Safe Products for You and Your Children
July 5, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Social Action, The Environment · Permalink · Comments Off on Safe Products for You and Your Children


Talk about unsafe!  Women use an average of 12 beauty products containing more than 125 unique chemicals every morning before they walk out the door, every day. (1) Even worse: Only 11% of chemicals in personal care products in the U.S. have been assessed for safety.

It’s so frustrating. You do everything you can to protect your family from toxic chemicals. Yet every time you wash your hair, or brush your teeth, the products you use may expose you to chemicals linked to cancer, learning disabilities, and infertility. Even products that claim to be “Natural,” “Herbal,” or “Organic” can’t be trusted, since there is no legal definition for any of these terms. (2)

Enough is enough! It’s time to give the cosmetics industry a much needed makeover.

*Urge your U.S. House members to support the Safe Cosmetics Act now!

Today, Congressional leaders reintroduced the federal Safe Cosmetics Act in the House of Representatives. This bill (H.R.2359) would give the FDA the authority it needs to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful substances like lead, 1,4-dioxane and chemicals linked to cancer.

Of the 12,000 ingredients used in personal care products, only 8 have been banned since cosmetics legislation first passed in 1938. “Companies say, ‘We do a lot of testing.’ But they’re looking for short-term effects like a rash,” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “They’re not looking at long-term health effects like cancer risk.”(3)

The existing law, which has not been updated in 70 years, allows companies to use toxic chemicals in products we use on our bodies every day. We know that the U.S. can do better to protect our families and to remain a world leader in the marketplace!

Urge your U.S. House members to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

P.S. Wondering how to reduce your family’s exposure to this type of toxic chemicals? Check out our top six safer beauty tips:

P.P.S. To learn more about the cosmetics industry, here’s “The Story of Cosmetics,” a fantastic video by our friends at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

[1] Smith, Rick and Lourie, Bruce. Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Dangers of Everyday Things. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2010.

[2] Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

[3] The Dark Side of Beauty:

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Couldn’t Have Said It Better
November 9, 2010 · Posted in Breastfeeding, Parenting, Social Action, Work/Family Balance · Permalink · Comments Off on Couldn’t Have Said It Better

Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying, feminist and mother writes a truly provocatice article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, Mother Madness. She exposes attachment parenting for what it is–a prison for women. It highlights that the race for the perfect child is a strategy to ignore bigger problems and politics. Here are some excerpts, but do read the whole article.

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you know that we have endured an orgy of motherphilia for at least the last two decades. Movie stars proudly display their baby bumps, and the shiny magazines at the checkout counter never tire of describing the joys of celebrity parenthood. Bearing and rearing children has come to be seen as life’s greatest good. Never mind that there are now enough abandoned children on the planet to make breeding unnecessary…

Someday “attachment parenting” may be seen as quaint, but today it’s assumed that we can perfect our babies by the way we nurture them. Few of us question the idea, and American mothers and fathers run themselves ragged trying to mold exceptional children. It’s a highly competitive race…

Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child’s home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach…

Some parenting gurus suggest that helicopter parenting became the rage as more mothers went to work outside the home. In other words, it was a kind of reaction formation, a way for mothers to compensate for their absence and guilt and also for the many dangerous and uncontrollable things in the modern family’s environment. This seems logical to me. As we give up on ideals of community, we focus more and more on our individual children, perhaps not realizing that the community and the child cannot be separated…

In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the “noble savage” view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules.

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Take Your Child To Vote Day
November 2, 2010 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Social Action, Teens · Permalink · Comments Off on Take Your Child To Vote Day

Do you want a sure fire way to model good behavior for your kids? Take them with you to vote.  For small children it is beginning an important ritual with them. For your school aged children,  not only is this modeling it a great opportunity to discuss what voting means and what a privilege it is. It can open up many discussions about  what matters to you, hear their ideas, and get them engaged with the world around them. It helps give them a sense of power and voice and responsibility.

Though it seems like government disappoints so much, voting is still a rite that many people in the world don’t have.  Though so many huge problems exist around us we can do our little part and instill that value in our children. That half hour or so, that you spend going to the polls together will be embedded in your child’s mind forever.

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Caps for Cancer
October 28, 2010 · Posted in Social Action · Permalink · Comments Off on Caps for Cancer

Jean and I are avid needlepointers and picked this up from our favorite store, Rita’s. They are donating caps to chemo patients and we thought we would share this with you all.


Materials: One pair needles (fairly large – 8, 9 or 10), Knitting Yarn – about 2-3 ounces worsted weight or light bulky weight. We recommend soft wools and bright colors!

Cast on 88 stitches. Row 1 – k2, p2 across. Repeat this row for 8 inches.

Begin shaping. Row 1 – *k2, p2 together – repeat from *to end of row. Row 2 – k1, p2 across row on remaining 66 stitches. Row 3 – k2, p1 across. Row 4 – k1, p2 across row. Row 5 through 12 – repeat rows 3 and 4.

Row 13 – *k2 together, p1 – repeat from * to end of row. Rows 14 through 16 – k1, p1 across. Row 17 – k2 together across row.

You now have 22 stitches. Break off leaving long tail (about 36″). Pull thread thourgh the stitches as you take them off the needle. Pull tightly; fasten securely; and sew up seam.


Finished caps may be rerturned to Rita’s needlepoint for distrubution.

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Our Sister City is a Gulf Town!
June 22, 2010 · Posted in Charity Project, Parenting, Social Action · Permalink · Comments Off on Our Sister City is a Gulf Town!

Our New Orleans community has been directly impacted by the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil workers, shrimpers and their families who live in the development are coping with the loss of their livelihood.

Just as these families started to recover and heal from Hurricane Katrina, they are now hit again. In light of these recent events, we feel compelled to raise awareness and enlist your support. Laura and I will be traveling to New Orleans for a week in August to kick-off the much anticipated art classes. So far, we have raised $2,500 – enough to staff and supply the children’s art program for only 6 weeks.

We hope that you will join us in our commitment to this Louisiana community. Checks should be made payable to Start Corp and can be either mailed in or dropped off at Soho Parenting – 568 Broadway Suite 402, New York, NY 10012.

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A Win For Nannies Is A Win For Women
June 8, 2010 · Posted in Caregivers, Parenting, Social Action, Work/Family Balance · Permalink · Comments (1)

The New York State Assembly and Senate have recently passed versions of a new bill instating the rights of domestic workers. Sick days, paid vacation, and overtime will finally be protected benefits even for domestic workers who are not legal citizens. The New York Times article, For Nannies, Hope For Workplace Protection describes the bills that Governor Patterson will likely combine and sign into law.

This legislature will help close the gap between domestic workers and the rest of the workforce. The fact that these rights are only being granted in the year 2010 highlights that this is not only a work-status issues but a gender issue as well. Discrimination against women is alive and well. Domestic workers are by and large women. We as a society still collude in thinking that this is lower status, invisible work. Women’s work. These changes will be a major step forward for our society and a move towards recognizing the care of children and home as truly important work.

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Doing Builds Empathy
April 15, 2010 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Social Action, Teens · Permalink · Comments Off on Doing Builds Empathy

p_2857137It is safe to say that parents are most prideful when they see their child reach out to someone in distress. An act like that is the physical manifestation of empathy, the ability to feel what someone else is feeling.

Even very young children show the ability to act on their empathic feelings. For instance, the giving up of a favorite toy when their friend is sad about not having it.  School age kids show empathy by going to sit at lunch with the new person in school, knowing how hard it must be to feel so self-conscious and alone. Teenagers welcome friends to their house knowing the scene at the friend’s home is less than comfortable.

So we are really talking about a feeling plus an action.  Humans are hard wired for empathy and it’s watering, like a seedling, helping it to grow and strengthen. Although this innate compassion exists, we must teach children to act upon their empathic feelings.

For starters, being able to relate to someone is crucial. Putting your emotions to action and actually helping others out takes it to another level.  Jane E. Brody has a very nice piece about empathy in the Science section of The New York Times. The article gives great guidelines about fostering empathy in children. She points out the importance of modeling for children. Humans are incredible in their abilities because they are able to learn vast and complex social behaviors from imitation. So as parents, we can’t just talk about empathy and practice empathic interactions within our families, we need to do empathy.

Doing empathy is writ large and small. It is doing volunteer work for people who have much less or are affected by a natural disaster such as Haiti or Katrina. It is practicing non-judgmental talk in your home and the strict avoidance of skewering other people as dinner time sport. Doing empathy is cooking for someone who has a new baby, or going to someone’s funeral. There are countless opportunities to do empathy and model the wonderful sense of purpose and happiness it brings to help out, even in very small ways, in other people’s lives.

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Phoebe Prince’s Death: A New Look At Bullying
April 8, 2010 · Posted in Bullying, Child Abuse, Communication, Discipline, K-5 Kids, Media, Mental Health, Parenting, Pressure on Children, Relationships, Social Action, Technology, Teens · Permalink · Comments (1)

bullyingPhoebe Prince, the high school girl who hung herself last week, was purportedly “bullied” to death. Tortured is more like it. Hounded, cursed, humiliated in school and on-line. Defining bullying clearly is critical. Many adults think of bullying as a rite of passage in childhood. Clearly there is a difference between being picked last in gym class and being targeted by an individual or group of kids whose aim is to intimidate and shame.  Today’s landscape for children is also markedly different in that Facebook and email amplifies and exacerbates the intensity of peer relationships.We need to take a fresh look at bullying.

“Peer Abuse” is a phrase that more clearly defines the difference between teasing and belittling. “Peer Abuse” includes not only the physical aggression most associate with bullying, but also the verbal and emotional abuse that are a part of situations like Phoebe’s.

“Peer Abuse” are repeated acts over time of physical assault, psychological manipulation, name calling and using social power to ostracize an individual or group. This goes against our commonly held belief that bullies are loners, having been rejected socially. New research shows that it is often popular kids that use subtly abusive tactics to put down others to maintain their social status. Becoming the victim of malicious bullying can happen for a variety of reasons.

The message here for parents is that any of our children can, and most likely will be aggressive or cruel to other children at some point. Make this an open discussion in your family: Model respectful behavior, take seriously claims that your child is being bullied, talk about the pressure and responsibilities that come with popularity. Teach your child to speak up and stand up if someone is being abused. Adults need to do the same. The stakes are too high to be complacent.

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Elementary, My Dear Watson?
March 16, 2010 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Pressure on Children, Social Action · Permalink · Comments Off on Elementary, My Dear Watson?

Sherlock_HolmesPresident Obama is focused on supporting reforms in our educational system, but what if these reforms are based on faulty assumptions?  Susan Engel, head of the teaching program at Williams College, writes a simple, straightforward recipe for elementary education in her Op-Ed Play to Learn.

She argues that, based on developmental research, children should not be forced to accomplish the “laundry list” of tasks now present in many classrooms.  Instead, they should be immersed in language and literacy, collaboration and experimentation and steeped in play. Our current focus on early academics, testing, testing, and more testing is not what sets children up to be great learners in middle and high school. On the contrary, present day curriculum “is strangling children and teachers alike.”

“In this classroom, children would spend two hours each day hearing stories read aloud, reading aloud themselves, telling stories to one another and reading on their own. After all, the first step to literacy is simply being immersed, through conversation and storytelling, in a reading environment; the second is to read a lot and often. A school day where every child is given ample opportunities to read and discuss books would give teachers more time to help those students who need more instruction in order to become good readers.

Children would also spend an hour a day writing things that have actual meaning to them — stories, newspaper articles, captions for cartoons, letters to one another. People write best when they use writing to think and to communicate, rather than to get a good grade.

In our theoretical classroom, children would also spend a short period of time each day practicing computation — adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Once children are proficient in those basics they would be free to turn to other activities that are equally essential for math and science: devising original experiments, observing the natural world and counting things, whether they be words, events or people. These are all activities children naturally love, if given a chance to do them in a genuine way.”

Parents need to push their schools, Boards of Education and their representatives in government to change the direction of our educational system. Let’s put our focus and our money, not on propping up a broken system, but toward creating a new one that supports how children learn best.

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Take Action! Demand Healthy Food For Our Children
January 19, 2010 · Posted in Feeding, Social Action, The Environment · Permalink · Comments (1)

clip_image006Moms focuses on tackling issues that mean most to parents. Here is their latest email blast that makes your voice heard in one click. Please join Soho Parenting in supporting legislation to help our children to have access to healthy food!

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study on hunger in America. The study highlighted a staggering statistic: 1 in 4 children in our nation are now on the brink of hunger. That’s the highest number since the USDA started keeping track.

Thankfully, legislation was recently introduced to help address this crisis.  The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act would ensure that millions more children across our country have access to healthy foods. How this bill will help: The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act will strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by adding meal or snack options for children who need them, helping cover the cost of more meals for children who are in care for longer hours, and making more child care providers eligible for assistance.

Sadly, passage of this bill isn’t a slam-dunk.  We’ve got to redouble our efforts to end child hunger in America.  Thanks to your 18,000 letters, the U.S. Senate is actively considering this bill, and now the House is poised to consider it as well.  But this fight is just beginning. 1 in 4 children in our nation on the brink of hunger is an emergency. Tell your Representative to support the Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act today.

Follow this link to and urge your Representative to make sure children have access to healthy foods as soon as possible:

Please take another moment to forward this post to your friends and family.  Everyone should have a chance to weigh in urging their Representative to support this crucial bill.  Together, we can help children across our country have a healthy start.


Soho Parenting

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