Marchie Whalen explains her approach to teaching her kids about safety.
In the 1960s, the Little Golden Books series included a book called "Never Talk to Strangers," a cute little sing-songy rhyme with a host of silly animals and an ominous, repeating refrain: Never talk to strangers.
For generations, the "Don't talk to strangers" message for kids has been as ubiquitous as "Wear your seatbelt" and "Look both ways when you cross the street." But unlike those clear-cut safety rules, "stranger danger" messaging comes with some significant drawbacks and glaring omissions.
Mom and life coach Marcie Whalen shared why she and her partner don't teach their kids the concept of "stranger danger" at all, and her alternate approach makes a lot of sense.
“Parents are trying to protect their kids, keep them safe. But most people are good people," Whalen says. "And we want our girls to be outgoing and have conversations with people to be, in general, hospitable to those around them. And so instead of talking about strangers, we talk about strange behavior.”
Whalen points out the statistical truth that it's far more likely that kids will be abused or hurt by someone they know rather than a stranger. "So I want my girls to understand what strange behavior is—asking them to keep a secret…asking them to go somewhere without their mom or dad—and my girls understand what to look for, whether it’s in somebody they know really well or somebody they don’t know at all."
"Stranger danger" may be catchy as a rhyme, but when we teach kids that strangers in general can't be trusted, we instill a sense of fear about everyone they don't know, which isn't entirely fair and can quickly become confusing. Real life involves interacting with strangers all the time, so kids miss developing an important life skill if all they hear is that strangers might be dangerous. We also talk about the kindness of strangers being a good thing, so at what point do kids learn to stop fearing unfamiliar people and start reaching out with kindness?
In truth, some strangers will be more trustworthy and safe than some people kids know, so automatically feeling paranoid about every stranger won't guarantee their safety. Kids who are old enough to be in situations where they might interact with strangers without a parent or guardian beside them are old enough to learn what kinds of situations to avoid and what behavioral red flags to watch for. Most obviously, we should teach kids some specific luring tactics to watch for with strangers, such as an adult asking a child for directions or for help looking for a lost puppy, in addition to the classic tempting them with candy. However, it's also important that they know "strange behavior" isn't always super obvious, so they should listen to their gut if something seems even a little bit "off" or questionable.
“At the National Center, we don’t teach stranger danger, either," executive director Callahan Walsh told TODAY Parents. "We know that child safety is much more nuanced than just a rhyming phrase. There are inherent flaws with that strategy.”
Walsh shared that kids will often describe strangers as "mean" or "ugly" or "monster-like," which isn't the reality with most people who actually pose a threat. Teaching children to avoid strangers also might prevent them from seeking help from a stranger, such as a security guard, a store employee or a mom with kids, if they find themselves in a scary or dangerous situation.
Of course, knowing your own kid also comes into this equation. Some children are more naturally anxious and cautious, while others may be oblivious to potential dangers, so tailoring the messaging to a child's temperament is wise. Whalen's premise is solid either way, though. Most people are good, most threats come from people kids know and "stranger danger" is a simplistic approach to keeping kids safe that doesn't take the whole of reality into account.
Sixty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to make it into space and probably the first to experience what scientists now call the "overview effect." This change occurs when people see the world from far above and notice that it’s a place where “borders are invisible, where racial, religious and economic strife are nowhere to be seen.”
The overview effect makes man’s squabbles with one another seem incredibly petty and presents the planet as it truly is, one interconnected organism.
In a compelling interview with Big Think, astronaut, author and humanitarian Ron Garan explains how if more of us developed this planetary perspective we could fix much of what ails humanity and the planet.
Garan has spent 178 days in space and traveled more than 71 million miles in 2,842 orbits. From high above, he realized that the planet is a lot more fragile than he thought.
“When I looked out the window of the International Space Station, I saw the paparazzi-like flashes of lightning storms, I saw dancing curtains of auroras that seemed so close it was as if we could reach out and touch them. And I saw the unbelievable thinness of our planet's atmosphere. In that moment, I was hit with the sobering realization that that paper-thin layer keeps every living thing on our planet alive,” Garan said in the video.
“I saw an iridescent biosphere teeming with life,” he continues. “I didn't see the economy. But since our human-made systems treat everything, including the very life-support systems of our planet, as the wholly owned subsidiary of the global economy, it's obvious from the vantage point of space that we're living a lie.”
It was at that moment he realized that humanity needs to reevaluate its priorities.
“We need to move from thinking economy, society, planet to planet, society, economy. That's when we're going to continue our evolutionary process,” he added.
Garan says that we are paying a very “high price” as a civilization for our inability to develop a more planetary perspective and that it’s a big reason why we’re failing to solve many of our problems. Even though our economic activity may improve quality of life on one end, it’s also disasterous for the planet that sustains our lives.
It’s like cutting off our nose to spite our face.
Actor William Shatner had a similar experience to Garan's when he traveled into space.
"It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered," Shatner wrote. "The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna … things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind."
“We're not going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality,” Garan said.
However dire the situation looks from the surface of Earth, the astronaut has hope that we can collectively evolve in consciousness and wake up and embrace a larger reality. “And when we can evolve beyond a two-dimensional us versus them mindset, and embrace the true multi-dimensional reality of the universe that we live in, that's when we're going to no longer be floating in darkness … and it's a future that we would all want to be a part of. That's our true calling.”
Adrienne Bailon-Houghton talks about the reality of surrogacy.
No matter how you become a mother, the journey is worth it. But oftentimes people omit the negative parts for many reasons, whether it's a desire to not make people feel bad for them or to not appear ungrateful. Thankfully, the taboo around the hard topics of infertility and pregnancy have been lifting, and people are feeling more free to express themselves.
Recently, Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, former co-star of "The Cheetah Girls" and co-host of "The Real," revealed her own struggles with infertility and the mixed feelings that came along with it. While we know Bailon-Houghton eventually welcomed a son, Ever James, via surrogate, this is the first time we've heard the unexpected revelation of the new mom feeling frustrated by the surrogacy process.
During the time leading up to finding a surrogate, Bailon-Houghton and her husband, Isreal Houghton, tried to conceive for six years.
When people dream about having a baby, the thought of an extended infertility journey likely isn't something that's top of mind. It seems like a lot of people get pregnant just from sitting near someone on a city bus, so the idea that it may take years to finally welcome your own child feels unbelievable. But for some, that's a reality, and Bailon-Houghton is sharing what that has been like for her.
The actor has been open more recently about experiencing eight miscarriages and attempting IVF, which turned out to also be unsuccessful. Bailon-Houghton told Today.com that she didn't know that infertility was going to be part of her journey.
"I mean, I should have known initially when I did my (first) egg retrieval. My girlfriend was doing it at the same time as me and she got 18 eggs. When I did my retrieval, I got four," Bailon-Houghton shared with the outlet.
The former talk show co-host went on to explain that up until that point in her life she had never heard of a failed cycle, but sadly, all four of Bailon-Houghton's fertilized eggs were not viable to be transferred. After multiple failed IVF attempts, the couple was told that they had one fertilized egg left, and their doctor suggested surrogacy, according to People.
The surrogate got pregnant on the first attempt at implantation and the countdown to her son's birthday began. But for Bailon-Houghton, she was having some unexpected emotions around surrogacy. The actor told Today.com that she felt robbed of the experience of carrying a child.
"It sounds so stupid—so superficial," she said to Today.com. "But I felt robbed of maternity photos. I wanted to feel the movement of a baby inside me. I wanted my husband to experience my pregnant body. I imagined my son being born, and now had other people in this room that were not a part of what I imagined."
Feeling frustrated or even angry about the journey of surrogacy is likely more common than people realize, so it's refreshing to hear someone talk about those complicated emotions. And it turns out, Bailon-Houghton wasn't down to just one egg as her doctor believed. After more testing, it was discovered that she had five more eggs left, according to People, and she plans on trying to carry them herself.
The star had some words of encouragement for moms who may be experiencing infertility.
"Your journey to motherhood is your journey," Bailon-Houghton told Today.com. "No one can rob you of that—infertility can't even rob you of that. Ask yourself: 'Why do you have the desire to be a mom so deeply?' Ultimately, it comes down to love. So if your ultimate goal is motherhood, keep your eye on that and don't worry about what happens during the process."
But her encouragement didn't stop there. The new mom and her husband started the Faith and Familia Foundation, which helps other couples struggling with infertility with money for IVF so they can start their families.
It should go without saying that it’s not cool to steal from your Airbnb. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.
However, when one Airbnb host recently discovered a guest had—for some strange reason—stolen one of her paintings, then replaced it with a completely different painting, she decided to make the best out of a very uncool situation by sharing the story on TikTok.
As a result, viewers got to witness an continuously unraveling, truly bizarre modern-day art heist.
Okay, let’s get into it.
"OK the weirdest thing just happened," host Amy Corbett says at the beginning of her video.
She then shows what the living room in the listing normally looks like—with a painting of a map hanging on a wall over a couch.
But when Corbett shows up to the unit, we see that it is definitely not a painting of a map hanging on a wall over a couch. Instead, there’s a painting of an orange airplane.
“I have never seen the picture before in my life!” Corbett exclaims in the video.
Creeped out, she looks around the apartment to see if the oil painting is anywhere to be found. Nada. Zilch.
Needless to say, commenters had their theories. Several mentioned hearing similar stories involving the same painting, leading them to believe this was all part of some long and involved paint-swapping prank. Others went the more traditional route of assuming this guest was trying to cover up some damage inflicted to avoid fees. Others still thought this person was an artist trying to do some sort of clandestine self-promotion.
In a follow-up video, Corbett debunked those theories, saying that not only could that airplane image be found “all over the web,” but the wall it was hanging on was “pristine,” not to mention the fact that the original artwork was next to impossible to accidentally damage.
As for whether or not this person had swapped out other paintings, Corbett has reached out to one of the guest’s previous hosts, who confirmed that it had not taken place there.
Corbett kept audiences in the loop with several follow-ups, including actual security footage of the guest caught in the act.
The video shows a man (now dubbed the Airbnb Bandit) walking from his car carrying the airplane painting. Next, he’s seen in a different-colored hoodie carrying out the map painting, which is bundled up in a blanket.
As if things couldn’t get any stranger, when Corbett sent an official claim through Airbnb about the artwork, the Airbnb Bandit did pay, but only a portion of what was asked. Then when she asked when he could pay the rest of it…he asked for a 5-star review.
While the actual identity of this unusual art thief remains a mystery, Corbett is being reimbursed by Airbnb. Plus, she has decidedly made her “negative story into a positive one” by hiring a local artist to create a new painting to hang above her couch, one that features a waterfall view and the Jamestown River visible just outside the listing. Plus, she’s raffling off the airplane painting to raise funds for affordable housing in her area.
This might be one of the weirder Airbnb stories out there, but at least it has a pretty happy ending.
Editor's Note: Upworthy earns a percentage of revenue from items purchased on this list.
Mother's Day is just around the corner, and it's time to get shopping. And if you’re looking for the perfect Mother's Day gifts for the incredible moms in your life, we've got you covered! Our curated selection of thoughtful and unique presents will make any mom feel special and loved. From cozy pajama sets and smart mugs to personalized pet jewelry and heartfelt books, these gifts cater to a variety of interests and preferences. Our handpicked choices are the perfect way to express your gratitude and love.
Treat your mom to the ultimate relaxation experience with the RENPHO Eye Massager. This cutting-edge device uses built-in heating pads to provide a soothing temperature between 104 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, helping to relax the skin around the eyes. Its oscillating pressure and rhythmic percussion massaging further enhance the calming effect, making it perfect for unwinding before bedtime or after a long day at work. The 180° adjustable and portable design ensures a comfortable fit for all users and makes it easy to take on the go. To create an even more immersive experience, the eye massager features Bluetooth customizable music, allowing users to play their own playlists.
Pamper your mom this Mother's Day with
the luxurious La Chatelaine Hand Cream Trio Tin Gift Set, a favorite of customers around the world, including Oprah. This beautifully designed set features three one fl. oz. tubes of hand cream formulated with 20% organic Shea Butter, Vitamin E, and Argan Oil for deep moisturizing, nourishment, and protection. Made with plant-based ingredients, La Chatelaine's cruelty-free hand creams are free from phthalates, SLS, parabens, GMOs, and BHT, making them an excellent choice for daily use.
Show your mom how much you care with this beautiful "I Love You Mom" candle. It’s the perfect gift for Mother's Day or any special occasion. Scented with calming lavender and sage, this 9oz candle creates a soothing atmosphere that any mom will adore. Featuring a crackling wooden wick, the candle offers a unique touch and fills the room with a comforting ambiance. Handmade with 100% soy wax, this stylish candle is free from harmful chemicals and additives, making it an ideal gift for environmentally conscious moms. Made in the USA, each candle is hand-poured in small batches to ensure quality and perfection.
Elevate your mom's style with these iconic Ray-Ban RB1971 Square Classic sunglasses. Crafted from high-quality metal, these sunglasses are both stylish but durable. Designed with 100% UV protection, the lenses will shield your mom's eyes from harmful rays while offering a clear and comfortable view. The scratch-resistant glass lenses are prescription-ready, making them a practical and fashionable choice.
Featuring 70 printed yoga poses, this non-slip exercise mat offers guidance for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. Made from durable, BPA-free, and phthalate-free PVC padding, the mat is moisture-wicking, making it ideal for hot yoga or sweaty workouts. The NewMe Fitness Yoga Mat is 5mm thick and 68 inches long and provides ample space for stretching, posing, and working out, ensuring comfort and stability during practice. Suitable for yogis of all levels, this mat makes a thoughtful and practical gift for moms looking to improve their practice and overall well-being.
Give mom the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation with the Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager Machine. Designed to increase blood flow circulation and provide deep kneading, this versatile machine offers heat therapy for deep tissue relief, making it perfect for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, diabetics, or neuropathy. The adjustable base allows users to comfortably target their feet, ankles, or calves, ensuring a customized massage experience. With three intensity levels and five massage modes, including rolling massage, compression therapy, sway function, and heat therapy, this foot massager caters to individual preferences and needs.
Upgrade your mom's bedside table with the multifunctional SZELAM Digital Alarm Clock, featuring a makeup mirror, alarm clock, and time display. The high-definition mirror display allows for convenient makeup application while keeping an eye on the time. Designed with a mirror surface that resists staining, it's easy to clean and maintain. The clock can be positioned upright, flat, or hung on the wall to suit any preference. Boasting a quiet design that won't disturb sleep, it also features a luminous function for easy nighttime viewing without turning on the lights. And for heavy sleepers, the snooze button provides an additional 5-60 minutes of rest, customizable to individual needs.
Indulge in the luxurious comfort of the Eberjey Women's Gisele Long PJ Set, designed with sublimely soft stretch jersey fabric that feels divine against your skin. Available in solid hues, this phenomenal sleepwear set offers both style and relaxation for a restful night's sleep. The long-sleeve top features a rounded notched collar, chest patch pocket, button front closure, and front button placket, all adorned with beautiful contrast piping for a touch of sophistication. The pajama pants have a lower rise and relaxed leg, ensuring comfort, while the covered elastic waistband and cute contrast bow at the center waist add a charming detail. Made from a blend of 95% modal and 5% spandex, this high-quality set is airy, cozy, water-absorbent, and durable, providing easy and unrestricted mobility throughout the night.
This innovative mug makes an ideal gift for mom, ensuring every sip of her favorite drink is enjoyed at the perfect temperature. The Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug 2 is a 10 oz, rose gold coffee mug that maintains your drink's temperature between 120°F - 145°F for up to 80 minutes on a full charge or all day when placed on its redesigned charging coaster. Enjoy the convenience of app-controlled customization, or simply use the mug without the app, as it remembers your last-used temperature (135°F out of the box). The smart mug's auto sleep feature intelligently senses when to turn on and off, activating sleep mode when empty or after 2 hours of inactivity, and waking up upon sensing movement or liquid.
This year, let mom indulge in the luxury of the ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase, designed for optimal hair and skin health. Crafted from the highest grade 6A organic silk, this pillowcase boasts a 600 thread count and features both sides constructed from 19 momme Grade 6A mulberry silk. Unlike satin and other petroleum-based imitations, this eco-friendly, hypoallergenic silk pillowcase is gentle on your skin and hair, minimizing morning lines, wrinkles, acne, and hair breakage. With its amino acids, it effectively stimulates your skin cells' metabolism, ensuring a nourishing and rejuvenating sleep experience.
Upgrade you mom’s listening experience with Kim Kardashian's Beats Fit Pro collection, featuring true wireless noise cancelling earbuds in three neutral shades that complement any outfit or activity. These earbuds offer a flexible wingtip design for all-day comfort and stability, along with a custom acoustic platform that delivers powerful, balanced sound. Immerse yourself in music, movies, and games with Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking, and enjoy Active Noise Cancelling, Transparency Mode, and Adaptive EQ for personalized listening. Powered by the Apple H1 chip, these earbuds support Automatic Switching, Audio Sharing, and "Hey Siri" functionality.
Capture and print cherished memories instantly with the HP Sprocket Portable 2x3" Instant Photo Printer in Blush. Designed for iOS 10+ and Android 5+ devices, this compact, wireless printer connects via Bluetooth 5.0, allowing you to print 2"x3" photos directly from your smartphone or social media accounts. Utilizing ZINK Zero Ink technology, the Sprocket eliminates the need for costly toner or ribbon replacements. At the same time, the glossy sticky-backed photo paper boasts incredible resistance to water, smudges, and tears. You can also personalize your photos with the free HP app's editing tools.
Put your mom’s skincare routine into overdrive with + Lux Unfiltered N°12 Bronzing Self Tanning Drops. They’re designed to provide a natural, customizable, and glowing tan all year round. Infused with hyaluronic acid, pomegranate extract, coconut water, passion fruit oil, and vitamin E, these fragrance-free tanning drops not only bronze your complexion but also keep it hydrated and radiant. Suitable for all skin types and packed with antioxidants, the vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free formula is free from harsh ingredients like parabens, paraffins, phthalates, sulfates, and silicones. To use, simply add the desired number of drops to your moisturizer, mix, and apply to clean skin for a tan that's as subtle or deep as you like.
Showcase your mom’s love for her furry friends with personalized custom pet jewelry. This unique 0.7-inch diameter pet photo disc, featuring a sketchy-style portrait of your pet's face and their name underneath, is accompanied by a 17.5-inch chain. As a long-lasting, tarnish-resistant piece, it's perfect for everyday wear and keeps your beloved pet close to your heart. Ideal as a heartfelt gift for Mother's Day, the necklace comes in a cute box for easy storage or gifting.
$29 on Amazon
So why wait? Make this Mother's Day truly special for the incredible moms in your life. Give the gift of joy and make lasting memories with these unique, thoughtful Mother's Day gifts.
Living with an anxiety disorder can feel like a constant battle against an invisible enemy. People with anxiety disorders feel constant, excessive worry, restlessness and irrational fears, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
These overwhelming feelings cast a shadow over daily life and make it difficult to focus or enjoy simple pleasures. Anxiety disorders can also feel isolating, as the sufferer may struggle to communicate their feelings, making it hard to receive support and understanding.
The interesting thing about such a common mental health problem is that the cause of anxiety disorders is currently unknown. But they’re believed to stem from a combination of factors that are developmental, psychological, environmental and genetic in nature.
\u201cGenetic Driver of Anxiety Discovered\n\nAn international team of scientists has identified a gene in the brain responsible for anxiety symptoms and found that modifying the gene can reduce anxiety levels, offering a novel drug target for anxiety disorders. The discovery highlights\u2026\u201d
However, all of that may soon change. Researchers at the University of Bristol have identified a gene responsible for driving anxiety symptoms in mice and learned how it can be suppressed. The research was first published in Nature Communications.
To gain deeper insight into the underlying causes of anxiety, scientists restrained the mice for 6 hours to elicit a stress response and then examined their brains at a molecular level.
The researchers realized that the stress response resulted in elevated levels of 5 microRNAs (miRNAs) in the amygdala, determining which genes in a cell are expressed and which are not. The amygdala is the brain's integrative center for motivation, emotions and emotional behavior.
Most importantly, the researchers noted that the gene Pgap2 caused behavior associated with anxiety and miR483-5p worked as a molecular “brake” to prevent the feelings of anxiety.
To put it simply, researchers have determined the gene that creates anxiety symptoms and the gene that puts a stop to them. This revelation could lead to new medications that target and suppress the specific cause of anxiety in the human brain. It may also completely change the current trial-and-error approach that doctors use to treat anxiety through medications.
“miRNAs are strategically poised to control complex neuropsychiatric conditions such as anxiety. But the molecular and cellular mechanisms they use to regulate stress resilience and susceptibility were until now, largely unknown,” Dr. Valentina Mosienko, one of the study’s lead authors said, according to Neuroscience News.
“The miR483-5p/Pgap2 pathway we identified in this study, activation of which exerts anxiety-reducing effects, offers a huge potential for the development of anti-anxiety therapies for complex psychiatric conditions in humans.”
The findings are exciting to many people who wouldn't mind having their anxiety gene turned off right about now.
Omg yay they found the anxiety gene. Poke it till it turns off.
The next step for researchers is to see if further research can be validated in humans.
This important development comes at a time when anxiety and depression are on the rise across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% rise in anxiety and depression worldwide.
From worst day to best day in less than ten seconds
Sometimes the best cure for a bad day is a good surprise.
Just ask Abbie Cashman, a woman in Ireland whose entire day was completely turned around the minute she began feeding a pet crow from the window of her taxi. Cause why not?
In an interview with Today, Cashman shared that after discovering she had a flat tire while at work, the planets seemed to align so that getting home was impossible. No taxi would take her. The bus was full. Luck did not seem to be on her side.
Cashman made one last attempt to book a taxi through a rideshare app. Finally, someone was able to pick her up.
Little did she know that the taxi driver would not only get her home, but also introduce her to a special winged friend to lift her spirits.
The video below shows Cashman yelling “OH MY GOD…is that actually your crow?” in utter shock as the bird buzzes about her window.
The taxi driver clarifies that the crow is more of a companion than a pet, saying that it knows to follow him around for treats.
He then prompts Cashman’s open her window and reach out to her with a snack to feed it. As she does, she can't contain her delighted squeals. Especially once the crow swoops in for a nibble.
This brief encounter turned Cashman’s day from “literal hell” to something so delightful that she couldn’t help but share the experience on TikTok. Clearly, she wasn’t the only one who appreciated the unexpected moment. The clip has now amassed over 4 million views, with oodles of comments from people expressing their glee.
"This is a story NOBODY would have believed if it wasn’t for this video," one person wrote. "Pure class. Your laugh is pure joy."
Another added, "This is simultaneously the most chaotic and the best thing I’ve ever seen.
As for the taxi driver…folks are calling for him to have six stars. immediately.
Perhaps this interaction shouldn’t come at that much of a surprise. After all, crows are notoriously clever birds who like to collaborate with humans. They’re known to recognize faces (hence why this crow was able to follow the taxi driver), they’re quite loyal and have been trained to do extraordinary things.
Still, certainly no one would hop into a cab thinking they’d get to feed one on the way home. We all need a bit of astonishment infused into our day, especially on the cruddy ones. Very cool that Cashman got the perfect dash of magic to brighten her day…and that the internet exists, so we nac enjoy it too.