Monday, August 12th, 2013
Mothers with a specific gene that makes them more prone to stress during times of transition and uncertainty may be more likely to treat their children harshly or abusively during times of economic downturn, according to a new analysis of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. CBS News has more:
Moms who had a variation in a gene called “DRD2 Taq1A genotype” were shown in a new study to be more likely to react negatively to economic changes in their environment compared to moms who didn’t possess the variant.
The DRD2 Taq1A genotype has been shown to control how the body creates dopamine, a neurotransmiter that regulates behavior in the reward-based pathway in the brain.
The researchers looked at data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFS), which included almost 5,000 children born in 20 U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000. The mothers were interviewed after giving birth, and when their child was 1, 3, 5 and 9 years of age. Information on parenting behavior was gathered when the child was 3, 5 and 9 years old.
Harsh parenting was determined by the mother’s score on the Conflict Tactics Scale, which included questions on five items on psychological harsh parenting — like shouting or threatening the child — and five more items on corporal punishment, like slapping or spanking.
Saliva DNA samples were also collected from 2,600 mothers and children when the child was nine to test for the genetic variant.
After gathering the data, the researchers took into account the economic conditions where the subjects were living, focusing on unemployment rates. They then discovered that moms who had the “sensitive” allele or variation of the DRD2 Taq1A genotype — which they called the “T allele” — were more abusive towards their children when the economy was bad, such as during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Mothers without this genetic variation were no more likely to act harshly towards their children during this time.
When economic situations improved, mothers with the sensitive T allele were not as harsh compared to the other mothers.
They also discovered that high levels of unemployment among the subjects did not increase how abusive a mom was. Mothers with the T allele were more likely to be mean with their children when the economy was bad, even if they personally did not lose their job or had any personal changes because of the recession.
Instead, the overall unemployment rate of the city they lived in and their confidence in the economy played a larger role. A 10 percent increase in the overall unemployment rate was linked to a 16 percent increase in maternal harsh parenting among those with the T allele.
Image: Angry mother and daughter, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Thirty percent of US women have had a time when they had trouble paying for the diapers they needed for their children, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. The cost of diapers, the study found, is one of the most stressful items in the lives of low-income families, and especially single mothers. More from NBC News:
Thirty percent of the women interviewed for a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics said they’d experienced a time when they could not afford to buy the diapers their kids needed. And a full 8 percent reported that they would “stretch” the diapers they had when their supply was running short by leaving a wet diaper on their child or partially cleaning the diaper and reusing it.
In fact, worry over how to pay for diapers is now among the top stressors for low-income parents, next to concerns about food and housing, researchers say.
The concerns come as Americans continue to grapple with the effects of the deep recession and weak recovery, which has left many families scrambling to keep up with rising bills. The nation’s median household income declined to $50,054 in 2011. After adjusting for inflation, that’s nearly 9 percent lower than the peak in 1999.
The problem is especially acute for single moms, who tend to already be among the most economically vulnerable. The overall poverty rate was 15 percent in 2011, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. But nearly 41 percent of female-headed households with children under age 18 were living below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. That compares to a little less than 9 percent of married-couple families with kids under 18.
Image: Diapers, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
The economic well-being of American children has suffered in 2011 during the recession, according to the annual “Kids Count” survey released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nationwide, the number of children living in homes affected by unemployment has greatly increased, and poverty rates are increasing in middle-class, two-parent households where parents have college degrees. More from The Associated Press:
The Southwest has been hit particularly hard. New Mexico, for the first time, has slipped to worst in the nation when it comes to child well-being. More than 30 percent of children in the state were living in poverty in 2011 and nearly two-fifths had parents who lacked secure employment, according to this year’s Kids Count survey.
Nevada is ranked No. 48, followed by Arizona. Mississippi, which has traditionally held last place, made slight improvements in early childhood education while reading and math proficiency for some students increased, putting the state at No. 49.
Overall, the report shows there have been gains in education and health nationally, but since 2005, there have been serious setbacks when it comes to the economic well-being of children.
‘‘There’s little doubt that things are getting worse,’’ said Kim Posich, executive director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. ‘‘Aside from the fact the New Mexico economy has been so slow to turn around, the systems that generally serve people who are the working poor and suddenly lose their jobs or face greater hardship, all those systems have been strained beyond the max.’’
In Arizona, charities and government programs were cut during the recession, making it more difficult for families to get by and rebuild, said Dana Wolfe Naimark of the Children’s Action Alliance in Phoenix.
‘‘So many things were slashed just when people needed it the most,’’ she said. ‘‘That is a key policy issue that we do have choices over. We can find ways to rebuild that investment. It’s not OK to just throw up our hands and say, ‘We can’t.’’’
According to the Kids Count report, a lingering concern is the effect of unemployment on children, particularly long-term unemployment. Researchers found that more than 4 million workers were unemployed for more than six months, and more than 3 million were without work for a year or more.
Image: Sad child, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Mothers who were laid off during the recession spend longer looking for new jobs than married fathers, according to a new study that was conducted using 2010 data. And when married moms did find new jobs, they experienced a decrease in earnings of $175 more per week compared with married dads. According to a release announcing the study:
The results suggest that the recent recession, dubbed the “man-cession” or “he-cession” because more men than women lost jobs, could also be viewed as a “mom-cession” as laid-off married moms had the hardest time finding new jobs.
“These findings hold true across different backgrounds, such as occupation, earnings, and work history,” said study co-author Brian Serafini, a University of Washington sociology graduate student. “This implies that laid-off moms aren’t just taking part-time jobs or seeing being laid off as a way to opt out of the workforce and embrace motherhood instead.”
Serafini and co-author Michelle Maroto, who will present their findings at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, said that their study supports the notions of a “motherhood penalty” and a “daddy bonus” in the workplace.
“Our study provides evidence of labor market discrimination against women whose family decisions may signal to employers a lack of commitment to the workplace,” said Maroto, formerly a University of Washington sociology graduate student and now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Alberta.
Image: Mother and child at home, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Parents shopping for clothes and supplies for their kids to take into the new school year may be approaching the task with less enthusiasm–and less willingness to spend–than in past years. Reuters reports that though national trends actually indicate increased spending on back-to-school, the timing and expense of it is changing for many families:
With parts of the country such as Atlanta already sending children back to class, the back-to-school season is in full swing and retailers remain hopeful that shoppers will turn out heading into the final stretch.
Kohl’s Corp. Chief Executive Kevin Mansell said the back-to-school season “has been more and more bridging August and September” based on his chain’s research and other data.
“We used to see people starting in late July, and I don’t see that as much anymore,” said Maureen Bausch, executive vice president of business development at the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota.
She expects people to finish their back-to-school shopping in September once kids see what is cool in the classroom.
Total back-to-college spending is expected to reach $53.5 billion this year, while total spending by families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to be $30.3 billion, the National Retail Federation said.
While the trade group expects the average American family to spend $688.62 on back-to-school shopping this year, a 14.1 percent increase from 2011, conversations with about a dozen shoppers across the country indicate a different story.
Image: Short pencil, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment