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Experts Say, “Don’t Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty!”

There’s a trend in parenting to compliment our children’s abilities rather than their appearance. The lead in a recent Daily Telegraph article states: “Parents should stop telling their children they look beautiful because it places too much emphasis on appearance

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Sex and Drugs “To Don’t” List For Teenagers

My kids don’t do what I say. Especially in the morning before school (TMBS). In TMBS they become spaced-out love children in the Haight circa 1969. They get distracted by the way the light bends in from the skylight in

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The Thing That Put This Soccer Mom In Her Place

I’ve been reveling in some bragging rights about my daughter Bridget’s prowess as a soccer goalie. She made the All-Star team this year and I heard people whispering she was the best goalie in the 10-and-under age group. (I know

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The Post In Which I Fail As A Mother

Me to Bridget (aged 9) when I fail as a mother: Honey, I’m sorry I lost it with daddy in front of you today. Bridget: You mean when you yelled you were sick of his fucking napping all the time

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What Makes Me Feel Optimistic In A World Full Of Bad News

If you read my blog you know I’m capable of catastrophic Irish morbidity. Case in point. When my daughters strike an aloof attitude toward me as I leave the house, I have to muzzle myself from saying:   “You should

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In Defense of a Commercial Christmas

We Collearys are not a religious people. Henry’s a recovering Catholic. I was raised Mormon and love them dearly, but simply could not commit to “One True Church” or give up wine. (The Mormon age for baptism is 8, but

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Don’t Shake Your Man Parts At Me!

Confession: Clare, Henry, Oscar the Handyman and I are sick of each other. Clare’s been home from school with the flu for a week. What this means is she gags, barfs, watches TV with glazed, gunman eyes, mainlines Gatorade like

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The Boy I Tutor Doesn’t Appreciate Me aka It’s Not About You, Shannon!

I’m embarrassing the pubescent testosterone right out of Miguel just by standing in the doorway of his homeroom class. Miguel’s a 13-year old 8th grader trying desperately to cultivate a mustache that looks like a black caterpillar, an attitude that

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My Name Is Tom

Last week I picked my daughters and a friend of theirs up from school. We made a pitstop at our favorite taco truck in front of a car wash on Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards. As we waited in line

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How I Ended Up Holding A Package of Brains

Why You Should Support Public Education I was a little startled to find myself holding a package containing twelve vacuum-packed brains last Wednesday. “Please tell me these aren’t what I think they are,” I asked Mr. Bishop, a sixth grade

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The Surprising Thing That Happened When I Parented Someone Else’s Child?

When other people’s children are in my care I treat them like they’re mine. I didn’t used to do this, but I’ve had kids for 11 years now, so I’m battle tested. I bear the scars of having my children

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Yea, Though I Walk Through The Valley Of Lice

It hath come to pass that a plague hath beset the Colleary family whereupon we were ravaged by lice. No, they were not any of the particular louses that Shannon hath, in the past, lain with like the Whore of

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What Happened When I Said “No” To My Daughter

My daughters’ snuggles are my form of crack. On a biochemical level, my body sinks into a deeper calm when I hold them. And it doesn’t seem to matter that they’re at that no-man’s land between toddlerdom and teendom, where

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When Your Daughter Hits Below The Belt

It seemed like an ordinary night. There were no harbingers of doom — A murder of black crows on the telephone wires outside. A vanity mirror broken jaggedly down its center. A ladder with someone under it.  No, all was

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My Shiksa Daughters Want to be Jewish

We went to a Bar Mitzvah Saturday. You would have thought we’d asked our tween Shiksa daughters to shave their heads and flap their arms when they walked. T he caterwauling. Yes, they had to miss part of their best

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The Drugs Talk With My 11-Year old

Middle school started on Tuesday. Would there be gang bangers? Mean girls? Nurse Ratched-style teachers? One-eyed drug dealers? Should I stop watching CNN? My daughter loves her new school, her teachers and the excitement of the next phase of her

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My Tween Daughters And I Love “Camp Gyno”

If you’re the mother of daughters just ramping up for puberty this Camp Gyno video is a must. (this is NOT a sponsored post). It’s both irreverent and empowering and a perfect launching pad for the awkward talk about puberty.

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5 Reasons Traveling With Your Kids May Keep Them Off Drugs: Ireland Photos

We travel all over with our kids. That’s where all and any extra cash goes. We’ve taken them to Hawaii, Seattle, Toronto, The Grand Canyon, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Phoenix, El Capitan, Cachuma Lake, Santa Barbara,

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My Kids Aren’t Me

I always think my kids will like the things I like. I was a water baby. I lived in the ocean as a kid visiting my grandma-Santa-Barbara every summer. I loved camping. The mildewy smell of a tent in the

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Girls in their Natural Habitat

Voices: “… and then they’re naked in the jungle and they have to survive.” “When you said naked I thought you meant they didn’t have any supplies.” “No, they don’t have any clothes.” “That’s inappropriate, is it R-rated?” “No, it’s

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My Kid Needs A Therapist

I have a child who is anxious about a big transition coming up. We’re moving to Nebraska where we’ll be installed in the Witness Protection Program as Amish farmers, in order to avoid swimming with the fishes for a mafia

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I Could’ve Been A Milk Carton Kid – Which is Why I Helicopter Parent

My friend Amy told me she lets her 10-year old walk around our Los Angeles neighborhood alone. I tried to keep myself from gasping aloud. I gasped internally, imagining all the kidnappers circling her child in their unmarked, white vans.

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My Daughter’s 11-Year Old Friend Got Her Period

Right after the fifth grade culmination ceremony yesterday, Clare’s good friend Gabriella (a pseudonym) got her first period. Sweet Jesus. It felt to me like the beginning of the end, as this lovely child’s body is now weaponized, a walking,

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I Need Advice From Working Moms

When it comes to my kids’ emotional lives, I’m an extreme empath. I have little tolerance for my childrens’ anxiety, discomfort or sadness. I have to rush in and swab the decks. Hospital corner all the beds.  Polish the brass to

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Little Girl Movie Star Parties Freaked Me Out, Not Anymore

I’ve been Professor McGonegle. I’ve been Medusa. And now I’ve been Makeup-Artist-to-the-Stars, Gilda. I blame my myriad incarnations on my daughter Bridget, because she loves Theme Birthdays every. Single. Year. When she was seven, Henry and I mounted a massive

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