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Parenting Trends - What's Hot and Not!

Content Courtesy of Toronto Star

WHAT'S IN:

"Bad Parents"

They're writing books, launching blogs and detailing their worst childrearing moments on confessional websites. Partly it's a backlash to the information overload and conflicting directives from parenting experts over the past decade, not to mention competitive parenting and the pressure to be perfect.

Ayelet Waldman got the ball rolling with Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace. But you knew it was hip to be bad when parenting website Babble.com invited readers to submit confessional essays and the feature was an instant hit.

The problem with the moniker? It's generally not the truly bad who are disclosing their transgressions. Mostly the sins involve things like buying non-organic baby food, yelling on occasion, or being messy housekeepers.

Who wasn't happy to see the end of Supermoms, Slacker Moms, helicopter parents and all those other poses? But is this supposed to be an improvement?

Plugged-in from birth

Applies to both the adults and the kids. There are websites for babies to play with that don't require a mouse to keep them entertained (www.kneebouncers.com, www.weeweb.com), iPhone apps for kiddies bored in the car or doctor's waiting room, and netbooks for the young. Leapfrog has a device lets preschoolers pretend to text. What do you expect from kiddies whose first view of Mom is updating Twitter through labour and delivery?

The semi-homemade movement

It's a way to impart homecooked TLC with half the work (eg. a rotisserie chicken used for a chicken pasta, or icing and adorning a store-bought plain cake). We all know by now that family meals are good for everyone and often a rare opportunity to connect. But even with the best of intentions, it's hard for multitasking parents to do it all from scratch. Call it a sensible saw-off.

Preconception planning

Even the What to Expect When You're Expecting authors have upped the ante for wannabe moms with a book on what to expect before you're expecting. The focus is now on diet, exercise and even financial preparation as soon as the idea of conceiving is on the horizon. Medical professionals are talking about it and pregnancy and childbirth educators in Toronto are incorporating it into their teaching and many experts now suggest pregnancy should be considered a 12-month rather than a nine-month event.

The daddy shift

Father involvement has been booming over the past decade, with more Canadian dads taking advantage of parental leave and launching dad support groups. More recently, stay-at-home dads are gaining ground, especially with more men losing jobs than women as a result of the economy. Books such as Partnership Parenting by Kyle Pruett and Marsha Kline Pruett stress both parents need to recognize and respect that they do things differently. And that's good for the kids.


WHAT'S OUT:

Paranoid parenting

Free-range kids are what it's all about among the enlightened. You know, the ones allowed to bike to the corner store, walk to school alone and even ride public transit without mommy. New Yorker Lenore Skenazy came under fire when she let her 9-year-old travel by subway alone and then wrote about it in the New York Post. The overwhelming response led to a blog and a book. And added momentum to the growing notion among the latest wave of parents that over-coddling kids does more harm than good.

Traditional baby food

The strict ritual of rice cereal and pureed sweet potatoes is but a distant memory. More relaxed parents are letting baby lead the way. Sometimes that means homemade applesauce from locally grown organic apples; other times, it's whatever your wee one decides to grab off mom's plate. Baby-led solids, by which infants over six months suck and gnaw at hunks of broccoli or mango, is gaining ground. And for older children, stealthy parents sneak the healthy stuff (mashed veggies) into food where kids can't detect it.

SUV strollers and other overpriced designer gear

Just mention the word stroller and pedestrians, subway riders and store patrons - especially the childless - start frothing. They take up more room than a Ford Explorer! Watch out where you're going? And why do you need to pack enough for three weeks when you're going to pick up milk? Frugal parents are also losing interest in fancy diaper bags and designer baby duds.

Overpraising

Goodbye to the self-esteem movement based on the notion that praising your kids will make them achieve more.

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman warned about the perils of blanket praise in NurtureShock. Outspoken personal finance writer and coach Larry Winget warns in his new book, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault, that your kid is not special - except to you. And proclaiming their brilliance and exceptionality only sets them up for failure down the road.

Baby Einstein and all its brainy sidekicks

Uh-oh. Maybe those videos didn't make your baby smarter after all. Baby Einstein had to offer parents refunds for making such claims. Experts say TV for babies is not an enhancing experience. And forget Mozart and flashcards. Instead, simple, durable toys that promote imaginative play and are eco-friendly (no tainted lead or overpackaging) are now on the birthday list.

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