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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    stop signThere are few things most of us wouldn't do to protect our kids. But a set of parents in one neighborhood is taking some serious heat for their latest plan to keep their kids safe. They erected a controversial sign, with a picture of a gun, warning speeding drivers to slow down.

    A photo of the sign in Wayne, New Jersey, has gone viral, with parents split on whether the mother and father of three young kids -- ages 10 to 13 -- have gone too far or not far enough. After all, this is no, "Slow, Kids at Play" sign. Instead, it reads:

    WARNING -- If you hit one of these kids because you are speeding you will not need a lawyer

    Underneath is the outline of a gun because, hint, hint, you're gonna die.

    Some folks are offended. Others say it's much more effective than your standard sign.

    And maybe it will be.

    But you know what's more effective? Keeping your darn kids out of the road.

    If we've seen it once, we've seen it a hundred times. Parents erect signs in the neighborhood, warning drivers to lay off the gas, and then proceed to allow their kids to play in the street.

    Then they curse and scream and shake their fists at drivers for being "irresponsible." Really?

    Now, now, we're not saying this couple in Wayne is irresponsible. For all we know, their kids may never even leave the front stoop.

    But the fact remains that road signs are no guarantee that your kids are going to be safe. Anyone in law enforcement or on a highway crew can tell you that they can put up 1,000 signs, and drop the speed limit down to turtle, and it still will not keep all drivers on the straight and narrow in residential neighborhoods. It stinks, but unfortunately, that's life.

    Teaching your kids basic safety rules and keeping an eye on them, on the other hand, does guarantee their safety. If your kid knows better than to play in the street, if they know to look both ways before chasing a ball into the road, if you actually watch them until they're old enough to use common sense -- even if you're watching out the window (no one says you need to be up their rear ends) -- accidents are much less likely to happen, even when there are idiot drivers about.

    At the end of the day, it's our responsibility to protect our kids, not the drivers in our neighborhood.

    What do you make of this sign? Would you put it up? 


    Image via Michael Pareckas/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    ear infectionEar infections. If you've got a child, no doubt you've dealt with at least one. After all -- three out of four kids in America will have at least one case before age 3. Scary statistic? You better believe it.

    "Many experts (and parents) believe ear infections are on the rise, possibly the result of increased day care attendance at younger ages and increased allergen exposure," notes Dr. Jennifer Gardner, the pediatrician and mom behind the Healthy Kids Company. While Gardner notes other experts say immunizations and increased focus on breastfeeding is bringing down the number of ear infections, contradicting moms' beliefs, ear infections remain "the number one reason for non-wellness doctor visits in babies and toddlers."

    Don't want to end up in the pediatrician's office with a miserable tot? Here are pediatricians' best tips to try to prevent ear infections:

    1. Keep the ears dry! Ear infections are split into two types -- otitis media and otitis externa. The latter is also known as "swimmer's ear," and the risk is increased by moisture. Gardner recommends drying the ear with a clean towel after swimming and bathing, and using a hair dryer set on low (be sure to hold the dryer at least 12 inches from the ear) to help prevent it.

    2. Rinse the ears with a 1:1 mixture of alcohol:vinegar. Another trick to prevent otitis externa, the alcohol dries the ear and the vinegar acidifies the ear. It should NOT be done if the child has an active ear infection or tubes in place, Gardner warns.

    3. Avoid pacifiers. "Some studies have shown increase risk of ear infections with pacifier use," explains Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, pediatrician at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and creator of the Baby Bundle parenting app. "It may be because of the sucking or maybe germs on the pacifier itself." If baby is prone to ear infections, it may be time to ditch the binky to keep them from coming back.

    4. Don't prop baby's bottle. Not only does this present a choking hazard, but Trachtenberg warns it has been noted as a risk factor for ear infections.

    5. Avoid cotton-tipped applicators. "The adage 'put nothing in your ear smaller than your elbow' is sage advice for preventing external ear infections," says Dr. Gardner.

    6. Don't smoke. Not only is it bad for a child's lungs, but Dr. Trachtenberg says you can "decrease the risk" for ear infections by avoiding cigarette smoke.

    7. Breastfeed. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months has been tied to a reduction in infections in the upper respiratory, lower respiratory, and gastrointestinal tracts in infancy. And yes, that includes ear infections!

    8. Avoid sick kids. "Ear infections are caused by germs/infections," explains Dr. Trachtenberg. "The causative agent can be viral or bacterial." Got that? It's not going out in the cold that's getting your kid sick -- it's actual germs! Sometimes they're completely unavoidable, but if you have a kid who is prone to ear infections, you have the perfect excuse to tell your friends you're not being overprotective ... your kid is really at risk!

    Have your kids had ear infections? What did your pediatrician recommend doing to prevent a recurrence?


    Image via © Ale Ventura/PhotoAlto/Corbis

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    passportFew parents escape their kids' childhoods with all their valuables intact. If you're lucky, the kids never find the items you hold most dear. One dad, it seems, was not so lucky with his passport. The father of a 4-year-old has made news recently after South Korean officials allegedly took one look at his passport covered in toddler doodling and told him he would not be allowed to leave the country with his family to go home.

    According to the story making the rounds of the Internet, the Dad posted on the Chinese Twitter, Weibo, asking for help after officials said they wouldn't accept his photo with the extra facial hair, bigger eyes, and huge lips added in felt tip pen by the man's toddler. Looks like somebody should have invested in those "marks only one kind of paper" markers!

    Chinese Dad's passport

    The now viral photo of the Chinese father's passport is being debated by folks who say it may be a hoax, but it's the kind that makes you groan in solidarity regardless, because we've all been there, we could all see it happening.

    We've all walked in to find the kids with a marker or pen in hand, going to town, making us a "picture" on something that we really, really needed!

    If we're lucky, we walk in just at the beginning of the drawing.

    Most of us are not that lucky.

    Which is why -- when it happens -- as much as we want to get angry with our tots, we really need to remind ourselves that kids are kids, and kids don't have the ability to think through what they're doing ... not when they're toddlers anyway. The messes they make are as much our fault for not thinking through leaving a legal document and a marker in toddler reach as they are anything.

    Then we need to remind ourselves not to make the same mistake again ... because we do have the ability to think ahead, even if our kids can't!

    If this is real, good luck to this Dad ... he's going to need it!

    Has your toddler ever destroyed something vitally important? What happened?


    Images via J Aaron Farr/Flickr; Weibo

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    school classroomDo you know what your kids' teachers think of them? Wait, scratch that. Would you WANT to know? Because a mom in Ohio was shocked by a message left on her voicemail by her 7-year-old's teacher.

    It seems the educator forgot to hang up the phone before voicing her opinion about the kindergartner to a colleague. Needless to say, what Ashley Moore heard about her son was none too complimentary.

    The 7-year-old was allegedly called the "biggest baby" in class, while his mom was said to likely still wipe her child's butt. Take a listen:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Is it any wonder the little boy's family says he hasn't wanted to go to school for months? With a teacher who thinks that "highly" of him?

    The fact is, not every teacher is going to love every kid. Some kids are NOT well behaved in school. Disruption after disruption can wear down even the educators who love and adore "all" children.

    More From The Stir: Pre-K Teacher Doesn't Want Parents Sending Their Stinky Kids to School

    Not to mention, some personalities just don't mesh well. It's human nature that some people will not be the best of buds. Hence, teachers do not have to like every kid in their class.

    They do, however, have to treat every child in their class with respect. They have to try their best to teach every child in a classroom, and they have to treat kids equally.

    That's what it really comes down to -- not having your kid "liked" by a teacher so much as having your kid treated fairly. If an educator can't get past their dislike of a child enough to treat them like the other kids, they need to find a new profession.

    Do you care if your kids' teachers like them? What DO you expect from a teacher?


    Image via © RonTech2000/iStock

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    It's something parents all over the world have dreamed of doing, and it's landed a father of an autistic child behind bars. Cops in northern California say Burnis Hurd, 44, boarded a school bus and beat up an 11-year-old child. Cruel? Yes, but this wasn't just any 11-year-old.

    The kid this dad is accused of attacking just so happens to be the child accused of bullying Hurd's 9-year-old autistic son. See what we mean about "something parents dream about doing"?

    Sadly, this is where dreams meet reality.

    Burnis Hurd is in jail on $50,000 bond.

    Not such a nice dream for dad or kid, huh?

    Yes, folks, it's normal to indulge in a little fantasy about kicking sand in the face of that jerk who did the same to your tot on the playground. It's normal to think "what that kid needs is a knuckle sandwich" when you see the snot-nosed brat who has been making your darling's life hell.

    It is not, however, normal to carry out those fantasies. Nor is it good for your kids.

    Think it's traumatizing for a child to be bullied? Try seeing Mom or Dad carted off to jail. That can turn a child's life upside down.

    More From The Stir: 7 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied & What You Can Do to Help

    And that's true even when they aren't already suffering from the trauma of being a bully's victim. When they have that added stress, kids need their parents' love and support even more. They need us there -- emotionally, mentally, and physically.

    Beating up your child's bully may feel like it's a way to fix your kid's problems, but in truth, it's about you. It's about you feeling helpless and you acting out. It does nothing for your kid in the long run.

    It doesn't teach them good coping skills. It doesn't teach them the importance of being the bigger person. It doesn't teach them how to go through the proper channels for help in a bad situation. And, on top of it all, it takes you away from them at a time when they need you desperately.

    Do we all feel for Burnis Hurd? Does a part of us want to cheer for him? Of course. But the other part of us should recognize that this dad's alleged actions are only going to hurt his family in the long run.

    Our kids need us to focus on their needs, not our own.

    And our kids don't need their bullies' butts kicked. They need parents who can advocate for them and get real justice, parents who can cuddle them at night and tell them everything will be all right.

    Have you ever been tempted to go after your child's bully? What did you do instead?


    Image via Feans/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    teacher gift

    It always happens. The end of the school year sneaks up on you, and all of a sudden, you realize you really need to find some way to thank the teacher who has poured a whole lot of love and knowledge into your child. Desperate for some ideas for that end of the school year teacher gift?

    Help is on the way! Teachers love gifts that show the children in their classroom really appreciated them, and these crafty ideas from some of the craftiest bloggers on the web are all designed with kid hands in mind -- your kids can actually make every single one!

    And don't forget to check out the clever Father's Day crafts kids can make! Some do double duty for teachers!

    What are your kids giving their teacher this year? Is it as easy to make as #5?

     Crafty Teacher Gifts Kids Can Make


    Top image via © SchulteProductions/iStock

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Bethenny FrankelAt least one battle in the epic Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy war is over. The former Real Housewives star and her ex have been battling out the future of 4-year-old daughter Bryn, and from the hair-raising details of the custody battle leaked in the press, it looked like this one was going to drag on forever. But good news!

    Frankel and Hoppy have reportedly settled on a custody agreement to spare their child from being caught in a courtroom brouhaha. Thank. Goodness.

    Bryn will reportedly be co-parented by her split parents in some sort of shared custody arrangement, although exactly what that means is yet to be seen (is it 50/50, 70/30 ... less, more?). 

    Regardless, Frankel and Hoppy's decisions to come to an agreement rather than drag it out can't be anything but good news for a little girl who has already seen the life she knew turned upside down.

    In fact, studies have shown that when parents can put aside the acrimony, children of divorce fare no worse than their peers. Even kids who experienced a whole lot of marital discord (think the vicious stories we have been hearing about the Hoppy/Frankel union) tend to bounce back once they're out of that setting.

    Divorce happens. It doesn't make moms and dads monsters. But it does mean they have to put in extra work to make sure their kids always come first -- even if it means putting hurt feelings aside and coming to an agreement with someone you just can't stand.

    Good for these two parents for figuring that out. We wish them nothing but luck.

    How long did your custody battle drag on? Who decided to end it?


    Image via Splash News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    geeky girl glasses

    Offbeat. Quirky. Are those words you'd use to describe your kid? How about geeky? All good things for a kid to be, but they can present a challenge to a parent: how do you nurture a kid who marches to the beat of a different drummer and make sure they're happy?

    It's not nearly as hard as you'd think:

    1. Show an interest in their passions -- even if you have to force it. "The biggest thing with kids is respecting their individuality," says Dr. Melissa Dufrene, clinical psychologist with Algiers Neurobehavioral Resource, "Any way you can celebrate that -- not just saying, 'This is what you're good at,' but really make the effort to explore it with them." Something as simple as asking a child, "Tell me what you like about it" can allow you to see something they're passionate about through their eyes.

    2. Avoid labels. "Children catch on very quickly if they are perceived negatively or as different, and this can be upsetting even at a young age," warns Dr. Rachel Annunziato, assistant professor for clinical psychology at Fordham University. "In my clinical work, it’s not uncommon to hear children say that their parents find them 'weird' or believe they are embarrassed by them. It’s ideal if we can find ways to embrace whatever is offbeat or quirky about our kids while also being mindful of what we can do to help them socially."

    3. Ask for help. If you have a child who is excelling or highly interested in something that isn't your area of expertise, don't be afraid to ask for help -- maybe find an activity within your school or community. It's good for kids to have outlets beyond the family, and it's good for them to see parents admitting when they simply don't know something or can't do something.

    On the flip side, not trying to show an interest or help your child, warns Fran Blumberg, associate professor in the Division of Psychological and Educational Services at Fordham University's Graduate School of Education, may be perceived as a "lack of interest in the child or a devaluing of what the child likes to do."

    raising geeky kid4. Keep your goals separate from theirs. It can be tempting to push kids into activities and interests that you, yourself, are attracted to, especially when you're raising a child who avoids the mainstream activities you enjoyed as a kid. But how do you know it's right for your child? Dufrene suggests starting out any activity with the goal of having fun only. "It can be pretty clear when your kid isn't having any fun anymore," she says. "If you have to drag your kid somewhere, the goal has really been lost." If they enjoy it, continue. If not, move on.

    Most community centers offer short-term programs that are a good starter for kids to see if they have a true interest without being tied into something they dislike for a long period of time. These are generally low cost as well, so parents don't have to commit to a big expense and feel the need to keep a child involved when they're unhappy.

    5. Don't be afraid to push them beyond one interest. Kids can get very caught up with one particular interest, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage them to broaden their horizons. "One strategy that I have found helpful as both a child psychologist and as a mother is to try and suggest variations of a theme," suggests Dr. Annunziato. "If your child is focused on princesses, he/she may be interested in puzzles and drawings that also include princesses."

    Dufrene also suggests letting kids "earn" rewards, even something as simple as allowing them to earn involvement in an activity they are interested in in exchange for attending a class you feel they would enjoy ... that they might have been hesitant to try.

    6. Be proactive. Bullying can happen to any kid -- no matter how mainstream or offbeat they are -- which is why Dufrene says it behooves parents to be on top of it. Ask your kids if they're experiencing bullying, and use examples from your own childhood to get you talking. Often, she says, kids fear telling their parents that they're being bullied because they don't want to disappoint them.

    7. Love your kid, if not their passions. Praise and affection should not be tied to success, Dufrene warns. "I think the most basic perspective you can have is ... is your kid happy?" she says. "You can push them in different directions you thought they would go, but in the end, it's up to them."

    Do you have a child who is a little quirky? What are your best tips for raising an offbeat child?


    Image ©iStock.com/alexandercreative and iStock.com/svetikd

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    pregnant stretchmarksStretchmarks and pregnancy. Two words in the English language that go hand in hand ... for most women anyway. Dubbed striae gravidarum by doctors, they occur in as much as 80 percent of pregnancies. And they show up EVERYWHERE.

    "The most common area is the abdomen, second is the breast tissue, and third is the thighs," explains Julie Moore, MD, a dermatologist a Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Illinois.

    So what causes them? And more importantly, can you prevent them?

    According to Moore, pregnant women get stretchmarks due to "genetics and hormones, among other medical reasons." We're not alone -- folks of both sexes tend to develop stretchmarks during puberty as growth occurs, weight lifters will get them as their muscles expand and stretch skin, and they also occur in overweight people.

    But pregnant women are at a particular risk.

    So can you keep them at bay? No, you can't -- not according to Moore and Dr. Eric Newman of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Both medical experts say stretchmarks are often simply a part of life.

    Sorry, Mom!

    BUT both do offer hope. You can attempt to minimize stretchmarks with the following:

    Pregnancy Stretchmarks Tips to Keep Them at Bay

    1. Keep weight in the healthy range. Stretchmarks are "a breakdown in the connective tissue, skin fibers, and collagen in the skin," Moore says. The more weight you put on, the more stretching of the skin occurs.

    2. Avoid corticosteroids. They may promise great things but, according to Newman, "steroid medications may decrease the strength of the elastic fibers in the dermis of your skin leading to stretchmarks."

    3. Stay well hydrated. It may be tempting to reduce your liquid intake when you constantly have someone bouncing on your bladder, but Newman says keeping skin hydrated can help minimize stretchmarks.

    4. Try hydrating and antioxidant lotions. Dr. Newman warns there are no "proven preventative methods," but there is hope. "Certain hydrating lotions containing antioxidants have been reported to show benefit." He specifically suggests lotions with various organic oils and butters and those containing antioxidant vitamins A, C & E.

    Do you have stretchmarks? What have you been doing to keep them away?


    Images via © skynesher/iStock; © PonyWang/iStock

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    bodyguard blanketAll right Mom, what did you pack in your child's backpack this morning before sending them off to school? Some pencils? Maybe a folder or two? How about a bulletproof blanket?

    Yes, they're a real thing, and what's more, the Bodyguard Blanket is made just for kids, complete with "incredibly strong materials [to] catch and deform the bullet."

    Sounds ... terrifying.

    Which is exactly the message you're sending your kids if you're buying them a bulletproof blanket to take to school. That they aren't safe. That life is uncertain.

    At times, it may feel that way, but that's the last thing experts want us imparting to our kids. After the Newtown shooting, they all told us we need to reassure our kids, to tell them things were going to be all right -- not to scare them more.

    Even though we're scared, we need to act rationally; our kids depend on it.

    The Bodyguard was invented by a dad who was horrified by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting -- as we all were. His website urges parents to buy because -- he says -- school shootings are on the rise and, "Our children, who attend pre-school to 12th grade and college, as well as thousands of dedicated teachers, continue to be at risk from these attacks while at school each day."

    With fear-mongering comments like that, how can you not want to pony up ... or urge your local school district to put in a bulk order (prices go down if you order a ton)?

    Well, consider this: when the Pew Research Center actually looked at gun violence rates in America last spring -- months AFTER Sandy Hook -- they found gun-related homicides and crime are actually DOWN "strikingly" over rates 20 years prior. And according to CDC statistics, during the 2009-2010 school year, the odds of a student (age 5-18) being the victim of a school-associated homicide was one in 2.5 million. In comparison, the odds of a 5- to 19-year-old being killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2010 were 1 in 16,000.

    If we really want to protect our kids, we don't need to buy them bulletproof blankets.

    We need to keep them out of cars and buses.

    But that's a whole other kettle of fish ...

    Would you get your kids a "bodyguard blanket"? What do you think it would do to them?


    Image via Bodyguard Blanket

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.


    Pacifiers are a lifesaver for moms ... right up until the day you decide you want to wean your child off their beloved binky. Sure, there are the moms who swear their kids just went cold turkey. But they seem like the mystical Bigfoot -- you hear about them, but you never actually see them.

    So how do you get your tot to give up the pacifier? The experts say binkies should be taken away well before adult teeth begin to come in to prevent any lifelong damage to their alignment.

    And fortunately, they have some ideas to help!

    Tips for Breaking the Pacifier Habit

    1. Do take it slowly. "Don't try to go cold turkey," warns Dr. Priti Naik, pediatric dentist from Vienna, Virginia. Instead he suggests reducing and limiting pacifier use gradually to "successively shorter or specific times." For example, you can cut out pacifier use during the day, allowing your tot to keep the soother at night, then cut naptime use, then bedtime.

    2. Don't damage the pacifier. Dr. Naik has seen parents cut the nipple to make sucking unpleasant, but he doesn't suggest it as this can present a choking hazard.

    3. Do find a way for them to "keep" their pacifier without sucking on it. Dr. David Zirlin of White Plains Pediatric Dentistry told a patient who was going to Build-A-Bear to put the last pacifier in the bear before it was sewn up as a way for the child to hang on to it. 

    4. Don't be afraid to set down limits. "As a parent, you are able to control the time or access to the pacifier," Dr. Naik reminds patients. "While the child may become upset, ultimately, it's the parents that can control access to the pacifiers."

    5. Do talk to your child. Parents' encouragement can work wonders, Dr. Zirlin says. "Discuss it with the child," he suggests. "Tell them why you want them to quit and plan a strategy ... together."

    6. Don't be afraid to get creative. Binky fairy coming to take them away to give to babies who need them? Planting a binky tree? These "tricks" can get kids on board, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    7. Do reward your kids. Giving up a pacifier is a big step for little ones, and Dr. Zirlin suggests acknowledging that. He suggests a reward chart -- putting stickers on a chart or calendar for going without the pacifier, or outright trading pacifiers for toys. 

    Have your kids given up their pacifiers yet? How did you wean them from the binky?


    Images via Kristian Mollenborg/Flickr; © iStock.com/matka_Wariatka

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    breastfeeding babyWhen you hear the phrase "breastfeeding mom," what words come to mind first? Awesome? Natural, maybe? Unfortunately, that's not the term a nursing mom faced at a coffee shop recently. The only thing some nasty folks could come up with?

    A certain word usually reserved for a promiscuous woman. Hint ... it rhymes with mutt, gut, and putt putt. Say what?!

    The story comes out of England, where 27-year-old stay-at-home mom Rhea Holley was at a coffee shop with a friend when her 11-month-old son woke up and wanted a snack. Mom had forgotten her cover, but the shop has a reputation for being "breastfeeding-friendly," and baby was hungry, so she decided to nurse him.

    That's when a couple in the cafe -- who Holley has told several media outlets appeared to be in their 60s -- started grumbling about how "disgusting" she was and dropped the "slut" word.

    Because caring for one's child is now "slutty"?

    What kind of world are we living in? It's bad enough that women are slut-shamed for how they dress or how men treat them, but now we're actually slut-shaming women for feeding their kids?

    Repeat after me, folks: breastfeeding is not sexual.

    Nor is having a child sucking on your breast sexy.

    In fact, if you look at a woman's chest, see a child having lunch, and get turned on, that says a whole lot more about you -- and your issues -- than it does mom or child. She's innocently feeding her baby. You're a pervert. 

    You're putting your feelings about her breasts on her rather than stepping back and evaluating what is actually going on.

    When you think about it, that's the biggest problem with folks who shame breastfeeding mothers. They are uncomfortable, and instead of looking inwardly and asking themselves why it is that a nursing mom makes them feel that way, they project their "ick factor" onto the mother.

    Have you ever been shamed for breastfeeding? What is the worst thing you've been called?


    Image via © Barbara Peacock/CORBIS

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Halle BerryThink your custody battle is tough? Try being Halle Berry. The actress just settled her child support case with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. The two will share custody of 6-year-old Nahla.

    That's the good news. The bad news? The mother of two will reportedly have to pay Aubry nearly $16,000 a month for the privilege of shared custody.

    According to the math, that's about $200,000 a year until Nahla is 19 (or until she graduates from high school -- whichever comes first).


    We don't usually hear about moms being handed down huge child support judgments, but then Halle Berry is not your average mom. The actress makes big bucks in comparison to Aubry (not to mention average American moms AND dads).

    And, well, the judgment seems about right. Sure, the average kid does not incur $16,000 a month in expenses, but child support isn't just based on average needs. There's also the lifestyle to which a child is accustomed that needs to be considered in any custody battle. That which existed before should continue to exist -- when possible.

    Shouldn't it? Don't we want to disrupt our kids' lives as little as possible?

    Parents' decision to split is just that -- the parents' decision. It shouldn't mean the child has to suffer any more than absolutely necessary (the split homes, for example, are usually unavoidable, and that's to be understood). 

    More From The Stir: Bethenny Frankel & Jason Hoppy's Custody Fight Takes Surprising Turn

    The parent who was doing the bulk of supporting that lifestyle before the split may feel it's unfair to keep doing so after, especially if they're splitting time right down the middle. If Halle and Gabriel are truly doing a 50/50 split, the cost burden on Mom might sound unreasonable. 

    But again, it's not about the parent. It's about the kid. If Halle was footing the bills on this lavish lifestyle before she and Dad split, it behooves her to keep Nahla's life on an even keel.

    And the same goes for any parent who has been putting out the bulk of the finances pre-split. You can get mad at your ex all you want for not chipping in, but you have to think of what it is your child needs most right now. Is it your ex stepping up or the continuation of the life they know?

    What do you think of the judgment? Should shared custody mean shared financial burden?



    Image via Celebrity Monitor, PacificCoastNews

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    birthday cakeHow's this for a parenting conundrum. Your kid comes home from school clutching a birthday party invitation in their little paw, and they just can't wait to go spend a day filling up on cake and bashing on a pinata? But then you look at the date: little Junior is having a birthday bash on Father's Day.

    Hey, Dad, we love you so much we're going to run off and spend the day without you! Can you imagine someone scheduling a kid's birthday party on Mother's Day?

    Not gonna happen! But it's come to our attention lately (thanks to a number of party invitations) that people have no qualms about throwing a birthday bash on dad's big day.

    And, quite frankly, we're a little annoyed on Papa's behalf.

    Doesn't Dad deserve his day with his kids too? And by "with his kids," we mean actually doing something together, not having to shuttle them to someone else's house and then sit there and make small talk with other parents while 13 sugared up elementary schoolers run around the yard throwing water balloons?

    We all know how hard it can be to schedule a child's birthday party, especially when your child is born around a holiday. You want people to actually be in town for the big event so your child isn't disappointed that their friends can't attend. June is especially fraught with complications because of the Memorial Day holiday at one end and July 4th weekend at the other, not to mention graduations and end-of-the-school year festivities.

    We are not without sympathy for busy parents juggling schedules.

    We are, however, a little sad for Dad that parents see no problem with taking "his" day away from him. According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans will actually spend $7.4 billion less on gifts for Dad this month than they did this past Mother's Day. And while 81 percent of consumers planned to get Mom a card last month, only 64 percent will do the same for Dad.

    He just doesn't garner the same respect. And that's a sad message being sent to both fathers and our kids.

    While studies have shown mothers still bear the biggest burden of caring for kids in our country, fathers are doing more in 2014 than ever before. We have more stay-at-home dads. We have more dads chipping in around the house. We have more dads taking paternity leaves, and more dads taking a stand for their place(s) in their kids' lives.

    More from The Stir:5 Father's Day Poems to Make Dad LOL

    And yet our way of repaying Dads for finally getting with the program is by throwing an event that's all about getting kids to your house on a day when they should be hanging out with him?

    Some might say it's "just" a birthday party, and you can simply deny the invitation. It's true.

    But think about the position this puts kids in. Hey kid, you can choose between chilling with your pops on his big day ... or ice cream, and candy, and bouncy houses! Put yourself in a 5-year-old's shoes. What would you choose?

    Now ... put yourself in Dad's shoes and think about how crappy you'd feel knowing your kid really wants to go get silly in an inflated castle instead of sitting grill-side with you.

    Still think it's "just" a birthday party?

    If you've got a Junebug, here's an idea: schedule the party for Saturday.

    Would you schedule a birthday party on Father's Day? How about Mother's Day?


    Image via Sam Howzit/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby shower gameSo you want to throw a baby shower, huh? And you've got so many ideas in your head that just sound so exciting, you can't wait to put them into action -- especially all these fun baby shower games. Stop! Hold that thought!

    Baby showers can be fun, but too many planners lose control when they start filling the day with games that ... it turns out ... just turn people off! If you want to throw the shower of the year, you need to know what not to do!

    Whatever you have planned, make sure these eight baby shower games are not on your agenda! Your guests -- and the mom-to-be -- will thank you for it.

    What baby shower game drives you up the wall?


    Image via © Radius Images/Corbis

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    twin babiesGiving birth to twins may not seem like it's big news. After all, there are more twins being born in America than ever before -- about one in 30 babies born in the United States is a twin. But one mom has given birth to a set of babies who really break the mold. Her twins were born 24 days apart!

    What has turned out to be a miracle started as a nightmare for mom Lindalva Pinheiro da Silva, who went into labor at just 24 weeks pregnant back in March. Her son, Alexandre, was born four days later, and doctors assumed his brother would come out that day too.

    Instead, da Silva's cervix closed, her contractions stopped, and she was able to hold on to little Ronaldo for more than three weeks!

    Fast forward to today, and the da Silva family's story is making headlines because both boys weigh more than 6 pounds and are thriving.

    It's certainly a testament to our amazing bodies. Here da Silva's body somehow knew it couldn't keep going with these two babies inside, and it forced her into pre-term labor. But then, with the one baby out and -- fortunately -- taking advantage of modern medicinal advances, the body knew it was OK to keep going with the pregnancy, to give the second twin what he needed. 

    More from The Stir:Newborn Twins Can't Stop Hugging Even While They Bathe (VIDEO)

    Could it all have just been a fluke? We suppose. But then, it could also have been the mom body knowing that little Alexandre could make it on the outside, but Ronaldo needed a little more cooking in mom's oven.

    Who knows.

    What we do know is that this mom has two gorgeous twins on her hands, and one wild story to tell!

    How far along were you when you gave birth?


    Image via © Emma Kim/Image Source/Corbis

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Mila KunisMila Kunis showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week, and as things do when you're talking to a pregnant woman, discussion turned to her bump. And that's when Ashton Kutcher's fiancee made us love her even more than we thought possible. Mila launched into a message for all the dads-to-be out there who are excited about becoming fathers.

    It's OK to be excited. Wonderful even. But if you've ever said "we're pregnant," well ... we'll let Mila talk to you about that one:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Henceforth all children will be referred to as love goblins.


    More from The Stir:10 Quotes About Fatherhood That Tell It Like It Is

    We're all for dads getting excited about their impending fatherhood, but come on, guys! Until you're carrying around an extra 20 pounds awkwardly concentrated in a basketball-shaped space on the front of your body, until you have someone doing the hula on your bladder, until you push a watermelon-sized human out of MUCH MUCH smaller than that hole, you, my dear Daddy-to-Be, better not even think about using the words "we're pregnant."

    Got that?

    Did your partner say "we're pregnant"? What did you say to him?


    Image via Xavier Collin/Celebrity Monitor/Splash News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    painted flag t-shirt

    Dreading the "I'm bored"s sure to come with summer vacation? Might we remind you that the Fourth of July is coming up fast? If you're wondering what the two might have to do with one another, we have three words for you: July 4th crafts.

    Wait, let's add a few more: crafts that the kidscan do! So long boredom, hello patriotism! We checked in with some of the craftiest moms in the blogosphere for patriotic activities that will keep the kiddos' fingers and minds busy for hours ... and help the whole family celebrate the national holiday.

    More from The Stir:Fourth of July Craft for Kids: How to Make Tie Dye T-Shirts (VIDEO)

    Are you ready to get crafty?

    Would your kids be able to make #7?

    10 Fourth of July Crafts for Kids

    Top image via Deceptively Educational

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    school shootingA terrifying statistic has been going 'round the Internet this week. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, there have been at least 74 school shootings in America. That includes the tragedy at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, on Tuesday, when a gunman entered the school building, killed one student, and injured a teacher.

    Compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, the school shooting report lists not only the number of shootings, but also the casualties. In 49 percent of the incidents, at least one person died.

    Teachers. School staff members. Children.

    All dying in what amounts to nearly one school shooting every week.

    "We should feel secure in sending our children to school -- comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe," the folks at Everytown posted this week.

    We should.

    But we don't.

    We don't because something has happened in America. Something that has nothing to do with the gun control battle that seems to have no end.

    Children have become targets and killing children is a means to exact one's revenge on -- it seems -- everyone who has wronged you.

    The biggest fear for parents is the notion that their child's school could be next, but almost as scary is the idea that we don't know why it's happening.

    Why this shift in American crime? (And it is a shift. According to Stop the Shootings, there have been 387 total shootings in schools since 1992. Take 74 from 387, and that means 19 percent of the shootings in a 22-year span happened in less than 2 years. That's a startling jump. And for parents, a mystifying one.)

    Why would anyone want to hurt our kids? How is it that anyone can look at a child and not see something good, pure, innocent, worth protecting? Even during wartime, civilized societies generally agree that children are off-limits. And in emergencies, it's generally accepted that children get the first life-saving treatment.

    Children should be precious. So why are they targets?

    Granted, the Everytown report and Stop the Shootings' statistics both include child-on-child violence. According to Everytown, the youngest shooter in its list was just 5 years old.

    But the oldest? He was 53. And he took a gun into a school.

    We need to control the guns in this country. That's absolutely true.

    But these statistics tell us we also need to take a long, hard look at our society's attitudes toward children. At what it is that makes these people turn on our society's most vulnerable.

    Ours is supposed to be an advanced nation, a nation where our children are given chances they might not get in less developed worlds, where little girls are married off and little boys sent to war. Our children are supposed to get the best we have to offer, to have a global village helping to protect them, to raise them.

    We as parents can't protect our kids without society's help. 

    What do you make of this startling statistic? Do you feel like kids are now targets?


    Image via © iStock.com/1MoreCreative

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Blue Ivy HairJust when you thought you'd heard every mommy war ever pitched, a new battle has begun. Have you heard about the petition on Change.org to force Beyonce and Jay Z to take better care of Blue Ivy's hair? More than 2,000 people have signed the petition to comb a toddler's hair.

    Yes, America, we have reached a whole new level of crazy on the judging one another's parenting scale. How you wield a hairbrush could now make you a pariah on the playground.

    Says the petition:

    As a woman who understands the importance of hair care. It's disturbing to watch a child suffering from the lack of hair moisture. The parents of Blue Ivy. Sean Carter A.K.A Jay-Z and Beyoncé has failed at numerous attempts of doing Blue Ivy Hair. This matter has escalated to the child developing matted dreads and lint balls. Please let's get the word out to properly care for Blue Ivy hair.

    To which we have to say ... really?

    Sure, brushing a child's hair is part of a hygienic childhood. Kids need at least a semblance of hair maintenance.

    But anyone who has spent any time with a toddler knows that is easier said then done. Kids tend to rate the hairbrush about on par with the tube of sunscreen: both are seen as instruments of torture, and they produce ear-splitting shrieks when taken out. Not to mention, we have all put in time and effort on our kiddo's hair only to put them in the car seat and see all that work get smushed ... or see them rip bows and barrettes out and send them flinging within seconds of walking away from Mom and Dad.

    You try ... and sometimes you just pick another, more important battle, like getting them to brush their teeth or eat something green, accepting that no mom is perfect. So who are we to judge the 'do of someone else's toddler?

    If anything, Blue Ivy's messy mop should make the rest of us feel a bit better about our own kids' wild locks.

    Jay Z and Beyonce may have oodles of dollars to spend on their kid, but even they don't have a magic fix for the issue that is dealing with a toddler's hair.

    Do you judge other parents on the way their toddler's hair looks? How about YOUR toddler's hair? How neat is it?


    Image via Splash News

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