kids and parenting | KUOW News and Information

kids and parenting

The cubist revolution, now in its eighth year, is thriving.

That's Minecraft cubes, of course.

The game where you build virtual Lego-like worlds and populate them with people, animals and just about everything in between is one of the most popular games ever made; it's second only to Tetris as the best-selling video game of all time. There's gold in them thar cubes: More than 120 million copies have sold since Minecraft launched in 2009.*

So what's behind the game's enduring appeal?

For the first time, a generation of children is going through adolescence with smartphones ever-present. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has a name for these young people born between 1995 and 2012: "iGen."

She says members of this generation are physically safer than those who came before them. They drink less, they learn to drive later and they're holding off on having sex. But psychologically, she argues, they are far more vulnerable.

Marty Jackson
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

Marty Jackson runs the Southeast Area Network of the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. For years, she had worked with Stephan Stewart, trying to keep him off the streets.

And her efforts appeared to be working.


I admit it. I have a "mummy tummy," also known as "mommy pooch." You know, that soft jelly belly you retain after having a baby — it makes you look a few months pregnant.

I've tried to convince myself that the pooch is a valiant badge of motherhood, but who am I kidding? The pooch bothers me. And it turns out it has been causing back pain.

So when I hear that a fitness coach and doctor have come up with a technique that can flatten the pooch quickly and easily, I think, "Why not?"

Author and filmmaker Sherman Alexie waits with dancers backstage for his turn on stage as the keynote speaker at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, at Seattle's City Hall.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Sherman Alexie, author and friend of KUOW, posted this letter to his Facebook page on Thursday.

If you're reading this open letter then you're probably aware that I recently published a memoir, “You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.” The memoir is mostly about my relationship with my late mother, Lillian Alexie. She was a complicated and difficult person. She was sometimes cruel and often cold. I loved her, yes, but I sometimes hated her, too.

A Young Irish Mom's Painful Decision

Aug 6, 2017
Sian Cullen and her daughter Aine. Cullen was a teenager in Dublin, Ireland when Aine was born. They now live in Seattle.
Courtesy Sian Cullen

I was 16 and going to school; I lived in Dublin and was infatuated with this older fellow who was a jack-the-lad kind of fella.

We met and had a relationship and it was brief. And I got pregnant.

Mama, I Was Supposed To Be Born A Girl

Aug 6, 2017
Marlo Mack and her daughter. Marlo's daughter is part of a University of Washington study on the lives of trans children.
Courtesy of Marlo Mack

My son was barely 3 years old when he informed me that … I didn’t have a son.

He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mama, I think something went wrong when I was in your tummy, because I was supposed to be born a girl, but I was born a boy instead.” 

You might think of summer as a time for family cookouts and lazy days at the lake, but for 13.1 million American kids who are food insecure, the reality is very different.

For them, being out of school doesn't mean hot dogs and s'mores; it means not being sure when they're going to get their next meal.

This story was co-published by NPR and ProPublica.

Four days after Marie McCausland delivered her first child in May, she knew something was very wrong. She had intense pain in her upper chest, her blood pressure was rising, and she was so swollen that she barely recognized herself in the mirror. As she curled up in bed that evening, a scary thought flickered through her exhausted brain: "If I go to sleep right now, I don't know if I'm gonna be waking up."

Tymia McCullough fidgets in front of a mirror in her hotel room as her mom, Susie Pitts, puts the final touches on her hair and nervously drills her on what she is going to say when she gets to Capitol Hill.

"And this is where you let them know that Medicaid is what?" Pitts asks.

"Health assurance," Tymia responds.

"Health insurance that does what?"

"It pays for the need to see your doctor," Tymia says.

Tymia is just 11 years old. She came to Washington last week to lobby Congress over health care. Her family saw it as a life-or-death fight.

When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code

Jul 17, 2017

Raising teenage girls can be a tough job. Raising black teenage girls as white parents can be even tougher. Aaron and Colleen Cook knew that when they adopted their twin daughters, Mya and Deanna.

As spring came around this year, the girls, who just turned 16, told their parents they wanted to get braided hair extensions. Their parents happily obliged, wanting Mya and Deanna to feel closer to their black heritage.

As a new parent, Jack Gilbert got a lot of different advice on how to properly look after his child: when to give him antibiotics or how often he should sterilize his pacifier, for example.

After the birth of his second child, Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, decided to find out what's actually known about the risks involved when modern-day children come in contact with germs.

Raising children is a task that requires extensive "on-the-job" training, which is why many women rely on new moms groups for parenting support and guidance. Often, however, as the kids get older, the mothers' friendships fall by the wayside.

Now, new research indicates that social support isn't just valuable for mothers of young children, it's beneficial for moms of teens, too.

Linda Johnson, 33, a single mother of three, holds her 4-month-old daughter, Zimera, while sitting in her car that she often times sleeps in, on Thursday, June 29, 2017, in Bremerton.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Linda Johnson, 33, has three children and a four-door sedan with diapers stashed in the back.


Emiliano with his girlfriend Trista
COURTESY OF EMILIANO ALÁRCON

It was a warm summer evening. I could feel the sun on my back. I was sitting at the edge of a highway bridge.

The sounds of cars rolled both behind and under me as I looked down at what looked like my own final resting place. 


Kendra Roberson, lecturer at the University of Washington School of Social Work.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

When 30-year-old Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by Seattle Police, her death became part of a legacy of trauma absorbed by the black community. Brain scientists are only now researching impacts this kind of violence has on the psyche of African-Americans and their involvement in the criminal justice system.  

Kendra Roberson, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Social Work, provides therapy services for black school-age girls. She told reporter Patricia Murphy that young people experiencing long-term trauma can begin to believe that bad things will happen to them.

Courtesy of Reema Tuffaha

My daughter asks me to explain
but my words falter.

Think about the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. The seemingly endless cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Now, if you have kids in your life, think about how you talk to them about war and human suffering.

When Kelly Barrales-Saylor was a new mom, she got a lot of children's books as gifts. Most were simple books about shapes, colors and letters. There were none about science — or math.

"My editorial brain lit up and said there must be a need for this," says Barrales-Saylor, who works as an editor for a publishing company outside Chicago.

Halfway across the world, Chris Ferrie was similarly unsatisfied.

When reading to his kids, Ferrie noticed that most books used animals to introduce new words. In today's world, that just didn't make sense to him.

USA Gymnastics announced Tuesday that it will adopt all 70 of the recommendations in an independent review of its policies about reporting abuse. An investigation by The Indianapolis Star last year found that at least 368 gymnasts have alleged they were sexually assaulted by adults working in the sport.

Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fuH8hN

A Seattle School Board resolution calls for the expansion of ethnic studies in district classrooms.

The Seattle-King County chapter of the NAACP first made a similar proposal last winter. 

Advocates for ending child marriage are trying a new tactic: Show governments just how much the practice is hurting their own bottom line.

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

In many ways, parenting newborns seems instinctual.

We see a little baby, and we want to hold her. Snuggle and kiss her. Even just her smell seems magical.

Many of us think breast-feeding is similar.

"I had that idea before my first child was born," says Brooke Scelza, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Los Angeles, California. "I definitely thought, 'Oh, I'm going to figure that out. Like how hard can it be?' "

Today we're going to update a story we first brought you back in 2004. That September, NPR set out to document what may be the most important day in any young child's life — the first day of kindergarten. For parents it's a day filled with hope, anxiety and one big question: Is our child ready?

The answer back then, as far as 5-year-old Sam Marsenison was concerned, was, "No, no, no!"

David Schmader at KUOW.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke speaks with David Schmader about the essay he wrote for KUOW's Seattle Story Project titled, "My teacher abused me. I didn’t realize it until 20 years later."

In high school, Schmader was one of the theater kids. He even convinced his parents to let some family friends become his legal guardian so he could go to a school 20 miles away where they had one of the best speech and drama programs in all of Texas. He would rehearse before school, after school, during lunch.

He even started taking private lessons from one of his teachers. Schmader ended up having his first sexual experience with this man. 

baby kid
Flickr Photo/Tamaki Sono (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/224maX

Bill Radke speaks with artist, poet and mother of two, Natasha Marin, about the realization that she didn't have to become a mother. She says motherhood seemed like something she was always just supposed to do.

Radke also speaks with poet and curator Imani Sims about her decision to not have any kids.

Marin's story and this conversation on motherhood first appeared in an article by the Seattle Times.

Barbie's one-time blue-eyed boyfriend is getting a makeover. Toymaker Mattel is giving its Ken doll a variety of new looks in hopes the makeovers will move the toys into the modern era.

On Tuesday, the company rolled out 15 new Ken dolls with three body types: "slim, broad and original." They have seven skin tones, nine hairstyles — including cornrows and "man buns" — and an array of sartorial styles from business casual to athletic-chic.

Photographer and journalist Katie Hayes Luke reported throughout the year on an innovative school for homeless children in Oklahoma City, Okla. We're not using the first names of students and family members to protect their privacy.

On the last day of school, the fifth grade students at Positive Tomorrows perform last-minute rehearsals for the inaugural "Classy Awards."

Laurelhurst Elementary in northeast Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

On a gray day last October, teachers across Seattle wore a shirt that read BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Being a dad is not just about biology.

Juan Calvo and his husband, Darrow Brown, know that fatherhood isn't limited to a science. In 2007, after Calvo volunteered to care for drug-addicted infants in Baltimore, he knew he wanted to do more.

So, Calvo and Brown became foster dads. The two still remember the moment they met their first foster child.

"The worker came in, she chatted a bit, then left some formula and said, 'Here, here you go. Sign this paper,' " Calvo says. "And this little baby, he was so beautiful."

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