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Apr 7 2014

News Roundup: Can Electroconvulsive Therapy Help Children With Autism?

By at 4:24 pm

 All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


-One mother shares her experience using electroconvulsive therapy to soothe her child with autism. Once debilitated by violent outbursts, today her son plays well with his siblings and is even learning Hebrew. (Slate)

-The New York Times published a guide for women on how to ask for a raise, explaining that they are at a higher risk of sounding demanding and unlikeable. (New York Times)

-One dad makes the case for using piggy banks to teach your child fiscal responsibility, but not savings accounts, which kids see as punishment. (Motherlode)

-Melanie Notkin on the awkward conversations that happen at the seder table when you are over 40, childless, and single. (JTA)

-Over one million Evenflo carseats have been recalled due to a problematic seat belt which gets stuck easily, making it difficult to retrieve the baby. (NBC)

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Mar 31 2014

News Roundup: Does Porn Hurt Children?

By at 8:28 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


- A recent UK study found that three in every 100 primary school children, some as young as 6, have viewed hardcore pornographic images on the internet. There is still some debate as to how traumatizing and what the long-term effect of this exposure is. (The Times Magazine)

- Boston Magazine has a fascinating (and terrifying) look at the juvenile and cliquey social lives of suburban American moms, which can quickly spiral into a social nightmare reminiscent of high school for those who fail to keep up. (Boston Magazine)

- The majority of American women aren’t “leaning in” or “opting out.” Rather, most women–ranging socioeconomically from poor to upper middle class–are barely hanging on.  (Al Jazeera)

- Putin’s elementary school teacher, who now resides in a Tel Aviv apartment purchased by her former student, has found herself in the spotlight now that Putin has decided to annex Crimea. The gentle and studious school boy she describes sounds nothing like the Vladimir Putin of today. (JTA)

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Mar 24 2014

News Roundup: Bar Mitzvah Boy Schools Us On Tween Style in Esquire

By at 2:02 pm


-Horrified by the drab khakis and navy blazer ensemble that has become the symbol of manhood at temples everywhere, one fashion-forward bar mitzvah boy explains how to snazz up the old uniform for the men’s magazine. h/t Courtney Naliboff. (Esquire)

-Hanna Rosin–of “End of Men” fame–wrote another groundbreaking essay about the plight of our playgrounds and how it’s destroying childhood as we know it. She blames to our irrational safety fears for the modern over-regulated playground, arguing that hazards and danger are essential for healthy childhood development.  (The Atlantic)

-Bacon crackers for Hebrew School? Crazier stuff has happened. Thanks to the Orthodox Union, bacon-flavored Ritz crackers are officially certified kosher. Not without controversy, of course; some samplers complain that it tastes too similar to the real thing. (JTA)

-In New York City, where the preschool admission process is about as cutthroat as the “American Idol” finals, Orthodox Jewish preschools  such as Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn are increasingly appealing to secular Jewish parents. Read this lovely essay about one family taking the plunge. (The New York Times)

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Mar 17 2014

News Roundup: Do Smart Phones Make You Yell at Your Child?

By at 4:57 pm

 All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.cellphone

-Is smart phone usage connected to how harshly you reprimand your child? According to one study, yes. Researchers observed 55 caregivers with small children and found that those who were most involved in their phones showed a pattern of “decreased attentiveness to the child,” resulting in child acting out and the caregiver snapping harshly at the child. This might make you consider turning off the phone during dinner time. (CBS)

-While medical marijuana currently is legal in 20 states, many have preexisting laws that seem to contradict the legalization of the substance, including child welfare laws that mandate that weed be treated like any other narcotic. As a result some parents are finding themselves at odds with child welfare organizations. (CNN)

-A 25-year-old Pittsburgh designer’s crowdfunding campaign to create a “normal Barbie” has gone viral.  Described by some as the “anti-Barbie,” the Lammily doll–which has an athletic figure and real joints– raised $400,000 in a week and a half. Check out this profile of the doll’s creator. (JTA)

-In the spirit of  ”The Lego Movie,” which saw box office revenues of $69 million in its opening weekend, one man reflects on his Lego-filled childhood in this lovely essay. It’s a must-read. (New York Times)

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Mar 10 2014

News Roundup: How Disney Helped One Boy With Autism Find His Voice

By at 4:26 pm

 All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


-There was an incredibly moving story in The New York Times this week about a young boy with autism who hadn’t communicated with his family in years. The boy’s father was able to reach the boy through Disney characters and coax him out of his shell. This is a must-read. (The New York Times)

-Spoiled brat or honor role student who was unfairly cast out by her parents? Rachel Canning accused her parents of kicking her out of the house when she turned 18 and now she is suing them for support and college funds which were set aside for her. (Associated Press)

-The “Women of the Wall” upped their ante this week, by setting up a table at the shuk in Tel Aviv and asking passing women if they would like to wear a tallit or put on tefillin. As expected, this drew some confrontation from religious men. (JTA)

-In a chilling account, Peter Lanza, whose son Adam Lanza killed his own mother and 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, describes how his son went from being a “just a normal little weird kid” to a withdrawn teen with homicidal tendencies. (The New Yorker)

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Mar 3 2014

News Roundup: Seth Rogen Fights for Alzheimer’s Research on Senate Floor

By at 4:25 pm


-If there was an Oscar for Nicest Jewish Boy in Hollywood, Seth Rogen would have walked home with it last night. Last week, the funny man petitioned the senate for funding for Alzheimer’s research with a heartwarming testimony about his mother-in-law’s decline due to the illness, but Rogen was disappointed with the apathetic response he got from lawmakers. (CNN)

-A new study reopens debate about whether men have biological clocks. The latest evidence points to higher rates of mental illness among children born of fathers who are older than middle age than those born to younger dads. (New York Times)

-Could that crib-side music player be harming your baby’s eardrums? According to a new study, yes. According to researchers, 14 of the tested sound devices designed to lull infants to sleep had the capability of blasting music as louder than 50 decibels–the highest volume considered safe for infants. (New York Times)

-Last month, PJ Library, a subscription service for Jewish children’s books, was praised for providing the award-winning LGBT-friendly Purim book, “The Purim Superhero,” to subscribers. It received 2,200 requests within the first 36 hours, but some are criticizing the library for making the book only available upon request rather than providing it to all subscribers. (Boston Globe)

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Feb 24 2014

News Roundup: Jewish Montessori Day Schools Are Trending

By at 4:26 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


-Parents are trading old-style Jewish day schools–which are deemed too clannish and stale for the modern generation–for the Montessori model. The Times profiles two Brooklyn-based Montessori schools that straddle the line between innovative education and tradition. (The New York Times)

-Studies of Romanian orphans reveal the long term effects of childhood neglect on the brain. One orphan, Izidor Ruckel, now 33 and living in Boulder, wrote a book about his lonely childhood and subsequent rocky relationship with his adoptive parents. (NPR)

-In Salon, Elissa Strauss observes that the latest trend in the ongoing “mommy wars” pits “bad mommies” against the “good,” but–ironically–the “bad moms” can be just as obnoxious and sanctimonious as their “good” counterparts. (Salon)

(Then read Kveller contributor Courtney Naliboff’s defense of overachievers and “good mommies” here.)

-Prompted by the recent New York Times expose, Invisible Child–which followed 12-year-old Dasani, highlighting the plight of 22,000 homeless children housed in New York City shelters–incoming New York mayor Bill DeBlasio moves over 400 children living under the worst conditions into better residences. (New York Magazine)

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Feb 10 2014

News Roundup: Does More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?

By at 2:52 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this

-Do more equal marriages mean couples are having less sex? In short, yes. Or at least those were the findings of a study which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year. Check out the New York Times’ fascinating reporting on the subject, which is bound to be the topic of dinner table discussions for a while. (The New York Times)

-Losing a nipple can be a traumatic side effect of breast cancer surgery. After losing her nipple in a double mastectomy, one Israeli survivor spent a year studying with a silicon designer who specializes in prosthetics and invented the first ever a prosthetic nipple–filling an important niche for women all over the world. (JTA)

-Are Jewish day schools gender-typing our kids as young as preschool age? What is long-term impact of an elementary education that encourages Talmud study for boys and Challah baking for girls? These are the questions raised in a new book by Elana Sztokman and Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman titled, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. Check out Tablet’s fantastic podcast interview with the book’s author. (Tablet Magazine)

-Here’s a novel idea: using beans to talk to kids about money and charity. Since kids often can’t compute number in the five or six digit range, this author suggests breaking down the family pie visually in order to foster a healthy discussion about giving and where the family finances get distributed. (The New York Times)

-Check out this poignant essay by Kveller contributing editor Adina Kay Gross about losing her father when her twins were just 18 months old and how she keeps his memory present in their day-to-day lives. (Modern Loss)

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Feb 3 2014

News Roundup: How Are We Supposed to Feel About Woody Allen?

By at 4:22 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

woody allen

- Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, published an open letter in the New York Times, claiming she was sexually abused by Allen when she was 7. Meanwhile, Allen’s documentarian highlights some inconsistencies in this now decades-long case. So what are we to make of all this? Elissa Strauss writes for The Sisterhood that it’s OK to be ambivalent. (Forward)

- The abortion rate in the United States is at its lowest point since 1973, when the supreme court legalized the procedure in all 50 states. No conclusive evidence yet as to why, but many are linking the drop to the availability of new, long-acting contraceptive methods. (Washington Post)

- Another newborn has contracted neonatal genital herpes from metzitzah b’peh, a controversial circumcision rite in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the circumcision wound in order to draw blood. The practice is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi Orthodox community still adhere to the rite. (JTA)

- Preschool is totally trending right now, with more and more states from both sides of the political divide making a serious push for government-funded preschool. (NY Times)

Jan 27 2014

News Roundup: Is Parenting Really So Different Around the World?

By at 4:36 pm


- While Americans have become obsessed with mining other world cultures for their parenting advice (Asian moms, French moms, etc. etc.), HuffPost surveyed its editors and writers worldwide about their own parenting style, and it was the similarities that were the most striking. (Huffington Post)

- In “Freezing Eggs and Hoarding My Fertility,” Sarah ruminates on the anxiety and panic that ensue after freezing your eggs. (Motherlode)

- A bit of history for you: The Spanish government expelled the Jews in 1492. In 2012, they said that any Sephardic Jew who wanted a Spanish passport could have one. Confident he could qualify, Josh Nathan-Kazis flew to Madrid to find out. (The Forward)

- New York Magazine contributing editor and mother Jennifer Senior investigates how children actually affect parental happiness in her new book, All Joy and No Fun. (NPR)

- Officials across the country are studying the programs in New Jersey preschools as they seek to broaden access to free, full-day pre-kindergarten. (NY Times)

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