Halloween Really IS Scary!

Kim Kinziehelicopter parenting, humor, the '70sLeave a Comment

I wrote this piece a year ago for Motif Magazine, so the Ebola reference is no longer timely.  Everything else applies though.  Hope it gives you a good laugh… Halloween is the time of year when it’s fun to be scared. On this year’s quest for all things terrifying, I stumbled across The Halloween Safety Guide. I don’t live in a town tormented by Michael Meyers so I never felt that Halloween was so dangerous it needed its own safety guide. Was I missing something? I had to find out. What a scream! The Halloween Safety Guide did not disappoint. There’s more fear mongering here than the news coverage of the Ebola virus.    Here are some of the invaluable tips this site offers to parents of trick-or-treaters: Check for local sex offenders and make sure your kids stay away from their houses.  Technically every home sort of reeks of pedophilia on Halloween – all those grown-ups luring children to their front doors with the promise of candy. The good news: there is no correlation between Halloween and increased incidents of child abduction. Perhaps it’s because kids travel in small packs and often dress as ghouls or adults, making them unappealing prey for your average child molester. Just a guess… Know the route your child will take and make then check in with … Read More

What is Conscious Unparenting and is it Right For You? (Of Course It Is, Silly)

Kim Kinziefriendship, guilt, non-judgment, our book4 Comments

If you’ve stopped by our blog and maybe even read our book, you probably have a vague notion of the concept “Conscious Unparenting.” Perhaps now you’re wondering: what does it look like in one’s day-to-day life, and is this the right philosophy for me? Great questions…Let’s discuss. You might recall a year ago or more when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin split up. Rather than get a lowly divorce like the rest of us plebeian slugs, they opted for a conscious uncoupling. Of course this begs to be mocked, so that’s what Dawn and I did one summer afternoon when discussing potential book titles – hence the term “conscious unparenting.” The more we thought about it, however, the more we realized that the title truly fits what we’re trying to accomplish, as we’re not asking our readers to disengage from their children and families, but rather to intentionally begin the process of doing less “parenting” and more enjoying. For example, one of the biggest issues I face is complete cluelessness when it comes to discipline. I grew up without any sort of discipline whatsoever, while my husband was raised in an authoritarian regime. Together we’re a hot mess, as we each struggle to find a middle ground. In my attempt to do better than our parents (because that’s what we’re expected to … Read More

The Benefit of Boredom

Dawn Michaelfriendship, Screen Time, self careLeave a Comment

My daughter asked if she could have a friend come over after camp and sleep at our house for the night.  Sure!  Having another child over would encourage hours of wondrous play for my two girls.  Memories of my childhood sleepovers came to mind-staying up late, french braiding each other’s hair, and dancing and singing into an imaginary microphone.  They were in for a fun night! After camp, we drove home.  The girls whispered and giggled while the radio drowned out their conversation.  We were almost home when I got the question, “Mom, what are we going to do tonight?”  I had already offered to take them to a movie, either in the theatre or the drive-in.  Both options were shot down as Jurasic World wasn’t something they wanted to see.  There were no other age appropriate movies that we could agree on seeing.  The idea of a drive-in didn’t appeal either as they couldn’t understand the concept of being able to see the movie screen with cars parked in front of you. One daughter suggested staying home and watching Dance Moms.  “No, that’s child abuse,” responded the friend.  Lighten up kid, my girls like to watch the dancers.  It’s reality tv- exaggerated behavior, but not to be taken too seriously.  I suggested we browse the bookstore and get Del’s … Read More

Talking To Our Kids About Diversity

Kim Kinzienon-judgment, the '70s2 Comments

I love the ’70s and would happily return to those carefree days as far as parenting is concerned. There are many things, however, the ’70s didn’t get right, and political correctness is one of them. I will admit that I don’t love having to be PC 24/7.  Does anyone? Comedians sure don’t and, I won’t lie, one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes was ridiculously offensive to Native Americans.   Nonetheless, I’m grateful that my kids will grow up in a world that’s slightly more enlightened. Despite the fact that we live in a town with almost zero diversity, I’m doing my best to teach my kids that we’re all equal – the same, but different.   Judging by their reactions to people who look or live differently from them, I think my techniques are proving to be successful. This is quite a feat for me as a kid of the ‘70s who also grew up in a town with almost zero diversity and watched “All in the Family” on a regular basis. I’m finding that it’s easy with regard to sexuality and religion; it’s slightly more challenging when it comes to race, and extremely difficult when it comes to disabilities.  (I admit these are my shortcomings, and that is something I hope write about someday in more detail.) Does this mean I make … Read More

The Gifts Our Fathers Bring

Kim Kinziefathers12 Comments

My dad passed away right after my 21st birthday. Since then, Father’s Day has been a source of pain, and eventually ambivalence. Now that I have children and I’m forced (by society and Hallmark) to recognize the holiday, it’s making me reflect on what it means to have, and live with, a father. My own dad wasn’t really a family man. I don’t blame him; he was 20 years old when I was born and had lost his mom due to breast cancer a mere 3 or so years prior. He was just finishing up college and heading to law school in Washington DC, where he worked, studied and played father and husband – a role for which he was not adequately prepared (through no fault of his own). He was the type of guy who loved to have a good time. He always made me laugh with his quick wit and biting sarcasm. He loved to socialize, whether it be entertaining friends at the house, hanging out at his beloved “Club 44” or spending time with his numerous siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles at the family farm – life was one big party. The problem was, as his child, his life was one big party. All that fun didn’t leave much time for parenting (even if no one really … Read More

Mean Girls

Dawn Michaelfriendship, School issues2 Comments

As a mom, I look to protect my children from physical and emotional harm.  Physical harm hasn’t been a problem yet.  We live in a cozy, middle class town where break-ins are pretty low and violent crimes are few.  Emotionally, however, this town cultivates its mean girls.  I didn’t really understand how this happened as all the parents seem nice.  Am I naive?  Do these people propagate nastiness?  You see, for whatever reason, my daughter is drawn to these mean girls. These girls defy all the values I’ve been trying to teach my children.  Instead of supporting one another, these children rat each other out faster than a stool pigeon.  “Excuse me, Miss Teacher, student X(my BFF) just read.  Why should she get to read again?”  Or, your child forgets her homework and calls the mean girl for the assignment, “Uh sorry.  Gotta go.  Can’t help you now.”  What’s the right thing to teach my child to do?  Often, I scream, “Make new friends!  Play with other kids!  So and so is not kind and doesn’t deserve your friendship!”  Ths doesn’t seem to work as my daughter is repeatedly drawn back to this friend like a moth to a flame. By chance, I come across a book called,”Queen Bees and Wannabes ,” by Rosalind Wiseman.  It was as if the … Read More

There’s Nothing Better Than Being a Middle-Aged Woman. So there.

Kim Kinzieaging, older parents, the '70sLeave a Comment

This is the third, and final installment, on my series on aging. About ten years ago, a friend forwarded to me a NY Times article with the subject line: “isn’t this great?” The article talked about the fact that today’s 30 and 40 somethings no longer relegate themselves to being boring suburbanites who get thick in the middle and wear frumpy clothes. These new age middle-agers are hip and cool, and, unlike their 20 something counterparts, have the money to sustain the lifestyle, able to afford those trendy $400 jeans and tickets to the small venue Def Cab for Cutie show.   Coolness lives on, despite ones age. (Looking back, I believe this article was foreshadowing the hipster movement). For my friend who felt that aging and being uncool were synonymous, this article was like a beacon of hope. For me, however, this was my worst nightmare, as my favorite thing about aging is the fact that, each year I care less and less about other’s perceptions of me.   I’m not cool – never have been – and I thought I could finally stop pretending. Damn you New York Times! The pretense began for me at a painfully young age; 1977 to be exact, when everyone in school loved the band “Kiss.” I couldn’t name any song they sang and was … Read More

Summer: A Great Time to Exploit, I Mean Make, New Friends

Kim Kinziefriendship, non-judgment, summer6 Comments

Last year I started out excited and optimistic for a fun-filled summer, but ended up broke, overweight and miserable, literally counting down the hours until that first day of school.   This year I’m more realistic. I know summer will be like running a marathon. Those first few miles are pure bliss, when you feel like you could run forever. As the miles tick by, you gently move from mild exhaustion to “holy shit – I can’t do this anymore!” Then you hit the homestretch in which you’re dehydrated, delusional and possibly have diarrhea running down your thighs but you’re just too tired to care.   That’s summer with young children when you’re a stay-at-home mom, unless of course, you can afford 8+ weeks of camp. So how can we survive summer? There’s only one way: spend time with friends. You can’t do this alone – seriously – so if you don’t have a host of fellow stay-at-home moms with whom you can spend time, get out there and make some new ones. Forget about trying to find friends who are completely compatible; you’re in crisis mode so it’s time to start seeing the good in all types of parents – enough with the judgment and divisiveness. Here are some of the women you want to couple up with this summer: … Read More

More Fuel for Grounding Those Helicopters

Kim Kinziehelicopter parenting, our bookLeave a Comment

In our book and on our blog, we make the case for moving away from helicopter parenting and toward a style that’s less kid-centric, more laid back.  We recognize that it’s not always easy to let go and give up control, but it’s necessary for everyone. As we here at Conscious Unparenting note, taking a step back is best for YOU, so you can devote some of that freed up energy to taking care of your own needs as well as those of your kids.  As research shows, it’s best for your children to help them develop self-esteem, independence and critical life skills such as conflict resolution, negotiation, and dealing with rejection.  In case you need to hear it from the experts (as opposed to a couple of middle-aged women who seem to want to justify their time away from their families), here’s a new study conducted by Brigham Young.  My only disagreement with this article: the notion that “helicopter parenting is relatively uncommon.”  Not from my vantage point. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you’ve done to ground your helicopter.  Or maybe you feel a bit lost and need some help or suggestions on being more laid-back.  Comment here and we’ll write back.

Skipping the Field Trip

Dawn Michaelguilt, our book, School issues, self care5 Comments

I love a good field trip just as much as the next gal!  Shopping, yoga retreat, tastings (wine or food)!  School field trips, not so much.  And so it was with reluctance that I told my daughter to add my name to the chaperone list to Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.  Just what I wanted to do with a day off from work- spend it with 31 fifth graders!  I did get a little excited when my daughter said there might be ghosts at the mill!  Would these spirits channel my energy and offer me some supernatural advice?  Perhaps this trip wouldn’t be so bad?! Alas, I wasn’t chosen as a chaperone.  Two other moms got their names in before me.  What if I had told my daughter upfront that I didn’t want to go on the field trip?  Would that have hurt her feelings?  Would she have thought I didn’t care enough?  Part of being a parent is to make sacrifices for your children.  So even though the thought of making small talk with other chaperones and keeping all those children in line wouldn’t have been my thing, I owe it to my daughter to support her.  Yet, as a believer in conscious unparenting, I need to put my needs at least on par with my child’s. I decided … Read More