December 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm , by Louise Sloan
Ed Plata was a tough, traditional Marine. His son EJ was effeminate and gay. His wife Elizabeth was caught in the middle. Yikes! It’s the sort of thing that can tear a family apart, but the Platas (at right) emerged stronger for it in the end.
In our article this month on gay teens and bullying, which features the Platas and their story, Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., of the Family Acceptance Project in San Francisco explains what Ed and Elizabeth did right, and what parents can do to keep gay kids from becoming suicide, HIV, depression and drug-abuse statistics. The research findings she shared with us for the article were officially published today in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. At the same time, her organization released an amazing documentary video about the Platas. Click here to watch—and get out your tissues!
November 26, 2010 at 11:48 am , by Louise Sloan
“Grandma, don’t you love Bobby’s tattoo?”
“Mom, Dad, meet my fiancé, Raptor. He’s in this really cool band.”
“Uh, Uncle Dave, my friend is actually Swedish, not German, but thanks ever so much for the interesting lesson on the Third Reich.”
Thanksgiving is a time for gratefulness, good food and family fun, but it can also be when family members get on each other’s nerves, say things they shouldn’t, make big, sometimes unwelcome announcements—”Kids, I’m getting married again!”—and just generally remind one another of how far apart family can sometimes be.
One classic awkward holiday conversation goes like this: “Mom, Dad… I’m gay.” There are definitely some parents who take that news in stride, but for many it’s somewhere in between a jaw-dropper and a deal-breaker. Fortunately, in this month’s LHJ, we’ve got an article that may help families get through that conversation in one piece—and be the stronger for it. Read more
November 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm , by Louise Sloan
When pigs fly. That’s when I thought I’d enjoy my baby sister’s boot-camp class—the one she teaches at dawn. Outside in the cold. Involving calisthenics. Me and dawn, we don’t get along. And calisthenics? Can’t think of anything more loathsome and boring. But after a number of years in which her class grew in popularity, guilt got the better of me and I told Caroline I’d attend. Dawn, my nemesis, broke on the morning in question and it was pouring rain. Of course it was. I decided what the heck, I’d do it anyway, maybe rack up a few extra sisterly love points because of the weather; what’s 45 minutes of misery in a lifelong relationship?
To my surprise, a few minutes into the class, I could hear the flapping of little piggy wings… We broke up into supportive pairs and groups, cheering each other on, we played games—even cards!—which distracted me from the hard-core calisthenics and body-weight exercises, and despite the miserable weather it was gorgeous to be out in nature first thing in the morning. By the end of the class, I was hooked. (That’s me, the tall one in the blue raincoat.) I used to think our other sister, Isabel, was out of her mind for attending, even though it had strikingly reshaped her body. Now I get it. It’s somehow actually…fun!
Ideas on making fitness fun after the jump. Read more
November 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm , by Louise Sloan
I just read the most amazing blog post, written by a midwestern mom, a cop’s wife, whose 5-year-old-boy wanted to dress up for Halloween as Daphne, from Scooby Doo, just like his best friend, who’s a girl. That’s him in the picture. Now, if you can’t wear something silly and fun on Halloween, when you’re five, when can you? But as Cop’s Wife discovered, you can’t, not ever, no sir, not if you’re a boy. She and her son ran into schoolyard bullies, bent on enforcing sex-stereotypical costume choices. Only it wasn’t her son’s classmates who were the bullies, not yet–it was the other moms, whose faces twisted in disgust at seeing a preschooler wear the “wrong” Halloween costume. And we wonder why we have such bad bullying problems in our middle schools and high schools, where any kid who’s different–too fat, too skinny, too smart, too slow, too effeminate, not the dominant race, too poor, not dressed in the right labels–gets harassed and pounded? Where do those mean kids get their ideas from? Hello, mirror!
My little boy, age 4, loves to dress up, too, especially in his tutu-like black tulle skirt. Like Cop’s Wife’s kid, he happens to have some close friends who are girls, and they’re into the princess thing, and really, what is not fun about a tutu? He’s also obsessed with our good friend Nelson, aka “Cherry L,” who lives in the neighborhood and happens to be an amazing reggae/dancehall/hiphop singer. My boy currently refuses to wear anything but jeans, because that’s what Nelson wears. But sometimes he likes to mix it up: Here’s my main man in dinosaur pjs and the tulle skirt, doing his rendition of one of Nelson’s rap songs, “You Check It.” Pretty hardcore/masculine, don’t you think, swaying tulle aside?
For Halloween, though, no tutus–he wanted to be a cop. I was relieved, frankly. And I got to crossdress, as an escaped convict, complete with beard. Since I’m a girl, no one cared. But what if my son had really, really wanted to be a princess? What should I have done? Read Cop’s Wife’s blog and then post your comments/thoughts below.
September 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm , by Louise Sloan
I have discovered the Fountain of Youth and it lives in my apartment. It goes by the name of Scott and strongly resembles a 4-year-old boy. My downstairs neighbors will tell you that instead of a soothing tinkle, this fountain sounds like stampeding herd of elephants. But he does help me feel young by providing me with a powerful drug.
Don’t worry—the drug’s all-natural. Dopamine, straight from my own brain. I get it because Scott gets me to be more playful than I would normally be and persuades me to try new things. Both of these activities stimulate your brain to produce more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes you feel happy. And—for me at least—happy feels younger. Play also stimulates the development of new neurons, so even if my body looks its age, Scott helps my brain stay young. (Check out our recent article on all the benefits of play.)
Case in point: At the beach this past summer, Scott started doing forward rolls in the surf. “Try it!” he urged, his scalp full of sand. “It’s really fun!” I did not think it would be fun in the slightest. But, what the heck, I did it just to humor him. You know what? It was, as Scott would say, really, REALLY fun, sort of a cross between body-surfing and riding a rollercoaster. The sand washed out of my hair eventually. (If you called it an organic exfoliating scalp treatment with Atlantic sea salt, it would probably sell.)
Having a kid late in life is a great way to stay young, but there are easier options. Read more
September 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm , by Louise Sloan
I have a BFF named Tertia (gorgeous photo at right). I’ve never met her and she lives halfway around the world, in South Africa, so who knows if we’ll ever have coffee. But she and I have created videos of our kids to send to one another. I cried when her adorable puppy, Peter—who was a major player in the sweet video she and her daughter made especially for my son, Scott—suddenly died of heart failure. (That’s Peter below.) And when I was struggling unsuccessfully to have a second child, Tertia checked in often, supported and sympathized. Often we could exchange messages when it was too late for me to communicate with anyone else—it would be morning in Durbanville. How did we meet? Through her funny, popular mommy blog, So Close, formerly an infertility blog (she has also written a hilarious, heartbreaking book by the same name).
The truth is, sometimes the internet really gets people together. Sure, it may have cut down on certain types of face-to-face interactions, and that’s not good, but for anyone who’s geographically or logistically isolated (like, say, moms!), it’s been a rich source of new friendships and genuine connections. LHJ.com recently posted terrific interviews with 12 moms who blog—check it out and check them out. I may just have found myself some new BFFs.
Have you made friends via a mom blog (yours or someone else’s)? Who’s your favorite mom blogger—anyone we should all be reading? Tell us who!
September 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm , by Louise Sloan
It was a rockin’ end-of-summer for my 4-year-old son, Scott (that’s him at right in his electric guitar shirt), and me. Week before last was Scott’s music camp, where director Jeremy Zmuda brought in a different band every day (bluegrass, Caribbean, Brazilian, Bulgarian), shot the video for his new kids’ album, Use Your Words, and recorded a CD of the campers singing and playing instruments along with all the special guests. Right after camp, we hopped in a rental car and drove the six hours to Grandma’s house, blasting Jeremy’s catchy tunes with good-behavior-encouraging lyrics and belting out the cool world-music songs Scott learned at camp (thanks to the CD, I got to learn them, too). We were so busy singing that we only got to one of the videos I’d brought to entertain Scott with on the long drive, and both of us had fun.
Same story on the way back home this past Monday. We have a new friend in the neighborhood, Nelson Serieux (stage name Cherry L, photo at left), who gave us a homemade CD. I had low expectations—sure, aspiring singer/songwriter, how cute. Then we popped the CD into the car stereo Monday and I was blown away. The man should be selling out arenas. Every song was top-40 infectious—kind of reggae/pop/r&b/hip-hop fusion—and Scott couldn’t get enough, so we spent nearly 6 hours singing along with Nelson, the videos and car games forgotten. Scott’s fave was “Please Stay” (“I don’t want to see you go-oh-oh” belted Scott), which we probably replayed at least 25 times (glad I liked it, since I can’t get it out of my head). I had my own favorites, like crossover-hit-sounding “Candy” and the more dancehall-style “Turn Me Loose,” best breakup song I’ve heard in awhile (I’m a single mom, what can I say?). Best of all, Nelson is someone Scott knows, so I took the teachable-moment opportunity and told Scott if he practiced, maybe he could do that, too. When we got home and checked out some of the Cherry L videos on YouTube, Scott said, admiringly, “Nelson had to practice a lot to sing like that.” Lesson absorbed, ding!
Well, he’s no Scott Sloan, but Joe Jonas and his brothers (screeeeeeam!!) and Demi Lovato are back at music camp themselves this Friday, September 3, when Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam premieres on the Disney Channel (8 pm ET/PT). For the occasion, Radio Disney shared some exclusive data with Ladies’ Lounge on the impact of music in the lives of kids and moms. Basically, it’s what Scott and I have been living this past week: Kids love music, it’s a great way for moms and their kids to connect, and it benefits kids creatively and intellectually. More specifics after the jump. Read more