What’s The Best Way To Talk To Little Girls?

I'm sure we've all done it. I know I have. We meet a little girl -- at church, a family reunion, or some other social function -- and the first thing we do is comment on how pretty she looks in that dress, or with that bow in her hair, or in those little shoes. This seems like completely normal, innocuous behavior. After all, what girl doesn't like to hear that she's pretty?However, Lisa Bloom, author of Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World, argues that, while … [Read more...]

Can We Learn From Kids and Their Toys?

Several weeks ago, my three-year-old began lugging around his most prized possessions -- a pair of sunglasses, a toy airplane, and some bits of jewelry, among other things -- everywhere he went. At first, it was all in a pouch that he filled nearly to the point of bursting, and now his "mess" (as he calls it rather accurately) resides in a plastic bin. The boy loves his stuff, and one of his favorite activities is carefully and methodically going through it all, organizing it into nice, neat … [Read more...]

Do Kids Need Their Own Noah’s Ark To Learn About God?

Whether or not you believe in the historicity of the story of Noah’s Ark, it’s likely you have not run into a church that takes the Ark as seriously as San Antonio's Cornerstone Church. Cornerstone is a megachurch that recently welcomed more than 28,000 visitors to its new children’s building, aptly named “The Ark,” which features a two-story ship built inside the church, with life-sized versions of human and animal passengers such as giraffes, elephants, lions, and ostriches, many of them powere … [Read more...]

Can ‘Unconventional’ Music Really Turn Your Kid Into A Delinquent?

As they grow older, kids express independence in a number of ways, and embracing musical tastes that leave their elders perplexed and perhaps even a little scared is one of the most obvious methods. Musical rebellion is deeply ingrained in our culture, from such classic acts as The Beatles and Elvis Presley, to punk rock in the '70s and glam rock and heavy metal in the '80s, to rap and hip-hop in the '90s. Indeed, it seems like every generation does their best to find some form of music that … [Read more...]

American Girl Dolls: Created In Whose Image?

Ilona Szwarc's new series of photographs titled "American Girls" features girls posing with their customized versions of the popular American Girl dolls. The portraits emphasize the integration of the dolls into the girls' everyday lives, play, and respective spaces. These dolls, made by Mattel, offer a host of personalization options in addition to the historically themed dolls that make the brand seem overtly educational. Girls can customize their dolls' looks, a feature emphasized in Szwarc’s … [Read more...]

Of Little Boys, Violent Play, and Pretending to Shoot the Bad Guys

Like many boys their ages, my two sons possess an almost preternatural talent for turning anything -- and I do mean anything -- into a gun, or "shooter" as they say. It could be a stick, an assortment of Legos, a slice of cheese, or even a puzzle piece in the shape of Nebraska, but put it in their hands, and next thing you'll know, they'll be shooting freeze rays and fireballs at the bad guys. And it's not just shooters. Thanks, no doubt, to MythBusters, they've become quite skilled at explosive … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Playtime: A Neutral Zone

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.It’s common parlance in feminist theory to say that sex is biological and gender is social, meaning that sex refers to our anatomy and gender refers to the attributes cultures attach to maleness and femaleness. I’ve already written about the arbitrariness of assigning baby colors, which says more about marketing products to parents than it does about masculinity o … [Read more...]

Teaching Children a Healthy View of the Human Body

The American Conservative's Rod Dreher is currently traveling through France and blogging about his experiences there. One of his most recent entries chronicles his family's visit to The Louvre, and discusses the challenges that all of the artistic nudity on display present when you've been trying to instill in your children the value of modesty. He writes: [W]e explain to them that the human body is beautiful, and that the art they’re seeing was created to explore the beauty of the human form. … [Read more...]

Teach Your Children Well: Reflecting on Madeline Levine’s Book and Galatians 5

Last week, MSNBC’s "The Cycle" interviewed Dr. Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of Teach Your Children Well, whose best-selling text calls into question the dominant ideologies of today’s parenting ideals. Levine remarks “What’s overparenting? It’s doing what your kid can already do and can technically do” and confusing the parents’ needs with the children’s. The challenge with letting children exercise their abilities and near-abilities is essentially one of parental peer pressure.My … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: A Letter to My Children’s Future Therapists

Dear Therapists:I don’t know if you’ll ever actually exist, but if you do, it’s unlikely that we’ll meet. If you do end up spending some time with my daughters, and my name comes up, there are a few things I’d like you to know. Things about me, about who I am, and what I’m trying to do with this whole mothering gig.I started thinking about you and your potential existence over dinner with friends -- the first time I got to go out for an evening with my girlfriends (without toting my baby alon … [Read more...]