Just because kids have the same parents, doesn’t mean they have the same body types – and that can be a tricky thing for parents to navigate. I recently wrote some tips for parenting kids with different body types for the awesome group Produce for Kids. To read the entire article (It’s short, I promise) check it out here. And while you’re there, be sure to look at all the fun, healthy food ideas on their site.
There is a family here in Colorado who has been making headlines recently because of their transgender child. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the story (you can read more about it here) but will focus on some of the great discussion and information that has been going on surrounding the story.
Most of us don’t have a lot of experience with transgender children, either as parents, professionals, teachers or friends. This lack of experience can make an already tricky situation even more difficult simply because of our lack of exposure. In reaction to the above-mentioned story in Colorado, my colleague Dr. Sarah Burgamy, was asked to speak about transgender children on a local TV program. She did an awesome job answering some basic questions on parenting children who might be – or definitely are – transgender.
A couple of her points that stuck out most to me:
How do you know if your child is transgender, or just “going through a phase?” Many kids go through phases of exploring interests or looks more typically thought of as belonging to the opposite sex. For example, a boy enjoying dressing up in skirts, or a little girl enjoying trains. Dr. Burgamy explained that transgender children’s behaviors and attitudes are “insistent, persistent and consistent” over time.
How should a parent respond to their transgender child? Parenting is a tough job any time, but can be especially challenging when our children don’t fall inside the “norm,” have unique needs or interests, or are simply different from their peers. Dr. Burgamy offered some excellent guidelines for parents with transgender children (or any children for that matter):
- Minimize distress
- Increase happiness
- Do what you can to allow them to have happy childhoods
Check out her full interview here:
Dr. Burgamy also provided some resources for families and friends of transgender youth:
The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals – by, Stephanie Brill & Rachel Pepper
Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender Non-Conforming Children by Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D.
Did you see this new study which found that nearly half of all pre-schoolers in the U.S. don’t get outside to play each day? The findings were presented in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine just a couple of days ago. The folks over at CNN’s The Chart wrote a piece about the findings and suggested that parents make sure their children’s daycare providers provide outside time each day, and parents need to get outside with them, too. Outside play is important for some obvious reasons: it helps with weight management and physical fitness. It’s also essential that kids get enough Vitamin D and work on their motor skills.
That’s all well and good, but sometimes it’s tough to think of fun things to do outside – and by fun I mean for the kid AND the parent. I’d love to hear about some of the things you enjoy doing with your kiddos outside. Here are some of my faves:
playing “tennis” in the driveway
kicking around a soccer ball (or any kind of ball)
drawing with sidewalk chalk
going on nature walks – i.e., noticing the plants, animals, sky around you, collecting bugs
window shopping around an outdoor mall/shopping center
Experts recommend 60 minutes of outdoor activity time per day for the preschool set. Remember, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. 20 minutes here and there really add up!
Before you start reading this post, I want to make a suggestion: If you are a “baby person” (i.e., you “just can’t get enough of babies,” “could’ve had 10 babies,” “never tire of babies,” then this post is not for you. In fact, you might want to go ahead and navigate away from this page now…
For the rest of you, this post might be for you. Sure it’s not a very popular/PC/cool thing to say, but the fact of the matter is, babies are boring, yep B-O-R-I-N-G. I’ve felt it myself, and I’ve heard others admit it too. It can be tough to stay excited and engaged around a baby (especially if you are with them for hours on end). Yea, they’re cute and cuddly, and they are surely a lot of work, but they’re not very stimulating and typically prefer doing lots of nothing – which means you as the caregiver do lots of nothing, too.
So, does it make you a bad parent if you:
1. Think your baby is boring
2. Check the clock every 2 minutes to see how much more time you have to be with your baby alone
3. Wish their infant stage away so that you can just play catch already?
NO! NO! NO! Definitely not!
And, does it make you a bad parent if you:
1. Don’t like making baby talk
2. Don’t know how to play with a 3 month old
NO! NO! NO! Definitely not!
Luckily, babies are super forgiving and can be entertained in lots of ways…and they don’t all involve Baby Einstein videos and rattles. It’s important to talk to our babies and we all know reading to them from a young age is what we are supposed to do. But no one ever said what the reading material had to be. So why can’t it be things like US Weekly, The Shabby Chic Home, or Sports Illustrated (just random examples, of course)? And my idea of quality baby time definitely includes walking the stroller down the street or through the mall so that mom (or dad) can get some exercise.
So, if you’re bored by your baby, know that you’re not alone. They ARE boring. But they’re wonderful, too. And as anyone who has had a baby can tell you, they do grow up and get more interesting and intellectually stimulating – you might even yearn for those baby days when you had nothing but time. Or maybe not – and that’s OK too.