Booking It: The Freakonomics Parenting Podcast

Confession: I “trained” for pregnancy. Both my boys were conceived in the weeks and months after I ran my first two marathons.

Confession: I flashcard my toddlers.

Confession: I (for the most part) disdain processed food.

Confession: I think I am being a good mom when I take my children to museums.

Confession: I have walked away from my child in the park as he was screaming and refusing to come with me. (But I didn’t leave him. I wanted to. But I didn’t.)

Confession: I’m totally into baby sign language.

Confession: I’m not an economical parent, but I am like many of the economist parents interviewed on the Freakonomics Parenting Podcast.

Like some of the parents in the podcast, I’m sometimes “lazy” because it can be more fun and spontaneous that way. And less work. Kids and parents need breaks. And like some of the parents, I’m sometimes type-A because I like to feel like I am doing whatever I can to be a good mom, to take care of myself and my children.

I take my kids to museums because I think it will help them learn about the world and ask questions and learn to be a part of the world. I try to feed them whole, healthy foods as much as I can because I want them to know what good food tastes like, and how to keep their bodies healthy. I talk to them about making choices and what they are giving up to make one choice over another because I think it will help them learn to think ahead, be intentional, and to deal with their decisions.

And although, economically speaking, these things may not contribute to my kids’ overall happiness and success, it makes me happy to do these things. I feel more fulfilled when we’ve spent the day out and about than if we’ve been at home all day. I feel better about myself if I’ve taken the time to make a homemade dinner than if I’ve ordered a pizza. I feel like I’m laying the foundation for good relationships and good communication by teaching my boys to sign and read early on in life.

And so what if none of those things really matter in the economy of parenthood? So what if they don’t directly lead to success and happiness? They make me feel successful and happy, and when I feel like I’m doing my best, I’m more likely to be kind and patient with my kids. I’m more likely to be relaxed when I know that I am working hard, making the effort to be a good mom, taking time to think about what is best, not just about what is easiest.

My Econ 110 professor in college mentioned that one of the greatest predictors of a child’s success in life was his mother’s education level. Until that moment I had been somewhat ambivalent about finishing college and had no plans to get any further education. I changed my mind and recommitted myself to finishing college, no matter what it took, right then. I still had no plans to get a Master’s, but as my life evolved and that became an idea, and then a desire, and then a definite possibility, Professor Kearl’s words stuck with me. One of the greatest predictor’s of a child’s success is his mother’s education level. That statement propelled me into and through my Master’s program, which, in turn, helped me develop my love for writing.

What is good for my kids has been the biggest motivator of my life, from long before there was even the possibility of kids in my life. And it continues to be. But the funny thing is that more and more, I’m finding that doing the things that make me happy, helps me be a better parent. Benevolent self-interest, if you will.

What is it that they say? If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy? To that I respond: Amen.

ps The pictures are, obviously, back. Micah spent a lot of time this weekend making changes and tweaking things. And, just fyi, there will be more changes and tweaks in the coming weeks. All for the better, I hope. 🙂

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  1. I agree! And, I think it’s very important to do good things but, not be stressed about doing EVERYTHING perfectly. I try to tell myself, that’s what my mom did. She tried really hard and then, let go. Also, about the education of the mother being the greatest predictor of child’s success. I think that could be, mother’s education OR value of education. My mom only had graduated from HS when she had kids. But, by darned, she wanted her kids to go to college. And, we did. When we did, she did too. And, then she kept going and out-earned my brother and I.


    lizzie Reply:

    That’s so awesome that your mom went back to school when you went to college. I definitely agree that valuing education is very powerful. Good call.


  2. I really liked that bad parent article. You are kind of the greatest mom ever Lizzie! You see what your kids are interested in and you find ways to incorporate it into their play. You are incredibly selfless.
    I saw all those weird comments from people on that article. I hate internet forums; it gives too many annoying people a place to judge others.
    Anywho, by North Korean standards, your kids are WAY behind 🙂
    Also I think Oliver jumping off the couch and hitting his head on the floor probably balances out all the learning, right?


    lizzie Reply:

    I think you’re right. If Oliver keeps jumping off couches, he’ll probably nullify all my hard work. 🙂

    Oh, and I’ve definitely learned to ignore internet forums. I like to think that my job was to introduce the topic, and whatever people do with it after that has nothing to do with me.


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