kids and parenting | KUOW News and Information

kids and parenting

Parents and teachers are worried.

They believe that today's kids are growing up in an unkind world and that learning to be kind is even more important than getting good grades. But, when it comes to defining "kind," parents and teachers don't always agree.

My mom's mental illness told through photos

Oct 14, 2016
From the ongoing photography project, You Have Nothing to Worry About. Title: Mom's new makeup, 2014.
Melissa Spitz

Since 2009, I have been making photographs of my mentally ill, substance-abusing mother. Her diagnoses change frequently – from alcoholism to dissociative identity disorder – and my relationship with her has been fraught with animosity for as long as I can remember.

Flickr Photo/WarzauWynn (CC BY-NC 2.0) http://bit.ly/2e4FXO7

A little girl went home in tears recently: She had been called "a Trump" at her school in Seattle.

A first-grade boy, the son of a KUOW employee, asked his mother if his Muslim classmates would have to move away if Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, were elected.


Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik
Wikimedia Photo/Kathleen King (CC BY-SA 3.0) http://bit.ly/2miDSmR

The concept of "parenting" has only been around since the 1960s. Child development researcher Alison Gopnik believes our modern views on child raising do a disservice to children’s ability to thrive.

Gopnik is a professor of psychology and philosophy at University of California, Berkeley, where she directs the Gopnik Cognitive Development Lab. Her new book is “The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children.”

She spoke at Town Hall Seattle on October 3. Sonya Harris recorded her talk.

Chun Zheng has lived through a house fire, a flood and an earthquake. None of that, she says, compares to sending her infant daughter and son abroad to live with her extended family.

"It's the worst hardship I've ever had to bear," says the 42-year-old hotel housekeeper, speaking in Mandarin.

The military is famous for working long hours, not only on overseas deployments to hot spots like Iraq or Afghanistan but back home, too. It's almost a badge of honor.

So balancing work and family life can be especially difficult for those in uniform. Take Air Force Maj. Johanna Ream.

She's working a high-powered, top-secret job. Her husband's an Air Force cargo plane pilot who flies all over the world. And they were the parents of an infant named Jack when this happened:

Jozef Jason came to the Fuller Cut barbershop for one reason: the kid's mohawk. It's almost second-grade picture day, and he wants to look good. He hops up onto an antique swivel chair and asks his barber for the new 'do.

"It's high on the top and short on the bottom, and lines that go in a diagonal line where the top is gonna be," explains the 7-year-old.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday rolled out a new tax break that, if enacted, would put more money into the pockets of working parents with very young children.

The Democratic presidential candidate said she would push for a doubling of the current $1,000 tax credit for children ages 4 and under. An estimated 15 million children would be eligible.

In the two-story breakfast room on the 25th floor of Hilton's Conrad Miami, Florance Eloi mans the omelet stand in front of a panoramic view of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. The bubbly Miami native says, laughing, that guests routinely tell her, "Stop making the omelets, you need to turn around and look!"

When Eloi, 31, found out she was pregnant late last year, she wondered how she would balance her job with a baby. She was lucky to have a few weeks of paid vacation, since about half of lower-wage workers do not.

Out of 193 countries in the United Nations, only a small handful do not have a national paid parental leave law: New Guinea, Suriname, a few South Pacific island nations and the United States.

In the U.S., that means a lot moms and dads go back to work much sooner after the birth of a baby than they would like because they can't afford unpaid time off.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, says the global landscape for paid parental leave looks bright, but the U.S. is far behind.

Seattle Children's Hospital

Emily Fox talks with Dr. David Breland, medical director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children's Hospital. The new clinic will provide mental health services, pubertal blockers and hormone therapy for people aged 8 to 21.

Mike Cruse is the father of a new baby. His daughter Olivia was born in July. But like most fathers in the U.S., he doesn't get paid parental leave. That means his wife, Stephanie, will have to take care of the baby mostly herself — an already difficult task that may be even harder for her since she's dealing with postpartum anxiety.

Cruse, who manages the warehouse for a lighting company, had to take vacation days from his job to stay home and help for those first 10 days. Now he has no vacation left for the next calendar year.

Let your kids eat dirt, it's good for them

Oct 4, 2016
dirty kid
Flickr Photo/Benjamin Chan (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/cxSLUm

Bill Radke speaks with University of British Columbia professor B. Brett Finlay about his book, "Let Them Eat Dirt." Finlay's research shows that parents don't need to fear germs as much as they do. Finlay says bubble wrapping kids to keep them clean denies them many good microbes that help keep them healthy. 

On her first day back at work after giving birth, Tricia Olson drank copious amounts of coffee, stuffed tissues in her pocket, and tried not to cry. After all, her son Gus was just 3 weeks old.

Olson, 32, works for a small towing company and U-Haul franchise in Rock Springs, Wyo., and she could not afford to be away from work any longer.

"The house bill's not going to pay itself," she says, her voice breaking in an audio diary she kept as part of a series on the challenges facing working parents airing on NPR's All Things Considered.

Picture this: You're in the supermarket with your hungry preschooler in tow. As you reach into the dairy case, you spot a sign with a friendly cartoon cow. It reads: "Ask your child: Where does milk come from? What else comes from a cow?"

In a small study published last year, signs like these, placed in Philadelphia-area supermarkets, sparked a one-third increase in conversations between parents and children under 8.

A Winchester Safes representative sets the lock on one of several gun safes on display at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Joseph Simonetti about the public health implications of safe firearm storage. His research finds that adolescents with risk factors for suicide are often easily able to access guns in their homes. Simonetti is Instructor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.

Ann Dornfeld / KUOW

Many Seattle elementary schools are doing away with homework this fall, citing a growing body of evidence that take-home assignments tend not to help elementary and middle school students.


Courtesy of April Reyes

This is me and my family. My mom, my dad, brother, and sister. (Not pictured: cats.) 

Six months ago, they were just strangers. And six months ago, I was homeless and couch surfing. I worked about 35 hours a week at Panda Express while attending school full time. I was a junior in high school, 16 years old. 

Marlo Mack on 'How to be a Girl'

Sep 28, 2016

Bill Radke speaks with local independent podcast producer Marlo Mack about how she came to accept that the child she thought was her son was actually her daughter. Mack, who goes by a pseudonym to protect her child, has joined with KUOW to collaborate on a new season of How To Be A Girl, a podcast about raising a transgender daughter. 

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My dad's Cinderella story: Finding love in Somalia

Sep 28, 2016
Courtesy of Zubeyda Ahmed

My dad's life story is kind of like Cinderella’s. 

My dad, Abdul-Basit Hassan, grew up without a mom, worked for an evil relative and found his princess in the least expected way. 


How to be a dad (of a transgender kid)

Sep 28, 2016
Marlo Mack

In this episode of How to Be a Girl, Marlo Mack introduces us to her ex-husband and father of her child. When they were together they were raising a son. Four years later they now share custody of a transgender daughter.

First, a story:

Late one night, a man searches for something in a parking lot. On his hands and knees, he crawls around a bright circle of light created by a streetlamp overhead.

A woman passes, stops, takes in the scene.

"What are you looking for? Can I help?"

"My car keys. Any chance you've seen them?"

"You dropped them right around here?"

"Oh, no. I dropped them way over there," he says, gesturing vaguely to some faraway spot on the other side of the lot.

"Then why are you looking here?"

The man pauses to consider the question.

Few things inspire more loathing in the hearts of high school students than the words "extra homework." But as Florence Mattei hands out a pamphlet to her homeroom class at the Southlands School in Rome, she tells them they may want to give this assignment a chance.

"Who would like to read what it's about?" she asks the room full of 18-year-olds.

A senior named Alessio translates from Italian into English: "For the people born in 1998 there is a 500-euro bonus that you can spend on cultural things, such as going to the cinema, visiting museums and this kind of stuff."

About one in five children in the United States shows signs of a mental health disorder — anything from ADHD to eating disorders to suicide.

And yet, as we've been reporting this month, many schools aren't prepared to work with these students. Often, there's been too little training in recognizing the problems, the staff who are trained are overworked, and there just isn't enough money.

The King County Council has unanimously approved the master plan for the $400 million Best Starts for Kids initiative voters passed last fall.

Half of the Best Starts for Kids funding will go toward early childhood efforts, like programs that send nurses on regular home visits with low-income moms and babies, a new system for infant and young child mental health, and increased spending on public health services for pregnant women and children.

Oh, middle school. The land of pantsing. Mean girls who won't let you sit with them in the cafeteria. And, these days, cryptic taunts posted on social media, where parents and teachers can't always see them.

The Oregon Health Authority says an increase in selenium concentrations near Bullseye Glass Company has prompted an inspection.

Data from a device near the Children’s Creative Learning Center in Southeast Portland showed slightly elevated concentrations of selenium on September 6.

Selenium is an essential nutrient needed in the human body, but it can be hazardous at high levels.

Bullseye has been in trouble with the state several times this year for similar emissions problems.

John Muir Elementary in Seattle, where 48 percent of the students are black.
Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf http://bit.ly/2cLugNE (CC BY-ND 2.0)

An event at a South Seattle school aimed at inspiring students of color has been canceled after John Muir Elementary received an online threat.

An example of recent treasures hidden on Mercer Island.
Facebook Photo/Mercer Island Rocks!

Bill Radke talks with Richard Ronald about the game his family started playing on Mercer Island beaches: collecting and painting rocks and then hiding them for others to find

You're at a cafeteria, you've got your lunch ... and then you just don't know where to sit. You don't want to sit alone, but you also don't know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She's an 11th-grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.

Hampton recently spoke about the app with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.

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