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Health & Parenting

Kelly Ripa's Take on Mothering

Talk show host Kelly Ripa weighs in on healthy kids, parenting that works, and family dynamics.
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And then there is her daughter. According to Ripa's mother, Esther Ripa, Lola is Kelly's very own Mini Me. "Kelly was an old soul from the beginning, just full of her own opinions from a very young age, and always so chatty and mentally ahead, and Lola is exactly the same. ... Girls do love to press your buttons."

"Lola challenges me," Ripa agrees with affection. Which raises the question: Are there obvious differences between parenting her sons and daughter? "Oh, definitely," she answers. "My sons are forever happy to see me" -- toy stores notwithstanding -- "and they're snuggly and cuddly. With Lola, everything is up for debate. Everything is a conversation. First thing in the morning, it's a major discussion about what she's going to wear. I've learned to give her limited options: ‘You can wear this or this.' That's what works best."

Raising Boys, Raising Girls

Parker praises this approach. "Setting limits without being overly deterministic is a great strategy for kids. Allow children to choose, but give them specific boundaries in which to do so."

In terms of the gender question, psychologist, sociologist, and five-time Scholastic books author Adele M. Brodkin, PhD, who penned Raising Happy and Successful Kids, says it's generally true that "girls like to talk and conduct what's been described as ‘face-to-face' relationships, and boys like to do and conduct ‘side-by-side' relationships. But the research shows that differences are greater from child to child, rather than from gender to gender. In other words, it's the luck of the draw: Both genetics and environment play a role. Children are born with their own unique temperaments, and, individually, you might have a very chatty boy and a more activity-oriented girl. It's only within groups that we see them behaving more uniformly."

Parker agrees: "If [Ripa] had another five kids, let's see if she doesn't get a nice, compliant girl" and a boy who pushes boundaries just like Lola does, he speculates.

Still, Ripa wonders how she'll handle her exceptionally articulate daughter in a crisis. "This is New York. There could be a terrorist attack. And I can just see me having to debate with Lola about why we have to leave right this minute. I've literally had to say to her: ‘Honey, if there's an emergency, you don't have the liberty to argue with Mommy, OK?'"

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