If parenting is so hard, why do we keep doing it?

The answer… because we’re addicted to it.

Here’s a great article from Slate with the premise that humans get such a physiological jolt of pleasure from the occasional hug, kiss or snuggle that it makes up for all the blood, sweat and tears that comes from raising children.

To put it another way – if it was so hard – we’d all be one children families. Here’s a passage from the piece:

“Parenting is a grind, and most parents are stressed out much more than they are happy. But when parents think about parenting, they don’t remember the background stress. They remember the cuddle and the kiss. Parenting is a series of intensely high highs, followed by long periods of frustration and stress, during which you go to great lengths to find your way back to that sofa and that kiss.

We have a name for people who pursue rare moments of bliss at the expense of their wallets and their social and professional relationships: addicts.

Children regularly give parents the kind of highs that only narcotics can rival. The unpredictability of those moments of bliss is an important factor in their addictiveness.”

Intrigued? Read on:

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Calm Cool and Collected… Parenting

Heard a fantastic NPR segment this morning about how parents can best manage the drama and craziness of their teenage sons and daughters. The premise of the piece was based on a new book called Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens – and from the four or so minutes I caught in the car – it’s an extremely helpful guide for navigating what are for some parents very tumultuous waters and uncovers the drivers for many infuriating aspects of teen’s behaviors. Apparently it’s not just about bad attitudes, being spoiled or disrespectful or carelessness or other commonly thought of drivers but simply an under-developed prefontal cortex.

Here are a few examples of the situations the book address and provides approaches for parents on how to handle:

  • When your teen is rude and sarcastic
  • When your smart teen does something really dumb
  • When teen problems drive a wedge between you and your spouse
  • When your teen is acting like a spoiled brat
  • When you’re worried you’re losing your teen
  • When teens are mean

The book, written by psychologist Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt, is based on years of research so it’s not based on subjective opinions or lifestyle choices. What’s really helpful is that the book actually provides a blueprint on how to handle specific situations. So clearly one that you want to keep on your nightstand for several years.

Are Our Wives and Mothers Becoming Unhappier?

If you believe that one of the biggest contributors to the well being of children is the strength and dynamic of the relationship between the father and mother – meaning that the health and stability of the primary relationship contributes greatly to the ability to be better parents, then today’s Forum subject warrants your focused attention.
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This morning’s show focuses on the findings that women (and more so – mothers) have been becoming unhappier while men’s happiness has increased – which is the conclusion drawn from 37 years of data from the General Social Survey which has tracked Americans’ moods since 1972. Click here to listen to the discussion between Betsey Stevenson professor of at the Wharton School of Business, Christine Carter, executive director of the Greater Good Science Center and author of “Raising Happiness” and Ruth Rosen, professor of history at UC Berkeley and former columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times. The discussion explores several potential causes such as the tendency for perfectionism among women, unrealistic expectations and media influences.

I was lucky and got to catch the whole broadcast on the drive down to Palo Alto this morning for a meeting. Let’s all give hugs, kisses and gratitude to our old ladies today.

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Wee See for Me (and you too)

I’m a big fan of The Polyphonic Spree – the choral symphonic rock group from Dallas Texas, which is headed by Tim DeLaughter. So when I came across a company, Wee See, that produces visual stimulation DVDs for infants with music scored, composed and performed by Tim, I had to check it out. For a quick taste of the experience, click here:

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Fans of The Polyphonic Spree will recognize the bright and shiny melodies in the DVDs which are slow methodically dynamic high contrast black and white animations that are soothing and actually pretty fun to watch. I can imagine a concert or party (for grown-ups) with these as visualizations in the background. Here’s a sample of one of the DVDs:

Po Bronson’s New Book on Raising Kids

Po Bronson – NYT best selling author, collaborates on a new book on how to raise children… NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children…that is based on research by psychologists, neuro-imaging scientists, demographers, sociologists, and others that all independently come to the same conclusions. It definitely turns a lot of conventional wisdom upside down and “pops” many beliefs on what works and what doesn’t when it concerns raising children.

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How similar is Don Draper’s parenting style to your own dad’s?

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Let us know if the iconic 60’s ad man, Mr. Draper’s style of raising his children is similar to how you were raised. For those of you living under a rock and do not know who Don Draper is – he is the lead character in AMC’s brilliant show Mad Men – now in its third season. I won’t take up time describing the show (here’s a great blog on Mad Men)  but it is considered one of the best television shows ever created. Think Soprano’s meets Thirty Something – with a sprinkle of Bewitched channeling Tennessee Williams. Sometimes it’s good to compare how things REALLY were in the “good ole days” as a reminder of how well we’re doing things today.