This is the second of a short series of episodes on issues related to divorce. The first was our “All Joy and No Fun” episode, where we talked about how parenting today can be the most joyful thing in our lives – even if it isn’t always a whole lot of fun from moment to moment.
The series was inspired by a listener who sent me an email saying: “I was divorced when my husband was 2 ½ years old. He is now 5 years old and has a very hard time expressing his feelings. I have an intuitive “gut” feeling that it has to do with the fact that he went from being with me every day (I was a stay at home mom) to suddenly spending 7-10 days away from me and with his father, and also away from me as I set up a career. Do you know of any research on this?”
Well, I didn’t, but when I started looking around I realized there’s actually so much of it that it makes sense to break it down into two episodes which is what we’re going to do. So today’s episode focuses very much on the factors leading to divorce and the impact of divorce itself on children, and the final episode in the series will look at how what happens after divorce – things like single parenting, ongoing contact with both parents, ongoing arguments between parents, and remarriages and stepparents impact children.
Today’s episode is about a book I read way before I started the podcast, called All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. I actually got a question from a listener recently asking me whether there’s any research on whether and how her divorce might have impacted her son’s development. It turns out that there is, and quite a lot – so I decided to make a series out of it.
We’ll have one episode on how divorce impacts children, and a second on single parenting and step families, and we’ll open the whole lot up with this one on All Joy and No Fun, which is basically about the idea that if you ask a parent what is their greatest joy they will invariably say “my kids,” but if you ask them moment-by-moment if they’re having fun with their children then unfortunately the answer is pretty often “no.” I know that a lot of factors can lead to divorce but surely “all joy and no fun” is among them, so it sort of seemed like it fit with the other two topics. Since I first read the book several months ago I’ve had a chance to think about it a bit, so I’ll start as usual with the research and will end with some ideas on how we can change our approach so we can have “some joy and some fun too.”
We have a pretty cool mini-mini-series launching today. I’ve been seeing a lot of those “chores your child could be doing” articles showing up in my social media feeds lately, and I was thinking about those as well about how children in other cultures seem to be MUCH more willing to help out with work around the house. I’m not saying we want to train our children to be slave laborers, but why is it that children in Western cultures really don’t seem to do chores unless they’re paid to do them?
We’re going to hold off on the “getting paid” part for now, and we’ll talk about that very soon with my guest Ron Lieber, the Money columnist of the New York Times who wrote a book called The Opposite of Spoiled. But today we’re going to discuss the chores part with Andrew Coppens, who is an Assistant Professor of Education in Learning Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. If you’ve ever asked your child to do a task in the home only to have them say “No,” then get comfy and listen up, because I have a feeling that our conversation is going to surprise you and give you some new tools for your toolbox.
Well this took a bit longer than I’d planned… WAY BACK in episode 11 I did Part 1 of a two-part series on tantrums, and was expecting to release the second episode in short order. Then I got inundated with interviews from awesome guests, which I always wanted to release as soon as I could after I spoke with them, and months have gone by without releasing that second episode.
Episode 11 provided a lot of background information on tantrums: a seminal study in 1931 really forms the basis for all the research on tantrums that has been done since then, so we went through it in some depth to understand what those researchers found – I was surprised that so much of the information was still relevant to parents today.
This episode considers the more recent literature – of which there actually isn’t a huge amount – to help us understand what’s going on during a tantrum, how to deal with them once they start, and how to potentially head them off before they even fully develop (don’t we all want that?!).
Professor Peter Gray was primarily interested in the motivations and emotions of animals before his son Scott started struggling in school, at which point Professor Gray’s interests shifted to developing our understanding of self-directed learning and how play helps us to learn. He has extensively studied the learning that occurs at the Sudbury Valley School in Sudbury Valley, MA – where children are free to associate with whomever they like, don’t have to take any classes at all, and yet go on college and to satisfying lives as adults. How can this possibly be? We’ll find out.