The Argument for “Free-Range Kids”

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Shutterstock.com

It’s been a couple of years now, but the shock still feels fresh: I took my young son to Fitler Square for some morning playtime, and there we found another young child.

Playing by herself.

No adults in sight.

Had she been abandoned? Had she wandered off on her own? Why wasn’t anybody around?

God help me, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I resolved to stay close, keep an eye on her — and if too much time passed, I’d call the police. Luckily, it never came to that: Her father rushed up a few minutes later — he’d brought his daughter to the park, then left her there for a few minutes to grab something from his house nearby. He’d never thought her in danger. I kind of thought he was a giant jerk.

But this probably has some bearing on the story: The father was European — for the sake of neighborly relations, I’ll not identify him more specifically than that — and, possibly, not wise to the panicky “stranger danger” alarmism we American parents are marinated in. Read more »

Why Parents Gain Weight Without Realizing It

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Healthy eating is simple, right? Fill your fridge with nutritious fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains, and you won’t be tempted to eat junk food. That might be easy if you don’t have kids. Kids tend to love all things carbohydrate: pasta, rice, Goldfish crackers, graham crackers, pretzels, chips. And because moms and dads are constantly on the go with their kids, they find that they need to have these snacks stashed in their bags. After all, it’s pretty hard to serve steamed broccoli to your child in the car on the way to soccer practice. Read more »

When Murder Turns Us Into Monsters

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Last week, I spent the majority of my time reporting on the murder of Jim Stuhlman, an unarmed 51-year-old man who was shot dead on Thursday, March 12th, while taking his dog for an evening stroll on his quiet street in Overbrook. And adding to the tragedy of Stuhlman’s murder was the Philadelphia Police Department’s announcement that the suspects in the case are in their mid-teens. Read more »

How CrossFit Made Me a Saner Parent

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Before the CrossFit haters sharpen their knives, let me just preface this piece by saying that neither burpees nor deadlifts have helped me to become a better parent. I’m a mother, not a meathead, so in order to understand how CrossFit has helped me, you’re going to have to trust that I’m not proselytizing right now.

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Would You Spend $200,000 on Your Child’s Bedroom?

So last week the Wall Street Journal filled me in on Dahlia Mahmood, an interior designer who created a lovely princess-themed bedroom for a Virginia client’s 2-year-old daughter a while back. The centerpiece of the $200,000 extravaganza is a bed shaped like a castle, complete with a walk-across parapet and turrets in which the toddler can store her dolls. It has its own elfin door, sized too small for adults but perfect for the girl, at least at the time it was built. (I assume there’s some other way for, say, the help to get in and change the linens.) The walls of the bathroom are painted by hand and adorned with Swarovski crystals. The … oh, hell, why don’t I just show you a photo? Here.

Ms. Mahmood’s work was just one exhibit in an article devoted to such grand excesses. Lindsay Dickhout, chief executive of the mobile spray-tanning company Million Dollar Tan, is building her girls, Stella, 4, and Presley, 2, a $70,000 princess playroom. It’s not going to be finished until next month, but it’s going to include a faux-gem-covered stage, a treehouse loft, and — oh, the wondrous whimsicality! — a miniature French café. “It’s going to be a pink explosion,” Dickhout told WJS, “with hearts and bows and crowns and tassels.” For now, Stella must make do with her $6,000 custom-made castle bed.

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39 Places to Take Your Kid When the Weather Is Miserable

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From left: Please Touch Museum, Get Air, Sky Zone Trampoline Complex, Garden State Discovery Museum

The bad news: If you’re reading this, it probably means it’s freezing outside. The good news: The city and suburbs are full of awesome places to hang out indoors with little ones. Here, a bunch of stellar family-friendly indoor fun zones, all with easy hours, distinct vibes and different attributes. (That’s our way of saying that there are some at which you’ll romp around with your kid inside a sprawling playground, others where you can sit on the sidelines and thumb through your phone while they throw themselves into a giant foam pit. And in some cases, all that fun is even free! Check individual sites for admission and pricing details.)

This post originally appeared on Wee Wander, a website dedicated to helping parents navigate Philadelphia.

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Where Is Shane Montgomery?

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I can’t imagine what the parents of missing West Chester University student Shane Montgomery went through this past weekend as the search for their son spread throughout Manayunk — and thank God for that. It’s any parent’s worst nightmare: a child vanished into thin air. And while we may tell ourselves it hardly ever happens, the truth is, it does, more often than we’re willing to let ourselves admit.

Montgomery had been at Kildare’s pub celebrating “Thanksgiving Eve,” the unofficial (but popular) holiday before the holiday, when college kids return to their hometowns and go out drinking with their old friends. My colleague Monica Weymouth recently wrote a lovely, poignant and funny ode to the occasion as observed in the Great Northeast. We used to observe Thanksgiving Eve where I grew up, in Doylestown; my kids do it now, in the far western suburb where we live.

And I hold my breath.

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Which Matters More to Donor-Egg Recipients: Looks or IQ?

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So you’re going shopping for a donor egg. What traits of the donor would be most important to you?

A new study in the Journal of Women’s Health reveals some fascinating changes in trends among those using donor eggs to become pregnant. The researchers, from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, studied which donor characteristics more than 400 would-become-moms at the Reproductive Medical Associates of New York fertility clinic said mattered most to them.

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Wrong-Sperm Suit Is Really About the Burden of Being Black

Jennifer Cramblett is interviewed at her attorney's home in Waite Hill, Ohio, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Cramblett has sued a Chicago-area sperm bank after she became pregnant with sperm donated by a black man instead of a white man as she'd intended.

Jennifer Cramblett is interviewed at her attorney’s home in Waite Hill, Ohio, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Cramblett has sued a Chicago-area sperm bank after she became pregnant with sperm donated by a black man instead of a white man as she’d intended.

A same-sex couple in Ohio is suing a Chicago-area sperm bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty after receiving the wrong sperm, resulting in the birth of a mixed-race baby girl, Payton.

Payton’s mother, Jennifer Cramblett, has said that she and her partner will now have to relocate from their Uniontown, Ohio, farm town to a more diverse area in order to ensure that Payton is comfortable. Cramblett cites that their current community is mostly white and conservative, and notes racial intolerance in her own family.

Baby Payton is two years old. While it is admirable that her parents have noted their own shortcomings in their ability to care for a child of color (cultural understandings, or even more basic needs like hair care) the lawsuit is about a little more than negligence. And let us be clear, Midwest Sperm Bank certainly seems grossly negligent.

Payton’s parents want compensation for the inconvenience of living a black life. Read more »

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