as a religion, too.
Bully the bullies?
As if we needed more proof that we’ve gone nuts over bullying: Earlier this week, a New Jersey mom and grandmother allegedly boarded a school bus to confront the boys they say had been bullying their 9-year-old daughter/granddaughter. Rebecca and Stephanie Sardoni deny that they accosted the boys, but Rebecca (the mom) was charged with simple assault, criminal trespass, and making terroristic threats for allegedly yelling at and slapping the boys, while Stephanie (grandma) was charged with criminal trespass.
Whatever actually happened on that bus: certainly seems like it could have been handled with a bit more class. But with all the rhetoric about bullies and bullying out there, we can’t say we’re surprised.
Reading is believing
Just when you were bemoaning how kids these days don’t know the pleasure of enjoying a good book, the Pew Research Center this week released findings from a new study on “Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits.” Turns out, it’s not the young adults that aren’t reading – it’s the older folks.
Pew found that 86 percent of Americans aged 16 to 17 had read a book in whole or in part in the past 12 months, as did 88 percent of Americans aged 18-24. The numbers drop from there. The least likely to have their nose in the pages were those aged 65 years and older. Only 68 percent of them had read any part of a book in the past year.
(In these numbers, Pew did not make a distinction between reading on paper versus e-reader.)
We’re the first to admit it: When you’re in your late teens or early 20s, you make some silly choices about life and romance. Maybe you switch classes so you’re more likely to run in to that guy. Maybe you turn down your dream job because you can’t stand the idea of living across the country from that girl.
Nothing’s too much for summer love, right?
As news spread this week about the Swift-Kennedy breakup, some wondered about that house. Will Swift have buyer’s regret? Or will the singer still enjoy vacationing in the northeast? Maybe she and Conor will even rekindle their spark next summer, once it’s yachting season again.
More important, we think, is the lesson that young romance can – and often should – be temporary. This is not cynical but sweet. Even Swift, multi-millionaire pop star that she is, is figuring it out. This is a good model for girls who are too often showered with the white dress, happily ever after fairy tales.
And a reminder not to close on the house.
Look interested, kids
Parents of teenagers, don’t despair. If you are struggling with “the look” – and if you’re a parent of a teenager, you know what I’m talking about – you are in good company. (For other people, it’s the I’m-so-bored-you’re-so-lame-wish-I-was-texting look.) Last night, First Lady Michelle Obama admitted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that sometimes even the President needs to urge 14-year-old Malia and 11-year-old Sasha to “just look like you’re listening to me.”
“That was the instruction before he gave his speech to the DNC,” Ms. Obama told Kimmel. “We’re back stage and they’re playing around and they’re laughing and they’re giggling and he said, ‘Just act like you’re listening to me.’”
“But were they listening?” Kimmel asked.
She paused briefly and put her hand out in an “eh” gesture.
“Barely,” she said.
As Halloween approaches next week, all eyes have turned to another “H” – the incoming hurricane christened Sandy that experts are warning could affect the entire East Coast and, if it meets up with a cold front, combine to create a powerful storm.
As I was growing up on Cape Cod, hurricane warnings would often go out in the fall, but we were lucky enough never to get really slammed by one in my lifetime. I was only a toddler for Hurricane Bob, the last big one, so have no memory of it. According to my parents, my dad was at work, doing his usual night shift at the local newspaper and my mom took me down to the basement just in case, where I apparently thought it was just normal basement playing fun time and spent the time absorbed in my mini basketball hoop.
Hurricane Irene did mess with our plans slightly last year when it struck New York City during the week we were moving my younger sister into college at Fordham University. It was still calm skies when we were unloading possessions into the dorm building, but the dire weather reports and the state of emergency declared for the city didn’t exactly create the calm atmosphere one would hope for in dropping a child off at college for the first time. RAs assured us that the school had taken every precaution to keep the new freshmen (the only ones at the school for the week) safe, but my parents and I still stayed glued to weather reports the night after we dropped off my sister. Luckily, the area where her college is located wasn’t badly affected.
And now Hurricane Sandy, which has been nicknamed 'Frankenstorm,' is heading up from Florida and Georgia, with experts predicting it (or she, if you prefer) could arrive in New York or New Jersey on Tuesday.
How bad will it be? It seems like hurricanes are notorious for weakening at the last minute or veering off somewhere else. But just in case, here are some Red Cross-recommended tips for you and your family if you and the kids are in the house when the storm hits.
With your family, create or remind yourselves of a disaster evacuation plan if you all need to quickly get out of the house. Have two separate meeting places that everyone knows about, one close to the house and one far away from your neighborhood in case the emergency is widespread and it’s unsafe to stay in the area. Also establish someone living far away (a far enough distance that they wouldn’t be affected by the weather, if possible) as an emergency contact person.
Make sure each family member knows how to turn the water and electricity on and off, but only shut the gas off if local authorities ask you to do so.
Create a kit with emergency items and store it in a water-resistant container – it should contain enough supplies for at least three days. Pack water (enough for each person to have a gallon of water a day), non-perishable food like peanut butter and canned fruit, a radio, flashlight (with replacement batteries), a first-aid kit, a sleeping bag for each person, extra cash, medicine (especially any prescription items you or the kids need), and important papers like birth certificates.
If there’s a hurricane watch for your area, keep the radio on and listen to updates and fill up your gas tank as well as closing your doors and windows, and cover windows with wood if possible. Bring indoors items from outside like bicycles and garden tools.
If there’s a hurricane warning, an evacuation order is more likely, so be ready to leave at any time. Turn off appliances if the power goes out to avoid a surge when the electricity returns and avoid standing or sitting near windows, glass doors, and skylights.
Words are all we have, to paraphrase the Bee Gees. Words express ideas. Words change lives, for better or for worse. Words like "I Have a Dream” or “Tear down this wall” or more recently Malala Yousufzai's "I have the right of education" are revolutionary. Words that are slurs are marginalizing, hurtful, destructive. Choosing our words wisely isn't about being politically correct. It's about being better human beings.
For any of you who haven't heard, Ms. Coulter has referred to our president not once but twice, on Twitter as a "retard.” President Obama has been called names before, so I’m not worried about him. He can take it. He’s a forgiving man. That being said, it's reprehensible to treat a US president with anything but respect even if you disagree with him.
Especially if you disagree with him.
So maybe Coulter was paying him a compliment? Anyone who has ever watched the Special Olympics, or known someone with Down syndrome would agree that to be called retarded is the same as being called brave, courageous, inspiring.
Our children learn their words from us, the grown-ups in the room. They call each other “gay” or “retarded” and mean it (truly mean it) as a put-down because that’s what they've heard adults say.
The same goes for the “n” word and all the derogatory terms for women that punctuate some rap songs.
Face it folks, sticks and stones won't break your bones, but words can really hurt you. What do most of us have a hard time getting over? The hurtful things others have said about us. So let's clean up our verbal act. Meanness is contagious, but so is kindness. Let's take a time-out from the vitriol.
Are you listening Ann? Can you kick it up a notch? Can you be a caring, compassionate role model for young women and men everywhere?
As Stephen Sondheim wrote in his wonderful musical 'Into the Woods:'
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
My thoughtful wise and wonderful daughter says the way to defeat Coulter is to ignore her. But I can't. So I guess I'm just going to have to love the hell out of her.
But not so. According to a new study released yesterday by the social change website DoSomething.org, American teens are also spending their free time – some of it, at least – volunteering.
How much volunteering they actually do, though, and why they do it, reveals some interesting aspects to how young Americans are prioritizing their lives.
To start first, though, with the basics:
DoSomething.org’s “index on young people and volunteering,” during which researchers collected data from more than 4,300 internet-using 13- to 22-year-olds, found that more than half of young people (54.2 percent) volunteered in 2011. And it’s not just because these students had to volunteer for school: 63 percent did not have any requirement to do service work.
These numbers are higher than in other studies. Federal government data, for instance, show that only 22.5 percent of young adults volunteered in 2011. DoSomething.org's researchers say the discrepancy comes from different definitions: Most research has defined volunteering as “work done through an organization for which there is no pay.” The DoSomething.org survey, on the other hand, described volunteering as work done for no pay for any group or organization, with friends, or by oneself.
They say their terminology is far more accurate – “organizations,” they say, are terribly passé. These days kids are just as inclined to design their own, independent, volunteer activities, they say. But they also acknowledge that half of the young people they identified as “volunteers” actually volunteered less than every few months.
Still, you get some interesting demographic information through this wider definition. Young people in the northeast are far more likely to volunteer (59.6 percent of them do) than those in the south (50.9 percent). Meanwhile, 69.6 percent of young people from wealthy families volunteer, compared with 43.9 percent of young people from low-wealth families. (This changes, by the way, if those lower income kids are at a private school. Then 71.4 percent of those teens and early 20-somethings volunteer.)
All of this might lead you to wonder: Are students just volunteering because they think it will help them get into college or get a job?
After all, the stats seem to suggest as much: You’ve got higher volunteerism rates in private schools and among wealthier kids – the same students one might assume would be most conscious of what looks good on a resume or college application form.
The answer, DoSomething.org’s researchers say, is yes and no.
Boys said that “to get into college” and “to get a good job” were the No. 2 and 3 reasons they volunteered. No. 1 was to help a “cause I care about.” Girls, on the other hand, listed the top reasons for service work as helping out an important cause, the desire to “make a difference that matters,” and “volunteering is its own reward.”
The catch: Through a number of “revealed motivation” questions, researchers found that for both genders, friends are the true motivator of volunteerism. In brief, if their friends are doing it, they want to do it.
Sound like the teens you know?
Researchers found that 75.9 percent of those whose friends volunteer on a regular basis also volunteer. The number drops to 41.7 percent if a teen’s friends did not volunteer regularly. Additionally, those young people who spend most of their time out of school with friends are far more likely to volunteer than those who don’t spend much time with friends out of class.
Volunteering, it turns out, has a lot to do with peer pressure.
My mother is going to like this one.
Grandmothers, it turns out, are super duper important – not just in their own families, but for the human species overall.
A new study published today in the British biological journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” gives new mathematical support for a long standing theory called the “grandmother hypothesis” – basically the idea that humans developed longer lifespans than apes because grandmas (or nanas, grammies, gogos, bubbas; take your pick) helped feed their grandchildren.
The theory goes basically like this:
Since grandma was keeping an eye out for the nutrition of Baby 1, mom could concentrate on making Baby 2. On average, then, women with able-bodied mothers had more kids, which meant that long-living grandmothers passed along their longevity genes to more descendants.
Voilà! Longer-living humans. (OK, a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.)
This is important to remember when your mom inquires as to whether your baby is eating enough. She’s got the species in mind. Really.
Professors from the University of Utah and the University of California, Los Angeles first proposed the grandmother hypothesis in 1997, after they had lived with hunter-gatherer people in Tanzania and noticed that older women spent their days gathering food for their grandchildren. This was different than other mammals, they realized. They incorporated additional research, and came up with their theory.
But there has been a lot of debate about the grandmother hypothesis, in large part because it lacked a mathematical foundation.
And that’s just what the new study attempted to add.
Kristen Hawkes, a University of Utah professor and one of the scholars who first proposed the grandmother hypothesis, was the senior author on the study. She and her fellow researchers developed computer simulations through which they could test the impact of a little bit of grandmothering on life expectancy. It turns out, they found, that within 24,000 to 60,000 years of grandmothers caring for grandchildren, simulated creatures lived 49 years after reaching adulthood – almost two and a half decades longer than without grandma. This just about correlates with the life expectancy of humans versus apes.
(And yes, we realize 24,000 to 60,000 years might be a bit longer than your family has to shift child care arrangements. But in evolutionary terms it’s pretty minor.)
Ms. Hawkes says that she believes grandmothering was the first step that led to other factors that also influenced life span, such as the development of larger brains.
A competing “hunting hypothesis” says that as natural resources diminished, there was natural selection for humans with larger brains, who could be savvier about hunting methods. Those larger brains then led to longer lifespans.
But Hawkes theorizes that larger brains actually stemmed from grandmother involvement with children. (See, I told you my mom would love this.) Because women could have more children closer together, there was more impetus for babies to actively engage their caregivers.
“If you are a chimpanzee, gorilla or orangutan baby, your mom is thinking about nothing but you,” Hawkes told her university’s news center. “But if you are a human baby, your mom has other kids she is worrying about, and that means now there is selection on you – which was not on any other apes – to much more actively engage her: ‘Mom! Pay attention to me!’ ”
RELATED: Are you a helicopter parent? Take our quiz!And hence the bigger brains.
“Grandmothering was the initial step toward making us who we are,” Hawkes said.
And, when you’re lucky, they can be really helpful with babysitting.
It’s hard to protect our children from the barrage of political ads. In some homes the interest of the parent is so great that the ads and the political talk shows fill the air. On the other hand, this situation can be an important teachable moment for our children. While we might like our children to share our values, it is wise to also help them understand why we hold these values and that even people who disagree with us are not necessarily evil.
Depending upon the age of the child we can start with the idea that people have different ideas about how to create a good community or solve problems. Even little ones can understand that people choose others to make decisions about what is good for our community. They can understand that by our vote we try to choose people we think will make good decisions. It’s important, in child terms, to communicate why we are choosing a certain candidate.
Children already tend to see things in black and white, so a little effort at moderation may help them be aware of some of the shades of meaning in the political arena. We can help them see that people sometimes get angry and agitated, so much so that they don’t think about reasons, but that reasons for our choices are really important.
Since one of our children may choose another path or marry into a family with different political inclinations, it is good that they know how to respect the viewpoints of others and, when appropriate, to express their own viewpoints in a thoughtful and reasoned way.
Many of us have taken part in family events where our main challenge was biting our tongues. I believe this is one of those born-in temperamental qualities – the ability to listen to what we consider utter nonsense and not call the speaker out. Even those not so predisposed can learn to hold their tongue when a pointless argument would ruin a family event. And if that can’t be achieved then our goal might be the ability to state a point and back it up with reasons – reasons other than, "Your idea is utter nonsense."
It is equally important to help our children understand that many worthwhile goals can be accomplished outside the political arena. If our values lead us to care for those who are poor or disadvantaged, we can show our children by our actions that we as individuals can make a difference. We can donate or work at a food bank. We can gather books or clothing for children in need. We can visit senior centers with flowers, goodies and the time to listen.
Years ago there was a song from the musical "Hair" that was a good reminder. The line was, "Do you only care about the bleeding crowd? How about a needing friend?" Groups and movements do have power, but so do individuals in the many small steps that improve the lives of others near them.
Most of us have a needing friend, and if our children see us care for that friend, they might learn as much as they could from any political conversation.
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. Susan DeMersseman blogs at Raising kids, gardens and awareness.
Updated 4:08 p.m. EST
The appearance of Disney characters is under fire again, with controversy erupting over a holiday Barneys campaign that will feature skinnier versions of beloved Disney cartoons as well as the facial features of the company’s newest princess, Princess Sofia.
Barneys, the high-end New York department store, announced in August that Disney characters would be the stars of their holiday window displays, but in different incarnations than we’re used to seeing them. Goofy, Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse and others will be featured in the store’s windows, but as emaciated versions of themselves, with Mickey’s girlfriend Minnie in particular stretched so she’s tall and willowy.
“No time like the holidays to convince a little girl that beloved Minnie, in her regular shape, is fat,” the Monitor's Modern Parenthood blogger Stephanie Hanes wrote at the time. This isn’t the first time traditional Disney characters have experienced controversial makeovers, either – a Venezuelan ad for plastic surgery used Ariel as a model. A model, depicting her swimming over to a table for an operation, then leaving with plumped-up lips and a larger chest.
A petition on Change.org against the Barneys campaign, titled "Barneys: Leave Minnie Mouse Alone," has gotten more than 133,000 signatures, including those of Abigail Disney, “Sideways” star Virginia Madsen, and “True Blood” actress Kristin Bauer van Straten.
“Girls have enough pressure to be thin, now the beloved Disney mouse of their childhood has to add to the message that the only good body is a tall, size 0 body?” Ragen Chastain, who created the petition, wrote. “Enough already.”
Disney and Barneys told the New York Daily News that "[critics] have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show."
Meanwhile, the Disney Channel is introducing its newest princess, Princess Sofia, in a TV movie, "Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess," but some fans have protested Sofia’s looks. The new character was trumpeted at first as the first Latina Disney princess, with the movie’s executive producer Jamie Mitchell stating earlier this month that she would be the first Disney Latina character, period.
Sofia has light brown hair and blue eyes, and skin that is not dark. Some fans applauded the decision to have a Latina character have lighter skin, while others said the character should have darker skin to represent more of the Latina population.
“Disney’s ‘first Latina princess’ looks… not Latina,” one Twitter user, Amy Rubinson, tweeted.
Now Disney may be distancing themselves a bit from their earlier comments.
“What's important to know is that Sofia is a fairy-tale girl who lives in a fairy-tale world," senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide Nancy Kanter said in an interview with NBC Latino. "All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”
Craig Gerber, co-executive producer of "Sofia the First," said on Facebook that Sofia’s mother comes from a country inspired by Spain and her father from a kingdom that is similar to Scandinavia. In the movie “Sofia,” the main character becomes a princess when her mother marries the king of a country called Enchancia.
“They seem to be backpedaling," said Lisa Navarrete, spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, in an interview with the Associated Press. "They've done such a good job in the past when they've introduced Native American, African-American and Asian princesses. They made a big deal out of it, and there was a lot of fanfare, but now they're sort of scrambling. It's unusual because Disney has been very good about Latino diversity."
[Editor's note: After this column was posted, executive director of media relations for Disney Channels Dana Green contacted us to let us know that the National Hispanic Media Coalition had met with Ms. Kanter to discuss the issue and that Kanter had stated Sofia is not Latina and that Mitchell had misspoken. The National Hispanic Media Coalition said in a statement that it "celebrate[d] the good news" that Disney Junior is planning a project in which a Latina will be the main character on a show and that the NHMC agreed to give Disney a writers alumni list from the coalition's writers program "in an effort to help create authentic, three-dimensional Latino characters."]
Today my four sons lost their hero Lance Armstrong when the International Cycling Union agreed with US authorities on the charges he’s both a doper and a pusher, stripping him of all seven Tour de France titles. Maybe that’s a good thing because they learned that their dad, who once had a shot at pro-cycling and shied from it because he feared the pressure of an ingrained doping circuit, was telling the truth and not just making excuses.
Learning that the International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France titles for not only doping, but allegedly bullying teammates into doing the same, is like learning Superman doesn’t hail from Planet Krypton and Clark Kent faked all his stories for the Daily Planet.
Mr. Armstrong denies doping, but chose not to fight USADA saying the process was biased against him. Now my boys roll their eyes at him and think he's the one making excuses. Our 18-year-old, who’s body has become a temple as he rows crew and who wants to be in law enforcement, is feeling particularly betrayed. “I believed in him. I really believed and it made me sick to know he’s not just a doper, but a pusher as well,” he said. “I feel stupid for holding on so long too. I’m just so angry at him.”
For months my sons have sought the truth and fallen back on excuses such as, “Well he’s done good things for cancer research.” True. That’s true, but if there were an International Parenting Union, we would have to flag that as well because he devastated the ability of any athlete to champion a cause by creating world-class doubts.
Our son Avery, 13, has gone into dejected shrug mode, “Well, he did win. I guess that’s something. He did amazing things, but…he cheated so they weren’t really real.”
Quin, 8, asked the tough one, “OK, so how do I know who to believe anymore?”
Thinking about it, the dawn finally broke for me, “You can trust the people you actually know: your father, brothers, and you can trust me,” I said.
Since our eldest son was a toddler it has been our family tradition to watch the Tour de France and hear all of my husband’s insights from his school days of cycling. He was one of those guys shaped by the film 'Breaking Away' and later, after meeting some pro cyclists, he changed his life path because he believed what they told him back in the early 1980s about the pressures of doping.
Our kids have heard a hundred tellings of how he’d wanted to be a pro cyclist, “But I knew I could never live that kind of a lie.”
Up until now the boys had rolled their eyes and thought their dad was just trying to rationalize his “failing.” He still cycles daily. He also sails in Laser competitions and runs, but his dream never went the distance because he believed – rightly so – that he would have to compromise his values. What did Dad become? He became a designer for a major daily newspaper here in Virginia, to which he bikes like the roads of Norfolk are those on the Tour de France in Paris – just with more potholes.
Today, the boys know the real winner was their dad and all the other athletes who chose not to dope or live a lie. They learned that winning isn’t winning if it came dishonestly. Most importantly, they learned that no power on earth can strip you of the title of 'Honest Person' unless you let them.
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.
President Barack Obama isn't just talking about the economy and Libya these days, or even about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. No, the leader of the free world, in a tight re-election battle, has another topic in mind – at least when he chats with his friend and supporter, rapper Jay-Z: Parenting.
And not just parenting, but parenting a baby. A girl baby.
If you recall, Jay-Z and his wife, pop star Beyonce, welcomed daughter Blue Ivy Carter this past January. (Other patients at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York certainly remember; the celebrity couple reportedly paid well over $1 million to seal off a wing of the facility and hire a fleet of security guards, sparking annoyance among other families trying to visit their loved ones.)
Since then, Jay-Z has talked regularly about how head-over-heels he feels toward little Blue Ivy. Soon after her birth, he wrote the song "Glory," which featured her crying and landed on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop songs chart, with lyrics like: "The most amazing feeling I feel/ Words can't describe what a feeling, for real/ Baby I'll paint the sky blue/ My greatest creation was you."
(The song also has the line: "You don't yet know what swag is but baby you was made in Paris," but whatever.)
Then Jay-Z made the modern daddy announcement that really what he wanted to do was to stay home from work for a little bit and just soak up his baby girl. The moms out there swooned.
"I made sure that Jay-Z was helping Beyonce out and not just leaving it all to mom and the mother-in-law," Obama said. This isn't because the Dad-in-Chief - father of Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11 - has any worries about Jay-Z. It's just what he talks about with his guy friends, he explained.
"I've gotten to know these guys over the past several years," Obama said about Jay-Z and Beyonce. "We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends. We talk about kids, and they just had a new baby, they have a new daughter."
All politics aside, it's hard not to appreciate the father focus here. There has been so much rhetoric about moms this election, it's nice to hear about dads – even in a limited, celebrity-style way.
And really, regardless of your Romney-Obama preference, wouldn't it be cool to get some parenting tips from the Oval Office? I wonder what the prez would say about Baby M's sleep problems these days.
But in case you didn't feel a wee bit envious that these new parents get advice from POTUS, check out this other recent celebrity news about Beyonce and Jay-Z: They, apparently, have date night.
Now we're really jealous.