Archive for the ‘ Parenting ’ Category

Your Kids’ Birth Order Doesn’t Shape Their Personalities After All

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

siblingsWhen I was younger, I enjoyed being the oldest child in my family and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I was–and still am–what some people would consider a “typical” first-born. Structured and controlling? Yep. Diligent and eager to please? Check. I proudly owned my oldest-child personality, both the good and the not-so-great…until I read a recent study that says birth order doesn’t meaningfully affect personality or IQ.

The study, which was led by University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts and postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian, looked at 377,000 high school students and was the biggest birth order and personality study ever. It controlled for some factors that might have skewed the results, such as the family’s economic background, how many kids each family had, and the ages of the kids at the time of the study. While first-borns scored one point higher on IQ-point tests than later-borns, the difference is so small that it is, as Roberts put it, “meaningless.” Also unremarkable? Any differences in personality. Yes, first-borns were more “extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious” than later-borns, but not enough to be noticable. The bottom line is that we’re not so different, first-borns and later-borns.

The findings are not only interesting for siblings; they are something that parents should take into consideration as well. “The message of this study is that birth order probably should not influence your parenting, because it’s not meaningfully related to your kid’s personality or IQ,” Damian said.

While it’s not surprising to me that there isn’t a notable difference in IQ, I admit that the personality bit through me for a loop. My brothers and I fit the oldest child/middle child/youngest child stereotypes to a T. I know it’s crazy to doubt a study of this magnitude, but I still believe in astrology, so I can’t say I’m always logical. Either way, the study’s findings are something to consider when I have my own kids, though I don’t think I would have treated them differently anyway (at least not consciously!).

What do you think: Does birth order shape personality?

What You Need to Know About Birth Order
What You Need to Know About Birth Order
What You Need to Know About Birth Order

Hannah Werthan is the associate social media editor for Parents.com. She is married to an oldest child who is the definition of a perfectionist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Image via Shutterstock

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The Best Money-Saving Apps

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Ellie Kay, a Moms Money Clinic advisor for Parents, guest blogs regularly to answer mail about money issues. Today she’s helping parents looking for money saving sites and apps.

Q. I love to save money online and by using my smart phone. But I only have so much time to search sites and space to store apps. What are your favorite tools for budgeting, travel, couponing, and more?

A. There are several apps I love to recommend. One is RetailMeNot, which is so easy to use. Every one of my family members has the app, which features more than $400,000 worth of coupon codes for brick-and-mortar stores as well as online shopping sites. It literally saves each of us hundreds of dollars a year. The beauty of it is that you can look for coupon codes instantly. The other day at Old Navy I saved $5 off a $10 purchase while standing in line at checkout.

But I’m always learning about more and more websites and apps through the people I encounter. Here are some more great apps for busy parents.

Budgeting Mint is a terrific site and app for budgeting that I recommend frequently. It lets you set up a spending plan, pay your bills, and see your credit score. Also check out GoodBudget (formerly EEBA) if you’re a family that likes using the envelope system; it also lets you share the budget with your partner so you stay on the same page.

Saving on gas Waze is my favorite GPS app. It calculates the best route using both highways and side streets. Plus, it tells you the gas prices for stations in your area and calculates how far off your route each one is. AAA’s TripTik calculates mileage based on the most economical route. GasBuddy is another tool for calculating trip cost, gas prices, and more.

Coupons While RetailMeNot is my top app for retail shopping, you should also check out Coupon Sherpa for in-store coupons to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you’re a fan of paper coupons, use SnipSnap to take pictures of the coupon, and then use your phone when it comes time to redeem.

Entertainment Tickets Goldstar is a great site for finding half-price tickets for shows, concerts, and events. Veterans and their families should take advantage of the Veterans Tickets Foundation, which provides free admission to sporting events, concerts, performing arts and family activities for family members of troops killed in action, members of the military, and veterans.

Parking You’ll never overpay for parking when you use BestParking. You can search by city or airport making it a valuable tool for trip planning and getting a good price on the go.

Airfare Looking for a great rate for an upcoming trip? Keep an eye out for the best time to fly at the best price with Hopper or BookingBuddy.com. Travelzoo is another place to find affordable last-minute deals.

Cleaning up your inbox You probably sign up for e-mails from your favorite stores and brands because they send out frequent sales, deals, and coupons to keep you shopping. But if you’re tired of getting 30 e-mails in your inbox every morning, sign up for Unroll.Me. It lets you unsubscribe from companies and lists you don’t want to hear from anymore.

What are some of your top money-saving apps and websites? Let me know so I can keep spreading the word!

How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget

Mother and daughter putting coins into piggy bank via Shutterstock

Ellie Kay is a family financial expert, the author of The 60-Minute Money Workout, and a mom of seven. Read more of her advice at elliekay.com.

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Hooray! Working Moms Are More Accepted Than Ever

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Working womenWhen asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was the never the little girl who responded, “be a mommy”. Up until middle school, I had my heart set on being the next big fashion designer and the thought of motherhood was secondary—if even there at all.

It wasn’t until recently that the idea of having (eventually!) a family of my own grew on me. However, if and when that day comes, I plan to continue my career wholeheartedly.

And that’s why new research from San Diego State University came as a great relief to me. The study, which was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, confirmed that millennials are more accepting of working mothers than any other previous generation.

In 2010, only 22 percent of surveyed 12th graders thought that a preschool-aged child would be negatively impacted if their mom worked—an all-time low compared to 34 percent in the 1990s and 59 percent in the 1970s.

The same increased support was shown when adults’ perception of mothers reentering the workforce were examined. Only 35 percent of adults in 2012 thought a preschool-aged child would suffer if their mother returned to work, compared to 68 percent in 1977.

The study’s author, Jean Twenge notes, “This goes against the popular belief that millennials want to ‘turn back the clock,’ or that they are less supportive of working moms because their own mothers worked. Instead they are more supportive.”

In my opinion, the decline in belief that children suffer when their moms go off to work is because children are being exposed to a greater variety of household scenarios—whether in their own home, their peers’, or through the media—than previous generations.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to watching this pattern continue as support for working mamas grows even greater—since one day I might just be one of them!

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who came to her senses in high school and realized fashion design was not her calling. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

Working Moms: Best Tips
Working Moms: Best Tips
Working Moms: Best Tips

Image: Business women via Shutterstock

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Rachel Dolezal Isn’t “Transracial”: How She’s Hurting Families Like Her Own

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

When I first saw the Rachel Dolezal “transracial” stories pop up in my newsfeed, I figured it was just another wild story to fill the news channels’ insatiable appetite for the weird and unusual. But that was before I actually sat down and watched her Today Show interview. In it, she described the reason for her deception—to fit in better with her son, who is African-American: “When I got full custody of Izaiah, he said, ‘You are my real mom’…. and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.” And that fired me up.

We are a transracial family: My husband and I are Caucasian, and our daughters are Asian. That doesn’t make my husband and me Asian by default, and that doesn’t mean that we have to darken our hair and change our eye shape in order to be our daughters’ “real” parents. (The fact that two countries gave their seal of approval to our adoption and that we’re the ones who kiss boo-boos and celebrate every milestone kind of makes it official.) By saying that she needed to look like her son in order to be his “real” parent, Rachel’s reasoning seems to be at complete odds with what she was striving to do in her role at the NAACP: She’s saying that a person’s exterior matters just as much (if not more) than the interior. And it breaks my heart that a woman who is so clearly focused on racial issues, and a fellow mom who adopted transracially, would actually make the statement that we can’t be “real” parents if we don’t look like our kids.

Transracial adoption isn’t always easy. There’s the stares and the whispering and the sometimes icky comments when you’re just heading to the grocery store or hoping for a nice family meal out. There’s the all-too-frequent questioning of whether you’re a real family, whether your kids are real sisters. There’s a need to develop new skills, like learning how to properly care for black hair and skin, and some new considerations you need to make, such as whether your neighborhood is diverse and open enough to truly welcome your family. And most importantly, there’s the essential task of ensuring that your children are in touch with their birth culture, and that they understand what it means to be Asian or African-American or Native American or Latino in our culture. But to co-opt your child’s heritage when it isn’t your own smacks of disrespect, to both your child and to her first family, who deserves to be represented as fully as possible in her life.

It disturbs me that the word “transracial” is being used for this story—a word that until now has been mostly used for families like mine. As a group of transracial adoptees have expressed in an open letter, it’s damaging to a group of people who are already have so many challenges related to race:

Dolezal and others have perpetuated the false notion that a person can simply choose to identify as a different race or ethnicity. As extensive evidence-based research and first-person narratives have shown, we do not live in a so-called “post-racial society.” Damaging forces like racism make it virtually impossible for those with black or brown bodies to simply “put on” or “take off” race in the same or similar manner that Dolezal has employed. For transracial adoptees, navigating and negotiating the racism in our families, schools, and communities is a regular and compulsory part of our lives.

Using transracial to describe Rachel’s behavior cheapens it for the kids and parents who live with the complexities of being in a transracial family every single day.

Lisa Milbrand is Parents.com’s In Name Only blogger, and the mom of two girls.

 

Image: Shutterstock.com

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Strides Toward Independence

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

As a grade-schooler, I would climb over our backyard fence (which bordered a playground) and walk to class on my own. I usually came home for lunch, and remember bringing friends with me—sometimes without my mom being home. I wasn’t a latchkey kid by any means. I had loving, involved parents. It was simply a different era, when free-range kids were the norm and there was far less concern about stranger danger (not that the world was truly any safer, mind you).

I have no desire to return to that era of laissez-faire parenting. Still, when my 10-year-old daughter, Isabella, asked if she could start walking the three blocks to school on her own, I thought it was high time to let her. And the advice in our magazine confirmed that it was age-appropriate. First, though, I had to teach her to cross the street.

We went out on a Sunday afternoon and practiced together. I modeled how to look both ways and watch for cars that might be turning left or right into the crosswalk. I stressed the importance of waiting for the image of the pedestrian walking to light up before going—and never to cross when the red hand was showing, even if she was certain there was no traffic coming. (That was a challenging behavior to model, as New Yorkers don’t wait for an invitation to cross and constantly assert their right-of-way over cars regardless of what the lights indicate). Then I shadowed her, watching from half a block behind as she made her way home from school.

She was ready. Were we? Isabella had shown us that she deserved our trust, but how would we know she was okay? For many kids, technology is the answer: They call on their cell when they arrive safely. Only one problem: Isabella doesn’t have a phone yet. So we worked out a compromise: Once at school, she would go up to the school office and make a quick “I’m okay” call. The administrator agreed to let her—in part because she supported the idea of waiting to get her a cell.

Now I get a call five times a week from my darling daughter at 8:03 am: “Hi, I made it to school, dad.” I tell her I love her and wish her a wonderful day. And then my wife and I can rest easy. Isabella asks repeatedly if she can stop calling. The answer is no.

Still, she’s taken other noteworthy steps on the path toward independence this year. She now gets her homework done on her own before we return from the office, which has facilitated a far more peaceful evening routine. She picked out her fifth-grade science project (pictured) on her own, recruited and tested subjects without our help, and put the whole thing together with minimal help. Heck, she even got it done early. She has also started going for “out lunch” on Fridays with friends, a lesson not only in independence but also, we hope, in money management ($12 doesn’t go as far as you’d think, especially in Manhattan).

Recently, she got her ears pierced. My wife wanted to wait until Isabella showed she was responsible enough to clean her own ears three times a day for eight weeks so as to prevent infection. But Isabella had proved herself in other areas (including street-crossing), so she got her wish. True to her word, she has cared for them properly, and has only one more week to go.

I can’t claim that there aren’t areas in need of improvement. Isabella needs to be reminded to change the empty toilet paper roll and (sometimes) to set the table. We’re still working on life skills like fetching her own snack and sorting her own laundry.

Even so, she’s come a long way this year, and her graduation from elementary school is more than a formality. My baby is growing up. She’ll keep making strides toward independence during middle school, and we’ll gradually have to learn to let go.

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

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