Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

My approach to parenting involves a lot of shrugged shoulders and raised eyebrows to indicate that, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm hoping for the best." Based on my conversations with other parents, we're all in the same boat. A few months ago, I was asking a fellow American-in-Sweden parent at what age is it culturally acceptable for kids to bike by themselves to school and to friends' houses? The answer was a bit vague—well, depending on the distance, your kid's ability, comfort level, etc., etc., you know how it is. Basically, the advice was to launch the bike riding kid in steps. You slowly remove yourself from the equation and increase the distance and time they have on their own. For this American dad, he drops his seven-year-old daughter on the pedestrian/bike path, and off she bikes solo from school to home. He then follows along on that same route a few minutes behind her in case she...
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The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports. In this ideal world, here's what a perfect relocation might look like: In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness. In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival. In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes. In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do!...
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Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

My mom used to tell me, "Always leave the world a little better than how you found it." That meant everything from picking up litter on the street to being a kind and generous person in daily life. Positive contributions were the measure of a good life. I gaze at the two tiny blonde heads that are watching a cartoon in the living room. I hear my son inform his sister that, "This is the last show, okay?" as he sets a self-imposed TV limit for them both. They have no idea what is happening in the news around the world. They don't know that prayers for love and peace have gone unanswered and that hate and violence are dominating the headlines, hashtags, and hearts worldwide. The innocence of childhood will protect them from those horrific realities for a bit longer. Our job isn't to shield them from the evils of the world but give them the tools and knowledge to combat the...
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I abandoned my family and it was marvelous

I abandoned my family and it was marvelous

I took our only car, and I drove and drove and drove. I drove on roads that I was unfamiliar and pushed on into territory previously unexplored. I rolled down the windows, turned up the music, and let the wind whip my hair mercilessly around my face like I was a teenager with a brand new license. The sun filtered through the trees lining the back roads winding through the Swedish countryside, and I didn't have to give a thought to which child would be carsick in the back seat. I didn't have to answer to anyone. I was driving on my own, away from my responsibilities, if only for a few hours. Self-imposed isolation. A series of critical moments necessary to reconnect with my inner self. Every day I connect, network, and converse with others but why don't I give myself that much attention? What is it that I want? What is it that I want to say? I didn't know...
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