I am at O’Hare flying to Pittsburgh to give a speech. I try to never give speeches. Actually I try to never leave my house. Because I think I will regret any time I spend away from my kids.

Well, definitely I will. Here’s how I know:

Because I chose to live in abject poverty in NYC because I didn’t want to leave my kids to work in an office. So I started building a freelance writing business on $25 articles. We ran out of food a lot, and I thought I’d look back and be horrified that my kids did not have beds. (We all slept on the floor because we had no room for beds.) Read more

Here’s the problem men have today: They understand how bad it feels to be raised by a dad who is never around.

There’s a generation of boys who didn’t eat dinner with their dad. Only saw their dad on the weekend. Changed schools five times so their dad could relocate to get the best job, over and over again.

Those boys are grown up now, and they are dads. And they don’t want to be like their dad. They want something different.

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Seth Godin

Seth Godin just published an e-book about education called Stop Stealing Dreams. He talks about how schools stink, but that even though homeschooling appears to be a rational response to terrible schools, homeschooling is inefficient and unrealistic for most parents.

When I first saw this, I was stunned. Seth has built a career on telling people how to push past the status quo. In his book The Dip, which is my favorite, Seth taught us all how to do something really difficult.  In his book Linchpin, Seth asked us if we are doing something that really matters or just talking about it.

I can’t help thinking that Stop Stealing Dreams is his description of why homeschooling requires going through a dip, but he doesn’t want to do it. So instead of being a linchpin for homeschooing, Seth will be a naysayer. Seth is advocating the status quo: Lame-duck parent activists who delude themselves that their activism is meaningful. And people advocating for large-scale school reform without any blueprint whatsoever for how to educate such a wide range of students on such a large scale. This discussion is parental escapism. No parent, not even Seth, will solve the school problem before their kids are out of school.  Read more

Divorce is always on my mind because I got a divorce four years ago. Not that I wanted to. In fact, when I thought we were going to a couples therapist we were actually going to a divorce mediator. And then, when it was clear that we were going to have to get a divorce, and I had all the money to fund it, my lawyer finally said to me, “If you drag your feet any longer, you’re going to have to get a new lawyer because I’m retiring.”

So we got a divorce. I hated it. (And of course, I blogged about it the whole time.) Subsequently I have become a vocal critic of divorce. I think it’s an incredibly lame and selfish route to take. Here are five reasons why:

1. Divorce is a cliche among people in denial. 
I see divorce in every story. For example, as soon as I heard about the school shootings in Chardon, OH, I got stuck on the fact that the kid’s parents had just gotten a divorce and left him with his grandparents. I blame the parents.

Heather Armstrong is a great blogger who I have followed for years. But I’m really stuck on the news that she just announced a separation from her husband.

Armstrong supports her family with her blog, dooce.com, which is about herself, so of course, I watch her really closely. In her post announcing that she had asked her husband to leave, she said the two common, and delusional things we hear from divorced parents all the time:

“I can’t be a good parent if I’m not happy and I’ll never be happy in this marriage.”

and

“The kids are doing so well. Kids are really resilient.”

I’ve heard those things so many times. From parents who are getting a divorce who are full of shit. Read more

If I look back on my blog, I can see that each year there were one or two ideas that just blew me away and ended up dominating my thinking. For example, 2011 my year to be obsessed with school – homeschooling and higher ed, 2010 was my year for disillusionment with happiness research, 2009 was when I started writing honestly about how unglamorousstartup life really is.

I’m excited to think about what this year will bring in terms of the ideas that will capture my imagination. Here are the early candidates:

1. Nature vs. nurture
An important book came out at the end of 2011 that got very little play in the media: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, by Bryan Caplan The title of the book is just awful. Which is probably why it has been roundly ignored. The title should have been Why Nothing You Do As a Parent Matters. That title would have gotten a lot of media coverage, but who would have purchased the book? Read more

The best way to understand earning power—no matter what your age—is to understand the factors that go into it. For example, most people who have careers that are plateauing usually have a learning problem that manifests itself as an earning problem.

And for parents, schooling discussions are really earning discussions. Because you can say that kids with a love of learning are lifelong learners (essential for workplace success today), but truly, who wants an unemployed Ph.D candidate? You don’t want a lawyer who can’t get a job because of poor social skills, you don’t want a kid with perfect SAT scores who marries for money because supporting oneself seems too hard. Every parent wants to raise a kid who is capable of supporting himself and capable of finding engaging work for a stable life.

Here’s how schooling affects earning power. Read more

When people tell me they want to stay home with their kids and they can’t afford it, I want to yell at them about how when I was trying to write freelance and take care of the kids I had a babysitter refuse to come to the house because we had no food in the house. We had no food in the house because we had no money. I bought food on a day-to-day basis. That was me, affording to stay home with my kids and not work.

I must also admit that I ended up in a mental ward. Maybe from postpartum depression, but probably from the stress of being the sole breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.

I am having flashbacks. Because I’m homeschooling nowboth boys. I never really believed I’d do this. When I launched my homeschooling blog I actually thought I was just exploring a trend. I thought I’d just write a little about how it’s clear to me that there is about to be a homeschooling revolution.

But that’s not what happened. Read more

I am not good at launching stuff. It stresses me out. I am not good at focusing on multiple things. Ryan Healy used to hate working with me because of this, and, frankly, I hate working with me because of this too.

I need to divide everything into very little projects in order to ensure that one project does not ruin everything else around me. This is why, in the past, blog posts have been the perfect length for me, and having a startup has derailed my whole life.

The first thing I'm launching today is a homeschooling section. To be clear, I don't homeschool. But I definitely think it's a huge trend that will shake up all of our lives, because homschoolers will take over the workplace in the next ten years. I am worried that I'm making the wrong decision by keeping my kids in school. So this is the spot where I will worry about it discuss it. Here is the post where I explain in more detail why I’m adding the homeschool section.

The other section that I'm launching is Mailbag.

I answer all my email. People are often shocked by this, which, in turn, shocks me. I mean, what am I writing a blog for if I don't want to communicate with people? But I decided I should publish the questions and answers since many people ask the same type of questions. (Don’t worry, I’m changing details to conceal the writer’s identity.)

When I met my Ex he was working for Sony. He was in charge of online properties for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The marketing people always said that people watch Jeopardy to say “He's so smart!” and people watch Wheel of Fortune to say “He's so stupid!”

I think that marketing approach may be applicable to the questions in Mailbag. Hopefully you will think my answers are smart. But if you don't, there’s room for you to give your own answers.

On Sundays my Ex comes to our house to hang out with the kids, which made today a great day for my launch.

Also, do you ever wonder what my Ex looks like? Here he is — well, about one-third of him — with my son.

Here’s a question I get a lot: Does your Ex mind being on your blog?

Here’s the answer: He’s probably really happy being on with just one-third.

 

Melissa left yesterday. She moved back to Austin. She moved for a job that I think is totally stupid, but her future employer reads this blog, so I have to watch what I say. On the other hand, she ended up giving references the same day I posted about me worrying about her having an affair with the Farmer, so the woman interviewing her decided not to use me as a reference.

I can see why she wouldn’t want to have to deal with me. But, if I am not a reliable reference then I’m probably also, in her eyes, not a reliable person for assessing whether the job that Melissa took is totally stupid for her to take. So maybe she is just ignoring my blog anyway. Or maybe she is printing out each post and putting it on she office wall and throwing darts at it.

The second-to-last day Melissa was here, we went berry picking.

The farm is full of little pockets of wild blackberries. And we set out to pick enough for me to make a pie.
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When the pig litters came in January, the Farmer helped my son pick out pigs for his 4H project. They picked four, because you never know, really, how a pig will grow. So you start with four and pick two after a few months.

My son woke up every morning and fed his pigs, for six months. And after three months, he walked with the pigs, around in a circle, twice a day, to train the pig for the show.

There is huge variety in the amount of help parents give their kids in these projects. Some kids’ parents buy show pigs from out of state and the kids take very little care of them until the fair. Some kids do everything themselves.

I think it’s a lot like an allowance for a city kid. Each family manages the potential pitfalls of an allowance themselves. Read more