Teaching our kids, and ourselves, that ‘if you think you can’t, you’ll be right’

This essay first appeared in the Washington Post. To view the full essay, click here.

Excerpt from the essay…

When we believe that our abilities can improve with effort, we have a growth mindset. By exploring the stories we tell ourselves, Brian explained that we can shift our internal dialog from believing that our abilities are fixed, to trusting that our abilities are malleable. In his TEDx talk, Brian shared that a teacher once told him that her school had a scheduling mix-up where children who were not believed to be capable of honors-level science work were accidentally placed in the honors science class. The students did well. The teacher told Brian, “Maybe ‘honors’ is a mindset all children can have.”

Brian reminds us that “struggle is normal and something we all experience.” In his talk, Brian discussed a Texas study in which eighth-graders were assigned mentors. One group was mentored about the dangers of using drugs. The other group’s mentors focused on helping their students have a growth mindset. Those students were told that “the brain, like any other muscle, can grow with effort.” At the end of the year, the students mentored about the value of a growth mindset performed better than those mentored about the dangers of drugs.

To help our children push on when they want to quit, we must change our own mindset and encourage our children to do so as well.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/03/24/teaching-our-kids-and-ourselves-that-if-you-think-you-cant-youll-be-right/?utm_term=.39c70232835a

Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media and the Pediatrician’s Role

Dr. Bahareh Keith and I co-authored an article in JAMA Pediatrics. It is available for download here: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2613405

Parental Sharing on the Internet

This Viewpoint outlines parental disclosure of information about their children on social media and the importance of maintaining child privacy.

Source: jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2613405/

Keith BE, Steinberg S. Parental Sharing on the InternetChild Privacy in the Age of Social Media and the Pediatrician’s Role. JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 27, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.5059

It’s time to think about how your family records and stores memories

 

This essay first appeared at On Parenting from the Washington Post.

Do you like to gather around when family is together and look back through the old photo albums documenting childhood days? The corners of the books are frayed and the white pages have turned a shade between yellow and brown, but inside those pages exist the precious records of family life. Our parents printed 4 x 6 pictures and secured them with a clear sheet of plastic in the hope that one day we would look back through the albums, remembering the stories contained deep within the images. As we grew older, we pinned pictures to bulletin boards. These prints were our visual reminder of where we’d been and who we’d had at our side.

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Yes, it’s hard to think about kids with cancer. But please don’t look away. (Here’s how you can help)

This essay was originally published in The Washington Post.  Additional pictures are posted on their website and also in a separate story published on The Huffington Post.

It’s 6:30 a.m. and the sun is starting to peek out over the horizon. I take another gulp of my coffee, and leave the keys with the valet outside the hospital. I check my camera, making sure I have a formatted memory card and fresh batteries in my flash.

As I grab my bag from the back seat, I can’t help but notice the mismatched socks, leftover granola wrappers, and wrinkled school fliers that litter my car. I take a deep breath, thankful that my kids’ seats are empty. I’m not at the hospital for them this morning. I’m there for 4-year-old Phoebe.

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NPR Feature, Readers Digest, and More. #sharenting

I was thrilled to be quoted in a recent NPR article, written by Tara Haelle.

Do Parents Invade Children’s Privacy When They Post Photos Online?

“[Stacey] Steinberg and Bahareh Keith, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, say most children will likely never experience problems related to what their parents share, but a tension still exists between parents’ rights to share their experiences and their children’s rights to privacy.

‘We’re in no way trying to silence parents’ voices,’ Steinberg says. ‘At the same time, we recognize that children might have an interest in entering adulthood free to create their own digital footprint.'”

I was also quoted in a recent Reader’s Digest article, written by Stephanie Smith.

7 Things to Never Share About Your Children on Social Media

“‘Think of your kids as autonomous people who are entitled to protection not only from physical harm but intangible harm as well,’ says Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville, Florida, and associate director for the Center on Children and Families.”

Our research has also been cited this month in numerous international publications, including The Irish Times, Europia Press,  Marie Claire Italy, Univision, O Globo, News World India, Knowing Asia , and more.

It has been an incredible honor to see my work reach such a broad audience. I am so grateful to the talented writers and editors who have featured my work.

‘Sharenting’ at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference

Dr. Bahareh Keith and I presented our abstract on children’s privacy last weekend at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference. It was an incredible experience. Like us, many members of the audience have grappled with balancing parental sharing with children’s privacy. It was wonderful to share our research with such thoughtful professionals.

We received a significant amount of press coverage during the event. Here is a small sampling of the news features discussing our work.

CNN – The do’s and don’ts of posting about your kids online [link] October, 2016

CBS News – Something to consider before posting about your kids [link] October, 2016

“’Online sharing offers many positive benefits to both parents and children and to communities as a whole, but this message is all about finding a balance,’” Steinberg told CBS News. “’A parent’s right to share and the benefits of sharing is very important and by exploring this we can find a way to allow families to connect online but also to respect children’s privacy.’”

Protecting Kids in the Age of Sharenting – Interview with The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance

I was thrilled to speak with The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance about children’s privacy on social media. We had a wonderful discussion. The following excerpt provides some of the highlights. Ms. LaFrance made many excellent points, and she summarized the issues so well in her article.

“Parents make value-based choices for their children all the time. A toddler may want to opt out of wearing any clothing whatsoever to the playground, but the grown-ups of the house make the kid put on pants and a T-shirt anyway.

Parents often tell their kids what to believe about God, and which football team to root for. Even infants are outfitted in tiny rompers that declare partisan political affiliations. There is no ‘bright line,’ Steinberg says, that dictates when and how it’s appropriate for parents to express themselves through their children. That’s part of why, especially in the United States, there’s enormous cultural deference to parents to do what they believe is right. Yet when identity-shaping decisions—made by parents, then distributed online in ways that ultimately remove parental control—are digitally preserved for years or longer, such decisions potentially get in the way of a child’s self-actualization.”

Sharenting: Children’s Privacy on Social Media | quoted in Slate

I had the pleasure of sharing my research with Slate this week. Here are some quotes from the article:

“Steinberg suggests a focus on providing guidance that helps parents think through the implications of sharing information about their kids online.

In a forthcoming article in the Emory Law Journal, she considers how a public health–based approach to behavior change could address these concerns. For example, health professionals have mounted campaigns to educate parents and the general public about ways to combat secondhand smoke exposure and sudden infant death syndrome. In the article, Steinberg provides a list of recommendations for parents, including the suggestion that parents ask their children before posting pictures online and give children “veto power” over information, photos, or videos they don’t want to be shared. Steinberg, who along with pediatrician Bahareh Keith will present on this topic at next month’s national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, believes doctors could be a good source for parents to turn to get advice about online sharing decisions.”

You can read the full article here.

Children’s Privacy on Social Media – Sharenting

I’ve written extensively about sharenting, or the practice of parents sharing about their children on social media. You can read my research here and my Washington Post essay here. You can also read my NY Times interview on the subject here.

I was interviewed by Redbook Magazine this week. Here are some highlights from the article:

“‘Most parents want to do the best for their kids, [but] when it comes to online sharing, there’s just not a lot of information out there — parents can be at a loss,'” she says. …

But while there may be a lack information, there’s an abundance of sharing from other parents. Steinberg says that a whopping 92 percent of 2-year-olds have a social media presence, and one-third of all kids appear on social media within the first twenty four hours of their lives. …

Steinberg pointed out that there are, indeed, lots of pluses to so-called ‘sharenting,’ such as how it can foster a sense of community.

‘I think that really, when we look at these issues, we’re going to have to find a way for society to value a parent’s right to share, and a child’s interest in privacy,’ Steinberg says.”

Rape Culture – Featured on NBC’s TODAY and the Washington Post

Last year, I wrote an essay with Dr. Jennifer Sager about parenting against rape culture for The Washington Post.  

We explained:

There is no way to inoculate our children from becoming victims or perpetrators of rape. But parents can help their children recognize and avoid the erroneous and harmful attitudes surrounding sex, power, control, and coercion. Teach children to respect their bodies, instincts, and emotions. At the same time, give them tools to recognize and respect the same thing in others. Perhaps by doing so, we can shift the dialog and begin to create a culture that fosters healthy boundaries and ends all forms sexual violence.

The essay was shared widely on social media this week, and we were interviewed on the topic by NBC’s TODAY. A link to the article, written by Allison Slater Tate, with our quotes on the topic can be viewed here.

“After the past week’s focus on the sexual assault case at Stanford, Steinberg said it is crucial that parents acknowledge that rape culture does exist and the part that parents can play in fighting it. ‘We owe it to our children to shift this culture,’ she said. ‘We all want our children to enter adulthood armed with the best tools to steer their life’s course.'”

Children’s Privacy on Social Media – Interview with The New York Times

On March 8, 2016, New York Times editor K.J. Dell’Antonia interviewed me regarding children’s privacy on social media. I’ve written a law review on this topic, forthcoming in the Emory Law Journal.

Read the full article here:

Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say

A few additional links to articles referring to this interview are here:

Women’s Day:

Kveller: Kids Wish Their Parents Would Stop Posting About Them on Social Media

Express: How the tables have turned: Kids now telling parents to ditch their phones

A draft of my forthcoming article, Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media, is available here. It will be published in the Emory Law Journal in Spring, 2017.

Parent Partnerships: A Better Way to Co-Parent – First published in the Washington Post

The essay first appeared in The Washington Post on March 8, 2016

As evidenced by many families I know, there are plenty of circumstances where children flourish in single-parent households and in family arrangements that involve active and engaged parents who live apart. When I worked as a child welfare attorney, however, I saw first-hand that this was not always the case.

Merle Weiner, a law professor at the University of Oregon, worries about the potential long-term harm to children in families where the parents are not supportive of, or cooperative with, one another.  Weiner suggests that the best way to prevent this harm is to encourage people to develop strong co-parenting relationships from the start. She calls this relationship a “parent-partnership.”

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Star Wars vs NASA: The importance of the universe of a child’s imagination — First published in the Washington Post

This essay first appeared in The Washington Post.

Last month, my family embarked on a day trip to Kennedy Space Center. Since our house is currently experiencing somewhat of a Star Wars craze, our trip coincided with a week filled with Lightsaber battles, Starship Lego creations, and Crayola pictures depicting life from alternate universes. While my oldest child had no trouble differentiating the realities of our day trip to the Space Center from the imaginary world in the Star Wars movies, the task wasn’t easy for my younger children. After we watched the IMAX movie, Journey to Space, I did my best to explain the differences, but my efforts were lost on them. They stared at me with wide eyes glaring, shoulders back, and their jaws dropped low. I bought them Popsicles and decided not to push the issue.

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How to parent against rape culture (for one thing, start young) — First published in the Washington Post

co authored by Dr. Jennifer Sager, Ph.D.

This post was first published in The Washington Post.

In the news, we’ve recently been bombarded with outrageous examples of male dominance, sexual control and coercion, and the objectification of women in very public forums. For example, a fraternity was recently suspended in Virginia after hanging a sign off their front porch that read, “Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time.”

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School Discipline: Standing Up for All Children in the Public School System

Two kindergartners were sent to the principal’s office during their second week of school. One hit a little girl after she refused to share a toy. The other smacked a little boy after he cut to the front in the lunch line.

At the principal’s office, each child was asked what happened in their respective confrontations. Both admitted they used their hands, and both knew they were in the wrong. As would happen in many American schools, both boys were issued two-day suspensions.

One child, Bobby, had been removed from his parents’ care and lived with a foster family. The other child, Sam, lived with his parents, both college educated and involved at the school.

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Parenting in the Facebook Age: Should We Rethink How We Share? First published in the Washington Post

This essay was first published on the Washington Post.

As parents, we often question how parenting in the age of social media affects us. We worry that by constantly posting status updates, we aren’t living in the moment. We are warned not to compare ourselves to other parents in our news feed. I’m starting to wonder if we’ve been focusing too much on the impact social media has on our own lives and maybe we should focus instead on how social media affects the lives of our children.

Should we allow our children some control over their digital footprint?

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6 Things Great Dads Have Mastered – Appearing in The Washington Post

This essay was first published on the Washington Post.

I woke up this morning and watched the sun peek through the blinds. I realized my husband had already gotten out of bed. His familiar voice sang to our daughter, who was erupting in giggles down the hall. I took a deep breath and rolled over for just a few more moments of sleep. I knew I had a long day ahead of me, and I smiled at the beautiful sounds of fatherhood echoing from down the hall.

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6 Tools to Help Protect Children from Sexual Abuse

Co-authored by Jennifer Sager, Ph.D.

Child welfare professionals were not surprised to learn that sexual abuse occurred in the Duggar home. With nineteen children (and counting), the odds suggested that at least a fifth of the children in the home would experience sexual abuse in their lifetime. The first sign of sexual abuse was a tragic occurrence. The multiple acts that followed were an outrage, and likely, those multiple acts could have been stopped.

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Parenting at the Intersection of Scribbles & Board Meetings

Scribble marks on a legal pad greeted me as I walked into the office. It was the first time in a week that I didn’t have a child attached to my hip. The sheer irony of seeing my preschooler’s drawing sitting next to a mountain of legal textbooks made me laugh.

Last week started with a painfully long “to do” list. I had papers to grade, meetings to attend, and I had to pack my family for our upcoming road trip. I organized my calendar and purchased enough coffee to manage it all, but when our two year old spiked a fever on Monday, my plans evaporated and I panicked.

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To the Heroes Advocating on Behalf of Children

Dear Child Advocate,

I remember him as if we met yesterday. Johnny, not even six months old, sat on my lap and giggled as I finished getting together my court documents. I was a young attorney for Florida’s Department of Children and Families, learning how to navigate the complexities of child welfare. Johnny had bruises on his body, his runny nose had crusted over, and he was filthy. I wanted to drop everything and scrub away his despair.

Something in me changed that day.

Before becoming a law professor, before starting my photography business, before blogging, I had one “job” other than motherhood. I was a child welfare attorney, working alongside child advocates just like you. I worked with men and women who, on a daily basis, risked their own safety and sacrificed their own personal needs to protect abused and neglected children in my community. We worked as a team, but it was not until a social worker got sick and asked me to watch Johnny that I realized that while I led the fight in the courtroom, the real heroes led the fight on the ground.

The concerned citizen who calls in an abuse report. The social worker who brings a child to safety. The foster parent who answers phone calls in the middle of the night. The therapist who heals the broken heart. The doctor who fixes the broken bone. The nurse who provides nutrition to the neglected belly. The schoolteacher who provides continuity during a time of great upheaval. The volunteer who collects Christmas presents and advocates through philanthropic service. The adoptive parent who gives a child a forever home.

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5 Truths About Parenting Generation Z

Born in the late seventies, I am either one of youngest members of Generation X or the very oldest of the Millennials. I entered my teenage years without an email account, and left for college without a cell phone. I had a beeper, and I remember the Gulf War. I was already an adult when the planes struck on 9/11, and dial-up internet was a thing of the past by the time I hit my junior year of college.

I’ve read a million parenting articles geared towards making sure our kids enjoy the perks we knew and loved during our coming of age, but what are the shared experiences that make up parenting a Generation Z kid? After consulting with parents and educators, I’ve created a list of five Generation Z truths I believe are universal.

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Set Up to Fail : High Stakes Testing in Public Schools

Imagine being a nine year old child. Picture yourself studying for a test, walking into class, feeling confident you prepared the best you could. How would you feel if after finishing the test you only understood half the questions? Would your confidence be shaken?

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5 Things Every Working Mom Needs to Hear

This essay originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Moms, I know you are out there. Like me, I know you are trying to catch your breath as you race from work to daycare at 5:30, hoping your child isn’t the last to get picked up. I bet your stress melts away the moment you drop to your knees on the preschool room floor. I don’t think I am alone in feeling an overwhelming joy consume me as my child runs towards me, crashing into my outstretched, tired arms.

Do you also marvel at the dichotomy? At work, I feel efficient and productive. Yet this strength seems absent as I try to unpack lunch boxes, prepare dinner, and make meaningful eye contact during the short 90 minutes that exist between taking off my heels and putting the kids to bed. I struggle to hold it all together while watching my 4-year-old throw a tantrum on the living room floor. I worry that his meltdown is somehow my fault, that perhaps if I didn’t work so hard, if I spent less time away from him, maybe the tantrums would disappear from our lives.

I’ve been at this working motherhood thing for nine years. Nine years trying to balance the chaos and understand the emotions that come from constantly trying to navigate between two worlds. And as I enter this tenth year of motherhood, I am trying to accept one simple truth.

I. Am. Enough. You are, too. Say it with me: “I am enough.” Here are five things I remind myself of while trying to balance career and family. I hope this list comes in handy tonight as you simultaneously flip yet another load of laundry and mentally draft an email before collapsing into bed.

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A Roadmap Towards Work-Life Balance

Last week, I found myself at a coffee shop grading papers. I couldn’t help but overhear two young college students talk about career options and their dreams for work-life balance. It was so hard not to interject. There is so much I want to tell them. But where to begin?

I remember being in their shoes. A third year law student, I thought I knew so much. I wanted to feel passionate about work. I wanted to make a difference. I was sure I would make good money. And I was confident I would seamlessly transition into motherhood a few years down the road.

My confidence was misplaced. While I left law school armed with knowledge and enthusiasm, I had little in my arsenal to prepare me for the realities of balancing work and life.

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