Mojo Mom Podcast and Kidpower — Skills for Safety and Independence

Kidpower LogoI am having a great time talking with my Courageous Parenting contributors on The Mojo Mom Podcast. We’ll be mixing things up in this series, not doing all of the Courageous Parenting interviews back-to-back, but I hope to have everyone on before the book comes out. We are just putting the final manuscript to bed, so this is a big week, hooray!

Irene van der Zande and Amy TiemannI always love talking with my colleague and mentor, Irene van der Zande about the personal safety skills she teachers as the co-founder of Kidpower. Her training is amazing–I am doing my best to tell everyone about Kidpower, and I teach classes in the Triangle area as the Center Director of Kidpower North Carolina. I taught four Kidpower classes myself this week, which was a wonderful opportunity to get into action with kids in my community, after doing six intensive days of instructor training in Santa Cruz, California earlier this month.

So I encourage you to listen to the podcast, check out the international organization’s web site, and consider getting real-life Kidpower training.

Listen to the podcast now:


Here is the description of this week’s show, Courageous Parenting Series: Mojo Mom and Kidpower

How can parents teach their kids to be independent and safe? Kidpower personal safety skills are designed to do just that, for people of all ages. Listen in and learn how to “co-pilot” your kids (without becoming a “helicopter parent”) as they take their first steps out of the nest.

You can register to get a free electronic download of Courageous Parenting when it is released in Spring 2010 by signing up on

Apple, you hardly knew me. Why the iPad naming fiasco matters.

Pad image
So, we ladyfolk finally got our own viral internet giggle yesterday when Apple really did name its new tablet computer the iPad. “iTampon” quickly became a hot trending topic on Twitter.

Even as the “Mac’s-i-Pad” period jokes continue, a little bit of a backlash has begun (“really from all the noise we should just call it the i-bitch,”) and people are also asking will period jokes will hurt the iPad?

I think the iPad name is a major mis-step for Apple, but not just because it’s embarrassingly funny. For me the iPad naming fiasco pulls back the curtain on Apple Computer’s branding and marketing and reveals it as another Silicon Valley boy’s club.

Image of old Macintosh computer
I say this as a devoted Apple user. I got my first computer as a college freshman back in 1986, a “Macintosh 512K enhanced.” I was in one of the first college cohorts in which just about everybody had a personal computer. And yes, there was a day when you could put “512K” and “enhanced” together and it made sense. (Take that, Fanboys, I’ve been using a Mac since some of you were in diapers, or, egads, before you were born.) Over those 23 years I have personally bought at least a half dozen desktop Macs, four laptops, two iPhones, and more generations of iPods than I can keep track of. I run my whole Mojo Mom media empire, from book authorship, to blogging and podcasting, on a Mac.

And all the while Apple’s branding made me feel like I was part of something, “I’m a Mac,” after all. And with their intuitive, elegant design, as Apple brought new products to life that I hadn’t even known that I needed, but now can’t imagine living without, I felt like Apple knew me, too. But now with their naming choice of the iPad and all it’s testosterone-fueled cluelessness, it became immediately more noticeable how overwhelmingly male Apple computer is. Can you name one woman associated with Apple, as an employee or its image? Watch Apple’s own near-orgasmically-fawning video promoting their new gadget. It’s eight minutes of male developers talking about how awesome the iPad is.

So then we get thinking about the iPad and wonder, “Were there any women involved in its design process? Its naming or marketing?” And reporting comes out, such as Business Week (via Jezebel) saying that “women account for 40 percent of gadget spending…” and the inconvenient fact that Apple doesn’t have any women in its top corporate positions.

Parent Thesis Blog banner
I have spent a lot of time in the tech world socially (my husband is a computer guy) and professionally, when I was a freelancer writing the parenting and technology blog for CNET in 2007 and 2008. I appreciated that opportunity and I thought I did bring a different perspective to the conversation. Unfortunately, my opinion was not always appreciated. I received a lot of nasty, hurtful comments. I had not how realized how radical it would be to bring a mom’s-eye view perspective to the tech world. Many libertarian, male commenters seemed to instantly view me as the enemy, someone who represented the “nanny state” that clashed with their worldview. I should have realized what a culture clash I was walking into. It’s a shame that a wider diversity of opinions are not represented and respected on tech websites, as I did report on some interesting stories that other journalists may have overlooked, some of which made it to the main front page of CNET. (I should say CNET was great to work with. And I know there were people who liked what I wrote, but they tended to email me directly rather than leave a public comment.)

So, just as we women have an uncomfortable relation with public displays of pads, perhaps all the brouhaha also has a connection with how women feel overlooked and excluded from the world of high tech. I had been pretty happy with the illusion that Apple knew me. But now, while they can still win me over with their products, my decades-long relationship with the Apple mystique has evaporated in a flash–surely not what the Apple marketing department was hoping to accomplish with their sexy new product release.

My fave iPad slam: “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Marketing.”

So, Apple Computer has named their shiny new gadget the iPad. That confirms one thing for me, that we women might as well say whatever the hell we want on the internet, because men really aren’t listening to us.

I mean seriously, you get four women around a table, suggest the name iPad, and they will shoot it down in three seconds flat, possibly falling out of their chairs laughing at the suggestion. has an awesome list of period-related jokes that was posted within hours of the release. My favorites were from Begorrah: “Are you there, God? It’s me, Marketing,” and Mary McCarthyite, “Everyone, just try to Stay(free) calm and Poise(d). It’s Always nice to see a new product on the market. I Depend on Apple to come up with great ideas. Maybe we’re taking this out of Kotex.”

MadTV had a parody of a potential iPad years ago (the sound cuts out near the end but this was the best video quality I could find):

So to both alpha male and senstitive-New-Age-guy Apple developers: you can have your Mac and Phone and Tunes, but we women own the word Pad. If you insist on calling your new “magic slate” an iPad, we will make fun of you until you come out with a new version that doesn’t have such a dumb name.

Seriously, what were they thinking? It really shows that they are not thinking, not listening to women. Do they have women on their team? Do they talk to women? How much did Apple pay for this magical piece of Silicon Valley marketing genius?

And how, oh how, can this happen the week that the awesome Sarah Haskins steps down from her Current TV feature, Target Women? She HAS to come back for a special edition to take down the iPad.

Somehow the Target Women about “How to Get Hot Chicks” seems appropriate here…spoiler alert, it boils down to convincing men that hot chicks will drool over…stuff that guys like anyway. Hmmmm, like the iPad?

Suze Orman Show on what happens to overinduged kids when they grow up. (Hint: It’s not pretty.)

Suze Orman provides a lot of great resources for women and money, including her book by that name, just out in paperback, which I recommend. Even though Suze does not have kids herself, she is usually right on target when it comes to the psychology of women, money, and parenting.

Last Saturday’s show, January 23 2010, has one of the most striking examples I’ve ever seen of what happens to helicopter parents and their overindulged kids in the long run. I dare say it makes the case for both of my books, Courageous Parenting and Mojo Mom, in stark terms.

The Suze Orman Show is now available as a free, full-episode podcast, so you can check it our for yourself. Here’s a link to the show’s podcast list, and it is also available free through the iTunes podcast directory.

Suze’s first segment on her show with the theme, “People First, Then Money, Then Things,” clarifies that when Suze says “People First,” she means taking care of yourself first, not taking care of everybody else, as some people misinterpret it. Suze’s first guest is a woman named Donna, who is 43 years old and in conflict with her 24-year-old son. Her son is taking complete advantage of her, and as the details come out, the story just keeps getting worse. Her son is living in Donna’s home, rent-free. He got into credit card debt, and made a “settlement” with the credit card company, but guess who paid off the settlement? Mom and Dad. And now her son has stopped paying Donna back, and is telling HER that “he doesn’t like her attitude” when she ask him to pay her.

And there’s more… Donna earns $1600 a month. Her son makes $3500 a month. He’s just asked his girlfriend to marry him. He bought her a $5000 engagement ring…paying with a credit card.

Suze tells Donna that she has to kick her disrespectful son out of house to make it on his own. Donna has given her whole life away to her son, she’s subsidizing her high-earning yet irresponsible adult son to the point where has no savings and no retirement account for herself. Suze believes that the rest of Donna’s life cannot turn around until Donna stands up for herself and gains back some power, self-respect, and respect from others.

Donna admits that she’s spoiled her three kids rotten all their lives. She stayed home with her kids and she’s struggling to learn how to “take care of Mama now.” I intuit that she is not sure who she is anymore without her mothering role. She seems unable to make the switch between a mother’s role to care for her child, to an adult-adult relationship, holding her adult son accountable for himself, and holding herself accountable for her own well-being.

Suze says, “It’s not about saying yes. It’s not about giving always. It’s about taking care of yourself first….You, like every woman out there, you really think the definition of a good mother is to make sure that the kids have everything…even if that means it renders you powerless. They’re not bad kids. You weren’t a bad mother. You just didn’t think you mattered.”

That’s a powerful statement. Let’s remember that we matter, and build the structure of our lives around that fact. I had already been thinking a lot about the fact that self-care is not indulgence, it looks a lot more like discipline. If taking a candle-lit bubble bath once in a while would solve our problems, they would have been solved a long time ago. I’ll be writing more about this in my next blog post so stay tuned.

Mojo Mom Podcast with Linda Criddle and Internet Safety
The Mojo Mom Podcast is back with new shows for 2010! We had a longer hiatus than I expected because of the intensity of editing Courageous Parenting. We’re almost done with that now and ready to ramp back up on my blog, podcast, and a renovation of More on that to come, but for now, let’s take a look at this week’s new podcast.

Mojo Mom Podcast’s Courageous Parenting series: Mojo Mom and Internet Safety Expert Linda Criddle

Listen to the podcast now:

I am starting our the podcast season by continuing my series of interviews with contributors to the new Courageous Parenting anthology that I am editing. I will interweave interviews with anthology contributors some weeks, mixed in with other authors, newsmakers, and kindred spirits on other shows.

This week on the podcast, I talk with internet safety expert Linda Criddle, founder of the site I talk about a number of situations that feel difficult or helpless for me as a parent. Linda shares practical safety strategies and fosters a sense of empowerment in the way that parents think about the internet.

Special pre-publication offer: Get more of Linda Criddle’s advice by signing up on to receive a free electronic download of “Courageous Parenting” when it is released this spring.

Kidpower founder on How to Respond to Verbal Put-Downs

Kidpower founder Irene van der Zande shared ideas of how kids can respond safely to verbal put-downs, standing up for themselves while de-escalating the situation. Another great segment on The View from the Bay.

Irene is a chapter contributor for my forthcoming anthology, Courageous Parenting. You can sign up on to receive a free electronic download of the new book when it comes out.

Irene van der Zande on View From the Bay

Beyond “pushbutton philanthropy:” Helping Haiti in the long run

Stand With Haiti

Haiti is in all of our thoughts right now. The most moving coverage that I have heard was through today’s episode of The Story with Dick Gordon, sharing first-person accounts of “The Rescue Effort.”

What makes me really sad is knowing that the most powerful prevention of so many deaths would have been better building codes, to put up buildings that would not pancake in 15 seconds. On The Story, one man talked about how fragile the cinder blocks were, that you could kick them and they would crumble. And there was not nearly enough rebar reinforcement in the buildings. The San Francisco Bay Area Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 was about the same magnitude and resulted in only 63 deaths, 42 of which happened due to one incident in which a double-decker freeway in Oakland collapsed.

I have had my doubts about our government lately, but this tragedy reminds me to be grateful for our secure infrastructure, and mindful that we need to work to keep it that way.

I am torn by the myriad of fund-raising efforts that are cropping up. If First Lady Michelle Obama says to text to donate money to the Red Cross, then I guess I can get on board with that. But I feel like this is such a huge relief job that our government itself should come up with a relief plan and contribution on behalf of the American people, and make sure that the money goes where it needs to go, and logistics are handled by people who know what they are doing, such as the United Nations. Maybe we should all still chip in some money in the meantime, the New York Times has an article about how to give safely and efficiently, but I worry about our reflex for push-button philanthropy. Will we still be interested and engaged six months from now? And how much does that matter, if our immediate giving does help? I guess my question is, how much more effective could our giving be if we put more thought into it?

I encourage everybody to do something substantial to learn about Haiti, in addition to participating in immediate relief giving. I plan to read the well-regarded book about Dr. Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains. Dr. Farmer co-founded Partners in Health (PIH) in Haiti, which is apparently one of the only health care operations that is functioning now–it certainly sounds like a valuable organization to support.

Here is Dr. Farmer’s January 17th piece about how to really help Haiti in the wake of this disaster.

This tragedy has provoked a response in me that may sound counter-intuitive. I had the opportunity to hear the director of our local Interfaith Council for Social Services speak at our church on Sunday. I had been wanting to learn more about their work here in Orange County North Carolina, and after his talk I said I’d like to come by his office and meet with him again in the near future. His organization is taking a comprehensive approach to work to mitigate poverty and homelessness here in my home town. I can be honest and acknowledge that Haiti is probably not going to become my number one cause in the long run, but I hope that I can help there in some small way by donating to Partners in Health and One Great Hour of Sharing (to support my church’s effort), and also take my own advice to delve deeper into all the philanthropy I need to engage in, starting at home.

Close encounters with Carol Brady, Mom-in-Chief, Mojo Mom and a Literary Mama

After I left Berkeley last week and headed down to Santa Cruz for the rest of my trip to California, I had very poor internet access, so I am sorry I was not able to blog sooner about what happened backstage at The View from the Bay.

If you remember, Jamie Woolf and I were there to talk about our upcoming anthology Courageous Parenting, but behind the scenes we were also trying to meet pop-culture icon Florence Henderson, Carol Brady herself, who was also on the show that day.

Jamie succeeded! Don’t they both look great?

Florence Henderson and Jamie Woolf

Florence Henderson and Jamie Woolf

Florence was being whisked by while I was in the chair getting my makeup put on, and I just couldn’t jump up to go meet her. But I could see her and Jamie in the mirror. Jamie was nice and bold and gave Florence a copy of her book Mom-in-Chief, which Ms. Henderson accepted with enthusiasm. She really seemed nice and embraced her lifelong role as Gen X’s Mom.

But even though I missed out on that, not only am I proud of Jamie for getting right out there, but we also had the treat of running into Caroline Grant backstage. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the wonderful Literary Mama website, and she was on the show to talk about a reading list of recommended books for kids ages 3-12. There was some drama about a mistake in the schedule and whether she’d get on, which she wrote about with good humor in her blog. But we had a nice chat backstage and I have to say Caroline took it all in stride, and she did get on and was very poised in her segment.

Jamie, Amy and Carolina

Jamie, Amy and Carolina

So there we are, three writers in our own right. I felt like I was in an alternate universe, since I used to live in the Bay Area, and here Jamie and Caroline were talking about writing groups and other cool events, and I thought that if I still lived there I would love to spend more time hanging out with them.

All in all it was a really fun day, and I hope you’ll check out the video of our Courageous Parenting segment.

Courageous Parenting on View from the Bay

View from the Bay Video

I just have time to post the video of Jamie Woolf and myself talking about Courageous Parenting and “Four Easy Steps to Stop Over-Parenting” on The View from the Bay.

It was great to come to San Francisco and get to be on the show with Jamie, and talk to hosts Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang.

More details to come….

Mojo Mom, Mom-in-Chief, and Mrs. Brady on The View from the Bay today

The View from the BayI was already really excited to appear with my friend Jamie Woolf on the TV show The View from the Bay today at 3 pm in San Francisco. We’ll be talking about our forthcoming book Courageous Parenting and sharing practical ways that real-life moms and dads can break overparenting habits. I believe that as parents think about taking a new path it’s important to talk about the vision of where to go, as well as steps that lay out how to get there. We cover both in depth in the new book, coming out in March.

I hope a whole bunch of View from the Bay viewers will stop by and sign up for our Courageous Parenting free e-book offer.

Florence Henderson

Florence Henderson

And as if that wasn’t already enough fun, having Mojo Mom and Mom-in-Chief together on this show, I just found out that Florence Henderson will be on as well — Carol Brady herself! If that’s not a divinely aligned motherhood event, I don’t know what is. As many fellow Gen Xers will appreciate, I was addicted to the Brady Bunch for my whole childhood and used to be able to pretty much quote the whole thing.

My goal is to get a photo with her. We’re on different segments but I hope to bump into her in the Green Room. Check back tomorrow to find out whether I succeeded!