The Week in Parenting: Stay-at-Home Dads, Boys Who Wear Dresses, and ... Cigars?


The stay-at-home daddy takeover, boys who dress like girls, obesity in the South, and the fastest way to the poorhouse (your child’s fancy extracurricular athletic pursuits, perhaps): This week was chock full of studies, debate-worthy think pieces, and warnings about the evil hiding powers of Lego. So gather up those little yellow heads and store them in a safe place, then sit back and catch up.

Loosening our belts: A new state-by-state study exposes the truth about our weight. Twelve states, most of them in the Midwest and South, have obesity rates higher than 30 percent. The data have huge implications for the lifetime health of our children. How much do school lunches have to do with it?

Hey dude, is that a pacifier in your pocket? Modern parents will enjoy, or at least want to chew on, Sunday’s New York Times Style section cover story about the new army of stay-at-home fathers, whose identities are “evolving,” apparently via a lifestyle choice to slow down and raise the children. The story goes wide if not deep, skimming over the vast majority of American dads who stay home because the economy has battered their earning potential into a pulp. But still, as my husband said excitedly, “Someone’s writing about dads?!” What do you think?

Star-studded campaign: As back to school closes in, everybody's talking about anti-bullying, compassion and non-judgment. The new Everyone Matters campaign has some famous names behind it and offers poignant stories and great resources for parents, teachers and kids.

File under “Ewwww/Omg":There’s nothing as gross as finding something your kid stashed somewhere, a moldy apricot wedged into their car seat three months ago or a cute little worm hidden under the pillow for “keeping safe.” Actually it turns out there is something grosser — finding out that a toy has been lodged up in your kid’s nose for oh, about, three years, as two parents in Salt Lake City did when a doctor finally located the cause of years of their son’s sinus and breathing troubles: Lego. Encased in … fungus. Need we say more?

Some boys like pink, so what? A thought-provoking article in The New York Times Magazine explored gender norms and children, introducing readers to a 4-year-old boy who likes to wears dresses, paint his fingernails and play with dolls. The story generated hundreds of reader comments about conformity, self-expression, culture and sexuality — what do you think?

Back off, meanies: A major anti-bullying campaign featuring television, print and online ads was announced this week. The campaign, which will begin in October, aims to put a national focus on the issue of bullying, especially cyberbullying.

Ninja Kawasaki Barbie? The famed London department store Harrods made headlines after it unveiled a sweeping new “gender neutral” toy department. Interesting concept, but we’re wondering if shrouding Hello Kitties in magical, forested displays makes them any less, well, Hello Kitty-ish? Perhaps the problem is the toys, not the stores?

Mommy, can I please take gymnastics? Those amazing Olympic parents — they’re so supportive, so dedicated, so selfless, so … broke. If you’ve been wondering whether all those pricey coaches, elite teams and leagues and snazzy outfits for little Aiden are within your family budget, you need to read this story.

Is you kid safe in the car? A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that many parents still don’t use car seats properly. Did you know updated recommendations call for rear-facing seats until at least age 2 and not moving kids out of a five-point harness prematurely? Might be worth a refresher.

Everybody’s talking about … Jessica Brose’s story for Slate about being blindsided by prenatal depression, which busts the myth that every mother-to-be is glowing with unfettered happiness.

Happy 11th birthday honey, here’s your new cell phone! Some much-needed parental advice, plus shopping tips, about the how, when and what of buying your child a first phone. Lay down the rules, keep it out of their bedroom at night, and get yourself on speed-dial!

Excuse me little girl, can we track you? The Federal Trade Commission is finally updating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 and wants to hear from you. There’s a huge reason why we, as the parents of a digitally savvy generation (from toddlers who download their own online games to teens who socialize primarily in a digital environment), should care: Strangers are trying to get closer to our kids, and they don’t have our children’s best interests at heart.

And another study: The number of children and teens taking antipsychotic medications has skyrocketed in recent years, with psychiatrists prescribing the drugs in nearly one of every three visits with youth, a new study found. Despite the increase in prevalence, there are apparently a lot of unanswered questions about long-term effects.

And another: Tobacco use among teens is down, but lots of minors (nearly a quarter of all high schoolers) are still lighting up, and cigar use (OK, who knew?) is on the rise. Nearly 30 percent of middle and high school boys and nearly 18 percent of girls used some form of tobacco last year, the federal government said in a report published Thursday.

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