Why you should care

Because even if you’re not a parent, someone parented you.

This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.

WHAT TO KNOW

What happened? Parenting isn’t what you’d call a new gig — large people have been raising small people since before we came up with the concept of time. But much about the job has changed in recent years, from shifts in home-schooling trends to the diminishing role of religion in families to the exploding role of tech in virtually every aspect of parenting (so long, Mary Poppins; hello, Alexa). Parenting may still be the hardest job you’ll ever love, but to keep up with how it’s changing — the good, the bad and even the ugly — OZY took a hard look for a new series: Parenting, Disrupted.

Why does it matter? We’ve come a long way since What to Expect When You’re Expecting, or Dr. Spock advising parents on how to raise healthy children. Now we’re told about helicopter parents, tiger moms, lawn mower mothers — terms that replaced the “good enough” parent of 70 years ago — and are meant to capture a particular (and not particularly healthy) approach to raising kids. But our series addresses what’s really new on the parenting front — apart from the billion-dollar industry preying on parental anxiety by pumping out advice on what to do, what to buy, what to read and how to think about shaping young minds.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT

Are you a good tech or a bad tech? Technology is a fact of life and it’s finding a new and hungry market with new parents. The internet of things is exploding in size, and baby products are getting accordingly “smarter.” Data-starved parents can now use a device that monitors a sleeping infant’s heart rate and oxygen saturation and sounds a loud alarm if things go awry; someday they might use a virtual assistant like Alexa to teach their kids good manners or a foreign language. But as these smart devices constantly gather information, there’s a risk that the data could be hacked or used against parents and caregivers.

The gun talk. Being a parent means protecting your children from the horrors of the real world, including gun violence and death, until they’re old enough to make sense of it. But in a world where such horrors seem to be happening with alarming frequency, trying to shield kids from “grown-up” topics may no longer be a viable option. That leaves parents to grapple with how to talk to their kids about gun violence. And then there are mothers and fathers who also happen to be cops: What’s the protocol for telling your child that you may be the person pulling the trigger?

There’s no place like home. There’s long been a perception that home schooling is for religious White folk intent on controlling the curriculum being fed to their children. But Hispanic students now make up more than a quarter of the U.S. home-schooling population, up from 16 percent in just six years. Researchers haven’t hit on a solid explanation, but parents emphasize better opportunities for bilingual education at home, as well as a refuge from the racism that lurks in some struggling school districts.

The rise of unfundamentalist parenting. In an attempt to avoid the harm they associate with a Christian fundamentalist approach to raising kids — an approach built on obedience, fear and guilt — a new school of Christian parenting has formed, calling itself “unfundamentalist” and racking up more than 124,000 Facebook followers. Spearheaded by Taiwanese progressive Christian blogger Cindy Brandt, who attended a Christian missionary school, the movement hopes to question the racism, sexism and homophobia rife in some religious education systems.

WHAT TO READ

Raising My Child in a Doomed World, by Roy Scranton in The New York Times

“Barring a miracle, the next 20 years are going to see increasingly chaotic systemic transformation in global climate patterns, unpredictable biological adaptation and a wild spectrum of human political and economic responses, including scapegoating and war. After that, things will get worse.”

How to Raise a Prodigy, by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker

“With the expected exceptions, exactly the kind of hover parenting that we rightly deplore does seem to be essential to the kind of hyperachievement that we admire.”

WHAT TO WATCH

Your Child’s Most Annoying Trait May Just Reveal Their Greatest Strength

“We unintentionally overlook a kid’s raw and unrefined talent because that very talent tends to first bubble to the surface as an annoyance.”

Watch on TEDx Talks on YouTube:

Raised Without Gender

“Now he has started to say that he’s a girl. The other day he’s a boy, and sometimes he’s a cat.… He can be whatever he wants or dress however he wants.”

Watch on Vice on YouTube:

WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER

Picky eating is about more than getting your veggies: After following more than 900 preschool-age children for three years, researchers found that the group’s pickiest eaters were nearly twice as likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression than kids who were less rigid about their food choices.

OZYNeed to Know

Quick briefings and smart previews you can't live without, making sure you not only survive but can thrive at the water cooler.