What’s Wrong With Parenting in America—And How to Fix It

Emily Oster and Yael Schonbrun

16 min Read Emily Oster and Yael Schonbrun

Emily Oster

Yael Schonbrun

What’s Wrong With Parenting in America—And How to Fix It

An interview with Jessica Grose and Yael Schonbrun

Yael Schonbrun

16 min Read

Today I am absolutely delighted to feature an interview with two amazing authors.

Jessica Grose is the author of the just-released book Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood. She’s also the writer of the New York Times newsletter “On Parenting” and the author of a novel called Sad Desk Salad, which I mention because I loved it.

Yael Schonbrun is a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor at Brown (my colleague!) and the author of the new book Work, Parent, Thrive.

I wanted to pull these two women together because Jessica’s book is a call for recognition of some of the problems of motherhood, and Yael’s book is a suggestion of some solutions. I cannot promise we solve everything (or anything!) in this conversation, but I suspect it will really resonate.


Emily:

Thank you, Jess and Yael, for joining me. I’m really excited about this conversation. And I want to start by having each of you give me your pitch for your book. Who are you, why did you write this book, and why should people read it?

Jessica:

I’m Jessica Grose. I am an opinion writer at the New York Times, where I have a newsletter that focuses on parenting and family issues in the United States. My book is called Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood. And I have been reporting on family policy and how distinctly ungenerous it is in the United States compared to other nations as wealthy as we are. We don’t have paid leave, we don’t have paid sick days, we don’t have universal health care, and we don’t have a culture that is welcoming towards parents or children in basically any way. And I’ve been writing about this for years.I’m Jessica Grose. I am an opinion writer at the New York Times, where I have a newsletter that focuses on parenting and family issues in the United States. My book is called Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood. And I have been reporting on family policy and how distinctly ungenerous it is in the United States compared to other nations as wealthy as we are. We don’t have paid leave, we don’t have paid sick days, we don’t have universal health care, and we don’t have a culture that is welcoming towards parents or children in basically any way. And I’ve been writing about this for years.

I realized it in my own life when I had a really difficult pregnancy with my older daughter and ended up having to quit a new job because I just couldn’t hang. And then during the pandemic, I think way more people realized that the way we do parenthood, but especially the way we do motherhood, in the United States is not serving most people.

And so my book goes into all of the unreasonable expectations and ideals that are put on American mothers and how many of them are contradictory. It tries to trace where many of them came from. It tells a little bit of my personal story — but I also interviewed about 100 contemporary American moms, I talk to historians, I talk to sociologists, I talk to economists — and I try to paint the full picture of what American motherhood looks like today and what we can do to make it a little better.

Yael:

Well, first of all, I just want to say I love Jess’s book, and I think that our two books are pretty different but actually really complementary. So my book is called Work, Parent, Thrive: 12 Science-Backed Strategies to Ditch Guilt, Manage Overwhelm, and Grow Connection (When Everything Feels Like Too Much). So it’s specifically focused on working parenthood. It addresses a lot of the issues that Jess raises in her book, but from a pretty different perspective.

So, I’m a clinical psychologist. I’m an assistant professor at Brown University in the Department of Psychiatry. I actually specialize in relationship therapy, so relationships and marriage, but also between parents and kids. And so I think about things from a psychological point of view and from a relational point of view. And so I also think about roles from a relationship point of view. And I’m a mom of three.

I think of this book as a little bit parallel to how positive psychology fits into the field of mental health. So we need, of course, to be doing work to reduce the kinds of problems in working parenthood that Jess talks about in her book. And many of them exist at the social policy level in our workplaces, even in our marriages.

But we also need to be raising up, right? So we need to be reducing the negative and increasing the positive. And so this book is really focused on building more of the positive. And one of the very cool things that I found through the research that I did — and I also did a lot of interviews, including with researchers, as well as working parents from a whole host of backgrounds, family situations, professional disciplines — that part of the ways that our roles exist in tension with each other, we can actually understand it from a conflict point of view or from an enrichment point of view. So it is uncomfortable when we’re pulled between multiple demanding roles. But there are all sorts of really interesting ways that tension can actually serve us advantageously. And with social science and clinical practices in hand, we can actually take advantage of the way that that tension naturally exists in positive ways.

So again, it’s sort of like trying to increase the positive in order that we can keep fighting the good fight to make progress in the world outside of our homes and our personal lives.

Emily:

So I want to say, I love both of these books. And I like them both for their articulations of the problems and their articulations of the solutions. And the balance across problems versus solutions is a little different in the two books. I think they’re a good read together. So that’s how I’d like to structure this conversation.

And I’m curious — I have a sentence in my mind, but I’m going to call on you guys first —  if you had to articulate the problem that parents are facing now in one sentence, what would it be?

Yael:

I think that we see discomfort as something that can and should be eradicated completely instead of thinking about how we can tolerate it in more skillful, strategic ways. I almost think that we have our eye on the wrong goalpost, if that makes sense. And I think that’s where psychology can be really helpful, because there are things that absolutely need to be changed. And then there are some things that aren’t worth fighting for because they’re almost inherent to just being human. And so if we can put our attention on the right things, the more effective things to be fighting for, then we’ll have more strength to fight well and more skill to do it with.

Jessica:

I would say there is too much that American parents are expected to do, and there is not enough time, money, or social support to do most of them for most people.

Emily:

I think my sentence would be some combination of those, actually. Something like: We’re expecting too much of people and people are expecting too much of themselves, and we have this idea that you should be everything at all moments. I always think about Anne-Marie Slaughter, “You can’t have it all” — well, you can have it all, but I’m not sure that we should be making people try to have it all in quite the way that that is intended.

Jessica:

We’ve created a situation in which most people cannot afford to not work, except the American workplace is completely unforgiving of people having a life outside of work. So most people don’t have flexibility. Most people’s health insurance is tied to their work. So if they would like to reduce hours, they probably can’t do that because then their family might not have health insurance. And the school calendar doesn’t match up to the work calendar for most people.

And even absent all of the expectations, which we can talk about separately, just the actual math problem does not add up in terms of the number of hours in the day, the numbers of hours children need care, the number of hours that schools are in session, and the number of hours you need to work to pay your mortgage and survive in most American cities. So to me, we can’t even talk about the emotional and the guilt and all of the other expectations on us when just even the math of day-to-day living is absolutely not adding up.

I did a story last week about elder care, and the story that stuck with me was a woman talking about her mother who had stayed home with the kids as long as she could and then took a job as a high school secretary so she could keep a close eye on her kids, still make money, have her scheduled work with the kids. She worked up until the day she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and her family realized there was no safety net for her mother at the end of this road, where she had done everything in the “ideal” way, right? In terms of prioritizing her family over work and all of that. So yeah, that situation is the facts on the ground for a lot of people.

Yael:

I was just thinking about this Buddhist allegory of the first arrow versus the second arrow. And I think, Jess, your book talks a lot about the first-arrow things, like the things that we have no control over that are really cutting deeply into us. And I think my book is really about the second-arrow stuff that we sometimes do to ourselves, where we think to ourselves, well, I’m a bad parent because I’m putting my kid in child care or because I’m grumpy or because I’m struggling with health and I can’t pay as much attention to them as they deserve.

And that’s the stuff that, if we could conserve our energy and be a little gentler with ourselves and be appreciative of the community rather than damning ourselves for not being everything to our children, if we could let go of social comparison, get off social media and buying into these perfect pictures that don’t really exist for anybody, then it’s not like we would undo the original problem, but we wouldn’t be adding insult to injury, shooting ourselves with a second arrow into the wound that’s already been opened.

And so I think, again, that we really do need to be fighting these battles, but where we can be very deliberate about spending less attention is this self-judgment or social comparison or guilt. Guilt is so toxic, and it very rarely helps us. And instead pay attention to where we need to be making social progress in more deliberate ways.

Jessica:

Absolutely.

Emily:

Jess, you talk to a lot of people in the book, which is one of the really wonderful things about the book is that it’s so many people’s experiences. How much of this is this first arrow being seen through the lens of the second arrow, in Yael’s words? Like, the math problem is harder because my expectations for what I will achieve are bigger, are influenced by society or whatever. And so of course I can’t make the math work, because I want to be both killing it at my job and also be the parent who makes the cupcakes. I’m curious about how important you think that is.

Jessica:

I think it’s tremendously important, because it colors the time that we actually do get to spend with our children. Like, I was ranting, I hate Elf on the Shelf. First of all, I’m a Jew. Like, no, I’m not doing Elf on the Shelf. I don’t want to hear about Elf on the Shelf, get out of here! This is a new thing that I have to do a month before a holiday that I don’t even celebrate? And I was talking to a friend about it, a very old friend who I’ve known since we were in elementary school together. She was saying, wouldn’t that time be better spent just hanging out with my kid? I had the best conversation with my older daughter on the subway together recently, and I would prefer to spend my time just hanging out rather than creating an elaborate elf-based shame system in my household. I don’t feel guilt about that, but I think your kids do it to you.

I once wrote a piece about how my older daughter was upset that I wasn’t hand-making her Halloween costume. And I was like, first of all, you don’t want that. You would not like the result. And secondly, that’s not the kind of mom you got. I know Olive’s mom does it, and Olive’s mom is super-crafty and god bless her. And it is really hard to say I’m not doing any of that and I don’t care. Especially when it’s not just the pressure from other social comparison, as you say, Yael, it’s also your kids that remember you weren’t the one that made the cupcakes, so they’re going to give you some guilt too. And it’’s like, Elf on the Shelf is one that I can easily dismiss, but there are ones all the time like, I’m not volunteering at the school. I would love to help the school. It’s just it’s a very intense time for me at work, and it’s just not gonna happen.

Emily:

Yael, this is the core of your book — how do I fix my own personal problems with this

Yael:

I think a lot of it has to do with mindset. And I think what you both are pointing to is that our mindset can be really formed by the society that we live in, the cultures that we come from, and the cues that we get all around us.

There’s an interesting study that I recently read on low-wage workers in the first years of becoming a parent. And one of the analyses that they did, they looked at African American mothers versus Latina mothers and they asked them about what their beliefs were about the impact of their job on their kids. And this is, of course, statistical findings, this is not going to be true across the board. But on average, African American moms were more likely to think that their work was a net benefit, good for them and good for their family, and something to be really proud of. Whereas Latina moms were more likely to endorse beliefs that their jobs would cause irreparable damage to their kids. And what they found was that those beliefs were associated with depression symptoms, controlling for lots of factors, including work circumstances, supervisors, support hours. And that those depression symptoms were associated with how parents engage with their kids.

So what we think about our circumstances, and how proud we are and how much we buy into positive ideas about how we’re doing versus negative ideas about how we’re doing, has a real big impact on our well-being. And our well-being, of course, has a huge impact on how we engage in family life.

And so part of what I argue for in the book is to shift from a mindset of — I call it a “work-family conflict” mindset to a “work-family enrichment” mindset. But what I mean more generally is to move from a fixed mindset about our circumstances to a growth mindset about our circumstances. That where we start is not where we have to end. And as long as we’re curious and creative and resourceful and willing to pursue a better world for ourselves and our families, we can get to a better place. We just need to be strategic about it. And to believe that the challenges aren’t going to stop us but instead are going to teach us.

And I think that’s why books like Jess’s book are so powerful, because it’s an opportunity to zoom out and say, okay, what’s going wrong here? How do we take a different stance and how do we get more effective? And then, of course, in my book, I go more from the in-your-house, day-to-day choices that you make with how you engage as a parent, what kind of support system you build.

Emily:

There is this really interesting interplay between the structural things we need to change and saying, well, this is the structure I find myself in; how can I optimize inside the structure that I have? And then there’s more of Jess’s question, which is: How can we fix some of these things?

In the space of writing the book, Jess, are there one or two things you would’ve said structurally that are the most important problems or the most fixable problems from a social standpoint?

Jessica:

I do think that paid leave will happen in the next, let’s say, 20 years. Of the big structural federal money things, that seems like the least expensive and the most popular. I mean, ask any American of basically any political persuasion: Do you think it’s cool for moms who just gave birth to go back to work two weeks after they have taken a baby out of their body? I think most of them will say: that sounds like a terrible idea. I think you can get most people on board with that. It is very popular, all of the polling, and even in the course of my writing the book — I started writing it in July 2020, and by the time the last edits were being done in January 2022, I think three more states had passed paid leave. So it’s happening. We don’t hear Maryland passed paid leave — it isn’t a national story, but it is happening incrementally.

And so I’m confident about that, and that will just take a profound burden off a lot of people because it’s not just the physical burden that you’re exhausted and you’re having to go back to work. It’s also an emotional burden of, Who am I going to leave my baby with? I can’t believe I have to be away from my baby; I want to bond with this child. There’s so much there. So I think that that’s an eminently fixable problem, and that will happen…

Emily:

… in time for our children.

Jessica:

Exactly. Hopefully, fingers crossed.

I really think another thing that needs to happen is to create a child care industry structure. There’s really not one. We pretend that there is one, because there are all these independent child cares and there are some block grants that go to states, but it doesn’t exist. So there needs to be a child care infrastructure. That, I am much less confident about happening.

And then, I mean this is workplace by workplace, but the culture of work needs to change. Not just for parents. And I think one of the big problems is that it is still associated with parents. And then it just gets associated with mothers, and no one gives a shit because they’re like, it’s just mom stuff.

Emily:

Do you think that the pandemic has improved that? Not across the entire distribution, but in some parts of the distribution?

Jessica:

It has and it hasn’t. Because literally today you saw Elon Musk saying every Twitter employee has to stop remote work and go into the office. Obviously, that’s a specific scenario.

Emily:

He said a lot of things today. I wasn’t able to keep up on 100% of them…

Jessica:

That was one of them. So, I think more what will change workplaces is when younger Gen X and millennials become bosses. Because, I think, they had young children during the pandemic, and even people who were executive-level and weren’t used to taking care of their children had to do it. And so they were like, oh, now I understand what this is like day-to-day.

And I also think that there’s more and more acceptance of having a life. The reason that I think it shouldn’t be associated with parents is because almost every human will have to caretake for somebody at some point in their lives, whether it’s your parents, family members, sister or brother — there’s somebody. There are very few people who get through life without ever having to care for anyone. And really intense caregiving at the beginning and end of the life spectrum are huge time commitments and very expensive. And so I am confident that the work equation will change gradually, but I think it’s going to be really messy for the next decade or so, and then I think it actually will get a lot better.

Yael:

I think it’s heartening, though, that a lot of the research that’s being done on workplaces that do support people in taking leave when they have a sick family member or when they need to pick up a child who’s sick from school, that those workplaces get workers that are more devoted and really committed to their job. So I think that it’s one of those things that, it helps families and it ultimately helps workplaces as well. And I think the research on that is pretty clear. So, I don’t know, I have some optimism

Emily:

Yeah. I will say, I’m less optimistic about that. I think people have been saying for many years, there’s a real opportunity in women — in the sense that you have very high-quality, high-education, high-skill people who are leaving for this period, and then you’re not bringing them back. And there’s an inefficiency. And yet, even though people have been saying that for decades, we haven’t fixed that inefficiency by making it possible.

Yael:

What do you think keeps people from making that change, if that’s so clear and has been evident for decades?

Emily:

I don’t know. This is a little bit off-topic, but there’s an interesting difference across professions in how splittable jobs are. So jobs in medicine, actually — even when you think of, like, high-income, high-skill professions in medicine — it’s much more feasible to work 20 hours a week. And if you work 20 hours a week, you make about half as much as if you work 40 hours a week, whereas if you’re working for a hedge fund working 40 hours a week and no one is working 20 hours a week.

And so there is something that has happened in some professions and not others that has enabled some of this splitting that I think has made it more possible for those professions to retain a larger share of women with children. I am not sure why those changes have not come to some of the other professions which have been less like that.

Jessica:

I also think we can’t know what technological advances are going to happen in the next 15 years. I mean, I did not realize until the pandemic how many meetings could be done pretty well over Zoom, over Gmail. There are so many things we did in person that we realized don’t need to be done in person anymore. And I’m not one of these people who’s like, oh, you should never see your coworkers, although that can work sometimes. But I just think there are a lot of jobs where there’s just no reason for people to be in the office every day. And when you try to come up with a reason, it sounds fake, because it is.

So I think that there are a lot of inefficiencies in the system, right? Whereas people could have more flexible jobs and they would get them done a lot more efficiently, but we’re just not allowing them to have that flexibility. And I think you will see incrementally more and more of that as the technology gets better, as we realize actually people are more productive when they’re allowed more flexibility, which lots of studies show. So I think it’s just going to take some time and adjustment.

Emily:

Yeah, we went all the way to one equilibrium and then we’re probably going to have to go a little bit too far in the other direction before we can come back to the middle.

Now I want to talk a little bit about optimizing into where we are at the moment. And Yael, can you just tell us about “subtracting,” please?

Yael:

So there’s this really interesting line of research and a terrific book called Subtract by a researcher called Leidy Klotz. So, the human brain, when we’re under stress, problem-solves. And the default of how we problem-solve is to add something new. And this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because if you think about pre-modern times, if you were stressed, it was usually because of lack of calories, lack of social connections, lack of shelter. So what do you do to solve that problem? It’s like you add more, right? You get more calories, you get more connections, you get more shelter.

But in our modern life, not enough, for the most part, is not the issue. Our culture has advanced more quickly than our brain wiring. And so we still default, when we’re making these difficult decisions to manage a problem, to adding. And when you think about our busy schedules and our overly full closets, always adding is stressful.

And what’s more, there’s this one piece of the study that I just find very insightful, where it showed that when we have a higher cognitive burden, we’re even less likely to subtract than we are under normal circumstances. And so if you think about that, when you’re stressed-out and when you’re feeling like your schedule is just too packed and you don’t even know how you’re going to do one more thing, and somebody asks you, and you’re just like, “Okay, yes, I’ll do it. I don’t even know what to say anymore.” And that’s the experience that many people have: when we’re really overwhelmed, we find ourselves adding more. It’s like when you’re going through Target but you’re really in a rush. What do you do? You throw in all sorts of crap that you don’t need. And so that’s even more true when we’re overwhelmed.

The other thing that I’ll say is, I think most of us can see more peace and quiet in our homes and our schedules as an optimal outcome. And we think it shouldn’t be so hard to get there. So I think the realization that we don’t naturally default to making things simpler helps us to be more deliberate about that and to build that practice into our daily lives. So you could add a stop-doing list next to your to-do list or just make it a practice before you add a new thing to your itinerary or your schedule, think about maybe subtracting something.

Jessica:

I think a lot of moms in particular also feel a lot of guilt disappointing people. That’s usually why I say yes to things when I don’t have time to do them, is not because I think that I can just get them done. It’s because I have a horror of disappointing anyone for any reason, which is something I should deal with in therapy.

Yael:

Yeah! Can I say it? Can I say a few words about guilt?

Jessica:

Yes, please, such a good topic.

Yael:

I think it’s a really important topic — and yes, especially for moms, and I think that’s because we’re socialized in that way to be really focused on relationships. I think that there’s probably some genetic component too, but the biggest thing is that we’re socialized that way.

So, guilt is an interpersonal emotion. All of our emotions, by and large, are fixed into us for evolutionary reproductive purposes. So guilt is something that protects our relationships, either from anticipated harm or from actual harm that’s been done. And so it’s actually a useful emotion. But it can be triggered in ways that are not necessarily true, if that makes sense.

So, for example, if your kid really wants you to come and chaperone their trip and you’re sorry about disappointing them, and guilt comes up and you think, “Oh, well, I don’t want to be the bad mom who says no to my kid and disappoints them.” But if you take a step back and think, what is the real harm being done to my child? Because disappointment is not something we should be afraid of. Actually, disappointment is just a normal human emotion that is actually good for our kids to learn to tolerate and to experience and to learn how to make their way through knowing that you still love them, but you have other obligations. And actually, if you think about the opportunities that are embedded in your not going — them having more independence, them connecting with a different caregiver, them getting to come back and tell you all the exciting things that they did on their own — then it helps you to see it with a different lens.

So I think guilt as a relationship-protecting emotion is very valuable, but it’s useful to pause on it and say, is this actually harming my relationship or is it harming the other person in a more serious way? Or is it just me having this impulse to check in. Am I doing right by my kid? Am I doing right by my job? Am I doing right by myself? So, I think guilt is a useful emotion, but sometimes it’s like a pain. We have to figure out what to do with it or if we should just keep walking and let it be.

Emily:

Okay. I feel like we could spend nine hours on this, but I want to give you guys a last word. So Jess, if you had to say, what is the takeaway from your book? Either a call to action or just what you hope people will get out of the book.

Jessica:

Well, I hope, about their own parenting, that they feel less guilt and they feel more ability to figure out what their own values are — not channeling other people’s values — or what the ideals are that they can figure out for themselves; what is important.

And then politically, you might be very tired right now — I assume that lots of people with very young children are going to read this book — and that is okay. You do not have to do anything politically in this moment. But what you can do is remember how this feels, and when you do have the time and energy to be active on these issues, get out there. And in this moment, what you can offer yourself and what you can offer the people in your community is grace about their ambivalence, being open to their bad feelings about everything, just offering practical and emotional support to the people that you love who are going through the same caregiving difficulties that you might be doing is something that you can do every day. Just send a text, be there for a friend, offer to babysit, all of those things.

Yael:

I’m hoping that people take home a mindset shift. They can begin to see the role of tension that most parents experience — whether or not you work or have multiple roles in the community — from a perspective that isn’t just about conflict but that really sees conflict as a part of something, where you can take advantage of the tension in creative ways to learn to subtract more effectively, to learn how to rest, and even to meet your happiness needs more effectively. So I think this mindset shift is really important. And that even when we’re struggling, we can find ways to thrive using tools from social science and psychology.

Emily:

Thank you both so much. The books are Work, Parent, Thrive by Yael Schonbrun and Screaming on the Inside by Jessica Grose.

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Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

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Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster
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How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months. 

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages. 

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How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months.

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages.

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords
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I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit.

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit. ...

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata
...

What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata

What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata
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Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

 #emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

#emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids
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Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes
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Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices. 

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata

Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices.

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster
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Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there! 

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there!

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife
...

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens. 

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children. 

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens.

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children.

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata
...

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips
...

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks
...

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData! 

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData!

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity
...

Just eat your Cheerios and move on.

Just eat your Cheerios and move on. ...

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide
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