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TOPIC: parenting

Society

How I Made Homeschooling Work For My Mexican Family

Educating children at home is rarely accepted in Mexico, but Global Press Journal reporter Aline Suárez del Real's family has committed to daily experiential learning.

TECÁMAC, MEXICO — Fifteen years ago, before I became a mother, I first heard about someone who did not send her child to school and instead educated him herself at home. It seemed extreme. How could anyone deny their child the development that school provides and the companionship of other students? I wrote it off as absurd and thought nothing more of it.

Today, my 7-year-old son does not attend school. Since August of last year, he has received his education at home, a practice known as home-schooling.

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A Humble Note To Helicopter Parents And Hyperpaternity Dads: We're Born To Fail

One thing's for sure, whether you have children or not: You are bound to make mistakes, experience frustration and learn things the hard way. The key is to gradually understand how to live with it.

"Whatever you do, you won't do it well". Sentences like that tend to feel like a relief as a father (and in life in general). Sometimes I think I worry (obsess?) too much about being the best parent I can be.

I also end up spending too much time caring about what others think about me as a father — be it my children, my partner or a random person in the park.

That initial sentence is all the more calming considering it was uttered by someone who really knows what they're talking about: the mother of Spanish artists David and Fernando Trueba, a woman who raised six more kids to boot.

In fact, I came across this sentence via an article about hyperpaternity* in Spain’s El Periódico, which helped me think more about how to raise children.

"We are having fewer children, and we are having them later. Children are thus ever precious beings. [...] A status symbol, a reflection of their parents. Raising children, which is something natural and instinctive, has professionalised. We plan each second of our lives around our kids," says journalist Eva Millet.

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A Child Is Not An Alibi

Our Naples-based Dottoré reflects on the small-time criminals who come to her for therapy, and the family excuse for their lives of crime.

When I talk to a small-time criminal (a real mobster couldn't care less about justifying himself), and I ask him, a bit naively and a bit provocatively, why he deals drugs, the classic response is: "Dottoré, there’s nothing else I can do. I have children to feed."

It's a justification that catches you off guard the first time you hear it, but over time, you begin to reflect on it.

Did anyone force you to have these children? In the past, the poor, the working class, needed to have children to ensure a labor force. Today, in Naples, people have children to provide themselves with an alibi for a life of crime when they can't find legitimate work.

It doesn't really matter how these kids are raised. You see them in groups on their brand new electric scooters at two or three in the morning, riding around the streets.

They scare you because they're unpredictable, but at the same time, you look at them and realize they're just children. Then, compassion and dismay kick in, and you wonder how the parents can stay home peacefully while their kids are out on the streets at night.

You try approaching one and ask, "Aren't you going to school tomorrow?" You get insults and mockery in return. "What school?" You realize you've asked a pointless question.

These kids won't be going to school tomorrow because no one will wake them up. Their parents will be sleeping. Mom spent the night gambling, and Dad is out peddling death.

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War, Children And Snapshots Of Terror

Our Naples-based psychiatrist thinks back at a moment that has forever remained frozen in her mind. In the expression of her son's terror, she sees all the grieving mothers who can do nothing in the face of war.

One day, years ago, my son decided to play a prank on me.

He hid in a corner of the garden, and despite our desperate calls and thorough searching, he stayed hidden for what seemed like a very a long time

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Ideas
Ignacio Pereyra

The Truth About Men's Health — And Why We Don't Talk About It

There are obvious and not-so-obvious reasons that adult men tend to do a bad job in taking care of their health and well-being.

Updated Oct. 19, 2023 at 7:50 p.m.

When the doctor asked a friend of mine what he was doing at the clinic that day, the answer was a jovial: “I don’t know. Well, I do — so my wife, who told me to come, can stop busting my balls!”

My friend, an almost 50-year-old father of three, is telling me about his health check a few days ago. His wife smiles a smile which sits somewhere between relief for her insistent win, and resignation at the narrative. I feel a bit uncomfortable: Am I a sour grape if I don’t smile along with him? Should I say something? I haven’t been asked anything, so I stay quiet, not wanting to be a bore.

It did however feel like a great opportunity to bring up this issue. It reminded me of a diploma in masculinities and social change which I took last year, led by Argentine psychoanalyst Débora Tajer. She spoke of how men come to health care late, and when they do it, it’s at a woman’s suggestion, or because we simply can’t ignore it anymore.

Of course, some men do get basic health checks, irrespective of it being on their own initiative or at someone else's (be it a medical certificate needed for work or sports). But it’s not the norm, nor is it the only way we can describe our relationship to our health, or how we look after ourselves.

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Italy
Nadia Ferrigo

How The 'Mom Advice' Industry Preys On Desperate Mothers — Even In Italy

Mothers everywhere are struggling with the pressures of parenting in an increasingly individualistic culture. Enter the rapidly growing empire of parenting influencers who promise to help – at a price. In Italy, where mothers have long been seen as models of strength, the novelty is particularly acute.

TURIN — Roberta T. is nearly 40 years old, holds a responsible job, and is raising a six-and-a-half-month-old daughter. Lately, she has been posting in the Facebook group Mami Club, which hosts 40,000 members exchanging parenting advice. Roberta has sought advice on how to paint a room without the baby inhaling paint fumes, the best sanitizing wipes, which baby carrier to use in hot weather, how to get her baby to fall asleep, and, most recently, which cup to buy to teach her child to drink water.

She is not an exception: in the vast world of the internet, there is an articulate answer for every maternal doubt. For example, on "how to teach a child to drink from a cup," there's a small treatise by Verdiana Ramina, a dietitian and published author with 240,000 followers on Instagram. The instructions are detailed - the child should sit with a straight back and be able to open their mouth by themselves, for example - and they come with a link leading to her Amazon page with "shopping tips." She claims a percentage of profit when items are purchased through this link.

Thousands of new mothers take to social media every day in search of childrearing solutions. They are the ideal customers for online courses, consultations, masterclasses, and webinars on parenting. There are coaches for breastfeeding and baby-led weaning, courses to learn "respectful parenting" and becoming "outstanding moms." Some of the internet personalities behind this growing empire are midwives, educators, or childcare professionals, while others have no formal education or professional qualifications.

Although their profiles vary, the narrative is often the same: their Instagram profiles are cheerful and well-curated, with advice interspersed with humorous parenting videos. They all encourage signing up to payment-based subscriptions or join their Telegram groups.

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Society
Silvana Heredia

How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

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Italy
Mariateresa Fichele

Back To School, For Those Who Can Afford It

Our psychologist discusses schooling struggles and deep inequalities with her Neapolitan patients.

In most Italian municipalities, school cafeterias and full-day school schedules begin at the same time as the teaching calendar. Yet in Naples, for years I've been hearing the following:

"To start the school lunch service, we have to wait for a company to win the contract bidding!"

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Russia
Vazhnyye Istorii

Belgorod Postcard: Fear And Sandbags For Russians Going Back To School Near Ukraine Border

It's back to school in the Russian region that has felt the war more than any other. Special measures are taking place, including sandbags and explosion-proof windows. But parents are more anxious than ever.

BELGOROD — Nowhere in Russia has felt the war in Ukraine more acutely than the region of Belgorod. Nearly one out of every three Russian civilians to have died since the beginning of the full-scale invasion is from Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, according to the Russian publication “7x7”. That's an estimated total of more than 50 civilians in the region who've been killed since Feb. 2022.

Despite the ongoing danger, regional authorities have decided not to continue with online learning in educational institutions ahead of the new school year. Independent Russian news site Vazhnyye Istorii (Important Stories) has looked into how students in the border region will face the coming school year, which begins with the constant sound of explosions and classrooms that have been equipped with shatter-proof windows.

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Ideas
Ignacio Pereyra

Freeze-Framing Happiness: A Father's Antidote To Parenting Nostalgia

It’s difficult to take a breath in the middle of all of the parenting chaos — but if we aren't able to tell when happy moments are unfolding, we risk missing them altogether.

-Essay-

I’ve spent a few days wanting to write something positive. Something like vignettes of happiness. It’s more challenging than, say, being critical or complaining. I am doing it as a sort of feat of the impossible: to perpetuate this internal sensation that we spend our lives looking for a rerun, though we know these are bubbles which burst, and, when and if they come around again, they come back in different ways, in a way that may be surprising or unexpected.

Why not? After all, I'm regularly relating a tender, loving scene about being a father on at least a daily basis to someone (usually my partner — and the kid’s mum — Irene).

I want to remember the moving things my eldest son Lorenzo, 4, says — and those little milestones achieved by my youngest León, 9 months — and writing seems to be the only way to be sure I won’t forget in the days and weeks to come.

Since I became a father — and since I don’t let some of you forget it — my entire life has practically become one of logging the children's milestones: first tooth, second tooth, first liquid poo, first solid poo, first smile, the daily smile, the first step… you get it.

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Russian Strikes Kill Family With Infant, Hawaii Wildfire Toll Rises, Meteor Skies

👋 Esama!*

Welcome to Monday, where the death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii reaches 96 amid ongoing search-and-recovery efforts, Russian strikes in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region kill a family with an infant and the Perseid meteor shower is peaking. For our special Summer Reads edition of Worldcrunch Today, we selected several articles from Recalculating, a newsletter written by Greece-based Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra, which aims to navigate manhood, masculinity, fatherhood and identity crisis.

[*Mandika, Senegal, The Gambia]

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Society
Ignacio Pereyra

The Extreme Highs And Lows Of The Parenting Rollercoaster

From sick kids to kindergarten and travel. The everyday realities of paternity operate in the extremes. In the latest iteration of his "Recalculating" newsletter on parenthood, Argentine writer Ignacio Pereyra examines what it means to be a father.

Sometimes it seems like paternity has thrown me back in time. There are moments where I feel I have been plunged head-first into infancy, or taken back to my adolescence. When it happens, it feels never-ending. Rather than the intensity of said blow-ups, its their frequency that concerns me.

This is something quite similar to my son, Lorenzo, who, at age four, is experiencing a similar stage of development. My eldest son experiences even the most mundane events with an absolute seriousness. He operates almost exclusively in the extreme: “We never play, ever!” is one such call to the heavens, after at least ten hours of activities with his friends.

Lorenzo builds sentences about other themes — food, waiting, story time, going back to Argentina — with the same extremist architecture: always, never, all, nothing. I’m wondering if it’s contagious. Luckily, he does not seem to share my fears.

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