Tag: Parenting

Abigail Shrier’s ‘Irreversible Damage’


Others have already commented on this book on Ricochet. In particular, Susan Quinn wrote this very nice post that drew heavily from it. I commented on a Bari Weiss interview with Abigail Shrier here. I’m sure other members have mentioned it, and several Ricochet podcasters have interviewed Ms. Shrier.

I spent a couple of the past few days in planes and airports and had an opportunity to finish a book and read two others, one of which was Ms. Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.”

My Grandmother, My Mother, and Me: 100 Years of America


This study of three generations, although cherry-picked, subjective, and anecdotal, does tell us something.

  1. Although easier and more luxurious, my life is more complicated than my grandmother’s.
  2. In daily living and career options, the ordinary American citizen has prospered in ways that stagger the imagination.
  3. Families in the ’40s and ’50s  labored to provide housing, food, and clothes, while my increasingly pampered generation fights to keep perspective on what is real and important.


To Horrify the Modern Sensibilities


“Dad slaughtered about 100 chickens each Friday to deliver to customers on Saturday. It was the job of the younger children of the family to hold the feet of each chicken as Dad chopped off the chicken’s head with a careful swift swing of the ax.” She goes on to describe her participation in the next step of de-feathering the carcasses.

From an account written by Mrs. Tabby’s mother (who would have been one of the aforementioned younger children in the family) recounting her childhood in Illinois, which would have been very late 1920s into the 1930s. Mrs. Tabby discovered the account, which had been written about thirty years ago, while cleaning out her parents’ house following their deaths in recent months. When she read that part to me, I immediately imagined how horrified many of today’s overprotective parents would be at the very thought of having young children participate in the process of slaughtering the animals that become our dinner. I know @cowgirl  and probably others are not. But I think many would be.

Ayaan talks with Amy Chua about how America has always demonstrated a poor understanding of tribal relations in other cultures, a weakness that makes the country ill-prepared to navigate the increasing tribalism of its own domestic politics. Amy shares her work on ‘market dominant minorities’ and ‘super-groups,’ as both women express concern about the growing political “us vs them” mentality in the United States.

Amy Chua is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School.  She received both her A.B. and her J.D. from Harvard University and was Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review.  

Parenting Postscript: Our Best and Worst Decisions


In 1994, my dad introduced me to a friend of his and mentioned that I was engaged. My dad’s friend, with humor and kindness, told me, “Ah, yes. Marriage.  There’s nothing like marriage to show you who you really are.  Smokes you right out.”  All these years, I’ve  retained the image of a small frenzied mammal running back and forth in his tunnel until he finally pops out of his back door–heaving, exposed, and vulnerable–to gulp the fresh air.  Except in my case, it was not marriage, but parenthood that really smoked me out.

Christian blogger and author Tim Challies expressed it best when he described some challenges of being a parent as “muddling through.”  Yes–we can read all the books, survey parents we admire, attend Love and Logic conferences, determine to be kinder and gentler, ask for help on Facebook.  Yet, few children arrive as a neat, predictable package.  Each comes as a unique little creature, a complete person, yet pre-loaded with potential to be nurtured and developed over years.

I Get It Now, Dad


June 2011– Now that I have my own kids, some of the stuff that made no sense to me when I was growing up has become clear. I fully grasp why certain behaviors evoked a response from my dad. He and I might have different approaches in dealing with similar kid situations: my dad would have been quick and efficient, no fanciness or equivocation. Nevertheless, it makes sense now.

For example, when I was a kid, I liked to read more than I liked to do almost anything else. Reading ranked a close second with playing outside. For sure it ranked high above “work” or “chores” or “listening to Dad explain something maybe related to chores.” Occasionally when I was engrossed in a story, my dad would emerge from his office and decide that something needed explaining. I would get up from where I had been lying on the couch, fix my eyes on him, and let the book dangle at my side, careful to have my finger at the right page.  Then suddenly, inexplicably, in the middle of what he was saying, my dad would grab the book, send it sailing across the room, and say, “You need to get your nose out of that book.” I’d be flabbergasted. Why, my nose wasn’t in the book. Hadn’t it, along with my eyes, been pointed at him?  Hadn’t I been nodding in all the right places?

The Mother Nurse


Over the last decade, I’ve had the privilege to play nurse to three beautiful kids. It is a mother’s prerogative to believe that her offspring are the most beautiful in the world, but I’m confident it’s true in my case.

This time has had its share of illnesses and chronic issues that challenge my skills at figuring out what is an immediate concern versus something that can wait for medical attention. It began during my oldest’s first Christmas, a decade ago. He developed a fever while visiting family and being my first, I didn’t wait a second. I found the local urgent care and took him in. I learned about Bronchiolitis and was eventually prescribed a “nebulizer” that aerosolizes medicine to be breathed into the lungs. Interesting device. The attachments are even more interesting when it comes to pediatric patients.

Member Post


I knew the moment I opened my eyes this morning that a change of scenery and routine was today’s priority. Too many days/weeks/months of the same old, same old was starting to take a toll on my outlook, energy, and mood, and it was time for a reset of sorts. A quick shower, a mug […]

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The Best Stage of Parenting


There’s a scene in Father of the Bride that I relate to these days, as a parent of two young adult daughters. In the scene, Steve Martin’s character gapes as his grown daughter morphs into a tiny girl in braids who pipes up at the dinner table to announce her upcoming nuptials. My girls aren’t getting married yet, I’m happy to say. But I get the spirit of the movie scene when I watch all the little ways my daughters behave like grownups when I clearly remember bringing them home as helpless infants and then muddling through years of thwarted attempts to train them in basic responsibility and focus. It has dawned on me that somewhere in the last few years, something took, and now I can only drink in each delicious moment as these kids confidently lead their lives and reveal their depth.

Several little ways they have of showing ownership and wisdom have me not gaping, but wondering warmly at where my reluctant, fairy-obsessed, teacher-vexing progeny of lax parentage went, and who replaced them with these delightful grownups. Moms and dads struggling through the frustration and fog of various childhood stages, take hope:

Good Advice(s)


If wisdom lies in learning from the experiences of others, then I am not particularly wise. My M.O. is more of a barely-learns-from-his-own-repeated-mistakes sort of thing.

But let’s start with the piece of advice I did take when my wife and I were expecting our first children: twins. We were talking to an older co-worker of mine whose twin boys were already on the other side of college. “Let me give you the most important advice about raising twins we learned early on.”

Karol Markowicz joins Kay Hymowitz to discuss raising young children in New York City.

“Raising a family in the city is just too hard,” concluded The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson last summer. But in Park Slope, one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, thousands of families thrive. Still, parents must navigate a host of challenges unique to urban life, including pricey housing, complex schooling options, and sometimes-unfriendly public spaces.

A Thought About Single Parenting


I brought Darling Daughter back to college this week; the nest is, once again, empty. I don’t expect her to spend next summer at home as she did this year: she’s a sophomore now, and it’s reasonable to assume that my days of having a child in the house, other than for a brief visit, are over. And I’m okay with that.

I’ve been a single parent these past eight years, and I have some thoughts about the challenges of being a single parent. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the special challenge of being an only parent, someone raising children without the benefit of a partner, even a separated partner, who remains a continuing presence in their children’s lives. I know this is far less common than divorced or separated parents, but I know of several cases, and I’ve been thinking about them.

Emily Zanotti is back 6 weeks after having twins—and she’s got a little feedback on all the advice she was given before giving birth. Kelly Maher and Bethany Mandel join to share the hacks they couldn’t Mom without… and the advice they never actually took.

We’re Losing Our Boys


The latest tragedies, raw and painful, seem to be reflecting a similar thread: young men. Look at the age of the recent shooter at a Walmart in Texas (21 years old,) the killer in Dayton (24), the age of the boy being accused of the murder of the young co-ed at Ole Miss. Look at the ages of the boys on a murderous rampage across Canada, the Florida school shooting, the recent California shooting at the Garlic Festival, the Synagogue in Pittsburgh. They are all young men consumed with hate and vengeance, and armed to do as much damage as possible. They leave “manifestos,” they shout, “I’m angry!”, they cease to think and feel, or see their fellow human beings as part of their world.

The struggle to find blame is next. Social media, politics, violent video games, rampant porn and the new virile push of social engineering are playing a role. Young men begin as young boys, innocent, but are being influenced by all of these things, and their core personalities, their sense of self, is being corrupted, at younger and younger ages. I am not sympathizing with the killers, these acts are beyond despicable, but the patterns are showing these similarities.

The radical group Antifa, whose network now stretches across the continent to Europe, is composed of young men mostly, very angry, courting physical confrontation, and at the very least, intimidation and control.  Young women have become more fearful and maybe rightly so.  I have to think that the removal of boundaries, lack of consequences for actions, monitoring what is being taught in schools, what is accessible on the Internet, the decline of the family and faith, are now all bearing rotten fruit.  The family and the Church have always been the armor before sending young people into the world to live their dream and find their purpose, and to sustain them going forward.

The Super Secret Hideout Fort


If you were anything like me growing up, one of your main modes of play with friends was identifying your super secret hideout, or at least get busy building one. Some of them were out in plain sight; no one was duped as to where you were playing. But other times, you might have managed to find a nifty clearing under low-hanging branches of a tree, or a little wooded area, or an old structure. These hideouts were often unsafe, of course. And although you talked it up often with friends who weren’t in on the secret location, most people over the age of twelve didn’t care a fig where you were playing, as long as you were quiet and stayed out of their way. Hideouts were good for that.

When I was seven, we commonly referred to a special location, which we believed was known to only an initiated few, as a “secret hiding place.” We built ours along one side of our house, next to the swing set on top of a large cement platform that covered the septic tank. I know what you’re asking: where was the supervision? They were glad to stay cool indoors, absorbed in their own tasks. The children could climb trees, launch off swings, and build secret hiding places on the septic tank with panels of sharp tin roofing as long as they played outdoors. There might be a ruptured kidney here and there, but that came with the territory.

Book Review: I Want To Live


“The absolute raw truth of the matter is this: I have no idea what I am doing now, much less what I will be doing a year from now. Years of living my life for another person has left me without a clue as to how to live for myself.” from the book,

“I Want to Live – Confessions of a Grieving Caretaker by Susan D. McDaniel.

Parenting Thoughts: The Virtue of “No”


I think I did alright in the child-raising department. There are a lot of things I don’t do well, and a few I do very badly, but I think I’ve been a good parent, particularly in the last decade or so. There’s quite a bit of on-the-job training involved in parenting — hardly any other kind, in fact — and I think I was better at it when I finished than when I started. I’m sure my older children would second that, perhaps with more vigor than I’d like.

If I could pass on a bit of advice, it would be on the important topic of saying “no” to your children.

I Vaccinate My Kids and I Swear I’m Not Selling Anything. Can We Be Friends?


I’m starting this one off with a “Birdbox” reference, because that sure is still relevant! Everyone on the planet watched it at precisely the same time on December 21, 2018, so I’m not worried about spoiling anything for the good people of Ricochet.

Just in case you happened to be wrapping Christmas presents or watching Fox News instead of checking out the new Sandra Bullock movie on Netflix, if you’ve seen M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” or John Krasinski’s “The Quiet Place,” you’ve basically seen “Birdbox.” On the surface, it’s a post-apocalyptic horror movie about a woman who is blindly searching for a safe haven in a world where most of humanity has been compelled to commit mass suicide by a “creature” that’s a death sentence to lay eyes on. But Sandra Bullock has spoken about what the film means to her in interviews, explaining that it’s very much about parenthood. The themes are solid enough; the furious and swift rapids she frantically navigates, the shreds of safety and reliable rules she grasps at, the moments where blind faith is the only terrifying option and she is forced to trust an indifferent force of nature to deliver her family. Almost everything in “Birdbox” can be blatantly or metaphorically guided back to the central theme of parenthood.