for parents

This page provides links to some of what I’ve written and edited with regard to parenting. I don’t mean to imply this is the only stuff on parenting worth consulting! It just provides some organization by topic to help my web visitors find material of interest.

General parenting (especially for academics):

Why did the mate and I opt for a demedicalized birth? Because we're science geeks. Read this plain language essay at The Atlantic, or this higher-tech version for medical students.

My general feelings about “the kid option” are summed up in a blog with that name. The reasons I decided later to "lean out" are explained here.

Parents juggling children and paid work (especially those who are academics) might take a look at The True Story of Dr. Mom. I’ve also written about the mythical “Work-Life Balance,” mostly in order to argue that mothers should not get special exceptions in academia. Sort of. (I think my blog My Favorite Pot explores the same basic ideas.)

Those who are in dual-faculty partnerships and getting slapped with marriage penalties by their universities might enjoy my satire, A Modest Proposal Regarding the Faculty. (I hear this has been passed around at Academic Senate meetings of other universities. Hopefully it isn’t being used as an actual proposal!)

If you’re trying to write a book (or a dissertation) when you have young children, check out Thick with Child.

If the self-esteem movement drives you as crazy as it does me, check out my blog on The Self-Esteemed Generation.

My work (and especially the parents I met through it) taught me a lot about parenting before I ever became a parent. (Bottom line: your child is not you, and always tell your child the truth.) The essay I wrote about telling my son the truth about sex--that we mostly have it for pleasure--went viral at Pacific Standard. Nowadays all my work on parenting is inevitably influenced by my experiences with my son; One of Us is the clearest example of that, but I also wrote some about my own parenting experiences in posts for Bioethics Forum, including a serious essay on the “Ashley” story, and a cheeky criticism of circumcision.  I wrote about my own miscarriage (and how it made me realize maternal guilt is partly about women’s own belief in maternal power) in an essay for the New York Times called it “Guilt Trips and the Art of Blaming Mom for Everything.”


Parenting children with atypical bodies, atypical behaviors, and disabilities:

If I had to recommend one thing I’ve written on this topic, it would be the essay I called What to Expect When You Have the Child You Weren’t Expecting. That article relates what I’ve learned from parents who have been through this, as well as talking some about what I learned from my own mother about parenting. (If you can’t get the book for whatever reason, contact me for a copy.)

Parents of children with bodies that challenge social norms should also consider reading my book, One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal. I realize very few readers will be parents of conjoined twins, but what I lay out there is a general understanding of why we are too quick to take pity on and feel shame about children who look different. It provides a lot of stories of parents who have managed beautifully for their children in spite of challenging birth anomalies.

Parents of children with differences of sex development (what used to be called “intersex”) should look at the wonderful handbook I was privileged to edit. I think it is a fantastic example of a handbook that can provide immediate peer support to real parents--I wish I could do one of these for every condition like disorders of sex development. If you’re a parent of a child with a DSD, you might also check out a piece I wrote a long time ago for Fathering Magazine (“Intersex: What Parents Need to Know”). I also recommend reading the interview Cheryl Chase and I did with a grown woman and her mother; the daughter was born with a large clitoris, and her mother decided to let it be.

While I was working on the dexamethasone project, I was asked why parents should not try to biochemically engineer their children to be straight. I answered that question in an essay for Psychology Today called “To Have Is to Hold.” That project ultimately was covered in Galileo's Middle Finger.

I’ve also written some advice to parents whose children who are said to have “gender identity disorder," along with a key follow-up thanks to a mother who wrote to correct me. See that here.

Parents of teens with DSDs or who are transgender might want to give them copies of Lisa Lees wonderful young-adult novels, Fool for Love and A Queer Circle of Friends. They feature main characters who are intersex and trans.

Parents coping with miscarriages of and stillborn children with birth anomalies might find some solace in hearing one woman’s story in Products of Conception.