Monday, September 26, 2011

Kids, parents, and stress: It's all connected. Plus: The Roundup

You may think you're doing a good job of shielding your kids from your anxiety and stress. But research shows that your children are probably picking up on it anyway—and it's affecting them, physically and emotionally, more than you could imagine.

Last week, I talked with David Code, the author of "To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First," about his new book, "Kids Pick Up on Everything." Research shows that kids can "catch" their parents' stress, overloading their systems until they act out or exhibit mental and physical illness, he says. "Stress is highly contagious between parent and child, even if the parent is unaware of his or her own anxiety."

I also chatted with parenting expert Lori Lite, a mother of three, author, and founder of the "Stress Free Kids," who told me that she believes that children can feel their parents stress and be adversely affected by it. "Children that do not know how to manage stress in a healthy manner will see it manifest in other areas like overeating, headaches, even anger," she says.

You can read my interviews with both experts over at Shine: "Can your kids catch your stress?" 'The research is fascinating and troublesome, but there is hope: By reducing your own stress levels, you can help to reduce your child's.

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Things have gotten busy—so much so that I can't keep up with my posts at WriteEditRepeat! So let's try something new (for me): Every Monday, I'll try to posti highlights of what I worked on the week before. Here's what you may have missed last week:

On Shine:

On Work It, Mom!:

On Savvy Source for Parents
On 4 Kids or More

In The Boston Globe

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A great deal at Life is Good

Life is Good, purveyors of all things positive, is holding their second-annual Life is Good music festival this weekend, at Prowse Farm in Canton, Mass. I went last year, husband and kids in tow, and I have to say that it was one of the best kid-friendly events I've ever attended (and I do a lot of kid-friendly stuff). Watching parents hoist their children onto their shoulders and pogo along with They Might Be Giants was one of my favorite parts; when they started singing "Istanbul, not Constantinople," my then-3-year-old turned to me with a look that said, "WHY have you not played this for me before?!?" Hours later, New Orleans Jazz great Trombone Shorty leaped off the stage and walked through the cheering crowd, playing "When the Saints Come Marching In." My kids still talk about how amazing it was.

This year, the festival is on Sept. 24 and 25 (this weekend!), and if you've been waiting to buy tickets, now is the time: Use the links below to get 50 percent off the price of admission.

2 DAY:

All profits go to benefit the Life is Good Playmakers, a foundation that helps kids overcome life-threatening challenges.

This year, the line-up on the kids' stage is the same on Saturday as it is on Sunday: Ben Rudnick and Friends, Keller Williams, The Laurie Berkner Band, and the Imagination Movers. But my kids are holding out for Michael Franti and Spearhead and the Avett Brothers on Saturday and The Boston Pops, Maceo Parker, and Ray LaMontagne on Sunday. (You can find the entire schedule of performers for both days here.)

Doors open at 11 a.m., and the first bands go on at 11:45 a.m. There'll be plenty of other things to do as well, from low-key backyard games to arts and crafts to rock climbing. For more details, go to

Hope to see you there, rain or shine!

(This post was not sponsored by Life is Good. I just like them a lot.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Traveling to the Far East (without leaving Boston)

Please join me over at, where every other week I'll be writing about things to do with your kids in and around Boston. First up, exploring the Far East without leaving the Boston area. Here's a taste:
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is much more family-friendly than one might think, and has an extensive collection of Asian artifacts, including Chinese painting and calligraphy, Himalayan artwork, prints and postcards, and Japanese arms and armor. A dimly lit room filled with Japanese Buddhist art is a quiet place to contemplate the meaning of life (or just give your kids a chance to chill out). To get there, take the T -- the Green Line's "E" train takes you right to the door. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. every day, and stays open until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Admission is free for kids under age 6 (strollers are allowed, baby backpacks are not but can be coat-checked), kids age 7 to 17 are free on weekdays after 3:00 p.m. and on weekends and school holidays ($10 at other times), and adults are $22.
Read the rest here: Around the World Without Leaving Boston.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy National Step Families Day! On being happy in a blender

The thing about having a big blended family is that you’re always juggling—not just career vs. parenthood, or being a parent vs. being a spouse vs. being yourself, but ideals and misconceptions and expectations about family life as well. Step mothers, in particular, don't get a lot of positive press, and the unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves can be a recipe for failure.

September 16 is National Step Family Day, and I was fortunate to be able to celebrate a few weeks early, during one of those now-rare times when all five of our kids are in the same place at the same time. We didn't do anything fancy; in fact, I don't think anyone else knew I was celebrating. But I savored every second of our time together—something that comes easily to me now that I've let go of my expectations about the way things "should" be. There's a lot more to be happy about when you're not wasting energy worrying about what you can't control.

If you're a step parent, here are a few posts that might be of interest:

On being a step mother on mother's day

Are you a working step mom?

What do you call a step parent?

Step parenting mistakes, challenges, and advice from three experts

Remarried with children: What role should your child have in your wedding?

Blending isn't easy: An expert offers help for stepparents

I also write about having a big, blended family in my first post at the newly launched 4 Kids or More, a fantastic resource for people living in a large family, no matter how theirs was created. Read "When Your Big Family is a Blended Family," and stay tuned for more... I'll be writing about careers and passions (work related ones!) over there every week.

Happy Step Family Day! How are you honoring your experience in a blended family?

Monday, September 12, 2011

They're famous, but did you know they're heroes?

The gossip sites and tabloids are quick to point things out whenever a celebrity has a personal crisis or a wardrobe malfunction, but the good things they've done tend to fly under the radar—especially when it wasn't part of a publicity event. Over at Yahoo! Shine I took a look at a dozen stars who have done things that shine off the screen as well.

You probably heard about how Kate Winslet ran back into a burning building to save British billionaire Richard Branson's 90-year-old mother from the flames, but did you know that Harrison Ford uses his own helicopter to help out search-and-rescue teams in Wyoming? (How cool would it be to be saved by Indiana Jones!) Or that the same year Tom Cruise starred in "Mission: Impossible" he saved people's lives not once, but three different times? Click here to read all about 'em: Ryan Gosling (and other celebrities) to the rescue! Heroic stars in action.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jesus is the most-popular guy on Facebook

Photo: Facebook.comJustin Bieber may have more fans on Facebook, but Jesus Christ gets more engagement, according to, a site that tracks Facebook traffic. Or, at least, his words and wisdom inspire plenty of interaction, which is one metric by which social-media mavens measure popularity.

The Facebook page for Jesus Daily—where Dr. Aaron Tabor of Kernersville, N.C., posts Bible verses, religious artwork, news, and inspirational messages—has spent 18 weeks in the number one spot for engagement, which includes the number of posts, likes, and comments a page receives.

"I just started it as a hobby," Tabor, 41, told ABC News. He also runs a diet business, which has a separate Facebook page. "I looked at a friend’s page and there was a little Bible app at the bottom, and I thought people would want something more."

You can read more about Tabor and his site over at Yahoo! Shine: "The most-engaging guy on Facebook? Jesus."

Friday, September 2, 2011

5 great alternatives to JC Penney's "I'm too pretty to do homework" shirt

Early Wednesday, after angry parents took to social media and started petitions to complain, JC Penney pulled from it's stores and website a back-to-school T-Shirt that read: "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me."

I wrote reported the story for on Wednesday afternoon and, 7,075 comments later, opinions are still clearly divided. Plenty of readers were outraged, saying that the shirt was sexist and demeaning. But just as many felt that it was a joke blown out of proportion by politically correct parents who needed to lighten up. "Honestly. Anyone seeing a problem with this shirt should just not purchase it," one Yahoo user named Krissy wrote.