Author: Melanie Dunn

How to Prevent Your Child From Picking Up Negative Behaviors

One of our cats is diabetic, and I found myself in the vet’s waiting room late one afternoon with my two uniformed children, freshly retrieved from their magnet preschool/early elementary school. Their blue and khaki outfits informed the woman sitting across from us of the district they attend. She knew because it turns out she works at another school in that district. “How do you like it?” she asked.  Unsure of whether the question was addressed to me or to my children, I told her we liked it and asked my girls to tell her about school. “How are...

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I Started Looking at Photos of Dead Victorian Children Online. Here’s What Happened Next.

It’s never too early in the season to start talking about creepy Halloween-oriented stuff, amirite?  I can’t say why, but I’ve always been intrigued by the more macabre aspects of life and artistic renderings of such, of which there are many.  I know I’m not the only weirdo who gets a slight thrill from being reminded of my own mortality and the mystery surrounding death.  After all, goth culture had to come from somewhere. Apparently it was common during the Victorian era for families to photograph deceased family members, often posing the deceased alongside the rest of the (living) family.  I remember how freaked out I was when I first learned of this practice.  And honestly, the idea still makes my skin crawl.  Oh yeah — just because I’m fascinated by the macabre doesn’t mean I’m not terrified by it!  I don’t hang out in graveyards and collect animal skeletons; not that I judge you if you’re into that.  But my curiosity gets the better of me.  It’s like not wanting to see a scary movie because you know you will need to sleep with the lights on for a week straight — but then giving in and just going to see it, because you can’t stop thinking about it and you just need to see what happens.  That’s the best analogy I can think of to describe my morbid...

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“Being a Mother” Versus “The Practice of Mothering”

  As I descended the staircase of my office building yesterday, a thought popped into my head about the work I do.  I’m usually inclined to say “I’m a lawyer” when someone asks me what I do for a living, where I work, what I do for work, etc.  I let that three-word descriptor marinate in my gut for a minute, and it did not feel good.  It felt slimy, like a genteel expression of “I’m a sleazy profiteer who peddles fantasies of justice! So what do you do?” The irony of feeling this way about “being a lawyer” is that I actually love the work I do, in terms of the subject matter and the people I serve.  I help parents get special education programming and services for their children.  That should make me feel great—and thankfully, it usually does, or else I wouldn’t have lasted long in this profession.  But my preference would be to do this for free, just because it’s a good thing to do for parents and children in need.  If I had a passive income source or became independently wealthy, I would just volunteer my time as a special education lawyer.  There are lots of problems inherent in working as a lawyer, and those are the aspects of the work that make me feel more like a well trained pitbull than a human...

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The New Challenge In Raising Our Girls Is Innocent and Well-Intentioned Sexism

Quick, read this phrase and tell me what immediately springs to mind: “Women in STEM.” Where did your brain go?  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I doubt your first thought was “women are well-represented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines and professions, not to mention the fact that they hold leadership positions in these fields and are earning as much as men in these careers.  Nope, nothing amiss here!”  You probably got that stomach lurch or brain flash that indicated the controversy and contention behind this topic.  The fact that we need to talk specifically about “women” in STEM, and not just people in STEM or STEM careers generally, tells you that we’re dealing with thorny issues about sex, gender and the debate over whether the under-representation of women in STEM is something we should worry about or just something that is the way it is, shrug.  In case you haven’t guessed, you can count me among the former group, not the latter. Many of us, especially the Boomers among us, have a story or two about a person, male or female, who has openly and quite unabashedly asserted that girls and women are simply wired differently than their male counterparts, making them ill-suited for careers in the hard sciences.  Hell, some folks believe, based on whatever pseudo-science they encounter on the internet or unearth from...

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Here’s Why Some People Are Quick to Blame the Parents When a Child Is Killed In a Horrific Accident.

In the wake of a string of very bad news this week, it would be nicer to shift our focus to a more pleasant subject. But I would be remiss if I did not heap massive kudos upon the author of this Scary Mommy post for pointing out why we need to show compassion, not shame and blame, toward other parents when terrible things happen involving their children. I need not recount this devastating tale; chances are you know of it already, and if you don’t, well, the article tells you all you need to know. Melissa Fenton’s post said everything I was feeling in my heart when I heard that some people on the internet were being less than compassionate to these grieving parents. But I also had to ask the question – why are some of us so eager to find fault with a child’s parents when that child succumbs to an awful and devastating accident? I remember when an acquaintance of mine had his apartment broken into. Right down the freaking front door, apparently in broad daylight, with valuables stolen and the house turned upside down. I remember immediately searching for a reason why this had happened to him – why he was surely at fault for allowing this to occur. Maybe, for example, he had left his car on the street with something valuable inside,...

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