If you take it really seriously, parenthood is the most challenging job you’ll ever have. The hours are long and the pay stinks. It requires the most emotional investment and the greatest patience. And no matter how well you do it, there will always be that nagging little voice in your head wondering, “Should I have handled that differently?” But parenthood is also the most rewarding and important role you’ll ever play. And the good news is that we're all in this together...

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The adolescent brain is hard-wired for experimentation and thrill-seeking. It’s why we parents often find ourselves shaking our heads in dismay and bafflement, saying, “What in the world were they thinking?” While some hyper-vigilant parents may want to quash any kind of risky behavior by imposing strict rules and constant limitations, the polar opposite style of parent may simply throw up his/her hands and say, “What are you gonna do? Kids will be kids.”

But the middle ground suggests while adolescent experimentation can be viewed as normal and evolutionarily important, making kids more flexible and adaptable, parents should still keep a firm hand in.  And a recent test done in the UK suggests rather than simply telling kids why they shouldn’t do a particular behavior, like binge drink, a more effective deterrent may be to address the underlying personality trait that makes a child more vulnerable to that behavior. For example, kids with low self esteem or social interaction issues may be particularly affected by peer pressure. Instead of harping on the behavior, the study says, focus on addressing the underlying issue.  The study’s author, Dr. Patricia Conrod of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, explains, “Teaching young people how to better manage their personality traits or vulnerabilities helps them make the right decisions in given situations, whether it is a matter of overcoming their fears, managing thoughts that make them very emotional, controlling their compulsions, analyzing objectively the intentions of others or improving their self-perception.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013


$1300 and counting. Most families probably would have given up by now and let Ruby the sick chinchilla find a second life as a hat or scarf. However, we are a resolute animal-loving family, and Ruby has been an adorable addition to the menagerie for five years. So for my daughter’s sake, we are doggedly persisting in emergency room visits, hospital overnights, and four-times-a day critical care feedings via tiny little syringes of healthy green goo mixed with infant Gas-X – really. Picture a smallish furry bowling ball with big ears wrapped in a towel and wriggling like mad as you try to precisely squirt four tubes of mash into her teeny little mouth. And with a diagnosis of GI stasis, we’ve also become hypervigilant, mostly about poop – size (not too tiny), quantity (hopefully, lots) water content (mushy is good, too dry is bad). Has anyone heard her drinking? Has she touched her hay? And how many times has she run on the wheel?

My daughter fell in love with chinchillas, and this one in particular, rather by accident, but who ever came up with the bright idea to have rodents as pets is high on my black list. My friend Helen told me with utmost sincerity, “You’re being a good mum doing all this. It’s really important to your daughter.” Thanks, Helen. $1300 and two weeks of tears and anxiety later, I needed to hear that.