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New York Times

Why I Didn’t Answer Your Email

By KJ / Thursday, February 7, 2019

I’m 47 years old. Two days ago, you sent me an email, which I did not answer. I didn’t answer it, in part, because I am 47 years old.

I appreciated your email. You are a person, who has written an email, and I am a person, who should reply to that email. However, your email arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and just as I opened it, my 16-year-old son came in. He wanted to describe to me an app he is in the process of developing. Then he showed me a funny article someone had sent him, and I showed him a funny article someone had sent me, and then I explained that I had work to do, that I needed, in fact, to respond to your email, and also to write 3,000 words in the next 36 hours. “I’ve only written 300,” I said.

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Happy Children Do Chores

By KJ / Thursday, September 13, 2018

Children should do chores. That’s a controversial premise, though not everyone will admit it. A few parents will declare outright that their children are “too busy for chores” or that “their job is school.” Many more of us assign chores, or say we believe in them, but the chores just don’t get done. That’s a problem. For starters, chores are good for kids. Being a part of the routine work of running a household helps children develop an awareness of […]

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Happier parents do these 10 things

By KJ / Sunday, August 19, 2018

I’d been a parent for close to 12 years by the time it occurred to me to ask myself if the whole thing really had to feel this hard. As a journalist, I’d been writing about the cultural, societal, and political aspects of family life for a decade, and the one thing I knew, as I began to contemplate the question of why I wasn’t more satisfied with my life as a parent, was that I wasn’t alone. I interviewed […]

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Three things happier parents say when their kids whine about chores

By KJ / Sunday, August 19, 2018

Children should do chores. That’s a controversial premise, though not everyone will admit it. A few parents will declare outright that their children are “too busy for chores” or that “their job is school.” Many more of us assign chores, or say we believe in them, but the chores just don’t get done. That’s a problem. For starters, chores are good for kids. Being a part of the routine work of running a household helps children develop an awareness of […]

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Sibling Fight Survival Guide

A Sibling Fight Survival Guide

By KJ / Saturday, July 7, 2018

Disagreements among brothers and sisters aren’t just inevitable – they’re educational. Angry footsteps upstairs. Screams. “I hate you!” Slam. Fists, on a bedroom door. Then, inevitably, the unified shriek: “MOOOOMMM!” That was the soundtrack of the year when my daughters were 11 and 12, shared a bedroom, and fought like caged tigers. As a parent, I was at a loss. It seemed like every meal or car ride ended in misery, and I was convinced that our family life was […]

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Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?

By KJ / Monday, October 3, 2016

I’m shy, yes. But am I also rude? In a contest between my manners and my preferences, am I allowing my preferences to win?

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The Right Way to Bribe Your Kids to Read

By KJ / Friday, September 16, 2016

My children need to read this summer. They’re in the middle of a long vacation from school, and I want them to enjoy it — but I also want them to be able to pick up their education where they left off when school starts again in the fall.

Kids who read over the summer lose fewer skills than kids who don’t. This is especially important for children from low-income families and those with language problems, like my younger daughter. When reading is difficult, so is almost everything else. As new readers move from decoding text to fluency, every subject from math to history becomes more accessible, but practice is the only way to get there.

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