* The New Republic has an interesting, albeit depressing, article on "How Older Parenthood Will Upend Society." The author takes somewhat of a doomsday approach, but still poses interesting questions about the effect of older sperm and eggs, Clomid, and assisted reproductive technologies. According to the article, "Fertility doctors do a lot of things to sperm and eggs that have not been rigorously tested, including keeping them in liquids (“culture media,” they’re called) teeming with chemicals that may or may not scramble an embryo’s development—no one knows for sure. There just isn’t a lot of data to work with: The fertility industry, which is notoriously under-regulated, does not give the government reports on what happens to the children it produces. As Wendy Chavkin, a professor of obstetrics and population studies at Columbia University’s school of public health, says, “We keep pulling off these technological marvels without the sober tracking of data you’d want to see before these things become widespread all over the world.”
For further reading on the issue, I found this DC Urban Moms discussion thread on advanced maternal age and babies a thoughtful take on the topic and not very snarky, at least in the beginning, though at the end it breaks down into a huge fight over abortion and downs syndrome (also worth a read).
* Shannon wrote a great blog post about the whole boy/girl marketing scam. The post is best read in its entirety, but here's a snippet -
"All of these girl versus boy stereotypes are really antiquated, if you ask me. And they seem to be based on two really disgusting assumptions:
1) Sexism: That a boy acting like a girl is something bad. We don't get upset when girls are tomboys, or when girls want to wear blue, or play with a truck. But for some reason, we shouldn't allow our boys to take on any feminine qualities.
2) Homophobia: That by allowing our boys to like pink, or play with dolls, or whatever the "girly" activity, that they will inevitably steer to the "dark side" - that they will become gay, and that there is something inherently wrong with that."
* In "Are Babies Born Good?" the Smithsonian magazine documents new research indicating that children MAY have an innate moral compass.
“Eighteen-month-old children . . . help across . . . different situations, and do it very spontaneously. . . . They are clever helpers. It is not something that’s been trained, and they readily come to help without prompting or without being rewarded.”
* According to Slate Magazine parents need not stress over children who are picky eaters.
"[I]t’s normal for children to be wary of unfamiliar foods. The technical term for this behavior, which peaks between the ages of 2 and 6, is food neophobia, and it may actually be a relic of an evolutionary survival tactic: Animals old enough to forage for food alone but too inexperienced to know what’s safe are less likely to accidentally poison themselves if they are cautious about trying new foods. (Young chimpanzees and rats behave this way, for instance.) And unless a fussy child’s weight-for-age percentile is quickly dropping, he or she is probably not in any health danger from eating only bagels for a few weeks, says Lucy Cooke, a psychologist and public-health scientist at University College London. Kids can get enough nutrients from just a handful of foods, and hey, there are always vitamin supplements."
I personally found this interesting because once F turned 7, she began trying EVERYTHING we put in front of her, with no bribes. Whereas T still won't touch about 50% of the foods we eat.
* The Washington Post published a short article on atheist parents talking to children about death that I found interesting, especially because we've had similar conversations in our own home (though I prefer to think of us as agnostic)."
According to one parent interviewed "“I’ve explained to them [in the past] that some people believe God is waiting for them, but I don’t believe that. I believe when you die, it’s over and you live on in the memory of people you love and who love you. I can’t offer them the comfort of a better place. Despite all the evils and problems in the world, this is the heaven — we’re living in the heaven and it’s the one we work to make. It’s not a paradise.”