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In the West, a grand experiment has been unfolding over the last one hundred years. For thousands of years, humans had been deeply embedded within a broader net of community life — fitted within the spheres of family, social class, faith and work. But then we shed community and embraced the nuclear family as the container for our lives.

We believed this small, isolated structure would allow us to create the lives we really wanted, unencumbered by the demands of extended families, meddling neighbors and social pressures to conform.

The demands of the collective gave way to the liberation of the individual as, at the turn of the 20th century, rural dwellers piled into crowded cities seeking jobs. By mid-century, a post-war economy made a new exodus possible, and life in the suburbs became the new ideal. Citified folks were now moving out to expansive green lawns where splendid isolation was the new dream for modern life.


More recently, hip urban centers with lively cafés, cool cultural centers and app-reviewable restaurants have captured our collective imagination as the best place to live. Young adults, in particular, are flocking back to cities.

Despite skyrocketing rents and increasingly tiny apartments, these are great places to experiment with identity, seek out one’s tribe, and eventually search for a life partner. And it’s all quite wonderful— until perhaps two people meet, settle down and become parents.

And here’s where contemporary culture may be encountering a profound but forgotten truth: Whether in the city or in the suburbs, I believe we’re not meant to raise children in nuclear families without the support of a community. We’re simply not wired for it.

Raising families without community makes the burden of parenting exponentially harder for us all.

Community reinvented

A year ago, my wife Hélène, our children — then six and 3 years old — and I made a bold move. We boxed up our life in Belgium and flew over the ocean while our stuff slowly made its way in a container across the ocean. We changed not just countries, but how we lived.

We left a bustling city to join an ecovillage in Ithaca, in upstate New York. We now have views of rolling hills and ponds and woods and trails. There’s an organic farm on the village’s land, which feeds us. Our neighbors have become friends and extended family. And there are kids and playgrounds all around.

We loved our life in Brussels, but something had begun to feel off. Like everyone around us, “home” was limited to the four walls of our house. Outside, we greeted our neighbors but we barely knew them.

The default assumption was that we should be self-sufficient, that we had to own everything we needed. It would simply be too awkward to ask a neighbor to borrow a drill. Or for some butter to avoid a trip to the supermarket.

If something needed fixing, we had to hire someone for the repair. If our children wanted to play with friends, we had to call their friends’ parents or go through a long back-and-forth of text messages to arrange the logistics of a play date: How about Thursday? Can you drop them at 4:00 p.m. if we bring them back at 6:00 p.m.?

A longing began to develop — for more meaningful relationships, for genuine community. For lives that were closer to nature. To consume less. To live a little lighter on the earth.

For all these reasons, moving to our ecovillage in Ithaca was an inspired decision. Three months after our move, we had to fly back to Brussels for administrative reasons, and it already felt like a past life. Boy, everything feels tense and complicated here, we thought. In no time, our new life just felt right.

From our stays in the village before our move, we knew that living here would be a priceless gift for our children. Cars are parked at the entry of the village so kids may roam safely and freely on hundreds of acres of meadows and woods.

There are two ponds to swim in the summer and skate in winter, and several outdoor and indoor playgrounds. In our previous life, our children’s world was literally the size of our house. Now it’s extended to hundreds of acres. Children here are truly “free-range kids”.

More important even than space, there are other children and loving adults. Children here are graced with autonomy—they run over to a friend’s house to play and when it’s time for dinner, will often spontaneously be invited to stay. I love to add a plate or two when my kids’ friends (well, really, they are myfriends, too!) stay for dinner or add that extra mattress for a sleepover they’ve just organized. What a childhood they get to have!

So, we knew we would be offering our children a wonderful life, and yet there was something closely related we completely failed to anticipate — how much community would change our lives as parents.

Being a parent is hard. Not all the time, of course. There are many joy-filled moments — times when we look at our children and our hearts nearly burst. Times we can’t possibly imagine what our lives would be without them. But studies find that over the course of a lifetime, happiness levels take a serious dip during the parenting years for most, while stress and tiredness peak.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: much of that strain is self-inflicted.

The dream of individualized lives, of the nuclear family as the basis of modern existence, is not conducive to joyful parenting. For hundreds of thousands of years, children were raised within multigenerational family structures. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and other members of the tribe or community watched over the children and interacted with them. Not everything depended on the parents! As the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Both parents and children pay the price for modern isolation. I wonder how much of the stress, depression, and existential anxieties increasingly diagnosed in both adults and children might be related to this isolation?

The solution, I’m convinced, is not to dial back the clock and try to rebuild past forms of community. Who would want to live under constant scrutiny and judgment from extended family, neighbors, or fellow churchgoers, anyway? Ecovillages, co-housing and intentional communities much better suit our need for privacy and community.

In our particular ecovillage, we have our own house where we enjoy full privacy, as any other family might expect. But when we want or need it, a loving community is just at our doorstep. We can engage with our community as little or as much as we desire. People here are pretty diverse but we respect one another’s differences; we feel no pressure to conform to any particular mold.

Parenting transformed by community

How is parenting changed through intentional community? Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Our children’s newfound autonomy to roam and seek out friends translates into the biggest luxury we as parents can ask for: more free time! Often, we are not quite sure where our children are, and we feel great about it (well that is, until its dinner or bedtime!). We know they are safe and they are having fun somewhere.

At times, their autonomy even translates into more sleep for us. Last winter, my wife and I awoke some mornings to discover that our 6-year-old son had been up for two hours. Rather than waking us, he’d put on his skies and left for an expedition in the snow. Greater autonomy meets a deep need for the children. And boy, it’s been a blessing for us, as well.

While we are on the topic of more free time, did I mention our three common dinners every week? Some neighbors volunteer to cook regular meals for the community and everyone is invited. Especially as young parents, to get a break from having to cook every night feels like luxury!

Most weeks, we join two or three of these meals in the week, but at times, the four of us simply like to snuggle at home and may not join any common meals for a week or two. Other times, it all depends on what is on the menu.

The calming influence of nature has been another boon for us as parents. When things grow intense around the house, when a disagreement breaks out between the children, or when the noise level threatens to turn us into the kind of parents we don’t want to be, we tell our kids: let’s go for a walk. We often do this spontaneously, sometimes just before bedtime when the kids are already in pajamas. We simply close the door behind us and become enveloped by the quieting presence of nature.

No longer the only entertainers, no longer the only role-models

A few weeks into our lives here, we noticed we’d stopped planning for the weekend ahead. When we lived in the city, we had to make plans. There would always come a time when the kids needed to be out of the house or we would all go mad. Will we go to a park? A museum? Arrange a play date with friends?

But here, something is always happening. There are blueberries to pick or apple cider to press. There’s a pond to swim in, or broom ball to play on its frozen surface in winter. A neighbor has a new pet! Or a grandpa has put out a telescope and kids line up to marvel at the moon. The pressure of entertaining our children no longer rests on our shoulders alone.

As our children grow up in the caring web of this community, their mother and I will no longer be their only role models and inspirations, which brings a subtle sense of relief. In the ecovillage, people have such a wide array of talents and interests.

Hélène and I are not musicians, but we sense that our 4-year old daughter has a musical inclination. Will she choose to spend time with Lizzie, who plays cello, or with Joe, a guitarist, violinist and touring songwriter? Or with Kathryn or Robert who play piano? Perhaps she’ll listen in on the village’s Cuban drumming group or its choir practice.

And as she and her brother grow into teens, I’m sure the bonds they build will serve them well. Parents who’ve raised children through teenage years here tell us how wonderful it is when their sometimes shy and awkward teen has other adults with whom they can talk and relate.

Recently, Ethan, a strong, tall 18-year-old who grew up in our ecovillage returned home from college for a visit. I was walking with a neighbor, Phebe, in her sixties, who has known him since he was a child. Like many adults and children here, they’ve developed a special bond.

When Ethan saw Phebe, he broke out in a big grin and started running. He threw himself into her arms. Witnessing the scene, I was deeply touched, tears springing to my eyes; I’d never seen a young man run and throw himself into the arms of an adult for an embrace. Here was a child that had been loved not only by his parents and grandparents, but by his wider community. And here was a woman who was blessed to be in a place where she could love not just her own child, but this boy too — and probably a few others in the community as well.

Community and non-violent parenting

Like an increasing number of people, Hélène and I try to raise our children without punishments or rewards, threats or promises. This is sometimes referred to as non-violent parenting. We strive to help our children express their needs, share with them our own needs, and together make decisions that work for everyone.

Most of the time, this works beautifully. Our children are both very strong willed, and yet they have developed a capacity for empathy and cooperation that many adults find surprising. But they are only four and 7 years old. There are moments in which their needs are all-consuming, when they’re simply not open or able to engage. They insist on getting what they want, not matter what, and may yell, cry or sometimes hit to make it happen. In more traditional parenting, this is where we’d bring out the arsenal of threats and punishments.

Recently, I talked about this with Miki Kashtan, a friend and leading figure in the world of non-violent communication and facilitation. I explained to her that in some of those moments, I feel stuck.

I’ve forfeited the weapon that parents have used for thousands of years: to “make” my children obey me and do what I want, by threatening them into submission. And I’m glad I have. And yet, I can become frustrated at times when my children become stuck in a place where my needs (say, my need for quiet) are ignored, while they loudly insist that theirs get met. In those moments, I sometimes feel lost.

Miki’s answer will stay with me. She said, “You are trying to solve the problem in the wrong context. You can’t solve this within the nuclear family. You can only solve it in the context of community.”

Of course, she’s right! It’s not reasonable to ask young children to be able, at all times, to engage in problem-solving to meet everyone’s needs. It’s hard enough for them to understand and express their own needs (I mean, it’s hard for us adults too!), and at times, they are simply too overwhelmed to listen to our needs. In those moments, our greatest tool is the support of others. We must be able to say: I’m stepping out to get my needs met. Can you please take over?

The only way to parent in non-violent ways, without exhausting ourselves, is within the context of community. Now that Miki helped me see this so clearly, I’ve started knocking more often at a neighbor’s door to ask: “Can you be with my kids for 15 minutes / an hour / the afternoon? I really need some time on my own! And I’m more than happy to do this for you next time you need it.”

Too rosy a picture?

What are the downsides to parenting in community? Perhaps at this stage, it sounds like I’m painting a very rosy picture. When I question elders around our ecovillage who’ve been parents here before us, one downside is often mentioned. Living in close proximity exposes children to different parenting styles and rules.

Our children often come home with challenging questions: “Why can Julie keep playing outside when it’s bedtime for me? Can I watch x movie or play x video game since Flynn is allowed to watch/play?”

In community, even more than in some traditional settings, our children will challenge us to justify — and sometimes even reconsider — our parenting choices. “Because I say so!” would be a difficult line to toe here!

There have been cases in the past where different perspectives and choices have led to tensions between some parents. We haven’t personally experienced this so far, and gratefully, we seem to be navigating differences in style with grace. Our children are still quite young, however, and I can imagine that by their teens, any issues we face together will grow in size.

What if we feel that a friend is not the best influence? If this is not a friend from school, but a friend living in the community, things could be both easier and trickier. We could witness things firsthand and have more power to participate in the dynamics and shape them, but that child’s parents would also be our neighbors and perhaps our friends.

I hope the shared context of community will invite us to work any potential problems out, to dive deeply into conversation, and continue communicating in respectful ways. That is essential to what I signed up for when I joined the ecovillage — sharing in meaningful conversations and not shying away from the beauty and occasional messiness of human relationships.

Rediscovering the obvious

Through 99% of human history, anthropologists tell us that children grew up in community. We know from surviving hunter-gatherer societies that adults don’t entertain the notion that children need to be “raised.” In these cultures, youngsters learn all essential skills — physical, social, emotional — through play with other children in the tribe and by imitating and interacting with adults.

Children are much more autonomous than their modern counterparts, and play and learn all day in mixed-age groups. When they need adults, they seek out anyone at hand. Their parents aren’t their only resources.

While I knew this, I’d believed it was ancient history. It took living in supportive community to understand that we are still deeply wired for this. We can try and live in isolated, nuclear families, but there’s a price to be paid. Restlessness and anxiety rises in children who are denied the autonomy to roam and play and learn among peers. Stress and overwhelm reign for parents who shoulder a burden they are not meant to carry.

A century ago, people began rejecting communities which felt restrictive and suffocating, and aspired for the freedom of more individualist lifestyles. The good news is that we are reinventing communities of choice. There is a growing movement of ecovillages, co-housing, and intentional community-making around the world.

Many offer the best of both worlds: autonomy andcommunion. Privacy and freedom. The liberty to express ourselves fully and wholeheartedly within the context of a meaningful, rich community — to whatever degree we choose. For young parents, in particular, I believe this combination at this time in history is almost irresistible — and perhaps deeply necessary.

What do you think?

If the idea of parenting in community resonates, I encourage you to go and visit ecovillages and co-housing communities. Our ecovillage near Ithaca, NY hosts monthly public tours for a quick introduction. You can also come and stay for a few days in one of the village’s BnBs, to feel the place and see whether it might be something for you.

Houses regularly come up for rent or sale, and we are always thrilled to welcome new families. Many of the children of the village’s founders have grown up, and we are currently welcoming a new generation of parents.

My experience is that it’s best to visit a few different places, to help you better understand what might work best for you and your family. They come in all colors and flavors. I wish you happy exploration and I believe your children will thank you. And I have a hunch you’ll thank yourself too! As my wife and I have so joyfully discovered, there is an easier, more fulfilling way to be a parent.

I highly recommend Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn. Learning about childhood in hunter and gather societies asks powerful, and at times disturbing, questions about how we think about raising children, in families and in schools.

Originally posted on Medium.

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When I think about the Super Bowl, two things come to mind: funny commercials and tasty snacks. If you're hosting the Super Bowl and have kiddos around, the name of the game (pun intended) is to offer a spread of snacks loaded with proteins and vitamins that will keep everyone's energy levels up the entire game, and won't make your friends rely on greasy items.

Try these healthy go-to treats for your viewing party that even your toddler will love:

Skinny baked mozzarella sticks

Skinny baked mozzarella sticks

Serves: 16 pieces

Time to cook: 1 hour and 18 minutes


  • 8 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese optional
  • olive oil cooking spray


  1. Cut the string cheese in half and place it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Beat egg in a small and set aside. In a separate bowl mix the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and set aside.
  2. Dip one string cheese in breadcrumb mixture than in egg mixture and then back in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat this for all the pieces. Place sticks on a greased foil or pan. Return the cheese stick back to the freezer for at least 30-45 minutes. Note: do not skip this step because the cheese will melt if they are not frozen.
  3. After the cheese is finished freezing, heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the cheese lightly with cooking spray and place in the oven. After four minutes flip the cheese sticks and continue baking for another three minutes or until they are golden. Do not overbake because the cheese will melt. Serve hot with your favorite marinara sauce.
Recipe from Gimme Delicious.

Broccoli cheese balls

Broccoli cheese balls

Serves: 20 balls

Time to cook: 35 minutes


  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or panko or Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup shredded cheese mozzarella, cheddar, or favorite melting cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced onion or shallots optional
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped optional
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cajun or taco seasoning or favorite seasoning blend!
  • Pinch of salt and pepper black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Steam broccoli in boiling water or microwave until tender. Chop broccoli using a knife or food processor until finely minced.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped broccoli, eggs, almond flour, cheese, parsley and spices. Mix until well incorporated.
  4. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of mixture and form into a ball. Place on a lined baking sheet and spray or drizzle lightly with oil. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.
  5. Serve on a salad, in a sandwich, with rice, or as an appetizer or snack with your favorite dipping sauce.
Recipe from Gimme Delicious.

Chicken taco lettuce wraps

Chicken taco lettuce wraps

Serves: 4

Time to cook: 30 minutes


Grilled taco chicken

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

To assemble

  • 8 leaves romaine lettuce rinsed
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1/4 cup onion diced

Cilantro sauce

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour-cream or mayo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno optional
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Pinch of salt


To cook chicken

  1. Add the chicken, garlic, olive oil, and spices in a large bowl or zip-seal bag. Place in fridge and let marinate for at least 15-30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill or pan heated to medium-high heat. Let chicken cook until it is no longer pink on the inside, about 9-10 minutes per side (or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees).

To make cilantro sauce

1. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend for one minute or until creamy.

To assemble

  1. Layer lettuce wraps with chicken, tomatoes, onion and avocado. Drizzle with cilantro sauce or your favorite taco sauce.
Recipe from Gimme Delicious.

Eggplant pizza bites

Eggplant pizza bites

Serves: 4

Time to cook: 35 minutes


  • 1 large eggplant cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella shredded


  1. Sprinkle the eggplant with the coarse salt, let sit on paper towels for 10-15 minutes and wipe dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bow, combine the crushed garlic, olive oil and Italian seasoning. Brush the mixture onto both sides of the eggplant slices and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove eggplant from oven and flip eggplant slices, top each slice with a tablespoon of marinara sauce, and a sprinkle of cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

Recipe from Gimme Delicious.

Rice krispie chicken tenders

Rice krispie chicken tenders

Servings: 4

Time to cook: 20 minutes


  • 1 lb raw chicken, cut into long thin slices
  • 2 cups brown rice krispies (or regular if you desire)
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Sea salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place egg whites in a shallow bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add rice krispies and smash with the bottom of a cup until it is a crumb like texture (some will be almost a flour consistency, but don't smash long enough for all of the krispies to be completely crushed). Add seasonings in bowl.
  4. Dip each slice of chicken into egg whites, then coat completely on both sides, and place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.
  5. When all are on a baking tray, lightly sprinkle a little more sea salt onto tenders and place them in the oven.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and flip and bake for 10 more minutes.
  7. Combine yogurt, mustard, bbq sauce, honey and seasonings in a small bowl.
  8. Serve with chicken tenders for dipping.
Recipe from TheLeanGreenbean.

I have a love-hate relationship with maternity clothes. On one hand, I love them because they make me feel comfortable as my bump grows, without anything getting in the way of my breathing or baby's movement. On the other hand, I've really struggled finding items that are my style—which I admit is very particular—or don't cost a ton of money.

During my first pregnancy I bought a bunch of basic pregnancy outfits and tried to include some of my non-maternity favorites in the mix. Sometimes it worked, sometimes in the middle of a work day I had to run to the bathroom to unzip my high waisted skirt because it was too much to handle. By the time baby came, I realized I had spent a ton of money on clothing that I barely wore, and passed them on to other pregnant friends (some items still with tags on.)

With my second pregnancy, I decided I needed to be comfortable above all, but also not spend a ton of money on fast pregnancy fashion because these months go super fast and I'm trying to be more environmentally conscious. I had tried clothing subscription services before (hello wedding season!) and loved being able to wear different outfits I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. After doing some research, I found three subscriptions that offer maternity clothes. I tried them out in an attempt to dress better while sporting a huge bump and to save money and keep my closet decluttered. The best part was that if I really loved something, I had the chance to purchase it at a super discounted price.

Here are the three maternity clothing subscription services I tried:


Amoire Style

About the service: This is a fairly new service and it's currently priced at $149 a month. Once you sign up, you take a style quiz by picking from a group of eight photos of the looks you like the most. Once you are done defining your style, you give your current sizing and then tell your stylist what you are looking for. You get four pieces at a time that you can wear as many times as you want, then return and get new items to wear.

More to know: Unlike other clothing services, you cannot pick from an endless list of clothes what you'd like to receive in your shipment. Instead, you have to go through a stylist who sends picks for you. To be honest, I found this a little annoying since I kept asking for rompers and pants, but kept getting blouses and dresses in my orders. So it did take some back and forth until my stylist sent me things I actually wanted to wear.

My thoughts: I received a mix of maternity and non-maternity clothes that were all bump friendly. The quality of all of them was great and some came with tags, which meant I was the first one ever wearing that piece of clothing.




About the service: This subscription is priced at $88 per month for six pieces at a time. The difference between Nuuly and other services is that you cannot return items to get new ones during the month—you return all of them at the same time and get six new ones the next month. This was a bit of a learning curve for me as I was used to sending back things that didn't fit or I didn't like to maximize my month of rental.

More to know: This service provides clothes from more edgy brands, like Urban Outfitters, Reebok and DL1961, which actually made it my favorite service because it was super aligned with my style. They offer both maternity and non-maternity clothes, so I was able to get super cool dresses (like the one pictured above) in a bigger size than my regular size to wear with my growing bump.

My thoughts: Their maternity catalog is pretty limited, however they have super unique items. One of the pieces I requested was already rented by the time my order was placed and they sent me something totally different to what I wanted. I understand the effort to make sure I was getting the full six items in my order but it was a non-maternity summer dress that didn't work with my bump.


Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway

About the service: I went with their Unlimited Plan which is priced at $159 for four pieces at a time (you can exchange over and over again during the month). Their return service is super fast so if you are organized and return pieces you don't love quickly, you can get so many new things to wear in a month.

More to know: They have the biggest catalogue of maternity clothes and brands, including Hatch. Like Nuuly, you get to pick what you want from their options. It can be a little overwhelming since you scroll through pages and pages of really good quality stuff so I recommend going into it with something in mind (do you need jeans or a party dress?).

My thoughts: Because the service is so popular, I got some clothes that were super worn already and even damaged. I returned those immediately and got new items, but you really never know in what condition they are going to be in, despite the service trying to keep super worn clothes out of their rental catalogue.


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When infectious diseases make headlines parents naturally get a little worried, and this week coronavirus is in the news constantly. The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 17 deaths from the virus so far. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and officials are monitoring 63 suspected cases.

Here's what you need to know, mama.

1. Don't panic.

According to the World Health Organization the coronavirus outbreak is not an international public health emergency.

"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call with media on Friday. "We have our best people working on this problem," Messonnier explained, adding that we will likely see more cases in the coming days.


2. There have been no fatalities in children.

The youngest victim of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus is 36 years old. Most of the fatal cases in China have been in people over 60 and more men than women have been impacted.

3. The family of coronaviruses is a spectrum of severity.

According to the CDC, most people will be infected with a coronavirus at some point in their lives. The common strains of coronavirus cause "moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold" while more severe strains, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrom (MERS) can be fatal.

The strain that is making headlines is a severe and novel coronavirus. It's new and the similarities to influenza make it difficult for experts to distinguish it from all the other respiratory illnesses floating around this time of year.

4. There is a test for it.

When public health officials suspect someone may have coronavirus they can send respiratory and serum samples to the CDC and find out if it's coronavirus or just the flu within about 24 hours.

5. There are steps to take for prevention.

To prevent the spread of the virus the U.S. State Department has issued its most severe travel advisory for the area of China (the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is) most impacted by the coronavirus.

The CDC offers the following tips for protecting your family from the coronavirus (as well as other respiratory illnesses):

  • "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
  • "Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."
  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
Bottom line: Don't panic, mama. The illness is likely to be in the headlines for months, but that doesn't mean we need to live in fear. We just need to be proactive and keep washing those little hands.

Every generation has its parenting trends. “The Greatest Generation" had the idealized “perfect family"—a “picture perfect" two-parent, gender-divided home in the suburbs, that was probably more trope than reality.

The Baby Boomers brought us parent-as-life coach/ friend/chauffeur and manager. At best, it's a nurturing style done out of love and wanting the best for your kids. At worst, it's called “helicopter parenting," the idea that parents try to protect their kids from all harm and difficulty, only to make their kids incapable of caring for themselves.

And our Millennial generation has a “free-range" parenting trend, a backlash against the overly-controlled childhood aimed at teaching kids to rise to life's challenges.


All of this talk about gender roles, helicopter parenting, grit and independence has me wondering—what kind of parent do I want to be?

Do I want to give my kids a picture-perfect childhood? Do I want to control them and make sure every good thing is done to them and for them? Do I want to set them free to figure it all out on their own? Defining the parent I want to be—and deciding what values drive my day-to-day parenting decisions—can be complicated.

The truth is, “helicoptering" comes easy to me, even when I know it's good for my children to work hard, face obstacles, and experience the pride of genuine achievement.

I don't want to helicopter—but I want to make sure my kids have the best opportunities in life, especially in things that I may have missed out on in my own childhood. (Though I'm sure I'm pushing my own values on them and they will find their own way to rebel....)

I don't want to helicopter—but I want to make sure they always look both ways before they cross the street, have their carseat properly installed, and are aware of dangers in our world. (Though I teach them these things and do my best to keep them in safe situations...)

I don't want to helicopter—but having faith that they'll be safe when they're out of my sight is really hard for me. (Though I say a prayer and trust in the universe...)

I don't want to helicopter—but sometimes doing things for them can be so much easier/ faster/ better than letting them do it for themselves. (Though I try to be patient...)

I don't want to helicopter—but I set up play dates, schedule after-school activities, and encourage them socially so that my children can make new friends. (Though I'm sure they will find true friends in their own time...)

I don't want to helicopter—but watching my little ones struggle can be hard for my mama heart. (So I hope they know I'm doing this because I love them...)

I don't want to helicopter—but protecting my kids comes easy. Giving them space to struggle and grow is essential, but hard, for both of us.

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