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Author archive for: Starshine Roshell

Are You a Lawnmower Parent?

College Admissions Scandal Reveals Dangers of Clearing Smooth Path for Kids

You’re really not a parent of import anymore unless you’ve nabbed yourself a slick motor-vehicle label. First there were Helicopter Parents, hovering figuratively over their poor children’s heads, overseeing every miserable aspect of their orchestrated lives. I never fretted much over this classification, as it doesn’t apply to me; I lack the energy to be that controlling.

But the latest sobriquet intended to shame inept moms and dads hits a little closer to home. Like the front yard.

Have you heard of Lawnmower Parents? Known in chillier climes as Snowplow Parents and in less subtle neighborhoods as Bulldozer Parents, these are the well-meaning but misguided folks who continually clear a smooth path for their children, pre-empting any potential embarrassments, challenges and discomforts, and removing any obstacles that might impede Junior’s success. (Some call them Curling Parents, after the Olympic sport that involves shoving a toddler, sorry, a heavy stone towards a goal while someone sweeps the ice in front of it to decrease friction.)

From innocuous-sounding things like rushing to school with a forgotten lunch to more obvious line-crossing like calling in a sick day for your child so she can finish an overdue homework assignment, Lawnmower Parents think they’re being helpful. Supportive. Even loving. But the recent college admissions scandal showed us how parents can go from mowing lawns to clear-cutting entire freaking forests for their kids.

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‘My Parents Are Stupid’

When Kids Refuse to Be Properly Indoctrinated

If I had any doubts that Gen Y and Gen Z possess the savvy and the huevos they’ll need to lead this country out of its current muddle, those doubts were squelched last week. First, 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger testified before the Senate about why he went and got himself vaccinated after growing up with a staunch anti-vaxxer mom.

“My parents are kind of stupid,” began Ethan’s Reddit post back in November asking for advice on where and how to get the shots as an adult. He told the Senate that as he “began to think critically for myself, I saw that the information in defense of vaccines outweighed the concerns heavily.” Can I get an “amen” for Ethan?

Then journalist Eli Saslow, author of Rising Out of Hatred, came to UCSB Arts & Lectures to talk about the miraculous transformation of Derek Black. The godson of KKK grand wizard David Duke and actual son of another grand wizard (how is that actually a grown man’s title?), Black was a prominent white supremacist in his own right until he went to college and met people who defied the stereotypes he’d been spoon-fed his whole life. They challenged him to learn more about other races and religions, which — as education is wont to do — convinced him that racism was a big steaming pile of hooey. Now, much to Daddy’s dismay, he’s an outspoken critic of the white nationalist movement.

Imagine the courage, conviction, and capability of these young men! There’s something about a kid rebelling against his lunatic parents that fills me with hope. But I was surprised to find that these stories also filled me with something else. Something less flattering: panic. If this dramatic rejection of family values can happen to deranged and misguided parents, what’s to stop it from happening to outrageously rational and astoundingly wise parents — you know, parents like me?

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My Climate Just Changed

From Hormones to Ozone, Irreversible, Existential Change Is a Bitch

An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan is moments away from breaking off of Antarctica and calving into the Atlantic Ocean. A large-footed mouse from Australia, the Bramble Cay melomys, was just identified as the first mammal to go extinct from human-driven climate change. And last month’s weather broke snow, rain, and heat records from coast to coast in the United States.

So I feel I should apologize, as I may be to blame. You see, my internal climate is suddenly warming at an alarming rate. Like, a wildfire-through-drought-ravaged-chaparral rate.

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A Drink with Dr. Chill

Taking the Stress Out of Stress Management

He promised me a beer but made me order tea instead.

“Hot tea is always nice, right?” he said.

I mean, hot tea is all right. But with a full-time job, homework due in a graduate class, a family waiting at home, a trip to pack for, flu season lurking on every dang doorknob, and this column to write … I could have used a beer, honestly.

I was meeting Dr. Jay Winner for a drink to talk about stress. Since he’s an expert on the subject, and almost supernaturally mellow — and since my mind feels like gloppy, neon-hued spin art most days — I did what I was told.

“Let’s take a smell,” he says as we both lift our steaming cups to our faces. “Feel the warmth? Kind of let go of your thoughts …”

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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