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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.



Jo Eberhardt, a fantasy writer and mother of two from Australia, penned a reply that is so spot on that it keeps repeatedly popping up on social media. When you nail it, you nail it—and this mother nails it.

"Ah, puberty," she wrote, "It changes our sweet, wonderful little boys into sweet, eye-rolling, angsty, accidentally disrespectful, but still wonderful young proto-men." Yup.

Eberhardt then described a discussion she had with her 11 1/2 -year-old son when he started going through this stage—a conversation they had in the car, which is usually the best place to have potentially uncomfortable discussions with kids.

She told her son that she'd messed up in the way she'd talked to him about puberty, then explained exactly what was happening in his brain.

I've spent all this time talking to you about the way puberty changes your body," Eberhardt told her son, "and what to expect as you go through the changes, but I completely forgot to talk to you about what's going on in your brain right now. Puberty is the time when your brain grows and changes more than at any other time in your life — well, except for when you're a baby, perhaps. So I really let you down by not preparing you for that. I'm so sorry."

Her son accepted her apology, then asked why is his brain was changing.

“That's the amazing thing," she told him. "Did you know that your brain grew and developed so quickly when you were little that by the time you were about five or six, your brain was almost as big and powerful as an adult's brain?"

"But here's the thing," she continued, "Even though your brain was super powerful, the instructions were for a child's brain. And all the information about building an adult's brain was a bit… let's say fuzzy. So your brain did the best it could, but it didn't really know what kind of person you were going to be back then, or what shape brain you were going to need."

“Now we come to puberty," she went on. "See, puberty is amazing. Not only is your body being transformed from a child's body to an adult's body, your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child's brain to an adult's brain."

“That sounds hard," her son responded.

“Yeah, it is," Eberhardt replied. “That's why I wish I'd warned you first. See, it takes a lot of energy to completely rewrite a brain. That's one of the reasons you get tired quicker at the moment — and that, of course, manifests in you being crankier and less patient than normal."

Eberhardt paused, then added, “That must be really frustrating for you."

Her son looked over at her, wiping his eyes. “It is," he responded. Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don't know why."

It's amazing what happens when we explain to kids the physiological reasons for what they're going through.

Eberhardt continued, “The other thing is that one of the first parts of your brain that gets super-sized to be like an adult is the amygdala. That's the part that controls your emotions and your survival instincts. You know how we've talked about fight/flight/freeze before, and how sometimes our brains think that being asked to speak in public is the same level of threat as being attacked by a sabre tooth tiger?"

Her son laughed. “Yes. So you have to tell your brain that there's no sabre tooth tiger to help you calm down."

“That's right," Eberhardt replied. "Well, that's what the amygdala looks after: sabre tooth tiger warnings and big emotions. So, the thing with puberty is that all of a sudden you've got an adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons and your sabre-tooth tiger buttons. That must be really hard for you to manage."

Her son nodded and said, “Sometimes I don't know why I say the things I do. They just come out, and then I feel bad."

This is the moment where what a parent says can make or break a kid's spirit. But Eberhardt handled it with empathy and expertise.

“I know, Sweetheart," she said before explaining:

“See, the last part of your brain that gets rewritten is right at the front of your head. It's called the frontal cortex. And that's the part of your brain that's good at decision making and understanding consequences. So you've got this powerful adult amygdala hitting you with massive emotions, but you've still got a fuzzy child frontal cortex that can't make decisions or understand consequences as quickly as the amygdala wants you to. It pretty much sucks."

“So it's not my fault?" her son asked.

“No, it's puberty's fault your brain works the way it does," Eberhardt answered. "But that doesn't mean it's not your responsibility to recognise what's going on and change your actions. It's not easy, but it's not impossible, either. Your feelings are your feelings, and they're always okay. But you get to choose your actions. You get to choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you get to choose to apologise for that mistake and make amends."

Eberhardt said she then paused for dramatic effect. “That's how you prove that you're becoming an adult."

It's also remarkable what happens when we empathize and communicate with our kids instead of simply chastising them.

Her son responded with a perfectly understandable and relatable, “Puberty sucks."

“Puberty absolutely sucks," Eberhardt responded. “I'm not in your head, but I can only imagine that it's a mess of confusion and chaos, and you don't know from one minute to the next how you feel about things."

Her son looked at her in surprise. “Yes! Exactly!"

“If it's confusing for you living inside there," Eberhardt continued, "imagine how confusing it is for me, when I only see your actions."

“That must be really confusing," her son agreed.

She nodded. “Do you know what that means?"

“What?"

“It means sometimes I'm going to make mistakes. Sometimes I'm going to get upset at things you do because I don't understand what's going on in your head. Sometimes I'm going to forget that you're halfway to being a man, and accidentally treat you like a child. Sometimes I'm going to expect more from you than you're able to give. This is my first time parenting someone through puberty, and I'm going to make mistakes. So can I ask you a favour?"

“What is it?"

“Can you just keep telling me what's going on in your head? The more we talk, the easier it will be for both of us to get through this puberty thing unscathed. Yeah?"

“Yeah," her son said.

When we let our kids know that we're going through these various phases together, it's easier to work with them instead of against them.

Eberhardt said they "had a cuddle" before they got out of the car. She also said this conversation didn't magically make her son always speak respectfully or make her remember that he's not a little boy anymore. However, it did open up lines of communication and gave them a shared language to use.

For example, she wrote, "He knows what I mean when I say, 'Sweetheart, I'm not a sabre tooth tiger.'"

Ebehardt wrapped up her excellent answer by saying that she and her son are "muddling through this crazy puberty thing" together, and that she's "completely confident that he'll come out the other end a sweet, wonderful young man."

It's always so helpful to see examples of good parenting in action. Ms. Eberhardt's response is something all parents can tuck away for the appropriate time. It's also a great reminder that our tweens aren't trying to try us—they're just trying to get used to their new and improved brains.


This story originally appeared on 1.05.19



Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Family

Husband is certain wife’s baby name will cause too much pain for their child. Is he wrong?

"It's going to cause him major problems with passports and ID as well as job and college applications."

A father can't handle the name his wife chose for the baby.

It’s one thing to debate with your spouse over giving your child a name that is so unique it could cause them trouble. It’s another to fight with your spouse over giving your child a name that is so incredibly common it’s used as a placeholder when an unidentified man has passed away.

This was the problem a Reddit user (The_Doeberman), whose last name is Doe, faced when his wife wanted to name their baby boy after her grandfather, John.

“My wife is six months pregnant and wants to name our future son after her grandfather, who died of cancer in September. His name was John,” the husband wrote on the AITA forum

“I liked her grandfather, and I know he and my wife were very close, but I won't even consider it, not even for our son's middle name,” he continued. “I feel that's just setting him up for a world of problems, especially when he grows up and has to apply for jobs. Nobody's going to believe ‘John Doe’ is his real name.”


The wife thought that the husband was being difficult for vetoing the name and claimed he was “exaggerating” the issues the child would face.

But he has a pretty strong argument. The name John Doe is synonymous with the unclaimed dead body that someone finds in a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere or an anonymous victim of trauma that can’t be named in court documents. It’s also often used as a placeholder, which could cause the child problems when applying for college or a job.



There is no exact answer to why John Doe was chosen to represent the “everyman,” but it has been used in the UK for hundreds of years. It’s believed because John Doe was a popular name at the time. Later, in the US, unidentified females would come to be known as Jane Doe.

The husband used Reddit’s AITA page to ask whether he was in the wrong and the commenters were overwhelmingly supportive of him.

One commenter thought that "John Doe" was a bad idea but gave a solution that could work for the wife. “People will think it's a fake name. It's going to cause him major problems with passports and ID as well as job and college applications. He may have issues with medical stuff etc.,” they wrote. Instead, they suggested using an alternative version of “John” from another language.

“As an example only: Look for other languages' version of John. For example Eoin is the Irish way of spelling Owen. Eoin in itself is the Irish version of John…” they wrote.


Another commenter was blunt about their objection.

“I'm not superstitious, but I'd feel uncomfortable having a kid whose name basically stands for ‘found dead in the park, stab wound to the chest, no ID,’” they added.

One commenter noted all of the legal troubles that could come with having the name John Doe.

“I imagine a lifetime of getting stopped by the TSA for enhanced screening, of job applications being tossed for being fake and just everything being harder than it should be because you have a fake name,” they wrote. “If giving him the grandfather's name is so important, why not give him the grandpa's middle name?”

In the end, it's touching for a mother to name their newborn son after her grandfather, but according to the father and a legion of people online, “John Doe” simply carries too much baggage and would be more of a hindrance than a tribute. The good news is that there are many ways that the wife can pay homage to her grandfather that won’t make her son’s life more difficult.

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

A kind nurse offers a flower.

As the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Sadly, this hard truth becomes increasingly evident as we reach our final days. The things we take for granted today, such as our health, relationships, and time itself, become much more precious when we know they are about to end.

How much happier would we be every day if we lived with the perspective of those who are experiencing their final days?

Julie McFadden, known to her hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, as Hospice Nurse Julie, helps people appreciate their lives by regularly sharing her experiences with those who are living their final days.

Recently, she stopped by Rob Moore’s “The Disruptors” podcast, where she shared some of the big lessons she’s learned from the dying. Moore is a public speaker, entrepreneur and bestselling author of “Life Leverage.”


Given his background as an entrepreneur, Moore assumed that when people reach their final days, they regret the amount of time they spend working. "People definitely say that. 'I wish I didn't work my life away. I wish I didn't wait until retirement to do the things I wanted to do,'" McFadden said. However, there is another big regret that many share. “The main thing people say, that I don't hear a lot of people mention, is ‘I wish I would have appreciated my health,’” she added.

“I think the biggest thing I hear from people [who are] dying is that they wish they would have appreciated how well they how well they felt before,” she continued.

It seems that when people’s health begins to decline, they miss the vitality they never fully appreciated.

"I think most people take for granted things that have always been,” she told Moore. “You know, it's really easy to forget. We're so lucky to be alive in this moment. We're taking a breath right now. We're here on a rock that's like soaring through space. I mean, that alone can blow your mind."

McFadden believes that her profession reminds her to be grateful because dying is just as natural as living.

“I think because of my job, it's easier for me to see how once-in-a-lifetime this is. The fact that everything works together in our bodies to make us live and grow and I see that in-depth, too. I see how our bodies are biologically built to die,” she said. “That, right there, is so fascinating. We literally have built-in mechanisms to help us die. Our body can naturally do it. That's wild."

To get the most out of the miracle of life, McFadden writes a gratitude list every night so she’s sure to appreciate everything she has. Because, in the blink of an eye, it can be gone. “I like the fact that I can breathe, I'm walking around, I can feel the sunshine – little things like that,” she shared.

Our lives are filled with incredible gifts, whether it’s the people we love, the amazing things our bodies can do, or the places we get to see. But without gratitude, these beautiful gifts can easily go unnoticed and unappreciated. Practicing gratitude allows us to cherish these moments, so we’re fulfilled by what we have, instead of disillusioned by what we don’t.

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but being met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.