"Smart, audacious and often hilarious. Takes everything you thought you knew about parenting and turns it on its ear." - Jennifer Jason Leigh


If I may, I’d love just 90 seconds of your time to tell you about me and my new blog: Goodjobandotherthings.com. If I can manage to pique your interest, I hope you’ll check it out and, who knows, even subscribe.

ABOUT ME: I’m not always the warm, non-judgemental person I want to be—particularly when I’m at a playground and I see an adult treat a kid in a way that drives me crazy. Instantly, my body tenses, smoke starts coming out of my ears, and then to my surprise, I find myself walking over to say something to someone I’ve never met about something that’s none of my business. Cringe inducing, but true.

Here I am hanging out with my kids at a sandbox just moments before I open my big mouth—as rendered by the brilliant graphic novelist Ariel Schrag.

But now, I’m trying something new: Instead of harassing well-meaning parents at the playground, I’m blogging.

ABOUT MY BLOG: My intention is not to merely chronicle parenting infractions like some know-it-all member of a parenting police squad—certainly I’m not the best mom in the world. (As my husband John always says, “When you point a finger, there’s three pointing back at you.”) That said, you will find some venting here which hopefully will save some unsuspecting parents at the playground from my wrath. But I’ll be doing a bunch of other things too:

I’ll explain in blogs, essays and podcasts why so many things parents say and do with the best of intentions actually harm kids—among them are such seemingly innocuous things like saying “Good job!, “It’s okay!”, “Give mama a kiss.” and “You’re so cute.” (Unfortunately, the list is long. The modern parenting lexicon sucks!)

I’ll be writing about this oddly-named parenting “philosophy” called RIE™ that literally saved my kids from the mom I would’ve been and changed the way I see the world.

I’ll think through parenting “challenges” and hopefully get some feedback.

• I’ll write about parenting stuff that gets me worked up in some way—books, films, articles and the like.

I’ll post  on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Sign up if this sounds at all interesting to you. And finally, what kind of blogger would I be without a cordial invitation to follow me on facebook and twitter. I’m gonna do my best to make this worth your while.

Yours in trying to be a better parent (and person),

12 Responses to “Hello!”

  1. sarah smith says:

    just read your post “good job”. guess i jumped the gun. i do see your point and the alternative way of talking to toddlers that you bring up. i agree with you. i really do. but for some reason, your blog still pisses me off. i find it to be indulgent and overly opinionated. if you came up to me in the park and criticised the way i talked to my child, i think you would be setting a far worse example for your own children than the parent applauding their proud child for mastering a new and exciting accomplishment. even though you are probably “right” it doesn’t much matter because you spend so much energy correcting and critiquing other parents that you haven’t managed to show your children how to be tolerant and respectful of other people and different ways of thinking and acting. or to be very humble for that matter. however, my reaction to your blog (or perhaps just this specific post) may be a result of the fact that your words instantly put me on the defensive — made me feel as though you, the “expert” mother, disapproves of my relationship with my baby. i know you claim that is not your intention but you surely know that stating your own opinion at such length and with such aggressive certainty doesn’t leave much room for you to speak about parenting with any grace or tolerance for a different approach. and shouldn’t the way we interact with our children be a way that feels natural to us as parents? so that our children don’t get a “phony” version of us? a version we read about and force ourselves to follow because we feel guilty if we don’t. as mothers, we now know what we didn’t know before – that raising a human being is scary. and that not many of us go to bed at night feeling as though we have done a perfect job – we feel guilty for spending too much time doing the dishes or checking our emails or spending too much (or not enough) time taking care of the newborn instead of the toddler. in my own personal experience as a mom – i have been shocked by the amount of guilt and anxiety that comes along with taking care of someone and teaching them about the world. and more and more, when i read parenting books or websites i find those feelings of guilt and anxiety getting stronger. so now, after reading this post, i will worry and feel guilty while i consider how often and how loudly i applaud my toddler — is that the point of your message?! i agree that you don’t come across as a “warm, non-judgemental person” — but is that not just as important?

    • Jennifer says:

      Sarah! Oh my I feel terrible. I totally forgot to reply to your comments. Thank you for writing in and please forgive me. I’m going to send you a new version i’ve written of my good job essay (however it isn’t for sharing yet) and please tell me if you feel the tone is less judgmental etc. It’s my “growth edge”! I’m working on it. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this with me!

      — Jennifer

  2. sarah smith says:

    i’m confused. do you really think it’s never appropriate to tell a toddler they’ve done a good job (when they really have!) or that they’re ok (when they are afraid that they really aren’t)? i understand if you think these phrases are overused and i kind of agree with you but you seem to be damning most parenting habits — are you offering an alternative? what do you suggest we tell our children instead??

  3. Amanda says:

    I am in 100% agreement with you here, so much so, that I posted on yahoo about it and now your blog as well. I recently was reunited with my father after 10 years of alienation due to my parents divorce while I was a child, and also met my 13 year old step sister for the first time. My husband and I stayed at their house for a few days and every night my dad forced my little sister to give everyone in the room a hug before going to bed. It was absolutely disgusting. Everything in her body language said “I don’t want to do this but I will do it just to make you love me, Dad” and quite frankly I didn’t really want to be hugged either, nor did my husband, we are not very touchy-feely people. It just seemed inappropriate and weird and made everyone in the room oddly uncomfortable and silent. Also, I am in the restaurant industry, and my BIGGEST pet peeve is parents forcing their children to order or say thank you when the poor little thing is clearly dying of embarrassment and paralyzing shyness. I always look at the child and say “Don’t worry young man/lady, you don’t have to say anything. I can tell you’re shy but are thinking thank you very loudly in your head!” The child always looks relieved and sometimes evens giggles and utters a very soft “thank you” of their own accord! I know I have miffed some parents and sacrificed tips but don’t care one bit if a child felt the gratitude I did growing up when my mother didn’t force me out of my shell (which offers children protection from strangers btw!). Lastly, often when I bartend or serve, I will have men pay their tab and attempt to give me a goodbye hug before they leave, or they will say “Come over here sweetie and give me a hug” and I always get irritated with their creepiness and fawning. I always refuse this fabulous opportunity to squeeze sweaty, old, rotund gentlemen to my bosom, but I watch some of the other girls hug on command in some sort of robotic fashion that speaks years of childhood ritual. Then they complain about how gross and creepy these guys are like they don’t have a choice in the matter. Physical boundaries should be CREATED during childhood not torn down, because they may never be rebuilt, robbing children and adults of their natural defenses and instincts. Absolutely fabulous article, Jennifer!!

    • Amanda…

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts…and in so many places. I’m so sorry for your little sister…having to do that. It was hard just to read, let alone know she has to deal with that likely on a regular basis.

      I’m really impressed with how you relate to children at restaurants who are pushed to say thank you and please and hello and good bye. It too drives me crazy, as I’m sure you probably have guessed.

      I also really appreciate your support with this piece. Yes, I speak out strongly and their is some real anger in my tone, but I think the subject warrants it. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think your example and those others have shared go a long way in helping others understand where I’m coming from.

  4. Ana says:

    This one actually drives me crazy. Especially when a complete stranger that doesn’t even know my child decides to tell them that they are okay. Or when they see one of my children falling down and getting right back up they tell them how “brave they are.” They are basically telling them they are brave for showing no emotion so that when they do have a fall that actually hurts they should be expected to do the same. Isn’t owning your emotions brave?

  5. Cindy says:

    Love the blog! Your insights in parenting gives me a lot of things to think about my own childhood and how I raise my own kids. A lot of bad habits and false customs and traditions have been passed to us generation by generation, it’s nice to be in check.

  6. Yee Jellis says:

    It is the little adjustments that make the most dramatic shift.

  7. Tom Moore says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I love your article and blog. I laughed and learned. Funny thing about this is I’ve been talking a lot to people about my own feeble relationship with criticism and praise. I grew up getting Diplomas and Fancy certificates for doing so much nonsense. Remember the blue ribbon at Farrell’s for polishing off the whole trough of ice cream? So the other day I got my car repaired by a body shop after a minor accident. They give me a beautiful certificate to commemorate that, yay!, my car was fixed!!!. I refused to accept it and told them to keep it on file, but they sent it to me in the mail the next day. I guess the point is we really love this type of false praise. Makes me sick.

    Can’t wait to read more!!

  8. Abigail says:

    Hello this is amazing site! really cool and it will be a new inspirations for me

  9. Valeria says:

    Just wanted to give you a shout from the valley of the sun, great information. Much appreciated.

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