homeaboutarchivenewslettermembership!
aboutarchivemembership!
aboutarchivemembers!

kottke.org posts about parenting

Children should be allowed to get bored

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2013

So says education researcher Teresa Belton:

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

iKids

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2013

We have a rule of no screen time during the week … On the weekends, they can play. I give them a limit of half an hour and then stop. Enough. It can be too addictive, too stimulating for the brain.

That quote is from a parent who develops apps for kids. The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin went to a developer’s conference and what she heard from the parents there might surprise you: The Touch-Screen Generation.

Lifelike baby dolls and the people who love them

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2013

Photographer Rebecca Martinez photographs reborn dolls and the people who collect/care for them.

Reborn babies

Babies create strong emotions for the bearer, holder, and observer. I have discovered this holds true even when it is known the baby is not real.

I am photographing dolls that are created to look and feel like living babies. They are constructed and weighted to feel like infants, which includes a head that must be supported while in one’s arms. They are the most powerful objects I have ever worked with, I am struck by the strong and palpable emotional reactions they produce. They provoke the dominant biological instinct to nurture and the entire spectrum of human behavior.

Some of the collectors care for their reborn dolls as if they were their own children:

Many of the women involved have an especially strong passion for the stage of mothering babies and this is a method to keep this stage permanently in their lives. There is a wide range of personal stories and motivations for being involved in this community. Some create or collect these dolls because they cannot continue to give birth to living babies, or have lost a child, or cannot have one of their own. Some women admire the art form and are doll collectors, others create nurseries in their homes and integrate the babies as part of their families and lives.

Sometimes literally:

Sometimes, women who have lost a newborn have commissioned artists to make a reborn doll that looks exactly like their deceased baby. Modeled after photographs of the real infant, these dolls are called portrait babies.

Reborn babies

We found our son in the subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2013

File this one under crying at work: a man finds a newborn on a subway platform and he and his partner adopt him and then blub blub blub, I’m sorry I have to go there’s something in both my eyes and my nose.

Three months later, Danny appeared in family court to give an account of finding the baby. Suddenly, the judge asked, “Would you be interested in adopting this baby?” The question stunned everyone in the courtroom, everyone except for Danny, who answered, simply, “Yes.”

“But I know it’s not that easy,” he said.

“Well, it can be,” assured the judge before barking off orders to commence with making him and, by extension, me, parents-to-be.

Please don’t help my kids

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 23, 2013

One parent’s plea to the other parents at the playground: please don’t help my kids.

They’re not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can’t do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What’s more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

(via @delfuego)

How not to talk to kids about school shootings

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2012

There are plenty of resources available to help parents talk to their kids about violence against children, but don’t feel like you have to.

So as a parent, you’re left with the question not just of how to talk to your child about tragedy, but of whether you’re talking to your child for your child — or for yourself. There’s the question of what to say, but also when, and if, you should say it. “If you’re feeling panicked, and like there’s no place safe in the world, then that’s a good time to step back and get those thoughts in order,” Dr. Rappaport suggested. “But if we try to wait until we’ve fully come to terms with something like this, then we’ll never be able to talk. In fact, we’d never be able to get out of bed in the morning.”

How to talk to kids about school massacres

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 14, 2012

So far, I’ve found advice from Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. Any child psychologists reading today? Can you point me towards some other (possibly better) sources? Email me here: jason@kottke.org. I will collect the best resources and post here.

In keeping with the very contemporary-seeming “advice from children’s television” vibe, here’s Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton on talking with our children about the elementary school shootings.

Dr. Brené Brown shared several resources:

- Talking to children about violence from the National Association of School Psychologists

- Resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics

- Talking To Your Children About Violence Against Kids from the University of Minnesota

- Talking To Children About Death from Hospicenet.org

- Explaining the News to Our Kids from Common Sense Media

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Talking to Kids About Tragedy by James Hamblin, MD at the Atlantic.

Tips for Talking to Children About the Shooting from the NY Times.

Hitting the sweet spot between overparenting and underparenting

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 13, 2012

Madeline Levine on what many feel is the optimal style of parenting.

Parental involvement has a long and rich history of being studied. Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These “authoritative parents” appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved. Why is this particular parenting style so successful, and what does it tell us about overparenting?

This? No. Hell no. No no no.

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 12, 2012

No. No no no. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no. NO NO NO NO! No. No no. No no no no no no. No. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Some will spend $795 on Gucci backpacks or $1,090 on leopard print puffy coats from Lanvin.

Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director at Us Weekly, admits that some of the clothes are outrageously prices. But, she says, things like $200 Gucci sneakers make her kids happy.

“They’re a walking billboard of you. They’re a reflection of who you are, so if you are someone highly stylized, then you want to make sure your kids are the best-dressed kids out there,” she says.

No no no no no no no no no. No. No no no no no no no no no. Fuck you.

Why are American kids so spoiled?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 26, 2012

In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert says that, “with the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France”, American kids might be the most spoiled kids in the history of the world. Strong words but not without merit.

How did parents in different cultures train young people to assume adult responsibilities? In the case of the Angelenos, they mostly didn’t. In the L.A. families observed, no child routinely performed household chores without being instructed to. Often, the kids had to be begged to attempt the simplest tasks; often, they still refused. In one fairly typical encounter, a father asked his eight-year-old son five times to please go take a bath or a shower. After the fifth plea went unheeded, the father picked the boy up and carried him into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the kid, still unwashed, wandered into another room to play a video game.

In another representative encounter, an eight-year-old girl sat down at the dining table. Finding that no silverware had been laid out for her, she demanded, “How am I supposed to eat?” Although the girl clearly knew where the silverware was kept, her father got up to get it for her.

In a third episode captured on tape, a boy named Ben was supposed to leave the house with his parents. But he couldn’t get his feet into his sneakers, because the laces were tied. He handed one of the shoes to his father: “Untie it!” His father suggested that he ask nicely.

“Can you untie it?” Ben replied. After more back-and-forth, his father untied Ben’s sneakers. Ben put them on, then asked his father to retie them. “You tie your shoes and let’s go,” his father finally exploded. Ben was unfazed. “I’m just asking,” he said.

Doctors firing families who refuse vaccines

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 16, 2012

Some pediatricians are asking families who refuse to vaccinate their children to leave their practices.

For Allan LaReau of Kalamazoo, Mich., and his 11 colleagues at Bronson Rambling Road Pediatrics, who chose in 2010 to stop working with vaccine-refusing families, a major factor was the concern that unimmunized children could pose a danger in the waiting room to infants or sick children who haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.

In one case, an unvaccinated child came in with a high fever and Dr. LaReau feared the patient might have meningitis, a contagious, potentially deadly infection of the brain and spinal cord for which a vaccine commonly is given. “I lost a lot more sleep than I usually do” worrying about the situation, he said.

“You feel badly about losing a nice family from the practice,” added Dr. LaReau, but families who refused to vaccinate their kids were told that “this is going to be a difficult relationship without this core part of pediatrics.” Some families chose to go elsewhere while others agreed to have their kids inoculated.

DIY sperm donors and the virgin father

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2012

Trent Arsenault is a computer security engineer, a 35-year-old virgin, and also the father of fifteen children (and counting). Arsenault non-anonymously donates his sperm for free to couples who need it to have children.

After a woman from his hometown posted repeatedly to say she couldn’t find a donor, Trent knew she was the one. “I thought, I’m probably not going to hurt anyone. The worst that can happen is someone will waste their time with me.” He met the woman, a 37-year-old lesbian schoolteacher, and her partner, in December 2006 at a nearby Barnes & Noble, where the couple’s 3-year-old adopted daughter played while they questioned Trent for two hours. They liked that he’d been raised Christian and worked in technology. The recipient provided a donor contract, drafted by a lesbian-run law firm, negating both his paternal rights and responsibilities. The couple gave him a box of Ziploc food containers from Wal-Mart and scheduled a first appointment. On that day, they texted Trent when they were twenty minutes from his house, and he set to work on the “recovery,” as it’s known. When they rang his bell, he handed over a Ziploc. Two weeks later, they sent Trent another text, with good news. After a year of fruitless trips to a sperm bank, the recipient had gotten pregnant on Trent’s first try.

(thx, patrick)

The lessons of Steve Jobs

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2012

At the end of this month Jeff Atwood is leaving Stack Exchange, a company he cofounded with Joel Spolsky. In a post on his blog, he explains why:

Startup life is hard on families. We just welcomed two new members into our family, and running as fast as you can isn’t sustainible for parents of multiple small children. The death of Steve Jobs, and his subsequent posthumous biography, highlighted the risks for a lot of folks. […] Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange have been wildly successful, but I finally realized that success at the cost of my children is not success. It is failure.

In his post, Jeff points to a similar post by another entrepreneur, Brad Wardell.

In the last several years, the company has been successful enough to generate a substantial amount of capital. And with it, I have been fortunate to bring in people with great talent. And so I started thinking of all the amazing things we would do. I would put in crazy hours to do it, of course, but we would go and do amazing things.

Then Steve Jobs died.

And suddenly I realized something. What is the objective here? My oldest child just turned 15. My other two are no longer little either. And I have been missing out on them.

And another from Eric Karjaluoto:

For a long time, work was my only thing. I worked evenings, weekends, and Christmas. At those rare times when I wasn’t at work in body, I was there in spirit, unable to speak or think of much else. I wanted so badly to climb the mountain that I stopped asking why I was doing it.

I admire [Jobs] for the mountains he climbed. At the same time, I wonder if he missed the whole point, becoming the John Henry of our time. He won the race, but at what cost?

Me? I may turn out to be a failure in business, but I refuse to fail my kids.

This mirrors my main reaction to Jobs’ death and Isaacson’s book as well. I wasn’t working 80 hours a week or leading a growing company or even spending very little time with my kids but I was pushing pretty hard on Stellar, pushing it towards a potential future of insane working hours, intense stress, and a whole lot less time with my family (and selfishly, less time for myself). Since Jobs died, I’ve been pushing a little less hard in that direction.

Four is hardly a trend but it is interesting that the death and biography of the greatest businessman of our generation — someone who was responsible for so many world-changing products and ideas, who shaped our world through sheer force of will & imagination, etc. etc. — is inspiring some people to turn away from the lifestyle & choices that made Jobs so successful & inspiring in the public sphere and to attempt the path that Jobs did not.

How to parent like the French

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 06, 2012

Adapted from her upcoming book Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, Pamela Druckerman shares why French parents are superior in this WSJ article.

The French, I found, seem to have a whole different framework for raising kids. When I asked French parents how they disciplined their children, it took them a few beats just to understand what I meant. “Ah, you mean how do we educate them?” they asked. “Discipline,” I soon realized, is a narrow, seldom-used notion that deals with punishment. Whereas “educating” (which has nothing to do with school) is something they imagined themselves to be doing all the time.

One of the keys to this education is the simple act of learning how to wait. It is why the French babies I meet mostly sleep through the night from two or three months old. Their parents don’t pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep. It is also why French toddlers will sit happily at a restaurant. Rather than snacking all day like American children, they mostly have to wait until mealtime to eat. (French kids consistently have three meals a day and one snack around 4 p.m.)

We have a French pediatrician who advised us to do almost exactly what is in this article and we’ve had pretty good success with it. It’s not all roses (kids are kids after all) and a lot of work, especially for the first couple of years, because you have to be consistent and steady and firm (but also flexible) and I know I haven’t always done a great job, but the dividends have been totally worth it so far.

Five best toys ever

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2011

Jonathan Liu over at GeekDad compiled a list of the five best toys of all time.

2. Box
Another toy that is quite versatile, Box also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Need proof? Depending on the number and size you have, Boxes can be turned into furniture or a kitchen playset. You can turn your kids into cardboard robots or create elaborate Star Wars costumes. A large Box can be used as a fort or house and the smaller Box can be used to hide away a special treasure. Got a Stick? Use it as an oar and Box becomes a boat. One particularly famous kid has used the Box as a key component of a time machine, a duplicator and a transmogrifier, among other things.

Love it. (via @jsnell)

Sending children through the post

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2011

This is one of my favorite Flickr photos:

Child by mail

This city letter carrier posed for a humorous photograph with a young boy in his mailbag. After parcel post service was introduced in 1913, at least two children were sent by the service. With stamps attached to their clothing, the children rode with railway and city carriers to their destination. The Postmaster General quickly issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail after hearing of those examples.

The Kid Should See This

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 24, 2011

Great new site from Rion featuring online videos, photos, books, and other media that’s appropriate for little kids.

There’s just so much science, nature, music, arts, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven’t seen. It’s most likely not stuff that was made for them…

But we don’t underestimate kids around here.

With obvious exceptions, media “made for kids” is mindnumbingly dumb. YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo are amazing resources of not-made-for-kids but totally-appropriate-for-kids stuff like what Rion is posting here. I’ve often wanted a Wikipedia For Little Kids (for the iPad) that’s almost exclusively video- and image-based that I could let Ollie loose on to learn about stuff. (via @swissmiss)

Are playgrounds too safe?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 21, 2011

Playgrounds built in the last 20 years may be safer and result in fewer lawsuits, but the kids who use them may be missing out on some critical emotional development.

“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”

After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

(via @tcarmody)

Gender cake parties

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2011

Now, I’m not here to judge anyone, but I’m totally judging: this is insane. A gender cake party goes like this:

My husband and I would like to do a cake party to find out the sex of our baby. So basically we will have the ultrasound tech put the sex of the baby in an enveloppe and we will give that enveloppe to our cake maker. The inside of the cake will either be pink or blue so when we cut into it our family, friends, as well as ourselves will find out what were having. We planned on having our close family and freinds over for this big moment….sounds lovely right?

A Disneyland of child labor

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2011

The Morning News has a piece today on KidZania, a theme park for kids where they work and buy stuff just like grown-ups.

But at the heart of the concept and the business of KidZania is corporate consumerism, re-staged for children whose parents pay for them to act the role of the mature consumer and employee. The rights to brand and help create activities at each franchise are sold off to real corporations, while KidZania’s own marketing emphasizes the arguable educational benefits of the park.

Kidzania

Each child receives a bank account, an ATM card, a wallet, and a check for 50 KidZos (the park’s currency). At the park’s bank, which is staffed by adult tellers, kids can withdraw or deposit money they’ve earned through completing activities — and the account remains even when they go home at the end of the day. A lot of effort goes into making the children repeat visitors of this Lilliputian city-state.

A US outpost of KidZania is coming sometime in 2013.

Pink used to be a boys color

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 12, 2011

The gender-specific colors we have today for kids — pink for girls and blue for boys — didn’t come about until the 1940s…before that, pink was recommended as a color for boys.

But nowadays people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance, says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian at the University of Maryland and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, to be published later this year. Thus we see, for example, a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl.

Why have young children’s clothing styles changed so dramatically? How did we end up with two “teams” — boys in blue and girls in pink?

“It’s really a story, what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality — you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached-became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my babies in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’” Paoletti says.

It is nearly impossible, even in NYC, to find girls clothes that are not pink unless you pay through the nose for imported European kids clothes. See also vocabulary in boys and girls toy advertising. (via megnut, who is fighting to keep our kids in gender neutral clothing)

Long Chris Ware interview

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2011

This is the first part of a four-part interview with Chris Ware, in which he discusses comics, working, and family. Ware on becoming a father:

Yeah, it kind of fixed every mental problem that I had within an hour. So I highly recommend it if anybody out there is thinking of having children, you should really, I mean, it’s the only reason we’re here, and if you have any doubts in your mind about yourself or where your life is going, it’ll be answered easily and almost instantaneously. It’s a clich’e to say, but it also immediately sets you aside from yourself and you’re no longer the star of your own mind, which is really not a very good state of mind to be in. Unfortunately, in my country it is one that seems to be encouraged until about the age of 60 or something, now. I really think the main export of America is this sort of fountain of youth that we somehow manage to tap into, like with pop music — it’s not out of the question to see 50-year-old men still dressing like teenagers and I just feel like, “What happened?” It’s like we won World War II and now we can be idiots for the rest of time.

I don’t know about an hour, but yeah, similar experience here. Here’s part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Childhood isn’t a race

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2010

Parents these days go crazy worrying about their kids’ progress: Should she be reading? Should he be writing? She can’t catch a ball! The kid down the street can say her numbers up to 100 but mine only knows 1 through 14. Magical Parenthood posted an article about what a four-year-old should know and it doesn’t have anything to do with how well your kid can spell.

1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

This advice for parents is gold:

That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

The reluctant father

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 24, 2010

Photographer Phillip Toledano didn’t particularly want to be a father. But then he and his wife had a daughter.

Loulou seemed like such an alien thing, that the first time I heard her sneeze, I was filled with joy.

It was the first human thing I’d seen her do that made any sense to me.

Imagine listening to someone speaking a foreign language, and then suddenly you hear the word “McDonald’s.”

I was somewhat of a reluctant father as well. I think it’s ok to feel that this stranger in your life maybe isn’t the greatest thing ever. Newborns are hard; you do feel like chucking them out the window at times. Your interaction with others, especially with your spouse, becomes weird and one-sided and not at all about your needs and desires. But that’s how it is…you fake it ‘til you make it. Of course, I love my kids to pieces now and it’s difficult to remember when that wasn’t the case.

Raising minimalist children in a society of excess

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2010

How do you simplify your life and possessions when kids are in the mix?

Don’t feel guilty. Modern parents are made to feel as if they are depriving their children of “the best” if they don’t sign them up for every lesson, take them to every movie, or buy them every brain-enhancing toy. Advertising companies are paying billions of dollars to make you think this. It is not reality… it is a fictional version of reality they are selling. Let it go. Don’t “buy” into it. You are not depriving your children; you are enhancing their mental and emotional development by letting the real world around them captivate and interest them. Do you think the Smiths’ kids are really better off because they spend all their free time in front of a television or playing with a DSI?

(via @brainpicker)

Be unbeatable

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 26, 2010

Kamikaze pilot Masanobu Kuno wrote a farewell letter to his young son and daughter the day before he flew to his death in the Battle of Okinawa. From the translation:

Your father will become a god and watch you two closely. Both of you, study hard and help out your mother with work. I can’t be your horse to ride, but you two be good friends.

I should have a “crying at work” tag for posts like this.

Parents are less happy than non-parents

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 06, 2010

That parents hate parenting is verified by study after study, but most parents think the opposite is true.

From the perspective of the species, it’s perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so. This finding is surprisingly consistent, showing up across a range of disciplines. Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.) This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. The economist Andrew Oswald, who’s compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: “The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.” That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. “Then the studies show a more negative impact.” As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstances-whether they’re single or married, whether they have one child or four.

I appreciated the description of being a parent as living in “a clamorous, perpetual-forward-motion machine almost all of the time”. Bang on.

A four-year-old plays Grand Theft Auto

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 22, 2010

He spends much of the time arresting criminals, taking people to the hospital in an ambulance, and putting out fires.

At this point my son was familiar with the game’s mechanics and hopped into the ambulance. As he put the crime fighting behind him, he wondered aloud if it was possible to take people to the hospital. I instruct him to press R3, and then he was off to save a few lives. He was having a blast racing from point to point, picking up people in need, and then speeding off to Las Venturas Hospital. During one of his life saving adventures, he passed a fire house with a big, red, shiny fire truck parked out front. He didn’t want to let his passengers down, so he took them to the hospital and then asked if I could guide him back to the fire truck.

Toddler mode for the iPad

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2010

Peter Merholz says there should be a toddler mode for the iPad (and probably iPhone as well).

You know how iPhone and iPad have “airplane mode”, which turns off all connectivity? Right under that, I want “Toddler Mode”. When switched on, you’ll get a dialog letting you know you are entering Toddler Mode, and an explanation of how to get out. Unlike Airplane Mode, you can’t get out of Toddler Mode through settings, because there’s no way Toddler Mode should allow access to the settings panel. I haven’t figured out the best way out of Toddler Mode, but I’m thinking a quick triple-click on the home button, followed by a swipe, should work.

The problem with toddler mode is that the capabilities of kids change very quickly at that age. For instance, the home button is only a problem for a short time. My almost-3-yo son Ollie pretty quickly figured out that if he wanted to keep doing what he was doing, he had to lay off the home button. Now he knows exactly what it does: gets him back to the screen where he can pick a new activity. He also has no problem finding his apps…he knows exactly which of those icons mean fun and which do not.

(BTW, if you’re an interface/interaction designer and you haven’t watched a preschooler using a touchscreen device, you really should. It’s fascinating how quickly they learn some things and just can’t get the hang of other things. It’s a really eye-opening experience.)

The children’s menu: the death of civilization

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2010

A restaurant owner opines on the importance of the dining experience.

Mr. Marzovilla welcomes young children at his restaurant, even discounts their meals on Sunday evenings, and is not above serving a simple appetizer portion of pasta to please little ones. But he has strong opinions about food, and about the messages parents convey to their offspring through what they eat. Children’s menus aim too low, he argues — they’re a parenting crutch.