You’re Wearing That?

September 19, 2014

What adolescent girls wear to school is a subject of much consternation, judging from the parent meeting I attended at my children’s school today. The conversation was lead by a psychologist trained in the treatment of eating disorders, body image and trauma, but voices rose highest when talking about whose skirt had been measured with a ruler. The three-fold theme of the talk, Gender, Body Image and Dress had complex implications, from distinguishing our understanding of “gender” from that of “sex” to looking at the effects of negative body image on depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders. But the logistics required for a school to enforce a dress code took priority over these fundamentals, and I realized how difficult it… Read More

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Concussions: There’s an App for that

September 11, 2014

Ben Harvatine had been practicing hard before he hit the mat and couldn’t get up. He’d been dizzy for a while during wrestling practice, but that hadn’t alarmed him: it’s what happens when you’re cutting weight in a 100-degree room. The twenty-year-old MIT student wound up in the hospital and spent months recovering. It was a concussion, the first he said he’d gotten in more than a decade of wrestling. “For a week or two I struggled to carry on conversations,” he told me when I interviewed him by phone a few weeks ago. He couldn’t keep up in his mechanical engineering and architecture classes. And he was sensitive to light. “I effectively didn’t go to school for three months.”… Read More

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Stop Asking, “How was your day?”

September 5, 2014

“How was your day?” I am going to go out on a limb and guess that if you asked your children this question after their first or even fiftieth day of school, you got this answer: “Good.” End of story. I confess that I spring the question on my two girls the moment I see them after school. Perhaps what I am really yearning for is a fulfillment of my own wishes. I hope you had a day of intellectual discovery, meaningful exchanges with friends, and ate something more than cream cheese for lunch! That’s a lot of unspoken pressure, and it’s no wonder they keep the lid on the discussion with the impenetrable and irreproachable “good.” I have discovered… Read More

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Is this a Seinfeld Moment in Parenting?

August 29, 2014

Remember “The Opposite” episode of Seinfeld when George realizes, “…that every decision I’ve ever made, my entire life, has been wrong.” He then sets about to turn old patterns upside down—ordering tea instead of coffee and being blunt instead of agreeable in a job interview—and his life radically improves. I sense a similar epiphany in the real-life version of parenthood, but whether we’ll change our ways is yet to be seen. A new study out of the University of Colorado Boulder, says, “…the more time children spent in less structured activities, the better their self-directed executive function. Conversely, the more time children spent in more structured activities the poorer their self-directed executive function.” The senior author of the study, psychology and… Read More

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In 650 Words or Less: The Common App Essay and an Expert

August 22, 2014

In 650 words or less, describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful? Or In 650 words or less, recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? Or In 650 words or less, discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.   You are now sitting in the shoes of a high school senior, thank you very much. These questions are a few of the prompts on the 2014-15 Common Application for college. They are the same ones from last… Read More

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