Grown and Flown Talks Technology, Sex and Sexting

Dell Inc. traveled from Texas to Manhattan and created a pop-up workspace and showroom for their laptops and new Dell Venue tablets. They hosted “She Does it With Dell” and invited Grown and Flown to speak to an audience of  parenting bloggers, journalists, and moms. Skai Blue Media managed the event which also featured Stephanie Humphrey and Jamie Krell on the subjects of  technology and fashion.  Our talk? “Technology, Sex and Sexting,” a parenting primer on kids and social media. 

Dell Venue, Grown and Flown

Tonight I’m here to say a few words about parenting and technology…this is what we, at Grown and Flown, refer to as our Sex, Drugs, and Social Media talk.

I am a mom of two kids, a 23-year old recent college graduate son and a 17-year old daughter, a senior in highschool. My Grown and Flown blogging partner, Lisa Heffernan, has two in college and a high school senior, too. Our combined five kids have grown up concurrent with the digital age, and I sprint to try to keep up with what they know and do on social media.

I should be in better shape.

While I have also grappled with the same two big parenting issues my parents did,  how to discuss sex and drugs with kids, this third area –  social media and technology -  created a generation of parenting tech trailblazers. But the truth of the matter is that, as social media platforms constantly evolve, we are all parenting trailblazers when it comes to the subject of technology and our kids.

Grown and Flown, Mary Dell Harrington

When we sit down with our adolescent children to have The Talk, what if the only things we tell them on the subject of sex is  “use protection?” Or say “just say no” to drugs? Would our brevity pass for good parenting? Likewise, we have to do more and say more to our kids than “be careful” when it comes to social media.

Each serious topic  – sex, drugs or social media – obviously requires age-specific discussions and hands-on involvement. Parenting by slogan is just not enough.

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Neither Bad People Nor Bad Parents

Lisa writes: Would you lie for your kid?  Cheat? Steal? My guess is that for most of us there is a point where we would do each of these things.  There are conditions, like famine and war, where we would leave our morals behind and act on our protective instincts to assure our children’s survival. But in real life, the one where we get up and go to work and the kids go to school, most parents, I believe, hold onto their moral compasses acting neither as bad people nor bad parents.

Lisa Heffernan and Jennifer Breheny Wallace

Saturday morning I was on Fox and Friends with guest Jennifer Breheny Wallace, discussing the recent New York Magazine article, “Is Ethical Parenting Possible?”  In Lisa Miller’s article she asserts that,  “Parenthood, like war, is a state in which it’s impossible to be moral. Worse, the moral weakness of parents is always on display, for children bear witness to their incessant ethical hairsplitting.”

Here I have to disagree.  Parenting is not a war, in fact it is the very opposite.  In parenting there is no enemy.  We may feel pressure, but we are not being attacked. There are no short burst of firepower, but rather a sustained multi decade long process of nurturing a helpless infant into a self-sufficient adult.  There are high points and low points but there is certainly no moment when we can claim certain victory and walk away.

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How Parents Ruin Youth Sports…By Obsessing About Winning

Lisa’s story on The Atlantic.com, “Parents Ruin Sports for Their Kids by Obsessing About Winning,”  appears below:

Every sports cliché you can think of, I have uttered: teamwork, respect for the coach, being part of something bigger than yourself, and practice making perfect. But as I look back over a decade and a half watching my sons play youth sports, I have to confess the dirty truth: I wanted to win.  I worked hard, I spent hours in preparation and I wanted to win.  I had organized snacks and brought drinks.  I scrubbed uniforms and cleats.  I drove for miles, arrived an hour early, stood in freezing temperatures, forsaken anything else I might have done with my day. I did not want to return home without a win.

youth sports, youth soccer

The aching desire to win can be seen on the sidelines of competitions even among the youngest participants. Parents pace the sidelines, twitching at every kick or pitch or shot of the ball, shouting exhortations at their children and the team. I have watched parents cover their eyes, unable to watch, such is the stress they feel.  In many cases it becomes clear that it is the parents who want to win. Parents want the dopamine thrill of winning, the heady rush that adults feel with success.  Winning, even for spectators (and the research was done only on males), gives a testosterone surge, and losing actually lowers hormone levels.  As parents we so identify with our kids that their success quickly becomes our own.  As spectators, parents seek confirmation even at the earliest stages that great athletic possibilities exist for their child:  a better team, starting spot, varsity experience or college scholarship.

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The Real Reason I Love Longhorn Football

Mary Dell writes: Fall is my favorite season. Along with the just-turning foliage comes the return of my preferred spectator sport – Longhorn football. My passion stems from the Friday Night Lights elements of my upbringing and the four years I spent in Austin as a student at the University of Texas.  I am a genuine Texas fan and spent many happy game days at DKR – Texas Memorial Stadium.  But the real reason I love Longhorn football is that our son is a big fan, too.  Now a fun and shared pastime, following the sport during his teenage years was more like a lifeline that kept our relationship afloat.

UT Football, Longhorns, college football, UT stadium, Texas Longhorns

While he was in high school, he developed the evasive skills that all teenagers acquire fielding questions from well-meaning neighbors, family members, and perfect strangers. Where do you want to go to college/ have you taken your SATs/ what do you want to major in? Against that backdrop of inquisition, we had moments when our disagreements over studying, tests, and college applications would have made for excellent reality television.

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Cooking for Two in an Empty Nest Kitchen

Mary Dell writes: One of my roles as a mom has been that of chief hunter and gatherer for our family meals. To say I am bored with every single chicken dish that I have placed on the kitchen table over the last two decades is an enormous understatement. With our youngest child a senior in high school, the end is in sight for family dinners as I have known them but a new challenge looms – cooking for two.

Fortunately, Lisa and I had a serendipitous introduction to Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook, when we were all on a terrifying flight  from Chicago back home this summer. Our shared adversity fostered a friendship and, by the time we finally arrived (safely) in New York, we had learned that Katie is not only an amazing writer and cook, but also someone with a steady sense of humor, regardless of the circumstances.  She offered this advice for retooling our empty nest kitchens:  katie workman   chili-636

Dialing the quantities of recipes up or down sometimes feels daunting, but many recipes are highly flexible, and the freezer can become your best friend. Even if you make half of a recipe of turkey chili (a very easily recipe to scale down) you may have more than you need.  Just freeze extra in pint size containers for easy defrosting, and pull them out as you need them. Not only are you not worrying about how to consume the whole pot, but you’ve got another dinner ready to go. Apple Cider Beef Stew is another great candidate, as are most soups and stews, and casseroles (just divide them into two smaller pans and freeze one).

Roasted-Butternut-Squash-63

Also, think of how leftovers can be used in other meals a couple of days later. Extra Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs are a wonderful way to turn a green salad into a real lunch, cooked sausages get crumbled into a pasta, leftover Lemon Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast becomes Turkey Posole Soup.  Making cookies, but don’t want an extra dozen lingering around your kitchen? Freeze half the dough in rolled balls, then transfer them to a zipper top bag with all of the air pressed out, store them in the freezer and defrost and bake them as needed. And don’t forget – your neighbors will always appreciate a little care package!

StruesselApplePie-636 To that we would add, your college kid might actually venture to his post office box if he knows homemade treats awaits for him and his roommates. The cookies that Katie suggests seem perfect!  

Katie Workman is the author of The Mom 100 Cookbook  and the creator of themom100.com blog.  She is also the founding Editor in Chief of Cookstr.com, “the website that shares tested, trusted recipes from cookbooks created by respected chefs and cookbook authors.”

Photo credit: Todd Coleman

Katie Workman and the Empty Nest Kitchen



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Soccer Moms and Dads Misbehaving

Lisa writes: And then there are the jerks…Earlier this week, we sang the praises of parents who have made standing on the sidelines such a joy, but we would be remiss if we failed to mention a few others.  The list of what we are grateful for is long but, examples of soccer moms and dads misbehaving abound.  Here, on the other end of the spectrum, are those parents we will NOT miss:

Soccer Mom

Badmouthers

Soccer moms who say bad things about other’s children, criticizing their play, their abilities or their contributions to the team.  You know who we mean.  There is the dad who grumbles about the amount of playing time someone else’s child receives, or the mom who mumbles biting comments when she thinks she sees a mistake in the play.  When it comes to other people’s children, the rule of thumb is pretty simple, STFU.

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Saying Goodbye to the Sideline

Lisa writes: It is the beginning of the end.  As the cool autumn air descends, Mary Dell and I stand on the sideline for one final season, watching our seniors take to the fields with their respective high school soccer teams. We are breathing in memories from the days when their little legs were so small that their soccer shorts and socks had barely a gap between them. We also recall the final inning home run in third grade and the game-winning touchdown in high school, both straight out of a feel good movie. There were spine-tingling buzzer beaters and heart breaking losses. There were seasons spent mostly on the bench and seasons spent in starring roles.  We remember it all.

Team Sports, sideline parents

As we move from the sidelines of our kids’ games to the sidelines of their lives, still watching, still cheering, but at a distance, it all comes rushing back. We remember terrifying trips to the ER for x-rays or stitches, clutching a child in our arms and wondering, if only for a minute, whether competitive sports really were such a good idea.  There were tears to be wiped, tears of disappointment, frustration, anger or confusion. But, these tears reminded us why our kids play on teams and how many of life’s lessons can be learned on the playing field.  And there was joy, pure exultant joy, the cup-overflowing happiness that comes to a child who has worked and practiced and, with a bit of luck, finds the success they pursued.

We have cheered and consoled.  We have offered first aid and Gatorade. But we have never stood alone.  At our sides stood some of the most wonderful parents we ever hope to meet. Some of these parents were our closest friends, others we might never have crossed paths with and count ourselves lucky that we were able to share a bleacher.

In the spirit of offering our thanks, will be eternally grateful to:

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The More Things Change…

Lisa writes: Growing up in the 1970’s, in a swirl of social change, it was easy to see that the world we would inhabit as adults would be radically altered from that of our childhood.  So far, this has proven to be true. But humans only change so fast and there at things that remain unaltered and leave me wondering why.

vintage-couple1
 

Marriage

Ask a group of married woman what the most important decision of their lives was and a large number will say it was the choice of a spouse.  Yet women wait for men to ask them for their hands in marriage.  We grab the reins of our lives pursuing education and employment and in both we demand to be treated as equals.  And then, we wait…for a ring, for a proposal, for him to make up his mind…and leave this crucial moment in our lives in the hands of men.

Sports

Title IX was passed in 1972, thereby requiring that girls have equal access to athletics from kindergarten through college.  We urge our daughters to participate in sports and stand on the sidelines cheering them on.  And, yet, the audience for and interest in women’s sports is a tiny fraction of that of men’s athletics.  We give women’s sports our money, but not our interest, why?

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Take Your Child To Work Day, In Reverse

Lisa writes: According to The Wall Street Journal, the generation that invented “Take Your Child To Work Day,” is hoping their offspring will return the favor.  An article in the Journal this week discussed the practice among many large companies of involving parents in their child’s employment. And by child, I mean adult.

Corporate giants, like Google and LinkedIn, have held “Take your Parents to Work Day,” a sort of cosmic payback for the generation that so enjoyed the annual rite of taking their kids to work.  One large insurance company invites parents of interns (again, just noting these are adults) to open houses so that they can become familiar and comfortable with their college children’s workplace.

take your child to work day

This is wrong, as they say, on so many levels.

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“Mom, Stop Calling Me”

Lisa writes: The Wall Street Journal published the most recent in a long line of articles in the press berating today’s parents andannie their millennial offspring for remaining over connected as the younger generation emerges into adulthood. In “Mom, Stop Calling, I’ll Text You All Day” the author suggests that millennials should not use modern technology as a way to dump their problems on their parents or constantly seek help.  Mothers should not try to communicate too much with their grown children and families should sit down and establish communications boundaries.  After all, today’s parents spoke to their parents once a week, briefly, by telephone, and as is oft-repeated, that worked out fine for us…or did it?

Once a Week is Not How Humans Have Communicated, Ever.

ShoesAsk anyone over 45 how they communicated with their parents after they left home and out comes a tale of expensive weekly long distance calls, conversations cuts short by cost-conscious parents and the defiant independence that comes with finding yourself young, alone and living in a strange city.

But this weekly calling is a byproduct of the second half of the 20th century and does not square with the rest of human history.  For all of time families have lived in tribes, villages and, later, towns.  They lived in small collectives in which the younger generations saw their elders on an almost daily basis.  Even after families were dispersed it was not unusual for them to write letters on a daily or at least regular basis.  Technology allows us to go back to that village to the regular communication that kept families close.

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Returning to Work After a Career Break: The GOOD News

Carol Fishman Cohen, Co-founder, iRelaunch writes: Regardless of her intent, Judith Warner’s NYT Magazine article “The Mid Career Time Out (Is Over)” is causing readers to conclude that taking a career break leads inevitably to divorce, misery and lower pay.  Not only is this conclusion negative and demoralizing, but it’s not true. Taking a career break most certainly doesn’t mean professional suicide. Returning to work is not easy, so I won’t sugarcoat the issue.  But it is possible.

Returning to work

My business partner Vivian Steir Rabin and I have seen and helped thousands of women (and men) return to work after career breaks ranging from one to 20 years.  We did it ourselves: Vivian after seven years at home with five kids and I after 11 years at home with four kids.

Yet, looking only at the portrayals of the three individuals Warner features, it is easy to understand why readers come away afraid to take career breaks.  While an issue of this importance will not be settled by dueling case studies, they can be instructive.  Our company iRelaunch has compiled hundreds of successful career reentry stories. These stories chronicle just some of the diverse ways people have returned to work after long career breaks, most often happily and with marriages intact.

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Why You Should Blog: A Legacy in Black and White

Lisa writes: There was a time, barely memorable, when we reflected upon our lives through letters and diaries, baby books, scrapbooks and photo albums. Committing our thoughts to paper documented them for both ourselves and posterity. The pace of writing encouraged introspection, but pens are obsolete and for most of us our thoughts remain in our heads or are shared through a stream of emails, texts, tweets and FB posts.

blogging, writing, blog

In my photo albums I have a second grader but in my home, a high school senior. Time has moved on, but until I started writing a blog, my chronicling had not. A blog is a point of personal retrospection, a way to leave something more lasting than a snap chat. This is why you should blog.

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Four Most Dreaded Words for a Stay-at-Home-Mom

What comes to mind when you hear that an educated woman, a woman who once had a burgeoning career, has stepped down to become a stay-at-home-mom?  Really, what do you think?  That she is a great mom?  That she wasn’t really all that successful and found the hidden trap door in the floor?  That she couldn’t hack the pressure of the dual lives that most parents lead?  That she found the best solution for her family?  That somebody’s husband must be doing well or that somebody cannot afford childcare? That you pity her or want to be her?

Today, at The Atlantic, Lisa discusses the question she dreads most of all, “What do you do?” (Photo credit: John Schultz/flickr)

Stay at Home Mom, The Atlantic story on stay at home mom

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BTDT* Moms Talk Best Parenting Practices

Lisa writes: It is easy for us, as moms, to get down on ourselves about our parental transgressions.  All too often we remember the days when we shrieked at our kids for, truly, little more than being kids.  Focusing on our missteps as moms and dads has become almost a national pastime, as we berate ourselves for not being the perfect parent.

While I am happy to leap onto the bandwagon of self-indictment, and admit to more than my share of errors in judgment and practice, I am going to search out the glass half-full here. I have asked a few experienced moms to jump in and, without crowing, just reflect on what went right. Here are eight of their best parenting practices that we can all consider.  After all, as we like to say, parenting never ends.

mom and baby at zoo, a family visits the zoo, elephants at the zoo

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Sally Koslow Writes the Book on Reinvention

Mary Dell writes: Sally Koslow is a friend and was my writing teacher at Sarah Lawrence College.  The story of her success, including the publication this month of The Widow Waltz, and dark moments of her career are an inspiring story of reinvention.  She spills all:

Sally Koslow, Sally Koslow's The Widow Waltz, reinvention, summer fiction

 

From Sally Koslow:

Once upon a time—a long time, 30+ years—I was a magazine editor, the job for which I felt I was born. A shy kid, I learned to manage that handicap as I scaled the consecrated trajectory of high school newspaper editor/college English major/hometown newspaper intern/college town newspaper obit writer/moony poet. By the time I presented my still-reserved Midwestern self to Manhattan’s Conde Nast–which I was too big of a yokel at 21 to realize was the ooh-la-la of publishing companies–I had a fat portfolio of clippings. They helped land a job at Mademoiselle, a powder puff-y magazine with a literary edge: Sylvia Plath had once been a guest editor and the masthead prided itself on back-in-the-day, publishing the likes of Truman Capote and W.H. Auden and at the moment, Barbara Kingsolver and Jane Smiley.

In the 70s intense female ambition hadn’t yet reared its feverish head. No one expected to reach the top fast. Or ever. This allowed me to loll around MLLE until after having a child at 28, I became a freelance writer. When my son was four I returned to another magazine staff and began to rise in various ranks until McCall’s anointed me as its editor-in-chief in 1994.

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