DATE your spouse? Yes! Page 22
Sex:Â A birth-to-teen
guide to less awkward conversations
Writing your birth plan
t e G side! t u O Page 14
berrie 32 Pick
eocac g o G 6
e 24 Hik
p fo 18 Cam
Addison, 4, Bemidji
At Broders’ Pasta Bar, we’re about much more than great pasta …
hat’s why we’ve partnered with two very special organizations doing amazing things for people with Down syndrome and their families—Jack’s Basket and the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota.
Broders’ Pasta Bar donates 10% of all proceeds from our children’s menu—“Kit’s Menu”—to these incredible organizations. Kit’s Menu features pared-down versions of some of our most delicious and kid-friendly pasta dishes.
Kathleen ‘Kit’ Broder, first grandchild of the Broder family, is an avid pasta eater and Italian food enthusiast! Kit was also born with Down syndrome. It’s our goal to celebrate Kit and all children in the Down syndrome community.
612.925.9202 | broderspastabar.com 5000 Penn Ave S / Minneapolis, MN 55419
A T I N G
It is the mission of the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota to empower individuals and families, to create community and celebrate the abilities of people with Down syndrome.
2 0 1 4
E S T .
Jack’s Basket has a mission to celebrate babies born with Down syndrome. They strive to ensure that every new and expectant parent is provided resources and avenues of support within the community, while aiming to educate medical providers on how to discuss the diagnosis in an unbiased way.
VOLUME 33 /// ISSUE 6
Follow these 10 tips when harvesting berries with toddlers.
32 Sex ed: Do we really need to teach our boys not to rape?
36 The thrill of the hunt Explore nature — without totally leaving technology behind — with this completely reinvented outdoor activity: Geocaching. 6
June 2018 • mnparent.com
About our cover kid Name: Addison Age: 4 City: Bemidji Parents: Chris and Brittney Nelson Sibling: Andrew, 2 Personality: Brave, adventurous and really caring for others; a perfect mix of exciting and compassionate Favorite book: Fancy Nancy
Favorite toys: Anything to do with unicorns, princesses, queens or rainbows Favorite activities: Coloring, singing, dancing and playing with chalk outside Favorite foods: Mac and cheese, broccoli and sweets! Photos by John LaTourelle / johnlatourelle.com
Minnesota Parent is seeking high-quality photos of children who represent Minnesota’s rich array of cultural and racial diversity. We want to see a variety of faces on our magazine covers. We’d like our Cover Kids to be looking right at the camera and smiling (at least a little)! Please send images — ideally vertical and taken by a professional photographer — to email@example.com with the subject line #coverkid. Learn more about how we find our cover kids at mnparent.com/coverkid.
mnparent.com • June 2018
JUNE 10 FROM THE EDITOR
Parenting can be a grind, but these are the good old times.
28 Stir it up! Couscous is the real star of this kid-friendly dish.
Fab fashion Check out a local mom’s new line for kids with special needs. 14 BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY
Your birth plan
These are the questions to ask before you head into delivery. 16 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER
When it comes to real summer fun, less is more. 18 SCHOOL DAYS
How to do it all this summer — without burning out. 20 WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM
In Minnesota, nothing beats a family’s woodland escape. 22 NANA & MAMA
Reboot ‘date night’ Make your partner a priority with regular time alone.
26 ASK THE PEDIATRICIAN
Frost that bottom!
A doctor offers her secrets for fighting diaper rash. 30 BOOKSHELF
Summer reads Fall in love with the outdoors with these interactive stories. 24 #ADULTING
50 FROM OUR READERS
Getting back outside helped end my postpartum depression.
Your kids + animals = cute overload!
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Cats and dogs
& About 44 Out CA L E N DA R
FROM THE EDITOR mnparent.com
PUBLISHER Janis Hall firstname.lastname@example.org SALES MANAGER AND CO-PUBLISHER Terry Gahan email@example.com GENERAL MANAGER Zoe Gahan firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Sarah Jackson email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Amy Beseth, Mary Beth Burgstahler Megan Devine, Katie Dohman, Ed Dykhuizen John LaTourelle, Laura Groenjes Mitchell Jennifer Hyvonen, Shannon Keough Dr. Ingrid Polcari, Mary Rose Remington Kaitlin Ungs, Jen Wittes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Valerie Moe firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Micah Edel GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kaitlin Ungs CONTRIBUTING DESIGNER Haley Anderson CLIENT SERVICES Delaney Patterson 612-436-5070 • email@example.com CIRCULATION Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • firstname.lastname@example.org mnparent.com/find-a-copy ADVERTISING 612-436-4360 • email@example.com 45,000 copies of Minnesota Parent are printed monthly, available at news stands statewide. Get Minnesota Parent mailed to your home for just $18 a year. Call 612-825-9205 for more information.
Minnesota Parent (ISSN 0740 3437) is published monthly by Minnesota Premier Publications. POSTMASTER send address changes to: MINNESOTA PARENT, 1115 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2018 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.
The good old times A
s I write this, spring is in full swing and my house and yard are a mess. With all of us running in and out of the house, it’s even more chaotic and debris-filled than the winter months when we were holed up with books, screens and baking projects. Now — with our entire yard being used as part of our living space — I keep thinking I should weed more, paint the walls and clean/purge/organize to make my house more like my friends’ more-perfect homes. But more and more, I’m realizing I don’t want to keeping thinking like that. I’m starting to think that for better or for worse — in the wise words of those deep-thinking Okee Photo by Tracy Walsh / tracywalshphoto.com Dokee brothers — THESE are the good old times. This is it — right now. This summer, this moment, this life. So when my son — who is finishing FOURTH GRADE — says to me: “When will you come play with me in the yard?” I know I NEED to say RIGHT NOW, even when there are countless other things I should/could do. It’s not easy. Let’s be real: As parents, we’re all so busy, so stressed, so tapped out, so over-screened, over-scheduled, over-fed and over budget. We’re under-slept, underexercised and utterly under-appreciated most of the time. And we’re judged — a lot. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to long for better days — to think ahead to when the kids are older (or when school is back in session for fall), when we have more money and time, when things that seem so unattainable now are attained. But I don’t think we should do that. My son just turned 10. TEN! And I can tell you the past decade has brought all kinds of crazy challenges. Those toddler years were sometimes nightmarish. But when I see the photos of my dear boy from that time, I look back with pure longing and so much love. And I see so much joy. Well, why not see that in the present? (Cuz today will be yesterday tomorrow. Ain’t it crazy how time works out?) The thing is this: I know the one thing I’ll never get back is the chance to do any of this again. So I’m going to stop seeing the projects I ought to do. And start seeing my kid, playing in the late-day light, begging for my attention. I’m going to set down my phone (Instagram stories be damned) and live. Check out the pages of this mag — our annual Outdoors Issue — for some ideas about how to do that. And, when it comes to all the things that pull you away from your kids this summer, don’t forget these words (typically attributed to the poet Walt Whitman): “We were together. I forget the rest.”
Sarah Jackson, Editor
June 2018 • mnparent.com
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LaToya Lewis, a St. Paul mother of two, has created a brand new stylish clothing line — Uniquely Regal — to help meet the sensory needs of children and teens who have autism, anxiety, ADHD, Down syndrome and sensory processing disorders. Her signature items include super-cute weighted polo shirts, darling compression dresses and adaptive rompers that look like normal clothes — but that can help calm and comfort kids. Lewis, whose 18-year-old son, Malik, has Down syndrome, disliked wearing traditional weighted vests, so she struck out on her own, using her longstanding passion for fashion. Her latest introductions include new compression T-shirts as well as graphic tees for family members that say “Dope Autism Mom” and “Special Needs Siblings Rock!” — a shirt her 5-year-old ↑ Uniquely Regal polos include zipper compartments that hold weighted neck wrap components, which are sold separately and can be adjusted with a front zipper as well.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
daughter, Marcella, likes to sport. Learn more at uniquelyregalkids.com or facebook.com/kcdfanpage.
New cards address infant loss It’s hard to know what to say when someone suffers the unthinkable pain of miscarriage or infant loss. But thanks to a new local line of affordable, caring cards, there’s help. “I had several miscarriages and lost a baby of 20 weeks way back when, and the feelings have stuck with me,” said Karen Ritz, a St. Paul-based children’s book author and the creator of Heart2Heart cards. “I wanted to create something with beauty and empathy.” You can buy the cards at St. Patrick’s Guild at Randolph and Snelling in St. Paul and at karenritzcards.com, where you can also learn more about Ritz, the founder of the Grandycamp blog for grandparents.
mnparent.com • June 2018
BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY
Your birth philosophy my preference to have an unmedicated birth, but should I decide that I want medical pain management intervention, I would prefer epidural over narcotics.” It might say something like, “Except in emergency, I would like all newborn procedures and tests to be postponed or accomplished with the baby in my arms.” These are ideas and wishes, rather than hard and fast rules.
Questions to ask
n old friend recently asked me — while sorting out her plan for birth and postpartum doula support — if it was possible to have an unmedicated birth without a doula. She knew she wanted to birth without narcotics or an epidural, but she also wanted to maximize her postpartum care and was dealing with a limited budget. I told her she could absolutely have whatever birth she wanted without a doula, within reason and bearing in mind the element of surprise. A doula is a support person, after all, not a magic key to a drug-free birth. Though I value both birth and postpartum doulas and the unflinchingly noble work they do, I also believe parents should feel empowered when it comes to birth. This is your baby, your life. Were you, as an emerging mother, to find yourself in labor alone in the woods, you would have your birth. You would have your baby. Though it wouldn’t be the optimal situation, animal instincts would kick in and you would get it done.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
I truly believe that. You need to believe that, too. In the end, I told my friend: • She needed to believe in her ability to birth. • She needed her partner, who would be at the birth, to be a firm advocate for her birth plan. • She needed to be clear about her birth goals — but also flexible and, in the end, gentle with herself, should things NOT go as planned. That last bit is particularly important. Parenthood can at times feel like a life sentence of second-guessing your choices, of blaming yourself for that which you cannot control. The best laid plans often don’t come to pass. And that’s OK. “Birth plan” is sort of an umbrella term for how you would like your ideal birth to be. I think “birth philosophy” is really more appropriate — and allows for that necessary flexibility. Your birth philosophy might include something like, “It would be
Your birth plan or philosophy can be put to paper. Some nurses, doctors and doulas do actually read birth plans. While it’s not necessary to type it all up, a written birth plan can be a good exercise in making decisions and knowing, with fervor, what you want. It can help you decide so many things in advance, such as: • Who will I allow in the room during labor (and during the birth)? • Would I like the freedom to move around? • Would I like access to a tub or shower? • Do I want Baby to be born in a birthing tub? • How do I feel about Pitocin? Am I prepared to postpone a medical professional’s suggestion that labor be artificially facilitated? • Do I prefer episiotomy or would I rather risk a natural tear? • What position do I imagine myself birthing in? What’s my second choice? My third? • How do I feel about narcotics? Epidural? Laughing gas?
This versatile invention from Copper Pearl can be used as a car seat/stroller cover and as a barrier to go over germy high chairs and shopping carts when you’re out on the town. If that’s not enough, you can use it as infinity scarf or even as a nursing cover. $24.95 • copperpearl.com
• What other pain-management methods will I have in my bag of tricks? • Who will cut the umbilical cord? Will we wait for it to stop pulsing? How do we feel about cord blood banking? • When it is appropriate to move to a C-section? Have I made it clear that a “gentle C-section” (alert mom is able to hold baby after) is preferable, should the operation be necessary? • Am I saving or encapsulating the placenta? • How do I feel about possible in-hospital, post-birth newborn interventions such as antibiotic eye ointment, a vitamin K shot, the Hepatitis B vaccine and/or circumcision? • Will I exclusively breastfeed? • Am I OK with Baby taking a pacifier? • Am I OK with Baby going to the nursery? Jen Wittes is a certified postpartum doula and writer who now works in marketing and communications. She lives in St. Paul with her two kids, her two cats and her husband. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXERCISE PREGNANCY STUDY The University of Minnesota is seeking women who are currently less than 20 weeks pregnant to participate in a research study examining the effect of exercise and wellness on mood following childbirth.
ESTUDIO SOBRE EL EJERCICIO DURANTE EL EMBARAZO La Universidad de Minnesota está buscando mujeres con menos de 20 semanas de embarazo para participar en el estudio de investigación que examina los efectos del ejercicio y la salud del estado de ánimo posterior al parto
• Program delivered to you via the mail and phone
• Programa ejecutado vía correo o teléfono
• Must be 18 years of age or older
• Debe ser mayor o igual a 18 años de edad
• Must not currently exercise regularly
• No debe hacer ejercicio regularmente
• Must not take antidepressants
• No debe tomar antidepresivos
• You will receive $100 & a FitBit for your time (you will be allowed to keep the FitBit after the study is over)
• Usted recibirá $100 y un FitBit por su tiempo (será permitido quedarse con el FitBit después de la culminación del estudio)
• Program can be delivered in English or Spanish
• Debe considerarse de bajos ingresos, lo cual se define como:
• Must be considered low-income, defined as: - Enrollment in any government assisted program (e.g., WIC, SNAP) AND/OR - Annual income that is considered low (less than $45,510 for a family of four, less than $30,044 for a family of two, and less than $22,311 if single). English: Call or TEXT to 612-345-0325 or email@example.com to see if you qualify for this research study.
U of M - Kinesiology Dept MNP 0318 S3.indd 2
- Inscripta en cualquier programa asistencial del gobierno (por ejemplo, WIC, SNAP) Y/O - Ingresos anuales considerados como bajos (menos de $ 45,510 para una familia de cuatro, menos de $ 30,044 para una familia de dos y menos de $ 22,311 si es soltera). Español: Llamada o TEXTO 612-237-1004 o firstname.lastname@example.org para ver si califica para éste estudio.
2/14/18 11:13 AM
mnparent.com • June 2018
THE UNCENSORED TODDLER
Unpretentious summer fun W
hile 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 Berlin can be found frolicking outside in all manner of weather, and how it’s common knowledge among German parents that a successful childhood requires the ownership of multiple pairs of snowpants, raincoats, winter boots, hats, mittens, etc., etc., so that a sodden snowsuit never gets between a child and her rightful place in the great outdoors. In this way, German parenting actually sounds a lot like Minnesotan parenting. This past winter, for all its bleak endlessness, was — let’s be honest — a dream come true for a certain brand of Minnesota parent. Many of them happen to be my Facebook friends, and so I was kept abreast of all their antics — the urban snowshoe outings; the macho, unnecessary cross-metro drives during blizzards; and the journeys to frozen lakes in order to fly kites. I wish I could summon this kind of joie de vivre during the cold, lonely winter months. Unfortunately, the best I can do is to refrain from telling my kids how much I loathe the entire season.
Spring and summer, on the other hand, are another story. Is it “cool” to be a fair-weather Minnesotan? Obviously not. But that’s OK: It just means I really appreciate the few-and-far-between hints at livability that pop up during the warmer months. In fact, I like summer so much that I’m convinced you don’t have to try very hard to have a good time. So therefore I present a few low-key ideas for Minnesota summer fun, good-enough-mother style:
children on swings. Send them outside with vague yet enticing parameters — for example, “You may go out in the yard and do whatever you want, as long as you stay inside the fence.” If they pretend they don’t know how to make their own fun, you can give them a suggestion: Encourage them to collect various “objects of nature” (rocks, leaves, alluring dead bugs), which perhaps you may one day take to the collectors’ corner at the science museum, for example.
Send them outside
Engage them in yard work
Remember, less is more. You don’t always need to drag yourself to a playground, where you invariably will be forced to push
Sometimes when small children are busy behaving like sociopaths, it’s hard to remember they actually enjoy being
Packing down to just over an inch when compressed, the Hydaway bottle is a space-saver in backpacks, lunchboxes and beyond. And each one includes a dedicated space for kids to personalize their bottle. $18 • hydawaybottle.com
June 2018 • mnparent.com
helpful (at least sometimes). So, while time outdoors can and should be full of wonder and self-directed play, it can also include tasks that tend toward the mundane — like weeding the patio. If that’s too grim for your tastes, help them plant a little child-sized garden. Last summer my son tended to a tomato plant that was all his. Despite the fact that it produced nothing but a couple of stunted green tomatoes, he felt a strong sense of responsibility for his little plant.
Have a ‘picnic’ I used to think of a picnic as an event — something that included decent food and a certain amount of planning. Therefore, I never initiated any picnics. Eventually, I changed my tune about picnics, realizing they could be used as a clever way to feed my children without having to prepare a “real meal.” Now we have picnics all the time! Using a picnic basket I found at a thrift store for authenticity, I’ll toss in some sad semblance of a meal — a couple lukewarm quesadillas, some carrot sticks and hummus, a piece or two of fruit — and voila! A good-enough picnic has been achieved. Although the summer months are a great time for ambitious outdoorsy fun, I encourage everyone to enjoy the humbler adventures offered by our metropolitan area. For example, I’m already looking forward to taking my son to one of his favorite places in the Twin Cities — a little grove of extremely climbable trees on the east side of Lake of the Isles which he refers to simply as, “Downtown.” Remember, it’ll be winter again soon enough — bringing with it the pressure to cross-country ski to the grocery store. Enjoy the easy living while you can. Shannon Keough lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to email@example.com. mnparent.com • June 2018
A recipe for a super summer W
ell, our winter in Minnesota was certainly relentless. But we survived! “Spring” didn’t exactly start on cue in March, but I’m not looking back. When I flip my calendar to the month of June, I’m in summer mode — if the weather cooperates or not! Summertime is precious to me. Because I’m an educator, every June I experience a metaphorical exhale as my reality shifts from being responsible for 20-plus children each day to just my own four for a couple of months. This, combined with longer days and warmer weather, makes my day-to-day life easier,
compared to the busy school year. An ideal summer, for me and my family, will be rich and balanced and with plenty of family time, some new experiences and lots and lots of time outdoors. Here are my tips for a wonderful, balanced summer vacation that encompasses both planned activities and also some unstructured time to relax.
Make plans to explore Summer can get away from you if you don’t do some planning. It can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, but the reality is that traveling as a
family takes work and forethought. Leading up to summer, I like to get some long weekend trips on our family calendar. So far, our family has a camping reservation secured on an island campsite in Northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park as well as some dates reserved at a campground on the North Shore. We’re looking into the possibility of biking at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in the Crosby-Ironton area. Sometimes even the anticipation of planned activities such as these can be part of the joy of the experience. Remember, your planned activities don’t need to be over-the-top. Camping and biking are relatively low-key endeavors, but they’re so often memorable! I believe some of our most precious — and fun — memories can come from the simplest experiences.
Incorporate balance Avoid overscheduling. No matter how old your kids are, some quality downtime at home over the summer is important. The financial and emotional costs of travel, outings and excursions can add up quickly. Time at home doesn’t cost extra and can be a relaxing break. Also, it’s more than OK for your kids to be bored some of the time. Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained. I always tell my children: “Boredom is a choice.” There can be value and learning in the process of working through boredom. Kids need to learn the important life skill of how to figure out how to entertain themselves, especially without screens. It takes practice, and it can require initiative on everyone’s part. But it’s worth it.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Outdoor project book
Discover, invent and build with the latest book from science educator Jack Challoner — Maker Lab Outdoors: 25 Super Cool Projects — focusing on projects for schoolage kids that can be done outside and/or that emphasize the earth and environment. Heads up: Two more books in the series — Junior Maker and Star Wars Maker Lab — are coming out in July. $19.99 • dk.com
Experience connection Summertime is an ideal time to make connections with your extended family, friends and even neighbors. Maybe you already have plans to host or attend a family reunion, or maybe you’re planning on attending a wedding or special event that involves friends and family. Embrace these experiences as opportunities for deeper connections. As the summer progresses, look for even more ways to gather and connect with friends and family. You may want to plan a backyard cookout with your neighbors or spend time at a family cabin. Research points to the emotional benefits of social connections — for kids and adults. From my family to yours, have a great summer!
Make some Magic on the Mesabi
Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range offers family-friendly opportunities to experience the outdoors and learn about our state’s great history and geology. Find planning tools and information at ironrange.org
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com. Iron Range Tourism MNP 0617 S3.indd 1
5/23/17 2:32 PM
mnparent.com • June 2018
WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM
Waiting for Papa Yaya I
t’s January 852nd, 2018. There’s a blizzard warning. Snow is flying sideways when my tulips should be coming up — Facebook Memories cruelly rubs it in when I check to see who else is whining about the weather. All the couch cushions are tossed haphazardly on the floor in a makeshift fort, toys flung hither and yon. Netflix has already asked, in its judgmental way, if we were STILL watching Spirit. Sorta, I thought, as I punched the “Yes, I’m giving in,” button amidst a fresh wave of whining. We maybe reached the end of Netflix this winter, between all the illnesses — and I mean all, it was a record-breaking year — and the cold. Remy is at the front window, watching snow drift into deep piles where our gardens should be. His green eyes are sad. “Papa. Yaya. Noooo,” he trails off, and turns back to his fort, which he’s now imagining is a boat at Papa Yaya: Papa= Grandpa, Yaya=Water, or Lake. He’s waiting for the snow to melt, so we can go to my parents’ cabin up north. He asks every day. Since he has no regard for a calendar, I told him we could go to Papa Yaya when all the snow is gone.
Every day he checked, and every day he was slapped with cold reality. It’s amazing to me that he, at the age of 3, even remembers last summer. But there’s no doubt he recalls driving the boat from Papa’s lap, riding around on the four-wheeler, digging in the sand. I was 4 — basically the median age of
my kids now — when my parents bought the land where their green-roofed log cabin now sits. I can recall my first trip there, loading up my dad’s truck in morning half-light and being allowed to drink chocolate Quik on the way. There was something deliciously rebellious about what we were doing; I could feel that already. I have never been what you would call outdoorsy. I don’t like to work too hard, and I’m not really into bugs. In short, I’m kind of a weenie, so my mom was pretty smart to set the scene like that. My parents scrimped and saved and patiently built upon their lake home year after year. One thing they made sure of was that the door was always open. They shared it with their children, and now their children’s children. Now I’ve spent more than 30 summers on the shores of Deer Lake, and it is as much my home as the city. The piney tingle in the air. The eagle in her aerie. Walleye dinners with dress code: swimsuit. Staying up past bedtime, roasting marshmallows, falling asleep on the soft flannel mallard-print sheets to a chorus of frogs, crickets and loons.
I know this seems like the bougiest thing ever, but Shhhowercap is worth its weight in gold. It holds TONS of hair and never smells of mildew. I hop outta the shower (without the tell-tale damp edges), spray dry shampoo and go. You can even wear it as a hat — hair out! — because it’s just plain gorgeous. — Katie Dohman $43 • shhhowercap.com
June 2018 • mnparent.com
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Now I get to show my kids that wild, rebellious summer, too: More treats. More sand. Looser bedtimes. Blue lips from chilly lake dips, wind in our hair as my dad motors us around the bay. Unlimited rides on the four-wheeler, games of Old Maid, nothing to do or check on — there’s no wi-fi or cell service, barely any TV — but wringing every last second out of summer. As I write this, the tulips are coming up in my front yard, and my mom reports the ice is almost gone from the lake. I bought some sandals for the kids yesterday — ones that can go in mud puddles and stomp in the shallows and get rinsed off for drying on the deck overnight. Ruby leaves her suitcase partially packed in her closet, ready at a moment’s notice. Eero is already bringing me his shoes and pointing to the door to play outside. I might have to film the moment Remy looks out the window and asks, “Papa Yaya?” and I say, “Get in the car, buddy!” Something tells me I’ll have to ask him only once to put on his shoes — if he even hears me as he runs out the front door. Katie Dohman lives in West St. Paul with her three kids, two dogs and one husband. She loves them a lot, which is good, because she can’t remember the last time she slept a whole night through.
5/22/18 2:36 PM
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mnparent.com • June 2018
Mary Rose and Laura NANA & MAMA
Make time for date night! MAMA: My son recently turned 2, and I’ve been in a reflective mood about all the things my spouse and I have learned about parenting during the past two years. Our relationship is stronger now than ever before and I think one of the factors that’s helped us is our prioritization of date time. Creating time and space for dates takes dedication and creativity. Below are some of my tips to keep your relationship strong with fun and regular dates. Be flexible and creative. ⊲⊲Coordinate a time for you and your partner — if you both work — to each take a vacation day from work and have a date during the day. Catch a matinee, grab lunch, go on a hike, etc., all before it’s time to pick up your little ones from school/daycare. ⊲⊲If your jobs allow it, sneak away from work for a quick lunch date together. ⊲⊲Maximize the hours after bedtime to get some quality time: Subscription boxes like Date Night in a Box offer creative ways to have fun from the comfort of your own home — and without the need for a sitter! Subscriptions run about $34.99 a month and require minimal planning on your part (and cost far less than the average night out). ⊲⊲Pick up your favorite snacks and beverages and stream a movie from the comfort of your own living room. (Put your phones out of reach.) ⊲⊲Bust out your favorite card, board or video game for two and play the night away.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Build a network of babysitters.
Try something new!
To ensure schedules align and to minimize guilt about asking the same person over and over, I recommend building a sizeable list of people (family, friends and paid sitters) you can call on for babysitting. Then try to rotate through the list. Ask family/friends/neighbors for recommendations or check out Care.com, Urbansitter.com and Nextdoor.com. Proactively interview potential sitters ahead of time so you’re not in a pinch when you’d like to plan a date.
It can be easy to fall into a pattern with date nights and repeat the same itinerary each time. Maximize your one-on-one time and friendship by getting out of your comfort zones together: Sign up for community ed classes, visit local museums, go to concerts, visit art galleries, work out together, take cooking classes, go on tours of your city (on scooters!) or plan group outings with friends.
Cheap (or free) date nights! NANA: Looking back at those early
years raising kids, I’ll admit my husband and I could’ve done a better job of keeping date night alive. All I can remember is the busyness and sheer exhaustion of juggling work, three kids, their school responsibilities and sporting events, pets, home and garden: There was always someone or something else needing attention, not to mention the cost of hiring a sitter and going out. And yet, when we did carve out time for dates, everyone won: Our kids got two refreshed parents ready to get back in the parenting game; the neighbor girls who babysat earned a little spending money; and, most importantly, my husband and I were able to nurture and strengthen our relationship, the foundation of our family. My advice to all parents raising kids is to make dates a priority. Schedule regular time together — and be sure to take turns planning the outing. Dress up for each other, dab on a little makeup, perfume or cologne and give yourselves the chance to experience why you fell in love with each other. If finances are tight, take advantage of free or low-cost events in the Twin Cities. (See the sidebar on this page.) Sitters scarce? Consider bartering with neighbor families: They watch your kids one night, you watch their kids another night; or ask Grandma and Grandpa. Investing in your relationship is a fabulous gift you can give yourself, your partner and your kids, so do what it takes to keep dates alive. And try not to talk about the kids all night!
Mary Rose Remington, a baby boomer grandmother living in Minneapolis, is documenting her journey in this occasional series with her daughter, Laura Groenjes Mitchell, a millennial first-time mom who lives in Denver.
⊲ Enjoy free samples at a brewery tour. See mnbeer.com. ⊲ Stroll through the free Minneapolis Sculpture Garden — and enjoy free Walker Art Center gallery admission Thursdays from 5–9 p.m. ⊲ Travel back in time at the Minnesota History Center with free admission on Tuesdays from 3–8 p.m.
Visit hobt.org or call 612.721.2535 for more info.
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⊲ Explore the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with free admission on the third Monday of the month. ⊲ Check out the always-free Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia) with special programming, drinks and live music on the third Thursday of the month. ⊲ Visit the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul. Open until 6 p.m. from April to September. ⊲ Bike or walk around nearby lakes. ⊲ Attend a free concert in the park. Check with your city or see tinyurl. com/mplsmusicintheparks or stpaul.gov/musicintheparks. ⊲ Sniff your way through the Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Minneapolis. ⊲ Tour the newly renovated Minnesota State Capitol and the Cathedral of Saint Paul. ⊲ Bird watch at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. ⊲ Explore Indian Mound Regional Park in St. Paul. ⊲ Stargaze at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis or at the new Bell Museum and Planetarium in St. Paul (opening July 14). See astro.umn.edu/outreach/pubnight or bellmuseum.umn.edu. ⊲ Awe at the Weisman Art Museum, showing a Prince of Minneapolis exhibit through June 17.
One hour east of Twin Cities (715) 778-4414 Spring Valley, WI
acoolcave.org mnparent.com • June 2018
Mary Beth Burgstahler
Getting back to me
was raised in the mountains of Southern California. I had a father who instilled a love of nature and a passion for hiking into my soul. Both are a part of me. They’re my therapy for recovering from a tough week. The thought of simply being out in the woods, by a stream, on a mountaintop or just any beautiful spot outdoors, is what’s always gotten me going each morning. Then came April 2014 when my OBGYN told me I would have to remain on bed rest for the remaining four months of my pregnancy. It was like someone had taken a part of me, torn up the pieces and thrown them out the window. Four months in a bed, only being able to get up to pee — I even had to sit in the shower — felt like death warmed up. I realize many women have difficult pregnancies, and some of those pregnan-
June 2018 • mnparent.com
cies are far worse than mine was. Still, that didn’t change the fact that mine was terrible, for me. As an outdoor enthusiast who craves any and all things outdoors for mind, body and soul rejuvenation, I felt completely lost.
And clichéd as it may sound, all of the pain, the inside turmoil, the months in bed, were all well worth it. We had a perfect little being we had created, and he was unbelievable.
And then — depression We survived! Fast-forward a few months to August 2014: I gave birth at 39 weeks via scheduled C-section to a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Due to the typical surgery recovery period, plus the need for monitoring my pre-birth complications, my doctor thought it best that we stay in the hospital for a while before we headed home. A while turned out to be a week — not an ideal situation, but my husband and I were both just glad that the past nine terrifying months were over.
Fast-forward a few more weeks to mid-September: My body had been ravaged by the pregnancy and the C-section. For two weeks after finally returning home, I found that every move I made caused me pain — breastfeeding, trying to run over to my crying baby without my uterus feeling like it would fall out of my body, sleeping, everything. During this time I was consumed with many dreadful thoughts, the worst being, Would I ever be able to hit the trails again?
With a little time, the physical healing came, but there was another challenge: All of the mayhem going on in my head and heart during the pregnancy and birth — and the shock of how hard it was being a new mother — took its toll. More often than not, I felt sad when I knew I should be feeling joy that my child was alive and healthy, and that my body was on the path to recovery. But finding the will to simply get out of the house, let alone go hiking, seemed an impossibly daunting task. I began seeing a therapist who specialized in pregnancy and postpartum depression, which helped. I was able to say things to her that I was even scared to voice to myself, and in the end we concluded that the largest issue was the fact that I was staying indoors, all the time — and had been since I was put on bed rest nearly a year earlier. For a person who thrived on finding balance outdoors, my homework assignment from her was to find a way to get back, no matter how unbearable the task seemed.
Finding my way back I knew she was right. I felt my beloved outdoors drifting further away from my heart with each passing day. And I knew it was time to find “me” again. So, my husband and I went to find the best baby-hiking-backpack we could find and planned a hike the following weekend. That first hike postpartum changed everything. I remember waking up that morning and telling my husband that, no matter how many excuses I came up with, to remind me this was my path back to myself and to not let me quit. We got to the trailhead — and that was it. I was home. I was free. And to make everything even better, I had the beautiful human being I’d created sleeping peacefully on my back as I walked through the woods, my loving and supportive husband at my side.
I won’t lie: It was hard. My body was nowhere NEAR where it had once been. The muscles that had turned to jelly during those four months of bed rest were screaming at me to stop. I didn’t listen. I kept going.
Registration is open for our year-round preschool! • Parent Aware-rated,
licensed preschool Many months later, I’m still going — • Affordable rates, Think Small and my boy is much bigger! and CCAP-accepted I make it a point to hit the trails at least • Children may join at 33 months twice a week, rain or shine, snow or wind. Sometimes I hike solo, but most of the Registration is open for our Summer Programs! time I have my son, which is a gift in itself. • The art of hip hop and spoken word, I joined a local group of other like-minded from ‘bust a move’ and parents called Hike It Baby. graphic design to ‘mix it up’ cooking It’s been a lifesaver just being able to see (half and full day options) • Camps run June 18–Aug 16, 2018 all of these little beings outside in the • 3–6 and 6–14 year olds wilderness. I also became a member of Adventure Mamas Initiative, for whom 612-827-1641 I write articles and organize and participate www.urbanartsacademy.org in outdoor excursions. firstname.lastname@example.org With each breath of fresh air, each sweat drop that drips down my face, each 4/5/18 12:46 PM babbling brook and each gorgeous vista, UrbanArtsAcademy_MNP_0518.indd 2 I’m 100 percent back to my old self. I smile all the time. I laugh. I have energy for myself AND my child and husband. If I could share one bit of unsolicited We Specialize advice with those mothers and fathers in Them who could be feeling the way I did, it Helping Parents Create a Healthy would be to GET OUTDOORS. Foundation for a Healthy Family Even if you’re not a rugged hiking type, just get your sweet little ones in Moms Emotional Coping Skills Group a stroller and go for a walk. Let the sun shine down that magical vitamin D onto Miscarriage Support Group your face. Let the wind make a mess of Couples Counseling & Parenting your hair. There is something about the outdoors that I can’t explain, but what Work-Life Balance I can say is this: I believe it heals far Postpartum Depression & Anxiety better than any pill.
Mary Beth Burgstahler resides in Forest Lake with her husband, Jacob, and their son, Jackson. She works as a real estate agent and writes inspirational outdoor articles in her spare time. This article originally appeared on hikeitbaby.com, an organization dedicated to getting families outside with children from birth to school age.
7 Metro Locations
mnparent.com • June 2018
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Dr. Ingrid Polcari
Diaper rash: Solved! Q: Why is diaper rash so common? A: Skin in the diaper area spends much of the day in contact with two very irritating substances — urine and stool. If your child has diarrhea or is teething (meaning extra saliva is passing through the gut), the chance of diaper rash increases.
Q: How do I prevent and treat diaper rash? A: In general, use strategies to minimize the contact of urine and stool with the skin: ⊲⊲Change diapers frequently. This gives the skin more “dry” time so it can heal.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
⊲⊲Coat the skin with a thick layer of paste. The brand is less important than the ingredients. Zinc oxide and petrolatum are both good choices, and fragrance-free products are best. Think of diaper paste as a shield that sits between the skin and the contents of the diaper. If the paste isn’t soiled, there’s no need to rub it off during changes: Simply add more paste on top. In general, there’s no such thing as too much paste. I like to tell parents to apply it like they’re icing a cupcake! ⊲⊲Consider your choice of diapers. Diapers vary considerably with respect to their cost to your bank
account and to the environment, but when it comes to the health of the skin in the diaper area, the more absorbent the diaper, the better job it does of wicking moisture. Cloth diapers tend to be less absorbent than most disposable brands. ⊲⊲Clean the skin gently during changes. Disposable wipes, which have shown to be safe and effective, work for many parents. I recommend alcoholand fragrance-free wipes. You can also cleanse the skin with water and a nonsoap/gentle cleanser, which might feel more comfortable than a moistened wipe if the skin is irritated.
In general, there’s no such thing as too much paste. I like to tell parents to apply it like they’re icing a cupcake! Q: Could my child have a yeast infection? A: Another cause of diaper rash is a yeast infection caused by a common yeast called Candida albicans. Infants harbor this yeast in their digestive tracts, and in small amounts it’s a normal and healthy part of the diaper environment. However, it can overgrow and cause problematic rashes. Clues to a yeast infection include a rash that is worse in the groin folds and the presence of little pink bumps or pimples scattered throughout the diaper area. Talk to your health care provider if you suspect your child has a yeast infection, since a prescription might be needed.
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Q: Could my baby be allergic to his diaper? A: True diaper allergies are actually very rare, so it’s a better idea to first try the strategies above than to frantically start switching brands of products. Clues to this problem are rashes that are limited to the area of contact and a rash that doesn’t clear until the culprit is eliminated. In rare cases, the dyes and colorings on printed diapers are a potential source of irritation or allergy. Dr. Ingrid C. Polcari is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She subspecializes in pediatric dermatology and practices at the University of Minnesota Health Pediatric Dermatology Clinic at the Masonic Children’s Hospital.
mnparent.com • June 2018
IN THE KITCHEN
June 2018 â€¢ mnparent.com
TOMATO AND COUSCOUS SALAD 4 large tomatoes 2/3 cup tomato juice 2/3 cup couscous 2/3 cup boiling water 1/3 cup raisins Handful of basil leaves, chopped Handful of flat-leaf parsley, torn (optional) Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides. Put the seeds and the flesh into a small bowl with the tomato juice and stir. Place the couscous in a separate larger bowl. Pour the boiling water over the couscous and use a fork to fluff up the grains. Add the tomato mixture to the couscous and stir. Stir in the raisins, basil and parsley. Taste. Then season with salt and pepper as needed. Spoon the mixture into the reserved tomatoes and serve with any leftover couscous. Garnish with lettuce or herb leaves.
Source: Complete Childrenâ€™s Cookbook: Delicious Step-By-Step Recipes For Young Cooks. Photo courtesy ÂŠ Dorling Kindersley / Dave King 2018
June is a great month to pack up and ﬁnd somewhere outside to hang out and play. But don’t forget to bring a book for down time and summer reading!
We’ve fallen completely in love with this simply illustrated and hilarious adventuretracker from Wee Society. Included are stickers, postcards, maps, drawing pages and even a fantastic adventure passport on the cover, which asks for your child’s name, age and number of teeth. There are three different versions of this book — red, blue, yellow — all so cute we’re tempted to start scribbling on the pages ourselves. $14.99 • Ages 4–8
Ready to go outside and make something? Learn about bees (did you know pizza wouldn’t exist without them?!), discover how to plant a bee-friendly garden and much more with this project-minded book, subtitled And 19 Other Experiments and Activities That Explore the Amazing World of Bees. $19.95 • Ages 8–12
Growing a huge squash is on the top of Benji’s spring to-do list. He’s so excited that as soon as he plants the seeds, he’s ready to show Dad the sprouts! Benji learns patience and the joy of growing a garden in this sweet, joyful story. $16.95 • Ages 3–6
June 2018 • mnparent.com
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Cute collaged illustrations pulled us into this book and the fun counting exercises held our attention. Follow along counting the leaves as the seasons change with sweet little critters and characters. $16.99 • Ages 1–4
ar! w this ye
Fun for the Whole Family!
Maze • Mini Golf • Giant Slide Life-Size Birdhouse • Corn Pit Animal Petting Farm • Pony Rides Bounce Barn • Wagon Rides Playground • Picnic Area Fish and Duck Pond
Part of a popular series for children and adults, these fun pages — filled with geometric bugs — can help little ones practice fine motor skills and numbers, too. As an added perk, kids might not be afraid of bugs after working with them in a new creative way! $9.95 • Ages 5–12
Open Memorial Day to Labor Day Mon–Sat 10am–6pm • Sun 12–6pm Weekends in September & October
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mnparent.com • June 2018
Photo by Jeff Schad Imagery / jeffschadimagery.com
You pick! Ditch the stroller, grab the wipes and head to the nearest U-pick farm! By Christina Ries
pring is finally here! And summer is days away. And that means it’s time for U-pick strawberry season! Last year, we went to Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, where we usually pick apples in the fall. Maria, our oldest, proved to be an industrious little picker and was quite proud of her basket. Jane was obsessed with the goats. And Archie chilled in my baby carrier, content as ever. It was a lovely way to celebrate June — to play and pick and be enveloped by the vast summer sky stretching out above us. And the fruits of our labor were considerable — the most delicious strawberries: Yum!
mnparent.com • June 2018
Strawberry season typically lasts about four weeks. We recently checked in with the folks at Afton and the farm is expecting a mid-June start, possibly a bit later if the weather doesn’t stay consistently warm or maybe earlier if it becomes unseasonably hot, which is less likely. Learn more about local farms at minnesotagrown.com and pickyourown.org. When the time comes, here are 10 tips for taking your kids — specifically toddlers — berry picking:
Call before you leave. You can also check for online updates. Hours are subject to change with unpredictable summer weather.
Ditch the stroller. It won’t do well in rows of berries. Carry the baby and let your little toddlers test their legs.
Wear sunblock. You’ll be out in an open field — no shelter or shade — so plan on a hat and/or sunscreen.
Don boots or old shoes.
The ground might be muddy. (Besides, rain boots look adorable on a pint-sized berry picker!)
Baskets aren’t provided, but your child will delight in having one to carry along.
Photos by Jeff Schad Imagery / jeffschadimagery.com
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Pack baby wipes!
It’s going to get sticky.
Some U-pick farms don’t accept plastic.
Morning is the ideal time to pick strawberries. In fact, when we went, Afton’s hours were 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Also consider going on a weekday to avoid crowds.
Get some space. Ask to be away from the other pickers. Your request is likely to be granted, which can make things easier for both your kiddos and the others there.
Go with the flow! It’s a wide open space, allowing you to see your toddlers at all times. They may be more interested in wandering the lanes than actual picking. Enjoy the experience no matter how many strawberries land in the basket. The goal is to have fun! Christina Ries lives with her husband, Ted, and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at email@example.com. mnparent.com • June 2018
The thrill f the hunt Geocaching is easy, fun and cheap — and will chase away summer boredom faster than you can say GPS! By Amy Beseth
Summer is finally here! With the sun shining and my three boys eager for outdoor excitement, my family is gearing up for our new favorite activity — geocaching! While we love to visit waterparks and day camps in summer, I’m a mama who’s determined to maintain the family budget while also keeping the inevitable “I’m bored” groans at bay. And let me tell you, I hit the jackpot with the worldwide treasure hunt that is geocaching. If you aren’t familiar with the craze that took over in the early 2000s, it goes like this: Caches are containers that hold trinkets and a log book. And they can be
June 2018 • mnparent.com
found only by using precise GPS coordinates because they’re completely hidden — usually in the woods or other natural areas, usually along scenic trails. It’s up to you and your confidantes to find the cache or, as we call it in my family, the hidden treasure. Not only is it a cool new way to get outside and enjoy family time, but — this is the best part — it’s also free.
Ready … It wasn’t always this way: In the early days of geocaching, you needed a special GPS (Global Positioning System) tracker. Good ones cost hundreds of dollars! But these days all you need is a mobile
phone and a geocaching app. Though there are several apps you can chose from, my family decided on the free app simply called, Geocaching. It provides a map of the caches that have been hidden and recorded in a selected area, providing you with hundreds — yes, HUNDREDS — of opportunities to seek and find! Think Pokemon Go with a more linear structure, less standing around and no gaming at all. We’ve hit locations all over the place, including the North Shore of Lake Superior, Como Park in St. Paul and Reservoir Woods Park in Roseville, to name a few.
Caches are rated by difficulty level, which I found very helpful when traveling with young children. Once you select your cache with the app’s map, it leads you, step by step, to your destination. You can search the activity portion of the selected cache to see when the last person found it and if anyone has had difficulty finding it.
Get set … Before heading out geocaching, here is a list of tips and items to bring for a fun adventure! ⊲⊲Charge your phone: In the realm of geocaching, there’s nothing worse than being close to finding a cache and having your phone die. ⊲⊲A pen: Kids love the opportunity to log their successes and see who else was victorious in their search. We’ve occasionally come across a cache with an entry log that’s missing its pen — or has one that doesn’t work. So bring your own just in case — maybe a waterproof one! ⊲⊲A trinket: Part of geocaching is getting to keep the treasure you find. But this means you must also leave a small trinket in its place. Some things we’ve found in the containers have included paperclips, coins, acorns and action figures. The biggest cache we found — and by far my boys’ favorite — was a container filled with fidget spinners. So what should you leave behind? This is a great opportunity to get rid of the unwanted clutter in your house. Whether it’s a trinket from a birthday party or items from the junk drawer, be sure to put something new in the cache. As the old saying goes, someone’s trash may be someone else’s treasure. But don’t worry too much about trinkets. I’ve found my boys are far more caught up in the hunt for the cache than the prize at the end. They’ve never been disappointed with the
↑↑Trinkets in a cache can include a wide variety of low-value items. This Minnesota cache included beads, a faux ring, pennies and dimes, plus a log book to sign.
treasure found, even if it’s an acorn or paperclip. ⊲⊲Bug protection: While caches usually aren’t too far off the beaten path, there’s a chance you may need to trek through some overgrown tall weeds or peer into the buggy brush. I like to make sure we have some long socks, pants and/or bug spray along to protect us from poison ivy or creepy crawlies. What’s an adventure without a little risk, right?
Go! Geocaching is about enjoying the journey and the natural gems of the area, including local and regional parks. Take some time to enjoy the wild beauty that surrounds you — and the amenities the parks have to offer — whether it’s a playground, bike path, picnic area or nature center. Traveling? Even better. You can do this on vacation, too! I guarantee your kids’ whispers of boredom (or demands for screen time) will turn to cheers of joy. Happy hunting! Amy Beseth is a mother of three and the owner of Pride & Joy Doula Services, serving St. Paul, Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs. Learn more at prideandjoydoula.com. mnparent.com • June 2018
Beyond ‘The Talk’ The real sex conversation is more about empathy and respect than intercourse — and it starts at birth By Jennifer Hyvonen
was my husband’s turn to drive. We were on our way back from mountain biking in Duluth, and our two sons were conked out in the backseat. As quiet settled over the car, I flicked on my phone to The New York Times, pinging out the headline Mothers Defend Sons Accused of Sexual Assault. The mothers had sons whose lives had been turned upside down by sexual assault accusations. They didn’t believe their sons were falsely accused, but rather wrongly accused. The nuances were fuzzy. One mother asserted that the accusing woman’s experience with her son may have been “stupid” and “embarrassing,” but it wasn’t assault.
mnparent.com • June 2018
Beyond ‘The Talk’ Another pointed to her son’s total respect for women: “We don’t need to teach our sons not to rape.” I wasn’t sure if she meant “we as a society” or her and her husband specifically. Regardless, it was a stunning statement, both in meaning — and in absoluteness. Of course, I’ve explicitly taught my sons about nutrition, throwing a baseball, washing dishes and ways to be a good friend. But how not to rape? Surely, values of love, family and responsibility make this black-and-white issue crystal clear? But what about the sea of inappropriate, unwanted sexual interactions I had waded through year after year just to get to class, go to work, walk down the street, drink coffee and, yes, even play with my kids at the neighborhood park? Then there were my friends who had been raped. None of their stories involved a stranger. She knew the guy. Studied with him. Barbecued with him. It was fun, until it wasn’t. No one ever reported it. Maybe we DO need to be more explicit? I thought of my preparations in sending the backseat sleepers off to college. We’ve talked about finding and cultivating interests, delaying gratification, saving. Would I have to include the standardissue warning about women who might be ready to hurl sexual-assault accusations? What about my friends with daughters? They’ll no doubt give the same warnings every woman before them received: Watch
out for uncontrollable men lurking, ready to pounce. Stay in a group. Men fear women. Women fear men. Are our sexual interactions a lost cause, sexual assault a given? Are our babes doomed to live out the age-old battle of the sexes? Or is it possible to rewrite our scripts? As my good friends say frequently, “There’s got to be a better way.” I decided to ask the experts, taking comfort that S-E-X and college were still in the not-quite-there-yet category for my boys. Well, that notion, it turns out, was a self-protecting, denial bubble that promptly burst on contact. I spoke with Janna Dickenson, PhD, a Doug Braun-Harvey Postdoctoral Fellow with a focus on compulsive sexual behavior at the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota, and Deborah Roffman, a K-12 sexuality educator, consultant and author.
Never too early Here’s the bad news: Despite parents’ best efforts to keep sex a secret, children go to “sex and gender school” from the minute they’re born. Sexual organs, gender identity and gender roles are all active the moment we come into this world: It’s a boy! By 3 years old, we understand gender social constructs and begin to express our identities: I’m a princess! At 6, we become interested in sex: Where do babies come from? By third grade (!), our sexual intuitions are set — with or without parental guidance. At 8 years old, what’s masculine and what’s feminine is something we just know without question — and the rules around our sexual interactions become inherent.
The most damaging thing that happens when we leave pleasure out of sex ed is that we allow girls to go on thinking that sex is something that’s not really for or about them. 40
June 2018 • mnparent.com
My puffed-up smugness whistled away like a freight train. Once again, my parenting was 10 days late and $1,000 short. It turns out our kids don’t live in a bubble. Media, friends, siblings, Uncle Pete and readily-accessible, 24/7 porn deliver constant images of an overly sexualized world — complete with gender stereotypes and exaggerations, objectifications of women (and now men because that’s equality) and inconsequential bad behavior all day, every day. It’s on TV and social media; in music, books and comics. It’s carried around in their pockets and at the touch of their fingertips. All day, every day is the message of, “It’s all no big deal. Intimacy and privacy are for losers. Boundaries are gone.” What’s a parent to do? “There is a ton parents can do to lower the incidences of rape and sexual harassment,” Roffman said. “We build empathy.” Well, that sounds easy enough: I was sure empathy lessons had been somewhere in my sage parental teachings to my boys. “Sexual harassment and assault weren’t created in a vacuum,” Dickenson said. “Our culture will either inhibit or help.” Though there are countless books specifically for boys that address the mechanical aspects of sexuality — Guy Stuﬀ: The Body Book for Boys is a top seller — but they don’t really put sexual development into a context that involves critical thinking, empathy and respect.
Enthusiastic consent Part of that critical-thinking process involves understanding consent and boundaries. Our culture and definitions are changing. In the world of consent, no still means no, but the absence of a no is no longer a yes, and a yes needs to be both verbal and enthusiastic for permission to exist. The person initiating and escalating sexual intimacy is responsible for getting consent, and intoxication and coercion negate a yes. Who says? Psychologists, colleges and the law. Trouble abounds if we can’t help our kids talk about and obtain real enthusiastic consent. Asking for consent acknowledges and holds respect for other people’s personal and intimate boundaries. We understand that what’s theirs isn’t someone else’s for the taking — and is definitely not a challenge to overcome. “Boys receive constant images of women partially dressed,” Roffman said. “The message is ‘It’s OK, you can look.
I’m for public consumption and have no boundaries.’” The dissolving of boundaries becomes an excuse not to empathize and opens the door for mistreatment.
Pleasure This may be the most difficult subject. Encompassed within boundaries, and at the root of consent, is the acknowledgment that humans have sex to gain pleasure. It sounds obvious, but it’s something adults really don’t talk about outside of locker-room sneers or above a whisper. And never with kids. If we think about it, even when people are having sex for reproduction or perhaps less-emotionally healthy reasons, no one goes in hoping for a hurtful or humiliating experience. Everyone signs up hoping for closeness and, well, pleasure. “If we think of sexual experiences as how to achieve mutual pleasure, consent stops being a warning of ‘get it or else’ and
Sexual harassment and assault weren’t created in a vacuum. Our culture will either inhibit or help.
mnparent.com • June 2018
Beyond ‘The Talk’ moves to how can we create a dialogue that ensures mutual pleasure,” Dickenson said. If the pleasure isn’t equal, then neither is the sex. Men have a head start: Seeking out and obtaining pleasure is a long-established tradition within the established rights and roles of males. Meanwhile: “Girls are socialized to be self-sacrificing and accommodating, which is oppression,” said Roffman, who argues that girls need to be equal in the lesson that life can be pleasurable — and so can their sexuality. (The Summer of Love and its abandoned acknowledgment that women, too, are sexual beings is still a work in progress.) The most powerful quote I found about women and pleasure was in a blog post by sex educator Jaclyn Friedman. “The most damaging thing that happens when we leave pleasure out of sex ed is that we allow girls to go on thinking that sex is something that’s not really for or about them. Boys learn not to worry about girls’ pleasure; and when girls and women have sexual encounters that don’t feel good — whether they’re just unsatisfying or actively abusive — they are primed to accept that’s just how sex is.”
It’s not just intercourse The truth is that vaginal intercourse isn’t the only way humans have sexual experiences. By narrowing down ‘The Talk’ to the mechanics of one specific act, all the other interactions — which require myriad decisions — are left out. “Instead of focusing conversations around ‘When is my kid going to have sex?’
we can talk about ‘How is my kid developing as a sexual human being?’ Then have conversations around each development age,” Dickenson said. Roffman equates the typical middle school sex-ed classes to never talking to kids about addition, subtraction or anything math related and then plunking them down into an algebra class. “They are just not prepared,” Roffman said. She asks why we welcome all questions and conversations related to every other educational subject, but sexual development is boiled down to one specific, two-minute interaction, while withholding all the needed information and dialogue to develop the critical thinking skills needed for good decision making. “Creating meaning and context around sexuality is the real challenge,” Roffman said.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Birth to 2 • Cuddle your babies. Coo and snuggle boys and girls for as long as they’ll let you. • Treat sexual parts the same as every other part. An arm is an arm as much as a penis is a penis. Sexuality isn’t a standalone. It’s firmly attached to and impacts all other human systems and experiences.
Ages 2–5 • Make a big list of every sexual word you can think of (especially the shocking ones). Say them out loud, over and over until they become everyday words. Words don’t hold power. When scrotum and labia become equal to esophagus and toe, sexual development moves off the playground and out of the locker room (where adults are absent) and puts it back into the home where parents can influence the dialogue. • Communicate the difference between privacy and secrecy. Sex isn’t a secret, but it does involve privacy.
Where and when to start Roffman’s book, Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex, reassures parents that human sexual development is well-understood and that we don’t need to wing it. We just need to stop avoiding it. Thinking about sex
Treat sexual parts the same as every other part. An arm is an arm as much as a penis is a penis. 42
educationally rather than emotionally may help. “We don’t get to decide what we’re too uncomfortable to parent,” Roffman said. The other good news is that the conversation is more about respect and empathy than intercourse. Here are her tips.
• Encourage curiosity while setting limits around interests and behaviors: “Yes, you know a lot about genital parts. People consider those private. Let’s talk about this more when we get home.” • Root sexuality in understandings of privacy and permission-seeking with lessons on the importance of knocking on doors to enter, knowing when play wrestling needs to stop and understanding that people’s parts and property aren’t ours for the grabbing or taking.
• Develop autonomy and decision making by asking: “How would you like to say goodbye to Aunt Susan?” rather than “Give Aunt Susan a kiss goodbye.”
Ages 6–9 • When kids come with questions, ask your own questions to get to the “how” they’re talking about sexual development, not just “what:” Were kids giggling or secretive? Do kids ever brag about what they know? Are there ever any truth or dares? • Try to understand the unspoken lessons kids are learning to find opportunities to reinforce your values about life, not just about sex. • Fight against gender segregation and the idea of genders as “opposites.” Girls and boys share lots in common and ultimately the world is co-ed. The more we know, associate and empathize with each other, the more we can decrease tension.
Age 10–14 • Hook them with questions and discussions about controversy and moral dilemmas to cultivate limit setting, values and critical thinking skills. • Don’t check out for fear of looking uncool. This is the make-or-break time in developing healthy versus not-so-healthy attitudes and values. Kids are looking for decision-making and problem-solving strategies — and may still be interested in talking to trusted adults.
High school and beyond • Help them define “adult” by “how” we do things not just “what” we do. • Stay connected as a guide to maximize the chances that kids will put off making major decisions.
developing the self-respect and accountability that boys desire, nor is it the role of girls to tell “uncontrollable” boys to stop — or to take a backseat in life. • What if intercourse isn’t something that men do to women, but rather sexuality is a whole range of interactions based on equal respect, participation and enjoyment to achieve closeness? Roffman challenges parents and schools to “set high expectations in raising both boys and girls with a single standard of values based on empathy and fairness.” Jennifer Hyvonen is a Minneapolisbased creative writer, copywriter and communications/brand expert. You can find her biking around the Twin Cities and at hyvocreates.com.
• Ultimately, “boys will be boys” isn’t rooted in science and fails in
mnparent.com • June 2018
Out & About JUNE
Dinosaur Train: The Traveling Exhibit ⊲ Pretend to be an engineer on The Dinosaur Train. Dance to music in The Train Station. Explore life-size dinosaur eggs in The Nest. Examine real and replica fossil dinosaur teeth at The Junior Conductor Academy. And go on a family scavenger hunt at The Big Pond, all in a new exhibit that lets kids play and learn in the environments they know from the popular PBS Kids show. When: May 26–Sept. 9
Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul
Music & Movies in the Parks ⊲ Both St. Paul and Minneapolis offer family-friendly outdoor summer concert and film series at local parks. Check with your town’s parks and rec department for even more free events. When: Ongoing Where: Minneapolis and St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: stpaul.gov/musicintheparks and tinyurl.com/mplsmusicintheparks
Music in the Zoo ⊲ The popular summer music series will feature Pat Benatar (June 12), Trombone Shorty (June 15), Mary Chapin Carpenter (July 13), The Jayhawks (July 15), the Okee Dokee Brothers (Aug. 19), Ziggy Marley (Aug. 27) and many more.
June 2018 • mnparent.com
Cost: $12.95 for ages 1 and older
When: June 2–Aug. 27 Where: Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley Cost: Various Info: suemclean.com/zoo
Groovin’ in the Garden ⊲ While the grownups rock out with some of the Twin Cities' best bands, the kids try out a climbing wall, a bouncy house and lawn games. When: June 6–Aug. 1. Coming up is Innocent Reggae Band (June 6); FLOWTUS (June 13); Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders (June 20); The April Fools (June 27); plus more in July and August Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: comozooconservatory.org
Flint Hills Family Festival ⊲ Local, regional and international professional artists will represent more than 25 countries on various stages, indoors and out at this popular annual event, including music, theater, food trucks and more. When: June 1–2 Where: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul Cost: FREE. Indoor performances cost $8. Info: ordway.org/festival2018
Edina Art Fair ⊲ Organizers of this year’s festival have turned its acronym (EAF) into a
powerful theme — Empowering Artistic Females. Don’t miss the Kids Zone, featuring magic shows, bouncy houses, henna, double-dutch rope jumping, art projects and more. When: June 1–3 Where: 50th & France neighborhood, Edina Cost: FREE Info: edinaartfair.com
Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire ⊲ Build, explore, interact and celebrate with more than 200 local and regional makers who will showcase, demonstrate and share their creations. When: June 2 Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: msp.makerfaire.com
⊲ Celebrate the outdoors with hands-on learning about clean water, wildlife and conservation, including a water parade, canoe rides, fishing, animals, live music, water games, a climbing wall, a jump castle, food vendors and more.
⊲ Meet and greet costumed PBS Kids characters like Clifford, Super Why, Princess Presto, Sid the Science Kid, Word World Duck and Word World Dog.
TPT Family Fun Day
When: June 2 Where: Lake Phalen, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: rwmwd.org
When: June 9 Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: comozooconservatory.org
JUNE 9–AUG. 18
Grand Old Day ⊲ Check out more than 150 food vendors, a family fun area, an arts district and more.
⊲ Explore the life of a family farm with tours, live animals, gardening, crafts and more.
When: June 3 Where: Grand Avenue, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: grandave.com
When: June 9 and 23, July 7 and 21, Aug. 4 and 18 Where: Gibbs Farm, Falcon Heights Cost: $8 for adults, $7 for ages 62 and older and $5 for ages 4–16 Info: rchs.com
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Out & About
Kid Fest ⊲ Join Minnesota Parent for its fifthannual summer kick-off event. Enjoy live music, kids’ art activities and more. Plus, we’ll be giving away our hot-off-the-press annual Family Directory — your go-to guide for local family-friendly destinations and activities throughout the Twin Cities. When: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. June 16 Where: Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: mnparent.com/kidfest
JUNE 10 AND 13
⊲ Celebrate German culture at this 60th-annual festival featuring food, live music, dance, art and other traditional activities. Highlights include Lederhosenclad participants, a family carnival, puppet shows, a train day and more.
⊲ Como Zoo will open at 9 a.m. for an inclusive experience for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, who can spend time exploring exhibits and participate in special activities before the zoo opens for regular hours.
⊲ Welcome summer and pay homage to the city’s potato-growing history with a parade (June 14), a fun run, inflatables, games, live music, food vendors, fire/police station open houses, crafts, a petting zoo, a pancake breakfast, face painting, bingo and fireworks.
When: June 9–10 Where: Germanic-American Institute, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: gai-mn.org/deutschetage
When: June 10 and 13 Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: comozooconservatory.org
⊲ This street festival features mindboggling sidewalk chalk art by professionals, amateurs and art enthusiasts from across the world. Public chalking areas will also be provided for families and budding artists.
⊲ This annual community celebration of St. Louis Park features a parade, a block party, inflatable attractions, kids activities, bingo, a waﬄe breakfast and more.
When: June 9–10 Where: Main Street Arbor Lakes, Maple Grove Cost: FREE Info: minneapolisnorthwest.com
June 2018 • mnparent.com
When: June 13–19 Where: St. Louis Park Cost: Most events are FREE. Info: parktacular.org
When: June 14–16 Where: Community Activity Center, Brooklyn Park Cost: FREE Info: brooklynpark.org/tater-daze
Stone Arch Bridge Festival ⊲ Get out for Father’s Day weekend with art and music from 250 artists on three performance stages, plus family art activities, a car show and a motorcycle and off-road vehicle gallery, all on the Mississippi riverfront.
When: June 15–17, including a free evening kickoff concert at Water Power Park on June 15 Where: Northeast Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: stonearchbridgefestival.com
Midsommar Celebration ⊲ Welcome summer with a day of singing, folk dancing, crafts, face painting, storytelling, outdoor games, nature-based play activities and eats from the critically acclaimed FIKA cafe.
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When: June 16. Get there at 11:30 a.m. to see the raising of the Swedish Midsommar pole. Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6–18, free for ages 5 and younger Info: asimn.org
JUNE 17, 23–24
Twin Cities Pride ⊲ Celebrate the LGBTQ community with 400 exhibitors, four stages with music and entertainment, 40 food and beverage booths and a parade (June 24). Bonus: Families are invited to a Pride Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 17 (Father’s Day) in St. Paul. When: June 23–24 Where: Loring Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: tcpride.org
Cub Father’s Day ⊲ Enjoy free zoo admission for all dads, BOGO general admission for Incredibles 2 at the IMAX box oﬃce and a free cookie for Dad with purchase of a coffee. When: June 17 Where: Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley Cost: Free for dads, $18 for adults, $12 for ages 3–12 and 65 and older Info: mnzoo.org
mnparent.com • June 2018
Out & About
Twin Cities Jazz Festival ⊲ One of the largest civic jazz festivals in the Midwest, this popular event features top national and local talent on multiple stages at more than 20 venues, including a main stage at Mears Park. When: June 21–23 Where: St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: hotsummerjazz.com
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FROM OUR READERS
Fast friends! Pets have a way of bringing out the best in kids, don’t you think?
↑ Bernadette, 3 months, of South St. Paul, with V ↑ Link, 6, of Woodbury, with Rocket Booster Fire Face
↑ Noah, 4, and Natalee, 10 months, of Shakopee, with Memphis
↑ Ella, 6, of Farmington, with Burn-E
↑ Otis, 4, of Rushford, and his pet chickens
↑ Lily, 5, and Henry, 2, of Lakeville, with Butters
↑ Wyatt, 3½, of Apple Valley, with Confetti
↑ Charlie, 1, of Maple Grove, with Vince
Want to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s ﬁrst name, age and city to email@example.com.
June 2018 • mnparent.com