Book Review: Bed Timing

Review of Bed Timing by Marc Lewis, Ph.D. and Isabela Granic, Ph.D.

Remember a few weeks ago when someone in the comments mentioned that a sleep book had come out in Canada talking about  when you could make sleep changes and when you shouldn't try? This is the book. It turns out it's written by Ask Moxie readers, a wife and husband research team who are developmental psychologists and also parents of twins.

Now, right away I was more inclined to be excited about this book, because I figured that if they work together, they probably parent together, too. (My big beef, as most of you know, with the “expert” books written by male doctors is that they don't actually sound like that male doctor has done any sleep duty with any real kids. You know who I'm talking about.) And the twin thing meant that they had two different data points at the same time, so they were less likely to get attached to whatever thing happened to work with the first child. (Oh, the hubris—I know and the rest of you with two or more singletons may remember when you thought your first child was just The Way All Kids Are…)

But then, oh did my heart swell when I started reading and realized that they weren't telling you the One True Path to Sleep Nirvana. Instead, they'd done actual research into “what happens when” from a developmental point of view. And what they'd figured out is that there are certain times in which it's easier to make sleep changes, and certain times when you're pretty much assured of failure.

At this point I could maybe take the high road. But I won't: I told you so.

Yes, I told you so, all you pediatricians who just blindly parroted that parents should start sleep-training at four months. Because according to Lewis and Granic, four months is a bad time to sleep train. Ha! I said it's all about the sleep regression. Lewis and Granic have a whole lot more to say about it.

I, however, am not going to tell you everything they said, because I really want you to buy the book. And give it to every new parent or pregnant person or parent with a kid under the age of four that you know, because it will save you hours and hours of frustration and feeling like things are your fault. And then when you're about to hit a good window, you can spring into action and take advantage of it.

Did I mention there's a little pull-out chart in the back of the book that you could put on your refrigerator to tell you when are good times and bad times to make sleep changes? And it goes from birth to age 4?

The book also reviews “the pros and cons of popular sleep-training methods.” I thought these were pretty fair reviews of the most Hot Topic-type methods, and the anecdotes included were good, too. What the book doesn't tell you is which one to try with your kid. Apparently, you're supposed to—wait for it–pay attention and use your own parental instincts to figure out what's going to be best for your own child. <3 <3 <3

The funny thing about this book, I think, is that everyone who's tried any kind of sleep method is going to find both validation and some small suggestion to take offense to, somewhere in it. So, remember while you're reading it that what worked for you will just make things worse for someone else, and vice versa. Lewis and Granic are trying to tease that out, but it a positive way by listing all the options, and telling you when to try the ones YOU pick, and when to hold off. As with any parenting book, don't follow every single word literally. (Impossible to do with this little gem anyway, but worth repeating.)

I have a few copies of the book to give away. If you are interested, leave a comment about what has been the worst stage of sleep for you so far (if you're pregnant you can be talking about yourself). I'll draw a few (right after I finally draw for the Hungry Caterpillar) and email the winners, so leave a valid email and just put www.fake.com or www.google.com in the URL box.

I’m not blocking anyone

I've gotten reports from people that they think they're being blocked from commenting here! I'm truly sorry about that, and think it's either Typepad, a browser issue, or (more likely) a Typepad-talking-to-browser issue. (I've had it myself, and usually just copy my comment, click off my comments, click back, paste in the comments, and hit post, and it usually works–I'm on Firefox on a PC running XP).

For the record, I wouldn't block anyone unless it was someone who was a persistent spammer (and I mean actual spammer) or someone who was deliberately and repeatedly trolling and attacking. (And I'd talk to that person first, either offline if the person left a real email address, or in the comment section if not). Not someone who was discussing and just got heated. One of the things I love about this site is that people can and do get really passionate, but eventually we manage to work around to understanding, if not agreement.

Q&A: preemptive NOOOOOOOOs from a 22-month-old

Susan writes:

"My daughter is almost 22 months old.  Lately (for about a month or so)she has adopted what I call the preemptive no.  Basically, she yells
"NNNNOOOOOO DADDY, BOB, BLUEDOG,ETC" when approached by anyone.  My
assumption is that she is warning other people (or our dog) not to
touch her stuff.  I am troubled by two things:  the frequency and the
planning that goes into it.  Within the last week, she has started
talking to herself about it.  So, if I say X is coming over to play,
she says NOO X, NOOO X, over and over.  By the time her friend arrives,
she is in a frenzy.  On the other hand, if I say "Do you want X to come
over and play?" She says yes and gets excited.

My husband and I can and do ignore it.  If she says NOOOO DADDY
when my husband comes home from work, he just walks into the other room
and doesn't approach her until she talks to him nicely.  I often tell
her I can't hear you when you talk that way, tell me what you really
mean.  Her friends (peers?) can't ignore her though.  And truthfully,
it's embarrassing. 

I know that this is a real anxiety for her, and I want to help her
deal with it without upsetting her.  I have tried talking to her a lot
about sharing, but that just results in A LOT MORE of her talking to
her self about not letting her friends touch things.  She responds well
to timeouts for other "transgressions" like hitting or repeatedly
touching things she knows are off limits.  I don't feel like this is
the place for timeout though.  It's not a behavior I'm dealing with,
it's an anxiety (I think).  She can make sentences in her own little
way, so I've been trying to teach her to say "please don't touch, X." 
She'll say this a few times to herself, but it always ends up in
NNNNOOOOO X!!!

How do I deal with this?  Do you think this is an anxiety around
"Her Stuff" or something else?  Could it be the "my mind is starting to
work really well and I can now think two thoughts at a time and I can't
deal with them both" period in her life?  Do I ignore it when she
screams NNNOOOO at random kids and dogs on the street or at the
playground?  Do I ask my friends to ignore it when she screams at their
kids?  That seems unfair.  Do I just go with what my bff told me–to be
glad that she has foresight and predicting skills–and assume she'll
learn how to use them to a better end soon enough?"

Which was interesting enough. Then she added:

"Another behavior I forgot to mention that goes with the whole question is this:
She
"practices or rehearses" giving a toy to a friend.  She says "Here you
go X" and holds it out.  I say do you want to give your book to X?  And
she says NNNOOOO!  She also actually carries this activity out,
offering various toys to people and then snatching them away and
yelling no."

Now, I can't figure out exactly if this is solely about sharing or not. But if it is, I completely sympathize with the toddler here. I hate sharing.

Yes, I said it:

I hate sharing.

If you think about it, sharing is kind of scary and weird. Why should anyone be expected to give something they have and enjoy to someone else, just because the other person wants it? Little kids are required, all the time, to stop playing with what they've been playing with, and just hand the toy over to another kid for no valid reason.

Can you imagine if adults had to operate under these rules? You could be eating dinner at a restaurant with your partner, and someone could come up and grab your tofu cutlet off your plate, say "Thanks!" and walk off. And then someone else could come up and grab your partner, say "Thanks!" and drag him or her away, too. And then you'd walk out to the parking lot to go home, hungry and alone, and someone else could come up, snatch your keys out of your hand, and borrow your car. And you wouldn't even be allowed to cry about it as you walked home alone, because "sharing is good for you."

I especially hate the way we push kids into it, and think there's
something wrong with them or us (we're raising antisocial barbarians!) if our 18-month-olds don't voluntarily share at the playground or playgroups. Yes, we want to help our kids learn that it's good to let other people take turns with toys if we''re not using them, and that breaking your cookie in half and giving part to your brother will make him feel good without making you feel bad. But there are better ways of doing that than demanding that your child fork over a toy or something else they really like, without any say in it.

So I'm pretty much on the side of property rights here, and think I might try saying a preemptive NOOOOOO whenever someone tries to take *my* stuff.

But back to Susan's situation: I think it sounds like your daughter is stressed out about other kids touching or playing with her stuff. There is NOTHING wrong with that, and she shouldn't be forced to share anything at all that she doesn't feel comfortable with. She's still got a long time to work on it, so putting feelings above (perhaps developmentally inappropriate) principles isn't going to ruin anything.

Depending on how good her receptive language is, you could do one of the following: When other kids are coming over, talk ahead of time about which toys she *doesn't* want them to be able to touch, and take those toys and hide them in her room. Make sure she's OK with letting the other kids touch the toys she leaves out.

Or, if she's not quite ready for that, stop having playdates in your daughter's space for awhile. Go to other kids' houses, or to neutral locations (like the library or playground or someplace like that). Don't bring along any of her own toys for her to play with (and end up having to share). Talk with her about the fact that no one will touch anything that's hers.

I think this will ease some of the pressure of playdates. As for the random shouting at people and animals she doesn't know, my guess is that as she's not forced to share as much –which is clearly causing big stress for her–those outbursts will lessen, too.

I'm betting that in another six months or so she might be better ready to experiment with "taking turns," the younger, less-scary version of sharing. And then as she sees that that's fine, she can start to have more positive forays into full-on sharing. But don't be surprised if she grows up to be an adult woman who still hates sharing. There are plenty of us out there. 😉

Readers? Whaddaya got? Has anyone else had a child who was just too stressed by sharing to be able to conform at an early age? How did you work through it?

First Ask Moxie class: Release the Yelling

I am excited to announce the first Ask Moxie email-based class. Based on some email exchanges I've had since the anger post a few weeks ago, I thought we could start with yelling.

Release the Yelling

May 1-28

US$45

Every day in your email, with two group
check-in calls May 14 and 28.

This May, get to the heart of your
yelling and release it from your life.

A few email conversations with readers
wanting more in-depth help with figuring out how they can stop
yelling at their kids led me to the idea of doing a 4-week class.
This is like a challenge in that it's going to take focused work
every day for four weeks, but I'm going to lead you through the work
with specific questions.

Nothing in life is one-size-fits all.
We all yell for different reasons, so there's no magic cure that's
going to work for everyone. With that as the guiding principle, the
questions I'll send are going to help you draw out:

  • why you yell (it could be simple
    or complex, painful or just bad planning)
  • how to control the situation so you
    avoid yelling triggers
  • what's realistic and not, for you, your
    kids, and the situation
  • alternatives to yelling that will work
    for you
  • how to forgive yourself and rub some
    dirt on it when you do yell

I'm not going to stop you from yelling,
but I will ask you the questions you need to figure out why you yell
and to set up your own systems for moving to a place that gives you
more mastery.

Logistics:

Once you sign up for the course, you'll
get a welcome message. Then you'll get an email every day from May 1
through May 28, containing a few questions for you to answer about
yourself, your kids, and how you feel. I may also link you to some
other reading I think is helpful on the topic.

On May 14 in the evening we'll have a
conference call to check in and see how it's going, what challenges
you're facing, etc. and strategize going into the second half. Then
on May 28 we'll have a follow-up call to see how you're doing at the
end relative to the beginning. About two weeks after the course is
over I'll send a follow-up email to see how you're progressing after
the course is over.

If you're ready to focus on the
questions and get a handle on your yelling sooner rather than later,
sign up here (you can use your Paypal account
or just charge a credit card one time through Paypal):




If you can't see that button, click through here to register.

Q&A: Binky down!

Cheryl writes:

"My 11 month old is usually a pretty good sleeper. Two naps a day andsleeps through the night ok. If she woke up during the night, we could
often get her back to sleep by just popping her favorite binky back
into her mouth. Unfortunately, it seems Gerber has discontinued that
particular kind of binky and we were never able to find one just like
it to replace it, and no other kind, no matter how similar, was
acceptable to her. Well, a week ago her last binky tore and we had to
throw it away. We've kind of been in sleep hell every since.

She now goes to sleep alright, but wakes up screaming after about
an hour. We can't seem to soothe her in her crib by patting her or
anything, so we bring her downstairs and rock her back to sleep. That's
all well and good, but when we try and put her back in her crib she
cries. So it takes us forever to get her to sleep and stay down for the
night. Last night it was 2 AM before she finally was in sleep deep
enough to go back in her crib without crying.

Her naps are ok, but at night it seems to me like she really misses
her binky. I feel like she's not ready to give it up, but we don't
really have much choice since we can't find a replacement and she won't
take any other kind.

Any ideas?"

The worst thing is that there's probably someone out there with an unused pack of those pacifiers languishing in the back of a closet…

I think there are a couple of options here. The first, and what you may end up defaulting to if the others don't work, is just to suck it up (you, not her, poor little thing) and do your best to comfort her and tough it out. As she's 11 months, there could be any number of confounding factors that are making this a tough time for her–some kids seem to take a loooooong time to recover from that 9-month sleep regression, plus it could be teething, movement (learning to crawl or walk or pull up), or any number of random factors that make babies whack out.

Another thing you could try is getting her attached to a different kind of lovey. You know how some kids won't take a bottle because it's too close to the breast and they feel like they're being tricked somehow? Lots of times those babies will take a Nuby cup or regular cup orr straw cup, because it's so different from the breast that they don't get that same "Why are you trying to trick me?" reaction.

So while she won't take a different kind of pacifier, she might like some other kind of lovey. A stuffed animal, blanket (with satin binding…), hair extension, etc. especially if you could make it smell nice, like wearing it under your shirt for awhile, or rubbing it in blueberry muffins or Carolina Herrera for Men.

The other thing I can think of is to play some music in her room so that when she wakes up there's stimulation there for her. It's not oral stimulation the way the pacifier was, but it's still sensory stimulation, so it might be enough of a bridge to let her get herself back to sleep.

Does anyone else have any ideas? Has anyone lost a lovey (and was kicking yourself for not buying three at the same time) and had to deal with the fallout? Especially at a tricky time like 11 months?

Q&A: housecleaning

Deborah writes:

"How do people keep their houses clean? When I was a WOHM I had a housecleaner every 2 weeks and that was bliss. I also had the attitude that SAHMs had it so easy and their houses must be sparkling because they have so much time to do everything. Ha! Right. And now, guess what, I'm a SAHM and my house is disgusting. And I'm not kidding. I have a 6 month old and a 6 year old. It takes me forever to get going in the morning. The baby is at that stage where just having a shower and getting dressed are major achievements (and washing/drying long hair is equivalent to building the Taj Mahal). Then baby naps and I um, surf around because it's my only down time, or pay bills or whatever. But I don't clean because it seems so monumentally huge to get the cleaning stuff out and get on with it and you know, baby is bound to wake up just when your hands are full of bleach powder. So after nap we try to get out of the house for a bit, then it's lunch, then Older Son comes home at 2.30pm and needs attention. There's no way I'm going to clean when the kids are in bed. I get about an hour before I force myself to bed to get an entire 2 or 3 hours of sleep.

This may sound like a frivolous question but I sometimes feel like I am the only one of my friends who has a problem with housecleaning. They certainly seem to get the stuff done but when I ask them how, they just brush me off and don't have an answer. Am I just lazy? I know a few things are holding me back. 1) Feeling like I don't know "how" to clean as ridiculous as that sounds. How do you clean pale blond hardwood floors and not get them waterlogged? Is a Swiffer really evil? Things like that. 2) is it better to do one area or room in a lot of detail or is it better to do an entire floor (several rooms) on the surface? I think about this stuff way too much!

Housecleaning is such a HUGE stress in my life. I would love tips on just getting started, and then keeping it up, not getting overwhelmed, not surrendering but tackling it, how to do the most without spending too much time, and maybe some philosophy on whether this is even important in the first place."

Well, I am so not the person to ask about this. I am not good at cleaning, nor do I really understand the flow of cleaning. Without my cleaning lady, who comes every other week (and who I can't actually afford, but she can afford to lose the money I pay her even less) I think things would descend into a morass of dust bunnies and errant rubber wheels from assorted cars around here.

At this point I do feel obliged to recommend the book Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. It really is an excellent book, and explains how often you should be doing certain things and how to do them. I think every adult should have this book at home as a reference.

But, having said that, if you could buy a book and that would solve the problem,then every single one of us would be in great physical shape, too. All the references and knowledge in the world don't help if we're not actually doing it, whether it's housecleaning or exercising.

So the task is, I think, to do some digging around in yourself to figure out what your personal blocks are with cleaning, so you can then work on that and figure out how to motivate yourself to do it.

I might as well go into full disclosure mode here so you can see what I mean: My dad's depression, and mine as well, manifests itself in keeping clutter because that feels like having control over what's out of control (if that makes sense). During periods of depression, the clutter escalates. (Not to the level of the people on TV, but just unnecessary piles and lack of sorting and purging.) Then, when I was in an unhappy marriage, I couldn't even imagine trying to "make a home," so the mess was subconsciously deliberate. And I used clutter as a way to hide in plain sight, so I could be there on the outside but not really have to be there emotionally. As soon as my ex-husband moved out I started purging and getting rid of so many unnecessary things, and was starting to take some pride in my apartment (crappy as it is), but I am so unhappy in New York at this point and wishing desperately that I could move that the apartment feels like it's suffocating me.

I've realized that wanting and being motivated to keep a neat house are, for me, tied to feeling free to choose my own space and being happy with the direction my life is moving in. When I've felt that way, the cleaning just sort of happens (I've found myself with a scrub sponge in my hand and not even realized I'd planned on cleaning anything). When I feel trapped, I can't keep up.

[Well.  That was therapeutic. For me, at least.]

Another issue, at least in Deborah's case, is that a baby sucks up all your energy. All of it. So, unless you have a solid plan of what you're going to clean and the energy to stick to that, you will never clean because you're just to tired or fried.

Now, hypothetically speaking: IF you had no mental blocks that were preventing you from being motivated to clean, and IF you could prioritize what needed to be done, you could, in theory, make a chart with 10-15 minutes-worth of cleaning tasks for you and also for your partner to do each day of the week. 15 minutes is doable for a SAHM and for someone with a full-time job (in theory) IF it's planned ahead of time so you don't have to think about it.

So if it seems like you and your partner are in the kind of emotional space in which your minds are willing to clean and you just need a plan, then get the Home Comforts book and figure out what the required tasks are, divide them into 14 10-15-minute jobs, and each of you takes one of those chunks every day.

Readers, what do you have for Deborah, and me, and everyone else out there? Thoughts about motivation? Thoughts about logistics? How old is realistic to make your kids be solely responsible for doing their own laundry? (I say 9, personally, but that may be because I don't have a 9-year-old yet.)

Pop-up Very Hungry Caterpillar book giveaway

We're giving away three copies of the 40th anniversary pop-up edition of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar! To enter, post your (or your child's) favorite part of the book, whether it's a certain page or an image or a line from the book.

Make sure you put a valid email address in the "Email" field so I can contact you if you win. To hide that so no one else can see it, put www.google.com or www.fake.com in the "URL" field.

Q&A: house with paper-thin walls

Meg writes:

"I live in a very small, very old house (1919) and everything seemsto creak & squeak. Loudly. The stairs, the floors, and if ceilings
could creak, these would. From the upstairs, you can hear normal levels
of talking downstairs – clearly.

My almost 5 month old son is a
fairly sensitive sleeper. I say sensitive and not light because
sometimes he'll sleep through unimaginable noise in our house; and
other times, he'll wake up when the floor creaks outside his door. If
he wakes out of sound sleep, it's a little messy trying to fall back
asleep.
I don't know if it is my fault for having walked on egg
shells during these early months, but I can't somehow bring myself to
whip out the Dyson and "get him used to it" now.

My question
is this: when (God willing) baby #2 comes around, will John be able to
sleep through the constant night wakings and crying of the baby? I'm
not quite sure why, but it really has me nervous. Then I realize lots
of people have multiple children in small homes/apartments- which still
only leaves me half satisfied. Do you have any suggestions & advice
on this topic?"

John sounds like the stereotypical New York City baby (and all you other urban parents will recognize this)–he can sleep through fire engines roaring by outside, but crack the door to make sure he's OK and he wakes up instantly. (That seemed like such a high-larious joke when our kids were 4 months old and the whole mothers' group was so sleep-deprived…)

The short answer to this is: Yes, he will be able to sleep through. Eventually.

The medium answer is: Yes, he will be able to, but it's good you're not having that second baby right now. At almost-5 months almost no babies are heavy sleepers. It's still firmly in the Red Zone of sleep: Will he sleep through the night, or are you still in 4-month-regression hell with a few wake-ups left to go tonight? Will he actually take a nap of more than 20 minutes, or is today just not that day? At this age sleep is still pretty much a crapshoot, so what he does now certainly does not indicate future performance. And honestly, it's got nothing to do with how you treated him in the early days.

The long answer is: People all over the world sleep closer than we in the west do, and would find walls (no matter how thin) a strange luxury. But their kids all adjust to the noise levels and learn to sleep through and around and past each other.

I don't know if you have pets, but if you do, you may have had the experience of having one wake you in the night, but you fall back asleep immediately. Most siblings sleeping where they can hear each other tend to develop that skill, too.

If  you can, you'll probably have fewer hassles with sleep if you can avoid having baby #2 right in the middle of a sleep regression for John (9 months, 13 months, 18 months, 25-27-ish months). But even in three months from now he'll be such a radically different sleeper that you probably won't even remember what it was like this week. And he'll adjust to the new baby, although it probably won't be seamless, but you'll work it out.

So my biggest tip is: Wait it out. And try not to have another baby in the middle of the 18-month sleep regression (it's a doozy).

Does anyone out there remember how your kid slept at 5 months? Does it resemble in any way how sensitively they sleep now? How rough was the sleeping adjustment when a new baby came, and how old was the first one when the second arrived?

Q&A: religion differences in families

In the aftermath of Easter and the winding down of Passover, Michaela writes:

"I'm struggling with how to deal with the varying religious beliefs inour family — namely, that we have none (or very few) and that our
parents, particularly our mothers, have very strong beliefs. My husband
and I were both raised Catholic, and even got married in a Catholic
mass (albeit largely for sentimental reasons rather than religious
ones).

In the almost 10 years since then, we have both rejected
our religious upbringings due largely to our values re: the role of
women, gay marriage, etc. We've been open with our families about this
process, and they respect our decision — though they are sorry that we
don't share their faith. The more time has gone on, the less
comfortable I've become with Christianity in general. (We've pondered
checking out a Unitarian church but haven't actually gotten off our
butts to do it.)

Where this gets problematic for me (much more
so than for my husband) is around holidays – particularly Easter and
Christmas. I carry enough residual Catholicism that I'm uncomfortable
w/ the whole Easter bunny/chocolate/presents model of things… but
also not at all interested in talking to my child about Jesus, the
cross, etc. And of course for our moms — both of whom have wonderful
relationships w/ our nearly 3-year-old daughter — Jesus and the cross
are the central message of Easter.

So I guess my question is
two-fold: How do we observe holidays in a way that is meaningful to us
and provides some worthwhile ritual for our daughter? And then how do
we deal with the varying practices in our family? I don't want the
grandmas to feel as though they can't talk about their beliefs with our
daughter, but I'd like them to avoid proselytizing… and I'm just not
sure where that line is."

There are a couple of aspects to this question. I'm going to start with a comment about religion and faithfulness. You guys know I'm both very faithful and pretty religious–Jesus and I are very good friends, especially since I escaped my marriage. So this is coming from the point of view of someone who does believe.

The first is that there's a difference between religion and faith. I think that to be educated, a person needs to be exposed to a religion and taught the mythologies and structures of it. It would be great if kids could all be exposed to four or five or six different sets of religious beliefs in an in-depth manner, but practically speaking, most kids are only going to get a solid grounding in one or two. I still think this is good, as it gives kids a vocabulary to understand and talk about what people do and why, as well as passing down traditions. A kid who has been raised with exposure to one religion (assuming it's not isolating and doesn't use scare tactics–non-fundamentalist religions, I mean) is going to have points of comparison when s/he encounters other religions. It sets them up with a framework to look at things, and that helps them later on with everything from examining their own views to examining other frameworks.

But religion isn't faith. I sometimes think that being raised with religion is inoculation against having faith later on! Your story, of being raised in one religion and then rejecting it later, isn't unusual at all. And I meet so many people at my church who were raised without any religious background at all who came to faith later on as adults. (They tend to be more zealous, IME, than the people who were raised with religion.) It''s almost as if knowing how the sausage is made (religion) sucks the joy out of it.

It's a strange, double-edged sword: You have to know enough about a religious tradition to question it with any accuracy and insight. But to have faith you almost have to be ignorant of the religious structure.

So if you want your daughter to have faith, you almost have to keep her from religion. And if you want her to be knowledgeable about religion, you run the chance that she will reject faith.

And proselytizing on the part of your parents? Well, you can't make someone believe in the long run. She might parrot back what your parents say to her now, and if that disturbs you you're going to have to decide how to approach your parents. (Good luck with that–I have no idea how to start that conversation if your parents are already disapproving of your break with religion. Although if they hadn't raised you in that religion, maybe you'd have faith…Ah, the circle of life.) But anything they say to her now isn't going to determine whether she has faith or considers herself Catholic or even Christian when she's an adult.

I think you and your husband are going to have to sit down and specifically talk about what aspects of each holiday you want to observe. You could focus on the family togetherness and peaceful spirit on Christmas, and make up some traditions that celebrate that. You could focus on newness and rebirth at Easter time and celebrate that. There's a path you can carve out for yourself that respects the solemnity and ritual of those holidays without faith per se, but doesn't fall into commercialism.

Now, about dealing with the differences. You just talk, a lot, about how different people do different things. "Grandma and Grandpa believe x and y, so they do z and w. We believe this, so we do that." She won't be any more confused by that than she is by the other things that are different at your houses. (I'm thinking about the gallons of soda and tons of Archway Homestyle cookies I consumed at my grandparents' house while my mom was hippie co-op mom who made us eat carob instead of chocolate. Resentful? Yes. Confused? No. I'm thankful the Carob Years are long over.)

To me it seems very similar to the kids who grow up speaking one language to one set of grandparents and another to the other. it doesn't mean they'll identify more strongly with one or the other–just that they know more about the world. And if your daughter is able to code-switch, mores the better for her.

Does anyone have any experience with mediating between your own beliefs and your parents in a way that honors both? And if you don't believe in the religious meanings of the holidays, but still want to celebrate them in a non-commercial way, what solutions or traditions have you come up with?

Primal scream

I don't know anyone who's having a good day today. My internet at home is mostly out, and I have a host of other problems. Everyone else seems to be having a sucky day, too. Real post up tomorrow,  butin the meantime, voice your complaints to the universe here.

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