Friday, December 21st, 2012
New research is finding that oxytocin, the hormone that brings about feelings of love, connection, and belonging in relationships, may help fathers bond better with their children. More from Time.com:
“In a study published in Biological Psychiatry, 35 fathers played with their five month old daughters, once after being given a nasal spray containing either oxytocin and again after being given a placebo. Each time, they were instructed to engage in a task called the “still face” paradigm, which produces a small, heart-tugging drama. Researchers measured oxytocin levels in both the dads and their babies before and after the exercise.
First, the father smiles and plays with the baby, who sits in an infant seat facing him. Then he keeps his face blank and expressionless, refusing to respond as the infant makes increasingly worried attempts to re-engage him. After a few minutes of watching but ignoring the child’s distress, the dad resumes a more loving expression and reassures baby that all is well.
After receiving oxytocin, the fathers were generally more responsive to their little girls— almost certainly having a harder time keeping their faces blank during the “still face” and consequently responding far more quickly when instructed to re-engage. Under the influence of the hormone, the dads made more eye contact, provided more touch, had more mirroring and reciprocal interactions and indulged in more baby talk than after receiving placebo.
Their babies also tended to respond more to their dads who had received the oxytocin sprays—with increased smiles, laughter, mirroring and play behavior—compared to their behavior when their dads were receiving the placebo. Their own oxytocin rose in near perfect sync with the elevation of the hormone occurring in their fathers.”
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Dan Cathy, who is president of the Chick-fil-A fast food chain, said this week that his company supports “Biblical families.” The comments are among the first since Cathy made controversial comments this summer criticizing gay marriage. The earlier comments had sparked protests and boycott threats. From The Associated Press:
Cathy told Atlanta TV station WXIA in an interview released Wednesday (http://on.11alive.com/PONhtv) that families are important to ‘‘those of us who are concerned about being able to hang on to our heritage.’’
He added ‘‘we support Biblical families, and they’ve always been a part of that.’’
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)
By Suzanne Venker
The summer heat is squelching. Here in the Midwest, things are so bad our A/C won’t register below 78. My family hates–really hates–the heat. We’d rather be hiking Mount Tom in Vermont with perfect sixty-eight degree temperatures.
That’s what we were doing earlier this summer, when we took our first long vacation–a two-weeker. It began with a drive to see family in Pittsburgh and ended with a house rental in Vermont. From there it was a visit to see friends in the Boston area and then a quick jaunt (okay, detour) to Niagara Falls before heading home.
It was the quintessential American vacation–family travels cross-country by car while younger child asks “Are we there yet?” a gazillion times–taken by an old-fashioned American family: a mom, a dad, and a couple of kids. We felt like the Griswolds from National Lampoon’s Vacation. I even called my husband Clark.
We don’t talk much about the American family these days; we’re more focused on the economy. But according to a new report from the Social Trends Institute, a non-profit, international research center that studies the effects of emerging social trends on society, the wealth of nations depends in large part on the health of the family. They’re two sides of the same coin.
The report provides several links between the economy and the nuclear family. Here are just a few: One, children raised in intact families are more likely to develop the social capital they need to become productive citizens. Two, married men work harder and earn more money than their unmarried peers. Three, the industry of household products from insurance to groceries are more likely to profit when families thrive. And four, if a booming economy is the goal–and let’s assume it is–reasonable fertility rates must be sustained.
The authors of the report, including W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, suggest that in order to preserve families and strengthen the economy, leaders should encourage policy that supports marriage and responsible parenthood.
Indeed they should. But don’t hold your breath–preserving the American family is not on our President’s radar. Why would it be? The traditional family (and by “traditional” I don’t mean Ward and June Cleaver; I mean two married parents with kids, one of whom takes on the bulk of the childrearing and the other who brings home the bulk of the income, regardless of gender) negates the need for a large-scale government. And if there’s one thing Obama and his supporters love, it’s a large-scale government. They believe it takes a village, not a family, to make the world go ’round.
But don’t confuse the left’s village with the kind of tight-knit communities America used to have, the ones where family and neighbors helped each other out. That was a village of a different sort, and it comprised what economists call social capital.
Social capital refers to neighborliness and civic engagement, such as volunteering and philanthropy, religious and school participation, and the like. It’s necessary for a number of reasons: growth of the GDP, lower levels of crime, educational attainment, public health, and marketplace production. (In other words, all the things government claims to offer.) In order for social capital to thrive, however, we must have strong families.
But we don’t, and here’s why. Big government competes with the traditional family, thus undermining social capital. The government wants your hard-earned paycheck so it can decide how your money should be spent.
Remember Joe the Plumber? We need to “spread the wealth around,” Obama told Mr. Wurzelbacher. He reiterated this message several weeks ago when he took a stab at successful business owners: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” he said. “Somebody else made that happen.”
In other words, your earnings aren’t really yours. They belong to a whole group of people. As if the business owner hasn’t helped to employ and empower people along the journey. As if he took something that didn’t belong to him.
This President’s class warfare is shameful. And it’s destroying the American family. As Charles Murray, author of the new book Coming Apart, notes in the Wall Street Journal, capitalism has become a bad word–an “accusation.” Yet capitalism “is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards.”
And without the chance to create value and reap rewards, there’s less incentive for a man to settle down with a wife and kids and work hard on their behalf. Which means the President has engaged in gender warfare as well, by putting a dagger in the institution of marriage. Simply put, big government replaces the nuclear family by providing for women and children in ways that men have historically done. When a man’s role is usurped, he has less incentive to marry.
Men are already retreating from marriage. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of men ages 18 to 34 who say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives has dropped six percentage points since 1997, from 35% to 29%. For women, the opposite has occurred: the share voicing this opinion rose from 28% to 37%.
The American family is disintegrating as we speak. This may worry you and me, but it doesn’t worry our President. Indeed, he has a new plan for the women of America.
We’ll cover that next time.
Read more opinions from Suzanne Venker.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has found that couples who are living together but are not married are having children at higher rates than in past years.
CNN.com reports that the NCHS has been tracking a steady rise in children born to unmarried couples over the last decade. Between 2006 and 2010, 22 percent of first-time births were born to cohabitating couples, while only 12 percent were born to such families in 2002. Almost half of all unmarried couples who had children were living together.
“The primary reason that we even look at that is because studies have shown that there’s differences in the resources available to children born in families with only one parent,” the NCHS’s Gladys Martinez told CNN. “Children born to unmarried mothers statistically have less stability and therefore, more environmental stressors in their lives.”
Image: Couple expecting a baby, via Shutterstock.
Monday, June 20th, 2011
Parenting magazine has published its annual list of the 100 best cities for families to live in, ranking cities based on 8,000 pieces of data covering school quality, home affordability, job availability, crime rates, and green space. The top 10 cities are:
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Austin, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Seattle, Washington
- Louisville, Kentucky
The magazine said this about Washington, DC, its top choice:
The history, the government, the breathtaking architecture and inspiring monuments—you don’t have to be a child to get an amazing education in this city. Our nation’s capital is also known for its plenitude of museums—in fact, there are 44, second only to the Big Apple! If your kid enjoys visiting the National Air and Space Museum, imagine fostering his love of airplanes with trips to nearby Gravelly Point Park for front-seat views of the takeoffs and landings at Reagan National Airport. The Capital Crescent Trail, a hard-surface trail from Georgetown to Bethesda, MD, developed on an abandoned rail bed, is a great bike trip that is off the beaten track.
Family dinner nights are easy at quirky local favorites like Matchbox restaurants or Busboys & Poets—both provide a place adults and kids can enjoy. And, of course, any child growing up in Washington, DC, will have a special place in his heart for the famous cherry blossoms and festival held each spring.
The bottom 5 cities are all in California (Fresno, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Riverside, and Anaheim), preceded by Las Vegas, Nevada.
Check out these Parents.com features on best places to raise your family:
The 10 Best Cities for Babies
90 More Best Cities for Babies
The Best Big Cities for Babies
The Best Small Cities for Babies
How do you feel your city should rank as a place for families to live?