So many women—and men—deserve recognition on Mother’s Day, and today I am celebrating all of the people who love and nurture our children. Listen in as I offer my gratitude to everyone who shares in the responsibility of providing for growing humans and acknowledge the women who cannot have children or choose not to.
As a soon-to-be-parent in the height of the #MeToo movement, I worry about how to cultivate in my child a way of viewing the world that is kind, compassionate and curious. It feels more urgent and important than ever for me to introduce important concepts to my child. While I don’t get to choose to have my first child be born under the first female president, but I do get to choose what topics, ideas, and characters he or she is exposed to at this tender and influential time. These books are meant to inspire all children, to teach lessons like: to never give up; to fight for what you believe in; that genius exists in all races, ages, and gender identities; to ignore those who will doubt or shame you; to believe in yourself and to lift up those around you.
I felt the way about changing my name the way some people feel about having kids: I didn’t feel too strongly about keeping or changing my name, and hadn’t yet decided what I wanted. To be honest, by the time I was 30 and in a partnership, changing my name felt like a lot of work, especially in a digital age with internet footprints. People already knew me. But then the question of kids came up, and we agreed we didn’t want hyphens. And we wanted to share the same last name. “I want to take your last name,” he said. I’ll admit one of my first thoughts was: “Are you sure?”
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of three year olds in my life right now. These sweet, coordinated, hilarious, opinionated little ones blow me away with their personalities, storytelling, and ability to recall exactly what their parents (or potty-mouthed aunties say). But the biggest surprise for me has been just how big the feelings are inside of these small bodies. I don’t mean that as a euphemism for drama or poor behavior, it’s truly that these sweet kids have such big experiences and are working through how to express themselves and process these feelings. For adults and kids of all ages, it can be helpful to hear stories and to know we’re together in this work of being human. Here are nine children’s books to serve as a jumping off points for parents to talk to their little ones about different emotions, what they feel like, and how to process and experience them.
Is it really best to swoop in every time our kiddos face a challenging situation? Or are we missing an opportunity to teach them patience? How taking a beat rather than coming to the rescue can be the right response.
Often we choose not to do something because of how we think we’ll feel about it. But it turns out we’re not that great at understanding how something will actually feel—because we can’t account for how we, ourselves, will change in the process. Today we interview father of three kids under four, Mathias Jakobsen, the founder of Think Clearly, about his journey into parenting.