Air Talk Discussion on NPR: Platonic Co-Parenting: A Helping Hand With Your Biological Clock

Co-parenting sites like Modamily and PollenTree offer matching services where users can find potential parental partners.

According to the Wall Street Journal, co-parenting sites, such as Modamily and PollenTree, offer matching services where users can find potential parental partners to raise a child with. Users are encouraged to vet and become extensively acquainted with one another to find a partner (or more than one) who is equally committed to raising a child without necessarily the expectation of romantic love or sex. The co-parenting trend and the nascent industry around it is largely made up of professionals who thought they might be ready for children by their early 30’s, but kept pushing that plan back, says Modamily founder Ivan Fatovic. LGBTQ and straight adults approaching 40 years old who still want to be parents, but need a hand with child rearing and don’t want to risk putting a child through divorce, are turning to this idea to start families, Fatovic says.NPR Link

Fresh Air 'Boys & Sex' Reveals That Young Men Feel 'Cut Off From Their Hearts'

Author Peggy Orenstein knows that talking to your son about sex isn't easy: "I know for a lot of parents, you would rather poke yourself in the eye with a fork than speak directly to your son about sex — and probably he would rather poke himself in the eye with a fork as well," she says.

But we don't have "the luxury" to continue avoiding this conversation, she says. "If we don't talk to our kids, the media is going to educate them for us, and we are not going to love the result."

Orenstein spent 25 years chronicling the lives of adolescent and teen girls and never really expected to focus on boys. But then came the #MeToo movement, and Orenstein, whose previous books include Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter, decided it was time to engage young men in conversations about gender and intimacy.

Her new book, Boys & Sex, is based on extensive interviews with more than 100 college and college-bound boys and young men of diverse backgrounds between the ages of 16 and 22.

Close up low section of two girls sitting side by sidehttps://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/29/472211301/girls-sex-and-the-importance-of-talking-to-young-women-about-pleasure

Why We Aren't The Parents We Know We Could Be

Listen to NPR Story by Tania Lombrozo


Most parents I know suffer from occasional — or constant — eruptions of parental self-judgment: moments when they feel they fall short of being the parents they could be. There's a gap between what they know about effective parenting (in the abstract) and what actually happens in everyday practice — in the car, in the supermarket, in the living room.

As a psychology professor, I suffer from a particularly acute form of this affliction. On one level, I know a lot about human cognition and child development. I've published papers and taught courses on material relevant to parenting, if not on parenting itself. The principles of learning that I cover in Cognitive Psychology 101, for example, apply equally well to rats pulling levers and to toddlers sharing toys. So I thought I might have some special advantage when it came to raising my own kids — a leg up, compared to most parents, on how to encourage good behavior, if nothing else.


Three-and-a-half years into my own private practicum in parenting, I'm not so naive anymore.

Of course, there are all sorts of reasons why "knowing better" doesn't always translate into "doing better": we're busy and exhausted, we're lazy and set in our ways. Plus, it isn't always obvious when and how the abstract applies to the concrete. But it turns out that one of the most important lessons from psychology about how to change children's behavior is also the key to why knowledge of better parenting is rarely enough to make us better parents.

The lesson is this: to encourage a behavior, you need to generate the best conditions for it to arise and then reinforce the heck out of it. Merely knowing what you should do is often insufficient to reliably bring the behavior about and merely knowing doesn't offer much in the way of reinforcement.

To back all that up with authority and anecdote, consider the following passage from psychologist Alan Kazdin and writer Carlo Rotella's book on parenting:

"Don't believe that knowing and doing are necessarily related. A lot of parents tell me something like 'My child needs to know that such behavior will not be tolerated in this house.' That is fine as a statement, and I expect that your child, if she's old enough to discuss it, knows the rule. But knowing and understanding the rule by itself will not lead to your child changing the behavior."

"Bottom line: to teach knowing and understanding, talk about the rules, especially when everyone is calm. Look for opportunities to point out examples of following the rules if you see something on TV, in a store, at the mall. Say to your child, 'Look how that boy is playing so nicely with his baby sister.' But bear in mind that none of the above will be sufficient to get the behavior you want."

"Don't confuse ways of imparting knowledge with ways of changing behavior. Imparting knowledge is a useful first step, but the first step by itself does not get up the stairs to the behavior you want." [Line breaks and emphasis are mine. —TL]

The upshot is that if you're hoping to change children's behavior, you need to do more than communicate your expectations.

So what will change children's behavior?

Kazdin and Rotella advocate what they call "reinforced practice" and "positive opposites." In brief, you can encourage desired behaviors by repeatedly eliciting them (or their successive approximations) and reinforcing them as soon as they happen, and you can eliminate undesirable behaviors by reinforcing the positive behaviors you want to replace them with. (See, I wasn't kidding about rats and levers.) Punishment in some forms has its time and its place, but it's rarely effective, and it's rarely the best choice.

These principles don't just apply to kids and to rats. If you want to change your own behavior, exactly the same ideas apply. So if you're hoping to become a better parent, you need to do more than learn some psychology or skim through some parenting books.

As adults we don't have the advantage of benevolent, parental overlords engineering our environments, but we still have some options. For example, psychologist Laurie Santos and philosopher Tamar Gendler, in a short essay at Edge.org rejectingthe idea that "knowing is half the battle," write:

"The lesson of much contemporary research in judgment and decision-making is that knowledge — at least in the form of our consciously accessible representation of a situation — is rarely the central factor controlling our behavior. The real power of online behavioral control comes not from knowledge, but from things like situation selection, habit formation, and emotion regulation. This is a lesson that therapy has taken to heart, but one that 'pure science' continues to neglect."

In other words, we can try to change our own environments to trigger and reinforce the right behaviors, work on making those behaviors routine, and change the way we construe situations — if not the situations themselves — to change the way we feel and the way we act. For instance, construing a toddler's misbehavior as deliberate provocation will likely elicit a different emotional response (and different parental behavior) from construing the same misdeed as the little tyke's exploration of her social world — an experiment in figuring out how you work.

So knowledge is critical, but it's only a first step. And becoming a better parent requires mastering techniques for changing your child's behavior, but also for changing your own.

When it comes to my children, I know that punishment is rarely effective. I try — with varying degrees of success — to implement strategies like reinforced practice and positive opposites. Now I'm trying to do the same for myself. After all, unconstructive self-judgment is itself a form of punishment and not a very effective one. Instead, I'm trying to create circumstances for better parenting, and to pat myself on the back when I pull it off. I can't control how much I'm judged by others. But I can begin to change how much I judge myself.

So here's to less self-judgment, and to more self-reinforcement ... when we manage to pull the right levers.


How to Help Your Toddler With Custody Transitions

The instability and uncertainty of a divorce can hamper a toddler’s need for routine.  When parents separate, new rituals and routines need to be created to foster a child’s sense of security and family.

Anyone who has had children will remember the terrible twos: the domineering behavior, inflexibility, stubbornness, extreme emotions, indecision, and the need for things to be done just in a certain way.  Characteristic behavior of toddlers is well described by the authors of the classic child development study Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from the Gessel Institute of Human Development.  A child at two and a half years old gives orders and wants exactly what they want when they want it.  If a toddler decides "Mommy do it" they will not accept Daddy as a substitute. If they decide "me do it" then no-one is allowed to help them no matter how difficult the task.  In Child Behavior the authors describe this phase as one of "disequilibrium" where toddlers find it very difficult to adapt to change, and crave structured domestic routines. These rituals make toddlers feel safe and secure. The rigid sequences of events and rituals can be as elaborate and impenetrable as a Japanese tea ceremony.  

It is important in the context of divorce that a very young child’s inclination toward ritual and routine should not automatically be misinterpreted as a preference for one parent over another.  In fact, divorce is an opportunity for both parents to help the toddler to create new rituals and routines to ease transitions and give the toddler a sense of comfort and stability.

Crankiness, irritability, defiance, signs of regression, clinginess toward one parent, and physical resistance to the other parent are common patterns displayed by toddlers when parents separate.  In their book, In The Name of The Child, Janet Johnston and Vivienne Roseby describe how parents can develop collaborative strategies to ease transitions between parent's households using rituals and routines.  (read more


For more information on child custody please call Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell - Certified Family Law Specialist at (310)247-9913 or visit our website LA Family Law or visit our FAQs on Child Custody

The Economist's Guide to Parenting

"An entire roundtable of economists to talk about a great many elements of child-rearing, with one essential question in mind: how much do parents really matter, and in what dimensions? So you’ll hear about parents’ effect on everything from education and culture cramming to smoking and drinking."  Listen here.

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Keeping Kids safe

I went to a great presentation from Pattie from Safely Ever After about how to keep our kids safe from predators. Dispelled the myth of the stranger danger and explained that most kids are at the most risk from people we know. See her 10 rules for keeping kids safe. Harrowing story about a real life incident with the local ice cream man. But then I've never trusted the ice cream man. Ice cream men, school PE teachers and shopping mall santas. Then it got me gthinking about megan's law so I decided to check it out myself and see who is living in the neighborhood Megans site. Wow! Fortunately none very close but it was still a shocker. Los Angeles Family Law