While grown-ups debate the rights of transgendered people on our news feeds, the vibe across our playgrounds is quite different, and much more inclusive.
“My child transitioned when he was 5. A neighbor explained to her son, then 6, that Colby felt like a boy and we were going to let him live as a boy. Her son’s response: ‘Well, that makes sense.’ As simple and accepting as that.” Kitty Flynn; Boston, MA
“When my daughter transitioned three years ago as a 7th-grader in very rural New Hampshire, a high-schooler on her bus said to her matter-of-factly, ‘Well, you’ll need a whole new wardrobe.’ The next day, she brought a beautiful dress she’d outgrown and a necklace and earrings she’d made to go with the dress.” Jennifer Huckman; Carroll County, NH
“We asked an organization for gender-creative youth to come to my then 8-year-old daughter’s class to help her transition. After the representative announced that my daughter was transgender, the bell rang for lunch and the girls in the class surrounded her. She’d asked me to stay because she’d been afraid no one would want to eat lunch with her after the announcement, but from inside this protective circle of girls, she waved to me and said, ‘You can go now, Mama.’” Anonymous
“After the letter went out to other families about my son’s transitioning, another kid (whom we’d known for years though they weren’t close) came up to him, held out her hand, and said, ‘It’s nice to meet you again as Matt.’” Lydia Valentine; Tacoma, WA
In a small town in North Carolina, Gabriel and Heather Rael have officially earned their angel wings by launching the most ingenious side biz in all the land: Caffé Olé, a gourmet-coffee food truck that services the drop-off line at their daughter’s charter school. Bonus: Their Fruité Olé smoothies are a hit with kids, just in case breakfast at home consisted of a handful of cereal on the way out the door. Someone get these two a medal, stat.
Inspired by his daughter, Poppy, interior designer Nate Berkus has teamed up with Target to launch a nursery and layette line. Look for his elegantly whimsical designs to show up on night-lights, sheets, toys, and clothing. $12 to $50; target.com
Moralis explains how to tune in to yourself while tuning out the noisy world. You can increase your energy and sense of peace by meditating for five minutes or less and by taking mindfulness breaks whenever things get unpleasant or you doubt yourself.
The travel and lifestyle editor at ABC News, Brown had an epiphany: She decided to start treating herself as well as she treated her kids. This book is a guilt-free ticket to refocusing your priorities.
Several Rhode Island charter-school teachers were suspended and then resigned after a teacher’s e-mail was hacked and insulting chats about students and parents were forwarded to the entire faculty and student body.
This resort sits on 2 1/2 miles of private coastline, where your brood can collect seashells, take a dolphin cruise, or splash in 20 pools. Snag free time by enrolling your kids, ages 6 to 13, in an ecology-based class at Sanibel Sea School. Two-bedroom condos start at $249 per night.
Scoop up a one- to three-bedroom villa (with a kitchen) and hit the waves. When the kids are feeling waterlogged, head to the tennis courts or nine-hole golf course. Rates for a one-bedroom villa start at $114; call (855) 482-9783 and mention PARENTS20 for a 20 percent discount for stays from February 26 to April 9 based on availability.
Traveling with extended family? Book this new, all-suite resort not far from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. Three-bedroom, two-bathroom suites start at $359 per night; get 10 percent off the best available rate or 20 percent off the advance purchase rate for stays beginning February 16 when using code PARENTS17.
Whether you want to see stars at the Griffith Observatory or Hollywood Walk of Fame, this bohemian-chic resort with family suites serves as site-seeing hub. At night, watch classic movies by its outdoor pool or take the free shuttle to nearby Universal Studios Hollywood. Suites start at $219 per night; mention Parents when booking to receive milk and cookies in your room on arrival.
After hiking at Sabino Canyon (a free shuttle takes you there), cool off at the pool, where staff hand out fruit and smoothies. Four- to 12-year-olds can feed fish and take an ecology walk at the Coyote Kids Club while you get a spa treatment. Rooms with two queen beds start at $179 per night ; book with the code PARENTS to have complimentary cookies and chocolate delivered to your room.
With nature trails, a playground, golf, and a spa, your family may not want to leave this resort, situated just outside the city. But if you do venture out, visit the Chisholm Trail Winery, which welcomes kids with brick-oven pizza and games. Rooms with two double beds start at $229 per night.
Do you think that it should be legal for children of all ages to be able to handle firearms, as long as an adult is present? A bill that died in the State Senate in Iowa would have let kids under 14 use handguns with parental supervision.
“How else do you really teach gun safety?” —Leigh G. Beck
“We live in an area where hunting is a large part of life. We already have the .22 she will be getting for her 5th birthday.” —Jessi Hurd
“My kids have absolutely no need to handle a gun. No child does.” —Pamela Stoesz
“We give our girls—at least I did—a certain age for when they can wear makeup. I did the same for my son and firearms.” —Amy Hunt
I grabbed the right Tupperware lid on the first try and I’ve never felt more drunk with power.Abby Heugel, @AbbyHasIssues, via Twitter
It’s Girl Scout cookie season, and this year the Scouts are offering up something new that will have you reminiscing about your own camping trips: Girl Scout S’mores cookies. Select markets will carry either a crispy graham cookie dipped in a crème icing and coated in chocolate, or a graham-cookie sandwich with a marshmallow and chocolate filling. No smoke-filled campfire necessary. Price varies by individual Girl Scout council; girlscoutcookies.org
Consider reliving your 8-bit glory days with the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. The console connects directly to your TV via an HDMI cable, and 30 fan-favorite games (Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros., anyone?) are pre-loaded into the system. Impress your kids by showing that, after all these years, you still know where all the underground rooms are in The Legend of Zelda. $60; nintendo.com
Dads—and inexperienced moms—need to get over their fear of their kids’ hair, and Dean Banowetz, author of The Dean's List of DaddyDos and stylist for shows like Shark Tank, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol, offers a plan for tackling hairdos of all ponytail-making skill levels.
It’s important bonding time. “I always say that as your ponytails get better so will your conversations.”
Raised on a farm in Iowa as the 13th of 15 children, Banowetz shaved heads for his platoon in the U.S. Army. His brother (No. 12) was the one who suggested he go full-time. “He told me, ‘You used to braid the tails on the cows when you were supposed to be milking them.’”
He shows gamers how to braid using cords from a PlayStation 3 (cross the red cable over the yellow, then the white over the red, then the yellow over the white, and so on).
Go through your toolbox with your child and have her pick out her favorite washers, nuts, and bolts. Get cheap nail polish and a plain barrette. Polish the pieces she selected in different colors, then superglue them to the barrette. Finish the whole thing off with another coat of glittery clear nail polish. “Now she has a super-cute hair accessory that she and her dad made,” Banowetz says. “And every time she wears it, she’ll think of him.”
This gentle, gorgeous animated film by famous Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki focuses on two young girls who find that their country home is a mythical forest. “The slow pace is perfect for younger kids, but details like the cat bus are clever enough for older ones,” says Sierra Filucci, of Oakland, California, whose kids have watched it for years. 5+, 86 minutes
This sweet live-action friendship tale about an orange tabby kitten and a young pug who have strayed from their farm has a bit of peril, but the animals’ cuteness will keep children of all ages oohing and aahing. 5+, 76 minutes
There’s no villain in this Pixar gem about rookie racer Lightning McQueen. “My 4-year-old daughter was initially drawn to it since it was her older brother’s fave, but now she likes Sally, the girl car,” says Cindy Leahy, of Marshfield, Massachusetts. 5+, 117 minutes
Whether it’s Elsa accidentally hurting her younger sister or a sisterly sacrifice that saves the day, siblings will relate to the plot. Of course, catchy songs and Olaf the Snowman make the movie even more mesmerizing. 5+, 102 minutes
Ideal for short attention spans, this animated picture-book adaptation offers appealing messages to older sibs. “The movie’s tone helps my boys, ages 4 and 6, mellow out,” says Jennifer Loyer, a preschool teacher. 3+, 27 minutes
Unlike the commercialized 2012 version, this shorter film delivers environmental messages in a way that even young kids can understand. They’ll like the repetition “I speak for the trees!” and wordplay such as “Gluppity-Glupp” and “Schloppity-Schlopp,” while older kids will enjoy song sequences that break up heavier moments. 5+, 25 minutes
This live-action classic has goofy humor and “Rainbow Connection” for little kids and warm, meaningful messages about persistence and friendship for older sibs. 6+, 95 minutes
Young kids will love Snoopy’s silly antics, while older ones will commiserate with Charlie Brown’s challenges as he works to win the affection of the Little Red-Haired Girl. “My 8-year-old related to Charlie Brown’s struggles getting through school, but that plot flew over my 4-year-old’s head,” says Jennifer Starkey, of St. Louis. “Instead, Snoopy was his favorite character—he sleeps with a stuffed one.” 4+, 88 minutes
There’s barely any dialogue in this stop-motion film based on a British television series, making it easier for young children to understand the plot. The older crowd will think the sheep’s disguises are pretty funny. 4+, 85 minutes
Children of all ages love seeing toys come to life and have adventures. And there’s not too much that’s likely to worry little kids. “My 6-year-old likes the part where Mrs. Potato Head joins the family while my younger son is enthralled with any scene that involves Buzz Lightyear,” says Jeanette Leon Go, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 5+, 81 minutes
Who better to lead the redesign of a baby-to-big-kid room than its color-obsessed inhabitant?
10 Quick and Easy Toddler-Meal Ideas, From Toddler