Q: The latest rage among the mommies in my community is yoga for preschoolers. Many of the moms are enrolling children as young as 3 years old. The advertising promises all sorts of benefits. What are your thoughts?
A: Intrigued by this question, I did some investigating and discovered that many of these programs are based on the writing of Helen Garabedian, the author of “Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers” (De Capo Press, 2008). Newsweek once called Garabedian the “Baby Yoga Expert.” The hype for her book promises fewer tantrums, better sleep, better motor coordination, improved listening ability, improved ability to follow directions, better self-expression, and higher self-esteem. Oh, please!
Many of these same benefits, and more, are going to result from taking a child to the park for a couple of hours several times a week and letting him run and play on the equipment. Besides, the park is free. As for fewer tantrums and enhanced obedience, sorry, but yoga is no substitute for calm, firm discipline.
Garabedian’s publicity also claims that according to research, toddlers need 30 minutes of “structured activity” per day. I pride myself on staying on top of stuff like this, and I know of no such research. In fact, the only research I’m aware of says that toddlers benefit more from unstructured than structured play. The one thing today’s youngsters do not need is more micromanagement, more structure, and less discretionary time. Two thumbs down.
Q: We recently found racy pictures on my 13-year-old son’s smart phone. The women were not nude, much less participating in sex acts, but were wearing very revealing bikinis, short skirts, and halter tops. Their poses were very provocative as well. My husband says this is normal stuff and wants to completely ignore it. I say we should deal with it. What say you?
A: It is surely normal for a 13-year-old boy to be attracted to females and to have sexual thoughts and feelings, but your husband is missing a great opportunity here. The fact that the pictures don’t constitute hard-core pornography and that this might be “normal” from a statistical perspective is beside the point. The door is open for your husband to sit down with his son and give him some fundamental instruction concerning the opposite sex. Call it Women 101.
He could start this mentoring by helping your son begin to understand that thinking of women as mere sexual objects is a form of disrespect — that anatomical attributes are not the measure of a woman, and that while good looks are not a bad thing, the real prize is a woman who is a wonderful wife and mother: a woman, in other words, whose beauty goes deeper than her skin. There’s an opening here for your husband to help his son begin the journey to valid manhood. He should seize it!