Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
When friends hear the nanny position that has served as my main gig for the past year and a half is ending, the most common question I’m asked is, "But won’t you miss him?"
Him. The blonde-haired baby with whom I’ve spent all this time, the same child who calls my name as soon as my car pulls up, who kisses me on the mouth and tells me daily he loves me, his diction ridiculously clear for a toddler.
While the answer is, of course I’ll miss him, it’s also yes, but…as in yes, but that’s a function of being a nanny, a known part of the deal. Read more
The first week of my new job coincided with the heavily media-covered murder of two children by their nanny in the Upper East Side of New York City. Read more »
Jail is an interesting place to observe parenting in practice. Read more »
I’m a strange candidate to argue for a car-free approach to childrearing. Read more »
When I told some people that I wanted to write about childhood sexuality, they were understandably wary. I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole, was the way one friend worded it. They were only partially reassured when I promised that I wouldn’t be advocating having sex with children, only acknowledging the inherent sexuality children have from birth. Read more »
Lately the families I work for are dealing with issues around food. In one household, I am told that the toddler has decided not to eat her dinner one evening and so as a consequence I am not to give her any food if she asks. They hand me a full sippy-cup of milk that the toddler has disdained and mention that is her only option. I felt uncomfortable denying food but also knew she was generally well fed and that if she didn’t eat anything that night, it would in no way compromise her nutritionally. Read more »
Here in Los Angeles, there’s a listserv that features ads from people looking for nannies and from nannies looking for work. There’s the occasional reminder posted about the rules: a place where posts are restricted to ads. Another clarifies that conversation should be shifted to an alternative forum.
The rule was broken recently when a virtual riot broke out in response to a potential employer’s offer. Read more »
I had tried to hold out on the older Latina nannies in the park knowing I spoke Spanish. As long as we spoke in English our relationship was kept shallow, limited by their vocabulary. They would ask about my day and coo over my infant but that was about it. I knew that once they knew about me, I would never again be alone for better or for worse. While I occasionally listened into their conversations in order to entertain myself while the baby dug in the sandbox, I also appreciated the lack of forced socialization. Read more »
While reading Lenore Skenazy’s book Free-Range Kids, I couldn’t help but think that while dubbing her “America’s Worst Mom” was an overstatement, I wouldn’t put a nine-year-old on the subway alone either. That’s what she did. She handed her son a subway card, a map, a few bucks change and bon voyage. I am too over-protective for that, maybe because having gone to college in New York City, I know how gross and scary the subway can be. Read more »
I’ve done a lot in my day to support the breastfeeding cause: calling moms at work to schedule feedings, carefully titrating breastmilk into bottles from plastic bags without spilling a drop, feeding with a spoon when a bottle was refused. I’ve even ignored what was probably a sign of postpartum depression: a woman clad almost exclusively in an open, pink terry cloth bathrobe, in the interest of encouraging breastfeeding. Read more »
What does Ann Coulter share in common with the average American anarchist? If you guessed parenting goals, you would be right. Hard to believe? Well, I’ve been rereading my favorite parenting book, Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small, which looks at how parenting has evolved around the world. Every time I dive back into its pages something new catches my eye. Read more »
In my last column I looked into a friend’s wacky baby-naming. As it turns out, the degree of freedom we enjoy here in the States with regards to baby names is not shared internationally. Naming laws abound worldwide: France, Poland and New Zealand are just a few countries that have laws on the books.
In Germany, the first name must indicate the baby’s sex--I’m not sure what they’d do with a name like mine, and who decides on which side a name like “Jamie” falls. Read more »
A friend just named her child with a celebrity-style moniker. Think an obscure shade of blue and a Greek god for a middle name, just to make sure he cant fall back on that one: Azure Poseidon. These days, the desire to name your child in a way that stands out is not for the rich and famous alone. Watch out Apple, Moses and Audioscience—the mainstream is following right behind you!
I have an unusual name myself, so I have an opinion on the subject. Read more »
On a parenting message board, I compete with people named Luz Hernandez, Diana Carrillo and Alma de la Cruz. In Los Angeles, Latin nannies are ubiquitous. As I recall in New York, it is West Indian women raising the upper class. All over the world, women trade parenting. In Hong Kong, babies are raised by Indonesians, in Australia they’re Filipinos. Read more »
I’ve been looking for work lately. As a nanny this means a variety of things. Posting advertisements on parenting message boards, interviewing at Nanny agencies, filling out myriad online applications and getting recertified in any lapsed certifications (CPR, TB whatever). I consider it a practice session in Zen-like humility; a test of dignity under duress. Read more »
Nannying can be terribly boring. This is because the infants I care for (most of whom are under a year old) are busy entertaining themselves. They are working on physics equations in their head (don't believe me? Read The Scientist in the Crib) and testing objects' densities with their mouths. Their laboratory is a mat on the floor of their homes in general. Read more »
I was raised by a fabulous set of lesbians in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early eighties. There were a lot less kids of gay parents then, even in San Francisco, and although it may have been an unusual childhood, it was a very happy one. Now that I am of an age to be having kids, I am reflective about the parenting practices that made my parents such successful caregivers. Read more »
Having thought further about what intentional parenting entails, I sought counsel from my mother, Nina, about her parenting practices. She summed them up, patly, as "values based parenting." I was instantly appreciative of her co-opting of the term "values," as the right wing has cashed in on it for way too long.
"In parenting we transfer daily messages to our children about what is important," she told me. Read more »
Everyone in my family had saved up in anticipation of my arrival. Nonetheless, when I was under one year old, they needed part-time childcare for me while my mother Nina went back to work as a nurse. My mom had heard of another nurse who had recently taken leave and might be willing to watch me. Enter Simone.
My mother is a lesbian and Simone, a born-again Christian. Read more »
Okay, having spent 800 words convincing you that I don't wander into people's homes to judge their parenting, now I can start playing Solomon—cut that baby in half! Let the judgment begin. For the record, often I don't feel like I have a philosophy until someone else's parenting is counter to it. Sometimes it surprises even me the things that I disapprove of but I have racked up a list of questionable behavior over the years. Read more »
Having taught Sunday school briefly, I understand the challenge of bringing holidays into an understandable form for children. On top of that, there is definitely a smaller selection for Chanukah than what's offered for Christmas. We may be Chosen but we can't be choosy. I can't imagine what the folks who celebrate Diwali have to choose from. I was concerned there might not even be enough Chanukah books up to snuff since we can't even agree on the spelling. Read more »
As a nanny, I get to watch parenting. Being in people's homes and caring for their children is necessarily intimate. Up close everyone's eccentricities are magnified, so I get a good view. Each job and new family brings a different set of expectations and assumptions about what ideal parenting should be. I also came into the field with my own set of ideas based on how I was raised. Read more »
There's more to it than you think
Celebrate Asian-American heritage month with our top book picks
Your new go-to soup recipe
7 tips to make sure you don't blow it
Why colorblind is all wrong and a guide to what's right
I only have rudimentary fluency. Will that do my child any good?
Our way of celebrating you!
Why I love the abaya
My yearly pilgrimage to my homeland where I no longer feel at home
Why you shouldn't judge a mom giving coffee to her infant
I couldn’t wait to see how my kids would do with their new Spanish when we got to Mexico.
Important tips for parents and kids of all colors
Foregoing meat in a land where no one does
What to do when your child doesn't love travel like you do.
This mom never knows how she'll find her kids in the morning
How he began to find his heritage
How they made it possible
See the magic and universality of play
Almost sinful, a crowd and kid pleasing cookie for any occasion.
Six years of OPOL parenting in hindsight
Why it's important to this mom that her daughter respect her home and roots in nature
What's super cool about community gardening with your kids
All you need is some eggs, dirt and seeds.
One answer to all the British stories Indian children grew up with.
A 12-day Baha'i celebration born in Baghdad
Even though Arabic is the language they were raised in, they prefer Spanish. Here's why.
Four super-simple musical projects from recycled materials for your kids
Does it get any better than that?
Make a commitment to do something new this year for our planet
People say kids are sponges when it comes to language. This mom disagrees.
Make learning the minority language fun with these games
A whole year of arguing in the making
Do you know what a molinillo is?
Great ideas for introverted and extroverted children
What I learned about keeping my cool from Kenyan moms
Our next stop in our global homeschool adventure
A Rabbi shares his own failures
Here's the secret
Colleague drank your breast milk from the work fridge again? Tales of breastfeeding in Mongolia
She fought her Turkish in-laws on it--did she succeed?
Why it's critical all parents read books that reflect diversity
Who knew that becoming a mother merged our histories of loss and grief
Have you been guilty of any of these?
Fancy schools, international vacations, foreign language books, DVDs and tutors add up fast
Life after devastation
The freedom of growing up as the only Serbo-Croatian in Sudan
It’s easy to raise bilingual kids when you speak a second language, right? Wrong.
How the West sleeps is different from the rest
Why OPOL has been harder than we thought.
Money can't buy love. Or can it?
And why it made this mom worry
Has the West taken fear too far?
The secret revealed of why African babies don't melt down like Western ones.
In photos and figures
Language acquisition in three-and-a-half year old, bilingual twins.
Have you made any of these mistakes?
Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask
Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?
Cultural oasis or no man’s land?
All that's left to do is wait and wonder
Welcome to our newest blogger--a world traveling, homeschooling mom--to the InCultureParent family!
10 must-read tips on co-sleeping from Africa
Time outs due to whistling versus school's out due to poverty
Because every little global citizen needs a map
I belong to a faith with virtually no rituals.
Is it racist to not want to raise your kids in white America?
Raising children in the shadow of exile
Lessons in parenting from the Côte d'Azur
How one family celebrates the biggest Muslim holiday
Who said raising bilingual kids was easy?
Four pregnancies, four miscarriages and a bout of thyroid cancer later
What linguistic research has to say
Why you shouldn't judge a mom giving coffee to her infant
How my language use morphs to meet the situation