Monthly Archives: November 2013

Having Traditions vs. Being Traditional

Ah, Thanksgiving.  Family.  Food.  Football.  Five day weekend.  It’s almost upon us.  Actually, if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that it was never my favorite holiday as a kid.  No offense to those that love it.  It just never was my own personal favorite.  What does it have that regular days don’t?  Let’s go through the list, shall we? Continue reading Having Traditions vs. Being Traditional

A Family in the City & Boston Explorers

I’m excited to announce some big changes to the blog!  I’ll be dividing A Family in the City into two separate websites.  This will allow the blogs to be more consistently useful and interesting to you, my favorite readers!

A Family in the City will now be dedicated full time to posts about family life, kid stuff, and parenting.  This space will feature posts about the hopes and fears parents have, and the kinds of decisions we have to make as parents to successfully guide our kids as they navigate childhood.

Boston Explorers, the new site, can be found at  It’ll focus on our family’s quest to discover the city.  So, while we’re exploring, I’ll share what we learn about Boston’s history, architecture, art, and culture.  It’ll include reviews of restaurants and interesting shops.  I’ll keep on the lookout for the easiest and best ways to make use of the most well known attractions in Boston as well as reporting out on the hidden, less famous gems we find.

All the content that related to Boston will still be available here on A Family in the City under the Archived category (look in the sidebar to the right), but any new Boston-related posts will be on the Boston Explorers blog.

So, if you like the parenting stuff, keep up with A Family in the City.  If you like the Boston stuff, keep up with Boston Explorers.  If you like both, keep up with both.  If you like neither, keep quiet and don’t tell anyone!

Thanks for reading!

A parent’s job is to protect their kids. Except when it’s not.

One of the biggest challenges of being a parent (after learning the self-control necessary to not eat all the Halloween candy after bedtime) is finding the balance between protecting the kids and letting them make their own mistakes.  For example, my kids have made the mistake of not hiding all their left over Halloween candy.  I believe in using natural consequences.

Candy isn't good for kids anyway, right?
Candy isn’t good for kids anyway, right?

Continue reading A parent’s job is to protect their kids. Except when it’s not.

Granary Burying Ground: Back in colonial days people really knew how to die!

Last week my in-laws came up to visit the grandkids (and Wendy and me, too). One of the places we visited was the Granary Burying Ground.

Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I know burying grounds.  My dad’s a preacher and when you grow up living near churches you grow up living near burying grounds.  In fact, we even used a fancy, specialized word for them (“cemetery”) because “burying ground” just sounds primitive.  I used to take my dog, Sandy, for walks through the cemetery behind one of my dad’s churches, but then somebody called my dad to complain that walking dogs in graveyards was disrespectful and that ended that.  Continue reading Granary Burying Ground: Back in colonial days people really knew how to die!

How we talk to kids

What the ever-loving, craptastic, holy heck! I’ve seen adults reprimand kids countless times before, but it wasn’t until yesterday morning that I finally noticed what jerks grown-ups are when they talk to kids.

It began in the library at about 8:00. I overheard a woman as she was tutoring three middle school kids. The tutor, her voice already dripping with disgust, sighed, “Open up your textbooks.” One of the guys, who looked particularly bleary-eyed and tired, was slow to react and the tutor said, “Is this how we’re going to start? Really?” She was exasperated already and the kids hadn’t even settled into their chairs. She began to drone out the text and asked the kids questions that had clearly been designed by the chairman of the board of a mattress company specifically to put people to sleep. Over the next half hour, she split her time between reading aloud from the textbook and complaining that the kids a) needed to keep all the chair legs on the floor, and b) needed to wake up and answer the questions she was sleep-reading from the book. Continue reading How we talk to kids

Reading: “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen

I’m only a few chapters in so far, but I’m really enjoying reading Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cohen.  Cohen is a child psychologist and play therapist who lives in Brookline, MA.  The basic premise so far is that play is children’s first language.  We have actions before we have words and play is really just symbolic actions.  He argues that without it, kids can feel as isolated as an adult might feel if no one ever spoke with them.

Image from
Image from

Continue reading Reading: “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen