2021年8月28日 星期六

Give the Kids a Break

Faking a stomachache for a mental health day; checking into 'grandfamily' housing; and more from NYT Parenting.
A roundup of new guidance and stories from NYT Parenting.
Golden Cosmos

When I was a kid and needed a day away from school to decompress, I would fake a stomachache so my mother would write a note excusing me from classes. But today's kids are savvier than I was, and some are going the legitimate route to lobby their state and local governments for "mental health days" off during the school year.

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A mental health day can be defined in different ways by kids and their parents. Some think of it as a fun day off to reward themselves for working hard at school; for others, it's a way to head off mental overload when academic and life pressure becomes too much to bear.

Well's Christina Caron talks to students and mental health experts this week about why kids need mental health days just as much as adults do (a topic she has also covered).

"Faced with high stress levels among adolescents and a mental health crisis that includes worsening suicide rates, some states are now allowing students to declare a mental health day," Christina reports. "In the last two years alone, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia have passed bills permitting children to be absent from school for mental or behavioral health reasons, efforts that were often aided or spearheaded by students."

Also this week, Lisa Damour offers a few other ways to support teens as they get back to school. The takeaways: Don't grill your teen about their feelings but talk about the emotional climate that surrounds them; allow your child to get feelings off their chest without flying off the handle yourself; and try distracting them from their woes with a fun activity when they're dwelling on a bad situation.

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While students get back to class, some parents who had been working remotely during the pandemic are being asked by their employers to return to work on-site. Diane Mehta asks employment experts how parents can go about maintaining flexible work schedules that allow for caregiving.

Everyone needs support, including the roughly 2.3 million grandparents who have stepped in to raise young family members when their parents were unable. "More older Americans are finding a haven in the 'grandfamily housing' communities sprouting nationwide," Carly Stern writes. These developments offer stable, lower-cost housing and amenities, such as access to mental health care, for families in which children are being reared by older relatives.

Finally, in the latest episode of the "Sway" podcast, Kara Swisher talks to the head of one of America's biggest teachers unions about why vaccine mandates for teachers have been a harder sell than mask mandates for students, among other controversial topics.

To learn more about coping with kids, Covid and back-to-school, join Tara Parker-Pope, the Times's Well columnist, on Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. E.S.T. for a New York Times Instagram live conversation with Lisa Damour, an adolescent therapist and Times columnist. They'll be taking your questions, sharing the latest science and offering guidance for parents and families navigating the uncertainty of pandemic back-to-school.

Thanks for reading!

— Melonyce McAfee, senior editor, NYT Parenting

THIS WEEK IN NYT PARENTING

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Eleni Kalorkoti

Teens Are Advocating for Mental Health Days Off School

The decline in the mental health of children and adolescents has led to new laws allowing kids to attend to their own self-care.

By Christina Caron

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Derek Brahney

How Parents Can Ask for Flexibility When Offices Reopen

With some employers looking to bring staff back to work on-site, here's how parents can ask for schedule accommodations.

By Diane Mehta

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Mason Trinca for The New York Times

retiring

'Grandfamily' Housing Caters to Older Americans Raising Children

Intergenerational communities are sprouting up as the need grows for homes that suit aging adults and their young charges.

By Carly Stern

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Photograph by The American Federation of Teachers

Why Vaccine Mandates for Teachers Have Been a Harder Sell Than Mask Mandates for Kids

The most powerful teachers' union president in America discusses school reopening, mask mandates and vaccine-or-test requirements.

By 'Sway'

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Kim Ryu

How to Support Teenagers as They Head Back to School

Adolescents are readying for the next step in a seemingly endless set of challenges. Here's how to help them regulate their emotions.

By Lisa Damour

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