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...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Just the description in a Joanna Weiss’s Globe editorial today brought tears to my eyes. It’s a heartwarming 25-second video called “A Needed Response” by University of Oregon sophomore Samantha Stendahl that beautifully counteracts the “rape culture” of the Steubenville, Ohio tragedy, responding to the assumption that a young girl’s victimization was simply the unfortunate by-product of underage drinking and partying, as much the victim’s fault as the perpetrators. Stendahl’s video, now up to almost a million and a half views, shows a girl sprawled on a couch and a boy with a mischievous grin saying, “Hey, bros, check who passed out on the couch. Guess what I’m going to do to her?” He then puts a pillow under her head, covers her with a blanket, places a cup of tea next to her, and gently pulls her hair out of her face before turning back to the camera to say, “Real men treat women with respect.” This brief vignette with its pithy little tag line encapsulated what I’ve been telling my two daughters since early childhood – treat people with respect, and expect to be treated in kind. It seems so simple, so commonsensical that we instill in our children the basic values of human dignity and kindness. How has that gotten so lost along the way?

Sunday, March 10, 2013


When the top golfer in the world Rory McIlroy walked off the course in the middle of the Honda Classic not too long ago, he caused quite the kerfluffle. While he tried to excuse his surrender to the pain of a severe toothache, critics suspected he gave up due to his dismal early performance. In his Boston Globe column, “Etiquette at Work,” Peter Post makes the excellent point that McIlroy compounded the bad example of quitting mid-tournament by trying later to excuse it, rather than simply owning up to the unprofessional behavior (which, to his credit, McIlroy later did). Post suggests three steps for handling situations in which we have made a mistake, steps that can be invaluable advice to children as well, and to which I’ve added a some thoughts of my own:

1) Admit the mistake and apologize.
2) Take responsibility and try to address some kind of restitution, if possible.
3) Take a moment to consider what can be learned from the mistake.
4) Move on and commit to do better.

Reframing mistakes as opportunities from which to learn and grow can help kids – and adults – internalize the power of acceptance, resilience and fortitude. As James Joyce said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I just got back from a “Good Work Conference” on “Developing Responsible, Caring, & Balanced Youth,” where I sat on a panel exploring empathy. What is empathy and how do we foster it in our children? Moderator Richard Weissbourd noted that while one of the standard definitions of empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it might not be empathy unless some moral value is attached. For example, salesmen and con men are often quite adept at being able to see things from another’s perspective, but if that only leads to manipulation as opposed to a sense of genuine emotional kinship, it’s not necessarily what we are looking to foster. (He mentioned how kids persuade one another to have sexual activity by knowing the right buttons to push.)