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Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
A major new report from The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia is shedding new light on often-asked questions about modern family life–how having children affects happiness levels. The report, “When Baby Makes Three,” is the 2011 edition of the “State of Our Unions” series, an annual examination of marital mores in America. The report considered data from three nationally representative surveys, including a new survey of 1,400 heterosexual married couples ages 18-46.
The main findings of the report, according to its executive summary, are threefold:
- Married parents are more likely than their childless peers to feel their lives have a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Parents who are married generally experience more happiness and less depression than parents who are unmarried.
- Parenthood is typically associated with lower levels of marital happiness.
Additionally, the report finds 10 factors that predict which marriages will succeed in combining parental and marital happiness. Those factors include shared housework, good sex, marital generosity, date nights, and having a college degree, as well as what the report calls “institutional” marital values like shared religious faith, commitment, the support of friends and family, a sound economic foundation provided by a good job, and quality family time.
Taken together, these 10 factors suggest “a hybrid model of married life appears to be the best path to successfully combine marriage and parenthood for today’s parents,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, the report’s lead author, in a statement.
Image: Happy pregnant couple, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Last week an Illinois appeals court dismissed a case brought by two children against their mom for “bad mothering,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
Steven Miner II, 23, and his sister Kathryn, 20, of Barrington Hills, Illinois, filed the suit against Kimberly Garrity two years ago, asking for more than $50,000 for “emotional distress.”
What qualified as “bad mothering?” From the Tribune:
The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.
The story continues:
Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.
The siblings were represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner. According to the Tribune, Garrity divorced Miner in 1995 after ten years of marriage.
The father asserted that this case was “no different from a patient suing a physician ‘for bad doctoring.’” In court papers, he wrote, “Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different.”
The mother’s attorney said the children’s suit was “orchestrated by their father.” From the Tribune:
In court papers, Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith said the “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity’s ex-husband to “seek the ultimate revenge” of having her children accuse her of “being an inadequate mother.”
In dismissing the case, the court said mother’s conduct was not “extreme or outrageous.” A victory for the kids, it said, “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”
(image via: http://www.econ.ucsb.edu)
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Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
The brown paper bag and plastic sandwich bag are becoming endangered species in some school cafeterias.
In an effort to protect the planet and cut spending on garbage-hauling, certain schools are asking parents to send lunches that include only reusable materials, such as Tupperware, cloth lunch bags, and aluminum water bottles, The New York Times reports.
Opinions about the new rules are mixed, the story said:
The trend makes the schools happy (much less garbage). It makes the stores happy (higher back-to-school spending). It even makes the students happy (green feels good).
Who’s not happy? The parents (what to do when the Tupperware runs out?).
The story quotes Julie Corbett of Oakland, Calif., a mom whose daughters attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. Faced with peer pressure to be green, her girls want to adhere to the rules. But Corbett isn’t as enthusiastic:
[She says] plasticware can be a pain to clean, and is not cheap. When she thinks it is likely that her daughters will lose the containers — if, for instance, they’re going on a field trip — she uses waxed-paper sleeves, like the kind bakeries use for cookies, to hold sandwiches instead.
“It’s still a no-no because you’re still having to throw that away, but it is biodegradable, it does compost, so you’re not as guilty,” she said.
What do you think? Is it fair for schools to ask parents to send environmentally friendly lunches?
(image via: http://www.atlantaintownpaper.com)
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Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
A new study by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com has found that mothers who work outside the home feel significantly stressed and overwhelmed…but so do women who stay at home with their children. The Today show reported on the study, which surveyed 1,200 women:
From rushing to the train, slammed by deadlines to racing through the house, slathered in spit-up, moms can’t check out at 5 p.m. Stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home moms alike are still on the clock when hubby removes his tie and drops his briefcase at the door. According to the survey, 92% of working moms and 89% of stay-at-home moms feel overwhelmed by work, home and parenting duties. A full 84% of stay-at-home moms don’t get a break when their partner returns from work, and 50% say they never get a break from parenting. (But 96% say their partner manages to snag time-outs.)
Both groups (70% of working moms and 68% of stay-at-home moms) feel resentment due to the unbalanced responsibilities and a third of all moms say they feel their partner could step it up on the domestic front.
Almost 40 percent of both working and stay-at-home mothers said they felt like “married single moms,” even though they are raising their baby together with a partner, TheBump.com reported.
Do these findings surprise you?
(image via: http://thesinglecell.wordpress.com/)
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Friday, July 8th, 2011
A new study by a Wellesley College psychologist has tapped into a way parents can protect teens from symptoms and feelings of depression–practice honest, open, and authentic communication.
In the study, conducted by assistant professor of psychology Sally A. Theran, both male and female teens who felt they could share their opinions openly and let their parents know about their authentic lives benefited by having fewer depressive symptoms than teens who felt less comfortable saying things that are important, upsetting, or confusing to them.
The study collected information from middle-school students in three cities and towns. Consent forms were sent to parents, and then the students with permission filled out questionnaires.
Teenage girls have long been identified as experiencing depression more frequently than boys, but the data from the study shows that authentic, honest relationships affects both genders. Theran found that 31 percent of girls’ depressive symptoms, including fatigue, loss of interest, and appetite changes, and 47 percent of boys’ symptoms, could be attributed to factors relating to the authenticity of the teens’ relationships with their parents.
“Authenticity in relationships with parents gets us about a one-third, or half, of the way toward explaining the individual differences in depressive symptoms. Understanding the role that authenticity in relationships plays in both boys’ and girls’ lives can help us to buffer children from depressive symptoms.,” Theran said in a statement.
The findings did not find that authenticity and honesty with peers similarly affected rates of depression. So it appears that the parental relationship is uniquely able to influence teens’ emotional well-being and stave off depression. “Peers may be important, but perhaps authenticity has a different meaning for peers than it does for parents,” Theran wrote in the report.
Theran had this advice for parents: “I’d encourage parents to keep open lines of communication with their children – and yet remember that they are authority figures, not friends. Clearly, teenagers who could be open and honest with their parents benefited by having fewer depressive symptoms.”
(image via: http://stylish-moms.com)
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