Bristol Palin vs Lady Gaga

May 20, 2010

Warning: most of this article is opinion.  My opinion.  Take it for what its worth.

Bristol Palin has been offered a very lucrative deal as a public speaker, raking in $15-30K per speaking engagement to talk about teen pregnancy!  Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?  Surely we can find a better role model for today’s young women!  I know!  Lady Gaga!

Enter Bristol Palin. Bristol’s accomplishments in life so far include:

  1. graduating high school,
  2. being the daughter of a vice presidential candidate,
  3. becoming a teen pregnancy statistic,
  4. and enduring a nasty and public custody battle and a broken engagement with the father.
  5. All this before she was old enough to drink!

Uhhh…..did I miss something?  Bristol Palin is not a hero.  She is a statistic. I pass no judgement on her until she becomes willing to walk into my daughter’s school as a paid speaker and talk values / life skills.  Her choice to earn money this way is an insult to the professionals out there actually trying to reduce teen pregnancy and help teen girls become successful women.

Enter Lady Gaga. A truly controversial public figure, her videos are risqué, she is openly bisexual, and she’s now accused of hindering the Mideast Peace Process! What better contrast could we possibly get?

  1. Lady Gaga started piano at age 4, wrote her first ballad at 13, and started performing open mikes at 14.  At 17, she was accepted into NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
  2. When Lady Gaga felt she outgrew the school, she left.  She made a deal with her parents to go on her own for a year or go back to school. In her words: “I left my entire family, got the cheapest apartment I could find, and ate shit until somebody would listen.” (as a small business owner I respect that)
  3. Lady Gaga is successful!  Her music has topped charts around the world. She accomplished what she set out to do!
  4. Lady Gaga is living openly with her sexuality, is comfortable in her own skin, and is a confident woman in the world.
  5. Most of what she has, she earned herself.  And she has been generous and charitable to others in need.
  6. To be fair, Lady Gaga has allegedly had a drug problem, something I could not endorse or overlook. But then, Lady Gaga isn’t taking in money speaking to kids about her drug use.  She isn’t being rewarded for hypocrisy.

So who’s the better role model?  The teen statistic that is getting paid ridiculous money to say she’s sorry?  Or the current symbol of America’s lost soul?  Lady Gaga’s story is mostly a success story of a self-made person.  Bristol Palin’s is not.

Let me be clear:  I’m not elevating Lady Gaga up as a symbol for all girls to emulate.  I’m calling out a hypocrite where I see one: Bristol Palin.

As a Daddy, I have to.

Is it the school, or me?

May 9, 2010

So the Highlander has developed some bad habits lately. He says “no” as a first response to everything. He fights. He hits. I’m not having any luck calming the tantrums. He won’t go to bed, he won’t fall asleep. He throws a fit every time I drop him off at school. We walked home from school the other day, and he cried most of the way. He says that he can’t do things that he and I both know that he can do. He won’t listen, and rule enforcement or punitive measures, such as taking away a toy, inevitably lead to tantrums.

It’s incredibly challenging, and I’m struggling with the empathic parenting thing. I’m pulled between about five emotions, being furious with him, wanting to comfort him, not wanting to validate his outbursts, confusion, and of course self-doubt.

And part of me wants to blame some of this on his school, because the school keeps changing teachers, and because all of these problems really got started with the new school, and they’ve only gotten worse. Also, he doesn’t want to go to sleep because he doesn’t want to go to school.

Of course, he’s also three, so that could be part of the problem problem right there.

When I try to teach students to problem solve, I usually give them three basic ideas to focus on. The first idea is SSP, Solve a Simpler Problem. In computer science, what that usually means is that you can’t code the whole program all at once, you have to break the program into components, break the components into components, and then start thinking about writing some code. If I applied that to my current dilemma, I would say that I have a number of problems to solve, and only some of those problems involve the Highlander.

The first is to decide how I’m going to react to tantrums. Yes, once the situation has hit tantrum, it’s gone critical, and yes, if I were a better parent, I might be able to avoid most tantrums. But I don’t think that it is realistic to think that I’m going to be able to start this process by eliminating tantrums! And it’s the simplest problem to solve, really, because it isn’t about anything but my own state.

This decision has to be made in concert with my co-parent, Grrl, which means that I had better have some evidence based thinking on my side before I come up with a proposal. Nothing annoys Grrl more than half-baked, constantly mutating position statements or fuzzy plans.

But in order to decide how to react to a tantrum, I need data. What is a tantrum? Is it an attempt to get what he wants? That wouldn’t make sense, tantrums never get him what he wants, at least not at home. I’m slipping into viewing it that way, though, which means I’m starting to revert to the oppositional style of parenting that I’m accustomed to. Some of the literature (PDF) suggests that toddler temper tantrums are expressions of outrage, not manipulation. He isn’t trying to change my behavior, he’s protesting my behavior. That actually makes a certain amount of sense.

And it also explains why there is currently a lot of focus on emotional intelligence and emotion coaching. The idea of emotion coaching is to teach a child to self-regulate their emotional responses by labeling and discussing emotional states. This is considered to be an essential life skill.

So what’s the upshot of all this reading that I’ve done while writing this blog post? What have I learned, and what am I going to suggest to Grrl? What’s my solution to the simpler problem?

Stay calm. Stop what I’m doing if I can. Talk to my kid about how he is feeling, and why.

It’s so easy to forget the simple rules when you start viewing parenting as a battlefield instead of an opportunity.

Option Three

April 29, 2010

My boss has a knack for finding a third option when you present him with what you thought were two mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive options.  This third option often involves more work, but a better payoff in the end. This knack has got him to where he is today, president of a successful mid-sized company.

When parenting a disagreeable child, it’s all too easy to fall into the two-option trap — to consider that your only options are YOUR way or your CHILD’S way.

The other night, The Little Skeptic Boy was completely unfocused on getting ready for bed.  This is not atypical, so my frustration was not only due to the events of that night, but also represented the compounded frustration of many nights like this.  His delays meant that now, despite my many warnings that this would happen, we would be unable to read The Lightning Thief once he got into bed — there just wasn’t enough time anymore.  This was not well-received by the LSB.

Soon, we arrived at a standoff: the LSB defiantly laying on the couch, arms crossed, legs locked, saying “I’m not getting ready for bed unless you tell me we’ll get to read Percy Jackson”, and me standing over him, in a similar pose, saying in an annoyed voice, “I’m sorry, there’s no time for that now, you need to just do your chores and get in bed.  At this point, I don’t think there’s time to read anything.”

This standoff continued for a little while, and there was a very real danger of me and the LSB turning into the North-Going Zax and the South-Going Zax (or Arthur Dent and the bulldozer, if you prefer).

Fortunately, somewhere in the back of my head, someone dug into my memory banks and pulled out a couple of tidbits.

The first was an interview we had done on the Podcast Beyond Belief with Dr. Christine Carter, who wrote the book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.  One of the things she talked about on the podcast (Episode 5, by the way) was to just take a moment and breathe.  If you just take a moment and breathe when you’re ready to fly off the handle, you’re already ahead.

So I breathed. And my pose relaxed a little.

And I also remembered what she had said about children feeling small when they are disciplined, and how feeling small can lead to a worse outburst, spiraling out of control.  I looked down at the Little Skeptic Boy, and behind the crossed arms, the locked legs, and the furrowed brow, I saw someone feeling very small.  Getting mad at him would only make him feel smaller and entrench him further.

Then I remembered my boss, he who magically pulls third options out of a hat.  And I thought If he can find third choices, why can’t I?

It doesn’t always have to be about MY way or HIS way.  This is definitely not about winning and losing.  My goal is to get LSB to bed at a decent hour with a minimum of disruption.  Can that goal still be met without making him feel like a second-class citizen?  Can we find a way where he is willing to do what he needs to do without feeling like he was buffaloed into it?

I unlocked my arms, got down on my knee next to the couch so I wasn’t towering over him anymore.  I put my arm around his shoulder.  Just in that motion, I saw him relax his stance a little.

“I know you’re sad about not reading Percy Jackson tonight,” I said, “but maybe we should read some of that Star Wars book you got from the school library.  It’s due back in a couple days, isn’t it?”

His arms uncrossed.  His legs relaxed and bent.  His forehead was no longer etched with Valles Marineris.

He said, “Or we could read the LEGO book about the Mistlands Tower.”

I smiled.  ”That’s a good one.  Let’s go.”

And just like that, it was over.  We walked down the hall together, and he finished his chores, kissed his mother goodnight, hopped into bed, and we read that book instead.  You’d think that’s where this little story would end, right?


For a few weeks now, he’s been wanting to go to sleep with the main light on in his room.  OK, no problem there (we switch it off after he’s asleep), but lately he’s used that opportunity to get up and read more books or play with toys — everything except go to sleep.  So I’ve been trying to encourage him to go back to having the main light off (there’s plenty of light without it, don’t worry).

So we finish reading, I kiss him goodnight, and suggest that maybe the light should be off.  He protests.  ”It’s just too dark without it.  It’s scary.”

“How about this?” I say.  I switch the light off and head towards the bed.  I climb into bed with him and hug him again.  ”How about I stay in here with you until you’re asleep.  Would that work?”

He smiles.  ”Okay.”

Score two wins for “Option Three”.  We each gave up a little.  He gave up on the Percy Jackson book and on the light, but still got his main needs met: he got to read something, and he got to feel safe while falling asleep.  I gave up on my stance that it was too late to read anything, and I gave a little of my time while he fell asleep, but I still got my needs met: I got my child into bed and asleep without further disruption.

And as a bonus, I got to watch him fall asleep.

You can’t beat that.

…Rob T. knows how much damage this bulldozer would sustain if I just let it roll over you.

open and closed

April 13, 2010

Saturday night at about 10PM, I was trying to get the family into the car for a very long road trip. I wasn’t tired yet, but I was definitely cranky, and the Highlander did not want to leave. He wanted to stay, because we were visiting his cousins, and he was having a lot of fun.

So I trotted out the empathy. “I know you don’t want to leave,” I said. “But we all have to go to work next week, and you need to go back to school. Don’t you want to see your friends?”

He did not want to see his friends. But after a minute or so of this, he started to get into the car, on his own. He was at least standing next to the car.

Now, I know that there are parents out there reading this who are thinking, “The kids three years old. Pick him up, put him in the car, and get on the road.”

And I sympathize with that point of view, because I really wanted to just pick him up and put him in the car. And it was that urge that led to my mistake. “Highlander,” I said, “If you don’t get in the car, I’m about to get angry.”

Immediately, his face closed. He stopped looking into the car. He took his hands off the seat. And he basically ran into the front seat to hide from me. So I picked him up and put him in his car seat, because at that point I just didn’t have the patience to coax him into it. I had lost the battle with my own urge to just control the situation and use physical force to accomplish a parenting goal.

What was interesting, to me, about that incident was the change. In a split moment, my son went from being open, engaged, and making a decision on his own to being closed, disengaged, and abdicating responsibility for the decision. This week on our podcast, I discussed a study of adolescents who develop depression. And the big factor for developing depression (besides a family history of depression, which we’ve got) was feeling efficacious. Children who believed that they were able to effect their environment were, to some extent, immunized against depression.

I obsess about this, because I’m a depressive myself. It’s a fairly debilitating disorder, and I truly want to do whatever I can to protect my children against it. And that split moment represented a sort of weird parenting fail in that regard, because I took a decision away from him… even though, if I had been just a little more patient, I would have gotten what I wanted anyway.

the wisdom of Tim Burton

March 22, 2010

I’ve been trying to work on the Highlander’s growth mindset. That is, I want him to be excited, not by success, but by trying, and motivated not by praise from me, but from his own desires.

And weirdly enough, this seems to be working. The playroom is not a total wreck, and I haven’t asked him to clean it in days. He’s making a transition, I hope, between regressing to get attention to progressing. It’s been sort of a battle because he’s jealous of his little sister.

One of the tools I’ve tried to use for this is cinema. The Highlander’s favorite movie is “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, which should scare the hell out of him but doesn’t. And my favorite lines in that movie are these:

Well, what the heck, I went and did my best
And, by god, I really tasted something swell
And for a moment, why, I even touched the sky
And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did

This is just an awesome moment in the movie. The hero is totally defeated. He tried something new, and he failed miserably, and he’s lying in a graveyard wishing he was dead. He has been stripped of his illusions, he realizes that he’s made some terrible mistakes. He feels bad about himself.

Then he just gets up, says, “What the hell, that was fun” and gets on with saving what he can out of the situation.

That’s a reasonable model of emotional resilience, which is a skill that I’d like the Highlander to have. So we talk about this scene whenever he feels bad about not being able to do something. And weirdly enough, after a thoughtful discussion about the “pumpkin movie”, he’s usually willing to try something again. Which is great.

Now, if only I could find an animated musical about staying in bed after bedtime.

Looking up (at) the ISS

March 21, 2010

The International Space Station

I recently posted on Facebook that I had (again) run outside with the kids to watch the ISS fly overhead.  A few of my friends posted some questions that I thought could be answered in a blog post and shared with everyone, because this is something that more people should know about; that more people should do with their kids.

So here is your quick guide to watching the ISS go overhead.

By the way, just so everyone knows what to expect, you’re not going to see the space station’s structure or anything – you’re going to see a bright speck of light.  The ISS flies overhead at an altitude of over 180 miles, so you won’t see anything but that bright speck.

The first thing you need to know is where and when to look.  For that, I wholeheartedly recommend  What this site lacks in looks it makes up for in sheer power.

Heavens-Above Needs To Know Where You Are

When you first enter the site, it won’t know where you are, so you need to tell it, and there are a few different ways – you can zoom into and mark your location on a Google Map, you can use the site’s database to find your location, or if you happen to know your exact longitude and latitude, you can enter it manually.  You can also make an account so that when you come back, you just log in and it remembers who you are.

OK, so now the site knows where you are, and you’re ready to look for satellite passes!  A little lower on the home page is the Satellites section, and the first link is for the next 10 days of passes for the ISS.  Something like this…

Upcoming Satellite Passes

“Woah”, I hear you say.  “That’s a lot of data!  What does it all mean?” Don’t worry.  It’s not as bad as it looks.

On the far left are the date and magnitude of the pass.  Then you’ve got three sections for when the pass starts, peaks, and ends.  So you can see that for the pass on April 7:

  • At 5:15 AM, you would want to be facing west-southwest to see the beginning of the pass.
  • At that time, the satellite will begin to be visible at 20° above the horizon.
  • At its peak (about 2 minutes later), the ISS will be at 58° above the horizon looking northwest.
  • It will set about 3 minutes after peak at 10° above the horizon in the northeast.

Now, what about that “magnitude” value.  -3.2“Is that good?” you ask. Yeah, that’s really good.  Apparent magnitude is an odd sort of astronomical measurement of brightness that makes sense if you know where it came from, but I’ll let you follow that link if you’re curious.  What you need to know is this:

Human eye limit roughly +6.5
Faintest objects visible in urban areas roughly +3.5
Polaris (the North Star) +1.97
Sirius (the brightest star) -1.44
Mars (at brightest) -2.9
Faintest visible daytime objects -4.0
Venus (at brightest) -4.4
Full Moon -12.7
Sun -26.7

So you see that this pass will be brighter than even Mars at its brightest, and will be outshined only by Venus, the Moon, and (if it were up) the Sun.  Given that these passes are only listed for times when the sun is down, and it’s possible that both Venus and the Moon will also be down, the ISS could easily be the brightest object in the sky as it passes.

The other thing to realize with a pass as bright as -3.2, don’t be discouraged if it’s a little hazy outside.  Or if you’re in a big city with lots of light pollution.  Step outside, get used to the dark for a while, and if you can see ANY STARS AT ALL, you’ll be able to see the ISS.

“But Rob,” you say, “can I visualize the track, rather than rely on these compass directions?” Absolutely.  Notice that the date of each pass is blue.  Just click on it.  You’ll get lots more details about that pass, including a convenient sky map:

Map of ISS Flyover

If you’ve never looked at a sky map before, the outer circle represents the horizon, and the center of the map is directly overhead.  You’ll also notice that East and West appear backwards.  That’s because you’re supposed to look up at this map, not down on it like other maps.  To make the compass directions work out, just imagine holding it up over your head.  I have actually done this before – print out a sky map and taken it outside with me to make sure I had the right directions.

Here you see this nice arc drawn across the sky showing the path of the ISS as it flies overhead.  It’ll appear near Virgo, fly through Bootes and Draco, then Cepheus and Cassiopeia before setting in the Northeast.

OK, so now you know WHERE to look, and WHEN to look (oh, and by the way, if you’re a night owl, not an early riser, plenty of passes happen at early evening hours – they’re not all pre-dawn times).  So the question becomes – do I need to bring anything else with me?

Well…  Not really!  This isn’t like watching a meteor shower, where you need to bundle up since you’ll be out there for a while.  You can be in and out in 10 minutes.  And a telescope wouldn’t work – the ISS moves too fast.  It’ll take about 6 minutes to completely fly overhead.  You could try binoculars, if you want, but I really recommend – especially for the first few – to just go outside and watch.  And take people with you.  Especially kids.

Take them out there, show them this point of light in the sky, zipping along, and tell them “We built that.  We put it up there.  And there are astronauts living up there right now, flying around the earth at over 17,000 mph.  And 45 minutes from now, they’ll be flying over the other side of the world.”

If that isn’t cool, I don’t want to know what is.

..Rob T. missed tonight’s Magnitude -2.9 flyover because of accursed rain clouds!

the unending trauma of bath time

March 12, 2010

I am, without a doubt, the worst father on planet earth.

Or at least, so I’ve been informed by my own parents. One of whom reads this blog, so… Hi, Mom.

I’m not sure what it is about being a parent, or near a parent, that turns all of us into experts on child care, childhood development, discipline, and all things child-related, but there is definitely something. I’m pretty sure that my brother’s kids would behave differently if they were my kids, but better? Who decides these things?

And why am I not on that committee?

What I’ve been working on with the Highlander is emotional intelligence a concept that is probably a little dicey in the literature, but enjoys strong support from the happies over at The Greater Good Institute. And the happies have their studies as well… plus they are selling something that skeptics rarely see offered.


Happiness is the big sale for every religion and crazy idea on the planet. The New Age Christians claim that being a Christian will fill up that big sad void in your life with the love of your buddy Jesus. The food cranks claim that you’ll be happier if you start eating whatever diet they happen to be selling. Everybody offers you more “energy”, which is another way of saying “happiness”. The Hindus offer acceptance of your place in the world, also known as happiness. Happiness is the big ticket item in the big world-view fair, and it’s one that skeptics and scientists almost never see offerred.

The one question the Highlander asks me after a conflict more than any other is whether I’m happy.

So this is a powerful draw, this idea of selling happiness. And apparently, one way to get there is by parenting with empathy. Case in point: last night, the Highlander was in the bath. His sister, the Dark Phoenix, was ready to sleep and needed her bath. And trust you me, when the Phoenix wants to sleep, she gets unhappy, and she spreads it around. So I had to get this bath finished, and finished fast.

The conflict was over the washcloth. I needed the washcloth, because I needed to scrub his hide and get him into a towel. He wanted to keep playing in the bath.

Typically, I would count, or threaten, or demand, or force. I tried a little emotive parenting last night, though.

“Highlander,” I said, “The Dark Phoenix has to take a bath now. Do you want to get out of the bath and then get back in after she gets out?”
Shake of the head.
“Okay, then we have to finish your bath now. Please give me the washcloth.”
“I don’t want you to wash my hair.”
“Fair enough.”

Washcloth surrendered. Bath finished.

Bear in mind, he cried anyway. He was a little upset, he always is when someone washes his face. Besides, the water was getting cold. But I think that I can call this a parenting win, because there wasn’t any tantrum and I got what I wanted with his permission and participation. I could have gotten another washcloth or something, sure, but I wouldn’t have gotten his acceptance of the situation.

I’m pretty sure that there are a number of people in every parenting camp in the world who would find a million things wrong with this. I didn’t label his emotions, I negotiated, I did whatever. But I got what I wanted and I got it without a fight. And the Highlander was actually pretty happy, when he got out of the bath he said “There you go, Dark Phoenix. You c’n'take y’r bath now!”

The Dark Phoenix’s bath time was a whole other story. But that was Grrl’s problem.

FAQ: Episode 2: Dr. David Elkind

March 6, 2010

Check out our second episode of Podcast Beyond Belief, where we interview John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants about his new CD, Here Comes Science.

Also, we interview Dr. David Elkind, author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play.

He was kind enough to answer my Mom’s question…”How Can I maximize my toddler’s learning potential?”

Well, first of all, I think the most important thing for parents is to know your child. You should follow the child’s lead. At this age, children really know what they need to learn.

Second, at this age, children are just beginning to talk and just beginning to assert themselves. We call it the terrible twos, but it’s not really terrible. It’s that children are trying to define themselves by putting themselves in opposition.

And then I think it’s so important to spend time talking with children, reading to them, writing poetry, or playing. There’s such a tendency today, I think, to put children in front of mechanical devices and toys. The most important thing that we can give a child at this age is our interactions. Your developing their auditory skills, their conversational skills, their social skills.

Famed inventor, really, of kindergarten, Friedrich Froebel said something that I’d like to put on the refrigerator of every parent who has a child, “Children need to learn the language of things before they learn the language of words.” Children really need to explore the real world before they explore the virtual world.

Water, water, everywhere, but how much should I drink?

March 6, 2010
Giant Water Mug

Giant Water Mug in its Natural Habitat

Pop quiz: How much water should we drink each day?

You already know the answer, right?  Eight glasses, I hear you say.  Eight eight-ounce glasses, in fact, I hear you say.

I know.  We all know.  It’s been drilled into our heads since…  since…  since time immemorial, right?

So much so that a couple years ago I bought this mug you see to the right.  This really big mug.  The idea was to find a mug for use at work that would hold my daily water requirement – that magic 64 ounces that we all need.  And I even found one at my local Super-Mega-Hyper-Mart™ that fit the bill perfectly.  Trust me, this sucker is big.  I’ll admit, it’s hard to appreciate the mug’s presence and stature without reference objects, but if I had put anything too close to it, said object would be irretrievably trapped in the mug’s gravity well.

But that’s not all — not only is GargantuMug big, it’s informative, too.  It mentions the 64-ounce guideline, tells you what things could go wrong with you if you get dehydrated, tells you to drink this much in a day, and even gets silly now and then.  In upside down text, it reads, “If you can read this, I need more water!”

So clever!  So useful!  And yet…

Maybe not so useful…

An article in Scientific American from last June sheds some light on the story.  Physician Heinz Valtin, MD, from Dartmouth Medical School, found no evidence of any science indicating a reason to drink that much water, and also saw no evidence in the general population of their being chronically dehydrated to the point of needing to drink 3½ gallons of water each week.  He did locate what is believed to be the origin of the “8×8 rule”, and it’s interesting, to say the least (emphasis mine):

Valtin thinks the notion may have started when the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended approximately “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food,” which would amount to roughly two to two-and-a-half quarts per day (60 to 80 ounces). Although in its next sentence, the Board stated “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” that last sentence may have been missed, so that the recommendation was erroneously interpreted as how much water one should drink each day.

To quote Mr. Spock..  “fascinating”.  A misinterpretation of a recommendation back in 1945 has resulted in the commonly-held belief that we all need roughly a six-pack of water every day.

It goes even further.  Of course, we also all know that the 64 ounces have to be actual water, right?  That soft drinks — especially caffeinated soft drinks — don’t count, right?

Think again.

Finally, strong evidence now indicates that not all of the prescribed fluid need be in the form of water. Careful peer-reviewed experiments have shown that caffeinated drinks should indeed count toward the daily fluid intake in the vast majority of persons. To a lesser extent, the same probably can be said for dilute alcoholic beverages, such as beer, if taken in moderation.

And really, when it comes down to it, the whole “caffeinated drink doesn’t count because it’s a diuretic” idea doesn’t really pass the sniff test.  Think about it.  The idea was that the diuretic effect of the caffeine it made the drink not count.  Would a 12-ounce can of caffeinated Coke really make you urinate an extra 12 ounces?  That seems unlikely (Of course, that’s easy to say now, given that I’ve just quoted the results of experiments backing up that point).

Basically, I see two takeaways from this.

One is about the water – if you’re thirsty, drink something. If you’re not, don’t. If you like water, drink it. If you’d rather drink something else, that’s good too. Just stop stressing about it!

And the other has to do with science in general. I’ve had people say that science is too rigid, and once its mind is made up (science has a mind?), it doesn’t change. But honestly, nothing could be farther from the truth. When supplied with evidence, science changes, and that’s an important point to teach our children. T-Rex models look different now. Pluto is no longer a planet. There’s water on the moon. The coelacanth is not extinct. There’s life on Earth in ridiculously hostile environments. And most people don’t need to drink 64 ounces of water every day.

When science is viewed as a process, not a book of facts, it becomes alive and exciting. Let your kids in on the amazing way our knowledge changes thanks to science.

..Rob T. is going to scratch all the incorrect information off of his GargantuMug – and then only drink about 3 ounces out of it!


Introducing: Podcast Beyond Belief

February 26, 2010

Sorry, we haven’t had the time to post lately. All of us have been busy with a new project that we’re finally ready to reveal.

We’re proud to announce that Science-Based Parenting, in affiliation with Foundation Beyond Belief, will be producing a weekly parenting podcast for skeptics and secular humanists. Podcast Beyond Belief features the contributing writers of this blog, Laurie Tarr from Rational Moms, Heidi Anderson from She-Thought, and Elyse Anders from Skepchick.

Each episode will feature a round-table discussion of the latest parenting science news, in addition to interviews with well-known science advocates and secular humanists. We’ll also have a regular feature called “THE FAQ”, where we’ll forward on your toughest parenting questions to qualified experts and report back their up-to-date science-based answers.

Our first episode includes a discussion with Dale McGowan, the founder of our “parent” organization, Foundation Beyond Belief. You might also remember him as the editor and co-author of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers. Dale spoke about secular humanism, and how those principles fit with the foundation’s ideals. We expect to have some listeners who may not understand what it means to be a secular humanist. It’ll be nice to have Dale’s explanation (and example) of humanist philosophy on our first episode to provide context for people new to the concept of freethought.

Be sure to also check out our second episode next week when we sit down with John Flansburgh from They Might Be Giants, the duo who created the new children’s album “Here Comes Science“. The interview went in unexpected directions, and before I knew it, Flans was talking about vaccines, Andrew Wakefield and 9/11 conspiracies.

If you have questions for the FAQ – please send them to We’ll pick our favorites to send to the experts for their answers.

We hope you enjoy the first episode. Not to be too apologetic, but please keep in mind that most of us have never produced anything like this before. Please give us some time to get our feet on the ground.  We’ll continue to evolve as we become more confident with the process.