Shannon Keough
The Uncensored Toddler
Dig if you will one of my finest parenting moments: I was in a grocery store with my two young children. Realizing the outing could be dire, I bribed them: “If you stay with me in the store, you can have a treat on the way home!” I’m not fond of bribes and rewards for desirable behavior, but I was desperate that day. I just wanted to get in and out of there quickly and with minimal drama. Of course, this was a fool’s errand.  We’d been in the store for all of three minutes when my... more
Quality screen time
"We all know that screen time in excess can be harmful to infants and toddlers, and that it isn’t great for older children, either. And I would guess that there aren’t too many parents out there that would want their children struggle with things like obesity, ADHD or cognitive and language development.” This comment is... more
Unpretentious summer fun
While reading Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske, a book about an American couple bringing up their two young children in Berlin, I noticed the author made reference to the old German saw about how there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing.She then goes on to elaborate on how children in... more
Cancer Wife, Part I
When my first baby was about 2 months old, I went to visit my coworkers. They invited me to a lunch meetup so they could see the baby.It was one of those things that had been carefully planned in advance. In other words, it had been planned in the worst possible way for someone with an unpredictable infant.... more
Losing your illusions
Awash in pastels, a young woman — with clear, dewy skin, a cascade of subtly highlighted blonde hair and a beatific look on her serene, unlined face — lovingly cradles a baby. “This is motherhood,” seems to be the implied message. “This is what you should expect.” These soft-focus Madonna-and-child images were omnipresent... more
Real survival strategies
In my January column, I wrote about the topic of self-care — in particular, how self-care is not enough. With no guaranteed maternity leave, childcare payments as big as second mortgages and a rising maternal death rate, it’s tough to be a parent in the U.S. I think we need policy and cultural change — not tai chi and coffee... more
The music of our lives
Back when I was a judgmental young woman with no children of my own, I had some strong opinions about parenting. If you asked me to make a complete sentence out of the phrase, “No child of mine will ever …” I could have offered a variety of options:Wear a fleece Minnie Mouse sweatshirt in public;Eat... more
Self-care is not enough
Self-care. There’s something about that term that makes my skin crawl. It sounds so squishy and self-involved. I hear it and a certain image comes to mind — kind of a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow and that “life coach” who hawks her services as yoga class lets out. I don’t know what my problem is. The basic premise of self-care... more
Road trip!
Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned some hard truths about traveling with children. For example, air travel is brutal. It’s bad enough if you’re traveling alone or with a friend or partner — the absurdity of wedging 3-ounce bottles of conditioner into a small plastic bag, the indignity of being ordered to remove one’s shoes in the... more
Let's talk about toilets
When it comes to toilet training (or as some prefer to call it, “toilet learning”), people have strong opinions.Judge-y comments are sometimes made: “Oh, Hugo is still in diapers?” observes an acquaintance. “Lennon was all done with that before his first birthday!” She was no doubt referring to her success with “elimination... more
Think before you praise
“Good job, Sasha!” enthused a fellow mother at the park as she tailed her preschool-aged daughter up and down the slides. “Great climbing! I’m so proud of you, strong girl!” This was one of the more effusive examples of “positive reinforcement” I’ve witnessed since becoming a parent. But if you spend any time at playgrounds or... more
Restaurants: Enter at your own risk
So, just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to change anything about how you live your life, right?I mean, all the stuff you used to do just needs to be done in a way that includes your little cherubs, who — by definition — do nothing but broaden and enrich the experiences you already enjoy.This is especially true in restaurants... more
Let’s talk about preschool
In preparation for writing this month’s column, I spent considerable time skimming articles online about the benefits of preschool.  And the prevailing wisdom seems to be that preschool probably has the biggest positive impact on kids who don’t have the advantage of super-engaged parents. Preschool for those kids is crucial.But for... more
You’re the Decider
“So, honey, do you want to go to the park now?” Wait: Let’s pause for a moment. Toddlers tend to enjoy going to parks, right? In fact, your toddler (let’s call him Max) this very morning demanded a visit to the park. Of course, you didn’t appreciate his whiny tone, and you reminded him that polite requests can get you far in... more