Table of Contents

Abandoning, perfection, being ourselves

  • A Tribute to Mothers - What a gift to be part of a thread, spreading through time and space, of deeply-loving mothers, doing the same work, hoping the same hopes, calling on the same unimagined resources.

  • Giving up Superman - While there may be nothing we want more in the world, no matter what superhuman efforts we put out, we can't make our children's lives disappointment free.

  • Is Bonding a Fraud? - Parents who don't feel "bonding" at the moment of birth are just as good as those who do, and can get to know and love their new babies--just as they can with any new person.

  • Listening to the Experts - Ourselves - New parents with lots of questions are surrounded by well-intentioned experts eager to give them advice. While help is wonderful, we are the ultimate experts on our children.

  • Love is Love - We often feel that we can't possibly do well enough by birth children, let alone adopted or foster children where we have to assume a right that didn't come with birth. But love makes all the difference, and we are the ones who are offering it.

  • Miscarriage - Invisible Grief - Since there is nothing to show, the pain of miscarriage is often unseen, but the loss of a life that is loved, whenever it happens, is something to grieve about.

  • Mothers of Daughters, Mothers of Sons - We can admit that we wanted a baby of the other sex without hurting the one we actually had, and we might get wonderful gifts in the bargain.

  • The Struggle to be Perfectly Pregnant - Other people's expectations of how we "ought" to feel during pregnancy and childbirth may make it hard for us to notice and accept our own experience.

Being role models

  • Being role models - Our children are watching us to see what adulthood holds in store. Their observations can be a sharp reminder of things we want to change in our own lives.

  • Can Growing Up be Fun? - We are the main role models that our children have for adulthood. How can we show our pleasures and share our deepest loves in a way that makes adulthood look attractive?

  • Mothers at Play - Children work out lots of issues through play. When moms get the chance to do the same--like laughing over wanting the same toy--everyone benefits.

  • Parents at Play - It's irresistibly attractive to young people when any adult will step through exhaustion and inhibition, put out energy and enthusiasm and play hard with them.

  • Sharing - We are adamant that our toddlers learn the value of sharing but how well do we model that value as adults? We may do better to address their feelings about wanting and giving up than to just preach the higher moral ground.

Exposing our (hidden) agendas

  • "I Can't Believe..." - When we "just can't believe" what a child has done, the first step may simply be believing. Once rooted in reality, we'll think better about what to do next.

  • Cracker crumbs and Camels Backs - It is the little things, the ones that seem unworthy of notice, much less complaint, that are often the hardest.

  • Defending our Parents - Some of us defend our parents blindly, others are ready to criticize them on all fronts. If we start by giving them all unreserved credit for the job they managed to do, it may be easier to leave the past with respect and shape a new future.

  • Do we Deserve Gratitude from our Children? - We want our children to appreciate how much better their lives are than were ours, but the only reality they have experienced is their own.

  • Down to the Wire - When faced with an unchosen deadline, rather than focusing our children on the task in plenty of time, we may have a better chance of meeting it if we focus on the child's choices and well-being till the last possible moment.

  • Having Children and IOUs - Giving birth is giving a gift of life. We run into trouble if we expect our children to calculate its value and pay us back.

  • I Don't Want to Know - Many of us are attached to a hope that if we don't know about something, it's not really there--and there's nothing we need to do about it. How can we invite our growing children to tell us things we don't want to know?

  • Leaning on Our Children - Our children's love can be of great use to us, but it's not their job to reassure us that we are doing well by them, or that we are loved.

  • Motherhood and Fractured Moments - Trying to pay attention to more than one thing at a time is one of the most exhausting parts of parenting; thinking of each moment as small, but whole, can help.

  • Paying Attention to the Little Things - At times, the seemingly little things that get children so upset may be symbols of injustice that are well worth paying attention to.

  • Promises from our Childhood - As parents, we often want to improve on the job our own parents did. But sometimes the corrections we feel so strongly about are not a good fit with the reality of our children's lives, or of our own.

  • Putting Out - Our children often ask most of us when it feels like we have least to give, yet summoning up our reserves and putting out at those times may actually be an energy saver.

  • Sacrificing for Our Children - Who do we put first, our children or ourselves? How much should we sacrifice for them? What if we modeled respect for all the human beings in our environment, our children and ourselves included?

Learning from our children

  • Dark and menacing - As we struggle to decode the mysteries of adolescence, it's helpful to look closely at even their strangest-seeming choices and see what we can appreciate about them, and learn about ourselves.

  • In Praise of Awkward Trying - It's tempting to laugh at children's early not-yet-competent attempts to master a skill; better to treasure--and emulate--that willingness to try.

  • Keeping the Door Open - While we may believe that an old relationship with a child no longer has meaningful content, whey might have a different--and more human--perspective.

  • Learning From Our Children - Sometimes the traits we find most difficult in our children are the ones we can learn most from for ourselves.

  • Our Children as Teachers - My children's high expectations and determination to have their lives go right can be just a pain in the neck--or I can use it as a model for my own life.

  • Solitaire in Company - Our children's insistence that anything is more fun in company can throw a new light on the amount of isolation we adults have learned to take for granted.

  • Stretching for Our Children - Benefiting Ourselves - We often stretch to do things for our children that we would never consider doing otherwise, and only then discover how good the stretch was for us.

  • The Right Way to Do Things - Young children seem blissfully (outrageously) unworried about the right way to do things; perhaps we adults can learn from them that there is rarely just one right way.

Paying attention

  • "Look, Mommy!" - When we can respond fully to our children's enthusiasm in showing us their treasures and accomplishments we help them maintain their excitement about life.

  • Attention: A Priceless Resource - Many factors make it hard for parents to offer undivided attention to our children, yet there may be no more valuable resource we can give.

  • Banking Quality Time - Whether or not the time we spend with our children just doing what they want to do looks meaningful to us, they are "banking" that attention.

  • Boo-Boos and Invisible Hurts - It's sometimes easier to pay attention to physical hurts, where we know how to help, than to more hidden needs, though these may be the ones that cause the worst pain.

  • Peek-A-Boo - The essence of this game is the question, "Do I have your attention and are you really pleased to se me?" We all have always deserved--and are hungry for--the answer "Yes."

  • Special Time - There is a difference between spending time with a child doing what has to be done and setting aside time to do things on their terms and in their way. The latter can be a great resource for the relationship.

Breaking the age barrier

  • A Human Request - Our assumption that children's affairs are less important than adults' is so pervasive that we rarely see it. Yet children deserve to be treated like regular human beings.

  • Age and Attention Span - Children may not have a long attention span for things that adults value; but neither do parents last long in activities that children can spend hours on.

  • Age Appropriate Expectations - By setting up expectations of what a child can or cannot do at a certain age, we may miss out on important parts of who they are and what they are actually capable of.

  • Appreciating Children's Work - Sharing our own adult preconceptions of what a child's art/work ''should" look like or represent may stifle wonderful unfettered creativity.

  • Making Young Friends - A non-parent adult's relationship with a two, six or ten year old can be just as rich, rewarding, and real as one with another adult.

  • Small Human Beings - Stimulating Company - When we take the time to notice what a very small child is actually doing--rather than just being attracted to their fresh innocence or overwhelmed by their demands--we find interesting human beings.

Including Children in Do Unto Others

  • Apologies - We are better at demanding apologies from our children than offering them ourselves, yet the effort required to acknowledge our mistakes to our children is well worth it.

  • Correcting the Situation - We all lose it with our children and treat them unjustly sometimes. Things will go better for all of us when we can acknowledge and correct our mistakes.

  • Listening as a Sign of Respect - Children are widely perceived as undeserving of complete adult attention, but if we want them to respect others, it behooves us to listen respectfully when they talk.

  • Manners - While we can teach and reinforce certain behaviors, the thoughtfulness about others which is the essence of good manners is best imparted by modeling: being courteous to our children.

  • Straight Talk - How often do we lie to our children? How often, in talking to our children, do we lie to ourselves? Is it ever a good thing--for them, or for us?

  • When You Treat a Person Like a Child - Consider what adults object to when they are being "treated like a child". Children probably dislike it for the same reasons.

  • Who Wants a Test? - Nobody likes to be tested, yet parents do it all the time, particularly with young children. What if we never asked a question that we already knew the answer to?

Noting the power imbalance

  • Get off the table! - Our children are besieged by adult rules. Playing games with "rules" that are meant to be broken and acting the part of the helpless enforcer can provide them some welcome relief.

  • Learning to be Wrong - With more information and power, adults excel at being right. It's very useful to our children when we cultivate the ability to be wrong as well.

  • Making Ourselves the Target - We can help break the chain of abuse (boss to parent to child to dog) among older and younger children by playfully inviting them all to target us instead.

  • Playing on Our Children's Turf - Rather than moralizing from afar and aloft, if we can actually get in there and join our children's games, we are in a stronger position to offer new possibilities.

  • Power and Choice - We often phrase our intentions with children in the form of questions. It's useful to offer as many real choices as we can, to be clear when the choice is not theirs, and not be surprised at any resultant upset.

  • Power and Kindness - If children have the opportunity to experience power and control, they may have more space to be genuinely kind--even to their parents.

  • Sounding Reasonable and Real Justice - As adults, we are attracted to the sound of reason, yet justice may actually lie with a child who has not yet learned the skills of calm verbal articulation.

Closeness and independence

  • Being There - Although young children need us in ways that are all-too-obvious, it can be a challenge to respond to the very differently-presented needs of teenagers.

  • Everything Fine (when everything may not be fine) - When a person gives no sign to anybody that anything is difficult, that lack of contact and openness can be troubling.

  • Independence and Isolation - In our drive to help our children become independent, we'll do well not to push them into isolation. Our boys, in particular, need us to model and encourage closeness as well as competence.

  • Offering Ourselves - When our older children get deep into their own activities we can start feeling that our attention is no longer needed, or even welcomed. It helps us both when we remember that they still want us.

  • Piercing Separation - While acceptance of a teenager's impulse to look shockingly different has a place, we don't want them to settle for a lonely statement. They deserve backing to communicate their sense of what's wrong in the world.

  • Staying Close to a Teenager - Making the effort to continue a good relationship with a neighbor as he grows up, despite all the pulls to give up, can be very rewarding for all concerned.

  • The Miracle of Teenage Boys - The pressures to pull back as our children grow up are enormous, particularly as adolescence has such a terrible rep. What a treat to get chances to notice how wonderful our teenagers are.

  • When Children Crawl in at Night - While there are situations when it is inappropriate for a child to sleep with an adult, our modern western emphasis on independence may be keeping young children from a comfort that is natural and wholesome.

Exposing and Protecting

  • Be Careful! - We want our children to be safe, but often our warnings to be careful are just a reflection of our fears and worries, and contain little useful information about strategies for staying safe.

  • Judgement and Danger - Our goal, in helping our children with judgment, is not to make them afraid of dangerous things, but to provide information and experience to manage situations that might otherwise be dangerous.

  • Protection from Abuse - Abuse often hurts twice--the incident itself, and the pain of integrating it into one's identity. While we can never provide absolute protection for our children, there is much we can do both to prevent it and to ensure healing.

  • Restriction and Trust - While some restrictions are necessary, trying to walk in our children's shoes as we do it will make us more thoughtful, and prepare us to handle any resultant protest without anger or confusion.

  • Talking with Young Children About AIDS - It is possible to communicate about AIDS within the context of a child's experience and without fear-mongering--to give accessible information rather than scary prohibitions.

  • Values and Initiative - When there's a choice between imparting cherished values and letting a child take initiative in a way that does not reflect those values, the latter is worth considering.

Missed and mixed signals

  • Evoking Anger as a Request for Help - A child may try to get us to feel what she is feeling in order to help her with it. If that feeling is anger, we can easily get confused.

  • Missed signals - If we can remember that people sometimes communicated in code--saying something that means something else--we can be quicker to catch the signals and respond to their meaning rather than their words.

  • Mixed Signals - If I assume that my child's ultimate goal is not to irritate me, but to get help meeting a real need, I'm better able to figure out a response that works well for us both.

  • Negotiating "Cool" - Children of all ages are fascinated with costumes and disguises. "Cool" on a teenager can be a particularly hard one to see through.

  • When "Go Away" means "I want you" - If we can remember that our children want us, and translate "go away" messages into calls for help, we are in a much stronger position to be of use to them.

Process and product

  • Flowering Creativity - Trying to maneuver our young children into producing masterpieces for the refrigerator can severely inhibit the open-ended exploration of materials that is a foundation of art.

  • Love of Work - How can we encourage our young children's innate love of work, in the face of the overwork and need for efficiency in our own lives?

  • Product and Process - Completing a Task - Our adult emphasis on the completion of a task may obscure a child's legitimate lack of interest in the result, and the creativity and potential for rich satisfaction in the process.

  • Putting Our Children on Stage - Focusing on our children's performance is similar to giving them a test; much harder and more useful is actually noticing and appreciating who they are for themselves.

  • The Pleasures of Homework - What is it like to focus all your energy on getting the most pleasure possible out of any given moment? What if it didn't drive us nuts when our children tried?

Whose problem

  • Blaming the Victim - Considering how we can blame our children when they don't flourish under our care, we may get new insight into the dynamics of blaming the victim in other realms.

  • Dealing with Shame and Blame - We often blame our children at times when we are feeling bad; the more information we can give them about that dynamic, the less they'll feel bad about themselves.

  • Handling Disappointments - It's doubly hard on us when our children show us their disappointment in not getting things we wish we could give them.

  • Not Giving Up - How can I not give up in the face of a child's seeming commitment to give up himself? It helps to remember that we're in the same boat.

  • Troubled by Our Children's Troubles? - When we are upset by the hard time our children are having it's hard to be of much use to them. How can we get resource to help with our own troubles, so we can better help with theirs.

  • Whose Humiliation? - It may seem like part of nurturing and protecting our children to shield them from painful or humiliating situations. But our judgment about what will be painful is usually based on our own experience, rather than theirs.

  • Whose problem? - When we see a child's behavior as intolerable, when does that child really need to change, and when is it simply an indication of our own lack of tolerance?

Encouraging a range of emotion

  • Mad, Trying to "Be Nice" - Although there are many times when "being nice" helps a situation along, as an overall strategy for living it involves too much hiding and giving up, and not enough closeness. Both we and our children deserve more.

  • Noticing When Things Are Not Fine - It seems easier to overworked parents when our children don't complain and we can overlook their unspoken upsets, but drawing them out is well worth the time.

  • Range of Motion - Just as a healthy body has a full range of motion, a healthy psyche has a full range of emotion. We can encourage our children to stay limber in both areas.

  • Separation - Responses to separation can look very different--from angry or desperate crying to complete avoidance of the good-bye. It helps if they can notice both the pain of separation, the safety of the present, and the reality of our love for them always.

  • The Power of Laughter - Laughter can be a potent force in a family--to break up tensions, melt away sulks, ease fears, work out difficulties through play, show the human and playful side of adults.

  • Welcoming Hard Feelings - It is convenient for adults to be around children who are quiet and cooperative and don't express negative feelings, but it leaves us--and them--with a very limited version of who they really are.

Looking at "Bad" Behavior

  • "I just want a reason" - When we want to respond to a child's desire for a reason with "because I said so", are old parental voices from our childhood obscuring the reality of the current situation?

  • A Child's Eye View of Cheating - The deck of life is stacked in favor of adults. If we view children's cheating at games as an attempt to even out the odds, we can find many creative ways to engage with it.

  • Channeling Naughtiness - Offering playful rules with the expectation that they will be broken can help get naughtiness out of children's systems, and also get them to do things they might otherwise resist.

  • Laziness and Work - A show of laziness on the part of our children may simply be a lack of access to work that seems real and important, or a rebellion against our own rigid or joyless attitudes toward work.

  • Showing Off - "Showing off" has a bad rep, yet we would all like people to see our strengths and accomplishments, and those of our children. Why not let them show themselves?

  • Sweet Toddlers - Who Hit - When we remember that people who hurt others were always hurt themselves, we can put attention to the cause rather than just focusing negative energy on the resultant behavior.

  • The Question with No Right Answer - Asking why a person is bad rarely yields a useful answer. Assuming that they are good and want to do the human thing can help us craft a more useful response.

  • Truth, Lies, and Real Help - Lying is often hard on us, but understanding the different reasons why children choose non-truth can help us to respond in ways that speak to the underlying issues.

Sulks and Disappointments

  • Complaints - It's hard on us when all a child can focus on about a good time is the one part that wasn't right. Maybe they're counting on us to remember the good parts and trusting that we want to know everything about their lives.

  • Complaints and relief - It's hard to know how to help make the world right for our teenagers when they are full of legitimate complaints. Relief can come in unexpected forms.

  • Expectations and Disappointment - People can only get disappointed to the degree that they have expectations; to encourage our children to keep expecting, we need to accept their disappointments.

  • Teasing, Humiliation, and Support - While most teasing yields little but humiliation, it an help to offer a laughable caricature of the negative things that someone you love is silently feeling.

Surfing the Wave of conflict

  • Equity and Fairness - Children are passionate about having things "fair", yet trying to be fair to several children at the same time can raise sticky issues about equity, as well as old feelings about all the times in their lives that haven't been fair.

  • Loving the Bully - Our instinct is to go to the comfort of the child who's been hurt by a bully, yet the one who inflicts hurt needs our thoughtful loving intervention as much, and perhaps more.

  • Making the Most of Conflict - Papering over children's conflicts with adult-imposed solutions may restore calm, but rarely gets at the root of the conflict or allows long-term resolution. More is possible.

  • No Blame in the Universe - Since blame is focuses in the past, and feeds on a vulnerable sense of power and goodness, it can be helpful to take the position that there is no place for it in our lives.

  • Rolling with Childish Insults - Our children can say hurtful things to us. If we are in touch with loving them and being good ourselves, we can sidestep the hurt, and respond with the love and confidence they seek.

  • Sticks and Stones, Words and Guns - We are shocked when teenagers kill over insults or teasing. While there is a moral about limiting access to guns, there is another one about how deeply words can hurt.

  • Taking the Emotional Charge Out of Parental Authority - Parental limits are of most use to a child when they are communicated without emotional baggage, and when we are prepared for, and not upset by the frustration they may evoke.

  • Younger Siblings -- being of use - Older children often count on their younger siblings as the very safest place to show their hard feelings. Remembering that the older one was hurting to begin with, we can pre-empt, protect and intervene more strategically.

Tears and Fears

  • About a Baby's Crying - Its hard not to be able to comfort a crying baby, but some of their tears seem to be about the world just not meeting their expectations, and the best we can do is listen fully.

  • Catching the Moment - When we can stop to pay attention to our children's little upsets and try to locate the center of the hurt, they can heal more cleanly and quickly.

  • Improbable Fears - When we can set aside our judgments about whether a child should be afraid of something, and just notice that they are, our unworried loving acceptance will be a great gift.

  • Nine-year-old Boys Communicating through Tears - When friends get mad at each other, making up can be hard because of all the unspoken feelings. If these can be shown without blame or ridicule, a rift can heal quickly.

  • Nudging Fears - We can help children try to avoid contact with things they fear, or require them to not let fear stand in the way. A third way is to stay close and respectful and nudge them in the direction of their fears.

  • Playfully Pushing Through Fears - It seems to work best to encourage children to pay attention to the fear, no matter how "silly", without requiring them to act outside of it.

  • Pulling the Plug - We all bottle up feelings; young children often plug them with a thumb. Our children could use help finding ways and places to pull the plug and let the feelings pour out.

You cannot have one without the other

  • Anger and Grief - Often, just under the surface of an outbreak of anger is a well of grief. If we can keep from getting distracted by the anger, we can be of great use to a hurting child.

  • Giving up vs. wanting - When push comes to shove, I would rather have a difficult child who is good at wanting than an easy child who is good at giving up.

  • Love and Anger: Simultaneous - As the people they know, trust and count on the most, we are the obvious recipients of both our children's love and their anger. An angry child still loves us and a loving child may still feel anger.

  • On Children's Love and Grief - Even if the things our children grieve about seem small or silly, and our temptation is to minimize their import, any loss deserves respectful acknowledgment.

A place for fathers

  • Bankers as Daddies - Men rarely get to show the depth of their involvement with and love for their families at work; they get a raw deal as parents in general.

  • Finding a Diamond - While some male behavior can be hard on children, it always makes sense to look beneath the behavior to the goodness of every father.

  • In Celebration of African-American Fathers - African American fathers get precious little respect from the society at large. Everyone should get a chance to see the depth of love and commitment to their families that so many of these fathers have.

  • The Dads of my Childhood - Remembering dads who were significant in our lives without playing a major role can illuminate the importance of our own contact with other people's children in the present.

  • Wanting Mommy, Wanting Daddy - Sometimes a young child's passionate attachment to a mother can push the father out of the picture. Yet everything will go better if he can be encouraged to stay.

Engaging in larger family issues

  • Intervening with Other People's Children - We all see children behaving in ways that pain us. What are the conditions that allow us to intervene successfully with other people's children?

  • Intervention with Angry or Abusive Parents - Thinking of when we are hard on our children, and what kind of help we could use then, may help us deal with other angry parents.

  • Speaking Truth about Home Life - Though silence may seem safest when we know a child is in the midst of turmoil at home, a warm non-blaming acknowledgment that things are hard may help more than collusion with the myth that everything is fine.

  • The Path Not Taken - Emotions run high about women's choices about having and not having babies; it helps to respect each other and help each other grieve the loss of the path not taken.

Getting help as Parents

  • Backing Parents in their Love - While it might be good for some mothers not to choose for their children over themselves so much, our first step has to be to back them completely in their love.

  • Child Care as Relationship Building - When we are desperate to get help with our children, we may have more long-range success with the people that we can invite not just to care for our children, but to build a relationship with them.

  • Getting Help - Its often hard, as parents, to ask for help. What a gift when a friend doesn't ask whether we need it, but just steps in to help out with what needs to be done.

  • Leaning on Each Other - Just having another adult there with us and our children can draw out the best in us, and make many things more possible, without any additional burden to the other.

  • Love of Learning - When we don't love what a child is passionate about learning, we may help them best by giving them contact with an older child or adult who loves the same thing.

  • Our Co-workers: Other Parents - Co-workers in many jobs have regular opportunities to talk together and problem solve about their work. How can we do the same with our work as parents?

  • Thinking About Other People's Children - When other parents notice our children, and put in a little time and energy to give them something they weren't getting from us, it is a priceless gift.

Having all our children

  • A Chance to be Proud - Being part of a whole group of families celebrating the ground-breaking achievements of their children can remind us of the power of family and love.

  • A Holiday of Loving and Giving - Halloween? - Despite all the symbols, Halloween is a time when neighbors open their houses to welcome the children, and our communities show their goodness.

  • Assuming Our Welcome - We are sometimes cautious around children with special needs, not wanting to do the wrong thing. Yet, if we end up withholding our love, we do both them and us a great disservice.

  • Celebrating the Birth of a Baby - Each time a baby is born, hope is reborn and love is rediscovered. Perhaps this is the real meaning of Christmas.

  • Claiming All Our Children - One of the great advantages of living in a city or neighborhood of may races and classes is that we and our children get to claim everyone as "our people."

  • Cousins Are Forever - Our children need relationships outside the nuclear family that they can count on, that will always be there no matter where they go or what they do.

  • Pillow Fighting (in Poland) - The pillow fight seems like a universal medium for relieving tension, dissolving anger into laughter, using up excess energy, and being in contact with other people. It needs no translation.

  • Water Running Uphill - Children are not naturally mean to each other. If children's dominant experience is that of getting help from those who are older, we can witness their natural inclination to be helpful to those who are younger.

Interacting with a materialist culture

  • A Holiday Offering - We can't avoid all the disappointments that come with the expectations of the holidays, but here is an offering of things I've discovered that help.

  • Creative Play with Rigid Scripts - There are terrible toys and models out there for our children, but we have more power than we know to make good use of them and the scripts they come with.

  • Finding Our Way Through Mass Culture - How can we communicate what we hate about mass culture and still stay good allies to our children as they are lured by it and try to figure it out?

  • Hope, Tears, and the Holidays - Christmas time, with all its expectations, is a set-up for disappointments. Being prepared for them, and not taking it personally, is our best defense.

Sex roles in Children

  • "Bang, Bang, you're dead" - Massive change is required to make growing up a completely human experience for little boys. But there is much we can do on a daily basis to put attention to that humanness.

  • Equal Time for Girls - We expend so much effort worrying about "boy" problems--guns, violence, aggression--that we can forget that many girls are being (quietly) acculturated in ways that are just as harmful for them.

  • Invading Male Turf - How can mothers engage with our sons on their male-culture territory, without abandoning our own perspective? It takes determination and creativity, but it can be done.

  • Making and Maintaining Boy/Girl Friendships - Though the forces that pull boys and girls apart seem as relentless as gravity, with some thought and energy we can make a big--and important--difference.

  • Mothers of Sons and MAle Culture - As our sons grow older and identify more closely with male culture, it is tempting for mothers to bow out and let fathers take the lead. But our thinking about, and active interaction with, that culture is critical to our sons.

  • Nice - and Angry - Little Girls - If little girls were encouraged to show their anger straightforwardly, it might be less covert, acidic and hard to handle.

  • Pink Pajamas and Sex-Role Stereotyping - We may box our children into sex-role stereotypes more than we know, and more than is good for them, out of fear of how others may react.

Staying human and connected

  • Access to the Disabled - Many of us were isolated from disabled people as children and are awkward as a result. A little thought and planning can change that for our children.

  • Being Grown up in this World - It's not easy to become an adult in a world full of injustice and hard choices. We get to invite our grown children to be with us in figuring it out.

  • Breaking down barriers - How can we move beyond revulsion or pity to help our children find a sense of connection and common ground with even the most marginalized among us?

  • Children and War - Where can we find solid ground as we struggle to protect our children from unnecessary fear while communicating important information about the world?

  • Competition, Self-Confidence, and Fun - While the emphasis on winning out over others is pervasive in our culture, our children are eager for alternative choices that allow everyone to try their hardest and be winners.

  • Growing Up in a Divided Society - While we can't protect our children from contact with the norms--and poisons--of society, we can be good allies to them as they try to sort it all out.

  • Holding Our Gifts Lightly - While we love to see our children shine, and stardom is highly prized in our culture, the price can be high. Rootedness in a community might be a higher goal.