Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: July 19, 2022

Don't worry about the Disney princess effect, a win for flying families, and more

1

Don't worry about the Disney princess effect

Will watching Disney movies full of princesses with ridiculous body proportions harm your daughter? Probably not, writes Emily Oster in ParentData. Or at least, there's little evidence suggesting as much. One study found that, when given a box of costumes, girls preferred to dress up in princess outfits, but it's not clear from the study that doing so is harmful. Other research suggests girls who engage with princess media display more gender-typical behaviors and attitudes, but the direction of causality is unclear. Encouragingly, one randomized controlled trial of young girls found that princess media exposure had no effect on body image. In sum, Oster writes, "I do not see anything in the data that would suggest your child will be less successful if they like Disney princesses, although we'd likely do well to remind them as they age into puberty that princess proportions are not for people."

2

A win for flying families

The U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) is urging airlines to do "everything in their power" to make sure parents can sit with their kids at no extra cost, citing complaints from parents who were separated from children as young as 11 months old, reports Jen McGuire in Romper. Families that do manage to sit together often have to pay for the privilege, especially on low-cost flights that charge for seating reservations. Airlines now have four months to update their seating policies, at which point the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) will conduct a review of their policies and consumer complaints. "If airlines' seating policies and practices are barriers to a child sitting next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult family member, the Department will consider additional action consistent with its authorities," the DOT notice says.

3

At mealtimes, give 'Division of Responsibility' a try

It's normal for parents to worry about their child's diet, but micromanaging it isn't a great idea, writes Michelle Hainer in Parents. Instead, nutrition experts recommend the "Division of Responsibility" approach to child nutrition, "where parents provide a variety of mostly healthy foods to their kids at designated times, and the kids themselves decide what and how much they want to consume — even if that means occasionally eating more cookies than carrots," explains Hainer. This method allows children to listen to their hunger cues, while exposing them to the natural consequences of their decisions. As a result, children can learn to make better food choices on their own. "Some kids just like food more and they eat more," says psychologist Charlotte Markey, "Saying, 'No, you can't have any more' isn't going to solve that, so it's better to let them figure out that eating six cookies will make you feel awful."

4

Addition by subtraction

When it comes to parenting, less is more, writes Rachel Fairbank in Lifehacker. "For most of human history, the main problem of raising kids was dealing with scarcity, which required additive solutions: more food, more shelter." But the impulse to seek "additive solutions" is at odds with modern realities, where we usually have enough to meet our basic needs. Today, "subtractive problem-solving" is often more effective. Shifting to a subtractive mindset takes some effort; it can be very difficult to let your child whine about boredom, make mistakes on their homework or handle playground tiffs on their own. "But as uncomfortable as it is to step back, doing so will help them in the long run, while also saving your sanity," writes Fairbank.

5

Let's call chemical pregnancies what they are

When someone miscarries very early, before the fetus shows up on an ultrasound, it's common to refer to the loss as a "chemical pregnancy," but it shouldn't be, writes Elizabeth Sherman in Romper. Most people probably don't use the term maliciously, of course, but by refusing to call a chemical pregnancy what it is — a miscarriage — we risk minimizing the grief that comes along with one. "It feels more truthful to use a word that places me within a community of people in all stages of miscarriage recovery: those who think about their losses every day, who aren't over it and never will be, who went on to have rainbow babies, and those who didn't," writes Sherman.

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