Mommybites Chit-Chat: Michael Kress, Editorial Director of NY Metro Parents

Mommybites Chit-Chat: Conversations with luminaries, entrepreneurs and influencers in the parenting world

Tell us a little about you (your background, your job, what makes you tick or anything else you think our Mommybites moms will find interesting).

I am the editorial director at NYMetroParents, where we produce seven monthly magazines and the website, along with all the related social media, newsletters, etc. (For those keeping score at home, the seven magazines are: Brooklyn Parent, Big Apple Parent, Queens Parent, Rockland Parent, Westchester Parent, and two versions of Long Island Parent –one for Nassau County and the other for Suffolk County).

I am a longtime editor and journalist and was previously at Parents magazine, among other places. Outside of work, I live in Riverdale in the Bronx with my wife, who’s an architect, and three daughters.

What or who inspires you?

I’m supposed to say my kids, right? Well, my kids. There.

In truth, the honest answer is just as cheesy: All the people who’ve dedicated their lives to making the world a better place in some way, through providing social services to the needy, advocating politically for more just government policies, educating our kids, and so on. Many have given up higher-paying careers, or decided not to pursue them in the first place, and all of us are enriched by their work. They inspire me to be a better person and better community member.

I’ll also give a shout-out to the dads out there who are redefining the role: All the fathers who are stay-at-home dads, who take paternity leave, who cut out early to coach Little League, who decline jobs with crazy hours, who are equal parents with their partners/spouses, and of course, those who are raising kids as single dads. You all inspire me.

Lastly, ER doctors. Specifically, pediatric ER docs. It takes a special person to dedicate himself or herself to helping the most vulnerable at their worst moments. Having had need to avail ourselves of this particular specialty recently, I can’t say enough about the mix of competence and compassion shown by nearly everyone we came into contact with there.

What is your best piece of parenting advice?

Raise your kids to be themselves, not who you think they are – and give them as much (age-appropriate) independence as possible, to learn, grow, make mistakes, and learn some more, their own way.

What’s the worst piece of parenting advice you have heard?

“Don’t praise your kids’ accomplishments.” Not because I disagree with it, but because I find it impossible to live by. There’s only so many times I can say, “Looks like you worked really hard on that picture.” THE PICTURE IS GORGEOUS, DAMMIT!

What’s the most common question you are asked by parents?

You’re a parenting editor? What parenting advice to you have for me?”

What are some of your favorite T.V. shows? Books? Foods?

TV: We don’t have cable, and our TV is too old to stream on, so we end up watching a lot of network TV – though mostly it’s just on in the background while I am catching up on work or emails at night. I like the Chicago bunch of shows on NBC, especially Chicago Fire, though am also a sucker for America’s Got Talent.

Books: I have so little time for reading that when I can dive into a book I want to make it count, so I tend to be fairly snobby about my book choices. I am into literary fiction, the hot-shot authors everyone (read: critics) is talking about now, or well-reported nonfiction about recent or current events.

Food: Anything from my grill. Plus pasta, the first and most long-lasting love of my life. And soup of just about any variety.

What parenting books do you most recommend to parents?

I don’t find too many parenting books that helpful, frankly. Most can be summarized in a couple of sentences, and while that might be a great message or bit of advice, it’s never the be all and end all of parenting, nor is any one message applicable to everyone. I think it’s more useful to seek more targeted advice about your particular challenges or needs, whether as books, or more usefully, from articles on reputable websites (shocking, I know, that I would recommend that).

What are some of your favorite parenting products?

Pacifiers! God bless ‘em.

When the kids were babies, I know my wife was quite fond of those thingies that she could wear to cover up while breastfeeding in public.

I also like those little clip-on rolls of tiny garbage bags, since there never does seem to be a public trash can around when you need to change a diaper on the go. And the amazing variety of covered, easy-to-use (for kids) snack containers.

My least favorite? Baby carriers. Nothing against them theoretically – I LOVE them in theory – but I was never coordinated enough to get one on. I remain thankful I never accidentally asphyxiated myself while trying.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?

Warning, another cheesy answer, but in all seriousness, I would be one of my kids. Probably the youngest. The reason is that no matter how careful we are in how we talk to our kids, no matter how much we try to present the world to them in certain ways, they will always experience all of this in their own, very different way. Just one example: I think I am keeping my calm admirably, only to be told by my kid, “Stop screaming at me!”. So yes, I’d love to spend one day experiencing the world – and grown-ups – as she does.

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