Katie Arnold-Ratliff

Katie Arnold-Ratliff is a writer, editor, and novelist. At Scary Mommy, she explores the thorny aspects of parenting—from what to do when your daycare royally screws up to the tricky task of un-spoiling a child—and contributes personal, reported, and humorous pieces about the daily struggles of both raising kids and being a human being.

Katie attended Mills College, earned her MFA in fiction at Sarah Lawrence College, and then went on to work as a magazine editor for fifteen years. As the Articles Editor at O, The Oprah Magazine and the Senior Features Editor at Parents, Katie wrote and edited works of journalism on an array of subjects related to the complex interior lives of women and the difficult (but wonderful) work of parenthood. In addition, Katie’s writing has appeared in such publications as Slate, Time, Tin House, Salon, New York, the New York Times Book Review, Wired, The Believer, Poets & Writers, Runners World, and Best American Food Writing. She is also the author of the novel Bright Before Us.

An unrepentant book snob, middling drummer, native Californian, and mother of a young son, Katie lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and child. You can find out more about her work at her website, katiearnold-ratliff.com.

This Is Tough

When Should I Take The Car Keys Away From My Parents?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

Your parents are getting older, and you’re starting to worry. Here’s how — and when — to intervene.

Why Is It So Hard?!

How To Conquer The Eternal Struggle Of Making Mom Friends

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

You’re constantly tired, sick, busy, overwhelmed — and you’re supposed to socialize? Well, yes, if you want to stay sane. Here’s how to pull it off.

A Fresh Start

Is There Any Truth To January Being “Divorce Month”?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

We joke that “new year, new you” often means “so long, bad marriage” — but is it true?

It's A Complex Question

Does It Matter If Your Child “Fits In”?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

Every school year, countless parents find themselves struggling to strike a balance between teaching their kids it's OK not to fit in and hoping they discover their people.

We Asked An Expert

What Will The Kindergarteners Of Today Name Their Kids?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

An investigation into the weird ways baby names change over time.

The Struggle Is Real

How To Get Sunscreen On Kids Who Hate Getting Sunscreened

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

Ever tried to bathe a cat? It’s almost as impossible.

Rock On, Mama

Kid Music Is Stupid. Play Your Kids What You Listen To.

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

It’s a chance to reveal to them the joys of the wider world, to let them begin to form their own taste — and to get to know you a little better.

Send Help

Can You Unspoil A Child?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

The short answer: Yes, but it takes some doing, say experts.

Tough Call

When To Raise Hell At Your Kid’s Daycare

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

And when to (maybe) let a transgression slide.

Who knew?

I Went One Week Without Correcting My Kid’s Behavior. Here’s What I Learned.

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

I worried it would be impossible. Actually, it was kind of freeing.

Make It Stop

Say Hello To The Real Rules Of Elf On The Shelf

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

Your step-by-step guide to the season’s most relentless task.


Hold Up: Why Does My TP Have A Scalloped Edge? Does Yours?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

A very serious investigation.

“I Thought You Should Know…”

You Just Got A Text Saying Your Kid Did Something Awful. What Now?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

Some practical advice for handling this tricky (read: dreaded) situation.

The Struggle Is Real

4 Things To Normalize If You're An Introverted Parent Raising An Extrovert

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

You find large groups exhausting, but your kid is the life of the party. Recipe for disaster, or totally navigable? (Good news: It’s the second one.)

Reading rainbow

How To Help Reluctant Readers: 8 Expert Tips To Get Your Kid Into Books

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

They might balk at the sight of a book — but that doesn’t mean you can’t stealthily instill a love of storytelling.

Free Time = "Me Time"

What Is Revenge Sleep Procrastination? Why Moms Stay Up Way Too Late, For One

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

On the self-defeating phenomenon of parental “RSP.”

Send Help

When It Feels Like Your Kid Is The Only One Who Does Something Weird

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

On the terror of feeling like your child is one in a million — in a bad way.

It's a Process

How To Raise Your Little Kid To Be A Great Teenager

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

What you can do now to help ensure your child will thrive later.

A Colorful Query

Why Are All Gray Hair Shampoos Purple? Inquiring Minds (& Hairs) Need To Know

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

What does “brassy” even mean? And why can’t going gray mean less work, not more? And is all this stuff just made up to sell us things we don’t need?


Are You Raising A Misogynist?

ByKatie Arnold-Ratliff

The world is full of awful messages about women. Here’s how to help your kid avoid internalizing them.