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Archive for the ‘preschoolers’ Category

My generation’s fathers are so much more involved in child-rearing and god, they’re all much happier for it. These are some very nice photos of active fathering.

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Ariel Gore is having trouble getting some newsagents in America to stock her latest issue of Hip Mama. “Why are Americans still so uptight about breastfeeding?” in Psychology Today:

She reached out to the Barcelona-based artist and selected “Symbiosis,” a gorgeous self-portrait photograph of Ana in partial superhero costume breastfeeding her son.

I loved the selection. I thought the image invoked the unrealistic notion of the “Supermom” who can do everything and countered it with the vulnerability of being partially naked with a small child.

I added the tagline “No Supermoms Here.”

Ana, in our interview for the magazine, said she thought of the piece as showing the symbiotic relationship between mother and child, “where each being is complete by themselves but they are reinvented and strengthened by the relationships they establish with each other.”

None of us thought of the photo as being “about” public breastfeeding.

I love this photo. But you know, I love images of breastfeeding that subvert the standard mother-baby image. Also, I love Ariel Gore’s new book, The End of Eve. So poetic, as always.

 

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Deborah: Tell us a bit about your book that’s coming out next fall, The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Source Books, 2014). Is there any way in which you think girls can be active agents in princess play? In what ways do you hope your book will steer popular debate? And what do you most want to change?

Rebecca: Thanks for asking. The Princess Problem is really a handbook for parents to raise media-literate daughters–girls who are able to think critically about marketing, the beauty ideal, gender stereotypes, and race representation. This is an important task for 21st-century parents: We must coach our children, guiding them to become critical viewers of media culture in general. And yet media literacy is not something that’s a mainstream concept yet in the U.S.; many other countries include media literacy in their K-12 curricula, but that’s not the case here. I’d like that to change.

I focus in my book on princess culture in particular because “princess” is so pervasive–it’s THE defining pop culture phenomenon in early girlhood. And it’s the perfect example to use in a text on raising media literate girls because the issues we need to discuss with our daughters so often differ from than the issues we would discuss with our sons. (For example, body image issues are a very different beast when it comes to girls and boys.) But the principles I teach in The Princess Problem could easily be extrapolated to raising media-literate sons, too.

And yes, I absolutely believe girls can be active agents in princess play. Kids are not passive victims of media and toys; they’re active consumers who regularly defy our assumptions. That’s a position I’ve espoused in some of my earlier work–for example, my study of girls and Bratz dolls.

It’s important to note, then, that in The Princess Problem, my goal is not to persuade girls that princesses are bad or to “de-princess” them; rather, it is to help parents help their girls reason become critical viewers who can see that there are many, many ways to be a girl.

From Girl w/ Pen! with Deborah Siegel interviewing Rebecca Hains in “Girls, Boys, Feminism, Toys”.

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Completely fascinating.

Even more important than creativity is the capacity to get along with other people, to care about them and to co-operate effectively with them. Children everywhere are born with a strong drive to play with other children and such play is the means by which they acquire social skills and practise fairness and morality. Play, by definition, is voluntary, which means that players are always free to quit. If you can’t quit, it’s not play. All players know that, and so they know that to keep the game going, they must keep the other players happy. The power to quit is what makes play the most democratic of all activities. When players disagree about how to play, they must negotiate their differences and arrive at compromises. Each player must recognise the capacities and desires of the others, so as not to hurt or offend them in ways that will lead them to quit. Failure to do so would end the game and leave the offender alone, which is powerful punishment for not attending to the others’ wishes and needs. The most fundamental social skill is the ability to get into other people’s minds, to see the world from their point of view. Without that, you can’t have a happy marriage, or good friends, or co-operative work partners. Children practise that skill continuously in their social play.

In play, children also learn how to control their impulses and follow rules. All play – even the wildest-looking varieties – has rules. A play-fight, for example, differs from a real fight in that the former has rules and the latter doesn’t. In the play-fight you cannot kick, bite, scratch, or really hurt the other person; and if you are the larger and stronger of the two, you must take special care to protect the other from harm. While the goal of a real fight is to end it by driving the other into submission, the goal of a play-fight is to prolong it by keeping the other happy.

From Peter Gray’s “Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less” in The Independent.

 

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At GOMA with the four year old, Cormac, and his sister.

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(Young children make surprisingly good company at art galleries, especially for viewing contemporary art.. because this).

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On the flip side, there’s a small pocket of men out there that can’t stand me. Here’s a sampling of some of the private messages and comments I received from them after I posted this picture:

- “He probably rented those kids. They don’t even look like him.”

- “I would bet anything that you’re a deadbeat.”

- “OK buddy, cute picture. Now why don’t you hand the children back to their mom so you can go back to selling drugs or your bootleg rap CDs?”

- “So do you do this for all of your illegitimate kids?”

You get the idea.

From Doyin Richards at the Huffington Post.

(Thanks to Judith for the link).

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First, I love my real Christmas tree with all my heart.

Second, I could not have that lovely Christmas tree defiled by bad decorations, no matter the sentiment. Not this year, I’m too fragile… and houseproud. So, I was clever this time. I gave the kids free rein in decorating the tree but I only made the decorations I like available to them. I am at peace with the result.

The kitsch angel most definitely made the cut.

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Christmas decoration shadow.

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