The Inverse Power of Praise, Po Bronson


How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise



What do we make of a boy like Thomas?
Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas’s one of them, and he likes belonging.
Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top one percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top one percent. He scored in the top one percent of the top one percent.
But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t.
For instance, in the early grades, Thomas wasn’t very good at spelling, so he simply demurred from spelling out loud. When Thomas took his first look at fractions, he balked. The biggest hurdle came in third grade. He was supposed to learn cursive penmanship, but he wouldn’t even try for weeks. By then, his teacher was demanding homework be completed in cursive. Rather than play catch-up on his penmanship, Thomas refused outright. Thomas’s father tried to reason with him. “Look, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t have to put out some effort.” (Eventually, he mastered cursive, but not without a lot of cajoling from his father.)
Why does this child, who is measurably at the very top of the charts, lack confidence about his ability to tackle routine school challenges?
Thomas is not alone. For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.
When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.
But a growing body of research—and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system—strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.
Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”
Why just a single line of praise? “We wanted to see how sensitive children were,” Dweck explained. “We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect.”
Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck’s team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.

New York University professor of psychiatry Judith Brook explains that the issue for parents is one of credibility. “Praise is important, but not vacuous praise,” she says. “It has to be based on a real thing—some skill or talent they have.” Once children hear praise they interpret as meritless, they discount not just the insincere praise, but sincere praise as well.
Scholars from Reed College and Stanford reviewed over 150 praise studies. Their meta-analysis determined that praised students become risk-averse and lack perceived autonomy. The scholars found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students’ “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.”
Dweck’s research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern—they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.
In one, students are given two puzzle tests. Between the first and the second, they are offered a choice between learning a new puzzle strategy for the second test or finding out how they did compared with other students on the first test: They have only enough time to do one or the other. Students praised for intelligence choose to find out their class rank, rather than use the time to prepare.
In another, students get a do-it-yourself report card and are told these forms will be mailed to students at another school—they’ll never meet these students and don’t know their names. Of the kids praised for their intelligence, 40 percent lie, inflating their scores. Of the kids praised for effort, few lie.
When students transition into junior high, some who’d done well in elementary school inevitably struggle in the larger and more demanding environment. Those who equated their earlier success with their innate ability surmise they’ve been dumb all along. Their grades never recover because the likely key to their recovery—increasing effort—they view as just further proof of their failure. In interviews many confess they would “seriously consider cheating.”
Students turn to cheating because they haven’t developed a strategy for handling failure. The problem is compounded when a parent ignores a child’s failures and insists he’ll do better next time. Michigan scholar Jennifer Crocker studies this exact scenario and explains that the child may come to believe failure is something so terrible, the family can’t acknowledge its existence. A child deprived of the opportunity to discuss mistakes can’t learn from them.
My son, Luke, is in kindergarten. He seems supersensitive to the potential judgment of his peers. Luke justifies it by saying, “I’m shy,” but he’s not really shy. He has no fear of strange cities or talking to strangers, and at his school, he has sung in front of large audiences. Rather, I’d say he’s proud and self-conscious. His school has simple uniforms (navy T-shirt, navy pants), and he loves that his choice of clothes can’t be ridiculed, “because then they’d be teasing themselves too.”
After reading Carol Dweck’s research, I began to alter how I praised him, but not completely. I suppose my hesitation was that the mind-set Dweck wants students to have—a firm belief that the way to bounce back from failure is to work harder—sounds awfully clich├ęd: Try, try again.

Read full article here 


15 Things Our Grandparents Lived Without (and We Probably Could, Too)

by Jason (Frugal Dad)
My grandfather grew up in a rural setting during the Great Depression, and for much of his young life had no running water or electricity. He often joked that they really did have running water–he ran to the well with a bucket and ran back.  During particularly lean summer months, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters often went barefoot. He often joked that he doesn’t know why people refer to those times as “the good ol’ days,” because there wasn’t much good about them.
Third Avenue looking north from Cherry Street, 1930 by Seattle Municipal Archives on Flickr
Of course, I cherish these stories and the time spent with my grandparents because they made me the “frugal dad” I am today. When I find myself drooling over a new gadget I think back to stories of my great-grandmother searching the cupboards for a missing dime that meant a can of soup for her kids’ dinner. It puts life in perspective to remember that people did manage to get by without today’s modern conveniences.
Don’t get me wrong – this is not an indictment of today’s modern conveniences, because frankly, many of them make life much more enjoyable. However, we should be reminded that many of these things are luxuries, not necessities, even though media and peer pressure would have us believe otherwise.

15 Things Our Grandparents Lived Without (and We Probably Could, Too)

1. GPS Devices.For me, the jury is still out on GPS devices for your car. I hear about more people arriving late because they took the “GPS directions” than I hear success stories. I don’t know what’s wrong with a road atlas – I just bought a new one from Sams Club for a few dollars. Besides, some of the best discoveries are found when you are lost.
2. Tanning Bed Salons. Direct quote from my grandfather: “Why pay hard-earned money to cook your skin when the good Lord shines a sun over your head that does the same for free?” 
3. Cell Phones. Yes, people can live without a cell phone. In fact, many still do, as hard as that is to imagine. If you are concerned with safety while traveling, consider a prepaid phone and keep it charged. Heck, even a cell phone without a calling plan, but a charged battery, can call 911 in an emergency. While I do consider cell phones more of a utility these days, I consider data plans and all the bells and whistles a luxury. Disclosure: I own a DroidX, and curse the bill every time it hits the mailbox!
4. Microwaves. I’ve yet to taste anything out of a microwave that tastes as good or better than stove-top or grilled. Still, it’s a time saver, and since we all have so little of it these days I suppose it helps.
5. Credit Cards/Debit Cards. The concept of borrowing has been around for centuries, but it has only evolved into plastic over the last century. Speaking of plastic, my grandfather didn’t use an ATM card until he was in his 70?s, instead he always went inside the bank, walked up to the teller, and did business ”eye-to-eye.” They knew him by name and were always happy to help with customer service issues he ran across over the 40 years he banked with this particular bank.
6. Electronic Book Readers (Kindle). Why spend money on something with a screen the size of a book when you could simply…read a book. They even let you borrow them for a couple weeks at libraries for free. Yes, I know toys like the Kindle do other stuff, but its primary role is an electronic book reader. Disclosure: I purchased a Kindle in the hopes it would make me read more. Truthfully, it did not, and do miss the smell of an old book. Guess I’ll be re-gifting it.
7. Digital Cable. Even I can remember growing up with only a handful of channels from rabbit ears on top of the television. My grandfather could remember times before television! Imagine getting all of your news and entertainment from a radio, instead of Fox News and MTV. Speaking of MTV – didn’t that used to stand for “music” television?
8. Health Insurance. If our grandparents got sick, I mean bad sick (not a simple cold or poison ivy), they went to the doct0r and paid for their services. The first “health insurance” plans only covered long hospitalizations or major illnesses, not the routine things we see doctors for today. However, one could certainly make the argument preventative medicine has helped us live longer, healthier lives, and much of that is made more affordable thanks to health insurance plans.
9. Plasma Televisions. Up until 2004 my grandfather owned a decades old, 27-inch floor model console television.  He eventually got rid of it when the picture began to have problems around the edges, and now has a basic 19-inch screen on a shelf. When I asked him about a plasma screen once he said, “There is nothing wrong with the picture on my screen now. Besides, I’ve heard those ‘plasma things’ cost as much as a small car.” Indeed, although it had been a while since he priced a small car!
10. SiriusXM Radio. Why pay to listen to something that is available for free over the airwaves? I did get an XM satellite receiver for my grandfather’s car to use on trips, and he found one feature worth paying for – not having to listen to commercials. Unfortunately, this is not true today as I’ve heard commercials have made their way into satellite programming.
11. Xbox, Playstation and Wii. I remember one Christmas while staying with my grandparents I got an Atari 2600 game system. I hooked it up to the television and ran through games like Combat, Frogger and Pole Position. He thought it was interesting enough, but those little game cartridges sure were expensive! Imagine what he’d think about today’s game prices!
12. Health Clubs. Why pay $30 a month to pick up heavy weights and walk on a belt that runs underneath your feet? You can get the same workout walking outside, lifting things in the garden or filled milk jugs, using your own body weight, etc.
13. Calculators and electronic cash registers. People knew how to perform basic math computations and make change. Enough said.
14. Student Loans. Student loans are also a relatively new (I mean, last 50 years or so) phenomenon. People used to simply pay for college, but that was before the days of college tuition costing an arm and a leg. Which begs the question: Has the federal student loan program encouraged colleges to increase costs by allowing students to spread payments out over a quarter of their lifetimes? Reminds me of what happened to housing prices when more and more previously disqualified people were allowed to borrow big money on mortgages.
15. Disposable Items. Ziploc bags didn’t really hit the market until the 1960s, although some “resealable bags” were around a decade earlier. My grandparents used to put things in containers (jars, dishes, etc.) and store them. When they used the item, they washed the container and reused.


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The truth about marital unhappiness

"For Better": The science of marital unhappiness

Our divorce rate is a myth? Snoring causes breakups? A new book applies rigorous research to the modern marriage

As it turns out, much of what you think about the state of the American marriage is wrong: Half of marriages don’t end in divorce; married people don’t have less sex than their single counterparts and -- surprise! -- fighting can actually be beneficial to your relationship. That is what Tara Parker-Pope, a health journalist and the woman behind the New York Times' Well  blog, discovered while researching her new book, "For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage." In the book, Parker-Pope argues that the marital bond isn't nearly as mysterious as you might believe, and unlike the vast majority of authors on the subject, she uses credible scientific research to back up her claims about everything from sex to housework.
As "For Better" points out, researchers found that couples in lasting marriages have at least five small positive interactions (touching, smiling, paying a compliment) for every negative one (sneering, eye rolling, withdrawal). When the ratio drops, the risk of divorce increases. Snoring and other sleep problems can contribute enormously to marital unhappiness. How you treat your partner during the first three minutes of a fight determines whether the argument will be good or bad for your marriage -- launching a volley of personal criticisms is worse than opening up a discussion with a complaint. It’s these small but recognizable actions, claims Parker-Pope, that distinguish a marriage bound for splitsville from couples who stay together.
Salon called Parker-Pope to talk about the science behind monogamy, our mythical divorce rate and Americans' problem with arranged marriage.

How reliable is science in predicting what makes a good marriage? Isn't
 happiness something that is highly variable?
Human behavior is variable, and science can't really predict whether any one individual will be happy in a particular marriage. The scientific study of couples does identify several patterns that are consistently seen in happy and unhappy couples, and statistical analyses can identify specific risk factors for divorce. But in the end, each partner has his or her own definition of what makes a happy marriage. There are some relationships that even science can't explain.
Monogamy isn't normal among other animals, so why should we be trying for something that biology isn't telling us is absolutely necessary?
It's true that monogamy and sexual fidelity are not common in nature, but it certainly does occur. There is no other area of human behavior in which we defer entirely to biology -- if we did that, every woman would have 10 kids. The very essence of human nature is the ability to control our impulses and make choices. Almost without exception, men and women say they value monogamy in relationships. So while it isn't absolutely necessary from a biological standpoint, from a social, cultural and emotional standpoint, it's important to many people and that's why we try for it.
But popular culture must play a large role in feeding this obsession with monogamy.
It doesn't seem to be just cultural. Psychiatrist Michael Liebowitz notes that biologically our brains have evolved two distinct chemical systems for romance: One brings people together and one keeps people together. From an evolutionary standpoint, men and women need to be attracted to each other long enough to reproduce and men need to form enough of an attachment that they stick around to protect and feed the kids. 

There really isn't an evolutionary explanation for why humans stick together after children are raised. But even without a biological imperative, monogamy is consistently valued across cultures. Anthropologist Helen Fisher points out that even in most polygamous cultures, fewer than 10 percent of men choose to have more than one wife at a time. She argues that monogamy is "pretty standard" for the human species.
However, there are legal, financial and social benefits in this culture to being married. There are studies that show a difference between the two. If you look at same-sex couples who don't have the right to marry, you definitely see higher breakup rates earlier in the relationship. But once they cross the 10-year mark, or they buy a house together or adopt a child, then you get into a legal commitment. And legal ties definitely do bind us. Being legally entangled with somebody appears to help couples weather storms better than those who can just walk away.
It’s surprising that the oft-cited statistic that half of marriages now end in divorce isn’t actually true. Why do we think divorce is so much more common than it is?
The 50 percent divorce rate is really a myth. The 20-year divorce rate for couples who got married in the 1980s is actually around 19 percent. Everyone thinks marriage is such a struggle and it’s shocking to hear that marriage is actually going strong today. It has to do with how you look at the statistic. If the variables were constant, then a simple equation might work to come up with the divorce rate. But a lot of things are changing. And it is true that there are groups of people who have a 50 percent divorce rate: college dropouts who marry under the age of 25, for example. Couples married in the 1970s have a 30-year divorce rate of about 47 percent. A person who got married in the 1970s had a completely different upbringing and experience in life from someone who got married in the 1990s. It's been very clear that divorce rates peaked in the 1970s and has been going down ever since.
I also think that there's a political agenda on either side of the spectrum. There's the built-in incentive to identify crises. If you're a researcher you can study them; if you're an advocacy group you can get funding and support. There's not a lot to be gained for your cause if you say, "Everything's pretty good right now." That doesn't generate a headline or supporters or grants. You see it in all areas of social sciences, but it’s part of the reason why this crisis of the American marriage has been overstated.
You found the success of a marriage can often be judged by the way the couple retells the story of how they met. How is that?
I was listening to Michelle Obama talk about her first date with the president, and it was fascinating. She remembered an enormous amount of detail, including the flavor of ice cream she had. And you could hear the pronouns were "us" and "we," and there was so much affection in the story. It's not that if you have a bad memory of your first date that you're headed for divorce, but I think it's a useful tool to listen to yourself and your partner, and when you start to hear the negativity creep in, it's a red flag.
I was in marriage counseling at one point and the counselor wanted to hear about our first date, and I thought it was a ridiculous question. I thought we needed to talk about what's happening now, not what happened 20 years ago. And I wish she had stopped to explain that it does matter. Later, I would tell the exact same story and there would be a few little negative fingers in there. There's a big difference between saying, "We got horribly lost on our first date," and, "Of course, you didn't stop to ask for directions." It's the same first date but by the time he's being accused of not getting directions, you can tell that the relationship is going south. You can see that the structure of the relationship has changed.
A lot of people blame problems in their marriage on the notion that women want something other than what men want from a relationship. Are they right?
 You look at issues men and women argue about, and it’s true that men care about sex and women care about children. And you think, are we really that separated along gender lines? But when you really look more closely at these relationships you see that a lot of these issues are not about gender, they're about power struggles. You can see evidence of this when you look at same-sex couples. They obviously don't have gender issues, but they do assume various roles and you start to see patterns for power. It's really not about male or female, it's about who has the power in the relationship. If you don't recognize that it's a power struggle then you're never going to get an even playing field.
In many ways, arranged marriages are more scientific than love
 marriages. Why are we so shocked by the idea of them?

I didn't focus on arranged marriages, but I think we tend to be shocked by arranged marriages not because we over-idealize the value of romantic love, but because some cultures that favor arranged marriages are also those that devalue women's rights. When marriages are arranged for women, they are often done so at the expense of a girl's education and opportunities, with little regard for her wishes.

But aren’t many arranged marriages just as successful as non-arranged ones?
Their success depends on your definition of successful. I have seen data suggesting that arranged marriages are just as likely or more likely to last than a love-based marriage, but it's a misleading statistic. Cultural and family pressures play an important role in sustaining arranged marriages; that doesn't mean the individuals within the marriage are necessarily happy. Certainly some, and perhaps many, are. Because of differences in social expectations and gender roles across cultures, we don't really learn much by comparing arranged marriages from one culture to love-based marriages in the U.S. 

Even in Western cultures, marriage has historically been an economic and social institution, less about love and more about practical considerations, like acquiring wealth or land, joining families, or boosting social and political connections. Those marriages were certainly stable in the sense that they didn't end in divorce. Today couples judge marital quality by a different set of rules. In the 1950s, when men and women were taking on new social and cultural roles, divorce rates began to rise because expectations for marriage changed. Suddenly marriage was less about social worth and more about personal fulfillment. This whole idea of personal fulfillment in marriage is relatively new, and it has certainly gummed up the works. Marriage is a lot more high maintenance when you've married your "soul mate."

Month of the Military Child

Month of the Military Child:  

Military families share their unique deployment experiences and challenges, and they offer tips and strategies that parents will find useful in supporting their young child before, during, and after deployment.
ZERO TO THREE is proud to support military families. We work to increase awareness and collaboration throughout the military community so that parents and professionals can more effectively care for very young children and their families.
Joining Forces - ZERO TO THREE is proud to support First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in the Joining Forces initiative announced by the White House on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
The Obama/Biden effort calls for all sectors of American society to support service members and their families by educating citizens, businesses, and nonprofits about the challenges that military families face and by encouraging them to take action.
Click here to Register

Two more reasons I'm lucky to be born in the United States! Read the two most recent horrors of "honour" killings, sanctioned (encouraged!) by caste councils and local archaic tradition. 

  • Killing For Lesbian Relationship

by David Badash on April 19, 2011
Two women, widows, reportedly in a same-sex lesbian relationship, were bludgeoned, battered, and beaten to death by the relatives of one in a reported honor killing, while hundreds of their fellow villagers looked on. No one came to the aid of the two women, who lived in the Ranila village of Haryana, India.
“We have killed them as they were spoiling the image of our family and bringing a bad name to our community. It was necessary to save the honor of our family,” one of the confessed murderers told police.
Police stated, “The accused were suspicious about the women’ character and had also threatened the villagers of dire consequences if anyone dared to save them,” adding that one of the men “is already a convict in a rape case and he was out of jail on parole.” The women, who bled to death as the villagers watched, were accused of being lesbians.
“The bodies were lying unattended in the open and nobody had touched them till the arrival of police,” said police.
The victims were 35, the mother of an eight-year-old girl, and 40, the mother of a 15-year-old boy, according to a report.
In an unrelated case, India’s Supreme court termed honor killings “barbaric and shameful” today.
“We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honorable in honor killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder,” India Supreme Court Justice Katju said. “Other atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment.”
Honor killings have reportedly been on the rise in parts of India.


J Crew Ad and a Boy with Pink Toenails

A thoughtful rebuttal to the J.Crew pink toenail polish kerfuffle.

Pink Toenails

by Peggy O'Mara, Mothering Magazine

A ridiculous media storm has erupted over the innocent act of painting a child’s toenails. All young children, boys and girls alike, want their nails colored. It looks pretty. Congratulations to J. Crew for illustrating normal childhood.
The early years of childhood are an enchanted time of imagination. The child’s job is to play, to imitate, to pretend to be everyone. The child’s job is not to fit into rigid gender expectations. That comes later. That comes when the hormones of puberty kick in. Before that, the sexual identity of a child is fluid.
I have four adult children, two females and two males, and as they grew up they exhibited this fluid, undefined sexual identity. Their play was influenced more by their order in the family than by their gender.
As a child, my oldest, Lally, dressed her two younger brothers in girl clothes and pretended that they were her sisters. I have one photograph of my son, Bram, around four, dressed in a skirt, boots, shawl and wearing a scarf on his head. Nonetheless, he grew up to be a hearty male. But, even if he hadn’t it wouldn’t have been a tragedy and it wouldn’t have been because I painted his toenails when he was a child.
My favorite photo of this “genre,” is the one of my son, Finnie, also about four at the time, standing at the top of a stairway. He has on a football helmet, is holding a football in one of his hands and other than that is dressed only in panty hose. He now has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu."
read full article here


Pink Toneailed Boy, Controversy!

Hot pink-toenailed boy in J. Crew ad sparks controversy

When J. Crew sent out its latest catalog, we doubt that the classic clothing company expected it would be blasted by social conservatives as "transgendered child propaganda." But alas, it has.
The images in question fall under pages titled "Saturday with Jenna" -- featuring products personally favored by J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons and her family. This particular Saturday for Jenna includes painting her five-year-old son Beckett's toenails pink. The caption reads, "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."
Cue the outrage from America's culture warriors.
"Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who'll be affected by your 'innocent' pleasure," Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a Fox News op-ed. "If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?"
Erin Brown of the Media Research Center took the criticism a step further -- after being sure to remind readers that J. Crew is a fashion favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama -- accusing the company of exploiting young Beckett to advance the cause of "liberal, transgendered identity politics."
The ABC News report on the kerfuffle, below, includes a reaction from Sarah Manley, who set off a similar firestorm last Halloween after posting photos of her young son dressed up as his unconventional idol: Daphne from "Scooby Doo." Manley said today of the J.Crew ad, "If the roles had been reversed and the photo...had been of a little girl playing in the mud with trucks, nobody would have batted an eye."
The Lookout contacted J. Crew to get a response from Lyons, but company spokeswoman Margot Fooshee told us that neither Lyons nor J. Crew would be commenting on the matter. However, others aren't being shy about offering up voracious defenses of the company's creative decision, pushing back on Ablow and Brown as holders of the unpopular opinion.
In another of the many critiques of Dr. Keith's critique, Jeanne Sager, on the parenting blog The Stir, asks: "So go back and look at that picture in the J.Crew ad, will you? What do you see? Do you see pink nail polish on a boy? Or do you see a little boy named Beckett, with beautiful blond curls, and a mom who looks like she is impossibly in love with her kid, in the very best way? Because that's what I see."


by Samantha Bee and Jason Jones
We have been hitched for almost 10 years now, and until recently our number one piece of advice would have been: Don’t write about how to make your marriage divorceproof. It’s hubris! But we like to take risks (that’s piece of advice number two), so we knocked on wood, threw salt over our shoulders, and forged ahead with all the unstoppable energy that a couple with two kids under the age of five can muster. (Eating a pile of old Halloween candy helped, too.) Ultimately, we came up with this list of marriage rules and reminders—all of which, we hope, are cheaper and more fun than therapy.

1. Realize that if you can agree on what constitutes a clean room, you can agree on anything. If you are the kind of person who wants the vacuum tracks on the living-room carpet to last all week (as in, Jason), you need to understand that your spouse is physically unable to hover three inches off the floor when traveling from point A to point B. You may have to shoulder the burden of raking the shag rug twice a day yourself. Conversely, if you are the type of person who “gets around ” to wiping up a raw chicken–juice spill on the counter (for example, Sam), you should know that if you want to live with other humans, you need to surpass the hygiene standards of, say, the average fraternity-house bathroom. Fortunately, if you can compromise on the red hot–button subject of cleanliness, your marriage is unlikely to be thrown off course by comparatively less volatile topics, like politics, religion, and money.

2. If you’re irritated by your partner, imagine him as a small child. We know! You totally don’t want to try this! It sounds awful! (And maybe even not that much of a stretch.) But trust us—this is an amazing way to see him from a fresh angle. Here’s what to do: While your partner is puttering around and looking idle, imagine him at age five. Awww. Isn’t he adorable? And so smart! It’s easy to forget how appealing your spouse is when you are looking at him through a prism of all the chores that he has yet to accomplish (fixing the garage-door opener, booking the tree-removal service…we could go on).

3. No fisticuffs in public. Take this example: We were at a picnic with a group of friends when the wife of one of the couples present casually announced that she had bought their family a house. In another country. Without consulting the husband. He turned about 14 shades of red, and they began fighting at the top of their lungs. Cut to everyone else with their heads down, forensically examining their egg-salad sandwiches as though they contained the secrets of the human genome. You do not want to be That Couple Who Ruined the Otherwise Delightful Picnic.

4. Marry someone with a backbone who appreciates that you possess one of your own. That said, try to have bendy backbones if possible. Don’t attempt to win every argument and get your way all the time. Who could bear all that responsibility, anyway? Repeat this spouse-mollifying phrase after us: “Yes, honey, I will see the Transformers sequel on one of our precious and rare date nights. But on our next excursion, I get to choose a period piece featuring people in bonnets who churn their own butter.”

5. Procrastinate. Yes, we know things need to be done, but seriously. Put your BlackBerry away and stop worrying about the broken garage-door opener. Have dessert in lieu of dinner. Watch old John Hughes movies. Hold hands. There, aren’t they smoother than how you remembered them?

6. Have sex with each other. And if you can’t have sex with each other for some reason, let your spouse know that you are thinking about having sex with him and that you are looking forward to the next time you are both available for sex. Like, in 2012. Try sending a “sext”; apparently it’s all the rage.

7. Accept that everybody needs alone time. Sometimes your spouse needs to go to the bathroom for 45 minutes. Look, he’s not going to the bathroom the whole time; he’s trying to get away from you. And that’s OK. Maybe you’re being annoying. Sometimes you can be kind of annoying, you know.
8. If you have to fight, walk and fight. In our experience, arguments stem more from being cooped up together in tight quarters than from the issue at hand. Plus, getting fresh air is good for you, and it will give you more energy for No. 6. (Hey, everyone knows that makeup No. 6 is the best kind.)

9. Let your spouse in on 90 percent of your day-to-day routine. Save the other 10 percent for your bathroom time. Sam, for example, will never allow Jason to see her lurching to put on a pair of panty hose, and he never wishes for her to see him struggling to shave the back of his neck. It’s those small things that keep the mystery alive.

10. When you buy gifts for each other, give them at least a full minute of thought. Sam’s mother once gave her partner a giant meat grinder for Christmas so that he (an extremely reluctant cook) could make her tastier hamburgers. In our opinion, gifts that require someone to perform a household task don’t count as gifts. A present should convey the message “I love you, but most of all, I get you.” (Yes, that’s a tough sentiment to express with a big-box–store gift card. Ahem.) Like playing chess or figuring out Facebook privacy settings, delighting a longtime spouse is a genuine challenge—which (duh) is what makes it worth the effort.


Book Recommendation

Book Recommendation

If you are looking for a new self-help book, I recommend this one. I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. Lisa Oz is the devoted and woman-in-her-own-right spouse of TV's Dr Oz (everybody knows who that is!) This book, "Us", might be a great gift for your wife, partner, or Mom for Mother's Day. Maybe just a gift to yourself!
Product Description "The key to real and lasting change lies somewhere between what you know and what you do. It’s what you think." —Lisa Oz Being social creatures, we yearn for connection but often fall into bad habits that interfere with our ability to have rewarding relationships. We begin to see ourselves as alone, isolated, or at odds with the rest of the universe. How can we learn to live in relationship in a more enlightened way? In US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most, Lisa Oz, the bestselling coauthor of the YOU: The Owner’s Manual series, takes readers on a transformational journey as she explores the three relationships that matter most: with the self, with others, and with the Divine. Interrelated and inseparable, these fundamental relationships determine the quality and the measure of our emotional and spiritual lives. Drawing from ancient traditions, spiritual and holistic thinkers, and personal insights, Lisa Oz guides you on an engaging, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspirational path toward changing your self, your relationships, and your life. With remarkable candor and humor, Lisa offers personal anecdotes that highlight the truth and consequences of familiar interactions. She also includes imaginative exercises meant to help you gain new insight into old behavior patterns and to encourage you to be an active, empowered agent for positive change in your relationships. Lisa’s writing on topics such as personal well-being, identifying your authentic self, conscious parenting, marital bonding, and truly compassionate living are persuasive because they are suggestive rather than prescriptive. By holding a mirror to her relationships, Lisa hopes to inspire you to reflect on your own, observing that we are all works in progress, living in relationship together.Informative and transformative, US offers an enriched and fulfilling vision of friendship, marriage, family, and spiritual progress. In these pages, the evolution of YOU blossoms into the community of US. 


Palomar College Child Development Department presents

An Evening with “Babies”
Documentary Screening &
Expert Panel Discussion
Please contact Jenny Fererro with
questions and for more
760-744-1150 x2314

Link here
Palomar College San Marcos Campus MD-157
Friday, April 15, 2011
reception at 5:00pm, screening & discussion 6:00-8:30pm

Divorce Workshop

Divorce Workshop for Men

This workshop provides men with the tools needed to navigate the challenging waters of divorce. In a concise and logical fashion, receive the knowledge needed to choose and utilize divorce professionals wisely so as to achieve optimum results while saving time and money. By the end of the workshop, you will know your rights; understand the legal, financial and tax consequences; and be better prepared psychologically.

Dates: 4/30/11, 6/25/11, 7/30/11, or 8/27/11
Registration: 8-8:30 a.m.
Workshop: 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pre-registration is available through the Community Services office. Call 760.795.6820.

Parenting After Divorce

Parents want to do what’s best for their children, but struggle when talking with them about divorce and changes in the family. Parents will learn strategies to communicate with their children in an age-appropriate way; learn how to protect their children from parental conflict and competition; and be guided on how to make decisions that benefit the children.
Dates: 4/16/11, 5/21/11, 6/18/11, or 8/20/11
Registration: 8:30-9 a.m.
Workshop: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pre-registration is available through the Community Services office. Call 760.795.6820.

Second Saturday: Divorce Workshop for Women

Second Saturday provides an invaluable service for every woman facing the complexities of divorce. This workshop is designed to help women take the next step, at any stage in the process of untying the knot. With logical, yet compassionate guidance of trained professionals, workshop participants gain greater understanding of the confusing divorce process. This program is an excellent supplement to professional advice and will give you the basic knowledge you need to choose and deal with various professionals, saving time, money, and frustration.
Dates: Meets the second Saturday of each month.
Registration: 8-8:30 a.m.
Workshop: 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Contact Us: email or call 858.792.0524 or 760.736.1660. Click here for more information.
Call for information regarding subsidized fees for those with financial need.


Oasis is Looking for Senior Volunteers

Oasis is looking for senior volunteers
C’mon people…don’t tell me how you cant find anything fun to do…
or that your kids are grown, or (the worst!), you’re bored. People who volunteer report to feel happier and healthier than those who don't. Simple, right? We are pack animals (yes, even those of us who are introverted or socially awkward), which has propelled our species forward for these many years now. Intuitively, we know that being of service is the crux of "being nice" or "leading a good life." The depths of despair is feeling un-needed, irrelevant, outdated and used up. Nothing worse than that feeling! Self-esteem comes from helping others because it creates a sense of meaningfulness and worthiness. check it out ~ a non-profit group offering free classes and making the ends meet with pairing aged wisdom and time to those in need. If you are unemployed or "waiting for something to happen," make something happen now. Brilliant concept.

Is there a specific topic you would like to see addressed here?
  • Depression in men
  • Poor communication
  • Parenting
  • Infidelity
  • Sexual avoidance
  • Rape trauma
  • Early childhood abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Financial conflicts with partner
  • Anger management


Facing death, CNN Sports Legend

Facing death, CNN sports legend embraces life

By Wayne Drash, CNN
April 7, 2011 6:41 p.m. EDT

Click to play
Facing death, CNN sports anchor Nick Charles embraces life

  • Nick Charles, CNN original and first sports anchor in network's history, dying of cancer
  • In early January, he called off all chemotherapy and began making preparations for death
  • He was diagnosed with incurable bladder cancer in August 2009
  • He says people should "fasten onto the positives" of life
Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta also interviewed Nick Charles about the final fight of his life. That conversation will appear soon on "Sanjay Gupta, MD". This story was reported and written by CNN's Wayne Drash.
Santa Fe, New Mexico (CNN) -- Nick Charles looks into the camera, as he's done thousands of times before. Except he's not calling a boxing match for sports fans around the world.
He's talking to an audience of one: his 5-year-old daughter, Giovanna.
Over the last 40 years, Charles has covered every major sporting event, from the Olympics to the Super Bowl to the Kentucky Derby. He's covered some of the most classic boxing matches -- when Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, when Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear, when Roberto Duran quit and told Sugar Ray Leonard, "No mas."
Yet this is the toughest taping he'll ever deliver, a message from beyond the grave. For his little girl.
As Charles stares into the lens, he projects the essence of a fighter -- tough, rugged, still smiling despite the bruises of battle. His wife of 13 years, Cory, holds the camera.
Gone is his patented mop of black hair. Twice voted the sexiest sportscaster in America, Charles has undergone rounds of chemotherapy that darkened the circles under his eyes and "make me look like I'm halfway in the grave."
On August 4, 2009, Charles was told he had incurable bladder cancer. He was given four to six months to live if he opted for no treatment. With treatment, he could expect about 20 months.
"I want the biggest guns you can fire at me," he told the doctors.
He's into his 21st month now. Each day, each hour, each breath is a gift.
He's fought this hard for Giovanna and Cory, to build a foundation for them after he's gone. He knows what it's like to long for a father's love. He only has a dozen or so memories of his own father.
"My little girl needs a good daddy more than anything right now," he says. "This is a gift from God where I need to build these memories for her, so that I'm not a blur."
Former CNN sports anchor Nick Charles shares breakfast with his daughter, Giovanna, who is 5.
Former CNN sports anchor Nick Charles shares breakfast with his daughter, Giovanna, who is 5.
The family has begun making preparations. They meet with a counselor regularly. When he was diagnosed, Charles told Giovanna he was sick -- that his hair would fall out.
This time last year, she looked at him with her big brown eyes and asked: "Are you going to die?"
"Everybody will sometime," he told her, "but we will always be together. But I'm not going anywhere today. I feel great. Now let's go out and play."


Emergency Preparedness

This post is from new GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes a personal finance column for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving.
Images of devastation emerged after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We watched water sweep away vehicles and houses; we saw stunned men and weeping women in the ruins. But we also heard about survivors whose homes weren’t flattened or inundated, people who subsisted on stockpiled food and water while waiting for help. Living on the “Ring of Fire” means temblors and tidal waves are a fact of life — and so is disaster preparedness.
We need to be prepared, too. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready America
How ready are you? program says we should be able to sustain ourselves for at least three days after an emergency, whether that’s a hundred-year storm or a civil insurrection.
Right now, before anything bad happens, is the time to build your emergency kit — and you can do it on a budget. In fact, you probably already have some (or a lot) of what you need.
The (sometimes icky) basics
During those three days you need to be fed, hydrated and sheltered. You also need a place to poop.
Yeah, that’s gross. You know what else is gross? The idea of everyone in your apartment building or subdivision yelling “Gardyloo!” and flinging slops out the window. Cholera epidemic, anyone?
When I was a kid, predictions of bad weather had us filling bathtub and buckets. That’s because if we lost power we lost our well pump, i.e., no way to flush the toilets. That’s still the first line of short-term defense; if you have any warning, stash yourself some water.
When that’s gone you’ll need at least one large container into which everyone can evacuate. Maybe a repurposed five-gallon detergent, paint or pet-litter bucket? If you don’t have one:
It’s possible to buy a toilet seat that snaps onto a bucket, which makes things easier. Or buy a prefab one (search online for “bucket toilet”) for $20 or less.
Decide now where you’ll put your temporary toilet. The garage? The back porch? Maybe even in the actual bathroom? Anywhere but the place where you plan to eat and sleep. Trust me on this.
Ready for an overshare? Here’s how I’d handle disposal if the you-know-what hits the fan here in Seattle:
  • Use the bucket (in a former life, it held detergent)
  • Put soiled paper into a garbage bag (and tie it really tightly between uses)
  • Flush the contents of each, little by little, once the emergency has abated
Please do not do your business in the condo-complex yard, no matter how much fun it is to pee outdoors.
Important: You’ll want a bottle of hand sanitizer close to the bucket. Really close. E. coli is nothing to fool with.
Miscellaneous tips
You can’t truly be ready for a disaster. It’s always stressful and often terrifying. However, you can at least be prepared. Here are a few more items to keep in mind:
  • Learn the location of your local/regional emergency shelter, just in case.
  • Keep a cache of cash — smalls bills and coins — on hand. No power means no debit or credit if you do find a store that’s open.
  • Put supplies where you can get at them easily, not down in the crawlspace or up in the rafters.