More

A notice to people who know my kids: Please tell them what to do.

One mom's strong case for letting your kid make lots of mistakes.

A notice to people who know my kids: Please tell them what to do.

There was a kid running at the neighborhood pool the other day.

Photo via iStock.


The pool attendant asked him to walk ,  as pool attendants have done since pools existed. Then the boy’s dad  (a big-chested, serious kind of guy ) came over to the attendant and told him that as the child’s father, he was the only one who could tell his kid what to do. He said that if the attendant has something to say, it should be directed at him.

Basically, don’t talk to his kid, and this dad will decide if his kid needs direction.

The attendant kept his cool and replied — carefully — that it was his job to make sure that people follow the pool rules.

He explained that "no running" is pretty much the universal pool rule. The dad pushed back and added some aggressive posturing to intimidate the pool guy, saying that he didn’t see anything wrong with what his kid was doing. As far as he was concerned, the pool guy needed to back off.

In summary: The kid was free to run at the pool because the dad said so, screw the pool rules (this is America!), nobody tells my kid what to do except me.

There’s a weird sort of fear spreading among reasonable grown-ups.

My sister’s family had some friends over, and one of the adults gave one of my sister’s kids some polite direction about sharing. Then the grown-up realized the grave error in 21st century feedback rules concerning kids who aren’t yours and apologized to my sister for shamefully overstepping.

"Are you KIDDING?" my sister said. "I absolutely want you to tell my kids if they’re doing something you don’t think they should be doing! In fact, do more of it! They need to learn to hear things from people other than me."

If I’m the only one who can tell my kids what to do, I’ve failed them in every possible way by making sure they have completely unrealistic expectations of the world.

Also, I can’t ever die because my kids won’t be able to take care of themselves. Following Big-Chested Dad at the Pool’s logic, a lifeguard can’t lifeguard, teachers can’t teach, coaches can’t coach and, later in life, managers can’t manage ... you see where this is going, right?

Is cushiony perfection for our kids a new national obsession?

We all know That Mom in the neighborhood, who is literally at the school every day, escalating everything to make sure her kid gets an A, is chosen for student council, or gets placed in the gifted program. Later, when her kid is in college, professors will hang up on her and laugh behind her back because she’ll call about something that’s none of her business.

You know this kid. We all know this kid. Photo via iStock.

My middle-schooler and his project partner failed to turn an assignment in on time after many reminders of the deadline. The other kid’s mom (who I met once, briefly) came to my house and wouldn’t leave until I talked with her for nearly an hour about the injustice of it.

She was heartbroken for the disappointment her kid must be feeling at the failure and wanted to fix it somehow. She left, but I think it was only because I told her I had no idea how to reverse the course of what happened and suggested she escalate to a school administrator if she believed the teacher could be convinced to reverse his decision. I haven’t heard back from her.

I don’t mean to brag, but my high schooler fails at quite a few things, too.

None of them too epic, but there’s still time. We talked about it recently. I told him it’s my job to let him fail while he’s still at home with me because he needs to learn how to lose his shit and then pick it up and move forward.

That’s the most major of life skills —  in my experience anyway — and I’ll be damned if any kid of mine is going to fall to pieces his first semester in college because I’m not there to fix life for him.

You remember that person from your dorm days precisely because that person became an utterly forgettable shadow.

This is an open notice to people who know my kids: You can tell them what to do.

It’s really, really OK. Tell them not to put their feet up on your coffee table. Tell them to stop running, not to play with that knife, or not to touch your things.

Actually, now that they’re older, you’ll likely be telling them not to eat all of your potato chips and beef jerky and not to take that drink onto your freshly cleaned carpet.

Whatever the rules are at your place, tell my kid to fall in. I have a selfish motive.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less