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The New Family Podcast

The New Family Podcast is the show that explores what families really look like today and the issues that matter to us most. Twice a week we interview some of the most compelling people whose stories represent the many forms family can take today. And we chat with top parenting experts with great insights on the challenges of raising kids in these interesting times. This podcast comes from the creators of the popular website, thenewfamily.com, which explores and celebrates modern family life. Our series, the 1,000 Families Project, tells the first-person stories of people with families of every shape and size. In this show we interview some of the most interesting people who contribute to the #1000families series, as well as authors, family therapists, parent educators and other experts with practical advice to share that's relevant to families of every kind.
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Dec 10, 2018

For this special holiday episode of The New Family Podcast, I asked listeners to send me voice messages about their favourite holiday traditions, old and new. Tune in for a fun and inspiring round up of fun and poignant holiday traditions that you may want to make your own.

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Dec 3, 2018

Women talk a lot about emotional labour — carrying the mental load of things that need to be arranged for their families and the weight of worry about how everyone’s needs are being met. We’re joined today by marriage and family therapist Jeremy Schneider for a conversation on what it takes to be an emotionally available dad and a partner who shares that emotional labour. Jeremy has written about parenting topics for a number of publications around the world and now in his book Fatherhood in 40-Minutes Snapshots. This is an insightful chat about the complex business of sharing the work of raising kids, the shifting expectations and perceptions of and about dads, and the beauty and opportunity that lies in forging meaningful connection between father and child.

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Nov 26, 2018

Those of you who are regular listeners will know that I’m a big advocate for positive co-parenting. It’s becoming less and less unusual to see coparents working happily together to raise their kids, easily able to cohost their kids’ birthday parties, divide and conquer on busy extra-curricular days and sit comfortably together on the sidelines at the arena or soccer field. But alas, there’s still a lot of very difficult relationships between former spouses. Naturally there can be a lot of hurt and anger when a marriage comes apart, but in some cases there’s a negative, even bullying dynamic that emerges. My guest for this episode has some really important insights on how to handle a situation like this. Jeff Rechtshaffen has been practising family law for 21 years. He’s a partner in Rechtshaffen, Breitman Family Law and Mediation. He’s an expert in all aspects of family law including collaborative family law and, when necessary, litigation.

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Nov 19, 2018

For years my guest for this episode and his former wife lived in a mixed-orientation marriage. Matt Nightingale had shared with his wife, Luanne, that he was gay, but — for various reasons, including that he was a pastor at a fundamentalist church — they stayed together for 15 years. During this time Matt undertook all kinds of efforts to turn himself straight, including conversion therapy. Matt has since done some writing about his experience, and he and Luanne have given a powerful TedEx talk on the journey they’ve taken together and it’s complicated emotional terrain.

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Sago Mini World's Black Friday special!

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Nov 12, 2018

A big part of being able to take care of a family is also looking after your relationship with your partner. My guest for this episode, New York City psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr. Grant Brenner, has some interesting insights about how the experiences we hold on to from the past and can stand in the way of having truly great, well-connected intimate relationships. But this isn’t just a matter of old-fashioned onion peeling of therapist sessions past. It’s about the concrete steps you can take to address old patterns so your relationship can be its best. Dr. Brenner specializes in helping adults who are experiencing relationship difficulties and he’s co-author of a book called Relationship Sanity: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships. It’s a follow to their popular book Irrelationship, and it builds on those findings about how the past affects the present in relationships and offers tangible advice on improving connections going forward.

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Nov 5, 2018

Everyone asks kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But what if that’s the wrong question? My guest for this episode, Dr. Rumeet Billan — an award-winning entrepreneur, learning architect and humanitarian — has an insightful way of looking at this topic. Given career anxiety is on the rise — and that anxiety disorders are now the most common illness to affect children and youth — she says we should instead be asking kids not whether they plan to be a doctor or millionaire athlete, but who they wish to become. In fact, Who Do I want to Become is the title of Rumeet’s new picture book for both kids and adults. She offers some great guidance for parents on how we can emphasize the values and life skills that will serve our kids well in a future where jobs may look different than they do today.

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Oct 29, 2018

Part of my reason for starting the website, and later, this podcast, was because I didn’t see families like my own — an usually amicable post-divorce family with co-parents living next door for years — reflected in mainstream media. When she was growing up, my guest for this episode, Paulina Lagudi, had a similar experience comparing her own family to the ones she saw on TV and in movies. Well, today she’s able to do something about that. Paulina is a filmmaker who has created a movie called “Mail Order Monster” or “M.O.M.” for short. The film tackles grief, blended family and step-parenting in a way that puts a modern and perfectly imperfect family in a positive light.

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Oct 22, 2018

At dining room tables and homework desks all over the place, math can be the source of a lot of drama and frustration. Approaches to math curriculum have shifted since we were in school, complicating our efforts to help our kids when they get stuck. The new math? The new new math? I’m not sure which we’re on now, but it does seem as though kids are may be missing some of the basic building blocks that help them tackle some of the trickier concepts and equations. To help us sort this all out, I’m delighted to welcome my guest Vanessa Vakharia back to the show today. Vanessa is the founder of a unique tutoring facility called The Math Guru here in Toronto. She’s a teacher with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Mathematics Education, and she’s a leading expert on engaging kids with STEM topics. She’s also now the author of a wonderful new math workbook for kids Math Hacks: Cool Tips + Less Stress = Better Marks.

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Oct 15, 2018

There are few among us who are aren’t plagued by a feeling — at least some of the time — that the pace of life is a little out of hand. You probably experience this to some degree whether you’re raising kids or not. But if you’re parenting you’re doing so during a period where raising kids is done in a more time-intensive way than ever before. Between 1975 and today, mothers have nearly tripled the quality time they spend with their kids (while dads have more than doubled theirs). And this is happening at a time when — more than ever before — both parents engage in paid work. My guest for this episode has made major shifts in her life to address the harried nature of life with her husband and two kids. Brooke McAlary is an Australian writer and the woman behind the popular Slow Your Home blog. Between her blog and her great podcast The Slow Home Podcast, McAlary has become a leader in the slow living movement. She’s the author of two books, the latest of which is called SLOW: Simple Living for a Frantic World.

Notes

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Oct 8, 2018

It’s said that something like one in five people will be affected by some level of mental illness at at least one point in their lifetime. There have been times when I’ve wondered if that figure might not be a little low. In many cases, family history plays a part, and that was certainly the case in the family of my guest for today’s episode, Lindsay Wong. Lindsay is a writer with a distinguished academic career including an MFA in literary non-fiction from Columbia University. But as you’ll learn in our discussion, the road that got her there was am extremely bumpy one, complicated by her elder’s unorthodox approach to the mental illness that ran in their family, and their deep distrust of Western medicine. Lindsay writes about this in an at once page-turning and darkly comedic new memoir called The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons and My Crazy Chinese Family, which is out this month.

Notes

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Oct 1, 2018

For a lot of us, there are some tricky dynamics around schoolwork, with parents often in an unfortunate role of homework police. Many of us can relate to frustration that our kids are capable of much more if they’d only get organized and apply themselves a little. My guest for this is episode has an insider’s track on what makes the difference between kids who do well in schools and others who don’t manage to achieve to their full potential. (Hint: It’s not that the kids with great grades are geniuses; they’ve just mastered some habits that get results.) Ryan Thompson is an educator and entrepreneur with an expertise in science and math. He’s been a high school physics and math teacher 15 years, and has in-depth knowledge of the challenges teens face in order to become academically successful. He runs a virtual program for teens and their parents on how to develop the study skills needed to do well in school.

Notes

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Sep 24, 2018

As you know, I love telling you the stories of people who are defining family in interesting ways. My guest for this episode has found a wonderful way to meet one of the challenges that’s reshaping the way we live. The cost of housing, especially in major cities — but increasingly in medium-sized ones as well — is making it incredibly difficult for people to put decent roofs over there heads. Austin Graff, who works for the Washington Post, where he contributes to On Parenting, is raising a toddler in a house with his wife and two roommates. We’ll hear about how that arrangement came about and how it’s working for them.

Notes

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Sep 17, 2018

For this very special milestone episode of the podcast, we’re getting a little personal. For the first time, the whole family joins in as we share the first week of school in our house. Join host Brandie, the boys’ dad, Derek, stepmom, Amy, 15-year-old basketball enthusiast Cameron, skateboarding fiend Alister, 11, and some other very important people in our lives as we share the everyday experience of the return to school, the juggle between work and family, the quest to get the right mix of extra-curricular activities and the never-ending mystery of the unmatched sock.

Notes

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Sep 10, 2018

As you know, this show and the website are on a mission to explore family in all its many, many shapes and forms, as well as the issues shaping family life and society in 2018 and beyond. So when I heard about the project my guest for this episode has undertaken, I knew she was a kindred spirit in celebrating family diversity. Elisa Binda and her partner Mattia Perrego have created Unconventional Fairytales for Unconventional Families, a book of children’s stories that organically weave diverse characters and family configurations into the adventures depicted on the beautifully illustrated pages.

If a children’s book is going to handle an issue pertaining to family structure, it’s often in a bit of self-help form, geared at explaining to kids why they have two homes, or two dads, or something along those lines. Importantly, Unconventional Fairytales take a different approach altogether, simply telling great, imaginative stories that happen to have broader sets of characters, including a trans child — born a warlock but who identifies as a witch, a princess with divorced parents, a pair of pirate moms and more. Join to hear more about this awesome project and the real-life stories that inspired the book.

Notes

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Sep 3, 2018

This episode explores an uncomfortable truth, and that’s that alcoholism is on the rise among moms. One study found that problem drinking — the kind that adversely affects other areas of your life — rose a staggering 83.7 per cent among women between 2002 and 2013. My guest for this episode is writer and mom Dana Bowman, who has written frankly — and with humour — about her personal experiences with alcoholism and recovery, first in her acclaimed memoir Bottled, and now with How to Be Perfect Like Me. We talk about the a range of societal factors that are contributing to an increase in drinking among moms, and what will need to change in a world of over-parenting, perfectionism and memes about “Mom’s happy juice” to address and reverse this trend.

Aug 27, 2018

This episode tackles something many of us would like to have in more abundance: sleep. Most of us know we’re likely not getting enough, and we may feel guilty when our kids’ sleep falls short of the recommended amount, too. But it can be challenging to squeeze all of life into more reasonable hours, especially when we’re juggling commutes home from work, pick-ups, extra-curriculars and homework. My guest, Alanna McGinn, is a respected sleep consultant and founder of Good Night Sleep Site. She and her team have helped countless parents overcome the sleep challenges they’re having with their kids. Alanna has also recently launched a great new podcast called This Girl Loves Sleep, where she’s dropping all kinds of sleep-related truth bombs to help kids of all ages and their parents to get better sleep. We talk about the factors in modern family life that encroach on our sleep and how to take concrete steps to bring back bedtime.

Notes

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Aug 20, 2018

If you’re listening to this around the time the episode goes live on August 20th, it won’t have escaped you that it’s back-to-school shopping season. So while the wisdom here applies any time of year, I thought it would be a great time to have Rebecca Saha on the show to talk about how to approach all of this in a more sustainable way. Rebecca is a mom of three, a teacher-librarian, the co-owner of an online kids’ resale shop called iSpy Clothing. She’s passionate about educating other families about the human and environmental costs of fast fashion, and the advantages of living — and shopping — more sustainably. Rebecca shares her tips on how you can more mindfully cloth your family and have fun doing so.

Notes

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Aug 13, 2018

Too often the everyday experience of being a parent feels like a race against a clock you didn’t set. We frantically hurl ourselves through morning routine, drop-off, work, pick-ups, kids’ activities, grocery shopping, dinner, housework and homework duty. My guest on this episode of the podcast asked herself what it would take for this whole thing to suck a little less so we can get more joy out of the life we’ve chosen with the children we love. I’m joined by esteemed parenting writer and editor, KJ Dell’Antonia, whose work you may know from the likes of Slate and the New York Times Motherlode blog. She’s got a great new book out called How to Be a Happier Parent, realistically subtitled Raising a Family, Having a Life and Loving (Almost) Every Minute of It.

Show Notes

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Aug 6, 2018

For this episode we’re joined by Jana Girdauskas. Jana is a mother of two, a special education teacher and the founder of an amazing charity called The Period Purse, which provides menstrual hygiene to people who are experiencing homelessness. Learn about the ah-ha moment in her car that led to Jana learning about the issue of menstrual equity, plus the incredible way her two young sons have become educated about menstruation by helping package supplies for The Period Purse.

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Jul 16, 2018

Surrogacy is a topic we’ve explored in a few ways on The New Family, and it continues to be more and more important as a method for forming families. My guest for this episode, Stephanie Plante, took some of the tough stuff that was going on around her — the breakdown of her marriage, difficult events in the news — and found a way to create something magical by being a surrogate. Hear how helping a couple become parents brought her joy and purpose, and continues to expand her own family through the lasting connection she’s made with the baby’s parents.

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Jul 9, 2018

I’m delighted to welcome my guest for this episode, Olivia Fogel, programs manager and camp director at The Ten Oaks Project. Ten Oaks is a charitable, volunteer-driven organization that engages and connects children and youth from LGBTQ+ families, identities, and communities. Although it has a number of initiatives, Ten Oaks is perhaps best known for the summer camps it offers, which make kids and youth at home, whether they’ve got LGBTQ+ parents at home or identity as part of one of those groups themselves. Olivia explains why she believes the programs not only provide a welcome, inclusive summer camp environment, but in some cases actually save lives.

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Jul 2, 2018

My guests for this episode, Molly Murphy and Clare Kenny, are members of an organization called The Mudgirls Natural Building Collective based in British Columbia on Canada’s west coast. This all-woman group builds eco-friendly housing called Cobb Houses, for customers and for each other. They work in a patriarchy-busting, non-hierarchical manner, and get this — childcare is included in all their projects so that women can find employment opportunities that don’t come with the usual strain of finding good, affordable care for their kids. The Mudgirls have put together a beautiful book about their work and way of life. It’s called The Mudgirls Manifesto: Handbuilt Homes, Handcrafted Lives. Clare and Molly challenge us to think differently about how work — and life — can look.

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Jun 25, 2018

I’m really excited to welcome my guests for this episode, Nikita Stanley and Aleksandra Jassem. Aleks and Nikita are the women behind the popular blog The Rebel Mama, which has been described as “everyone’s favourite anti-mommy blog.” Of course they’re not really anti-moms, but they are pro real talk about the tough stuff that comes with new motherhood. And they’re speaking to a cohort of young urban moms who appreciate their relatable, raw and often funny writing. And Nikita and Aleks have just come out with their book, The Rebel Mama’s Handbook for ‘Cool’ Moms.

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Jun 18, 2018

Given this episode is coming out right around Father’s Day, it’s fitting that I’ve got an awesome dad on the podcast with me today. Frank Lowe is the funny guy behind the wildly popular Twitter feed Gay at Home Dad. He has developed a massive following there speaking candidly and humorously about being a gay stay-at-home father, and now about being a single gay dad, too. Frank’s also got a great YouTube Channel by the same name, as well as a brand new book called Raised by Unicorns, already an Amazon #1 new release. Frank and I talk about his interesting journey to parenthood through adoption with his former husband. And we also unpack some of the complicated feelings that surround separation and divorce among the cohort of same-sex couples who only relatively recently won the right to marry.

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Jun 11, 2018

I’m delighted to introduce my guest for this episode, father of two Matthew Rippeyoung. Matthew wrote a very compelling 1,000 Families post for The New Family recently. In that post, and in this episode, Matthew shares about his transition into single parenthood, and also a little about entering into a same-sex partnership later on. As it happens, Matthew is a therapist, but he’s with us on the podcast to chat mostly about his own lived experience, including those evolutions in his family. Matthew also talks to us about raising boys with the feminist values he’s always shared with his former wife, and about how he got into one of his favourite hobbies — knitting!

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