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Parenting

Meditation instead of a timeout

I despised timeout. Not because it was effective, but because it seemed pointless. I failed to spend the time thinking about what I did wrong. Instead, I spent the time thinking about how stupid it was. And what I could be doing or what I would do when it was over. Or playing with whatever I had around me: wall textures, things on my person, etc. This approach looks interesting.

Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school has something called the Mindful Moment Room instead.

The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened.

Mindful meditation has been around in some form or another for thousands of years. Recently, though, science has started looking at its effects on our minds and bodies, and it’s finding some interesting effects.

One study, for example, suggested that mindful meditation could give practicing soldiers a kind of mental armor against disruptive emotions, and it can improve memory too. Another suggested mindful meditation could improve a person’s attention span and focus.

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Parenting

Smartphones and teens

5418219441_021f82e512_oVox has a good article on the effects of smartphones on the brains of teenagers:

Is there anything that tells us there’s a causal link? That our media use behavior is actually altering our cognition and underlying neurological function or neurobiological processes? The answer is we have no idea. There’s no data.

The article talks about what data we have, the limitations, why the limitations matter, and what would fix it. Science is hard. Medicine and parents are in a tricky place as they have to make recommendations with imperfect data. The news is sensationalist.

Galahad wants to discount all science on this, of course. He might be an addict. (Take his phone away from him and he goes through the typical behaviors of an addict.) The non-causal link does say there is something going on with smartphones and kids, so limiting usage probably leads to better outcomes. Enough so, that it is worth at least trying.

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Parenting

Guilt over canceled shows

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Misty was a weird cat

Every time there is an announcement about a canceled show I “watch”, I feel guilty. Having a DVR, I know my watches are tracked. Also, streaming services are paying attention to my activity.

I know in theory that my one watch is not that important in the grand scheme of things, but I still feel that my lack of watching has killed them. Dating, marriage, and fatherhood all mean a lot more commitments to my time that I might otherwise spend on watching television. (And reading.)

But, the reality is that these commitments are more important. They consume quality time. I used to spend so much time watching television because I was filling empty time. Quality > empty.

My DVR is also filling up, so I have a temptation to try and find time to spend watching some stuff to delete some recordings. More often I decided to just purge to free up space without watching because really I am not going to get around to watching them.

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Parenting

Grandmother Hypothesis

Researchers looked at preindustrial mortality records in Quebec and Finland and found that families with a grandmother in the household had more kids and kids who lived longer, aka the “grandmother hypothesis.” Up to a couple points:

  1. Just 1.75 more kids.
  2. Younger grandmothers increased survival between 2 to 5 by 30%. Grandmothers over 75 reduced survival probability to age 2 by 37%.

Also, this is fairly indirect data looking at old records. It would be more valuable with more direct evidence. Though, how one could do an experiment where some kids get to have a grandma where others don’t would likely be deemed unethical.

I wonder how much that means for today’s society. My cousins with the largest number of kids live closer to their mothers.

When I moved here for a job, it was when I was single and a pretty decently easy drive to get home to help out when needed. It doesn’t seem so easy anymore with a family.

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Parenting

Change Slows Time

3989015758_1f29ee2b0c_zReading Farsighted by Steven Johnson. He is one of my favorite nonfiction authors.

He quotes a friend: “Change like this slows time.” Then goes on to talk about how inside a routine, time moves fast. Stress focuses our brain including how much time we still have.

It got me wondering if the cliche about kids growing up so fast is related? When Fleur was born, being a new parent was very stressful. Time was definitely dilated to me, but now that we have achieved a routine groove, it seems to move too fast.

I imagine there will be times the stress hits again. Buying the house a few years ago caused similar dilation. So, I could see a major illness, a death in the family, planning a first birthday party, etc.

Also, I need to muse on whether either slow or fast is better. Right now, I feel like they are both neutral with pros and cons that negate.

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Parenting

From minor celebrity to entourage

394802819_0365c3442f_oBefore Fleur, I was comfortable being Norm at a variety of places. People knew me, greeted me, asked how I was doing. When the wife and I started dating, a friend of hers instantly recognized my name and asked if my Facebook profile was me.

Now, places still know me and greet me, but I am now the, uh, chauffeur. I am a baby deliveryman. They want to see her and hold her and earn smiles. Some still ask about me when they realize how I am being ignored.

Somehow I thought my celebrity wasn’t that big and not that important to my identity. Now, I realize how much I miss it. Maybe it was more central to my being than I thought?

As a child, I dwelled in the shadow of my parents who knew everyone. My brother had to endure high school as comparisons of my little brother. People don’t believe that I am an introvert because I know so many people. (The secret is that I learned to tune out the certain backgrounds and direct interactions with one or two people is good. Things like house parties, clubs, concerts, football games are what drain my energy.)

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Parenting

Overcompensation

Started reading some dad blogs and ran across something that felt pretty right on Biff the Runner:

At times I feel completely useless. With the baby as I don’t know why they are crying or what I’m supposed to do. At work I’m less productive as I’m tired and find it harder to motivate myself and focus.

This means I over compensate particularly at home trying to make myself useful cleaning, cooking, anything. This makes me more tired.

5937181617_3435b92539_zFor me it meant:

  • Managing the water bottles. We have 2 Brita filter containers that I try to keep full and a half dozen bottles. I end of tracking them down across the house & car and filling them.
  • Changing diapers.
  • Soothing Flower, especially when she was upset with gas between 4 and 8 am. Ant’s Go Marching and Dear Liza are my go-to songs.
  • Keeping supplies full & shopping. Diapers, wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, snacks, cat food, cat litter. (Still pretty terrible at this. Writing this reminded me that I need to get litter despite going to the store before work to get toilet paper because I did not realize we were out when I went yesterday.)
  • Dealing with the teenager: cajoling to do chores, getting things needed, taking to places.

I have a much younger brother, so I wasn’t scared of changing a diaper, especially because she cannot shoot pee at my face. Other things new fathers are supposedly scared of like holding her, giving her a bottle, etc all are skills I’ve had for decades.

Well, maybe the first bath. She had a five wiper blowout where poo was still everywhere. I needed to give her a bath, but the wife had gone somewhere so I was on my own. I had to make all these choices on how to handle it on my own. So many potentially wrong choices, but we both survived it.

 

 

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Parenting

Fathers are happier parents

From an interesting article, Fathers are happier parents: Study:

  1. “Fathers reported greater satisfaction with their lives and feelings of connectedness to others.”
  2. “They also reported greater positive emotions and fewer daily hassles than mothers, or relatives or peers without children.”
  3. “They even showed fewer depressive symptoms than men without children, whereas mothers reported more depressive symptoms than women who do not have children.”

Yeah, it is weird. It does seem like there is a brain change. Thinking about this reminded me that I read something years ago well before I became one saying there is a rewiring in the brain due to fatherhood. (paper) The new areas involve reward processing, which could be the greater satisfaction (dopamine) and connectedness (oxytocin); hormone control; emotional processing; memory; decision making. Yeah, I definitely find myself analyzing Fleur’s behavior looking at how she is problem-solving, learning, and adapting to her environment. For instance, now that she is crawling and exploring, she has learned we hover and watch what she tries to put in her mouth and tries to new tactics at getting things that are not toys into her mouth. (Of course, that means we have to adapt, so our Pre-Frontal Cortex [memory and decision making] has to learn her new tactics and try to new things to interrupt it.)

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Parenting

The story so far

Fleur is ten months. She is crawling and standing. She has preferences and willing to enforce them.

Galahad is seventeen years. He has a year and a half of high school left. He wants to become an engineer. We get along okay for me being a stepfather.

The wife recently resigned from her job to become a stay at home mother. The job was not a good fit for the time.

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Parenting

Introduction

I intend to post about my kids, my experiences, my expectations, and interesting research.

My undergraduate degree was in psychology. I had an intention of going to get a master’s in library science, but I got sucked into information technology. I did government documents working in the library as a student, but I also had expertise in reference.

I am an avid reader without a real single genre. Popular science books are an area of passion. Psychology (of course), sociology, economics, behavioral economics, biology, and physics dominate my reading. I might pick up something in between as an article that seems interesting.

I am also an older new parent. I worry my child might get autism spectrum disorder as this was the big American risk factor until Wakefield’s bullshit. Older so slower. Older so more patient.