The week's best parenting advice: June 15, 2021

The rise of the 'cool' grandma, parental slang from across the world, and more

A backpack.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

1. The 'cool' grandma

A recent survey from The Good Housekeeping Institute found that nearly 70 percent of today's grandparents consider themselves "cooler" than their own grandparents. In some ways, that's true. They're more open minded when it comes to multiculturalism, gender fluidity, and LGBTQ+ issues. But the modern grandparent has plenty of 21st-century concerns. For example, screentime is a major point of contention — many of today's grandparents think their grandchildren are getting too much of it. But so is discipline. "Grandparents wish that parents were firmer, particularly when it comes to manners, respect, and learning the value of money," reports Kate Stone Lombardi at Good Housekeeping. Boomer and Gen X grandparents also worry about parental over-involvement. "They don't remember so closely monitoring their own children's sleep, food or social life," Stone Lombardi says.

Good Housekeeping

2. Parenting slang from across the globe

"Different countries have their own parenting styles – and their own, often sexist, slang to match," observes 1843 Magazine, which put together an insightful list of such parenting terminologies and buzzwords from across the globe. The list goes beyond "helicopter parent" and includes such unusual terms as: "curling-eltern," German for "curling parents" — parents who "sweep" away their kid's problems by way of "lending a judicious hand with homework, or defusing playground conflicts"; "yazhemat," what Russians call a mother who "demands special treatment" just because she has children; and "l'enfant roi," which translates literally as "the child king" and is used in France to describe a child who is demanding, which is apparently considered unusual in France, where "kids are expected to obey their parents and exhibit self-control," explains 1843's Pamela Druckerman. "Left unchecked," she warns, "the enfant roi may turn into the enfant tyran: a child tyrant who uses violence to enforce their will."

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1843 Magazine

3. Toddler, meet baby

Introducing a toddler to a new sibling can be tough, but there are a handful of tips and tricks for making the transition easier on everyone. "One of the potentially hardest parts about the process for them may be the actual day of the baby's birth because they'll be separated from you for hours or days," writes Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. She spoke with child psychiatrist Helen Egger, chief medical officer of Little Otter, who recommends parents pack a "birth bag" for their older kid at the same time they're packing their own hospital bags. Fill it with special things — favorite books, a new toy, a note from mom or dad — so they're surprised and delighted on the big day. And if your toddler completely ignores their new sibling after the birth, don't fret, says Moravcik Walbert. This is just a mechanism for coping with the big change of having to suddenly share mom and dad. "Setting aside even five or 10 minutes a day to give them your undivided attention can go a long way in providing that reassurance," Moravcik Walbert says.


4. Making time for rest

We hear about burnout a lot these days — mostly referring to that bone-deep exhaustion that riddles the overworked employee. But kids can get burnout, too, says Emma Sutton-Williams at Parents, especially after a year of in-home learning. Kids need time to rest, but parents may need to pencil this into the schedule to make sure it happens. In other words, encourage and enforce breaks. Hopefully it will become a habit for your child. "My father gave me a day planner to teach me self-discipline and structure," Sutton-Williams recalls. "It became freeing when I learned to plan in downtime between my studies. Penciling rest into my routine allowed me to remain guilt-free when enjoying rest or playing with friends because I accomplished my goals one step at a time."


5. The case against play

Edan Lepucki doesn't like to play — "especially pretend, or anything with dolls or figures, or any games that ask me to hide or wield a Nerf gun" — which could be a problem seeing as how she has three young children. At first, she tried to force herself to play with her firstborn, but found she was a "terrible playmate, a tired mother who did little beyond obstructing." And so, when her son turned three, she embarked on an experiment to see how long he could play by himself. It worked. "I realized his fictive worlds were vivid enough to continue without me," she writes at The New York Times. Now all three of her children play "without stodgy parental interference," and everyone is happier. "When my kids and I stop doing our own things and come together, it's because we want to. The activities we do together offer all of us pleasure; we opt in and because of this, we actually have fun."

The New York Times

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Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a writer and former deputy editor of The Week Digital. Originally from the American Midwest, she completed a degree in journalism at Indiana University Bloomington before relocating to New York City, where she pursued a career in media. After joining The Week as an intern in 2010, she served as the title’s audience development manager, senior editor and deputy editor, as well as a regular guest on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. Her writing has featured in other publications including Popular Science, Fast Company, Fortune, and Self magazine, and she loves covering science and climate-related issues.