Parenting Articles

How Words and Images Are Holding Women Back

Monday, March 5th, 2012

If you’ve been reading Real World Research for a while, you may remember the “fat old bitch” incident. (If not, read about it here, and here.)

The current fracas over Rush Limbaugh’s unbelievably inappropriate sexist rant against Sandra Fluke brings this back to my mind

I’m going to use this opportunity to recommend a new documentary I’ve seen twice now and could easily sit through again. It’s called Miss Representation, and it’s all about how the media’s representation of women shapes our attitudes and contributes to women’s lack of power in this country.

Lack of power? The “feminazis”? Don’t be silly. We’re modern, liberated, in-charge women.

I wish.

Consider this: Women are 51 percent of the population but only 17 percent of Congress. America ranks 90th in the world in women in legislature. Even China is more progressive than we are in that respect.

Women hold a whopping three percent of power positions in the media—and that includes TV, radio, publishing, online media—all of it. So this means that pretty much everything we (and, more importantly, our children) see in the media is filtered through the sensibilities of men—and that is not to our benefit.


Laptop Dads, Tiger Mothers, And Other Dubious Parenting Styles

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I popped off at Laptop Dad, like he popped off at his daughter, like his daughter popped off at him. Interesting, huh? See how that works? Chain of fools.

I regret the tone but stand behind the content of my last post. So here’s a voice of reason to say it all better. Today’s guest post is by my friend Dr. Lara Mayeux, a developmental psychologist who studies kids’ peer relations at the University of Oklahoma, and mother of two young daughters (read about her wishes for them here). 

If you want to read original research into parenting styles and child outcomes, Lara suggests looking  for Nina Mounts (parenting and peer relationships); Joan Grusec  (parenting and social and emotional development); Robert Larzelere (discipline and research methodology); Laurence Steinberg (adolescent development). Diana Baumrind is one of the pioneers in the study of parenting styles; a lot of subsequent research has been based on her work.

*****

By Lara Mayeux

I have to get this off my chest: I’m really, really tired of seeing parents celebrated for their bad parenting choices.

Parenting is hard. I get that — I have two kids under the age of five. And none of us is perfect, and we shouldn’t expect each other to be. But there’s a big difference between allowing parents some room to screw up, and actually cheering them on when they’ve made a mistake. And I’m telling you, this laptop-shooting dad—he made a mistake.


Laptop-Shooting Dad: How Is His Behavior Different From His Daughter’s?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

By now you’ve probably seen the viral video by folk hero du jour, the father who put several bullets into his teenaged daughter’s laptop because she put up a whiny, disrespectful post on Facebook.

(If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.)

The girl’s post complained about how her parents made her work soo hard and how she hated having to do chores and how instead of making her get a job, her parents should pay her for everything she does around the house and blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc. basic teenager bitching and moaning.

Well, this made daddy soo angry that he posted a video online of himself sitting in a field, cigarette smoldering in one hand, his voice trembling with rage, telling his daughter everything that was wrong with the post, and how disrespectful she is, how hard he worked as a kid, and how he warned her about posting stupid stuff of Facebook. Then, to punish her, he pulls out a gun and shoots several rounds into her laptop.

I hate this video. I hate this man. I hate his indignant self-righteousness and thin skin.

I know teenagers can be aggravating, but they’re teenagers. They do stupid shit. They bitch and moan. They rail against authority. They get pissed at their parents. That’s all part of being a teenager. Parents’ job is to not to show them who’s boss or keep them in line, but to help them become grow up and become independent without hurting themselves or anyone else. In the scale of bad adolescent behavior, complaining about your parents ranks pretty low.


Are We Scaring Kids Off Of Adulthood?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

A friend is fretting about her 22-year-old son, who is living at home and, she fears, not getting it together.

This is a family with plenty of dough. The boy is well-educated and has been well cared for, despite some dysfunctional family fun, which few of us escape in this world. My friend complains that he’s lazy and over-entitled. He hasn’t been knocking himself out to find a job, and he’s drinking too much.

What’s a mother to do? she asked me, wondering if research might hold some answers.

Is tough love the answer? Is this a predictable developmental stage? Were we all like that at 22? When did we finally grow up?

I’ve been hearing lots about boomerang kids, who are of an age to be independent but can’t seem to get out there and do it. Of course, the lousy economy and unemployment rate don’t help and can’t be downplayed. But is there something more?

Don’t you wish I were about to give you the answers? I’m not and can’t. But here’s some food for thought.


Research-Backed Resolutions

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

resolutionsThe more I read and think about  New Year’s Resolutions, the less I think they accomplish a dingdang thing. I’ve made a lot of resolutions that have led me absolutely nowhere. Mostly, they make me feel bad because I tend not to follow-up. Oh sure, I’ll get back on my eating/exercise program as soon as the holiday minefield of homemade pound cake and mint M&Ms is behind us, but that’s more about returning to what I was doing rather than any big life changes.

Nevertheless, I  am passing on a fun press release  titled “Ten (Research Tested) New Year’s Resolutions.” It’s a hodgepodge of research from the University at Buffalo (New York) nominally connected to New Year’s Resolutions about weight loss, management style, math, and more.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t let a press release do my work for me, but I injured my hand recently and can’t type for long periods of time. Hopefully, I’ll be back in shape in time to fail at my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. Which I’m not making.

Happy New Year!

Resolutions on a napkin photo available from Shutterstock.


A Parenting Puzzle: Protective or Overprotective?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

“When does trying to protect them become overly restricting? Is there a happy balance?”

A reader posed that question about raising kids earlier this week and it’s a good one. We recognize a helicopter parent when we see one, especially by the time their kids are teenagers. But how about when they’re younger? Are there red flags in parenting style that might mark the beginning of overprotective parenting?

What is overprotective? How is it measured?

My disclaimer here: I have no children, my parents were pretty laissez-faire. I’m just throwing all this out there. You tell me if it makes sense.

I looked at a number of studies that mention overprotection and found that frequently, overprotection is assessed by the protected. In other words, researchers ask children if they feel their parents are overprotective; or they ask people who have had strokes if their caregivers are overprotective.


What Is The Parenting Recipe For Making Mean Kids?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It’s Anti-Bullying Week and this year’s theme is Stop and Think—Words Can Hurt.

Interestingly, for all our focus on how to stop kids from bullying each other, we have precious little research addressing what parenting styles are likely to produce bullies. Because, let’s face it, if your nine-year-old child is a bully, chances are very good you and/or the child’s other parent can take credit.


Gasoline-On-The-Fire Phrases

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

A friend told me that one word guaranteed to infuriate his teenage daughter during any disagreement is “relax.”

Riders on New York City’s subways were for years irritated by the phrase “Please be patient” at the end of announcements about subway delays.

And the quickest way to get a rise out of me is to tell me, “Don’t be ridiculous.” Oooh, that burns me up.

What makes phrases like these so incendiary?

Some phrases are guaranteed to turn a disagreement into a fight, or make a benign situation toxic. They’re not blatantly insulting, so why are they so irritating?


Why You Might Have Trouble Making Friends

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Irene S. Levine, PhD, author of  Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend and co-author of   Schizophrenia for Dummies. Irene discusses about all sorts of issues surrounding women’s friendships on her blogs The Friendship Blog and The Friendship Doctor.

Many women write to me perplexed about why they can’t form close friendships. They try new approaches, put themselves in all the right places, see therapists, and read relevant self-help books. They consider themselves interesting, loyal, kind, and friend-worthy people. But for reasons unknown to them, they have a tough time forming the intimate relationships other women seem to have and that they covet for themselves. Many admit to not having even one close friend.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers some clues as to how both nature (personality) and nurture (experience) impact our friendships.

Researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Toronto, Mississauga studied more than 7000 American adults between the ages of 20 and 75 over a period of ten years, looking at the number of times these adults moved during childhood. Their study, like prior ones, showed a link between “residential mobility” and adult well-being: The more times participants moved as children, the poorer the quality of their adult social relationships.


Three Wishes For My Daughters

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Lara Mayeux, PhD, a developmental psychologist and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma. Lara studies peer relations among children and adolescents. Her specialty is popularity, which is a hot field of research; she co-edited a book of theory and analysis titled Popularity in the Peer System. The book is aimed at academics, but Lara is also a mother who here connects research and mother love.

Today I taught a graduate class on attachment theory, and at the end of a particularly intense discussion about maternal sensitivity and fostering emotional security in children, one of the students looked at me and said, “It must be really hard to be a developmental psychologist and a mother.”

My initial reaction was Yes, yes, it is, it’s the hardest thing. Thank you for letting me admit that. Being a developmental psychologist—an academic one, meaning teaching courses in the field and doing my own research as well—means that I’m aware of many of the (seemingly thousands) of ways I can screw up my own two little girls.

But it also means that I understand the opposite—the ways in which I can try to facilitate healthy development and positive outcomes.


 

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • Holadihet: I went through this/ am going through this. The intensity, unimaginal , if you haven’t experienced...
  • Loren: Hi Sally, I know it has almost been a year.. But I’d like to know if you’ve made any progress, how...
  • Maria: Hello – I am the SAME. I am a Consultant and have had 25 years of report reading and writing and these...
  • Barb: I used to measure my life by how many people I helped. Now I measure it by how much contentment I get from what...
  • Steel: What I find most depressing is when you make a comment on a blog trying to be sensitive or kind to someone...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!