In the Parenthood
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Is childhood obesity more than a parenting issue?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse July 26, 2010 12:35 PM

Though the majority of weight-loss and anti-obesity initiatives emphasize exercise and healthy eating, a seminar last month at The Children's Museum in Boston made me wonder if childhood obesity is more than just a matter of too much junk food and TV time. Is it -- along with crime, education, and access to medical care -- a social justice issue as well?


Summer reading doesn't have to be a chore

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse July 20, 2010 08:42 AM

Reluctant readers are not uncommon. For those who struggle with processing issues, or for those who haven't yet discovered a literary niche that suits them, reading can be a problem rather than a pleasure. For these kids, that summer reading list casts a long shadow.

Nancy Traversy, CEO of Barefoot Books in Concord, has dealt with reading issues with her own four children. She remembers when one of her daughters, now 18, was about 9 and a teacher told her that she was too old for the beautifully illustrated fairy tale book she enjoyed, and should be reading chapter books instead. "She actually hid my book under her bed because she was so embarrassed by it, and she was being forced to read something she didn't really like. She was getting put off reading."

Encouraging kids to read what they love can help foster an interest in reading in general. "If you force a child to read something they don't want to read, then I think that can have long term damage," she says. "Make sure your child loves whatever they read. You can get them to read anything and engage their imaginations."


New parents: Would you bring your baby to work with you?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse July 15, 2010 12:46 PM

When I went back to work after my first baby was born, I felt guilty and excited at the same time. Guilty because I'd fallen in love with my baby and wanted to spend more time with her. Excited because I'd be able to have conversations with actual adults again, and be productive in a pre-parenthood way. And guilty, of course, about feeling excited about being back in the office.

Being able to leave the baby at home with my husband made me feel better (here's how we managed that and how I dealt with the second-shift stress), but if my company had offered to allow me to bring her in to the office with me for those first few months, I would have turned them down. It was hard enough trying to concentrate on work once I was back in the office, I can't imagine trying to multitask with an infant at the same time.


Does having kids really make you unhappy?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse July 7, 2010 10:58 PM

Scores of studies over the years have shown that having kids doesn't make people happier. Ask any parent, though, and many will say that they adore their children, even when they're frustrated by them -- it's the parenting part that's a chore.

In the most recent edition of New York Magazine, Jennifer Senior explores these studies in a piece called "All Joy and No Fun" and makes several key points, including:

1. There's a difference between feeling happy and feeling rewarded.
2. In countries with strong support systems, like Scandinavia, parents feel happier.
3. The gulf between our familial fantasies and reality is huge.

All of which makes sense, but you know what? I think being able to consider personal happiness so carefully is a privilege afforded to those for whom the basic necessities -- food, clothing, shelter -- aren't an issue. And I also think that happiness is relative.


Silly Bandz and the gimme gimmes

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse June 28, 2010 12:53 PM

sillybandz2.jpgSilly Bandz are the baseball cards of my kids' generation. They collect and trade them like they're going out of style. My 5-year-old likes to wear hers to school -- they reach half-way up her forearm -- where she and her friends compare and discuss them as seriously as I used to stickers and matchbox cars. At some schools they've become so popular -- and such a target for theft -- that they've been banned.
My friend Nataly's daughter has just gotten into the craze, and Nataly brings up a great point on her Work It, Mom! blog:

When it comes to requests that are heavily influenced by what her friends have at school, I find that I hesitate more than at other times. I want her to understand that just because others have something doesn?t mean that she has to have it -- silly bandz today, fancy jeans/cars/houses tomorrow. But I also don?t want to overdo it: Just because her friends have something shouldn?t mean that she can?t have it.

There's a fine line between giving your child what she wants and fostering an out-sized sense of entitlement. Are Silly Bandz a harmless trend, or a gateway to the gimme gimmes?


Let down by a role model: Tips for talking to your child

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse June 23, 2010 08:44 PM

In the Parenthood is in the pages of Thursday's Boston Globe, with a story about kids and parents who are disillusioned about Disney star Miley Cyrus's transformation from goofy tween-age Hannah Montana to R-rated sexpot. (Click here to read the article online.)

We've discussed whether Miley Cyrus has gotten too sexy, too soon, and whether that's just par for the course in Hollywood. But what do you do when your young child's role model is growing up too quickly -- and you don't want your tween to do the same?

I chatted with child and teen development expert Dr. Robyn Silverman, whose book about body image, Good Girls Don't Get Fat, is due out in October; she offers the following tips for talking with your child about role models and the hypersexualization of young stars like Miley Cyrus:


Would you implant a microchip in your child?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse June 9, 2010 06:17 AM

With the search still ongoing for 7-year-old Kyron Horman, who disappeared from his Portland, Oregon, elementary school on Friday, some parents are wondering whether it's worth taking the idea of implanted tracking devices for kids more seriously.

The question of whether or not to implant microchips in our children isn't new. In 2002, CNN reported that parents in the United Kingdom were asking for microchip tracking devices for their kids after two 10-year-old girls were abducted and murdered. And Wired magazine wrote about it back in 2003, when Solusat, the Mexican distributor of VeriChip, launched its VeriKid program in Mexico.

What is new is that, in spite of the whole "Big Brother" aspect, and in spite of the obvious privacy issues (not to mention health risks), the microchip may be making a comback.


How old were you when you became a parent?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse May 20, 2010 08:04 AM

I like to joke that there's a huge difference in the way my husband parented his first born versus the way we parent our youngest. Except it's not really a joke; he's an equally good but more relaxed and confident parent now, in his 40s, than he was then, in his 20s.

As a brand new parent in the early 1990s, he was a vegetarian who fed his toddler "not dogs" and soy butter and I think I remember him saying she didn't get to eat anything with refined sugar. She listened to "The Playground" on WERS-FM but rarely watched anything on TV.

Fast forward to the arrival of his fifth child in 2006.


Miley Cyrus' new video: Too sexy too soon, or par for the course?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse May 12, 2010 12:00 PM

I watched Miley Cyrus' "Can't be Tamed" video the other day, mainly to see what all the fuss is about. My older kids are too old for Hannah Montana, and my little ones are too young, so I was going on my impression of Ms. Cyrus from a few years ago, when the Disney show was in its heyday.

The video? Let's just say it's no feel-good "Party in the U.S.A." Which was a little off-putting itself, come to think of it -- how much "movin' my hips like yeah" should a 16-year-old be doing in short-shorts and with her bra straps exposed anyway? But "Can't be Tamed" makes "Party in the U.S.A." look like it was produced by PBS.


Welcome to the parenthood!

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse April 19, 2010 06:55 AM

Welcome to "In the Parenthood!" There's a lot of information out there and, no matter what's going on with the economy or the Red Sox, people still need to parent. So grab a cup of coffee and join in the discussion! Here's where we'll be keeping track of the latest parenting news, tips, and trends.

Looking for my posts from Child Caring? They're migrating over, but in the meantime you can find them -- and all of the insightful comments and discussions -- right here. And be sure to take a look at the new blog roll, at right... there are a lot of great parents in this neighborood!

Is there a parenting issue that's sparked your interest? Feel free to email me at Want to know what's on my radar? Follow me on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at


about the author

Lylah M. Alphonse
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.

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