Are Baby Einstein Videos Educational?

Every parent knows about Baby Einstein videos.? The company was started in the 1990’s by Julie Clark.? They combine classical music, colors, moving images, and babies are mesmerized by them.

The videos started out very low budget.? In the early ones you can see the operators hands working the toys.? Eventually, the company was bought by Disney and the new ones have more animated characters and video effects.? There was always an underlying premise, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated, that these videos were educational, or at least, that it was better for a child than other television shows.

Well, Baby Einstein has been in the news recently and it’s been causing a bit of a stir.? And you know how much SuburbanDaddy loves a good controversy :-)

Under pressure from parent activists, Disney issued an “upgrade” policy that allows anyone who purchased Baby Einstein DVD’s between 2004 and 2009, to exchange it for a book, music CD, or $15.99.

There are so many crazy parts to this I don’t know where to begin.? First, how could anyone really believe, despite what a marketing message may suggest, that watching these videos could somehow be educational or beneficial to a child?? I mean, is anyone really surprised by Disney’s implicit admission they may have misled consumers.? What?!!? A company trying to sell its products made them sound good?

Everyone knows watching television isn’t the best use of a baby’s time.? But we still do it because, while it may not be as educational as Baby Einstein would want us to believe, it also isn’t quite as harmful as activists warn.? Plus TV is very helpful when you need a few minutes of calm.? I know many kids who watched a lot of TV (me included) that turned into perfectly well adjusted, functioning members of society.

But this is what really gets me.? The videos, at least the early ones, are nothing more than recordings of actual baby toys.? So a baby is seeing the exact same thing as if they were sitting next to the toy, except the toy is on the television instead of in person.? I don’t hear anyone calling for removal of these toys.? It’s like saying watching football is ok in person, but if you watch the exact same game on a television, somehow that becomes harmful.

Where do you stand on this important matter?

Did Motrin Go Too Far?

Have you heard all the controversy over this Motrin ad?? Motrin is trying to appeal to moms by making a case that wearing your baby, in slings and carriers, hurts your back, so you should use Motrin.? There has been a huge outcry from baby wearing groups, moms, and doctors.? To the point where Motrin had to take down the ads and post an apology on their website.

Too much?? I don’t know.? Maybe the ad goes a little over the line.? But I watched it, and if you ask me, the tone is firmly tongue in cheek.? After all, they’re trying to sell pain medicine, not make a statement about baby wearing. I have used a baby carrier many times, and sometimes, it actually does hurt my back.

Motrin had to know this would cause a bit of controversy.? That’s probably why they did it in the first place.? Issue an apology, get lots and lots of free press.

Or maybe they had no clue they would get this reaction.? If that’s the case, look out.? The last thing you want is to piss off a bunch of moms.? Especially ones that have recently had babies and are probably hormonal.

Uh oh, I apologize.? I shouldn’t have made that insensitive remark about new moms.? The last thing I want to do is start a controversy ;-)


Parenting Poll of the Week – Kids And Happiness

I read an interesting article that suggests parents are less likely to report being happy than the childless.

In Daniel Gilbert’s 2006 book “Stumbling on Happiness,” the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child?and increases only when the last child has left home.

No group of parents?married, single, step or even empty nest?reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children. It’s such a counterintuitive finding because we have these cultural beliefs that children are the key to happiness and a healthy life, and they’re not

I’m not sure how to take these results. I suppose it’s up to the individual. Certainly, anyone who wants to have kids but can’t for whatever reason, won’t be very happy.

I can also see how people with kids are subjected to stresses – money, time, sleep – that the childless are not. If stress level is the measure of happiness, then kids aren’t going to help that measure.

To borrow from William Jefferson Clinton, it depends on what the meaning of the word happy is.


Parenting Poll of the Week – Bike Helmets

When I was a kid, we didn’t wear bike helmets. No one did. I don’t even remember seeing bike helmets sold in stores. We also didn’t wear seat belts in cars. We were idiots.

Today I wear a seat belt and use a bike helmet. It never would occur to my kids that people don’t do both of these, all the time. And that’s a good thing. But there are still non-believers out there, I guess.


Parenting Poll of the Week – Father’s Day

Dads are used to being the Rodney Dangerfield of parents. We don’t get no respect. Our culture is filled with reminders like Parenting Magazine’s tagline: “What matters to moms”.

Father’s Day provides the ultimate salt in the wound. BusinessWeek reports that in 2005, consumers spent $11 billion on Mother’s Day vs $8 billion on Father’s Day.

Take a guess when is the busiest collect call day of the year. Yup, we make dads foot the bill to talk to their kids on Father’s Day.

Personally, I don’t need or expect a big production on Father’s Day. Just let me stay in bed until 7am, eat my meals sitting down at a table, and let me watch the last hour of the U.S. Golf Open.

I suspect most of my audience will vote for “Equal” in the poll. I also expect there will be some, probably the dads, who say Mother’s Day is the bigger holiday. I doubt there will be any votes for Father’s Day as the bigger holiday.


Parenting Poll of the Week – Allowance and Chores

I was surprised to learn that many child development experts agree that linking an allowance to the completion of chores is not the best approach. I would have thought the opposite, but it kind of makes sense.

Giving money for bigger chores is ok. But regular, everyday chores, like taking out the garbage or cleaning up after dinner, are responsibilities they should be doing without monetary reward.

If daily chores are only done to get paid, then when kids get older, and have other streams of money, they’ll stop doing the chores because they don’t need the money. Makes sense.


Parenting Poll Of The Week – Does Spanking Work?

Last week I went to Red Robin for lunch. Sitting in the booth next to us was a toddler girl, maybe 2 or 3 years, with her mom. The girl kept standing up and turning around to our table, like toddlers do, but it wasn’t what I would call particularly bad behavior. Believe me, I have seen bad table behavior.

The mom was in a bad mood and wanted the girl to sit in her seat and wait patiently for the food to come. After asking demanding she sit down, the mom said very sternly:

If you don’t sit down now, I will spank you right here in the middle of the restaurant and everyone will see!

I wasn’t surprised that, to a toddler, the threat of being humiliated in public would have no effect. I mean, my toddler thinks nothing of skipping, dancing, or singing in public places. Or of being naked while doing those things.

We don’t spank our kids. It’s not so much because I am morally against it. I just don’t see how it actually works in disciplining kids. This mom could have had much better results if she had thought to bring some simple toys or snacks for her kid. Or maybe get up and walk around until the food was there.

Clearly, the spanking method she was using was not effective. I don’t have any problem with parents being allowed to spank their kids. As long as it doesn’t cross the line to abuse, they have the right. I just don’t see how it can work.


Parenting Poll Of The Week – Let Them Win?

I have played many, many games with Thing 1 this week. I’ve discovered that he is highly competitive and doesn’t like to lose very much. He’s not really a sore loser, and he doesn’t usually get upset when he loses. But whenever I win, he insists on playing again. And again. And again. Until he wins, then we can stop.

I don’t let him win, but I find myself hoping I lose. Not because I don’t think it’s good for him to experience losing. But because I don’t want to keep playing.

What about you?