073: How to Handle Sticky Social Situations with Returning Champion Miss Conduct

Today Robin Abrahams, author of the weekly Miss Conduct advice column in Boston Globe Magazine, returns for her second hangout on We Turned Out Okay! (Robin and I first spoke last fall, in episode 42, so click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/042 to hear our first conversation together.)

In honor of Mother’s Day Robin has a special article coming out in this Sunday’s Globe Magazine, “A letter to moms from a woman without children;” in it she makes some very kind and wonderful promises to her friends with kids, such as “I will take the lead in scheduling social events, because you’re managing more social calendars than I am.” We start today’s conversation talking about Robin’s article – and then move on to her delightful book, Miss Conduct’s Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette.

In this guidebook for modern living – for getting along with other humans – is a tiny, wonderful few pages about breast-feeding in public; Robin and I talk about the perils of both breast-feeding and formula feeding in public, since both leave parents equally open to beratings from strangers! Robin shares great advice with us about how to deflect criticism, from strangers and friends and family.

Next, Robin answers some listener questions:

  • Anne asks “I’m considering homeschooling my preschooler next year, and I’m getting major pushback from my husband’s family. (My husband is on board, just not his parents and siblings.) They live nearby and we do see his parents a lot, how can I keep family relations positive in the event that we homeschool their grandson in the fall?”
  • MJ, who is planning a family trip involving traveling in the same car with her estranged mother-in-law for ten days, asks “please help me with easy situation diffusers and ways I may not have thought about to keep this trip as conflict free as possible…”
  • I wonder “what happens if you’re at the playground and a parent scolds your child – for doing something perfectly within his rights, in your opinion?”, a situation which I found myself in a few years ago.

Robin shares great advice for each of these situations, so you’re sure of some great takeaways from our conversation!

Today’s show is sponsored by Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child, the book I wrote for you if you are the parent of young children!

It’s getting some great reviews, including this one from Heidi de los Andes: “I really enjoyed this quick, clear and caring parenting book. Just like the author advocates in dealing with children, she couches her advice from a position of empathy. The book draws from the same general philosophy of instilling self-reliance as the Free Range Kids book by Lenore Skenazy… I also appreciated that it was a quick read (about an hour) and had lots of tricks and techniques you can start using right away.”

It’s available as an E-book in Amazon right now… To check out Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics click here or go to Amazon.com and search the name. I hope it helps you in your everyday parenting!

BONUS: How to Get Past Picky Eating: A Your Child Explained Episode

Today’s episode wasn’t supposed to happen; normally, this past Tuesday would’ve been a Just You and Me, but I recorded a great interview which had so much to do with food that I knew I needed a third Guest Interview episode in March. (That was How to Stop The Weeknight Chaos with Brandie Weikle of The New Family Podcast – listen here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/062.)

And I still wasn’t going to do a Your Child Explained – but then the Boston Globe Magazine forced me into it with their outstanding Family Issue from February 28, 2016! The cover article, The Tyranny of The Picky Eater, captivated me with its well-written and non-lectury style; read Alyssa Giacobbe’s fantastic article by clicking here or going to BostonGlobe.com/magazine

Today, I read two key sections of Alyssa’s article, and share the one change that we made here in our home that has really helped alleviate the picky eating!

Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/BONUS-picky-eaters to read more about that change, or just click play to listen.

In her article, Alyssa talks about the evolutionary background to kids and selective eating; as our young kids become more mobile, starting at around age 2, they are much more likely to ingest something toxic and as a species we’ve evolved to combat that through picky eating. In the modern family home, for convenience or lack of time, we can easily extend on the years of selective eating by only serving what the kids will eat.

A later section, about the harm we can do by forcing kids to eat foods they don’t want, includes this quote by Doctor David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital: “We don’t have to be afraid of letting the kid get hungry and experience the consequences of the decision not to eat. We need an appropriate division of responsibilities: parents decide what the kid gets; kids decide whether to eat it.”

For me, these two ideas – extending on selective eating and forcing kids to eat foods they may not want to try – combined to point the way toward this one change Ben and I made in our home, five or six years ago, when we decided that Max and Jay would have just the one option: to eat whatever we were eating.

At the same time, we made it clear that it was their choice whether they ate what was on the table – and then we dropped it. We stopped focusing so much on the actual food and started focusing on the enjoyment of sitting around a table together. All these years later, the four of us really look forward to dinner time because it is (relatively) stress-free and just enjoyable to be together!

That is the crux of this bonus episode, the take away for you as you’re trying to stop the picky eating: try to make mealtimes relaxed and enjoyable. Make the emphasis less on the actual food and more on the joy of being together.

I hope this helps!

Key Links

Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/062 for my conversation with Brandie Weikle of The New Family Podcast

Click here for Alyssa Giacobbe’s article, The Tyranny of The Picky Eater, for some great insights about why kids become picky eaters – and how we can bring them out of it

To get notified the moment the book I’m writing for you – Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young child – goes live in Amazon in April, click here or go to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com. By signing up you’ll be able to grab my printable anti-tantrum info graphic, perfect for placing on the fridge where babysitters, grandparents, and older siblings can see it so everybody knows how to handle a temper tantrum in your home, so if the tantrums are getting out of control, you’ll find a great resource to help!

042: Miss Conduct – Boston Globe Magazine’s Advice Columnist Robin Abrahams – Is My Guest Today!

Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct
Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct

It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don’t finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.

When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation 🙂

Highlights include:

1) Robin’s most favorite question she’s ever been asked – and why

2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld

3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I’m heeding this advice and it’s really helping me enjoy the season

I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!