Whatever, Mom, by Ariel Gore & Maia Swift…What a great book. I read it in 2023, and while the times have changed a lot for all of us since this book was published—it’s still extremely relevant. The love and wisdom in these pages still apply, maybe more than ever. So grateful for this book as a guide through the brambles of raising a teen. Check it out!
From Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
This passage from Celeste Ng’s novel, Little Fires Everywhere, captures so perfectly the feeling of wanting what I know I can’t have.
“After Pearl had begun to snore softly, Mia kept her hand in place, as if she were a sculptor shaping Pearl’s shoulder blades. She could feel Pearl’s heart, ever so faintly, beating under her palm. It has been a long time since her daughter had let her be so close. Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there were something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
—Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere (p. 248)
(Learning “to live on the smell of an apple alone” seems like the work of my current stage of motherhood.)
This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
This book is great! I got it for my teen to read, and she loved it, and then I read it, and I also loved it. Very accessible but not at all dumbed-down, it’s a really helpful guide for young (and older) people to help frame the importance of moving toward justice. With writing/reflecting exercises with depth and power. I recommend it highly!
books & resources about puberty & adolescence & sexuality, oh my!
I’m keeping a list of books & resources that have helpful to me in raising a human person. I thought it would be helpful to share them here. Please preview to see if they will work for your family. :)
Puberty & Sexuality resources
BOOKS for pre-teens and teens
- It’s Perfectly Normal: http://robieharris.com/?page_id=186 (The other books in this series are also helpful.)
- What’s Happening To My Body? (book for girls):https://www.harpercollins.com/9781557048974/whats-happening-to-my-body-book-for-girls
- What’s Happening To My Body? (book for boys): https://www.harpercollins.com/9781557047694/whats-happening-to-my-body-book-for-boys
- Reaching for the Moon https://www.amazon.com/Reaching-Moon-Lucy-H-Pearce/dp/1910559083
- Growing Up: Inside and Out https://shop.owlkids.com/products/growing-up-inside-and-out-1?variant=20208199297
- Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? http://www.sasquatchbooks.com/book/?isbn=9781632171795&will-puberty-last-my-whole-life-by-julie-metzger
- Wait, What? https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Wait-What/Heather-Corinna/9781620106594
- (For teens & beyond): S.E.X., second edition: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties
BOOKS for adults
- Talk To Me First: http://sexandsensibility.net/ (I wrote a blog post about it here: https://rebeccakuder.com/2017/05/17/a-great-book-for-parents-teachers/)
- Untangled: https://www.drlisadamour.com/untangled/
- Under Pressure: https://www.drlisadamour.com/under-pressure/
- Girls & Sex: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062209726/girls-and-sex
- Whatever, Mom: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31395.Whatever_Mom (read my post here.)
- Trauma-proofing your kids: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/trauma_proofing_your_kids
- New Moon Girls (magazine and website) http://newmoon.com/
- Scarleteen: https://www.scarleteen.com/
- Rebecca’s blog post about the inner critic (with an exercise that might be useful in building self-esteem…can be tailored to age range): https://rebeccakuder.com/2017/10/31/go-away-you-rainsnout-november-30-days-with-the-inner-critic/
Letter to Senator Portman
Senator Rob Portman
37 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
February 16, 2018
Dear Senator Portman,
I understand that over your career, you have benefitted from more than three million dollars worth of support* from the National Rifle Association. That is a lot of money. And I also understand that political careers require a lot of money.
But now, after yet another horrifying school shooting, I am begging you: Take a bird’s eye view for a moment. Pause and think about the sanctity of human life. Think about those families whose innocent children were murdered this week. And think about the entire community of Parkland, their shock, grief, loss.
Think about all the other communities that have lost children due to senseless gun violence.
Think about the child-shaped holes in the lives of these families, friends, and communities.
I am the mother of a ten year old girl. She is vibrant and amazing and beloved, and when she goes to school, I believe she should be free to learn and grow. When I start to imagine how those grieving parents must feel, and will feel forever…
Senator Portman, you are in a unique and powerful position to lead one of the most humanitarian missions of our time. On your watch, Senator, what will you do to protect innocent lives?
At what point will you step forward and lead our nation by rejecting money attached to the organization which, directly or indirectly, is responsible for these innocent lives?
What will it take? Will it take you losing someone who is close to you? (I hope not, because I do not wish that grief on anyone.)
How many tragedies are too many? When do you say ENOUGH?
Please, please use your position of power for good: Stand up to the gun lobby and say no. Tell them you will find other ways to sustain your career.
*(source: NYTimes, 10/4/17, “Thoughts and Prayers and NRA Funding”)
(This morning at the Antioch School)
Balance, collaboration, embodiment: Integral to the curriculum.
I’m so grateful for the Antioch School.
A great book for parents & teachers
Time for another episode of Rebecca Recommends!
I recently read Talk To Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “”Go-To”” Person about Sex by Deborah Roffman. Alongside books like the Robie Harris sexuality books (It’s Not The Stork for ages 4 and up, It’s So Amazing for ages 7 and up, and It’s Perfectly Normal for ages 10 and up), and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex, Roffman’s book is an excellent, excellent resource for parents who want to encourage healthy sexuality in their kids.
Roffman’s book is about much more than sexuality. Really, it’s about how we talk to children, and what children need from the adult nurturers around them so that they know how to make smart, thoughtful decisions. She talks about what children need, and based on those needs, she describes communication as a five piece suit, composed of 1) affirmation, 2) information, 3) clarity about values, 4) setting limits, and 5) anticipatory guidance.
Soon after I started reading it, I had a conversation about something else difficult (I can’t even recall what it was, but I know it didn’t have to do with sexuality) using Roffman’s ideas, and was able to navigate the awkwardness with grace and honesty. In terms of discussing sexuality, I have my own baggage and tricky spots—and Roffman’s book helped me approach some of those things that previously felt too scary or uncomfortable.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to help guide children toward strong, healthy adulthood.