March 25, 2014

Two Mothers

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation and Simcha Fisher encourages us to see Mary as Hero 

Outsiders may see Mary as passive, as witlessly, helplessly receptive to the intrusion of the demanding angel. But it was her choice -- the choice of a hero -- to step foot outside of her peaceful Shire.  She is the hero who pressed on, the small one who had the heart, the strength, the courage to face the darkness and to unmake it.

She only saw this after reading Joseph Pearce's essay on the Christian themes in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings

Tom Shippey, an Anglo-Saxon scholar and Tolkien expert, states in his book, The Road to Middle Earth, that in "Anglo-Saxon belief, and in European popular tradiion both before and after that, March 25 is the date of the Crucifixion." It is also, of course, the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the absolute center of all history as the moment when God himself became incarnate as man.
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It is, however, very comforting in the midst of these dark days that the most popular book of the 20th century and the most popular movie of the new century draw their power and their glory from the light of the Gospel.

This Mother Tore Off Labels And Nurtured Her Son’s Hidden Genius

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob was diagnosed with autism when he was 2, and doctors said he would never speak. …. When teachers told her there was no hope, she rebelled and took her own path.
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Instead of focusing on Jacob’s limitations, Kristine nurtured his interests. Now her 15-year-old son is on track to win a Nobel Prize for his work in theoretical physics.

Relying on the insights she developed at her in-home daycare, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark” — his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This philosophy, along with her belief in the power of childhood play, helped her son grow in incredible ways.

“He liked repetitive behaviors. He would play with a glass and look at the light, twisting it for hours on end. Instead of taking it away, I would give him 50 glasses, fill them with water at different levels and let him explore,” she says. “I surrounded him with whatever he loved.”

The more she did that, the more it worked. Then one night, as he was being tucked in, Jacob spoke. “It was like music … because everybody had said it was an impossible thing,” Kristine recalls.”I would tuck him in every night and say, ‘Goodnight, baby Jacob, you’re my baby angel, and I love you very much.’ One night he looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Night-night baby bagel.’ All along he must have thought I had been calling him a bagel!”

Jacob is now a student of theoretical physics at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, with an IQ measured to be higher than Einstein’s.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink

January 9, 2014

"His code name was T5"

From Reflections of a Paralytic » Sperm Donor Recalls Meeting His Donor-Daughter Decades Later

All Narelle Grech from Australia knew of her father was that his code name was T5, he was brown-haired and brown-eyed with O-positive blood type. “When I was a teenager, I carried that information around with me on a scrap of paper, the way other kids carried a photograph of their dad,” she said. “It was my way of keeping a link to him because I had nothing else.”

Born in 1983, Narelle started searching for her biological father fifteen years ago. That search became even more urgent when she was diagnosed her with advanced bowel cancer in 2011, a disease which doctors said might kill her within the next five years. The disease is genetic and she didn’t get it from her mother’s side. Shortly after her diagnosis, Grech has also discovered that she has eight half-siblings created with her biological father’s sperm: “Each one may be a genetic time bomb waiting to go off and it’s probable that they don’t know anything about it.”

Narelle was finally united with her biological father in February of 2013, she passed away just one month later at the age of 30. Last October Ray Tonna was a guest on an Australian talk show to discuss his experience with anonymous sperm donation. In this teaser video for the episode, he recalls what it was like meeting his daughter for the first time:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2013

Hooking Up

Intercollegiate Review Why Hooking Up Is Letting You Down  by J. Budziszewski

In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. They still live like libertines, sometimes they still talk like libertines, but it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists. My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, but theirs is paying the price.

I am not speaking only of the medical price. To be sure, that price is ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. Consider, for example, broken childhoods. What is it like for your family to break up because dad has found someone new, then to break up again because mom has? What is it like to be passed from stepparent to stepparent to stepparent? What is it like to grow up knowing that you would have had a sister, but she was aborted?
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We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that term in the broadest sense: not merely mechanical design (this part goes here, this part goes there) but also what kind of being we are. Because the design is not merely biological but also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual, the languages of natural law, natural design, natural meanings, and natural purposes are intertranslatable, and most of the time interchangeable. Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t.

The problem with twenty-first-century Western sexuality is that it flouts the embedded principles and the inbuilt meanings of the human sexual design.
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Mutual and total self-giving, strong feelings of attachment, intense pleasure, and the procreation of new life are linked by human nature in a single complex of meanings and purpose. For this reason, if we try to split them apart, we split ourselves. Failure to grasp this fact is more ruinous to our lives, and more difficult to correct, than any amount of ignorance about genital warts. It ought to be taught, but it isn’t.

The problem is that we don’t want to believe that these things are really joined; we don’t want the package deal that they represent. We want to transcend our own nature, like gods. We want to pick and choose among the elements of our sexual design, enjoying just the pieces that we want and not the others. Some people pick and choose one element, others pick and choose another, but they share the illusion that they can pick and choose. Sometimes such picking and choosing is called “having it all.” That is precisely what it isn’t. A more apt description would be refusing it all—insisting on having just a part—and in the end, not even getting that.

Time magazine 9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too  Boys get hurt as much as, if not more than, girls

Rosalind Wiseman, the mother of two boys, spent two years of research for her new book, Masterminds and Wingmen, delving into the world of boys.

she interviewed hundreds of boys across the country — individually, in groups, over the course of extended e-mail correspondences — and their stories are really quite striking.

As Wiseman writes, we assume that boys are the perpetrators and beneficiaries of hookup culture — and thus we tend to ignore its effects on them. But those effects, it turns out, can be rather rough.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2013

Baby on the phone

 Baby On The Phone Cute, but babies are always cute.

A very modern milestone: 40% of babies use a mobile phone or tablet before they can even speak full sentences

Most parents monitor their child's development by the first time they crawl, walk and eventually talk.  But now there's a new milestone that mothers and fathers can eagerly look forward to: the first use of a mobile phone.

Nearly two in five babies have used a mobile phone or tablet - before they can even speak full sentences, new research has found.

A survey has found that 38 per cent of children aged under two have used gadgets like iPhones or Kindles for playing games or watching films.  In 2011 the same figure was just 10 per cent.

The researchers said that the findings showed a ‘fundamental change in the way kids consume media’.
They should also serve as a wake-up call to parents who increasingly turn to gadgets to entertain their children - but could be doing them harm.

The current recommendation from the American Academy of Paediatrics is that the under-twos should have no screen time at all.

If you want some really cute photos of kids, look at the Crazy Photos a Creative Dad Takes of His Daughters.

Also Artist Queenie Liao who takes adorable photos capturing her sleeping son in flights of the imagination

-Sleeping-Baby-Dreams Artist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2013

Parenting tips

Another horrifying example of our toxic  culture.  60% of teens face 'sexting' pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as 'pretty normal' by youngsters

ChildLine poll of 500 children showed the extent of sexting culture in schools. A majority of children had been asked for explicit pictures. Half of children had received 'sexts' and 40 per cent had taken them. 15 per cent of those who took pictures sent them to total strangers.

I'm with Lewis C.K. when it comes to cellphones for kids. 

 

Good for parents, good for kids. Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior

A regular bedtime schedule is unquestionably helpful for parents, but a new study has found it that it may be even more beneficial for their children.
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After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were……The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.

Another reason to breastfeed. Health risk: formula milk has '100 times more aluminium than breast'

Formula baby milk can contain 100 times more aluminum than breast milk, which could pose risks to health, researchers have warned after a new study.
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"Aluminum can also produce anaemia in individuals, which is not then helped by giving people more iron.
"How may this aluminum be impacting on the immediate and long-term health of the baby - these are questions that are still unanswered.
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There's a very good chance that some of this aluminum is coming from the packaging and an equal chance it is in the ingredients. Processing is also likely to be a source."

Consider seriously music lessons for your kids.  NYT Is Music the Key to Success?

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
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The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
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Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.”
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Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.”
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For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas.
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Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

October 9, 2013

Parenting Tips: keep reading bedtime stories, habits for young men, alternatives to yelling, setting dating rules

The Child Is the Father to the Man: 9 Foundational Habits Young Men Should Start Now to Raise Themselves Right

1. Save 20% of Your Money
2. Exercise Daily
3. Eat Healthy
4. Plan Weekly and Daily
5. Read for Pleasure
6. Brush and Floss
7. Meditate
8. Journal
9. Serve

How stopping bedtime stories too early can damage children's literacy: Those who are read to are more likely to enjoy books

Oxford University Press surveyed 1,000 children aged seven to 11.  Half of young readers said they'd enjoy reading more if parents helped.  Many parents abandon reading with their children from the age of eight.  Half of eight and nine year olds were 'rarely or never read to at home'

Yelling Makes Parenting Harder, Study Says

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan released the results of a study that showed that yelling at teens actually aggravated problematic behavior rather than extinguishing it.  Likewise, teens who were consistently yelled at had higher incidences of depression, school problems, lying, stealing and fighting than kids who did not experience “harsh verbal punishment.”
Researchers also found that the more parents yelled, the more they felt they needed to yell as the problem behaviors increased creating a vicious cycle of yelling begetting bad behavior which begat more yelling.  Most interestingly, the researchers also found that a strong parent-child bond did not protect children or parents from the negative consequences of yelling that I listed above.

Dr. Greg offers 5 more effective ways of dealing with your child.

Children who start dating too young are more likely to have behavioral problems than those who wait for love, says study

Survey found the strain of a relationship can have damaging effects.  Child daters are twice as likely to have unsafe sex and use alcohol.
Parents should be concerned if their children are dating by age 11
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2013

Parenting roundup: Organic family planning apps, hormonal contraception, Gameboy back, unruly children get fat

New app helps track best times to conceive  It's called Glow and it's available at the App Store.  Tech Crunch described it thusly

completely free fertility tracker, which lets women enter detailed data about their menstrual cycles and the symptoms surrounding them to help predict their exact level of fertility each day. The Glow fertility predicting app can be used worldwide.

It sounds very much like the science behind Natural Family Planning which has its own app MyFertility MD available at the  App Store and on all mobile devices .  The developers of the app  call it 'organic family planning' and an app by doctors for women.

The organic alternative sounds especially good after reading this story.  Is your birth control pill controlling YOU? New book claims hormonal contraception is a tool to suppress women in society

British author Holly Grigg-Spall has written 'Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control' and believes that a number of studies proves her point that contraception is in fact controlling women.

She adds that women’s unquestioning acceptance of such powerful medications is in some ways a submission to a culture steeped in hatred of the feminine.
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While Ms Grigg-Spall was on birth control she felt a distance between herself and her ‘femaleness'.  She said, "Over the years [of being on the Pill] I felt no connection between my self and my body, between my self and the world around me, between my femaleness and myself.’

A 2011 study of women both on and off hormonal contraception found that the medication did affect a woman's memory.
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A 2012 study revealed that women on hormonal birth control - which suppresses naturally occurring testosterone - were attracted to men with lower testosterone levels.

The World Health Organization has declared several forms of oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement therapy as a Group 1 Carcinogen.  Links to WHO data on Birth Control Pill and Estrogen Replacement Carcinogenicity here.

Rise of the 'Gameboy Back': Children are developing curvature of the spine because they hunch over consoles and smartphones

They say the modern phenomenon, which causes curvature of the spine and sometimes herniated (slipped) discs, is a result of children sitting hunched over games consoles and smartphones for hours on end.

They do not however believe a ban on such devices is required. Instead more attention needs to be paid to correct posture, they said.

Surgeons Piet van Loon and Andre Soeterbroek said the last time such symptoms were observed was more than 100 years ago, when child labour was common in Europe.  The problem is particularly prevalent in eight to 18-year-olds.
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'It makes no difference to the body whether you’re hunched over in a cigar factory or spending eight hours over an iPad.'

Device Nags You to Sit Up StraightLumoBack Sensor Vibrates Whenever You Slouch.  Lumoback website

Your Personal Posture Trainer…$150

LUMOback acts as your personal posture trainer, gently correcting you and offering encouragement in your journey toward better posture and a healthier lifestyle. It serves as a posture monitor, providing consistent reminders to maintain healthy posture and be more mindful of your body.

Our mobile app allows you to easily track your progress as you improve your posture. It also encourages you to be more active by tracking how many steps you take each day and what percentage of the day you spend sitting, standing, walking, and running. You can even monitor your sleep patterns and track your mood changes.

Inducing and Augmenting Labor May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Autism

Pregnant women whose labors are induced or augmented may have an increased risk of bearing children with autism, especially if the baby is male, according to a large, retrospective analysis by researchers at Duke Medicine and the University of Michigan.

The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics on Aug. 12, 2013, do not prove cause and effect, but suggest the need for more research, particularly as labor induction and augmentation have been used more frequently in recent years.
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The findings suggest that among male children, labor that was both induced and augmented was associated with a 35 percent higher risk of autism, compared with labor that received neither treatment.

Disciplining children really IS for their own good: Unruly kids become fatter adults

Encouraging 'good' behavior in youngsters definitely makes parents' lives easier. It is also assumed to instill positive personality traits that will help them grow in to well rounded adults. And now new research has revealed that a person's behavior as a child could have a startling impact on their waistline in their future.

The longitudinal study observed a group of Hawaiian schoolchildren in the 1960s and then compared their vital statistics today as 50-year-old adults.
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ORI scientist Sarah Hampson, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health, Hawaii report these findings in the August issue of Health Psychology. …This is the first study in which all the big five personality traits assessed in childhood have been used to predict objective health status assessed by multiple biomarkers over 40 years later in older adulthood.

Others have shown that more conscientiousness children live longer. Now we have shown that these conscientious children are also healthier at midlife' noted Dr. Hampson, while on a panel on personality and health at the national American Psychological Association meeting in Honolulu.

Hawaiian school-children rated by their teachers in the 1960s as less conscientious had worse global health status as adults. They also had significantly greater obesity, high cholesterol, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand If you have unruly kids and they do get fat, they probably have a better chance of surviving the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis.

'I survived a flesh-eating bug because I'm FAT': 27 stone man's excess flab meant bug had plenty to eat - giving doctors time to save him

Russell Kimble, 39, developed necrotising fasciitis after a routine operation.  The bug was spreading at a rate of three centimeters an hour.  He spent nine days in an induced coma and had 20 operations, spending a total of seven weeks in hospital and missing his own wedding
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2013

Parents should know some netspeak and about 'chore apps'

The average teen-ager spends 4 hours online.  Know what LMIRL, POS and ASL mean? The netspeak you really should know if you want to keep on top of what your children are up to online

On average only one in three parents know the most common terms.

LMIR: Let's meet in real life
POS: Parent over shoulder
ASL: Age, sex, location
YOLO:  You only live once

Apps That Help Kids Like Chores

Few parents see digital games as a promising way to pry kids off the couch—much less inspire them to be useful around the house. But a new generation of chore apps, designed primarily for the under-12 set, aims to turn kids into bed makers, laundry folders and toy picker-uppers by offering rewards ranging from funny collectible monsters to redeemable digital coins.

Brooke Wise of Dallas says a $3.99 smartphone app called You Rule Chores has her three children, Justin, 12, Rafaela, 9, and Will, 4, actually competing to see who can do more housework. The children were involved from the start, helping their mom enter the list of chores, including laundry, cleaning up after the family dog and loading and unloading the dishwasher.
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For chores completed—and approved by Ms. Wise—the app doles out digital coins the kids can redeem for rewards, such as TV time or a trip to the yogurt store. The siblings compete to see who wins the most coins and like seeing their avatars earn new strengths and skills each time they finish a job. Rafaela says she loves playing with her kitty avatar, and "it's fun getting paid" in rewards.

For Ms. Wise, who says she was concerned about keeping the kids busy this summer, the results have been surprising: "They make their bed, pick up their rooms, and my daughter goes out in the yard and picks up the dog poop! I'm like, 'Who are these children?'
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App designer Brian Linder says he and his business partner Nathan Clark launched You Rule Chores in 2011 because "we knew it was always a pain in the butt to get our kids to do work around the house." They wanted to motivate kids without "the nagging and the repeating yourself over and over until you sound like an insane person and end up doing the chores yourself," says Mr. Linder, of Dallas, whose own sons are 9 and 12.
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Chores teach kids self-control and self-regulation, says Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute, a Golden, Colo., provider of parent training and resources. Research shows self-regulation—learning to invest effort and persist in finishing difficult tasks—is a powerful predictor of academic and career success. It's best to start instilling the habit early,

Other chore apps:

ChoreMonster
Epic Win, a role-playing to-do list manager
iRewardChart
Chore Pad
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:25 PM | Permalink

NFP and Clue

RealLiveScience asks Is Catholic Birth Control or Natural Family Planning (NFP)  Based on Science?  And the surprising answer is Yes.

And it's that same science that's now being used in a new app called Clue.

Could an app REPLACE the contraceptive pill (and warn us when the dreaded PMT will strike)?

An entrepreneur has claimed that her new app could replace the contraceptive pill, and even warn women when to expect premenstrual tension.
Company owner Ida Tin, 34, said that she wants to change the family planning industry and that there has been no innovation since the invention of the Pill 60 years ago.

The free iPhone app, called Clue, tracks the user's menstrual cycle and can predict the times they can have sex without the risk of getting pregnant.

It can also be used for women trying for a baby because the app tells them when they are most fertile and when the chances of getting pregnant are at their highest. 
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‘One of the things I have heard again and again from women over the last few years is that many have concerns about taking hormones every day for contraception,’ says Tin.

‘Millions of women cannot take the Pill because of severe side effects. For these women, Clue can help them decode their cycles so they can make good decisions.’

If you use this app, you are using natural family planning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:08 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2013

Parenting: Why women don't want to be CEOs, infants' automatic response to being carried, the 'cognitive reserve of childhood reading

Giving up a husband, children and friends? No thanks! Why 75% of today's women don't want to be CEOs

Marketing firm, Zeno Group quizzed more than 1,000 female respondents aged between 21 and 33, and found that only 15 per cent yearned to be number one at a 'large or prominent organization.'

The remainder saw high-powered roles as a block to settling down, starting a family and maintaining friendships. Instead, they looked to positions that would allow them to achieve a work-life balance.

Almost half (49per cent) didn't think perks, such as seven-figure paychecks, company cars and free gym memberships, were worth scaling the career ladder.And 90 per cent agreed that women business executives have to make more sacrifices than their male counterparts.

Why Does Infant Carrying Soothe Babies when Other Things Fail?

It turns out that carrying an infant triggers a three-way mechanism in the brain that suppresses involuntary muscle movements & struggling while also dramatically reducing the infant’s heart rate.  These changes happen almost immediately.  In fact, this process is such an automatic response to being carried that it could almost be considered a previously undiscovered reflex.  The study noted that merely holding a baby does not stimulate this reflex.  Only carrying does.

Moreover, this relaxing response to being carried by one’s parent is not just found in humans, it is consistent across mammals–from mouse pups to lion cubs–indicating that this response is a deeply ingrained part of mammalian brain programming.

Childhood readers stay sharper in old age, brain study says published this week in the journal Neurology

If you have one of those kids who always has a nose buried in a book, here’s a reason to be happy: Scientists  say activities at any age that stimulate the brain may help preserve brain power into old age.
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It’s not that those activities will keep the brain from decline, but that the rate of decline is slowed, the scientists said. That was true independent of common neuropathic conditions, such as plaques and tangles, they said. Mental activities through life seem to provide a “cognitive reserve,” the scientists said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:20 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2013

For Fathers Here and Gone

Heartwrenching Photo of a Boy Spending Some Time with His Dad

 Boy-With-Picture-Of-Dead-Dad
The son of U.S. Army Special Forces Medic Benjamin Wise spending some time with his dad, as caught by his mom. The boy's father was killed in Afghanistan on January 15th.


What My Father Taught Me: Mike Rowe

The fact that we heated most of the old farmhouse with nothing but a wood stove was a source of great pride for my father, and the inspiration for endless witticisms. ( ("Chop your own wood—it'll warm you twice!")
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Hauling the wood back to the house was a full day's work. But splitting the larger chunks into pieces that fit the insatiable wood stove—that was a chore without end. Every day after school meant an hour in the woodpile with Dad. I can still hear his voice as I prepared to swing the ax: "Aim for the chopping block, Mike, not the wood. If you aim for the wood you'll hit nothing."
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But up there in the woodpile, the real gratification would be delayed. Because my dad was not just teaching me how to swing an ax—he was teaching me that work and play were two sides of the same coin. He was showing me how to enjoy the challenges of doing a hard thing. He was preparing me to become a perpetual apprentice—a role that eventually would define my unlikely career in television.

Everything My Father Taught Me

Whether we grow up to be movie stars, engineers, mechanics, or something entirely unexpected, we were shaped by what we learned from our fathers and mentors. Here, stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and Ty Pennington join PM editors, students, and everyday folks in compiling the ultimate collection of fatherly wisdom.

The Sheer Joy of Fatherhood

“To Forgive My Father” Children of Divorce and the Parable of the Prodigal Son

children of divorce tend to cast themselves in the role of the abandoned father.  They see their parent as the prodigal son who leaves the family because of some sin.  Children of divorce tend to hear this parable not so much as a comforting story of the abundance of God’s forgiveness and love, but as a command to forgive the prodigal parent.

Albert John ('Van') Van der Leun: A Sharp Man

My father liked sharp. He was a Gillette kind of man. He liked to look sharp, feel sharp and be sharp. I never saw him unshaven except very early in the morning before he’d had a chance to lather up. Beards? He was a child of the hard parts of the Depression and beards were for bums.
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My father was a sharp-dressed man. He liked the snap of a freshly laundered, starched and ironed white shirt. His suits were always cleaned and pressed and his shoes shined to a military gloss. I still have many of his gold and silver tie-tacks and cuff-links and although I seldom wear them, I do wear them. They make me feel sharp.

Always Be a Gentleman' and Other Fatherly Advice

• Always be a gentleman. To my father, a gentleman is someone who never offends another person needlessly. He lived that code. He stood when a woman entered the room. He tipped his hat when he wished to pay respect. He even kept his mouth shut even when his calls were challenged while he officiated football and baseball games. His sturdiest reply to insults was "Go peddle your papers."

• Always keep your shoes shined. QED.

• Save your money. It will be your best friend. Here my father reflected the Great Depression and his experience of graduating from Yale with every athletic honor—only to discover the sole job available was digging post holes for the local electric utility.

• Any week in which you do not put some money aside for a rainy day is a wasted week.

• If your boss or employer is not making money on you, you will eventually lose your job. Your work has to permit him to profit on what you produce. If you and the employer just break even you are not being properly productive. Get to work early and stay late if necessary.

'I'll never measure up to my dad'  Adrian Mourby's father had a dignity that few men show these days. He was a good husband, parent and grandfather. In short, he was a grownup

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2013

Gives birth while 'dead', comes back to life

What an astonishing story.

Erica Nigrelli, Pregnant Teacher Gives Birth While Dead, Coworkers Help Bring Her Back To Life

Erica Nigrelli died, gave birth and was then brought back to life. The Houston high school teacher was 36 weeks pregnant when she collapsed in her school’s hallway and her heart stopped.

Her colleagues at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas, started performing CPR and used a defibrillator to jump-start her heart. By the time paramedics transported her to a nearby hospital and performed an emergency caesarean section, her heart still wasn’t beating, Click 2 Houston reports. Baby Elayna, who technically had a postmortem birth, is now stable and well.

"She's just a baby," Nigrelli said.  "A normal baby." 

Elayna, who is 3 months old, weighs 9 pounds and will be taken off oxygen support soon. Her mother was diagnosed with an undetected heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle walls become abnormally thick.

"Apparently I told her I feel very faint and I put my head down and I essentially just passed out," Nigrelli told Keye TV.

Both Nigrelli and her daughter spent several weeks in intensive care. Her co-workers have been credited with saving both of their lives.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:35 PM | Permalink

May 16, 2013

The IVF industry - "human manufacturing on an industrial scale"

IVF may have brought joy – but it’s also brought misery and ended lives

With Sir Robert Edwards’s death we should still remember that ‘playing God’ brings problems

'I wish IVF had never been invented' It's brought joy to so many. But, as the scientist behind IVF dies, SAMANTHA BRICK says it's given her nothing but heartache…

For every woman lucky enough to fulfil her dream of motherhood, there are many more disillusioned women like me who remain childless.
Lives have been destroyed as well as created. Frequently, marriages do not survive the turmoil unleashed by IVF. There are also those who, years after their IVF has failed, are still paying off the cost of their extortionately-priced treatment.
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Let’s not forget that it is an industry — one which in the UK alone is worth at least £500 million, with 59.7 per cent of IVF cycles paid for privately in 2011. Today, it is a business first and foremost — and one which has depressingly low success rates.
At best, IVF offers a one-in-four chance of having a baby — a rate which rapidly diminishes with a woman’s age.
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Yet I also believe that there are some things we simply shouldn’t meddle with — and artificially creating life is one of them.

The Human Egg Rush

Thanks to tremendous advances in biotechnological prowess, living human bodies—or rather their constituent parts and biological functions—are increasingly being looked upon as valuable commercial commodities. Human eggs (oocytes) are a prime example. Ounce for ounce, ova are surely the most valuable product in the world, with some young women receiving $50,000 and up for twenty or thirty microscopic eggs for use in eugenic in vitro fertilization (IVF). There is a catch: Sellers have to risk their health, fecundity, and lives to earn their paycheck.
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one out of one hundred women experiences ovarian swelling that can enlarge her ovaries to the size of a grapefruit, a condition that often causes the belly to fill with fluid, requiring hospitalization. Some women even suffer ovarian rupture. Other potential health hazards include infection, pulmonary and vascular complications (including life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome), blood clots, and future cancers. In rare cases, hyper-ovulation results in death.
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The growing demand for eggs also opens up the possibility of abortion becoming a remunerative activity. In order to increase the egg supply, Dutch and Israeli scientists are experimenting with ovaries taken from later-term aborted female fetuses. The ovaries are kept alive after the abortion and the fetus’s immature eggs extracted. If the eggs can ever be matured, the scientists theorize, they could be used in infertility treatments and biotechnological experiments.

The Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, has already argued that women who want to abort should be paid to gestate longer in their term before undergoing termination. “If a woman has the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy,” he asks, “why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit? Many women would likely use the proceeds of such sales to finance college educations or to help raise their children.”

Bad Catholic asks Why the Church Would be so Ridiculous as to Oppose IVF

The child is not owned by his mother, father, community, or state. He is a unique human subject, a universe unto himself, an unfathomable subjectivity — a being who finds himself free, existing for his own sake.  In the glare of this freedom, it occurs to me that I cannot own a child any more than I can own an adult. I can only care for him, and care is an action of love.

The child is cared for by the duty, responsibility and desire of love, because love is the only category in which one human being can say to another “you are mine” without meaning “I own you.” Love is the only category under which the child can blossom, because under its star he is taken care of, with a care that does not infringe upon the fact that he is a human person who ultimately belongs to himself
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Outside of love, there is only economy.
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In the practice of IVF, and the act of procreation amounts to a process of 12,000 dollars, egg-harvesting, masturbation, and the subsequent laboratory work of trained specialists (with some obvious differences depending on the procedure). The creation of children is performed by the cost-counting fingers of economy, not by an act of mutual self-gift.

The evils and difficulties that result from IVF are not the reason IVF is wrong, they are the natural result of separating life from the act of love, indicators of something rotten at the core of this scientific procedure that holds high the banner of compassion. The manipulation and abuse of women who donate ovums, the “disposal” of unique human lives, the inability of the reproductive technology industry to keep the multiple-conception rate at normal levels and the subsequent abortions that compensate for this inability — these are problems of economy. The commodities trafficked are life and death.
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The Church is simply saying the method of creation is sin against love and that subsequent repentance and love must overcome this origin
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The Church is not saying that couples suffering with infertility should not seek to overcome their infertility.
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The success of natural methods of treating infertility has been shown to rival IVF, and they do so without the abortions, elevated risk of birth defects, price, and all the rest. Two recent studies have shown that the live birth rate of women treated with Natural Reproductive Technology is entirely comparable to the live birth rate of women treated with IVF, though larger cohort studies are required. For women diagnosed with “subfertility” or “unexplained fertility” there’s actually no conclusive evidence that IVF is more helpful than any other treatment. In fact, a 2012 study published in Infertility suggests that couples diagnosed with subfertility have as good chances of conceiving in three years of just having sex than in having an IVF procedure.  The Church, by sticking to the principle of love, has created a demand for medicine without the taint of economy, death and manipulation, and thanks the heroic, rebellious doctors and scientists who meet that demand, the entire culture has been elevated: The natural, healthy, ethical treatment of infertility is now a reality.

The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward

As I began my career and worked in cutting-edge biotech laboratories, there was always a nagging question: How can my Church, so rooted in the past, have something relevant to say about modern technologies like stem-cell research, cloning and genetic engineering that are coming in the future?

Then I began researching these technologies and discovered something that changed the way I viewed my Church and my faith. Elbow deep in the latest biotechnology news, I discovered that the Church was far from backward, out of touch and irrelevant.  It is the most forward-thinking institution I have ever encountered — and more relevant today than ever.
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The Church warned us that severing the natural ties between sex and procreation would turn our own offspring into objects instead of the God-given gifts that they are. The Church told us that IVF was an ethical nightmare. If only we as a society had listened.

Back in the 1970s, no one could imagine that IVF would become human manufacturing on an industrial scale, complete with tracking and "quality control." The enormity of human lives created and lost is staggering. Numbers recently released by the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has been keeping records on IVF since 1991, are horrifying.

Of the 3 million-plus embryos created in the U.K. with IVF, more than half — about 1.7 million — have been discarded. The numbers are likely similar elsewhere, meaning that IVF has become a manufacturing process with little regard for the massive loss of human life involved.
HFEA numbers also reveal that, for every live birth through IVF, as many as 30 embryos are created.

With estimates now that as many as 5 million IVF children worldwide have been born, it may mean that as many as 150 million lives have been created by IVF. Many of those have been lost, discarded or destroyed by research. Some of those 150 million human lives are still on ice waiting for a chance to finish their lives. Many will die waiting.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 PM | Permalink

What do the children say about same-sex parents

Raised by a same-sex couple and bi-sexual himself, Robert Oscar Lopez delivers another searing attack on same sex marriage based on the effect on the children.

children deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents or how much they love us. Children feel the loss keenly because they are powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother, and the absence of a male or female parent will likely be irreversible for them.
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I cannot speak for all children of same-sex couples, but I speak for quite a few of them, especially those who have been brushed aside in the so-called “social science research” on same-sex parenting.

Those who contacted me all professed gratitude and love for the people who raised them, which is why it is so difficult for them to express their reservations about same-sex parenting publicly.

Still, they described emotional hardships that came from lacking a mom or a dad. To give a few examples: they feel disconnected from the gender cues of people around them, feel intermittent anger at their “parents” for having deprived them of one biological parent (or, in some cases, both biological parents), wish they had had a role model of the opposite sex, and feel shame or guilt for resenting their loving parents for forcing them into a lifelong situation lacking a parent of one sex.
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I support same-sex civil unions and foster care, but I have always resisted the idea that government should encourage same-sex couples to imagine that their partnerships are indistinguishable from actual marriages. Such a self-definition for gays would be based on a lie, and anything based on a lie will backfire.
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But I am here to say no, having a mom and a dad is a precious value in its own right and not something that can be overridden, even if a gay couple has lots of money, can send a kid to the best schools, and raises the kid to be an Eagle Scout.

It’s disturbingly classist and elitist for gay men to think they can love their children unreservedly after treating their surrogate mother like an incubator, or for lesbians to think they can love their children unconditionally after treating their sperm-donor father like a tube of toothpaste.

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Putting aside all the historical analogies to civil rights and the sentimental platitudes about love, the fact is that same-sex parenting suffers from insurmountable logistical problems for which children pay the steepest lifelong price.
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That’s why I am for civil unions but not for redefining marriage. But I suppose I don’t count—I am no doctor, judge, or television commentator, just a kid who had to clean up the mess left behind by the sexual revolution.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

We are experimenting on children

The Grayest Generation

The risk of birth defects associated with Artificial Reproductive Technology is larger than people realize.
An article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 8.3 percent of children born with the help of ART had defects, whereas, of those born without it, only 5.8 percent had defects.

Advanced age of the mother increases the likelihood of trisomy:
The risk that a pregnancy will yield a trisomy rises from 2–3 percent when a woman is in her twenties to 30 percent when a woman is in her forties.

In a trisomy, a third chromosome inserts itself into one of the 23 pairs that most of us carry, so that a child’s cells carry 47 instead of 46 chromosomes. The most notorious trisomy is Down syndrome. There are two other common ones: Patau syndrome, which gives children cleft palates, mental retardation, and an 80 percent likelihood of dying in their first year; and Edwards syndrome, which features oddly shaped heads, clenched hands, and slow growth. Half of all Edwards syndrome babies die in the first week of life.

Increased risks of both autism and schizophrenia have been associated with advanced paternal age…..

We are experimenting on children. We have no idea of the full impact of artificial reproductive technology or advanced parental age on our children. We want to believe that it is possible to delay conception until women are “ready” for children. Delayed childbirth was the goal of the radical feminists. We have achieved that goal, and we are doing almost anything to avoid looking at the data showing the very real problems with it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2013

Parenting Roundup: Nuts, spit, love affairs, true grit and wimps

Forget milk for strong bones: NUTS could be just as important for child bone health
Milk was seen as most crucial nutrient for bone-density, but magnesium, found in dark chocolate and oats is just as important

Healthiest children are those who eat the same as their parents
Study shows that eating adult meals is the most important factor affecting whether a child's diet is healthy.  If you give children only what they want, they will eat food with more calories and fewer nutrients.

Sucking on your baby's dummy before giving it to them may prevent asthma and eczema in childhood

Transferring bacteria found in spit from parents to babies boosts immunity.  18-month-old babies, whose dummies had been sucked by parents, were 63% less likely to develop eczema and 88% less likely to get asthma

How to ruin your child's chance of a happy love life: Have an affair - and the damage is WORSE the older they are when you stray

In order to grow up well, adolescents desperately need their parents to be role models — particularly when it comes to demonstrating the values of integrity, honesty and sensitivity towards loved ones.

They need a stable family from which they can gradually start to pull away in order to forge their own separate lives. The discovery of an affair explodes all that. To make matters worse, some teenagers are forced to bear the weight of family secrets by acting as go-betweens.

Imbue your children with grit.True Grit may decide how much we achieve in life.

And scientists say that if you too have true grit, you may do better in life.
Those with true grit show a ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals’.
They are tenacious, not easily distracted and not discouraged by set-backs.  They also place importance in success.

Updated.  From Psychology Today, A Nation of Wimps

Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're breaking down in record numbers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

April 17, 2013

Covenant Eyes

For parents who want to protect their children from porn, for employers who want to keep their employees from accessing porn at work or for people struggling with porn addiction, there's new software called Covenant Eyes to provide "internet filtering and accountability".

From the website:

Our Internet Accountability software monitors how the Internet is used and sends a report to the person you select, such as a friend, parent or mentor. This online transparency helps you think twice about how you use the Web.

Our Internet Filtering software lets you set time limits and block websites based on age – customizable parental controls for each of your kids.

More than 1 in 8 web searches are for erotic content

67% of children admit to clearing their Internet history to hide their online activity

79% of accidental exposures to Internet porn among kids take place in the home

56% of divorce cases involve one party having an obsessive interest in online porn

29% of working adults accessed explicit websites on work computers.


A Covenant Against Porn by Fathers for Good

The real concerning issue isn’t addiction (even though that is distressing), but rather how use of porn over time shapes one’s beliefs and attitudes. Study after study show that use of porn, even little by little over time, leads to exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society, a diminished trust between couples, the belief that sexual promiscuity is natural, the belief that casual sex and premarital sex is preferable, a cynicism about the need for love and affection between intimate partners, a lack of attraction to one’s intimate partner, a lower satisfaction with relational sex, a loss of interest in relational sex, exhaustion of one’s sexual response system, a greater objectification of women, a greater acceptance of “rape myths,” a deeper sense of loneliness, a loss of sexual self-esteem, and a desire to see more pornography and a greater variety of niche pornography.

Covenant Eyes provides people with a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to combating online temptation: accountability. One of the reasons why pornography can spread so easily online is because of the anonymity of the experience: no one has to know it is being viewed. Dr. Alvin Cooper says this experience of anonymity is one of the driving forces behind cyber-compulsions. Accountability is what neutralizes this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

The French have it right when it comes to gay marriage

In this politically charged issue, a disclaimer is necessary.  I have no animus against homosexuals and i've supported civil unions, but I've drawn the line against marriage because I am so concerned with the well-being of children and so opposed to any commodification of human beings.

Adults may have great desire to have children, but they have no "right" to  children.  If a couple can not procreate, they can not buy children or demand the state children provide them children.  They are allowed to adopt children but only if they satisfy the state's requirements of adoption which are concerned with the welfare of the individual child and the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents. 

On the other hand, children have the right to have two parents, male and female.  It is the way nature works.

But we are already deep down the path of turning children into commodities to be bought and sold  There is little or no regulation about sperm donation, about IVF, about surrogacy and already the consequences are very troublesome for the the children involved.  Do we want even more children with gaping holes in their lives whose Daddy's name is Donor?

I'm  French when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. 

Robert Oscar Lopez is right when he says the French are ahead of us in exposing the great lie of gay marriage.

Gay marriage is posing as liberation for homosexuals but really hiding the nefarious goal of commercializing procreation, turning children into commodities.  Designer children will be a huge business in the future, but without "gay equality" as a smokescreen to distract people from the ugliness of what such a commerce entails, the market would come under massive criticism.

Gay marriage eradicates the role of mother and father and institutionalizes a form of child-rearing that works by contract and purchase, which the government naturally controls and oversees in collaboration with massive corporations.

It was the French man on the street who figured out the big lie -- that this movement for gay marriage is really all about big money, about men like Elton John and Pierre Berge buying children and disposing of women (Berge said that renting a womb to make a baby is like renting a worker's arms in a factory to make a product); that this movement for gay marriage is being pushed not by gay advocates, but by well-funded usurpers of gay rhetoric.
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Ironically, the left, supposedly against McCarthyism, enjoys the total suppression of dissent at universities and in the press on this issue.  Ironically, the left, ostensibly the party of civil rights, is eagerly leading a lemming charge backward into the sale and purchase of human beings,

Child’s Question: ‘Which Parent Do I Not Need: Mom or Dad?’ Stumps Legislature

Minnesota state legislators considering a same-sex marriage bill for the state did not have an answer to an 11-year-old girl’s question on which parent is not needed.

“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad. I believe God made it that way,” Grace Evans, 11, said before the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law last week. “I know some disagree, but I want to ask you this question: Which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?”

Gay marriage is a social experiment that will cause serious harm to children

It is either right to maintain the ideal man-woman definition of marriage – our most important social institution — or it is not. We must not base our decision on compassion for gays (or misunderstood sense of fairness), whether the gay person is our child, a sibling, friend or anyone else.
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Same-sex couples in New Jersey already receive equal benefits under civil-union law, and these unions deserve distinction for good reason. A new gold-standard, peer-reviewed, family structures study released in June 2012 by sociology professor Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas indicates that the social experiment of homosexual “marriage” will cause serious harm to children. The study found that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are significantly more likely than those raised in a two-parent heterosexual home to: have social and mental health problems requiring therapy, identify themselves as homosexual, choose cohabitation, be unfaithful to partners, contract sexually transmitted diseases, be sexually molested or raped by a parent or adult, have lower income levels, drink to get drunk, and smoke tobacco and marijuana.
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Consider that the social mistakes we as a society have already made, and are headed toward now, will weigh most heavily on the shoulders of children. They are the innocent victims of social experimentation and have become morally and even physically broken in the name of so-called “freedom, equality and progress.”
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This month, Doug Mainwaring, a gay man, wrote an insightful article for thepublicdiscourse.com, sharing that intellectual honesty and experience as a gay person raising children can lead to opposing same-sex marriage. “There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week,” he said. “Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold … someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch ‘deprivation’ on their hearts.”

No Pasaran!, Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: Are There Any Valid Reasons to Be Against Gay Nuptials?

In his book Nation of Bastards, Farrow criticized  warned that by claiming the power to re-invent marriage, the Canadian state “has drawn marriage and the family into a captive orbit. It has reversed the gravitational field between the family and the state… It has effectively made every man, woman, and child a chattel of the state, by turning their most fundamental human connections into mere legal constructs at the state’s disposal. It has transformed those connections from divine gifts into gifts from the state.”
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By fundamentally redefining marriage, [Douglas Farrow] says, the state has appropriated the institution of marriage and turned children, indeed all citizens, into wards of the state. Marriage and family have always existed in relative autonomy vis a vis the state, resting as they do on the nature of human beings and the natural human family.  In a liberal society, marriage and family mediate between individual and state. As such they are indispensable to liberal democracy.
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They may or may not be recognized and protected by the state, but marriage and family in any case are not created by it. They are, by their nature and not the state's fiat, the way in which one generation turns from its own concerns to those of the next, requiring a sacrifice and commitment of the autonomous ego to a relationship ordered to procreation, fidelity, and a covenantal relationship involving man, woman, and any children that result from their union.
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It is true that totalitarian states invariably seek to undermine and subordinate the family and all of civil society, dismantling them and slowly grinding them up, in Nietzsche's expression, "into a random collection of individuals, haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish ends."

That sounds right for Nazi Germany or Communist Eastern Europe, where all civil society, everything that stands between individual and state, is weakened and destroyed.

But Canada? It sounds far-fetched, but if Farrow is right, we can expect to see, as in Europe today, the increasing control of the state over children's education and socialization (home-schooling was outlawed in Hitler's Germany and just recently parents have been arrested for defying the law). Parents cannot be trusted not to raise their children in their own faith, whose values may contradict those of the state; parents will have fewer and fewer rights to exempt their children from the state's version of sex education and instruction in the moral acceptability of fornication. Professionals, denied protections of conscience, will be fired, not for "imposing their moral views on their clients," but for failing to impose the state's.

The Well-Being of Children

A study by Elizabeth Marquardt and associates entitled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,”……According to Marquardt, “Donor conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally denied them a relationship with at least one of their biological parents. The pain they might feel was caused not by some distant birth parent who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them every day.”

The purpose of adoption is “to find parents for children who need them. Donor conception functions as a market, the purpose of which is to create children for adults who want them.”
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Calling same-sex relationships marriages harms children. It says to them your need for your own biological father and mother doesn’t matter
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

April 9, 2013

Machiavellian parenting

At the end of her rope with four young kids, a mother turns to an unlikely adviser—and learns how hardheaded rule can secure stability and happiness in the home.

 Niccolo Machiavelli  How Machiavelli Saved My Family

Machiavelli never wrote the infamous phrase often associated with him: "the ends justify the means." His methods weren't about acquiring power for its own sake. He saw power as a tool for securing the safety and stability of the state. He wanted to show princes how to ensure the happiness and well-being of their subjects.

A stable and safe home? Full of happy and prosperous subjects? It sounded like a worthy goal, not just for a prince but for a parent too. Maybe I could use Machiavelli's rules to help me reclaim my own kingdom.i

Being permissive and nice hadn't worked with my children. Begging, bartering, harassing and even politely asking hadn't worked either. But perhaps a pragmatic, tough-minded Machiavellian strategy would.

Seems to have worked pretty well for her. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

March 26, 2013

Parenting roundup: Children need boredom, skim milk makes children fatter, rise in autism

-Bored-Children

BBC News - Children should be allowed to get bored, so they can develop their innate creativity. 

"Children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."  It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen "tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity".

Skimmed milk 'doesn't stop toddlers getting fat': Children who drink whole milk actually gain fewer pounds

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found two-year-olds who drank mainly low-fat and skimmed milk were 57 per cent more likely to become overweight by the age of four.  But the average weight of children drinking full-fat milk was lower over the same period.

Academics believe this is because higher fat milk makes children feel fuller for longer, and they eat less as a result.

Huge rise in number of autistic children in US schools as health officials say 1 in 50 now has disorder

A government survey of parents says one in 50 US schoolchildren has autism - far surpassing an earlier federal estimate for the disorder.
Health officials say the new number does not mean autism is occurring more often, but instead suggests doctors are diagnosing the condition more frequently - especially in children with milder problems.

For decades, autism referred to children with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors - but the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions.

The new estimate released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least one million children have autism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

March 21, 2013

Family Stories: the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness

The Family Stories That Bind Us

Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.

And then something unexpected happened. Two months later was Sept. 11. As citizens, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush were horrified like everyone else, but as psychologists, they knew they had been given a rare opportunity: though the families they studied had not been directly affected by the events, all the children had experienced the same national trauma at the same time. The researchers went back and reassessed the children.

“Once again,” Dr. Duke said, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2013

When is the best time for women to have their babies?

More and more, women are urged to have their babies in their 20s

Smart Women Have Babies in Their 20s

Grose says women in their 30s who are further along in their careers actually have less flexibility than women on the make in their 20s. The younger you are, the less responsibility at work you have, and the more flexibility. I think that's partly true -- you do have less responsibility, but you also have less clout. Sometimes it's that seniority that gives you the leverage to demand flexibility that younger people don't have. But I get the point about less responsibility.

Your body is more flexible, too. It can handle pregnancy and chasing toddlers better when you're in your 20s. And you're more of a fertile Myrtle when you're younger, so there's that.

Another advantage of having babies in your 20s is that the stupid stuff doesn't matter as much. Grose says older moms are more likely to get caught up in things like having the right books, doing the right mommy-and-me classes, being in the right school district -- everything has to be perfect. And younger moms are more accepting of imperfection. They're more capable of improvising and making do. I think she's right about that.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

March 6, 2013

Bring back Home Economics classes and Shop classes as well

In the U. K. there's a story of a cash-strapped mom who didn't know how to cook so she pureed cheeseburgers for her baby

Experts believe this grave situation is mirrored all over Britain because a generation with little or no parenting skills is bringing up their children on a diet of fast food.
Significant numbers of youngsters also arrive at primary school not toilet trained and cannot even use a knife and fork, according the Child Poverty Commission.
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Another woman who was given a carrot also admitted she had no idea what it was,

Knowing how to cook is a necessary life skill.  Otherwise, one must resort to processed foods, eating out or takeout food, all of which are contributing factors in the astonishing rise of  obesity.  I'm always surprised at the number of people who don't know how and don't care to learn. ( If you haven't been taught, pick up a beginner's cookbook, read and follow directions.)

I began thinking it's  to bring back home economics classes to junior and senior high schoolers.  What convinced me that the time has come was this article in the New York Times.  What Housework has to do with waistlines People aren't moving at home doing housework but plopping themselves down in front of one screen or another for hours at a time.  If you have a a reasonably sized house, there's no reason why you can't do you own housework  and save the money you would otherwise spend at a gym and on housecleaners.

Mothers aren't teaching their children how to do simple household tasks like laundry, deep cleaning, and ironing.  Maybe because they don't know themselves.  Home economics classes (the economics and management of home and community) would teach students how to properly run a family environment.  Classes include cooking and nutrition, cleaning, sewing as well as child development, managing money and relationships.  And why not an updated version of shop classes too to teach the basics of home repair, machine safety, design and technology as well as computer and security maintenance for every student?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2013

Parenting roundup: Violin lessons, fruits, veggies and folic acid, hovering parents and depressed kids

 Smiling-Child-Plays-Violin

Those violin lessons weren't a waste of time after all: Learning an instrument 'makes children grow up smarter'

Research shows that sending youngsters to music classes from age seven will speed the development of motor skills - the part of your brain that plans and carries out movement.  There is a special window of learning between the ages of six and eight when musical training interacts with motor development, producing long term changes to the brain, according to the study.

'Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,' said lead researcher Virginia Penhune, professor of psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. 'Importantly, the younger a musician started, the greater the connectivity.
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The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Pregnant women who take folic acid could reduce their child's risk of autism by 40%

Women who take folic acid supplements early in their pregnancy may reduce their child’s risk of autism by 40 per cent, a study found.

But mothers-to-be should start taking them four weeks before conceiving and eight weeks afterwards to get the full benefit for their unborn child. The timing of taking prenatal supplements is critical, scientists warn.

Folic acid - Vitamin B9 - is required for DNA synthesis and repairs. It’s naturally occurring form, folate, is found in leafy vegetables, peas, lentils, beans, eggs, yeast, and liver.  Folic acid is known to protect against spina bifida and other neural tube defects in children but the latest research, which looks at more than 85,000 babies born in Norway between 2002 and 2008, shows that it may offer protection against Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
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The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Unborn babies get taste for fruit and vegetables from their mothers

The parental crusade to get children to eat fruit and vegetables should begin before birth, researchers said.

Babies are more accepting of foods their mothers eat often while pregnant  Study indicates they get also get a taste for novel foods through breast milk.

The research was carried out by the Monell Centre in Philadelphia

Children with controlling 'helicopter parents' are more likely to be depressed

Researchers warn that the overbearing parenting style, known as 'helicopter parenting' - where parents hover over their children and become too involved in their lives - affects a child's ability to get on with others.

While some parental involvement helps children develop, too much can make them more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, they say.  The findings also suggested that children of over controlling parents feel less competent and less able to manage life and its stressors. 

The research, from the University of Mary Washington in the U.S., involved 297 American graduate students aged 18 to 23.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2013

Where u at UPDATED

Far too many young people driving around in cars have died in horrific crashes because they took their eyes off the road to answer or send a text message.    They've lost their lives and the pain of their families is heart-breaking.

AT&T has a ten-minute documentary Don't Text While Driving which should be compulsory watching for any teen-ager with a license.  Something to shatter their illusionary sense of invincibility.

Your last words should come at the end of a long life and may they never be, "where u at"

UPDATE;  The National Safety Council estimates a minimum of 24% of all crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:28 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2013

"Deference to presumed feelings has prevailed for a long time"

How do you change the culture?  Family Ties


Mitch Pearlstein, founder and president of the Center of the American Experiment, is the author of From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation.

PEARLSTEIN: My guess is that for every person like me in public or publishing life who dwells on reviving marriage, there are dozens who see the quest as Quixotic and instead focus precisely on making single parenthood work better than it routinely does. How else, for instance, can you explain why government devotes infinitely more money — by way of TANF, SNAP, WIC, and the like — to making single-parenthood a viable proposition than it does to helping low-income men and women achieve healthy marriages? How else can you explain how a person can attend day-long academic conferences on families and never once hear the word “marriage” uttered? Or how else can you explain why it’s considered some kind of success whenever the importance of fatherhood is publicly acknowledged, even if accompanying words are never spoken about fathers actually being married to the mothers of their children?

As for “making single mothers feel bad,” it’s essential that both courage and grace be watchwords whenever talking or writing about single parents. But given the state of the debate, it’s clear that deference to presumed feelings has prevailed for a long time.
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Millions of American kids growing up in fatherless families are doing great, and millions of American kids growing up in seemingly perfect homes are doing poorly. The problem is that, generally speaking and on average, young people coming of age in fragmented families do less well than other young people by every conceivable measure.
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PEARLSTEIN: My aim in From Family Collapse to America’s Decline has been to focus on what I see as the biggest threat to marriage, family stability, and child well-being in the United States: nonmarital birth rates and divorce rates that are much too high.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

Dangerism

Smothered by Safety by Lenore Skenazy

• An upstate New York school district outlawed soap in its pre-school bathrooms for fear that children might suddenly start drinking it. Now kids must come out and ask an adult to squirt some soap in their hands.

•  Unaccompanied children under age 12 were banned from the Boulder, CO, library, lest they encounter “hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture…and other library patrons.”

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of certain fleece hoodies sold at Target because of lead paint on the zipper, which presumably could raise blood lead levels if the zippers are eaten.

•  A New Canaan, CT, mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” for letting her 13-year-old babysit the three younger children at home for an hour while the mom went to church.

• A Tennessee mother was thrown in jail for letting her kids, aged 8 and 5, go the park without her, a block and half away from home.

* A Hazmat crew was summoned to Seminole High School in Florida after a science student brought in a mercury thermometer
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When rational parenting decisions become criminalized, parents are forced to think irrationally. I hear from parents all the time who’d like to let their kid walk to school, or play outside, but worry they could be cited for negligence.
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Welcome to the world of “dangerism.” That’s a term coined by Gever Tulley, author of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do). He uses it to describe the way normal, everyday objects and activities can be reclassified as dangerous when seen through the worst-case-scenario lens. That’s why, for instance, federal playground safety guidelines propose removing “tripping hazards, like tree stumps and rocks.”
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When the government declares that we must live in a zero-risk world, it is free to outlaw almost any product or parenting practice it decides to set its sights on. And we have no recourse but to toss the toys we trust, the heirlooms we loved, and the age-old belief that if we train our kids to be brave and smart, we can gradually let them out to embrace the world, risk and all.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2013

Men who sound like spinster Sunday school teachers when talking to young boys

When Neutered Men Speak to Boys

As I watched, I became aware of something that’s been gnawing at me for some time now. The young fathers and the not-so-young granddaddies had a peculiar way of speaking to the male children. They squatted down to be on eye level with the lads, or they leaned way over to appear less tall. And when they spoke, the mens’ voices were…feminine. I don’t mean lisping or mincing or effeminate. I mean feminine. No matter how low the voice might have been naturally pitched, the men without exception raised the pitch of their voices and lowered the volume until they sounded like spinster Sunday School teachers, whispering in calming tones, asking questions and making observations.

“Do you see the birds outside, Chad?”
“Let Papaw tie your shoe.”
“Did you spit out your gum, Nolan?”
“What do you want to drink?”
“Show Miss Judy your tooth!”

Each of these sentences was uttered with an upward inflection into the high tenor range, as if singing a campfire song. The younger men were the worst offenders; their facial expressions were all wide eyes and open mouths. They reminded me of 19-year old female daycare workers. But most of the older men were also doing some diluted variation of these techniques. None of them seemed like whole men in the presence of these male children.

And so I began to search my memory, and I could not recall a single adult male in my boyhood speaking to me or my friends in such tones. I cannot recall any men routinely squatting down or leaning over to make themselves appear closer to my own height. I cannot remember any men putting a breathless wheezing whisper into their words. I cannot bring to mind a single incident in which a grown man opened his eyes and mouth as wide as possible and talked to me like some grinning, masculine Norma Desmond. What I do remember are the grown men who picked me up and lifted me to their naturally imposing height, instead of lowering themselves to mine. And such lifting was always accompanied by a feeling of safety and strength. I’m pretty sure (and confirmed by my wife’s memories) that I never talked to our boys or to my nephews in such a manner. And I know very well that I have never vocally nor vertically neutered myself when interacting with my grandchildren.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:34 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2013

"The rights of children trump the right to children"

It was a "March for All" in Paris  by an alliance of secularist, straight, gay, rightist, leftist and non-partisans, Catholics,  Jews , Evangelicals and Muslims, all  against gay marriage being imposed by the federal government without public debate.

Estimates of  the numbers of participants who came from all over France to converge on Paris range from 360,000 to 1,000,000 with most settling on 800,000.

“This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”

 France-Same-Sex-Protest-March-For-All

Robert Oscar Lopez writes in The Public Discourse, Lessons from France on Defending Marriage.

In France, a repeating refrain is “the rights of children trump the right to children.” It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor “Jean-Marc” to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him. For most of France, LGBT rights cross the line when they mean that same-sex couples have a “right” to children—something that both France’s grand rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, and Louis-Georges Barret, Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party, have refuted as a right at all.
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The right to a child, according to Bernheim and Barret, does not exist; it would mean changing children, as Bernheim says, from “child as subject” to “child as object.” Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:

I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that “the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration” (Article 3, section 1).

"We love homosexuals but a child must be born from a man and a woman, and the law must respect that,” said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest.

Carl Olsen comments

there are many Americans who believe they have a right to "have children", and to treat children like projects or even experiments, as if they are blank slates that can be filled up with the whims of their parents (and others). In this perspective, children are objects that exist because we wish them to and make them so, not because they are gifts from God who come to us through the marital embrace, to be raised by a mother and father, who are also the primary educators of their children.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told Vatican Radio the church supports cultural and social progress, but not "at the expense of nature."  He said he wondered why so many people were so committed to protecting the environment from manipulation, but "not very concerned about manipulation against the inner workings of anthropology."

"The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children," said Frigide Barjot, the alter ego of comedian Virginie Tellene, the intentionally apolitical face of the protest..  Their efforts appear to have had an impact. Surveys indicate that popular support for gay marriage in France has slipped about 10 points to less than 55 percent since opponents started speaking out. Fewer than half of those polled recently favored giving gay couples adoption rights.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Teaching children

Are we ever to be done with the nonsense of teaching self-esteem instead of self-respect and self-control?  Here's yet another study that shows  Teaching Self-Esteem Undermines Students’ Academic Achievement

‘An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,’” notes “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State professor who’s studied the topic for years. ‘Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success,’ he says.”

Inflated self-esteem is why American students think they are doing much better than they are.  I trace it back to the pernicious notion that everyone must 'feel' good all the time.It's real achievement that leads to self-esteem.

Kids are not dumb.  Why praising your child may do more harm than good: Psychologist claims 'empty' comments makes them unhappy

Mr Grosz – who has practised as a psychoanalyst, a type of psychologist, for 25 years – said: ‘Empty praise is as bad as thoughtless criticism – it expresses indifference to the child’s feelings and thoughts."


The government (HHS) releases a study that shows: Head Start , the pre-school program federally funded for the past 48 years to the tune of $8 billion/year, has had no good effect once the students reach first grade.    A sad and costly secret.

According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade

At last, an Education Hero, David Coleman

Our hero is David Coleman, president of the College Board, a Rhodes Scholar, and a former McKinsey & Company consultant.
Coleman used a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mold the requirements for the Common Core States Standards in English -- adopted by 46 states to be implemented in 2014 -- to mandate that 50% of reading assignments are non-fiction "informational text" in elementary school, and 70 percent by grade 12.
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Coleman does not mince his words: "People (employers) don't give a damn about what you feel and what you think. What they instead care about is, can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you are saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me?"
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In addition to the inclusion of quality non-fiction, changes in fiction selections suggestions indicate a shift back to standards: Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby; William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying; Thomas Paine's Common Sense; The Declaration of Independence; Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?:," Allen Paulo's Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences; Mark Fischetti's Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control; and George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language."

Another government study released in the dead of night by the Department of Justice on Dec 20th.  Violent Crime Against Youth, 1994-2010.

A new Justice Department study looking at violent crimes committed against “youth”—defined as Americans from 12 to 17 years of age—discovered that the rate of "serious violent crime" committed against youth by a perpetrator using a firearm dropped 95 percent from 1994 to 2010.
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American youth who were victims of a serious violent crime in 2010 were six times more likely to have been attacked by a perpetrator wielding a knife than one wielding a gun.
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An American youth was 3.8 times more likely to become the victim of a serious violent crime if he or she lived in a home where the householder was unmarried than if he or she lived with married parents
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2012

Older parenthood brings significant risks before and after birth

I've come across more than a few significant articles in the past few days on why having children early in life is better for children and parents which runs counter to the prevailing conventional wisdom.  Over the next week, I will post about several of them. 

The first is an article In The New Republic by Judith Shulevitz who warns us of the scary consequences of the grayest generation.     

How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society

We might even change the course of our evolutionary future. For we are bringing fewer children into the world and producing a generation that will be subtly different—“phenotypically and biochemically different,” as one study I read put it—from previous generations.
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In the scientists’ study, published in Nature, they concluded that the number of genetic mutations that can be acquired from a father increases by two every year of his life, and doubles every 16, so that a 36-year-old man is twice as likely as a 20-year-old to bequeath de novo mutations to his children.

The Nature study ended by saying that the greater number of older dads could help to explain the 78 percent rise in autism cases over the past decade. Researchers have suspected links between autism and parental age for years.
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That old wives’ tale about hot baths or tight underwear leading to male infertility? It’s true. “
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[T]he odds of bearing a schizophrenic child moved up in a straight line as a man got older.
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Clomid, or clomiphene citrate, which has become almost as common as aspirin in women undergoing fertility treatments, came out particularly badly in the recent New England Journal of Medicine study that rang alarm bells about ART and birth defects. “I think it’s an absolute time bomb,” Michael Davies, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told me
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A feminist triumph?  Shulevitz goes on to write

A REMARKABLE FEATURE of the new older parenting is how happy women seem to be about it. It’s considered a feminist triumph.
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Study after study has shown that the children of older parents grow up in wealthier households, lead more stable lives, and do better in school.
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the unpopular but fairly obvious point that older parents die earlier in their children’s lives. (“We got a lot of blowback in terms of reproductive rights and all that,” the gynecologist told me.
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There’s an entire body of sociological literature on how parents’ deaths affect children, and it suggests that losing a parent distresses young adults more than older adults, low-income young adults more than high-income ones, and daughters more than sons. Curiously, the early death of a mother correlates to a decline in physical health in both sexes, and the early death of a father correlates to increased drinking among young men.
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WHEN WE LOOK BACK at this era from some point in the future, I believe we’ll identify the worldwide fertility plunge as the most important legacy of old-age parenting.
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If you’re a doctor, you see clearly what is to be done, and you’re sure it will be. “People are going to change their reproductive habits,” said Alan S. Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University medical school and the editor of an important anthology on the origins of schizophrenia. They will simply have to “procreate earlier,” he replied. As for men worried about the effects of age on children, they will “bank sperm and freeze it.”

The Anchoress writes about the same article in Older Parents, Weaker Children, Future America and zooms in on the IVF and other "outside practices that are messing with design."

Another popular procedure coming under renewed scrutiny is ICSI (intracy to plasmic sperm injection). In ICSI, sperm or a part of a sperm is injected directly into an extracted egg. In the early ’90s, when doctors first started using ICSI, they added it to in vitro fertilization only when men had low sperm counts, but today doctors perform ICSI almost routinely—procedures more than doubled between 1999 and 2008. And y et, ICSI shows up in the studies as having higher rates of birth defects than any other popular fertility procedure. Among other possible reasons, ICSI allows sperm to bypass a crucial step in the fertilization of the egg—the binding of the head of the sperm with the coat of the egg. Forcing the sperm to penetrate the coat may be nature’s way of maintaining quality control.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2012

"Wherever she goes, she brings people together"

Christina Nehring writes about Loving a Child on the Fringe

If you’d told me five years ago that I was soon to bear a disabled child with blood cancer—for whom I’d have to surrender, possibly forever, career and love life—I’d have contemplated suicide. Moreover, I would have thought this a level-headed response: not an act of despair but a lucid sort of Swiss-style euthanasia.
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Wherever she goes, she brings people together—imperiously gesturing to cantankerous couples to sit down together and lifting their palms onto each others’ thighs, reconciling warring classmates by joining their hands, and charming child-leery adults with flirty smiles and studious imitations of their idiosyncrasies. Her gifts are the opposite of my own: Where I am shy, she is bold; where I am good with (known) words, she is good with drama, dance, and music; where I am frightened of groups, she loves them, and the children in her preschool compete hard to sit by her side at lunchtime as the nurses in her hospital petitioned to be assigned to her room.
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The joy Eurydice takes in each detail of life is the most infectious quality I’ve ever known. When she flings her arms around my neck as she does every day, every night, my most recurrent fear is no longer relapsing cancer, no longer early dementia or heart disease or hearing loss—or even the fact that Eurydice is growing up too slowly. It is a testament to how radically this child has transformed me that my most recurrent fear may be that she’s growing up too fast—that one day she could be too mature to give me those massive, resplendent, full-body hugs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

November 28, 2012

“When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart.”

When They’re Grown, the Real Pain Begins

Cora, a mother to five grown children and grandmother to seven, grabbed tiny Jake, put her face right up to his and started speaking loud baby talk to him. Then, as she bounced him on her knee, she turned to me and said, “When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart.”
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In retrospect, having little kids was a breeze. As long as you hugged them a lot and made good food, things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You could fix many problems, and distract them from others. Your home could be a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond.

All of that changes when they are grown. They fall in love, break their hearts, apply for jobs, leave or lose the jobs, choose new homes, can’t pay the rent for those new homes and question their choice of profession. They forge their way, all just outside of your helping reach. Then, when bad things happen, they need you like crazy, but you discover that the kind of help you’ve spent 25 years learning how to give is no longer helpful.

Retired Royal Navy officer Nick Crews experienced that despondency when he wrote to his three children a scathing email that has now gone round the world, 'I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed'

It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.
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Fulfilling careers based on your educations would have helped — but as yet none of you is what I would confidently term properly self-supporting. Which of you, with or without a spouse, can support your families, finance your home and provide a pension for your old age? Each of you is well able to earn a comfortable living and provide for your children, yet each of you has contrived to avoid even moderate achievement.
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I can now tell you that I for one, and I sense Mum feels the same, have had enough of being forced to live through the never-ending bad dream of our children's underachievement and domestic ineptitudes. I want to hear no more from any of you until, if you feel inclined, you have a success or an achievement or a REALISTIC plan for the support and happiness of your children to tell me about.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Using IVF/Surrogacy to Create Anchor Babies  Wesley J. Smith

What a scam. IVF clinics connecting Chinese couples with American surrogate mothers to create new U.S. citizens.

Move to grant personhood rights to great apes, cetaceans, and elephants  while denying personhood rights  to developing humans.

"Plant rights" on NPR

The environmental movement is growing increasingly radical and anti human.  Taking a beat from the animal rights movement, we have seen increasing advocacy for human-stifling agendas such as “nature rights” (now the law of two countries and nearly 30 U.S. municipalities) ”plant dignity” (in Switzerland’s constitution), “river personhood” (recently enacted in New Zealand) and “ecocide,” which would make any and all large scale human uses of the land and exploitation of resources a “crime against peace” akin to genocide and ethnic cleansing. These are not promoted in odd Internet sites, but rather are discussed earnestly and with great respect in such liberal outlets such as the New York Times. Latest example, on NPR:
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I have been pounding the drum that plant rights, nature rights, etc. are inimical to our thriving and liberty because they undermine human exceptionalism and treat rights as something that are ubiquitous and common.  I mean, if everything has rights, really nothing does.

Lesbian TV producer loses custody of her biological daughter in legal first after judge rules ex-lover is 'more responsible parent'

Brook Altman and Allison Scollar had a child six years ago after a friend donated sperm.  When couple split, there was a bitter battle over who should have custody.  Altman fled with daughter to California and accused Scollar of child abuse.  Judge ruled Scollar was more responsible and had child's best interests at heart.

Man sues wife over ugly baby and wins, then a DNA test proved the baby was his and his wife confessed to $100,000 worth of plastic surgery in Korea before they met.

"I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues," he told the Irish Times. "Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me."

Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

“Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.
Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
in California, their sense of siege grew more intense in September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning use of widely discredited sexual “conversion therapies” for minors — an assault on their own validity, some ex-gay men feel….But many ex-gays have continued to seek help from such therapists and men’s retreats, saying their own experience is proof enough that the treatment can work.

Scientists Turn Stem Cells into Sex Cells

This week, researchers working with mice reported in the journal Nature that they had successfully used stem cells to create oocytes (egg cells) for the first time. A similar approach could presumably be developed eventually for human oocytes.
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Employing adult stem cells to treat infertility and avoid the use of donated eggs could actually be a way to restore the integrity of the family and of human reproduction. Ensuring that technologies like this are used in ways that serve the human good rather than demean human dignity is a central task of bioethics, a task that calls for not just a clear understanding of the science but also public deliberation and, if necessary, regulation.


'Three people, one baby' public consultation begins 
after UK scientists created "designer embryos" containing DNA from a man and two women

California Multiple Parents Bill: Proposed Legislation Would Allow Children To Have Three Or More Parents

The measure doesn't expand the current definition of what qualities as a "parent." It simply allows for that definition to apply to three or more people--something that could easily become an issue in cases of surrogate parents or if a non-blood relative voluntarily signs a legal statement of parenthood.

Making babies to make ends meet

I’ve given birth to three girls. I cannot imagine carrying a child for a stranger. When people say, “That’s so much money!” I say, “This is not a job where you take a break, lie down and rest, go on vacation for a week. She’s pregnant 24-7. Oh, and there’s the part where she could die.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2012

The fundamental nature of a mother's love

A mother's love is fundamental to how a child's brain develops.

Horrifying scans that show the real impact of love: Brain of neglected child is much smaller than that of a normal three-year-old

But being a nurturing mother is not just about emotional care - it pays dividends by determining the size of your child's brain, scientists say.
Both of these images are brain scans of a two three-year-old children, but the brain on the left is considerably larger, has fewer spots and less dark areas, compared to the one on the right.

According to neurologists this sizable difference has one primary cause - the way each child was treated by their mothers.

 Mother'slove Baby-Brain-Scans

The child with the larger and more fully developed brain was looked after by its mother - she was constantly responsive to her baby, reported The Sunday Telegraph. But the child with the shrunken brain was the victim of severe neglect and abuse.

According to research reported by the newspaper, the brain on the right worryingly lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left.

The consequences of these deficits are pronounced - the child on the left with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others.  But in contrast, the child with the shrunken brain will be more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crimes, much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on state benefits.  The child is also more likely to develop mental and other serious health problems.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2012

Carrying some of your little boy within you all of your life

Why having a son puts a woman in a new frame of mind: DNA can pass into body from fetus before reaching brain

A mother’s children are never far from her mind – and scientists may have worked out why.  They believe that if a woman has a son, some of his cells pass into her body before reaching her brain.  And the male DNA may linger there for decades.
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In the same way that a mother passes oxygen and nutrients to her unborn child through the placenta, ‘traffic’, including cells, also moves in the other direction.  The study suggests that the baby’s cells – or their descendants – persist in the mother for decades, as male DNA was found in the brain of a woman who died aged 94.  It is thought having a daughter also leaves a mark on the mother’s brain – but testing for this would be more difficult.

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is the first to find male DNA in women’s brains. It is too early to say what effect, if any, it has.    Previous studies have found male cells in women’s blood, bone marrow, hearts, lungs, livers and other organs.  And the phenomenon, which is known as microchimerism, is thought to be good for a woman’s health.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:22 PM | Permalink

September 20, 2012

Grit, chores, time and life without a father

Children need to learn grit.  Brain power helps, but grit is really what's needed for success in the long run. Opting Out of the 'Rug Rat Race'

Start kids helping out with chores at 18 months.  Doing chores helps kids build competence, relatedness,  motivation and autonomy says The Art of Manliness on Dadliness

Spend more time with your children.  Basing his presentation on The National Study of Youth and Religion, Michael Theisen said

• the average father spends eight minutes per day with his children including meal and television time

parents spend less than three minutes of non-directive communication with their children each day
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Most compelling was that the study said parents are the single most influential factor on religious and spiritual aspects of their children's’ lives. Theisen said the research notes that adolescents mirror their parents’ beliefs. They also asked young people the question, “If you could change anything about the your family situation, what would it be? Theisen said, “The teenagers said, ‘To become closer to my parents.’
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The research also found over and over again that faith makes a difference in the lives of young people. Theisen said it has a positive effect on the lives of children making them more engaged adolescents who live “more constructive and promising lives.”

Parents need to involve their children in their faith. It doesn’t necessarily mean they must “preach” to their children. They will get much further by living out their own faith so their children can mirror it, he said.  “Make decisions based on values, morals and faith,” Theisen said.

Teen-agers need time with their fathers.  Time with dad good for self-esteem and social competence.

The more time spent alone with their fathers, the higher their self-esteem; the more time with their dads in a group setting, the better their social skills.

"The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is, indeed, just a stereotype," said Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State. "Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment."

Researchers studied families with at least two children over a period of seven years.
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While increased time with Dad showed key benefits for self-esteem and "social competence," time with Mom did not show the same correlations

Life without a fatherThis Child's View of Single-Motherhood

Not having a father around meant I took on more student debt than I would have otherwise. It meant I would be recalled from college to do things around the house on the weekend, or I would come home just to make sure she was alright and make sure she spent time with someone. Instead of her helping me start life financially, I was helping her manage her mortgage payment, or paying for a new water-heater. I was happy to do so when I could. Though I often wondered where her actual inabilities were real, or when they were manufactured (even unconsciously) to bond me with her, even in hardships. In other single-mother households I knew, things functioned much less smoothly.

Helping her meant diminished resources for starting my own family when it came time. It also meant that there was no one else to manage things when she became sick and died last year.

The single strongest predictor of an early death?  Parental divorce

The long-term health effects of parental divorce were often devastating— it was indeed a risky circumstance that changed the pathways of many of the young Terman participants. Children from divorced families died almost five years earlier on average than children from intact families. Parental divorce, not parental death, was the risk. In fact, parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death, many years into the future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2012

Kids of older parents

More people are putting off parenthood. What will that mean for their kids?

The irony is that when you have a child at 45, you’re ensuring that your children will grow up faster than you ever had to. It guarantees that your kids will have a little less of the freedom you enjoyed because they’ll be taking care of you a little earlier. Having an older father means I don’t feel right leaving New York or turning off my cellphone for three days. I push away fantasies of pressing the reset button on my life and moving far away. Even if my dad were in Olympian shape, I still wouldn’t want to squander my last decade with him living thousands of miles apart. Losing my mother in my formative years was gut-wrenching, and all of my grandparents had died by the time I turned 25. (My father, whose mother had him at 19, didn’t begin this parental care taking process until he was in his early 60s.)

If you want your children to know their grandparents, take some countercultural advice Marry Young (and Well), Have Many Children (But Responsibly)   

Siblings prevent kids from becoming narcissists. We are creating children with wildly unrealistic perceptions of how much focus and attention they can expect in life. I firmly believe this sets them up for great disappointment, and potential failure later. We are also creating a barely replacement-level population if we limit ourselves to two children. We should have faith to invest in the human capital of the future.

Raising Successful Children

Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These “authoritative parents” appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved.
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authoritative parents actually help cultivate motivation in their children
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The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality.
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Hanging back and allowing children to make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. It’s easier when they’re young — tolerating a stumbling toddler is far different from allowing a pre teenager to meet her friends at the mall
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While doing things for your child unnecessarily or prematurely can reduce motivation and increase dependency, it is the inability to maintain parental boundaries that most damages child development. When we do things for our children out of our own needs rather than theirs, it forces them to circumvent the most critical task of childhood: to develop a robust sense of self.
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There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of over parenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.

Connected, powerful 21st-century moms

A generation ago, a new mom up all night with a screaming newborn had few places to turn: a tattered copy of Dr. Spock; an apologetic call to her pediatrician’s answering service; a desperate one to her own mother. Today, the new mom can flip open her laptop and solicit instantaneous opinions from others in the trenches, either on anonymous chat boards, like YouBeMom or UrbanBaby, or from her “intimate’’ circle of 350 Facebook friends. When she’s looking for a baby sitter, a Mama & Me class, a gluten-free bakery, she taps her local moms’ listserv. When she loves a product, she posts it on Pinterest. When it fails or frustrates her, she tweets, YouTubes, blogs all about it. And whatever she has to say, her fellow moms are listening.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2012

Friday roundup: Churchill, microwaving socks, homeschooling , Locked In, 2 Moms, Lincoln and more

Survey shocker: Liberal profs admit they'd discriminate against conservatives in hiring, advancement.  No surprise to me.

Honesty is the best policy as telling fewer lies 'improves your physical and mental health'  People reported feeling better after they stopped exaggerating or making excuses.

Don't microwave clothes, use a hair dryer if you must.  Brit sets fire to home by microwaving socks.

Useful for any cook is this article, Common Cooking Mistakes: Cooking Tips and Questions Answered.

If you are going to NYC in the next month, don't miss Churchill: The Power of Words’ is at the Morgan Library, but first, read this review, Winston Churchill: American's enduring love for Winnie and his words.

Imagine being a child who never ever saw the outside world or even the sun. Islamist sect found living underground near Russian city for 10 years.

Ever fancy yourself becoming an archeologist?  Now's your chance to participate in The Ancient Lives Project from home.  Thomas McDonald has the details

A collaborative effort by Oxford, the Egypt Exploration Society, the Imaging Papyri Project, and other groups and institutions, Ancient Lives is trying to speed up the transcription process by crowd sourcing and computerization. This means that you can help decipher the Oxyrhynchus papyri… it could speed up the transcription and identification of fragments, allowing them to be published. It’s also about the coolest way to be an archaeologist without ever leaving your home.

As part of Operation Nightingale, recovering wounded soldiers performing a routine excavation found a warrior just like themselves, only buried 1400 years ago.

Home Schools vs. Public Schools.  A fascinating info graphic on how much better kids do if they are home-schooled.  Anthony Esolen has some examples in Aged Before Their Time

What united them all was an abiding happiness, which I can only describe as youth, not in chronological age but in soul…..
They had never known the subtle and corroding nihilism of a government school, for they had never gone to one; they had been taught at home. That meant, at the least, that they spent their days among people who loved them, and whom they loved in turn. And they seemed well on their way to becoming young men and women possessing that most attractive of character traits, the one that Chesterton embodied so well: that of being at once wise beyond their years


The Tragedy Europe Forgot
  Some 12 million Germans, mostly women and children, were expelled from Eastern Europe in 1945, an Allies-endorsed ethnic cleansing.

A question I've never been able to answer.  Why Aren't Murderous Communists Condemned Like Nazis Are?

A rare survivor of 'Locked-in syndrome recounts his ordeal

The medics believed he was in a persistent vegetative state, devoid of mental consciousness or physical feeling.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Marsh was aware, alert and fully able to feel every touch to his body.
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But he still weeps when he remembers watching his wife tell the doctors that they couldn't turn off his life support machine.

"The doctors had just finished telling Lili that I had a 2% chance of survival and if I should survive I would be a vegetable," he said. "I could hear the conversation and in my mind I was screaming 'No!'"

Funniest video of the week. Olympic Sailing. Commenting by Someone Who Has No Clue What's Going On.  It's hilarious. Watch it to the end.

19 Things the Millionaire Next Door Won't Tell You

Growing Up with Two Moms: The Untold Children's View by Robert Oscar Lopez

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors….. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused. When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

 Lincoln Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in first official picture from Spielberg's biopic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2012

The case of marauding bands of aggressive juvenile male elephants

The case of the marauding bands of aggressive juvenile male elephants,  In the Absence of Fathers:  A Story of Elephants and Men

Some years ago, officials at the Kruger National Park and game reserve in South Africa were faced with a growing elephant problem. The population of African elephants, once  endangered, had grown larger than the park could sustain. So measures had to be taken to thin the ranks. A plan was devised to relocate some of the elephants to other African game reserves. Being enormous creatures, elephants are not easily transported.  So a special harness was created to air-lift the elephants and fly them out of the park using helicopters.

The helicopters were up to the task, but, as it turned out, the harness wasn’t. It could handle the juvenile and adult female elephants, but not the huge African bull elephants. A quick solution had to be found, so a decision was made to leave the much larger bulls at Kruger and relocate only some of the female elephants and juvenile males.

At the new location,  rangers began finding dead white rhinoceros, an endangered species, that had been killed violently not with guns but by marauding bands of aggressive young male elephants.

What had been missing from the relocated herd was the presence of the large dominant bulls that remained at Kruger. In natural circumstances, the adult bulls provide modeling behaviors for younger elephants, keeping them in line.
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To test the theory, the rangers constructed a bigger and stronger harness, then flew in some of the older bulls left behind at Kruger. Within weeks, the bizarre and violent behavior of the juvenile elephants stopped completely. The older bulls let them know that their behaviors were not elephant-like at all. In a short time, the younger elephants were following the older and more dominant bulls around while learning how to be elephants.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

Best parenting tip ever

 Wifi Parenting-Tip
via Gizmondo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2012

What researchers can tell parents

Researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital say Growing up in a  loving home boosts children's brains and makes them more intelligent.  Children in care have less grey and white matter than those brought up in a typical home environment.

Researchers  from Dartmouth College studied 1228 children between 12 and 14 and then analyzed their behavior six years later.  They concluded that Teenagers 'can be corrupted' by Hollywood sex scenes.

The study, based on nearly 700 popular films, found that watching love scenes could "fundamentally influence" a teenager's personality….
"Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners, and are less likely to use condoms with casual sexual partners," said Dr Ross O'Hara, who led the study…."This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages."

Boxed in, wanting out  A new study of American families reveals troubling trends: Too much stuff, too little time.

… [N]ew research by UCLA-affiliated social scientists concluding that American families are overwhelmed by clutter, too busy to go in their own backyards, rarely eat dinner together even though they claim family meals as a goal, and can’t park their cars in the garage because they’re crammed with non-vehicular stuff.  The team of anthropologists and archeologists spent four years studying 32 middle-class Los Angeles families in their natural habitat — their toy-littered homes — and came to conclusions so grim that the lead researcher used the word “disheartening” to describe the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

I've posted this before  but it's worth saying again.  Exposure to energy-efficident CFL 'curly' light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.  Incandescent bulbs have no effect.  Given the mercury it contains, the hazardous waste created when a bulb breaks, the lousy light it gives,  and now the damage to normal healthy skin cells, parents should not allow them in the house.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2012

“Never harm an innocent, never betray a friend, and never attack an unarmed foe.”

I love the idea of boys becoming knights, so I was much taken by 5 Ways Parents Can Transform Their Wild Boys Into Mature Men

When each of our boys turned seven we armed him with a handcrafted (read homemade) wooden sword and shield, and told him this story:

“In the days of old, my son, when young boys grew up to be great, brave knights, they began their journey at age seven. A child of noble birth would go to the nearest castle to be a page. A page was a servant to the brave knight. He did whatever the knight bid him to do. By and by, as the boy grew, if he showed himself to be faithful, strong and true, he would become a knight.”

With innocent, wide eyes that would flash with excitement our Tom decided that was the life for him. I agreed, but then I had to break the news to him that he would have to stay home because our house was the only castle in his Daddy’s kingdom.

Then I explained,

“A knight must know the old code of chivalry and learn to live by it.”

Among the rules of the code he memorized were:

“Never harm an innocent, never betray a friend, and never attack an unarmed foe.”

It’s downright amazing how often in a little boy’s life these rules come in handy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2012

The 'Pathologization of Life'

Katherine Sharpe, author of "Coming of Age on Zoloft"  talks about teenagers and antidepressants in The Medication Generation

Lacking a reliable conception of what it is to feel "like themselves," young people have no way to gauge the effects of the drugs on their developing personalities.
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For adolescents, who are already struggling with these questions, medication can distort the development of self-awareness. "Because teens are presented with the question of 'Who am I?', being a person who takes medication gets included in that quest," says Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist in Walnut Creek, Calif. Sometimes they do it in a negative way, she says, either by dwelling on the idea of being a person with a sickness or focusing on their inability to know whether their feelings are "real."
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Finally, there are the consequences of teaching young people to think about their problems in biomedical terms. In the past 25 years, antidepressants have helped to move us from a culture that viewed emotional problems as products of personal psychology, to one that views at least many negative feelings in terms of faulty biology—a chemical imbalance.
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When I first began to take antidepressants, I understood that doing so meant I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I knew that, arguably, I should find that comforting—it meant that what I was going through wasn't my fault—but instead it made me feel out of control. I wanted my feelings to mean something. The idea that my deepest emotions were actually random emanations from my malfunctioning brain didn't uplift me; it just further demoralized me.
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Looking back, it seems remarkable that I had to work so hard to absorb an elementary lesson: Some things make me feel happy, other things make me feel sad. But for a long time antidepressants were giving me the opposite lesson. If I was suffering because of a glitch in my brain, it didn't make much difference what I did. For me, antidepressants had promoted a kind of emotional illiteracy. They had prevented me from noticing the reasons that I felt bad when I did and from appreciating the effects of my own choices.
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"There's been a kind of pathologization of life itself," said David Ramirez, a clinical psychologist and the head of counseling and psychological services at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

The 'pathologization of life' seems to be everywhere.    If you've lost someone very close to you and you're still grieving a month later, the American Psychiatric Association will classify you as depressed, Grief is not Depression.

In this post-modern world, people have lost sight of what it is to be human.

"No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa,"  Eugene Ionesco.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2012

Mother and Father Families Best for Children

Study, Children fare better in traditional mom-dad families

“The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go,” Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in his study in Social Science Research.

Using a new, “gold standard” data set of nearly 3,000 randomly selected American young adults, Mr. Regnerus looked at their lives on 40 measures of social, emotional and relationship outcomes.

He found that, when compared with adults raised in married, mother-father families, adults raised by lesbian mothers had negative outcomes in 24 of 40 categories, while adults raised by gay fathers had negative outcomes in 19 categories.

Children of gay couples are disadvantaged because of family instability.

Regnerus found that children in the study rarely spent their entire childhoods in the households of their gay parent and partner. Only two of the 175 subjects who reported having a mother in a lesbian relationship spent their whole childhood with the couple, and no children studied spent their entire childhood with two gay males. The numbers drop off pretty sharply as time progressed, too: For example, 57 percent of children spent more than four months with lesbian parents, but only 23 percent spent more than three years.
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One deficit is particularly worrying: Less than 2 percent of children from intact, biological families reported experiencing sexual abuse of some nature, but that figure for children of same-sex couples is 23 percent. Similarly disturbing is that 14 percent of children from same-sex couples have spent some time in foster care, compared with around 2 percent of the American population at large. Arrest, drug experimentation, and unemployment rates were all higher among children from same-sex families.

In the LA Times,  The Single-Mom Catastrophe

The embrace of "lone motherhood" — women bringing up kids with no dad around — has been an American specialty.  "By age 30, one-third of American women had spent time as lone mothers," observed family scholar Andrew Cherlin in his 2009 book, "The Marriage-Go-Round." "In European countries such as France, Sweden and the western part of Germany, the comparable percentages were half as large or even less."  The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women.

Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.
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Women and their children weren't the only ones to suffer the economic consequences of the single-mother revolution; low-earning men have lost ground too. Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own, unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get. Scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money and get fewer promotions than do married men.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2012

A Father's Love

A father's love is the one of the greatest influences on the personality development of a child, perhaps even more so than a mother's love.

That's the conclusion reached after a mega analysis of research of more than 500 studies about the power of parental rejection and its role in shaping our personalities.

In our half-century of international research, we’ve not found any other class of experience that has as strong and consistent effect on personality and personality development as does the experience of rejection, especially by parents in childhood,' says Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut, who co-authored the new study in Personality and Social Psychology Review.

Children and adults everywhere - regardless of differences in race, culture, and gender - tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceived themselves to be rejected by their caregivers and other attachment figures.'  When it comes to the impact of a father’s love versus that of a mother, results from more than 500 studies suggest that, the influence of one parent’s rejection, often a father's, can be much greater than the other’s. 

Neoneocon 

There’s an extraordinary poem by Robert Hayden that depicts one of these uneasy father-child connections—the shrouded feelings, both paternal and filial, that can come to be seen in the fullness of time as the love that was always, always there. I offer it on this Father’s Day to all of you.

THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

From the Washington Times editorial, Your Dad, Your Hero

The Book of Proverbs says that parents are the glory of their children. A father is his son’s first hero, and his daughter’s first love.
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Whether you knew it or not, he was always worrying about you, always caring. He made decisions you never knew about that made your life better. He shielded you from knowledge of the evils of the world as long as he could. He helped give your childhood a hint of magic.

He’s the guy you told yourself as a teen you would never be like, then later found yourself trying to live up to his example. You remember the times you ignored his advice and learned from the experience the hard way. He’s the guy who, the older you get, the more sense he makes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:08 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2012

Strong Families, Happy Parents and No to Facebook

Nothing beats a two-parent family for raising happy and successful children.

Strong families make successful children, not the nanny state, says study

The welfare state has little or no bearing on how children turn out, an international research project has found.  Strong families are the key to producing well adjusted and successful youngsters, it adds.  In fact, say the researchers, the children of married parents are likely to do better than those from broken or single-parent families – no matter how much state support the family is given.

The study singled out the British welfare state as an example of the failure of state support to make a difference to the lives and success of children.  The findings, published in the US in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, come in the wake of David Cameron’s announcement of free parenting classes and relationship support  sessions, and a £3.4million website which will give tips on every aspect of child rearing.
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Boys were more likely to have difficulties than girls, health problems led to other difficulties for children, and children of divorced parents faced a greater likelihood of trouble.

Yes, it can seem a struggle… but parents are actually happier people, study says  Fathers and older parents the happiest of all.

The findings are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives, despite the added responsibilities.  The study, which contradicts the prevailing view that parents are less happy overall, also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.
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Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside and a leading scholar in positive psychology, said: 'We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning.

'Contrary to repeated scholarly and media pronouncements, people may find solace that parenthood and child care may actually be linked to feelings of happiness and meaning in life.'
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However, their findings came with important caveats. Professor Lyubomirsky explained: 'Our findings suggest that if you are older (and presumably more mature) and if you are married (and presumably have more social and financial support), then you're likely to be happier if you have children than your childless peers.

'This is not true, however, for single parents or very young parents.'

One ti for staying together is staying away from Facebook, the social network that lawyers say contributes to an increasing number of break-ups.

More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a  legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook.

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:42 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2012

Old before their time

The phrase 'old before their time' is often applied to children who have seen terrible things - but it seems to be literally true.

Old before their time: Children exposed to violence and abuse age PHYSICALLY - and DNA damage could shorten their lives

Children who have been abused actually age faster - with the stress affecting DNA in a way that could shorten their lives.

Children who have been exposed to violence and abuse have physical changes in a DNA sequence that dictates how often cells can rejuvenate.

The abuse actually shortens their lives.

A study found that the DNA of ten year olds who had experience abuse showed signs of wear and tear normally associated with aging.

Scientists at the Duke Institute believe that stress may shorten their telomeres - DNA sequences found at the tips of chromosomes which have been linked to aging.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2012

Loving the Rapist's Child

A remarkable story, Loving the Rapist's Child

Today, we celebrate nine wonderful years with Rachael, our only daughter. It seems like a bad dream now that we ever considered living without this amazing little girl. She is a constant reminder to us, not of rape but of the startling beauty one can find hidden in tragedy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2012

Twitching teens

When the story of the teen age girls who suddenly developed a mysterious twitching disorder, some  thought environmental contamination of some sort was the cause, others thought it was a classic case of mass hysteria or mass psychogenic illness.  Or maybe even mirror neurons.

Susan Dominus went to Le Roy to unravel The Mystery of 18 Twitching Teenagers.

Before the media vans took over Main Street, before the environmental testers came to dig at the soil, before the doctor came to take blood, before strangers started knocking on doors and asking question after question, Katie Krautwurst, a high-school cheerleader from Le Roy, N.Y., woke up from a nap. Instantly, she knew something was wrong. Her chin was jutting forward uncontrollably and her face was contracting into spasms. She was still twitching a few weeks later when her best friend, Thera Sanchez, captain of one of the school’s cheerleading squads, awoke from a nap stuttering and then later started twitching, her arms flailing and head jerking. Two weeks after that, Lydia Parker, also a senior, erupted in tics and arm swings and hums. Then word got around that Chelsey Dumars, another cheerleader, who recently moved to town, was making the same strange noises, the same strange movements, leaving school early on the days she could make it to class at all. The numbers grew — 12, then 16, then 18, in a school of 600 — and as they swelled, the ranks of the sufferers came to include a wider swath of the Le Roy high-school hierarchy
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A common thread emerged among the five girls I interviewed extensively: none had stable relationships with their biological fathers. --

When the subject of the girls’ personal backgrounds came up — the biopsychosocial factors that might be affecting their health — Trifiletti said he had not had the time to ask them about those kinds of things. The abuse, the troubling family circumstances — much of it came as news to him. “Jeez, I didn’t realize the extent,” Trifiletti said. “These aren’t things people want to talk about."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2012

Grab bag of interesting links

I've been knocked out much of this week with a stomach flu, so this is a grab bag of links I found interesting

Fascinating series of photographs by Miho Aikawa entitled Dinner in NY.  Amazing how many people eat alone and while doing something else.

Very interesting series on the new camouflage patterns the army will be introducing and how they are created using 3-D layering, light-reflecting gradients, shadows and pixels to disrupt what you're seeing

An infographic on What It Costs to Leave This World.

How a Syrian adventure became a nightmare, Five Years in Damascus

Damascenes have lived with this regime for decades and know it only really understands the way of the gun. It is a regime that scoffs at political ideals, a family fiefdom forged long ago in an absurd tribal pride that values a misplaced honor and personal ego over all. It can smuggle and steal, and it is not afraid to shoot and kill --but it will not negotiate or compromise.

How the history of toothpaste explains why you can't lose weight, The Power of Habit

Before Pepsodent, almost no Americans brushed their teeth. A decade after Hopkins' advertising campaigns, pollsters found that toothbrushing had become a daily ritual for more than half the population.
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Craving, it turns out, is what powers a habit.

Charles Cooke went out to see how available free contraceptives were and brings back a huge Contraceptive Haul

To listen to the president and the various women’s groups who have so enjoyed throwing around the absurd “anti-women” hyperbole over the last month, one would think that Americans were still required to ape the cloak-and-dagger subterfuge of a drug deal in order to get their hands on contraception, and that they were paying a hefty premium into the bargain. This could not be further from the truth. In my foray, remember, I looked solely for “free” contraceptives. But — quelle horreur! — it is still possible, even normal, to buy contraceptives in every drugstore in the country. Indeed, so ample and various is the supply that it comes in a startling array of flavors, methods, and combinations. No questions are asked. Nobody is excluded.

The Romans in their baths were "obsessive gym bunnies"

We've all heard Warren Buffett  insist that he and the rich are not paying enough taxes.  Maybe he's just not paying the taxes he's required to.  Now, two of Buffett's subsidiary companies are being sued by the federal government for tax evasion?

We wish we'd had babies in our thirties, admit 80 per cent of first-time parents in their forties.

Despite the growing number of mothers 40 years old and over, 80 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men said that the 'optimal age for parenting' are the thirties. The University of California, San Francisco, interviewed 170 people in the small but telling survey.

Christian club isn't religious

The University of North Carolina- Greensboro is saying Christian student club isn’t religious and therefore must allow students of other religions and belief systems to become leaders and members as a condition to being a recognized group.

"We’ll mock Jesus but not Mohammed, says BBC boss,"

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.

Imagine looking at this art every time you went to the airport.  Something is rotten in the Denver airport

-Denver-Airport-4

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2012

Deadbeat Moms

This will challenge our conventional thinking.  Via Instapundit

Deadbeat Moms More Common Than Deadbeat Dads.

The percentage of "deadbeat" moms is actually higher than that of dads who won't pay, even though mothers are more consistently awarded custody of children by the courts.

Census figures show only 57 percent of moms required to pay child support -- 385,000 women out of a total of 674,000 -- give up some or all of the money they owe. That leaves some 289,000 "deadbeat" mothers out there, a fact that has barely been reported in the media.

That compares with 68 percent of dads who pay up, according to the figures.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:30 PM | Permalink

Children of divorce

How divorce ruins childrens' lives

A new study on divorce, looking at the complete spectrum of research on the subject, confirms what most people already know – even if they are not willing to admit it: divorce causes “irreparable harm” to the whole family, but  particularly to the children.

There have been plenty of individual studies exposing one or more effects of divorce, but rarely do researchers give an overview of the findings to date – and it makes disturbing reading.
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In short, if a society wanted to reduce children’s chances of living a happy and fulfilled it could find few better ways to do it than by promoting divorce. Why then do so many “advanced economies” allow easy divorce?

From the report, The Effects of Divorce on Children from the Marriage and Religion Research Institute

Each year, over a million American children suffer the divorce of their parents. Divorce causes irreparable harm to all involved, but most especially to the children. Though it might be shown to benefit some individuals in some individual cases, over all it causes a temporary decrease in an individual's quality of life and puts some "on a downward trajectory from which they might never fully recover."

Divorce damages society. It consumes social and human capital. It substantially increases cost to the taxpayer, while diminishing the taxpaying portion of society. It diminishes children's future competence in all five of society's major tasks or institutions: family, school, religion, marketplace and government.
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Divorce detrimentally impacts individuals and society in numerous other ways:

Religious practice: Divorce diminishes the frequency of worship of God and recourse to Him in prayer.
Education: Divorce diminishes children's learning capacity and educational attainment.
The marketplace: Divorce reduces household income and deeply cuts individual earning capacity.
Government: Divorce significantly increases crime, abuse and neglect, drug use, and the costs of compensating government services.
Health and well-being: Divorce weakens children's health and longevity. It also increases behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric risks, including even suicide.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

January 27, 2012

A mother's love is priceless

Why a mother's love really is priceless: It prevents illness even into middle age

Tender loving care in childhood was found to reduce a person’s risk of conditions including diabetes and heart disease in adulthood, according to researchers at Brandeis University in Boston.

They examined 1,000 people from low-income backgrounds, which has been shown by a wealth of previous research to be related to poorer health in later life and lower life expectancy.

However, they found some people from disadvantaged families managed to buck this trend – and they tended to have had a loving mother.
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Psychology professor Margie Lachman said events in childhood seem to leave a ‘biological residue’ on health during adult life.
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The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 PM | Permalink

Questions my generation never had to ask

About that Egg Donation

A reader of the New York Times’ Ethicist column asks if she needs to inform her fiancé about her egg donation:

A difficult situation (especially if you have no one to turn to for advice other than the Times). I can’t help but think of what she must have been told at the time: post-operation and recovery the donation process should be worry-free. It’s just genetic material. You see the same cavalier attitude in the Times’ response above (though to his credit, the writer does go on to recommend that she tell her fiancé).

Now instead of approaching the altar with a light heart, she struggles with the realization that somewhere there likely are young boys and girls who have her genetic material—who are her children—and who someday may want nothing more than to find out who she is. Tough stuff.

For a variety of reasons, I suspect that sperm donors aren’t as conflicted as egg donors about their unknown offspring. They should be.

Remember Ben Seisler, the Boston attorney who donated sperm that has resulted in 70 children?  The Boston Globe tells the story in Who's your daddy?

Just how he broke it to his fiance became the subject of  a reality TV documentary. 

Seisler’s fiancée is clearly miffed about his situation, especially when he tells her on camera that the number is up to 70. She can barely bring herself to refer to them as “children.’’ (She prefers “offspring.’’)

“What if they all come knocking?’’ she asks Seisler, angrily. “I kind of deem it selfish. Did you think of the consequences that would come out of this?’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2012

From a mother of nine.

To the Mother With Only One Child

Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone.  For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left.

When I had only one child, she was so heavy.  Now I can see that children are as light as air.  They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

January 13, 2012

We are always part of our mothers

This is so astonishing and beautiful.  We are always part of our mothers.

Our Selves, Other Cells

I’m not talking about emotional bonds, which we can only hope will endure. I mean that for any woman that has ever been pregnant, some of her baby’s cells may circulate in her bloodstream for as long as she lives. Those cells often take residence in her lungs, spinal cord, skin, thyroid gland, liver, intestine, cervix, gallbladder, spleen, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. And, yes, the baby’s cells can also live a lifetime in her heart and mind.
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During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus. A baby’s cells are detectable in his mother’s bloodstream as early as four weeks after conception, and a mother’s cells are detectable in her fetus by week 13. In the first trimester, one out of every fifty thousand cells in her body are from her baby-to-be (this is how some noninvasive prenatal tests check for genetic disorders). In the second and third trimesters, the count is up to one out of every thousand maternal cells. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 6 percent of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood plasma comes from the fetus. After birth, the mother’s fetal cell count plummets, but some stick around for the long haul. Those lingerers create their own lineages. Imagine colonies in the motherland.

Moms usually tolerate the invasion. This is why skin, organ, and bone marrow transplants between mother and child have a much higher success rate than between father and child.

 Baby-Foot-Womb

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It turns out that when fetal cells are good, they are very, very good. They may protect mothers from some forms of cancer. Fetal cells show up significantly more often in the breast tissue of women who don’t have breast cancer than in women who do (43 versus 14 percent). Why is this? Fetal cells are foreign to the mother because they contain DNA from the baby’s father. One theory is that this “otherness” stimulates the mother’s immune system just enough to help keep malignant cells in check. The more fetal cells there are in a woman’s body, the less active are autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
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How many people have left their DNA in us? Any baby we’ve ever conceived, even ones we’ve miscarried unknowingly. Sons leave their Y chromosome genes in their mothers. The fetal cells from each pregnancy, flowing in a mother’s bloodstream, can be passed on to her successive kids. If we have an older sibling, that older sibling’s cells may be in us. The baby in a large family may harbor the genes of many brothers and sisters. My mother’s cells are in my body, and so are my daughter’s cells, and half my daughter’s DNA comes from her dad. Some of those cells may be in my brain. This is squirm-worthy.

But there’s something beautiful about this too. Long post postpartum, we mothers continue to carry our children, at least in a sense. Our babies become part of us, just as we are a part of them. The barriers have broken down; the lines are no longer fixed. Moms must be many in one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2012

"In the freezer with the chips and the chicken"

This story would be impossible at any other time in history

Twins born five years apart

despite the fact the brother and sister were conceived from the same batch of embryos, they were born five years apart to parents Simon and Jody Blake.

Mr Blake, 45, and his 38-year-old wife had been trying to start a family without success and began fertility treatment in 2005.
During the medical process, five embryos were created and two implanted in Mrs Blake, which resulted in the birth of Reuben on December 9 2006.

 Twins-Born 5Years Apart

The remaining three embryos were frozen until the couple, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, decided to try for another child last year.
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Even at his young age Reuben is aware of the special relationship he has with his seven-week-old sister, although his parents said it would be a while before he fully understands.

''He knows that she's been in the freezer – he likes to say she has been in the freezer with the chips and the chicken – so he is sort of aware that she is his twin, but obviously he doesn't really understand how it's all worked really,'' his mother said.


Not a gift from God or brought by the stork, but in the freezer with the chips.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2012

"I kind of stopped breathing for a second."

She gave up her daughter for adoption after she was raped as a teenager, but Minka Disbrow,lived long enough to be reunited with her baby girl 77 years later.

Lee started suffering from heart problems and doctors asked about the family's medical history. She knew nothing about it. Her son, Brian, decided to try to find out more and petitioned the court in South Dakota for his mother's adoption records.

He got a stack of more than 270 pages including a written account of the assault and handwritten letters from a young Disbrow, asking about the tiny baby she had cradled for a month.

He then went online to try to find one of Disbrow's relatives — possibly through an obituary.

"I was looking for somebody I thought was probably not living," said Lee's now-54-year-old son. He typed Disbrow's name into a web directory and was shocked when a phone listing popped up. "I kind of stopped breathing for a second."

 Minka Disbrow Reunited With Daughter After77Years

On the phone with her biological daughter, Disbrow was in disbelief. Her legs began to tremble. She couldn't understand how a naïve dairy farm girl without an education could have such accomplished grandchildren.

A month later, Ruth Lee and Brian Lee flew to California. They arrived at Disbrow's meticulous apartment on a palm tree-lined street armed with a gigantic bouquet of flowers.

Disbrow couldn't get over how Lee's hands were like her mother's. Lee was amazed at the women's similar taste in clothing. They pored over family photo albums and caught up on the years Disbrow had missed.

"It was just like we had never parted," Disbrow said. "Like you were with the family all your life."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

December 15, 2011

The normal boy with his heart outside his chest cavity

The Pennsylvania Miracle Boy Defies All Odds and lives with his heart outside his chest cavity and covered only by a thin layer of skin.

From the moment they detected abnormalities during Leighann Marquiss' 12-week sonogram, they told her and her husband, Henry, the baby had no chance. Ryan's deformed heart was growing outside his body, they said. The baby would suffer heart failure and die in the womb within weeks.

No baby with Ryan's combination of defects had survived, they said.

They told the couple not to expect a miracle, and urged them to abort. No, said Leighann and Henry, if the baby is going to die, we'll let it die naturally.

 Ryan Marquiss Heart Outside

"He's just a normal boy," Leighann said, watching the morning scene in her kitchen nearly three years later. "He falls down and scrapes his knees. He says, `Mommy, mommy, mommy.' He plays with his sisters.

"Of course, sometimes I tell them to stop touching his heart. What other mom says that?"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2011

“I don’t even let my kids out of the house”

Welcome to the Age of Overparenting How I learned to let my kids be kids.

IN THE ARLINGTON middle school cafeteria, Michael Thompson asks if anyone wants to share their sweetest memory from childhood. I raise my hand and tell the group how, when I was eight, my friends and I discovered a frozen pond way back in the woods. We raced home to get our ice skates and laced them up in the hollowed-out trunk of a towering tree. And then, accompanied only by the sounds of our voices, laughter, and the scratching of our blades, we skimmed the ice, unsupervised, for hours.

“Why,” Thompson asks me in front of all the parents, “is that memory so sweet?”

Without thinking, I say, “Because my parents didn’t know where I was.”  “

Your parents didn’t know where you were. So that experience was wholly your own,” he says.

Then: “Would you let your own children do that?”

“I don’t even let my kids out of the house,” I blurt.

Everyone laughs, including me. (I do let them out of the house, by the way.) It’s a funny line, but the truth is our kids have but a shred of the freedom we enjoyed growing up.

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what calling up my sweetest memory made me realize is that while today’s middle- and upper-middle-class children have an unprecedented array of opportunities, their experiences are often manufactured by us. For them, ice skating takes the form of 30-minute lessons at a city rink. Playing with friends involves checking calendars and pre-set finish times. Nearly everything they do is orchestrated, if not by their parents, then by some other adult — a teacher, camp counselor, or coach. But their experiences aren’t very rich in the messier way — in those moments of unfettered abandon when part of the thrill is the risk of harm, hurt feelings, or struggle. In our attempt to manage and support every moment of our children’s lives, they become something that belongs to us, not them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2011

Why are atheist feminists attracted to Mormon mommy blogs?

Emily Matchar says she can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

Their lives are nothing like mine — I’m your standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist — yet I’m completely obsessed with their blogs. On an average day, I’ll skim through a half-dozen Mormon blogs, looking at Polaroids of dogs in raincoats or kids in bow ties, reading gratitude lists, admiring sewing projects.

I’m not alone, either. Two of my closest friends — both chronically overworked Ph.D. candidates — procrastinate for hours poring over Nat the Fat Rat or C. Jane Enjoy It. A recent discussion of Mormonism on the blog Jezebel unleashed a waterfall of confessions in the comments section from other young non-religious women similarly riveted by the shiny, happy domestic lives of their Latter-day Saint sisters.
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Well, to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly “uplifting.” -- I do think women of my generation are looking to the past in an effort to create fulfilling, happy domestic lives, since the modern world doesn’t offer much of a road map.

 Mom-With-Baby-And-Computer

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... the basic messages expressed in these blogs — family is wonderful, life is meant to be enjoyed, celebrate the small things — are still lovely. And if they help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap, I say, “Right on. I won’t be inviting the missionaries inside for hot cocoa now or ever, but I don’t plan on stopping my blog habit any time soon.

Jennifer Fulweiler, a former atheist who became a Catholic, mother of 5 and prolific blogger herself writes about the Secret that Makes Housewife Blogs So Irresistible.

One of the great surprises of the human life is that complete autonomy makes you miserable, and it’s only when you give yourself fully in the service of others that you’ll find lasting happiness. It is a counter-intuitive truth that taps directly into our spiritual selves, which is why people of faith typically understand it best.
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Back in my career days, I thought that living life to the fullest meant racking up impressive credentials and being as self-sufficient as possible. But the universal truth that I stumbled across in my own life, that bursts from the pages of countless mommy blogs by women of faith, is that the meaning of life is to give, to share, and to open yourself to the point that your life becomes inextricably entwined with the lives of others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

September 18, 2011

Protective fatty acids for pregnant women

Low-fat yoghurt 'child asthma risk' during pregnancy

Pregnant women who eat low-fat yoghurt can increase the risk of their child developing asthma and hay fever, a study says.

At the European Respiratory Society conference, researchers will suggest this could be due to an absence of protective fatty acids in yoghurt.

The diets of more than 70,000 Danish women were analysed and their children followed until the age of seven.
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But the results showed that milk intake during pregnancy was not linked to any increased risk of asthma.

In fact, milk was shown to protect against asthma development.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

September 15, 2011

He keeps track of all his kids on an Excel spreadsheet

Boston attorney Ben Sisler knows he has at least 70 children and he's only 33.

As kids conceived with donated sperm grow up, life may get complicated for donors

He is registered on an online registry called the Donor Sibling Registry that matches children conceived by sperm donors with their biological fathers and half-siblings. Based on his calculations, “I have reason to expect between 120 and 140,’’ said Seisler. He recently met two of them - a 7-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother, who bore what Seisler calls “a bizarre resemblance’’ to him - as part of a reality documentary special, “Style Exposed: Sperm Donor,’’ which airs Sept. 27 on the Style network.
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Seisler said he’s glad he met the kids but admits the experience was at times a bit surreal. “It was kind of wild. On the one hand, these kids are biologically my kids. On the other hand they are not my kids. I didn’t raise them. I have no control over how they are raised.

“There is no road map for this, no protocol to follow,’’ Seisler reflected. “This really is uncharted territory.’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2011

Reality bites

FORTY may be the new 30, but try telling that to your ovaries.

In the New York Times, Fertility is a Matter of Age No Matter How Young a Woman Looks

Advances in beauty products and dermatology, not to mention manic devotion to yoga, Pilates and other exercise obsessions, are making it possible for large numbers of women to look admirably younger than their years. But doctors fear that they are creating a widening disconnect between what women see in the mirror and what’s happening to their reproductive organs.

“Somewhere between 30 and 40 your internal organs are aging but you don’t feel it, and now you don’t even see it,” said Dr. Karyn Grossman, a dermatologist with practices in Manhattan and Santa Monica, Calif. “At least you used to get some visual feedback.”
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“Everyone in my life told me how young I looked for my age,” she said. “I assumed it was the same on the inside as it was on the outside.”

Why it's time to regulate the IVF industry.  It should have been done years ago.  Creepy: One sperm donor, 150 kids

As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Ms. Daily’s group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on Web sites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers.

Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.
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“We have more rules that go into place when you buy a used car than when you buy sperm,” said Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College and author of “The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception.
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Although other countries, including Britain, France and Sweden, limit how many children a sperm donor can father, there is no such limit in the United States.
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“Just as it’s happened in many other countries around the world,” Ms. Kramer said, “we need to publicly ask the questions ‘What is in the best interests of the child to be born?’ and ‘Is it fair to bring a child into the world who will have no access to knowing about one half of their genetics, medical history and ancestry?’

“These sperm banks are keeping donors anonymous, making women babies and making a lot of money. But nowhere in that formula is doing what’s right for the donor families.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2011

Popular TV shows teach children fame is most important value

The continuing devolution of the culture, part 467.

Popular TV Shows Teach Children Fame Is Most Important Value, Psychologists Report; Being Kind to Others Fell Dramatically in Importance Over 10 Years.

Fame is the No. 1 value emphasized by television shows popular with 9- to 11-year-olds, a dramatic change over the past 10 years, UCLA psychologists report in a new study.

On a list of 16 values, fame jumped from the 15th spot, where it was in both 1987 and 1997, to the first spot in 2007. From 1997 to 2007, benevolence (being kind and helping others) fell from second to 13th, and tradition dropped from fourth to 15th
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"I was shocked, especially by the dramatic changes in the last 10 years," said Yalda T. Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and the lead author of the study. "I thought fame would be important but did not expect this drastic an increase or such a dramatic decrease in other values, such as community feeling. If you believe that television reflects the culture, as I do, then American culture has changed drastically."

Community feeling (being part of a group) was the No. 1 value in 1967, 1977 and 1997, and it was the No. 2 value in 1987, the study found. By 2007, however, it had fallen out of the top 10, to 11th.
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The top five values in 2007 were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance. In 2007, benevolence dropped to the 12th spot and community feeling fell to 11th. Financial success went from 12th in 1967 and 1997 to fifth in 2007.
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The study is published in the July issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, a peer-reviewed journal featuring psychosocial research on the impact of the Internet on people and society.

Uhls and Greenfield analyzed Nielsen demographic data to determine the most popular shows with 9- to 11-year-olds and then conducted a survey of 60 participants, aged 18 to 59, to determine how important each value was in episodes of the various shows.
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"The biggest change occurred from 1997 to 2007, when YouTube, Facebook and Twitter exploded in popularity," Uhls said. "Their growth parallels the rise in narcissism and the drop in empathy among college students in the United States, as other research has shown. We don't think this is a coincidence. Changes we have seen in narcissism and empathy are being reflected on television. In the past, children had their home, community and school; now they have thousands of 'friends' who look at their photos and their posts and comment on them. The growth of social media gives children access to an audience beyond the school grounds."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2011

Abortion is a risky business

Sure to cause controversy is the study endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry which concluded that Women who have abortions 'face double the risk of mental health problems'.

Professor Coleman has been the frequent target of pro-choice campaigners in the U.S. for her insistence that abortion is linked to poor mental health.

But while critics have doubted her methods, they have failed to damage her academic reputation, and publication in the peer-reviewed British journal is a signal that the psychiatric establishment is now taking seriously the possibility that abortion is a cause of anxiety, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide.
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Professor Coleman’s study was based on an analysis of 22 separate projects which together analysed the experiences of 877,000 women, of whom 163,831 had had an abortion.
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Overall, the results revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 per cent of the incidence of mental health problems were shown to be directly attributable to abortion.’
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The study said that abortion was linked with a 34 per cent greater chance of anxiety disorders, and 37 per cent higher possibility of depression, a more than double risk of alcohol abuse – 110 per cent – a three times greater risk of cannabis use – at 220 per cent – and 155 per cent greater risk of trying to commit suicide.

Professor Coleman added: ‘There are in fact some real risks associated with abortion that should be shared with women as they are counselled prior to an abortion.’

Let's face it.  Abortion is a risky business and women planning to undergo an abortion should be advised of the risks.     

Abortion is also the leading cause of death in the United States with 1.2 million abortions a year.  The number of people who die with heart disease is 598,607.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

Back to school advice

Walter Russell Mead very good Back to School advice to returning students and to their parents.

And so, dear students, welcome back!  Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years.

1.  The real world does not work like school.
2.  Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.
3.  You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.
4.  Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.
5.  Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.
6.  Character counts; so do good habits.
7.  Relax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

Turning a generation of young people into debtors

Student loan debt is approaching $1 trillion, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.  This is disastrous for students who may not find  a job or take the job they really love instead of the one that pays the most or buy their first house.    They will be "hounded for life" and may  never be able to pay back all that they owe. 

Nathan Harden on The next debt bubble: college loans 

Moody’s rating agency recently issued a report that should be a wake-up call to every student now considering taking out large loans to pay for college.

Total student debt is at an all-time high -- and may top $1 trillion this year. Meanwhile, default rates are rising alarmingly. Skyrocketing tuition, lax lending standards and high rates of unemployment have created the perfect financial storm.

Some advice to college students: Learn from our government’s mistakes and avoid borrowing your way into a hole.

The Student Loan Bubble: Only Stupid People Will Be Surprised When It Bursts

Today we have more evidence that the student loan market is headed for disaster. We live in a world where the cost of education has become completely disassociated from the value that the education provides. The tuition is too damn high, and there aren’t enough high paying jobs available for all of the young people with enormous debt.  For many recent college graduates, default is inevitable.

Huffington Post

Outstanding student debt has climbed 25 percent since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — an increase from $440 billion then to $550 billion now. By contrast, every other major category of consumer debt, including mortgage debt, credit card debt, auto loans and home equity loans, is lower today than it was in the fall of 2008.
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Not only has student debt risen precipitously, but more and more of those loans aren’t getting paid off on time.
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The problems of student-loan delinquency and default are only expected to get worse. Salaries and employment rates for recent college graduates have dropped, 

The Atlantic has a good article on The Debt Crisis at American Colleges, calling it a "pernicious trend that the colleges themselves are encouraging."

How do colleges manage it? Kenyon has erected a $70 million sports palace featuring a 20-lane olympic pool. Stanford's professors now get paid sabbaticals every fourth year, handing them $115,000 for not teaching. Vanderbilt pays its president $2.4 million. Alumni gifts and endowment earnings help with the costs. But a major source is tuition payments, which at private schools are breaking the $40,000 barrier, more than many families earn. Sadly, there's more to the story. Most students have to take out loans to remit what colleges demand. At colleges lacking rich endowments, budgeting is based on turning a generation of young people into debtors.

Worse still is that college loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

So even if you file for bankruptcy, the payments continue due. Hence these stern word from Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. "You will be hounded for life," he warns. "They will garnish your wages. They will intercept your tax refunds. You become ineligible for federal employment." He adds that any professional license can be revoked and Social Security checks docked when you retire. We can't think of any other statute with such sadistic provisions.

At Inside Higher Ed, James Miller advises professors, Get Out While You Can

Tenure won’t save us from a higher education collapse. Start making alternative career contingency plans now because this collapse could be sudden and catastrophic.

Biggest college regrets

The day that I signed on the dotted line of my promissory note, I didn’t even understand what it would mean to have to pay back more than $40,000 in student loans. I’ll tell you what it means: living in a crappy apartment in Queens well into my 30s. I vaguely remember my dad trying to get the message through to me, but I must have had cotton in my teenage ears.

via Instapundit who said "As stories like this spread, the higher education bubble will deflate.

He says, "Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. This can’t go on forever."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2011

How would you feel if you discovered your child was not really "yours"?

Neo's short post on DNA testing and paternity led me to this article, published two years ago in the New York Times magazine and it is, as she writes, "excellent with much food for thought."

How DNA Testing is Changing Fatherhood

For four years, Mike had known that the girl he had rocked to sleep and danced with across the living-room floor was not, as they say, “his.” The revelation from a DNA test was devastating and prompted him to leave his wife — but he had not renounced their child. He continued to feel that in all the ways that mattered, she was still his daughter, and he faithfully paid her child support. It was only when he learned that his ex-wife was about to marry the man who she said actually was the girl’s biological father that Mike flipped. Supporting another man’s child suddenly became unbearable.

Two years after filing the suit that sought to end his paternal rights, Mike is still irate about the fix he’s in. “I pay child support to a biologically intact family,” Mike told me, his voice cracking with incredulity. “A father and mother, married, who live with their own child. And I pay support for that child. How ridiculous is that?”
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Over the last decade, the number of paternity tests taken every year jumped 64 percent, to more than 400,000. That figure counts only a subset of tests — those that are admissible in court and thus require an unbiased tester and a documented chain of possession from test site to lab. Other tests are conducted by men who, like Mike, buy kits from the Internet or at the corner Rite Aid, swab the inside of their cheeks and that of their putative child’s and mail the samples to a lab. Of course, the men who take the tests already question their paternity, and for about 30 percent of them, their hunch is right. Yet as troubled as many of them might be by that news, they are even more stunned to discover that many judges find it irrelevant. State statutes and case law vary widely, but most judges conclude that these men must continue to raise their children — or at least pay support — no matter what their DNA says. The scientific advance that was supposed to offer clarity instead reveals just how murky society’s notions of fatherhood actually are.
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In most states, paternity decisions are governed by centuries-old English common law, the presumptions of which hold sway, whether or not they’re codified: a child born in a marriage is presumed the product of that union unless the husband was impotent, sterile or beyond “the four seas” when his wife conceived. The aim was to avoid “bastardy” and to preserve family stability — or at least the appearance of it.
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Once a man has been deemed a father, either because of marriage or because he has acknowledged paternity (by agreeing to be on the birth certificate, say, or paying child support), most state courts say he cannot then abandon that child — no matter what a DNA test subsequently reveals.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:40 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2011

Having a Baby After 35

The long-term consequences of having your children late means you might be parentless and your child will not have the influence of grandparents who play a bigger role than is commonly thought.

Allison Gilbert on The Dangers of Having a Baby After 35: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You

If you are over 35, you're probably aware of the increased risks of having a baby. Older women are more likely to have miscarriages, c-sections, suffer high blood pressure, and develop gestational diabetes. Your child is more likely to be born too early, not weigh enough, have chromosomal birth defects (most commonly Down syndrome), and other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. Women are familiar with these hazards because their doctors talk about them routinely. Obstetricians, however, are ignoring another potentially critical outcome: Parents in their late thirties, forties, and fifties are more likely to raise kids without the help and support of their own parents, and their children are more likely to grow up without grandparents.
---
The Grandparent Gap

Researchers have long studied the influence grandparents have on grandchildren, and it's been determined that kids are shaped by grandparents in irrefutable and calculable ways. Children who spend time with their grandparents often have higher self-esteem, tend to have fewer behavioral problems, and do better in social circles. The cumulative lack of these influences, and many others, is "The Grandparent Gap."

Grandparents often pass on their love of art, books, and music. They teach skills related to their jobs and interests. They provide unconditional love and acceptance. And, especially important as children age, grandmothers and grandfathers often provide a safe and trusted refuge away from parents. For the teenage children of parentless parents, having fewer places to turn is a particular challenge, as many begin facing mounting peer pressure related to sex, alcohol, and drugs.
--
The "I" Factor

The "I" Factor is the term I use to describe the specific losses experienced by parentless parents. "I" is short for irreplaceable. There's just so much information about your own childhood that's gone forever. If your daughter weren't crawling "on time," it would be reassuring to know if you also began crawling late. Without your parents, there are simply fewer answers to these developmental questions.

Caring for babies and young children is often physically more demanding for parentless parents because their moms and dads can't babysit. Most people, at first, will dismiss this. They'll argue their parents aren't available either -- they live far away, or are otherwise incapable of providing support. But parentless parents experience a quantifiable vacuum.  Studies show grandparents take care of more children than nursery schools and day care centers combined, and the newest government data shows this reliance on grandparents is increasing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2011

The case for making playgrounds more dangerous

Can a playground be too safe?

“I grew up on the monkey bars in Fort Tryon Park, and I never forgot how good it felt to get to the top of them,” Mr. Stern said. “I didn’t want to see that playground bowdlerized. I said that as long as I was parks commissioner, those monkey bars were going to stay.”

His philosophy seemed reactionary at the time, but today it’s shared by some researchers who question the value of safety-first playgrounds. Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.

“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”
--
“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Sometimes, of course, their mastery fails, and falls are the common form of playground injury. But these rarely cause permanent damage, either physically or emotionally. While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who’s hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.
---
...the jungle gym of Mr. Stern’s youth was still there. It was the prime destination for many children, including those who’d never seen one before, like Nayelis Serrano, a 10-year-old from the South Bronx who was visiting her cousin.

When she got halfway up, at the third level of bars, she paused, as if that was high enough. Then, after a consultation with her mother, she continued to the top, the fifth level, and descended to recount her triumph.

“I was scared at first,” she explained. “But my mother said if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you could do it. So I took a chance and kept going. At the top I felt very proud.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:28 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2011

Orphans as Parents

The Saturday essay in the Wall Street Journal by Susan Gregory Thomas

The Divorce Generation
Having survived their own family splits, Generation X parents are determined to keep their marriages together. It doesn't always work.

For much of my generation—Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980—there is only one question: "When did your parents get divorced?" Our lives have been framed by the answer. Ask us. We remember everything.
--
"Whatever happens, we're never going to get divorced." Over the course of 16 years, I said that often to my husband, especially after our children were born. Apparently, much of my generation feels at least roughly the same way: Divorce rates, which peaked around 1980, are now at their lowest level since 1970. In fact, the often-cited statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce was true only in the 1970s—in other words, our parents' marriages.
--

Such sentiments bring to mind a set of statistics in "Generations" by William Strauss and Neil Howe that has stuck with me: In 1962, half of all adult women believed that parents in bad marriages should stay together for the children's sake; by 1980, only one in five felt that way. "Four-fifths of [those] divorced adults profess to being happier afterward," the authors write, "but a majority of their children feel otherwise."

But a majority of their children feel otherwise. There is something intolerable about that clause. I can't help feeling that every divorce, in its way, is a re-enactment of "Medea": the wailing, murderously bereft mother; the cold father protecting his pristine, new family; the children: dead.
--
After hearing about my background for some time, my distinguished therapist made an announcement: "You," she said, "are a war orphan."

Orphans as parents—that's not a bad way to understand Generation X parents.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

July 6, 2011

"State-encouraged incest"

Germany and EU to Legalize Pedophilia and with it, Child Pornography as well


Booklets from a subsidiary of the German government’s Ministry for Family Affairs encourage parents to sexually massage their children as young as 1 to 3 years of age.
--
“Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex,” reads the booklet regarding 1-3 year olds. The authors rationalize, “The child touches all parts of their father’s body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same.”

My favorite Canadian author Michael O'Brien comments:

It is, he said, “State-encouraged incest, which in most civilized societies is a crime.” The development is, he suggests, a natural outcome of the rejection of the Judeo-Christian moral order.

“The imposed social revolution that has swept the western world is moving to a new stage as it works out the logical consequences of its view of man’s value,” said O’Brien. “It is merely obeying its strictly materialist philosophy of man. If man is no more than a creature created for pleasure or power. If he is no more than a cell in the social organism, then no moral standards, no psychological truths, no spiritual truths can refute the ‘will to power’ and the ‘will to pleasure’.”
--
The wiser and deeper position of most civilizations recognized that children need a period of innocence,” commented O’Brien. “Now the state, the German state, is encouraging destruction of this state of innocence,”
he added. “This is consistent with the materialist philosophy that sees all moral norms and all truths about human nature as repressive. Pleasure and their distorted concept of freedom are their only guiding principles.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2011

The Importance of Fathers

A Father's Day Round-up in loving memory of mine, William J. Fallon, Big Bill, who died almost 20 years ago.

Jeffrey Goldberg on Father’s Day Lesson About Children, and Life  in an interview with Thomas Vander Woude's,
son, now a Catholic priest in Alexandria,  Virginia.  His is a story I've never forgotten since I posted it three years ago now here and here.

“A father puts others ahead of himself,” the Rev. Vander Woude said. “That was his belief. He never said that. He just did it.
---
I’m reasonably sure an atheist would sacrifice his life for his child. But I also don’t doubt that Thomas Vander Woude’s powerful faith cleared the path into the tank. A person who has an articulated calling, who believes in something larger than himself, could more immediately accept the gravity of the moment. 

“He went down there in peace,” the Rev. Vander Woude said. “This is what he did. This is who he was. This was where his life was taking him.”

Adrian McLemore, an accidental dad at 22 who spent most of his life in foster care, is another great one.

McLemore was a full-time student at Wright State University studying political science. His days were packed with classes and studies, as well as a grueling schedule of speeches, presentations, committee meetings. And he had a job at a video store.

But he didn't hesitate."I will take care of my niece and nephew," he told the authorities. "I will feed them and take them to day care. I will give them a stable home. I know them. And I love them like no one else can
.

Many warned him it was too much to take on.

McLemore had just one response.

"I refuse to allow another generation of McLemores to be raised in foster care."
--
McLemore worships the memory of his father, who died of cancer in 2004. The two years he lived with his Dad, he says, were the happiest of his life.

American Digest

Good fathers are like deep wells of cool water and, as the song says, you never miss your water until the well runs dry... or is bricked-up, or sent away from the home, or just wanders off due to lack of interest on the part of the other half of your parentage. It's hard to say how that last thing happens, and you'll never get anything other than the victim story from your mom. But if you ask us (and you better not) it often happens that the shit gets so deep he just wakes up one morning and hears in his head, "Just hop on the bus, Gus. / You don't need to discuss much." It can happen and it does happen more and more frequently as the critical role of the Father is more and more devolved by the culture into that of sperm donor.

Today we hear the complaints of more and more kids failing to thrive in a culture that fills their cups with self-esteem instead of guidance, with sand instead of water, but we never seem to connect that failure to thrive with the drive to reduce the Father to a fool and a cash machine. Well, you get what you don't pay for.

America Needs Involved Fathers
This Father’s Day, Americans may want to consider the words of the late Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who once said, "The principal objective of American government at every level should be to see that children are born into intact families and that they remain so.”
--
research now shows that the percentage of fatherless families in a community more reliably predicts that community’s rate of violent crime than any other factor, including race.  The same can be said for rates of child poverty.  In fact, interestingly, white children in fatherless families are significantly more likely to live in poverty than African-American children who have a father in the home.

The principal cause of poverty is the absence of married fathers in the home.

Children from single-parent families (most of which are headed by a single mother) are over five times as likely to live in poverty than are those from married families.    Nearly three-quarters of all children whose families receive welfare come from single-parent homes......In 1960, just over 5 percent of babies were born to single women, whereas today that number is nearly eight times higher at more than 40 percent.

Sue Shellenberg on The Secret of Dads' Success

How Fathers' Teasing, Tickling, Wrestling Teach Kids to Whine Less and Be More Independent

The benefits of involved fathering are known: improved cognitive skills, fewer behavioral problems among school-age children, less delinquency among teenage boys and fewer psychological problems in young women, based on an analysis of 16 long-term studies of father involvement, published in 2008 in the scholarly journal Acta Paediatrica.
--
Interactions are more rambunctious and physical. Dads are more likely to startle babies, laugh, play physical games such as tossing them in the air, and spark peaks of emotion or excitement. This is believed to help kids develop self-regulatory skills.

I remember the day my father left

I saw innocence give way early to a cynic's worldview: Don't depend on anyone and no one will disappoint you.
--
And while conventional wisdom may deem it better to go to bed without a dad than to listen to squabbling parents, those who've been there tend to see it differently.

.... studies of fatherlessness tell a different story. The National Center for Health Statistics has found that children living with divorced mothers are four times more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems, twice as likely to repeat a grade at school, and more likely to suffer chronic asthma, frequent headaches, bedwetting, stammering or speech defects, anxiety, depression or hyperactivity.
---
Here's to you, Faithful Fathers

Celebrate the men who ignore the world's urgings: "Follow your dreams." "If it feels good, do it." "Have it your way."  Celebrate those faithful ones who keep their commitments and give their wives and children the security of knowing they will never leave.

Let's face it, being a dad can be a drag. No one issues you a uniform, salutes when you enter the room, or rewards you with a chestful of medals. Fatherhood is hardly a life of adventure - no Agent 007 or Indiana Jones. Quite the contrary. Throughout the entertainment world, since Archie Bunker, fathers have been largely portrayed as hopeless and self-centered fools.

But a dad who has conquered himself and his all-too human selfishness is more handsome to behold than any matinee idol, his story more compelling than any movie plot.

I know because I live with one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2011

"It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart"

Meghan Cox Gurdon on young adult fiction, Darkness Too Visible

Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but
a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

Now, whether you care if adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness probably depends on your philosophical outlook. Reading about homicide doesn't turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won't make a kid break the honor code. But
the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2011

Parenting with less work, more fun

Bryan Caplan in the Wall Street Journal offers his Twin Lessons: Have More Kids, Pay Less Attention to Them

The most prominent conclusion of twin research is that practically everything—health, intelligence, happiness, success, personality, values, interests—is partly genetic. The evidence is straightforward: Identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins in almost every way—even when the twins are separated at birth. But twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero.

Once I became a dad, I noticed that parents around me had a different take on the power of nurture. I saw them turning parenthood into a chore—shuttling their kids to activities even the kids didn’t enjoy, forbidding television, desperately trying to make their babies eat another spoonful of vegetables. Parents’ main rationale is that their effort is an investment in their children’s future; they’re sacrificing now to turn their kids into healthy, smart, successful, well-adjusted adults.  But according to decades of twin research, their rationale is just, well, wrong. 
High-strung parenting isn’t dangerous, but it does make being a parent a lot more work and less fun than it has to be.

He calls it Serenity Parenting

Focus on enjoying your journey with your child, instead of trying to control his destination. Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices. Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult.  I can’t say that I completely convinced my wife on any of these points, but we made reasonable compromises—and we found that raising twins was a lot of fun.
--
My disbelief in the power of nurture, by the same logic, made me eager to have more kids.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2011

Week-end catch-up: Feminism, Emma, Tween girls, Superglue, and Baseball

Some articles that caught my eye last week that you might enjoy.

We really don't know when life begins

As our knowledge of the material world, of science, has exploded in modern history it has only been proven time and time again that what was revealed long ago is true.  God "ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight." (Wisdom 11:21)  Indeed if the material world were not ordered and in constant motion, there could be no "science."

‘I’d Kill for a Good Soda’ Takes on a Whole New Meaning

That Pepsi you are drinking may only be as good as the aborted fetal cell lines that were evidently used in its flavor-enhancement development. Pepsi, Nestle, Kraft, and others, partner with Senomyx (SNMX for you financial-wire watchers), which does just that. Campbell’s has severed its ties with Senomyx, but so far Pepsi stands firm ….

Not the first and certainly not the last to bemoan the downside of feminism, S.E. Cupp : For all too many women, the joys of motherhood are gone.

And I've been fairly content, living unencumbered in relative peace and quiet with my curdling dairy products and impressive collection of takeout menus, all of which are evidence of my go-go lifestyle, a successful career and a decidedly postmodern self-sufficiency. I own nothing and am responsible for no one, save a few friends who rely on me to occasionally accompany them to weddings, as they, too, have put off the seminal responsibilities of adulthood.

But as liberating as my life has been, I can't help but wonder if my mother's generation made a wrong turn somewhere.
Their success has been our failure. By getting married, starting a family, working hard as a public school teacher (how quaint!) and happily making all the sacrifices that come with that, my mother unwittingly but definitely ensured that I would grow up to want different things: an Ivy League education, a promising career with higher earning potential and the independence to travel the world. It's doubtful she ever imagined that that would all come at the expense of making life's ultimate investment: becoming a mother myself.

The AmExed Sexing Up of the American Tween

Dr. Meeker paints a blunt medical picture for any mom or dad being coy about parenting: “Here’s how we know. In 1979, when I graduated from college, there were two sexually transmitted infections snaking their way through the sexually ‘open’ teens and adults who chose to explore their sexuality through freer sexual expression. Herpes 2 broke upon the scene in a fierce way, increasing 500 percent from 1980 to 1990. By the time 2000 rolled around, there were over 30 STIs in the then–15 million Americans each year who contracted a new STD. Now, in 2011, the CDC reports that 20 million Americans each year contract a new STI, and almost 50 percent are young people (teens and college students). This is completely unacceptable.”

In praise of the homely female arts, Jillian Tamaki's beautiful  cross-stitch covers of deluxe Penguin classics, Emma, Black Beauty and the Secret Garden.

 Emma

The Anchoress recommends "The Music Box" by Daniel Cloud Campos

Things I learned at ProCommerce

Al Jazeera has more complete news than the New York Times and its bias against Israel is much smaller.

The technological advance in vegetable packaging is due to nitrogen and plastic that looks like cellophane.

Life expectancy is increasing by five hours a day.  IQ keeps going up by three points a decade.  Agriculture gets ever more productive, leaving more land to remain wild.  Even economic inequality is decreasing, with poor countries getting rich faster than rich countries are getting richer....Overall global warming is proceeding slower than was predicted.  Humanity has been decarbonizing its energy supply steadily for 150 years as we progressed from wood to coal to oil to natural gas.  A few years ago it was thought that only 25 years of natural gas was left, but with the invention of hydrofracking shale gas, the supply is suddenly 250 years worth, and it is a hugely cleaner source than coal.

There is one and only one reason that American education never improves.  It is not Darwinian.
Failures don’t disappear and successes are not reproduced.
Minimum wage increases kill jobs and here is data to prove it.  More than two million jobs paying the minimum wage of $7.25 or less were lost between 2010 and 2006

Why it's good that Millions of Spiders in Pakistan Encase Entire Trees in Webs

Superglue inventor Harry Coover dies at 94. 

His fast-acting and super-strong adhesive was invented in 1942 as a side effect of another project to create transparent plastic gun sights. The sights didn’t work out because the material created stuck everything together, but the adhesive that came out of those experiments was eventually sold as a super glue called Eastman 910.

If you follow the Original  Superglue blog, you'll learn that dermatologists recommend superglue to seal the cracks on winter dry hands.    But don't use superglue to attach a tiny top hat to your head, lest you look like Sean  Murtagh who had to go the the emergency room to get it  cut off.

 Superglue Tophat Head

John Allen gives us the Top Nine Reasons why Baseball is to Sports what Catholicism is to Religion.

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both have a Communion of Saints, all the way down to popular shrines and holy cards.
2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates.
3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important.
5. In both baseball and Catholicism, you can dip in and out, but for serious devotees the liturgy is a daily affair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2011

Shocking revocation of parental rights

I find it hard to believe that this could happen in the United States, but then again I always underestimate the officiousness of state power. 

Baby girl kept away from mother for five years after she refused to sign C-section consent form

A baby girl has been kept away from her mother for almost five years after she refused to sign a form consenting to a Caesarean section - even though she did not end up needing to have the operation.

The extraordinary case began after staff at a New Jersey hospital claimed that refusal to give permission for the procedure amounted to child abuse.

The agonising decision triggered a protracted legal battle which has led to the mother being separated from her child for five years.

The woman, known only as VM, launched an appeal after authorities took her baby away from her immediately after the birth in 2006 at St Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey.

The first appeal failed but she was given a ray of hope when a higher court ruled in her favour.  The case is now waiting to go back to the lower court which is yet to make a decision.

The hospital said that her refusal to give permission for the C-section amounted to child abuse and thus reported her to welfare authorities.

This was despite VM saying that she would agree to the operation if it became necessary and going on to deliver a healthy baby.

The courts agreed with welfare agencies in New Jersey that the baby, born on April 16 2006, should be kept in care and revoked parental rights.

Maybe there's more to the case than is reported here, but what is reported is shocking.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2011

Best investment they ever made

This is the first case I know of where an umbilical cord was preserved for its stem cells and, in fact, saved a young girl's life.

Cord blood stem cells used to help cure girl of brain cancer in Spain

A four-year-old girl has become the first patient in Spain to recover from brain cancer after being treated with stem cells from her own umbilical cord blood.

Alba was born healthy in 2007, but at age two she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Her treatment consisted of extracting the majority of the tumor from her brain. She was then given chemotherapy to reduce and eventually eliminate the remainder of the tumor.

Alba's blood system was destroyed during the final round of chemo, thus requiring a transplant of cord blood stem cells.

The procedure was carried out in 2009 by Dr. Luis Madero of the Department of Oncology and Hematology at the Nino Jesus Hospital in Madrid.

Today, four year-old Alba is a healthy girl.
--
Alba’s father, Santiago, who is a computer engineer, and her mother, Teresa, a literature professor, agreed that keeping the blood from Alba’s umbilical cord was the “best investment” they ever made.

Santiago said he had previously seen a report “on the treatment for Parkinson’s using stem cells … and was sympathetic to the idea of using stem cells to treat degenerative diseases.”

“Keeping the umbilical cord is a wager for the future, a life insurance policy that you don’t know if you will need but that could save a life,” Teresa added.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 28, 2011

"Children are a far better form of entertainment that electrical gadgets"

Dale Ahlquist on The Basis of Civilization

An economy based on the family is self-sustaining. Its focus is on the nurturing and training of children and not on the mere acquisition of goods. The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different than the industrialized consumer family, where the family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and the majority of life outside the home. Chesterton’s ideal was the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood. Unlike the industrial home, life in a productive household is not amenable to scheduling and anything but predictable.

The only thing surprising about this ideal is that it was once shared by almost everyone. Children used to be considered an asset; at some point they began to be seen as a liability.

Chesterton saw the beginning of this problem when he noticed people preferring to buy amusements for themselves rather than to have children. He pointed out prophetically that children are a far better form of entertainment than electrical gadgets.

The definitive proof of this last statement can be seen in this video of a baby laughing hysterically as his father rips up a job rejection letter.    If this doesn't make you feel good, you're a lost cause.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 22, 2011

Test-taking, memorization and handwriting

Test-Taking Cements Knowledge Better than Studying, researchers say.

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques. M

The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.

One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.

--“I think that learning is all about retrieving, all about reconstructing our knowledge,” said the lead author, Jeffrey Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University. “I think that we’re tapping into something fundamental about how the mind works when we talk about retrieval.”

Several cognitive scientists and education experts said the results were striking

--Why retrieval testing helps is still unknown. Perhaps it is because by remembering information we are organizing it and creating cues and connections that our brains later recognize.

--But “when we use our memories by retrieving things, we change our access” to that information, Dr. Bjork said. “What we recall becomes more recallable in the future. In a sense you are practicing what you are going to need to do later.”

We are relearning that old-fashioned things like memorization of poetry and rhetoric

From The Cat in the Hat on up, verse teaches children something about the patterns and relationships that bind together the words of which it is composed. Poetry sets up an abstract system of order and harmony; the rhythm and the rhyme scheme are logical structures that a child can comprehend even before he understands the words themselves, just as he can grasp the rhythmic and harmonic relations of a piece of music.

What the child discovers, in other words, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but important to cognitive development. Classic verse teaches children an enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, correspondence, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relation (tense), and contingent possibility (mood). Mastering these concepts involves the most fundamental kind of learning, for these are the basic categories of thought and the framework in which we organize sensory experience.

---The student “who memorizes poetry will internalize” the “rhythmic, beautiful patterns” of the English language. These patterns then become “part of the student’s ‘language store,’ those wells that we all use every day in writing and speaking.” Without memorization, the student’s “language store,” Bauer says, will be limited: memorization stocks “the language store with a whole new set of language patterns.”

even handwriting boosts the brain

Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.

--Other research highlights the hand's unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas.

They are not 'oppressive acts' but cognitive development in ways we never thought.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 AM | Permalink

January 10, 2011

Mother, father, parent one and parent two

The decision by the State Department to remove 'Mother' and 'Father' from new passport applications and to substitute 'Parent One' and Parent Two'" was met with outrage and ridicule.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brenda Sprague explained that the decision to remove traditional parenting names was not an act of political correctness. She said she would not use the word discriminatory to describe the old passport form.

“I would prefer to use the word imprecise,” she said. “It just didn’t capture the reality of their situation. Clearly, we want to be sensitive to the feelings of other people, but we are also very conscious of our need to introduce the greatest degree of precision to the process.”

The executive director of Family Equality Council, a gay rights group that lobbied for several years for the change, said

“Changing the term mother and father to the more global term of parent allows many different types of families to be able to go and apply for a passport for their child without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family,”

The feelings of regular mother-father families were disregarded until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, no doubt fearing Congressional displeasure, ordered the State Department to retain "'Mother' and 'Father' as well as Parent One' and Parent Two'" .
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

January 2, 2011

Digital Detox

Of course, she's writing a book about it

The mother who banned TV, internet and games consoles for six months and transformed her family's lives

initiated ‘The Experiment’, as it became known, because over a period of years I had watched and worried as the plethora of electronic gadgets in our home began to create a force field — separating my children from what my son, only half ironically, called ‘RL’ (Real Life). For much of the time we were sitting in separate rooms of the house, hunched over our devices, barely communicating. It had to be unhealthy.

___Anni has taken up cooking. She made beautiful banana muffins ... and an entire meal for friends and family last night. She has announced her intention to compile a personal cook book and has started writing down recipes. I was surprised by her tidy handwriting — I don’t think I’ve seen it since she was ten.

Bill has recently fished his old saxophone out of the toy cupboard. Listening to him playing Summertime after dinner was a moment of pure joy. It had been ages since I’d heard him play anything that didn’t involve a joystick or a mouse ----

__The children worried that life would be ‘boring’ without technology, but I think they are slowly starting to realise it was actually much more tedious when our lives were dominated by media.

_digital_detox_family.jpg -

As a long-term strategy, technology blackouts like the one we undertook are probably as effective as the Three-Day Lemon Detox Diet is for lifelong weight control. But as a consciousness-raising exercise, it really did work. No amount of talk (let alone yelling) could ever have persuaded my children of the extent of their media dependencies — and the value of time spent away from them — as eloquently as even a week of information abstinence. As The Experiment went on, I watched as my children awoke slowly to become more focused, logical thinkers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2010

"Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect."


Unexpected result

New York magazine looks at the impact of the Pill after 50 years. Waking Up from the Pill

The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). Until the past couple of decades, even most die-hard feminists were still married at 25 and pregnant by 28, so they never had to deal with fertility problems, since a tiny percentage of women experience problems conceiving before the age of 28. Now many New York women have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence. For many, this passage into childbearing—a Gail Sheehy–esque one, with its own secrets and rituals—is as fraught a time as the one before was carefree.

Suddenly, one anxiety—Am I pregnant?—is replaced by another: Can I get pregnant? The days of gobbling down the Pill and running out to CVS at 3 a.m. for a pregnancy test recede in the distance, replaced by a new set of obsessions. The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry. Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect.

And ironically, this most basic of women’s issues is one that traditional feminism has a very hard time processing—the notion that this freedom might have a cost is thought to be so dangerous it shouldn’t be mentioned.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:41 PM | Permalink

December 9, 2010

What has happened to marriage?

The new report from the State of Our Unions which monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America has sobering implications for the future of the country.

New data indicate that trends in nonmarital childbearing, divorce, and marital quality in Middle America increasingly resemble those of the poor, where marriage is fragile and weak. Yet among the highly educated and affluent, marriage is stable and appears to be getting even stronger.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a co-author of the report, finds that shifts in marriage attitudes, increases in unemployment, and declines in religious attendance are among the trends are driving the retreat from marriage in Middle America. When Marriage Disappears

Ross Douhat comments on The Changing Culture War

We’ve known for a while that America has a marriage gap: college graduates divorce infrequently and bear few children out of wedlock, while in the rest of the country unwed parenthood and family breakdown are becoming a new normal. This gap has been one of the paradoxes of the culture war: highly educated Americans live like Ozzie and Harriet despite being cultural liberals, while middle America hews to traditional values but has trouble living up to them.

This means that a culture war that’s often seen as a clash between liberal elites and a conservative middle America looks more and more like a conflict within the educated class — pitting Wheaton and Baylor against Brown and Bard, Redeemer Presbyterian Church against the 92nd Street Y, C. S. Lewis devotees against the Philip Pullman fan club.

--

But as religious conservatives have climbed the educational ladder, American churches seem to be having trouble reaching the people left behind. This is bad news for both Christianity and the country. The reinforcing bonds of strong families and strong religious communities have been crucial to working-class prosperity in America. Yet today, no religious body seems equipped to play the kind of stabilizing role in the lives of the “moderately educated middle” (let alone among high school dropouts) that the early-20th-century Catholic Church played among the ethnic working class.

--This, in turn, may be remembered as the great tragedy of the culture war: While college-educated Americans battle over what marriage should mean, much of the country may be abandoning the institution entirely.

This is Chilling News for Children

The precipitous decline of marriage among the moderately educated middle is a serious and enormous social problem. After all, stable family life is associated with all sorts of salubrious outcomes—behavioral, educational, and economic–just as unstable or non-existent family life is associated with all sorts of social pathologies. What’s more, if stable family life doesn’t help pave the way for social mobility, then we run the risk of introducing or making more permanent just the kind of class structure that can give the lie to the American Dream.

Is Middle America giving up on marriage?

Dr. Andrew Cherlin} and Dr. [Bradford] Wilcox say that the trends are troubling not because of some puritanical value on marriage, but because of the clear links between strong marriage and happiness, economic prosperity, and children’s well-being. “Their health, wealth, and happiness are all increased when women, and especially men, stay married,” says Wilcox, who notes that children are also much more likely to thrive when their parents stay married. Moreover, Dr. Cherlin notes that about half of all nonmarriage cohabiting unions - including those with children - break up within five years. “You could argue that there’s nothing wrong with living together,” he says. “But if it makes the family lives of children more unstable, then that’s a concern.”

The Economist reported three years ago in The Frayed Knot that the widening 'marriage gap' is breeding inequality.

Middle-class kids growing up with two biological parents are “socialised for success”. They do better in school, get better jobs and go on to create intact families of their own. Children of single parents or broken families do worse in school, get worse jobs and go on to have children out of wedlock. This makes it more likely that those born near the top or the bottom will stay where they started. America, argues Ms Hymowitz, is turning into “a nation of separate and unequal families”.

--

Marriage itself is “a wealth-generating institution”, according to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, who run the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. Those who marry “till death do us part” end up, on average, four times richer than those who never marry. This is partly because marriage provides economies of scale—two can live more cheaply than one—and because the kind of people who make more money—those who work hard, plan for the future and have good interpersonal skills—are more likely to marry and stay married. But it is also because marriage affects the way people behave.

More evidence that marriage affects the way people behave. Study: Marriage makes for good men: good men marry

I close with a quote from Representative Michael Pence.

"You would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family continues to collapse."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2010

Moment of Birth, MRI scan

A German mother agreed to give birth inside an MRI machine and so Doctors produce first-ever MRI scan at the moment of birth.

_MRI_livebirth.jpg

Gynecologist Ernst Beinder at Berlin's Charité Hospital said the birth proceeded normally and the machine filmed all the movements and processes that went on inside the womb.

They were even able to use the machine to monitor the baby's heart beat. 'We can now see all the details we previously could only study with probes,' he said.

'These images are fascinating and proved yet again that every birth is a small miracle,' said Beinder. The hospital said several expectant mothers had volunteered to participate in the experiment and five more births would be imaged with an MRI machine.

While most MRI machines are tube-shaped, the Charité team developed a special 'open' scanner which provided the necessary room for midwives and the mother during the birth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2010

A simple, carefree childhood

What should a four-year old know?

Much less than we realize and much more

One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.


_4yearold.jpg

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs. ....

she also gives good advice to parents.
2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

via Kottke's Childhood isn't a race
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2010

The "Anti-bone trifecta"

The childhood disease rickets is a softening of the bones that can lead to fractures and deformity.  The predominant cause is vitamin D deficiency.  Famine in developing countries often results in severe malnutrition of young children leading to rickets.  When you see a child with bowed legs, the child probably has rickets.

-Xrayricketslegs-Rickets 

In most cases, rickets is easily cured with milk, sunshine and exercise.  In the absence of vitamin D, either from sunshine or from supplements, calcium can not be absorbed by the body.

Rickets was a scourge in the 19th century when young children were sent to work long days in factories and now it looks as if it will be a scourge in the 21st century as well.

Too little milk, sunshine and exercise: It's an anti-bone trifecta.

But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren't building as much strong bone as they should - a gap that may leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later in life than their grandparents are.

"This potentially is a time-bomb," says Dr. Laura Tosi, bone health chief at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

In England, middle class children are suffering rickets as parents cover them in sunscreen and limit time outside in sunshine

It is thought extensive use of sunscreen, children playing more time on computer games and TV rather than playing outside and a poor diet are to blame.

Professor Nicholas Clarke, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital and professor of paediatric orthopaedic surgery at the University of Southampton, said

“We are facing the daunting prospect of an area like Southampton, where it is high income, middle class and leafy in its surroundings, seeing increasing numbers of children with rickets, which would have been inconceivable only a year or so ago.

Nutritional ignorance in the US among middle-class families is also leading to rickets according to a professor of pediatrics.   Parents on vegetarian diets mistakenly believe that their child is allergic to milk and switch to soy-based or rice-based drinks.

"Soy and rice beverages may look like cow's milk, but these products may not contain the amount of calcium and vitamin D that's needed for proper growth and development,"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2010

Creating children to order

The gay father, the lesbian partners and a battle over the future of two children

The children were fathered using sperm from a man who advertised in 'Gay Times'. The biological mother has accused the man of trying to marginalise her lesbian partner
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Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘This case raises a whole host of questions about the ethics of artificial insemination by donor. Just because we have the technology to do something doesn’t necessarily make it desirable or socially beneficial.

‘It is always a recipe for disaster to try to create children to order by artificial means to satisfy the desires of natural parents who are unrelated and lack a shared commitment to parenting.’

There will be a lot more court battles like this in our future.  We are beginning to see the consequences of artificially conceiving children outside of a committed relationship.

For the children who result from such a loveless conception, it can be tragic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2010

"No child has ever been killed by poisoned candy. Ever."

 Witches Brooms

Lenore Skenazy writes in the Wall St Journal about 'Stranger Danger' and the Decline of Halloween.


Halloween is the day when America market-tests parental paranoia.
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Take "stranger danger," the classic Halloween horror. Even when I was a kid, back in the "Bewitched" and "Brady Bunch" costume era, parents were already worried about neighbors poisoning candy. Sure, the folks down the street might smile and wave the rest of the year, but apparently they were just biding their time before stuffing us silly with strychnine-laced Smarties.
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That was a wacky idea, but we bought it. We still buy it, even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger's Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)
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Halloween taught marketers that parents are willing to be warned about anything, no matter how preposterous, and then they're willing to be sold whatever solutions the market can come up with.

Think of how Halloween used to be the one day of the year when gaggles of kids took to the streets by themselves—at night even. Big fun! Low cost! But once the party moved inside, to keep kids safe from the nonexistent poisoners, in came all the nonsense. The battery-operated caskets. The hired witch. The Costco veggie trays and plastic everything else. Halloween went from hobo holiday to $6 billion extravaganza.

While in the Atlantic, we learn The Meaning of Halloween-Candy Psychopath Stories

The whole point of Halloween for kids these days is taking candy from strangers. Of course, that's just what we are never supposed to do. To protect children from the dangers of strangers' candies, parents everywhere are on high alert for the menace sometimes known as the "Halloween sadist." You know the one—that psychopath who uses the occasion of trick-or-treat as an opportunity to poison the neighborhood kiddies with strychnine-laced Pixie Stix and razor blade-studded caramels.
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The Halloween sadist legends are part of a larger movement in American culture away from our sense that we can do it ourselves. The factory does it better, tastier, safer.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2010

He didn't know that the baby he saved was his own

An amazing story about a man with all the best instincts of a father to protect life, not even knowing that the child he saved was his own.

Newborn Saved from Dumpster by Man who Later Finds Out He’s the Father

A newborn left to die in a dumpster in northwest Calgary was saved by a man who only later found out he was the boy’s father.

Calgary police said that the boy’s mother told them she did not know she was pregnant until she gave birth to the child. She allegedly put the living baby in a garbage bag and tossed him into the dumpster.

The 29-year-old woman’s boyfriend said he had no idea she was pregnant because she was heavy set and always had “a bit of a belly.”

On Tuesday, October 19, the man said his girlfriend was complaining of cramps and illness. He told police that on returning home for lunch a passerby alerted him to cries coming from a dumpster.

“A girl said, ‘I think I hear a baby in the dumpster.’ With no knowledge at the time that this is my kid whatsoever, I went running over there, stood beside the dumpster, heard the baby cry,” the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, told the Calgary Herald.

“I jumped in and removed the stuff. I personally opened the bag and uncovered all the stuff off,” he said.
--

The father said his girlfriend’s behavior was perplexing but he feels she needs help rather than his anger.
“I’m not mad. I don’t know if it’s just my demeanor, knowing that getting mad isn’t going to solve everything, not going to help the problem,” he said, adding, “I’m not happy with her but I’m not angry, either. I want to make sure she gets the help she needs.”
---
According to police, the custody of the child is being discussed with Alberta Children and Youth Services. However, the child’s father told the Calgary Herald today that he hopes to gain custody of his son.

“I’m just going to try to be the best dad I can be. If he wants to get involved in sports, be a computer geek, try to be the next prime minister, I’ll do whatever I can do to support him,” the father said.

I wish this man all the luck in the world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2010

Brains of New Moms

Very interesting study.

 New Mom

In LiveScience, Brains of New Moms Grow, Study Reveals

Although the stress of motherhood may make them feel insane at times, new moms aren't losing their minds. In fact, it's just the opposite: Their brains grow larger in certain regions within months of delivering the newborn, a new study suggests.

And those moms who are particularly awestruck and gushy over their babies show more growth in the brain areas associated with motivation, reward and the regulation of emotion, the researchers said.

The team, led by Pilyoung Kim, a developmental psychologist who is now with the National Institute of Mental Health, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 19 moms two to four weeks after the birth of a child, then again up to four months afterward. Images showed small but significant increases in the gray matter in certain parts of the brain, including those responsible for sensory perception, reasoning and judgment.

A change in gray matter over such a short period is unusual among adults, according to the researchers.

Research in animal mothers has linked changes in the brain with the stimuli of touching, smelling, seeing and suckling babies. The hormones that accompany motherhood, including estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin, influence animal moms' behavior and also change their brain anatomy.

It's a small sample, so I would love to see the results with a larger group of moms, including those with post-partum depression. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2010

The Divorce Daughter Effect

I don't know what to make of this report based on U.S.Census data, but the comments offer glimpses into lives that are altogether fascinating.

Couples With Daughters More Likely to Divorce

Given that the researchers drew from data on more than 3 million adults from U.S. Census data, it's likely this effect is not just a statistical fluke, but the hows and whys of this phenomenon are open to debate.

From one perspective, there could be something about boys that makes parents want to stick it out, either because they enhance marital relations or make the prospect of a fatherless home more frightening. 

More recently, however, psychologists have debated whether daughters might make mothers more willing to leave a bad marriage because they provide social support that empowers their mom. 

"One dynamic I've seen is that women don't want to put up with a controlling or abusive husband because they're afraid to model this as an acceptable form of marriage to their daughters," said Susan Heitler, a Denver-based clinical psychologist and author of "Power of Two." "There is a lot of individual variation, though; it could go both ways."

Do keep in mind that 73% of divorces are initiated by women.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 PM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

Nincompoops?

"The absence of technology" seems to confuse kids faced with simple mechanical tasks.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.


Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2010

Old ways best in child-rearing

Old ways best in childrearing - think Neolithic.

Want to raise a compassionate, moral child? Get Neolithic say researchers at the University of Notre Dame

The child rearing practices in hunter-gatherer societies result in children with better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children, says psychology professor Darcia Narvaez, who specializes in the moral and character development of children.

It would make sense that the way humans grew up for 99% of our history might have an impact on human development.
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The six characteristics that were common to our distant ancestors are:

* Lots of positive touch – as in no spanking – but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;

* Prompt response to baby's fusses and cries. You can't "spoil" a baby. This means meeting a child's needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. "Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant's brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world," Narvaez says.

* Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child's immune system isn't fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.

*Multiple adult caregivers – people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.

*Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don't play enough are more likely to have ADHD and other mental health issues.

* Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

Americans don't raise their kids that way so much any more, Narvaez says in a release from Notre Dame.
Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breastfeeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up, and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970. Ill advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will 'spoil' it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

August 19, 2010

Hidden traps on campus

There are many hidden financial and privacy traps that Karen Blumenthal in the Wall St Journal warns parents about in Packing for College, 2010 Style

Among them:

1. Not reading what the college health insurance policy covers and doesn't.

2. Not having your college student sign a health care power of attorney as well as a HIPAA release form.

3. Not getting insurance riders for that brand new computer for college.

4. Not getting clear about how money will get to the student.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

August 17, 2010

Girls being girls

Here's a great example of why religion is good for kids. Look at these talented girls and the fun they are having.

While Felicita wrote the song she sings with her sisters, her father taped it all to present a thoroughly engaging video of girls acting like real girls, playing and praying perfectly naturally without any self-consciousness.

Wholesome never looked so good.

Particularly when compared to the lives too many young girls now live in our over-sexualized culture, as Mary Rose Somarriba writes in A Girl's Life in the Cyberbubble.

Girls who dress sexy before puberty, are putting themselves on display like objects, not for themselves but for others. As Sax sees it, “our culture pushes girls to define themselves in terms of how they look instead of helping them to develop a sense of who they are,” and this sets them up for depression, anxiety, and unsatisfying relationships in the future.

In concluding, she plaintively asks

How did we get here? And where do we go from here?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2010

Perseid Showers tonight

Perseid-Meteor-Shower

Miss Kelley alerted me to the annual Perseid shower that peaks tonight when one can see as many as 50 meteors an hour

The Perseids are among the most reliable of the year’s cosmic fireworks displays. In mid-August, Earth passes through a stream of grit left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle in its eccentric 130-year orbit. Flecks of debris burn up as they pass through the atmosphere, at a height of about 60 miles, producing streaks of light — and sometimes leaving behind glowing trails that fade into the night....The Perseids are so called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus.

The meteors hit the Earth's atmosphere at about 140,000 miles an hour.  The celestial show begins at sundown, NASA said, when Venus, Saturn, Mars, and the crescent moon hang close together until around 10 p.m., when the Perseid shower is expected to start....the shooting streaks of light most visible between midnight and dawn Friday because the moon will not be up during that time.

The showers are also called "The burning tears of St Lawrence" because they appear every around his feast day. St. Lawrence  is the patron saint  of the poor, librarians and cooks.  The latter because he was roasted  to death and yet managed to joke with his executioners,  "Now you may turn me over, my body is roasted enough on this side."

The best way to see the shooting stars is to find a dark place without a lot of competing lights, lie down on the ground, face south and gaze skyward.    Get your kids out of bed and into the backyard.

The only equipment needed is a sleeping bag or blanket.  Telescopes and binoculars restrict the range of vision when what you want is the largest range possible.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

August 9, 2010

The effects of religion on young child development

From Live Science, Study: Religion is Good for Kids

Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development.

The conflict that arises when parents regularly argue over their faith at home, however, has the opposite effect.

John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers.
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The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—especially when both parents did so frequently—and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.
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Bartkowski thinks religion can be good for kids for three reasons. First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills. Children who are brought into such networks and hear parental messages reinforced by other adults may also “take more to heart the messages that they get in the home,” he said.

Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, Bartkowski told LiveScience. These “could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,” he said.

Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.
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Bartkowski points out that one limitation of his study, to be published in the journal Social Science Research, is that it did not compare how denominations differed with regards to their effects on kids.

“We really don’t know if conservative Protestant kids are behaving better than Catholic kids or behaving better than mainline Protestant kids or Jewish kids,” he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2010

Taxpayer costs of divorce and unwed childbearing

The astonishing report that concludes that taxpayer costs of divorce and unwed childbearing are More Than a Trillion a Decade.

Research on family structure suggests a variety of mechanisms, or processes, through which marriage may reduce the need for costly social programs. . . . Based on the methodology, we estimate that family fragmentation costs U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion each and every year, or more than $1 trillion each decade. . . .

[E]ven very small increases in stable marriage rates as a result of government programs or community efforts to strengthen marriage would result in very large savings for taxpayers. If the federal marriage initiative, for example, succeeds in reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent, U.S. taxpayers will save an estimated $1.1 billion each and every year.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

July 14, 2010

Moral capital for the whole of life

There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things -- even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God.

The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot via Gaghdad Bob at One Cosmos

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

July 5, 2010

"In a sense I'm a born killer"

For 20 years, neuroscientist James Fallon (no relation) studied the brains of psychopaths to understand the biological basis for behavior, then a chance remark by his mother  - "there were some cuckoos" among his father's relatives - convinced him to investigate.

What he found rocked his world.  There seven alleged murderers, including Lizzie Borden, in his family tree.  Then he looked at the PET brain scans he convinced 10 close relatives to undergo for another project and found nothing amiss, except for his own.  He had the PET scan of a psychopath.  Alone among his family, he discovered he also had the "warrior gene" - the MAO-A gene that regulates serontin.

"You see that? I'm 100 percent. I have the pattern, the risky pattern," he says, then pauses. "In a sense, I'm a born killer."

Scientists who study this area say a third factor,  in addition to brain patterns and genetic makeup,  are necessary to make anyone a psychopath and that is abuse or violence in one's childhood.

Jim Fallon says he had a terrific childhood; he was doted on by his parents and had loving relationships with his brothers and sisters and entire extended family. Significantly, he says this journey through his brain has changed the way he thinks about nature and nurture. He once believed that genes and brain function could determine everything about us. But now he thinks his childhood may have made all the difference.

Part 1


Part 2
and Part 3 have to do with the emerging world of neuro-law and its probable advance in courtrooms.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 28, 2010

"The nature of parenting is to beat that out of you"

Tony Woodlief presents a parent's Case Against Happiness

Any parent will tell you children are difficult, and they wear you out, and they likely will just break your heart in the end. And who knows -- maybe when we believe we are feeling deep joy from parenthood (usually over a glass of wine, after all the little stinkers are finally in bed), we are simply sentimentalizing the whole ordeal to keep ourselves from rooting out our unused passports from the sock drawer and dashing off to Europe, never to be heard from again. Or perhaps we just feel too guilty to admit that, while we couldn't bear losing them now that we have them, we very well could have been delightfully satisfied had we never met them.

And here's where I wonder if we ought to re-examine our commitment to happiness. It seems to me that there's possibly some merit -- if we persevere and have the sense to learn from it -- in the other-orientation that is (good) parenting. It's fine to go through life happy, in other words, but I suspect we also want to go through life without becoming big fat self-absorbed jackasses. Children really help in that regard.

To be sure, there are too many parents who, despite their children, remain narcissistic nimrods. But the nature of parenting is to beat that out of you.
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Instead of asking parents and non-parents whether they are happy right now, we might ask whether they are becoming more like the people they want to be. And then we might see children not as factors that may or may not be contributing to our happiness, but as opportunities to practice what most of us -- perhaps me most of all -- need to do more often, which is to put someone else before ourselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2010

When being wanted isn't enough

Ross Douhat in The New York Times calls it a freewheeling fertility marketplace whose impact on American life keeps increasing with about a million Americans the biological children of sperm donors.

Their inner lives are the subject of a fascinating study from the Institute for American Values, based on a survey of younger adults, ages 18 to 45, who were conceived through sperm donation. The authors — Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen Clark — depict a population that’s at once grateful to the fertility industry and uneasy about the way they were conceived, supportive of assisted fertility but haunted by the feeling of being a bought-and-paid-for child.

A new and extensive survey shows how sperm donor kids suffer, something I've been saying for years.  Being wanted isn't enough. Too many going this route fail to think through the ramifications that will ripple down generations.  Children know that being denied their right to know about their biological heritage is inherently unnatural and unjust.

The Kids Are All Right, due out in July, is being praised for its honest portrayal of a lesbian couple, played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. But what seems most revelatory about the movie is its portrayal of their two teenage children who track down their sperm donor biological father and insist on forging a connection with him. Finally, we have an exploration of how children born from such procedures feel, because in fact it turns out that their feelings about their origins are a lot more complicated than people think.
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The results are surprising. While adoption is often the center of controversy, it turns out that sperm donation raises a host of different but equally complex—and sometimes troubling—issues. Two-thirds of adult donor offspring agree with the statement "My sperm donor is half of who I am." Nearly half are disturbed that money was involved in their conception. More than half say that when they see someone who resembles them, they wonder if they are related. About two-thirds affirm the right of donor offspring to know the truth about their origins.

Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.

As a group, the donor offspring in our study are suffering more than those who were adopted: hurting more, feeling more confused, and feeling more isolated from their families.
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Christine Whipp, a British author conceived by anonymous sperm donation more than four decades ago, gives voice to the feelings some donor offspring have of being a "freak of nature" or a "lab experiment":

My existence owed almost nothing to the serendipitous nature of normal human reproduction, where babies are the natural progression of mutually fulfilling adult relationships, but rather represented a verbal contract, a financial transaction and a cold, clinical harnessing of medical technology.
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What to do? For starters, the United States should follow the lead of Britain, Norway, Sweden, and other nations and end the anonymous trade of sperm. Doing so would powerfully affirm that as a nation we no longer tolerate the creation of two classes of children, one actively denied by the state knowledge of their biological fathers, and the rest who the state believes should have the care and protection of legal fathers, such that the state will even track these men down and dock child support payments from their paychecks.

Not all donor children feel the same way.  About one fifth of them go on to donate either eggs or sperm. 

Family Scholars has the press release announcing the results of the study, My Daddy's Name is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 2, 2010

57% of children who lost a parent in childhood would trade a year of their lives for a day with their parents

Too little attention is paid to the psychological and emotional toll on  children who lose one or both of their parents at a young age, so kudos to the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation who are helping terminal parents and their children build memories on a last vacation.

Families With a Missing Piece by Jeffrey Zaslow
A New Look at How a Parent's Early Death Can Reverberate Decades Later

When polled, 57% of adults who lost parents during childhood shared Mr. Herman's yearnings, saying they, too, would trade a year of their lives. Their responses, part of a wide-ranging new survey, indicate that bereavement rooted in childhood often leaves emotional scars for decades, and that our society doesn't fully understand the ramifications—or offer appropriate resources. The complete survey of more than 1,000 respondents, set for release later this month, was funded by the New York Life Foundation on behalf of Comfort Zone Camp, a nonprofit provider of childhood bereavement camps.

Among the findings: 73% believe their lives would be "much better" if their parents hadn't died young; 66% said that after their loss "they felt they weren't a kid anymore."
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In the 2009 memoir "The Kids Are All Right," four siblings from Bedford, N.Y., orphaned in the 1980s, described the risks in harrowing detail. They wrote of
"growing up as lost souls," and turning to drugs and other troubling behaviors as coping mechanisms.

It's a common story. Gary Jahnke, 31, of Hastings, Minn., was 13 when his mother died of cancer. "I gave up on my good grades and dropped out of high school," he says. "I didn't do anything except drink, do drugs and be depressed. I was confused and angry, and adults didn't know how to help me. I had a good relationship with my dad, but he was also grieving."
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Donica Salley, a 50-year-old cosmetics sales director in Richmond, Va., understands well the ramifications of losing a parent. When she was 13, her 44-year-old father drowned while on vacation in the Bahamas. "That was the onset of my depression," she says. "My mom tried to fill the void and the hurt by buying me things."

Two years ago, Ms. Salley's husband died after falling off the roof of their house while cleaning the gutters. He was also 44. Their 17-year-old son has since attended a Comfort Zone camp. "It's a safe haven for him," Ms. Salley says. "There's something about being with people who've been through it. When my father died, I didn't know anyone who'd lost a parent. I was alone."
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Some activists say it's vital to start helping young people even before their parents die. To that end, the Georgia-based Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation provides free vacations to families in which one parent is terminally ill. The organization was founded by Jon and Jill Albert, shortly before Jill's 2006 death to cancer at age 45. Their children were then 11 and 13.

"When Jill passed away, people who lost parents when they were young told me it would be a 30-year impact for the kids," says Mr. Albert, 48. His organization, with the help of corporate sponsors, has sent 300 families on vacations.

"These trips allow families to build memories, and to take a lot of pictures and videos together," says Mr. Albert.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2010

Playing in dirt

 Playing-In-Dirt

Playing in dirt is good for kids

Parents, here's another reason for your kids to play outdoors in the dirt: It might make them smarter.

And, as a side benefit, dirt appears to be a natural anti-anxiety drug, but without the side effects.

Mice exposed to a bacterium found in soil navigated a maze twice as fast, and with less anxiety, as control mice, in studies presented yesterday at the 110th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

The researchers say we've become so urbanized we risk losing a connection with an organism in nature that may actually be beneficial to humans.

As for dirt being a natural anti-anxiety drug, it works for me whenever I garden.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2010

The new forgotten and voiceless are donor sperm children

Alana writes in Taboos and the New Voiceless Americans

But you know what I am afraid to tell people? I’m afraid to tell them that my dad was a sperm donor. To me, that is creepy. To me, that sounds disgusting. To me, there is something wrong with that. It embarrasses me. So for the most part, I don’t tell anyone. I tell them my dad is dead. And when they ask me if I knew anything about him like, how did he die? or how did he meet your mom? I say: “I don’t want to talk about it.” And they shut up. Because death is a concept people understand as tragic. But “Assisted Reproductive Technology” or what I like to call “Deliberate Spiritual Robbery” doesn’t receive the same kind of sympathy.

Fertility technologies represent a new taboo. And kids like me don’t have a parade, nor a long line of celebrities eager to advocate for us. We don’t have a Lady Gaga on our side. It’s not cool to be one of us- which is one of the reasons we don’t speak up and announce to the world who we are. Our fight is much lonelier and much less colorful.

I enormous sympathy for the complexity of life for sperm children.  As I wrote in "Life Debt" of Donor Conceived Children

What seemed to be an easy answer for the mother has created a complex "life debt" for the children, burdening them in unexpected ways as they struggle to make sense of their genetic heritage.

What do sperm babies do on Father's Day

One commenter said.

well, it seems no one was really thinking of the children when the whole spermbank thing started. Gee, you mean an industry that's almost entirely dependent on college students masturbating for beer money doesn't think much about the future consequences? There's a surprise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2010

Things my mother taught me

A passalong for all moms everywhere.  Happy Mothers' Day

I OWE MY MOTHER!! 

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL  DONE. 

"If you're going to kill each other, do it  outside.  I just finished cleaning." 

2. My mother  taught me RELIGION. 

"You better pray that will come  out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about  TIME TRAVEL. 

"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to  knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My  mother taught me LOGIC.   

"Because I said so, that's  why." 

5. My mother taught me MORE  LOGIC. 

"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck,  you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. 

"Make sure you wear clean  underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My  mother taught me IRONY. 

"Keep crying, and I'll give  you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me  about the science of OSMOSIS. 

"Shut your mouth and eat  your supper." 

9. My mother taught me about  CONTORTIONISM. 

"Will you look at that dirt on the back  of your neck!" 

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.   

"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone." 

11. My mother taught me about  WEATHER. 

"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it." 

12. My mother taught me about  HYPOCRISY.   

"If I told you once, I've told you a million times.  Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.   

"I brought you into this world,  and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about  BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.   

"Stop acting like your  father!"

15. My mother taught me about  ENVY. 

"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.   

"Just wait until we get home"

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING   

"You  are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother  taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.   

"If you don't stop crossing  your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

19. My  mother taught me ESP.   

"Put your sweater on; don't you  think  I know when you are cold?"


20. My mother taught me  HUMOR.   

"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes,mdon't  come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT. 

"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll  never grow up."


22. My mother taught me  GENETICS. 
    "
You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.   

"Shut  that door behind you.  Do you think you were born in a barn?"


24. My mother taught me  WISDOM.   

"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

And my favorite:

25.  My mother taught  me about JUSTICE.     

"One day you'll have kids        and I hope they turn out just like you!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2010

Council of Dads

When Bruce Feller was told he had a rare and serious form of bone cancer, he immediately worried about his twin daughters.  How would they live without him?  How best to pass on his life lessons to his daughters at their different stages of life?

“Would they wonder who I was? Would they wonder what I thought? Would they lack for my approval, my discipline, my voice?”

Then he realized how he could give that to them even if he wasn’t there. He appointed a
Council of Dads, men from different stages of his life who would try to fill his role. He reached out to these men in a letter that spelled out his wishes.

“I believe my daughters will have plenty of opportunities in their lives,” he wrote. “They’ll have loving families. They’ll have welcoming homes. They’ll have each other. But they may not have their dad. Will you be their dad?”
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Feiler set some early rules for his council: no family, only friends. No women, only men. He wanted council members to represent different elements of his personality. He wanted a dad to take his girls to a sporting event, a dad to buy them a ridiculous future gadget we can’t even fathom, a dad who would sit through the dance recitals.

He found six men to fill his many roles: a nature-loving dad, a travel dad, camp counselor dad. He also wanted them to come from different times his life: the childhood pal, the book agent, the college friend. They all accepted the challenge, sometimes poignantly. Feiler writes that one council member, who lost his own father when he was a child, said, “The most important thing a parent can do, I believe, is water a child profusely with love. I would water your children with love.”

Another told Feiler that by creating a council, he had ensured that his voice would never be forgotten because his girls would be surrounded “with voices that will, in the totality of symphony, create sounds of their father.”

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Reading more about Bruce at his website, Bruce says the Council of Dads turns out to be less about parenting and more about friendship and closing the divide between close friends and children.

Now he wants to take his concept worldwide.  He's encouraging others to set up their own councils via his website
Council of Dads

He has partnered with the National Fatherhood Initiative and is working to put how-to pamphlets on 1,500 military bases for members of the armed forces.

“It resonates with them because they spend time away from their children and it’s a professional hazard that they might die,” he said.

USA Weekend interviews the six friends to learn what they have to share. It takes a village of dads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2010

"Pro-gay" attitude toward gender confusion damages children.

A letter sent to 14,800 school superintendents across the nation warns that "pro-gay" attitude toward gender confusion damages children

From a Letter to School Officials from the President of the American College of Pediatricians

...it is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to “come out as gay” and be “affirmed,” 8 there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students (who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation).  Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue.

Optimal health and respect for all students will only be achieved by first respecting the rights of students and parents to accurate information and to self-determination.  It is the school’s legitimate role to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students.
It is not the school’s role to diagnose and attempt to treat any student’s medical condition, and certainly not a school’s role to “affirm” a student’s perceived personal sexual orientation.

It is critical to the health of your students that you and your staff rely on accurate information regarding sexual orientation and gender confusion issues.  We urge you to review the enclosed information card, What You Should Know, and distribute it and this letter to your staff and to all interested parents and students. For more information, please visit www.FactsAboutYouth.com

I wonder how the Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings will respond.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:59 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2010

The Basics

From the Population Institute, the basics on the Business of Life.

From the World Factbook, total fertility rate, 2009, selected countries.

 Fertility-Rates

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

February 9, 2010

Welcome Nella

Via Happy Catholic, comes this absolutely wrenching and beautiful story with photos of the birth of Nella Cordelia who came into this world with Down Syndrome, not what her mother expected.

Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.

That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.
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Life moves on. And there have been lots of tears since. There will be. But, there is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky. I feel lucky. I feel privileged. I feel there is a story so beautiful in store...and we get to live it. Wow.

-Nella Cordelia

Welcome Nella to the world and the love of your parents, family and friends.  May you always be surrounded by their love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

December 8, 2009

Debt the most problematic issue in young families

One family policy expert says Student loan debt is a 'crushing burden' on families. 

“In cultures around the world and throughout recorded history, the common practice has been to use dowries (the property brought by young women into their marriages) and other marital gifts to provide newlyweds with working capital at the beginning of their marriage,” Carlson wrote in a 2005 paper. “This cultural strategy has aimed at encouraging marriage, stable homes, and the birth of children.”

However,
the recent practice of burdening young adults with substantial educational debt appears to significantly discourage marriage and childbirth.

At the FRC on Friday, Carlson cited a 2002 survey indicating that 14 percent of indebted students delayed marriage because of their loans, while 21 percent delayed having children. In 1988 these numbers were nine and 12 percent, respectively.
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This debt can also cause problems in marriages. One survey which examined 41 marital problems and found that “debt brought into marriage” was the third most problematic issue facing newlyweds. Among respondents who had no children, debt was the second most problematic problem. Among respondents ages 29 and below, debt was named the most problematic issue.

Carlson suggested student loan debt has encouraged a “retreat” from marriage.

One grad student determined to avoid debt lived in his van and Pinched.

In my van there were no orgies or coke lines, no overweight motivational speakers. To me, the van was what Kon-Tiki was to Heyerdahl, what the GMC van was to the A-Team, what Walden was to Thoreau. It was an adventure.

Living in a van was my grand social experiment. I wanted to see if I could -- in an age of rampant consumerism and fiscal irresponsibility -- afford the unaffordable: an education.
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My "radical living" experiment convinced me that the things plunging students further into debt -- the iPhones, designer clothes, and even "needs" like heat and air conditioning, for instance -- were by no means "necessary." And I found it easier to "do without" than I ever thought it would be. Easier by far than the jobs I'd been forced to take in order to pay off my loans.

Most undergrads imagine they'll effortlessly pay off their loans when they start getting paid the big bucks; they're living in a state of denial, disregarding the implications of a tough job market and how many extra years of work their spending sprees have sentenced them to. But
"facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored," as Aldous Huxley famously said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2009

Pregnancy stem cells

Life-saving pregnancy stem cells

Italians suggest tailor-made treatments for babies possible

A pregnant woman carries stem cells that could be used in critical medical treatments for her baby, either in the womb or later in life, a team of Italian scientists has announced. These cells, found in the womb during pregnancy, can be removed during a simple antenatal test and stored for future use, concluded the study, which appears in next week's edition of the Cloning and Stem Cells journal.
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''We took these cells from women whose fetuses were affected with spinal muscular atrophy and we were able to correct the genetic defect using genetic therapy,'' said Novelli. Although the technique is not yet sophisticated enough to cure the disease, the team says the day could come when corrected cells could be injected back into the fetus to treat genetic disorders before birth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2009

More on the mother who didn't give up

Hats off to this remarkable mother. 

I never gave up hope: The mother of man in 'coma' for 23 years knew he understood every word she said

Josephine Houben's son Rom was left paralysed at the age of 20 after a car crash in 1983.

Although doctors insisted his consciousness was 'extinct' and that he was unaware of the world around him, Mrs Houben refused to accept the diagnosis.

Josephine Houben insists she knew her son Rom could understand her during his 23 year 'coma'

Three years ago, she contacted a leading brain specialist, who re-examined Mr Houben and found his brain was working almost normally.

It emerged he was suffering from 'locked-in' syndrome, and that although he had lost control of his body he was still fully aware of what was happening.

Mrs Houben, 73, who lives in Liege, Belgium, said: 'The important message is never give up. You must have faith.

'My husband and I always knew instinctively that he was there as a human being.

'But the doctors were always doubtful and said he was a vegetable.

'But my husband and I knew he wasn't.

'If I asked him to move his eyes in a certain direction he did so.

'The doctors weren't impressed and they said it was a nervous tic or a coincidence. They didn't believe us.
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We took him often on holiday with us to the south of France.

'I fed him with a spoon and we talked to him and treated him in every way as if he was a normal person.

'When my husband died in 1997 I went to the hospital to tell him that his father was dead. He shut his eyes.

'There were no tears but he understood everything.

'Recently, when he was able to communicate with me, he passed me a message via the computer to say, "Sorry, I could not help you mummy when father went".'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:58 PM | Permalink

November 20, 2009

Unlikely and inspiring Odyssey

IN 1975 Hung Ba Lee was only 5 when he fled Vietnam in a fishing boat piloted by his father,  a commander in the South Vietnamese Navy and the rest of his family and 400 other refugess.  They were rescued at sea by the US navy, taken to a U.S. base in the Philippines, then a refugee camp in California and finally to Virginia where the family rebuilt their lives.

Last week, Le returned to Vietnam as commander of a Navy warship.

Unique homecoming to Vietnam for US commander.

 Unique Homecoming Vietnam Usnavycommander

Le returned on the Lassen, an $800 million, 509-foot destroyer equipped with Tomahawk missiles and a crew of 300. The ship and the USS Blue Ridge, the command vessel for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, are making the latest in a series of goodwill visits to Vietnam, which began in 2003 when the USS Vandergriff paid a port call to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.

"I thought that one day I would return but I really didn't expect to be returning as the commander of a Navy warship," Le said after stepping ashore Saturday. "It's an incredible personal honor."

"I'm proud to be an American, but I'm also very proud of my Vietnamese heritage," said Le, who spoke a few halting words in Vietnamese.
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Le has few memories of his three-day journey on the fishing trawler, which ended just as they were running out of food, water and fuel.

But he has vivid memories of the example set by his father, Thong Ba Le, who is now 69 and has never returned to Vietnam. After the family settled in northern Virginia, he took a job in a supermarket, where he worked his way up from bag boy to manager.

"I always wanted to be like my dad," Le said. "He persevered and overcame many challenges."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2009

A girl is more likely to die from an adverse reaction to Gardasil than from cervical cancer

In 2006 the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Gardasil as a vaccine against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women.  Gardasil is manufactured by Merck and the company has aggressively marketed the drug  including political contributions through its PAC.

Many state and local governments have proposed that Gardasil be required for school girls as young as those entering the sixth grade.

 Gardasil Girl

Now one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug, Dr. Diane Harper,  says the "Pubic should receive more complete warnings."

"Parents and women must know that deaths occurred. Not all deaths that have been reported were represented in Dr. Slade's work, one-third of the death reports were unavailable to the CDC, leaving the parents of the deceased teenagers in despair that the CDC is ignoring the very rare but real occurrences that need not have happened if parents were given information stating that there are real, but small risks of death surrounding the administration of Gardasil."

After 26 million vaccinations, Dr. Harper says it will have NO effect on the rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.

To date, 15,037 girls have officially reported adverse side effects from Gardasil to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These adverse effects include Guilliane Barre, lupus, seizures, paralysis, blood clots, brain inflammation and many others. The CDC acknowledges that there have been 44 reported deaths."

Merck's Dr. Harper told CBS News that a girl is more likely to die from an adverse reaction to Gardasil than from cervical cancer.

What would be the point in promoting the inoculation of millions of girls and women with a useless, sometimes dangerous drug? And it really is useless: Merck's current project is to push it to pre-teen girls, but Dr. Harper pointed out that, once a girl hits puberty, any effectiveness of the vaccine disappears, and she has to start over again with the course of shots. And by the way, the efficacy of the drug in pre-teen girls hasn't actually been tested.

One thing we know about Gardasil is that each three-dose treatment costs $360, which has helped Merck a lot. It's been one of the company's top-selling drugs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2009

"Parents are the sculptors of their children's brains"

Growing up without a father actually changes the way your brain develops. 

This is Your Brain Without Dad

German biologist Anna Katharina Braun and others are conducting research on animals that are typically raised by two parents, in the hopes of better understanding the impact on humans of being raised by a single parent. Dr. Braun's work focuses on degus, small rodents related to guinea pigs and chinchillas, because mother and father degus naturally raise their babies together.
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Their preliminary analysis indicates that fatherless degu pups exhibit more aggressive and impulsive behavior than pups raised by two parents.
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The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain's decision-making center.
The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn't active, the amygdala "goes crazy, like a horse without a rider," she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus' behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.
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An OECD report found that just 57% of children in the U.S. live with both parents, among the lowest percentages of the world's richest nations.  The report, which sparked some controversy when it was released in September, found that children in single-parent households have an increased risk of delinquency and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, as well as poorer scholastic performance.
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The bottom line, says Dr. Braun, is that parents need to fuel their children's brains with talk, touch and sensitive stimulation that involves give and take.

Parents, she says, "are the sculptors of their children's brains."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2009

"Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"

The social consequences of unwed mothers are long-lasting and heart-breaking.

Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"

In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class -- and was constantly distracting other students when he did -- shot back: "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."

Another student angrily challenged me: "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us." When I did, not one hand went up.

Making the Grade Isn't About Race.  It's About Parents by Patrick Welsh.

It's not about race though that is what school administrators and community activists focus on. There's plenty of money for schools.

"The real problem," says Glenn Hopkins, president of Alexandria's Hopkins House, which provides preschool and other services to low-income families, "is that school superintendents don't realize -- or won't admit -- that the education gap is symptomatic of a social gap."

Hopkins notes that student achievement is deeply affected by issues of family, income and class, things superintendents have little control over.

In The Daddy Gap, Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess points to a 2005 Kay Hymowitz piece in City Journal.  Kay Hymowitz is a trenchant observer and writer about  the marriage gap that is increasingly responsible for the growing divide between economic classes.

1. entrenched, multigenerational poverty is largely black; and 2. it is intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city.

By now, these facts shouldn't be hard to grasp. Almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Those mothers are far more likely than married mothers to be poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty. They are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. Sophisticates often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life, affecting everyone from the bobo Murphy Browns to the ghetto "baby mamas." Not so; it is a largely low-income--and disproportionately black--phenomenon. The vast majority of higher-income women wait to have their children until they are married. The truth is that we are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal--one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken, and far too often African-American.

Until black leaders come to grips with what is really happening in the inner cities, the plight of black males and black females will only get worse.   

The men won't grow up, won't become fully formed,  but stay passionless and apathetic, distraught in their failure to launch.  As a black woman pleaded, "Enough of this selfishness: Time for black men to act like men." 

Too many young girls may yearn for marriage, but making babies is something they can do, something they believe they must do if they want meaning in their lives.  Misbegotten health policies are not teaching young girls that they are too young to start families, but giving them contraceptives without parental consent and essentially saying do what you want.

The model of the two-person, mother-father model of parenthood is being changed to meet adults' rights to children rather than children's needs to be known and , whenever possible, by their mother and father.  It's the ultimate selfishness that will continue to cause ruin in people's lives and in our society.

How do we respond to the fact that so many children are starving for a father?

 Baby Swallows

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2009

"Frankly, I wanted to die. But then heard Ollie"

Mrs Morrisroe-Clutton, a librarian, fell ill at the end of July after eating a vegetarian burger from a fish and chip shop in her home town of Wrexham.

She was admitted to intensive care at the town's Maelor Hospital where doctors diagnosed she had contracted E.coli.

They put her into a medically induced coma and placed her on a dialysis machine to try to control her seizures and kidney failure.

She had given birth a few weeks earlier.  Her husband made and then played  tapes of their new-born son Oliver to her in the hospital.

Coma mother wakes after hearing gurgles from her 11 week-old son

'I knew that I was dying,' she said. 'I confess that at one stage I gave up. 'I confess that at one stage I gave up. Frankly, I wanted to die.

'But then I heard Ollie. I remember lying there thinking that I wanted to hold him, to see his face and to stroke his little hands.

'I knew that I had to live and that he needed his mother.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink

September 28, 2009

Busted for babysitting

When you can't look after your neighbor's child, then the nanny state has gone way too far.

In England, a policewoman was banned from looking after her colleague’s daughter because she was not a registered childminder.

The Thames Valley Police detectives – who gave birth within a few months of each other – share a job at Aylesbury Police Station in Buckinghamshire.

But the mothers, both 32, have now been told by Ofsted that surveillance teams will spy on their homes to make sure they are not continuing to care for each other’s daughter.

For the past two-and-a-half years, one looked after both of the girls while the other worked a ten-hour shift. Both worked
two days a week.

In Michigan, a woman was threatened with fines for watching neighbors' kids and possibly jail time as well for operating an illegal child care home.

Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.
--
"It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2009

Wrong embryo implanted

This would have been unimaginable in any other age. 

Pregnant mother forced to give u IVF baby after doctors implanted the wrong embryo.

I must say the parents are handling a tragic situation with a great deal of grace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2009

Sleeping babies

 Baby Hat Sleeping

Tracey Raver is the photographer from Nebraska who, with her sister, captures these adorable photos of babies sleeping.  Sweet dreams: The cutest baby pictures you'll ever see.  Inspiration for new parents and grandparents.

 Baby Sleeping Toes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 PM | Permalink

The Morning After

What happened when the idea of a soul-mate marriage took hold and with it no-fault divorce that displaced the traditional idea of marriage, one that put the welfare of children first?

 Child Divorce

From National Affairs, The Evolution of Divorce by Brad Wilcox via Maggie Gallagher

In the case of divorce, as in so many others, the worst consequences of the social revolution of the 1960s and '70s are now felt disproportionately by the poor and less educated, while the wealthy elites who set off these transformations in the first place have managed to reclaim somewhat healthier and more stable habits of married life. This imbalance leaves our cultural and political elites less well attuned to the magnitude of social dysfunction in much of American society, and leaves the most vulnerable Americans — especially children living in poor and working-class communities — even worse off than they would otherwise be.
--
Thus, by the time the 1970s came to a close, many Americans — rich and poor alike — had jettisoned the institutional model of married life that prioritized the welfare of children, and which sought to discourage divorce in all but the most dire of circumstances. Instead, they embraced the soul-mate model of married life, which prioritized the emotional welfare of adults and gave moral permission to divorce for virtually any reason.

Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents' divorces.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2009

Skin to Skin

You may have seen this story, but it's so remarkable I just have to post it.


She thought she was saying a final goodbye to her premature infant Rachel who weighed only  20 oz and who was not breathing.


She said: "I didn't want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.
"It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment." Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother's skin kickstarted Rachael's heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

Miss Isbister said: "We couldn't believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

 Mom Kangaroo Save Baby

"The doctors came in and said there was still no hope - but I wasn't letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away.

"But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink colour began to return to her cheeks.

"She literally was turning from grey to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too."

Four months later, Rachael was allowed home weighing 8lb - the same as a newborn baby - and she has a healthy appetite.

Mother's goodbye saves her baby

The skin to skin contact is called Kangaroo mother care and it's helped other premature babies survive.

Here's a site devoted to Kangaroo mother care

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2009

"What goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"

After reading David Warren's latest column, I had to learn more about Tomas Masaryk the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, a statesman, philosopher and sociologist, who had a most remarkable and exemplary life.

Karl Popper, The Prague Lecture 1994

60 years ago, there lived in the Hradcany Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the great founder of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and its Liberator President. I deeply admire Masaryk. He was one of the most important pioneers of what I have called, one or two years after Masaryk's death, the Open Society. He was a pioneer of an open society, both in theory and in practice; indeed, the greatest of its pioneers between Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.
--
Never was a new state – after all, the result of a revolution – so peaceful and so successful, and so much the creative achievement of one man. And all this was not due to the absence of great difficulties; it was the result of Masaryk, s philosophy, his wisdom and his personality in which personal courage, and truthfulness, and openness, played so conspicuous a role.

According to Wikipedia, his doctoral essay at the University of Vienna, was on the phenomenon of suicide which became a book, Suicide and the Meaning of Civilization and that is what David Warren references in The killing fields.

That
suicide is the ultimate subjective act, and thus, in effect, the final act of narcissism, was among the striking observations of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.
--
It was Masaryk's thesis that
suicide rates, already at historical highs, and climbing, in the more industrially advanced parts of Europe by the 1880s, would continue to rise through the decades ahead, with decreasing religiosity and increasing modernization.
--
This was not so much a question of religious denomination, as of religious practice. There would be a rough, inverse correlation between church attendance and the suicide rate. Later statistical studies have borne this out, and Masaryk thus stands among the few sociologists whose work retains any empirical value.

Masaryk grasped
the difference between depression and hopelessness, which we like to slur over today. Depression only makes one accident-prone; the real self-killer is the absence of hope for the future. This is a distinction that has been vindicated in psychiatric studies of the dying; it points directly to a dimension of human life that is irreducibly moral and religious.
--
People kill themselves for all sorts of stated reasons, but
what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life, and the only sound predictor is religious formation.

That's an astounding conclusion, "what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"  and the only sound predictor is religious formation.  Without formation in and practice of  a religion, one has no tools to battle despair, meaninglessness and hopelessness. 

Warren himself concludes in a column whose main focus is euthanasia, the euphemism for murder.

The many symptoms of civilizational decay that lay partly concealed beneath the surface of society only recently came into full view, in the open pornography, the open nihilism, the despairing flippancy, visible throughout our contemporary public life. But the pond was long draining, and it is only now we see fish flopping in the mud.

Euthanasia is the final "life issue," the clincher for what the last pope called "the culture of death." Even when legalizing abortion, we agreed only to the slaughter of human beings we could not see. It was still possible to look away, to pretend we were not killing "real people," only "potential people." But when we embrace so-called "mercy killing," we embrace slaughter not only for the sick and old, but ultimately, the "option" of easy suicide for ourselves. It will be hard to go lower.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

July 14, 2009

"The doctor made you in a dish"

Parents explain to their children how they came to be.  No Stork Involved but Mom and Dad Had Help.

Marla Culliton and her husband, Steven, of Swampscott, Mass., have 7-year-old twins, Jacob and Naomi. “When they were 4, I told them, ‘First you have to get married, then you have to have a nice house, then you can go to a doctor, and he can help you,’ ” said Mrs. Culliton, a dental hygienist. “At 5, they said, ‘How is the baby made?’ I said: ‘They come from a sperm and an egg. The doctor made you in a dish.’ ”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2009

Parents of Boys

Parents of boys should read Charles Martel on How My Parents Raised a Sissy

In the 1950s when I was a grade-school kid, my father was a heavy equipment mechanic with lots of hair on his chest and a blue-collar fondness for spending much of his time out in the garage. I remember the time I walked out there and found him sewing a hole in one of his overalls. Until then, I has assumed that sewing was something only girls and women did.

“How come you’re sewing your overalls, Dad? Shouldn’t Mom be doing that?”

“Well, son, they’re my overalls so they’re my responsibility,” he answered. “Besides, I already know how to sew.”

“Where’d you learn that?” My voice indicated that I thought the person responsible for teaching him this skill should be boiled in oil for violating some basic law of nature.

“In the Army,” he said. “Everybody learned a little basic sewing so he could take care of himself out in the field.” My father paused, this former paratrooper who’d fought Hitler in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and then said something that has stuck with me ever since. “
The Army didn’t want a bunch of sissies running around out there. You know, men who can’t take care of themselves.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2009

"Family breakdown is now a national tragedy"

A brave man speaking the truth, Justice Coleridge

Only marriage can mend broken Britain, says top judge

Marriage should be promoted by the Government to end the 'social anarchy' of family breakdown, a senior judge said last night.

Mr Justice Coleridge accused mothers and fathers who fail to commit to each other of engaging in a game of 'pass the partner' that has left millions of children 'scarred for life'.

In a hard-hitting speech in Parliament, he called for a change of attitude that would attach a 'stigma' to those who destroy family life and said a National Commission should be established to devise solutions for the 'epidemic' of broken homes. --
Condemning the 'endless and futile quest for a perfect relationship', he said many parents were in 'a complete and uncontrolled free-for-all where being true to oneself and one's needs is the only yardstick for controlling behaviour'.

The London Telegraph publishes a column by the same Justice, Family breakdown is now a national tragedy

 Crying-Child

Recently, I was approached by the BBC, with a view to making a documentary about family breakdown. I suggested the researcher start by spending the day with me in court, to watch a run-of-the-mill High Court case. She was stunned into silence and remained speechless when I told her that within the Royal Courts of Justice, there were 20 or so other judges engaged in similar cases.

Across inner London, well over 100 family courts were dealing with family breakdown that day, in one guise or another. Multiply that across the rest of the country, and you get some feel for the scale of the epidemic.
--

I am not suggesting, of course, that all change is bad, or that all relationship breakdowns can be avoided. Genuinely intolerable relationships have to be ended with as little distress as possible. But I fear that the current state of the family represents change for the worse – and those most affected, the children, are not considered in the maelstrom that surrounds them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2009

New Look at What Babies Think

Everything we think we know about babies is wrong

In The Philosophical Baby developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik compiles the latest in her field’s research to paint a new picture of our inner lives at inceptionone in which we are, in some ways, more conscious than adults.
--
Alison Gopnik: One of the things we discovered is that imagination, which we often think of as a special adult ability, is actually in place in very young children, as early as 18 months old. That ability is very closely related to children’s ability to figure out how the world works.
--
Both Piaget and Freud thought that the reason children produced so much fantastic, unreal play was that they couldn’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. But a lot of the more recent work in children’s theory of mind has shown quite the contrary. Children have a very good idea of how to distinguish between fantasies and realities. It’s just they are equally interested in exploring both.
--
They already seem to appreciate the difference between the kinds of morality that comes from empathy and the kind that comes from our conventional rules. From the time they are two, they recognize both are important but in different ways. That’s pretty amazing


"The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life" (Alison Gopnik)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

May 19, 2009

“It’s bad for us, but it sure is fun”

From the heart of Silicon Valley, eighth graders say that the negative effects of technology vastly outweighs the benefits.

“It’s bad for us, but it sure is fun.”

Through young eyes by Michael Malone reveals remarkable self knowledge by children who lived all their lives in an ocean of technological games and devices.

When asked what they find wrong with living in our modern Wired Web World, the students had no shortage of answers, most of which fell into a half-dozen categories. I’ll let the students largely speak for themselves - voices describing the dark side of the tech revolution with a sincerity few of us adults have ever heard before:

Time-waster
Loss of motivation:

Addictive: “The Internet is like a gateway drug,” says Christine Doan, 13.

 Teen Illuminated Screen

--
Second Hand Knowledge: This answer was probably the biggest surprise. The eighth graders seemed to intuitively appreciate that the experiences and information they received from the Web and other digital sources was essentially a simulacrum of reality - a re-creation on a glowing flat screen of the three dimensional natural world . . .and that something was being lost in the translation. “We don’t get as much out of things if we don’t experience them ourselves,” says Lauren Fahey, 13. “We seem to spend a lot of our lives as bystanders,” adds Katherine Wu, 13.
---
Exposure
Disturbed Values: All of these forces can’t help but affect a young person’s sense of values. The eighth graders, in some ways sophisticated beyond their years, instinctively understand that. “We can’t respect anything anymore,” says Eric Bautista. Adds Jenna Kunz, “You don’t care about things as much; you aren’t as passionate as you should be.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

March 31, 2009

Gardasil, a boon or a danger?

In the past couple of years, the vaccine Gardasil has been touted as the best way to protect young women against cervical cancer. 

Manufactured by Merck & Co, the vaccine is designed to prevent the initial establishment of HPV, the human papillomavirius, that causes cervical cancer and is transmitted sexually.  Administered in three injections over six months, Gardasil is expensive ($360).

So effective was the new vaccine, many urged that it be given to all young teenage girls as a prophylactic before they became sexually active.  Some parents were horrified at the idea; most greeted the idea with great relief. 

Since HPV infection shows no symptoms and has no cure, the vaccine was heavily promoted in commercials which showed teenage girls saying "I want to be one less" who gets the HPV virus.

A number of states mandated the vaccine despite the fact that no one knew the long term effects.

Now from CBS news comes new worries about Gardasil safety and very serious side effects.

The National Vaccine Information Center, a private vaccine-safety group, compared Gardasil adverse events to another vaccine, one also given to young people, but for meningitis. Gardasil had three times the number of Emergency Room visits - more than 5,000.

Reports of side effects were up to 30 times higher with Gardasil.

"If I'd have known, we never would have gotten the shot," said Emily Tarsell, whose daughter, Chris, died three weeks after her third Gardasil shot. She was one of the 29 fatalities reported in two years. "And she'd be here to hug."

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the NVIC, said: "Now we know from this report that there are more reactions and deaths associated with Gardasil than with another vaccine given in the same age group. It's irresponsible not to take action."

Mary Beth Bonacci says "The vaccine is unnecessary, it's dangerous, and it's disabling and killing young women."

We have pap smears, which detect HPV-related warts and pre-cancerous changes to the cervix. It is because of our friend the pap smear that cervical cancer deaths declined 74% between 1955 and 1992 - - the same time period wherein the rate of unmarried sexual activity was rising dramatically. Those cervical cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society, continue to decline at a rate of about 4% a year.

We don't need Gardasil to prevent cervical cancer. Gardasil is the closest thing I've ever seen to an out and out pharmaceutical hoax foisted on American women under the guise of "public health."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

March 30, 2009

Little girl saved

After little Morgan McCracken, 7, was hit in the head with a baseball in a backyard game, she seemed fine, but her parents, after reading about the death of Natasha Richardson took her to the emergency room after the little girl complained of a headache.

Morgan was in such bad shape by the time they got there that she had to be transferred to a children's hospital by helicopter, where she was immediately taken into surgery, according to CNN.

The McCrackens learned there that Morgan had the same injury that Natasha Richardson had died of -- according to CNN, an epidural hematoma. Mr. McCracken told the cable news outlet: "[Our doctor] told us that if we hadn't brought her in Thursday night, she never would have woken up."

But after Morgan's surgery and five days in the hospital, she's "doing fine," according to CNN, which lists the danger signs to look out for in a head injury on their web site.

Little girl saved after Natasha Richardson's death

Any head injury should be checked out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

March 27, 2009

Try hard, work hard

Sometimes you need scientific research to remind people what everyone used to take for granted. 

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.

Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.

Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2009

What fathers bring to the table

The number of U.S. Births Breaks Records - 4.3 million babies born.  Sadly, about 40% (39.7%) were born out of wedlock.

That means 40% of those babies won't have a father bound to them by marriage to their mother.

By coincidence, today is the feast day of St. Joseph and the subject of the homily Pope Benedict XVI gave in Cameroon

St. Joseph, he said, "is not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely......"To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth."

That's what those 40% of newborns will lack - an adult male who will devote himself to their lives and growth.

More on the statistics

By racial/ethnic group: 27.8 percent for non-Hispanic whites (up from 26.6 percent in 2006);
a really appalling 71.6 percent for blacks (up from 70.7 percent);
65.2 percent for American Indians/Alaska Natives (up from 64.6 percent);
51.3 percent for Hispanics (up from 49.9 percent); and bringing up the rear,
Asians/Pacific Islanders at a paltry 16.9 percent (but still up from 16.5 percent). 

What fathers bring to the table in the service of life and growth of their children.  All quotes from Why Marriage Matters  for Children which also has citations to all the studies referenced.

Protection against povert
y

David Ellwood, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, notes:
"The vast majority of children who are raised entirely in a two-parent home will never be poor during childhood. By contrast, the vast majority of children who spend time in a single-parent home will experience poverty.


Reduced risk of criminal behavior

After studying murder and robbery rates in our nation’s cities, Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson observed, “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States.” This is why neighbors should thank the married mothers on their block.

Reduced risk of substance abuse

Regardless of gender, age, family income, race or ethnicity, adolescents not living with a biological mother or father are 50 to 150% more likely to abuse and be dependent on substances and need illicit drug-abuse treatment compared to their peers living with both biological parents.

Reduced risk of sexual abuse

The journal Pediatrics reported in 2002 that, “Children residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2 biological parents. Risk of maltreatment death was elevated for children residing with step, foster, or adoptive parents.”

Greater likelihood of educational attainment

Sara McLanahan of Princeton University finds that “regardless of which survey we looked at, children from one-parent families are about twice as likely to drop out of school as children from two-parent families.”

Children from biological two-parent families have, on average, test scores and grade-point averages that are higher, they miss fewer school days, and have greater expectations of attending college than children living with one parent. Additionally, of those from either type of family who do attend college, those from two-parent families are seven to 20 percent more likely to finish college.5

Children from divorced homes are 70 percent more likely than those living with biological parents to be expelled or suspended from school. Those living with never-married mothers are twice as likely to be expelled or suspended. 

Greater physical health and mental well-being

The National Center for Health Statistics found that children living with their biological parents received professional help for behavior and psychological problems at half the rate of children not living with both biological parents.16 Other studies show the general health problems of children from broken homes is increased by 20 to 30 percent, even when adjusting for demographic variables.

Learning that 40% of newborns will not have these advantages is profoundly discouraging.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2009

Forgetting a child in a car

The bewildering lapses of memory in otherwise good parents who think such a thing could never happen to them.

Forgetting a child in the back seat of a hot, parked car is a horrifying, inexcusable mistake. But is it a crime? asks Gene Weingarten in Fatal Distraction

"Death by hyperthermia" is the official designation. When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just... forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall. The season is almost upon us.

Two decades ago, this was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear. If few foresaw the tragic consequence of the lessened visibility of the child . . . well, who can blame them? What kind of person forgets a baby?

The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.
--
These are heartbreaking stories made even more so by how the parents were demonized.

One clinical psychologist said

Humans have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.

In hyperthermia cases, he believes, the parents are demonized for much the same reasons. "We are vulnerable, but we don't want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we'll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don't want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with. So, they have to be monsters."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2009

Babies and TV commercials

A baby may look helpless. It can’t walk, talk, think symbolically or overhaul the nation’s banking system. Yet as social emulsifiers go, nothing can beat a happily babbling baby. A baby is born knowing how to work the crowd. A toothless smile here, a musical squeal there, and even hard-nosed cynics grow soft in the head and weak in the knees.


In the view of the primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, the extraordinary social skills of an infant are at the heart of what makes us human. Through its ability to solicit and secure the attentive care not just of its mother but of many others in its sensory purview, a baby promotes many of the behaviors and emotions that we prize in ourselves and that often distinguish us from other animals, including a willingness to share, to cooperate with strangers, to relax one’s guard, uncurl one’s lip and widen one’s pronoun circle beyond the stifling confines of me, myself and mine.

In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue

I like this theory, but I haven't a clue how to pronounce the scientist's name "Hrdy".

The next article in the Science section of the New York Times is more baffling. Commercials make TV shows more enjoyable.

“The punch line is that commercials make TV programs more enjoyable to watch. Even bad commercials,” said Leif Nelson, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of California, San Diego, and a co-author of the new research. “When I tell people this, they just kind of stare at me, in disbelief. The findings are simultaneously implausible and empirically coherent.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2009

Playtime and nature time necessary for health and evelopment

The brain uses two forms of attention. “Directed” attention allows us to concentrate on work, reading and tests, while “involuntary” attention takes over when we’re distracted by things like running water, crying babies, a beautiful view or a pet that crawls onto our lap.

Directed attention is a limited resource. Long hours in front of a computer or studying for a test can leave us feeling fatigued. But spending time in natural settings appears to activate involuntary attention, giving the brain’s directed attention time to rest.

“It’s pretty clear that all human beings experience attentional fatigue,” Dr. Faber Taylor said. “Our attention has to be restored from that fatigue, and there is a growing body of research evidence that nature is one way that seems particularly effective at doing it.”

The New York Times reports on recess.  Tara Parker-Pope concludes:
The best way to improve children’s performance in the classroom may be to take them out of it.

New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.
--
Playtime and nature time are important not only for learning but also for health and development.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2009

Biking with the sons to the Dairy Queen

To the Dairy Queen and Back by John Landretti, in Orion

Sometimes my sons and I stop the Burley Train at this open place and lean it against the goldenrod. We find spotted knapweed to look at, rosehips and blackberries. The boys like to gaze back at the highway. They wonder where it goes, so we talk about the Big Horns and the Greasy Grass, or the Ohio River and the worn hills of Kerouac’s “bushy wilderness” back east. Now and then we get into history, and I might spin an account of the early railroads, perhaps quote a few rousing lines from Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” When they ask about the Indians, and what has become of their ways, I might recount the Sioux at Wounded Knee, speaking in the plainest terms. The perspectives jar, the language varies, and I let my boys fall into that space between. They fill it with questions.

“Listen,” I say, raising a finger. “Do you hear it?”

They stiffen, and we hear once more: the elusive warble.

“A loon,” I explain. I tell them straightaway we are lucky.

Nights later Mathieu says at bedtime, “We heard a loon on our way to the Dairy Queen—didn’t we, Dad? We’re lucky. Right, Dad?”

I turn out the lamp and touch his hair, my fingers in the radiance of a child forming his world.

via Culture Making

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2009

"Excessive individualism"

Is it any surprise that a "Me-first" attitude fails children?

Children's lives are being blighted by Britain's selfish society, a landmark report concludes.

The  Good Childhood Inquiry claims that almost all of the problems now facing young people stem from the culture of "excessive individualism" that has developed in recent decades.

It says the "me-first" attitude of adults is causing family breakdowns, competition in education, a growing gap between rich and poor, unkindness among teenagers and premature sexualisation by advertisers.

The pioneering two-year investigation, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and based on interviews with 35,000 children, parents and professionals, claims British children are less happy than those in almost any other developed country.
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The study blames these problems squarely on the growth of a struggle for personal status and success, which it says has filled the vacuum created by the decline of religious belief and community spirit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:57 PM | Permalink

February 9, 2009

Doctor fixed data on autism

Surely you've heard about the link between autism and vaccines.  Some parents have been terrified to have their young children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.  The fear of such vaccination led to the return of measles in England, Germany, Switzerland and Italy

The London Times reports that the doctor who sparked the scare with his study in the British medical journal Lancet
linking autism with vaccinations fixed the data to make the link.

MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.

THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.
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Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.

Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 AM | Permalink

January 15, 2009

Teaching Kids Manners

Doctor Perri Klass writes For kids' good health, teach them manners

My favorite child-rearing book is "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children," by Judith Martin, who takes the view that manners are at the heart of the whole parental enterprise. I called her to ask why. "Every infant is born adorable but selfish and the center of the universe," she replied. It's a parent's job to teach that "there are other people, and other people have feelings."

The conversations that every pediatrician has, over and over, about "limit setting" and "consistently praising good behavior" are conversations about manners.
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I like Miss Manners' approach because it lets a parent respect a child's intellectual and emotional privacy: I'm not telling you to like your teacher; I'm telling you to treat her with courtesy. I'm not telling you that you can't hate Tommy; I'm telling you that you can't hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public.
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But that first big counterintuitive lesson - that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered - affects a child's most basic moral development. For a child, as for an adult, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life, but also a successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human.

I love the graphic by Jillian Tamaki that accompanies the piece in the International Herald Tribune.

 Naughty Child

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2009

Childhood spirituality boots well-being

Children happy with spirituality

The spiritual lives of children has come under close scrutiny by two different sets of researchers who reached the same conclusion. Spirituality is a good thing for youngsters, a positive influence.

It makes them happier - and healthier.

"Children who were more spiritual were happier," said a University of British Columbia study released Friday, which methodically quantified the typical ups and downs in a young life.

The study, which questioned 320 children from four public schools and two religious schools about their spiritual practices, revealed that happiness was boosted by 26 percent among those children in touch with an "inner belief system."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2009

Mom, Dad and God, the City and the Wilderness

After catching up on the Internet, here are some articles that caught my eye.

Girls Need a Dad and Boys Need a Mom  by Janice Shaw Crouse. 

The latest issue of The Journal of Communication and Religion (November 2008, Volume 31, Number 2) contains an excellent analysis of the importance of opposite-sex parent relationships.  The common sense conclusion is backed up with social science data and affirmed by a peer-reviewed scholarly article: girls need a dad, and boys need a mom. 
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The authors cited numerous studies that link religious beliefs and practices to a strong family unit and noted the fact that the most noticeable impact of religiosity is during adolescence.  The majority of studies found an inverse relationship between religiosity and high-risk adolescent behaviors (drinking, drug use, sexual activity, depression, etc.).  Other studies indicate a strong relationship between the family's religious belief and practice and a teen's emotional health and family well-being.  This is especially true of teenage boys.

While family communication and interaction is critical to high-quality relationships for children and adolescents, this study suggests that the opposite-sex parent is especially important in making children feel validated and encouraged.  This is true of boys as well as girls, but it is especially true of daughters.  Fathers have the greatest impact on their daughters' vitality as an adolescent college student.  Daughters with a strong relationship with their father are more self-confident, self-reliant, and are more successful in school and career than those who have distant or absent father

The nondenominational evangelist group known as the Gideons have given out 76.9 million free Bibles in 85 languages in 187 countries to hotels, hospitals, schools, prisons, and the military.  This year the Gideons celebrate 100 years of Bible distribution.

"This is not a church-sponsored, clergy-led effort," said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group for evangelical churches and organizations. "It's individuals that go around and distribute Bibles. It's an astonishing accomplishment."  "What it's done is actually changed our culture. People expect there to be a Bible in a hotel room. There's hardly anything that's parallel to it."

Power of Wilderness Experiences As a Catalyst for Change in Young Offenders.

The researchers monitored the young people’s psychological health before and after the two wilderness trips, as well as during the months in between. At the outset behaviour was described as disruptive, disrespectful and undisciplined. However, as the programme progressed, the frequency of negative events reduced, criminal activity and substance abuse declined and the young people displayed less anti-social behaviour.

Findings of the self-reported measures of self-confidence, trust, belonging and connectedness to nature showed that after each wilderness experience, feelings increased and during the months in between levels fell, as participants had less contact with nature.

No wonder if the City hurts your brain.

Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control.
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One of the main forces at work is a stark lack of nature, which is surprisingly beneficial for the brain. Studies have demonstrated, for instance, that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard. Even these fleeting glimpses of nature improve brain performance, it seems, because they provide a mental break from the urban roil.

An atheist,  Matthew Parris writes I truly believe Africa needs God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
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Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.
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Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink

October 31, 2008

Cut off from their genetic history

I'm only surprised that this hasn't happened before.

Suit seeks identities of sperm, egg donors.

A B. C. woman conceived through artificial insemination is fighting for the right to know the identity of her biological father, asking the court to make the identities of anonymous donors available.

The legal battle pits the confidentiality promised to those who donated sperm and eggs used for artificial insemination against the rights of children born from such procedures to know their genetic history.

The rights of the children took a step forward this week when a B. C. court ordered doctors to not destroy any related medical records until the end of the case.

In a class-action lawsuit filed last week on behalf of B. C. residents conceived through the use of anonymous sperm, egg and embryo donations -- known as gamete donation -- journalist Olivia Pratten, who is seeking the identity of her biological father, said learning his identity would "alleviate the psychological distress" of not knowing her origins.
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"The child is the one who lives with choices that were made for them before they were born and who bears the consequences of these adult decisions," she said yesterday from her home in New York. "How many times have I spoken about this and doctors tell me to be happy or be grateful --it infuriates me."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2008

Pampers rule

Because the report was so embarrassing, the government tried to hide the results. This time it's diapers. 

But as any parent knows, Pampers rule

Blow to image of 'green' reusable nappy.

When the  government doesn't like the results of a study

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.

The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2008

The Formation of Young Women

Parents who have young girls headed for college should read Lipstick Jungle and consider carefully what environment they want for the daughters.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2008

"They were tired of their parenting role"

So a 34 year old widower dropped off his nine children at a Nebraska hospital.

The well-intentioned "safe haven" law has unintended consequences.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that the man had a “history of unemployment, eviction notices and unpaid bills – and a psychologist’s determination that he lacked common sense.”

The children’s grandmother told the World-Herald other family members planned to take care of the children, but the paper said their destination was still uncertain.

In USA Today, Landry said the children were “struggling to varying degrees with what’s happened to them.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2008

The General and his Daughter

This is the most admirable thing I've ever read about Charles DeGaulle. 

 Anne De Gaulle


The lovely photograph above of Le Général and his youngest daughter comes from an article by Michael Gerson on America's "4-month-old civil rights leader" —
Trig's Breakthrough. Mr. Gerson:

The family struggles of political leaders can be morally instructive. Contrast the attitude of Joseph Kennedy with that of Charles de Gaulle, who treated his daughter Anne, born with Down syndrome in 1928, with great affection. The image of this arrogant officer rocking Anne in his arms at night speaks across the years. After her death and burial at age 20, de Gaulle turned to his wife and said, "Come. Now she is like the others."

From the Western Confucian who has collected lots more about the General and his daughter. Via Tea at Trianon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2008

Fusing Motherhood and Politics

A very interesting article and back story on the pregnancy and delivery of Sarah Palin's infant Trig Paxson Van Palin in the New York Times and just how she balances work and family.

Fusing Politics and Motherhood in New Way

Sarah Palin’s baby shower included a surprise guest: her own baby.
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Most had learned that Ms. Palin was pregnant only a few weeks before. Struggling to accept that her child would be born with Down syndrome and fearful of public criticism of a governor’s pregnancy, Ms. Palin had concealed the news that she was expecting even from her parents and children until her third trimester.
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Ms. Palin’s three-day maternity leave has now become legend among mothers. But aides say she eased back into work, first stopping by her office in Anchorage for a meeting, bringing not only the baby but also her husband to look after him.
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Many high-powered parents separate work and children; Ms. Palin takes a wholly different approach. “She’s the mom and the governor, and they’re not separate,” Ms. Cole said. Around the governor’s offices, it was not uncommon to get on the elevator and discover Piper, smothering her puppy with kisses.

“She’ll be with Piper or Trig, then she’s got a press conference or negotiations about the natural gas pipeline or a bill to sign, and it’s all business,” Ms. Burney, who works across the hall, said. “She just says, ‘Mommy’s got to do this press conference.’ ”

Ms. Palin installed a travel crib in her Anchorage office and a baby swing in her Juneau one. For much of the summer, she carried Trig in a sling as she signed bills and sat through hearings, even nursing him unseen during conference calls.

Todd Palin took a leave from his job as an oil field production operator, and campaign aides said he was doing the same now.

At her baby shower, Ms. Palin joked about her months of secrecy, Ms. Lane said. “About the seventh month I thought I’d better let people know,” Ms. Palin said.

“So it was really great,” she continued. “I was only pregnant a month.”

I bet her husband has been a really big help since he has been on leave from work since the birth. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink

September 6, 2008

Hot seats could fry away fatherhood

Hot seat is a gamble for the gonads

Men who enjoy warming their bottom on a heated car seat should beware, for they may also be frying their chances of fatherhood, New Scientist reports in its latest issue.

Sperm production is best when the temperature of the scrotum is one or two degrees Celsius (1.8-3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) below the core body temperature of 37 C (99 F).
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The study, led by Andreas Jung at the University of Giessen, did not verify the volunteer's sperm count or sperm mobility, but the researchers fear that only a slight increase in temperature is enough to damage the sperm-production process, the British weekly says.

Previous work in this field has already found that sitting in a car for more than three hours, even on an unheated seat, can impair a man's ability to conceive.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2008

Babies, Rickets and Breastfeeding

If a mother does not have enough vitamin, neither will the baby she breastfeeds.

Please check, no more babies with rickets.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Lurk in Babies

“I thought I was doing the best thing for her,” said Stephanie Remy-Marquez, of Hyde Park, Mass., after blood tests showed her daughter had no detectable vitamin D. X-ray images of the baby’s wrists and knees showed the edges of the bones and growth plates as blurry and fraying instead of crisp and sharp.

“Breast milk is supposed to be an entire meal, dessert and drinks included,” Ms. Remy-Marquez said. “I thought it was the ultimate cocktail.”
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Physicians have known for more than a century that exclusive breast-feeding may be associated with vitamin D deficiency and rickets, and that the condition is easily prevented and treated with inexpensive vitamin drops or cod liver oil. But doctors are reluctant to say anything that might discourage breast-feeding.

Now some researchers are also linking vitamin D deficiency with other chronic diseases like diabetes, autoimmune disorders and even cancer, and there have been calls to include blood tests of vitamin D levels in routine checkups.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

August 19, 2008

Premature Baby "Comes Back to Life" in Morgue Cooler

Premature baby 'comes back to life 

The 26-year-old mother and her husband have a five-year-old son at home. When she gave birth after going into premature labor at the hospital, the doctor on the scene pronounced it dead and it was taken to the morgue.

The father, Ali Majdub, told Channel 2 that his wife realized the child was alive after asking to see her dead daughter one last time.

"When we unwrapped the baby to see her, she realized it was moving. I began screaming and ran with it toward the doctors," he said.

She was then rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit, where doctors are fighting for her life.
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Dr. Moshe Daniel, the hospital's deputy director, said that in his 35 years as a physician, he had "never heard of such a case. It was like a medical miracle."

.... Daniel speculated that the cooling effect of the morgue slowed the infant's metabolism, causing her oxygen consumption to be very low. There have been rare cases of people who nearly froze under snow "coming back to life," but there have been no reports of babies doing so.

UPDATE:

The little baby has since died

The survival of such an immature baby, whether she was in an incubator or a cooler in the morgue, was very unlikely, said Eidelman. "It was a borderline case," he said, adding that she almost inevitably would have suffered from severe disability if she had lived.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2008

Extraordinary Birth

Donnette Sanz, 33, and 7 months pregnant was crossing the street when she was hit by a runaway school bus with no children in it.

"My brakes went out as I was coming from Valentine [Avenue]," van driver Walter Walker, 72, told The Post before cops picked him up. "The light turned red, and I couldn't stop . . . I tried to miss her.

"I tried to go behind her, but she stopped and moved back, and I hit her," he said, holding his head in his hands.
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Within seconds, more than two dozen strangers - from a nearby park, the busy sidewalk and a construction site - poured into the street to aid Sanz.

"Twenty of us started lifting up the bus - about 10 more came to help," said hardhat Madalina Diaz, 42, of Ardsley. "We didn't really communicate, we all just started lifting. We lifted it up and someone pulled her out.
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Sanz was rushed into the St. Barnabas emergency room at 2:18 p.m. She survived the emergency delivery, and died at 4:22 p.m., a spokesman said.

Her baby was taken to the neonatal intensive-care unit and placed on a ventilator.

The baby boy was named Sean Michael

Pregnant Woman Killed by Bus

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2008

Back home and catching up on the Olympics

I had a wonderful time with my family on the Cape, sunny days all except for one when we all went shopping and I made dinner for all 23 of us.  In a couple of weeks, I'll post a photo of all of us taken by a professional photographer.

Time away from the computer brought back a different rhythm to daily life.  Now that I'm back, so much has happened in the world, I'm spending a lot of time just catching up on the news.

First the Olympics.  I did get to see the marvelous spectacle of the opening ceremonies and parade of nations but not without a nagging discomfort at their cost both human and economic

Simon Jenkins articulated it best in Olympic crack in China's wall.

An Olympic Games must be the most expensive public gesture, in billions of dollars a day, that any nation can undertake in peacetime, a political spectacular masquerading as sport.

The IOC was drawn to China as the one big country to which it still had a quid pro quo to offer: international respectability. The IOC knew that China might be induced to spend huge sums, not by virtue of political reform, but to cloak the absence of such reform.
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The IOC seems to have found in Chinese communism a shared language and nostalgia for the drilled utopianism of the mid-20th century. A large area of old Beijing has been razed and rebuilt with stadiums, office blocks and avenues, monuments to the modernising zeal of the party. Morally emasculated western architects have lined up for work, led by the son of Albert Speer as master planner.

Above all the Chinese have proved that the Olympics are about control. Lose control, as did the world torch tour and its “1,000 jogging policemen”, and you cannot deliver concord and good publicity. Instead, control has required the Chinese to arrest untold hundreds of human rights activists. It has rendered Tibet virtually inaccessible. Anyone concerned with protest, such as the signers of a letter pleading for “an Olympic spirit” in human rights, has been thrown in jail or removed from the capital; 100,000 troops have been brought in to ring the city.

Still, the Olympics always bring stories of courage, determination, persistence, hardship and glory.  My favorite so far is the story of Lomong. 

Where Once He Was Lost, Now He is Found

For seven years, China has dreamed of orchestrating every detail, athletic and political, of its glorious Opening Ceremonies to the Olympics. Now, one lean 1,500-meter runner from the United States, chosen by his teammates in an act of open defiance, may steal the show. Lopez Lomong, one of the Sudanese "Lost Boys" and a member of the anti-genocide group Team Darfur, has been chosen by his 595 U.S. Olympic teammates to carry our flag on Friday. What, we couldn't find a Tibetan monk on the team?

What a coincidence. Just hours before U.S. team captains met to decide on the flag carrier, Chinese officials rescinded the visa of Joey Cheek, a speedskating gold medalist who carried the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremonies at the 2006 Winter Games and later co-founded Team Darfur. After that slap at Cheek, U.S. athletes here had almost nothing to say on the topic. One even referred to the subject as "the question they warned us about."

Perhaps they didn't answer individually. But the entire U.S. team gave its answer -- as a group and in capital letters -- with Lomong's selection. You jerk Cheek's visa. We put Lomong in your face. And do it proudly.

Here's the backstory of his foster parents who took in seven lost boys from Sudan, extraordinary people, ordinary Americans.

U.S. Flagbearer found new life in New York foster home.

When he learned he was coming to America, Lomong thought he would have to get a job and support himself. He didn't expect to have such supportive parents.

"I just thought they would just keep me for a little while, but they convinced me that this is your home," he said.

Anthony, 20, is a junior political science major at State University at Buffalo, where he plays soccer. In his first six weeks in America, Anthony went to Disney World, Washington, D.C., and Boston. He surprised the Rogerses when he told them the most amazing thing he had seen in America: "parents."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2008

Autism and television

Gregg Easterbrook reports on the study that TV Really Might Cause Autism.

Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
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The Cornell study represents a potential bombshell in the autism debate. "We are not saying we have found the cause of autism, we're saying we have found a critical piece of evidence," Cornell researcher Michael Waldman told me.
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If television viewing by toddlers is a factor in autism, the parents of afflicted children should not reproach themselves, as there was no warning of this risk. Now there is: The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends against any TV for children under the age of 2. Waldman thinks that until more is known about what triggers autism, families with children under the age of 3 should get them away from the television and keep them away.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2008

What not to get for a baby shower

I laughed out loud at the 20 Baby Products Great for Traumatizing Infants.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2008

The Sight of Your Baby Smiling Can Be Addictive

 Baby

While this is not surprising to any parent, scientists have now used MRIs to show that the sight of a baby's face sends a rush of blood to the brain's pleasure center, similar to the sense of elation that sex, drugs and other addictive behaviors bring.

The researchers' findings should come as no surprise to most parents, such as one of the study's subjects, Katrina Lyons, who can't get enough of the sight of her two son's beaming faces, and has photos of her children all over the house. "It's got to be like crack," she says. "I just have to see them everywhere."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

July 1, 2008

Misbegotten health policies for our daughters

Birth control  and sex education does no good for teen-age girls who want to get pregnant. 

Girls know how to get pregnant.  Why do they choose to do so is the question.

In Planned Teen Parenthood, Daniel Moloney quotes research of sociologists who spent five years living in the same neighborhoods with poor unwed mothers.

While the poor women we interviewed saw marriage as a luxury, something they aspired to but feared they might never achieve, they judged children to be a necessity, an absolutely essential part of a young woman’s life, the chief source of identity and meaning.

Moloney points out that providing contraception to teenagers without their parental consent or notification not only is common practice at high schools  but totally counter-productive.

These girls need more parental involvement, not less. These young girls know how to have babies, so further sex ed isn’t needed. They want to have babies, so contraception is beside the point. The problem is that they think that they are ready to have babies, and they aren’t.

That’s where the parents should be stepping in, helping the girls to realize that they aren’t ready to be mothers...

Studies show that teens are less likely to have sex if they think their parents disapprove. But parents are often kept in the dark, thanks to misbegotten health care policies which view them as a threat to their daughter’s best interests.
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Our nation’s “experts” are spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with teenage girls who want to be mothers. Indeed, laws designed to make contraceptives available to teenagers often make the problem worse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

June 24, 2008

The Gloucester Girls

Having lived in beautiful Gloucester for several years, I was even more interested in the story of the Gloucester girls 16 and younger becoming pregnant so they could raise their babies together.

In Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High, Time magazine said

The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers. Sex-ed classes end freshman year at Gloucester, where teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC. "We're proud to help the mothers stay in school," says Sue Todd, CEO of Pathways for Children, which runs the day-care center.

Clearly access to contraception will do nothing to prevent young girls who want to become pregnant.

Kay Hymowitz in Gloucester Girls Gone Wild writes

But the story could have one upside: it might expose the folly of much of what has passed for wisdom about teen pregnancy. I say might because so far the media seems to be having trouble grasping what happened in this old, largely Catholic fishing town.
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übersocialized middle-class experts, journalists, and policy makers aren’t addressing the fact that girls tend to like babies. In most cultures in human history, 15- or 16-year-olds were seen as viable mothers (only after being married off, of course), so biological urge coincided with social need.
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In the past, the problem was held at bay by a combination of sexual reticence, social disapproval, and a no-baby-without-marriage rule, since it wasn’t easy to find a presentable boy ready to sign on to a life sentence at 16. No more. Sexual reticence is now deemed something on the order of a Victorian perversion. Social disapproval? Nowhere evident. The Gloucester school’s superintendent found that most townspeople greeted with a yawn the news that local teen pregnancy rates were soaring,
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Then there’s the point compellingly made by Kathleen Parker in her new book Save the Males: Americans aren’t all that keen on fathers these days. A girl eyeing her cousin’s cute little baby girl used to believe that she had to find a husband before she could have one of her own. Now, she can bypass the husband problem and just spend a little leisure time with the homeless guy on Main Street. Who cares if Dad is an addict or a tramp? They’re all bums—or jerks—anyway

What is so distressing is the poverty-stricken future that lies ahead for these girls and their children.  The 'unmarriage' revolution that Kay Hymowitz writes of in her book does more to contribute to the growing inequality in America than anything else.


"Marriage and Caste in America: Seperate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age" (Kay S. Hymowitz)

The increase in single mothers raising children is not just a problem in Gloucester.  Intact families with mothers and fathers raising children is the most important element in a sound society with a hopeful future for all.  Sadly, it's the least educated girls, thirsting to be loved,  who become prey for older, unscrupulous males, seduced into believing that sex equals love.

The battle to point to an alternative way of living -
sexual self-control, resilience against passing temptations, better avenues of communication, a wider range of interests, and, ultimately, the ability to make a complete gift of self to another in marriage -
is being lost when the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have teamed up
in an aggressive campaign over the past several years—a campaign to pressure states to eliminate abstinence education and to reject federal funding for these programs. .... The goal is to get enough states to refuse the federal abstinence-education funding to the point where the ACLU and Planned Parenthood can convince Congress to eliminate such funding entirely.

All this is happening, by the way, as fresh reports arrive almost every month about the benefits of teen abstinence and the effectiveness of abstinence programs.

The War on Abstinence

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink

June 15, 2008

More Fathers Please

To all fathers who are raising children in the most important job a man can do, my appreciation and a Happy Father's Day. 

Juan Williams tells us just how important in The Tragedy of America's Disappearing Fathers.

As we celebrate Father's Day tomorrow, we should reflect upon a sad fact: It is now common to meet young people in our big city schools, foster-care homes and juvenile centers who do not know their dads. Most of those children have come face-to-face with their father at some point; but most have little regular contact with the man, or have any faith that he loves or cares about them.

When fatherless young people are encouraged to write about their lives, they tell heartbreaking stories about feeling like "throwaway people." In the privacy of the written page, their hard, emotional shells crack open to reveal the uncertainty that comes from not knowing if their father has any interest in them. The stories are like letters to unknown dads – some filled with imaginary scenes about what it might be like to have a dad who comes home and puts his arm around you or plays with you.

They feel like they've been thrown away, Mr. Myers says, because "they don't have a father to push them, discipline them, and they give up trying to succeed . . . they don't see themselves as wanted." A regular theme of their stories is that they feel safer in a foster care home or juvenile detention center than on the outside, because they have no father to hold together the family. There is no one at home

Those who had a father around remember the lessons learned from our fathers.
collected by The Art of Manliness which should be mandatory reading for those lost boys with absent or unknown fathers who must imagine what being a man is about and father themselves.

The truest happiness is in self sacrifice in love like this father, Dick Hoyt, in Team Hoyt    Absolutely amazing love story between father and son.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2008

After decades, parents look for their disabled children

In the 1950s, disabled children often disappeared into state institutions.  Now one family seeks its lost son

Claire Ansberry tells What Happened to Ricky in the Wall St. Journal, a story with a happy ending.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2008

Finding Child Care on the Web

The working parents' search for child care has to be one of the most difficult choices given how reluctant most states have been in releasing their reports on the web.

At last, inspections made by state regulators of child-care centers of their safety, quality and cleanliness can now be found online reports
Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal

Some 20 of 50 states have begun posting the records online and 13 more have plans to do so.

A new generation of Web-savvy parents has been pushing for such information. A Michigan official says one staffer was "totally buried" in written child-care inquiries before it posted data online. Angie's List, a clearinghouse of service ratings, began posting child-care reviews in December 2006 "because our members wanted it," a spokeswoman says.

Links to state regulators' Web sites for child-care safety, quality and health information:
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Indiana
Michigan
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New York State
New York City
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
South Carolina
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Washington

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2008

Pampered Pregnancy

Pregnancy used to be something camouflaged and endured, nine months of achy backs and euphemisms and elastic waistbands with a 7-pound 9-ounce reward at the end.

Not anymore. For a certain kind of mom with a certain kind of priority, pregnancy is a heady blur of spa visits and personal pregnancy chefs, of baby planners and "babymoons." Pregnancy is not a journey. Pregnancy is a destination, a showplace.

Greater Expectation: Luxury Services for Pregnant Women are Booming

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink

Daughter of a Feminist Asks What about the Children?

The consequences of growing up the daughter of the trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple left Rebecca Walker lonely, ambivalent, and very confused with her longing to be a mother.

She was taught that motherhood was a form of servitude and the worst thing that could happen to a woman.   

When I hit my 20s and first felt a longing to be a mother, I was totally confused. I could feel my biological clock ticking, but I felt if I listened to it, I would be betraying my mother and all she had taught me.

How my mother's fanatical feminist views tore us apart.

I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It's helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it's caused for my contemporaries?

The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn't take into account the toll on children. That's all part of the unfinished business of feminism.

Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: 'I'd like a child. If it happens, it happens.' I tell them: 'Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.' As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They've missed the opportunity and they're bereft.

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

 Rebecca Walker-1

"Baby Love" (Rebecca Walker)

She's her own woman now, blessed to be a mom and soon-to-published author of Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2008

"Most Geeks Well-Adjusted"

How a teen-ager feels about himself is the best indicator of his future social functioning.

Revenge of the Nerds: Most Geeks Well-Adjusted

Kathleen Boykin McElhaney, lead study investigator and research associate in psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville,

"I think our study shows that popularity doesn't really matter a whole heck of a lot," McElhaney said. "Our data suggests that finding a social niche and a place where you can be comfortable being yourself is most important."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 AM | Permalink

April 25, 2008

"If you eat bananas, you'll have a boy"

The old wives tale has some truth behind it.

Mom's diet  may play role in whether baby is boy or girl

Having a hearty appetite, eating potassium-rich foods including bananas, and not skipping breakfast all seemed to raise the odds of having a boy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

April 22, 2008

Teaching the young about sex

What are we teaching young people about sex? 

Too many parents have abdicated their roles as mentors to the young because their own experience has been painful.  They don't have the fortitude to counter the toxic societal message that casual sex is free, fun and only recreation.

Janice Shaw Crouse gives us some Straight Talk About Casual Sex

We cannot expect young people to act responsibly when adults - whose thinking is sometimes clouded by their rationalization of their own hurtful and toxic sexual experimentation - are irresponsible by not providing the best possible information to encourage self-discipline and self-control, which are the surest keys to young peoples' long-term well-being.

Her truths
1. Casual sex impairs the ability to establish a lasting emotional bond.
2. Casual sex leaves young people alone and lonely.
3. The "sexual revolution" has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases.

She has the facts behind them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Paternity Kits

Now at your local drug store for only $29.99

Who's your daddy?

At the very least, the kits have the potential to complicate the lives of the people who use them, legal experts cautioned.

“We all need to take a step back and realize that this is different than many tests that you take,” said R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “This is a life-changing moment
.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2008

Raising Kids to be Rich

From instapundit Glenn Reynolds and his instawife, Dr. Helen Smith comes a wonderful podcast on capturing your child's passion and allow them to make money  by being entrepreneurial.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Troy Dunn on Raising Kids to be Rich.

Troy Dunn's book is

"Young Bucks: How to Raise a Future Millionaire" (Troy Dunn)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2008

The Manifesto of the Idle Parent

Tom Hodgkinson has found that Idle parenting means happy children

To the busy modern parent, this idea seems counter-intuitive. Aren't we always told to do more, not less? All parents have a nagging sense that somehow we are doing it all wrong and that more work needs to be done. But the problem is that we put too much work into parenting, not too little. By interfering a lot, we are not letting children grow up and learn themselves. The child who has been overprotected will not know how to look after himself. We are too much in children's faces. We need to retreat. Let them live.

Welcome to the school of inactive parenting. It's a win-win situation: less work for you and better for the child, both in terms of enjoying everyday life and also for self-reliance and independence
.

The Manifesto of the idle parent

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
That should mean that they leave us alone, too
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We fill the house with music and laughter
We don't waste money on family days out and holidays
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2008

How to Divorce the Right Way

Jonathan Clements who writes the "Getting Going" column in the Wall St Journal has some fine advice for those who are contemplating a divorce. 

Five tips on how to divorce the right way

Avoid the legal arms race because it will hurt both of you. As you negotiate a settlement, every dollar of legal costs incurred likely means 50 cents out of your pocket. Trust me: There are cheaper ways to work through your anger.

Having the ex-spouse around the corner might seem uncomfortably close. But if you have children, it probably means you will see less of your former spouse. There are no awkward drop-offs and pickups. Instead, the kids just walk back and forth.

Maintain a reservoir of goodwill, because you'll need it. It will be your week with the kids, your boss will have other plans -- and you may need your ex-spouse to bail you out.

If your ex ends up with a little more money in the divorce or goes on to do well financially, don't let it eat away at you. In all likelihood, your children will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Think of your relationship with your ex-spouse as a business relationship. Forget the bad blood. Ignore stuff that isn't your business. Instead, focus on the task at hand, which is raising the children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2008

Why to settle for Mr. Good Enough

ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist—vehemently, even—that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family.
--
My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go

Marry Him in the March Atlantic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

Twins save their mother's life while still in the womb

The twins that saved their mother's life by kicking loose a tumor while still in the womb.

Unknown to her, Mrs Stepney, 35, had developed cervical cancer. Her unborn twins' constant kicking in the womb actually managed to dislodge the tumour.

It was only when Mrs Stepney was taken to hospital with a suspected miscarriage that doctors realised she had cancer.

They told her the babies had saved her life. Without them, the cancer may not have been discovered until it was too late.

Despite the doctors' advice to terminate the pregnancy so she could have a hysterectomy and start chemotherapy,  Mrs. Stepney said

I owe my life to my girls, and that's why I could have never agreed with a termination."

Instead, she waited for her lifesaving treatment until they had been born.

Now the proud mother of year-old girls Alice and Harriet, Mrs Stepney has been given the all-clear.

         Twin Babies Save Mother's Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2008

Listen Up Mom

This is self-evident; still, it's always nice when scientific research proves that Kids Learn More When Mom is Listening.

The researchers found that explaining the answer to themselves and to their moms improved the children's ability to solve similar problems later, and that explaining the answer to their moms helped them solve more difficult problems.

"We saw that this simple act of listening by mom made a difference in the quality of the child's explanations and how well they could solve more difficult problems later on," Rittle-Johnson said.

The researchers also found that children experience the benefit of explaining a solution at an earlier age than previously thought..."We found that even 4-year-olds can use explanation to help them learn and to apply what they've learned to other tasks."

You don't really understand anything until you can explain it or teach it to someone else.  That's why having a mom who listens is so important to a child's development.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:11 PM | Permalink

January 23, 2008

Analog Parents, Digital Kids

A Deep Divide: Digital Kids, Analog Parents

The kid knows no boundaries. But neither does the adult. The high school senior is so lost in a hyper-public, YouTube world that he thinks nothing of forwarding a private phone call to the entire planet. The wife of the Fairfax County public school administrator the kid called at home is understandably miffed about the invasion into her private sphere, yet she returns fire with a shockingly disproportionate blast of rage.
----
It used to be you could have an inappropriate or rude conversation with someone and it would stay private," says Ron McClain, head of the Parkmont School in the District and a parent of teenagers in the Montgomery County schools. "There's a much fuzzier line between public and private now. This is a case where the technology has outpaced our ability to cope with its effects. As parents, we're way behind."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

Younger and more pro-life

On the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Los Angeles Times finds that the antiabortion cause stirs a new generation.

The crowds are getting younger and younger.

Pew Research Center polls dating back a decade show that 18-29 year-olds are consistently more likely than the general population to favor strict limits on abortion.

One student said, "Abortion feels more personal to us."  Another responded, " I feel like we're all survivors of abortion.  I look at my friends and I wonder, 'Where are your siblings?' "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:01 PM | Permalink

January 13, 2008

"The Today show, like life itself, unfolds while you’re doing other things"

It's always a treat to read Caitlin Flanagan piece and this month's piece in the Atlantic demonstrates why.

A Woman's Place,  on Katie Couric's long day's journey into evening or why the Today show is more important than any nightly news program.

I watched them faithfully—although watch, I realize, is the wrong verb where this phenomenally successful program is concerned; anyone who fails to grasp this fact will never understand why the Today show will survive the death of nightly news, the death of the newspaper, and even the collapse of television as a major player in the media world. The Today show, like life itself, unfolds while you’re doing other things.
--
The Today show creates a bond with its overwhelmingly female viewers because so many of them watch it, as I did, during one of the most psychologically complex and lonely—and most emotionally fulfilling—times of their lives: their tenure as mothers to small children.
--

It is the loneliness of at-home motherhood—the loneliness for other adults, for the adult way of life, for the work clothes and schedules and employment itself—that makes the hosts of the Today show crucial. When you turn on the program, there they are: your friends. You half-listen to them, the way you half-listen to your children playing on the floor in the next room, and together the two worlds make up the whole of your enterprise: theory and practice. The host discusses shoes that are supposed to help toddlers walk more steadily, and you turn to your own baby and wonder if you ought to buy him a pair. ....
When it is on, the television screen is no longer a barrier separating real life from TV land; the television screen is a window into another room of the house, the one where the grown-ups are.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 PM | Permalink

December 10, 2007

The Warmth of a Mother's Skin

This is a wonderful story. Doctors gave up my 20oz baby for dead...but I saved her life with a cuddle.

  Warmth Of A Mother's Skin

She said: "I didn't want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.

"It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment." Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother's skin kickstarted Rachael's heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

Miss Isbister said: "We couldn't believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2007

Tracking Service to Monitor Children

Sprint now offers a Family Locator service that for $9.99 a month that lets parents know just where their child is so long as the cell phone is on.

For Parents, a service that can offer peace of mind.

Verizon has a service called Chaperone that allows parents to set boundaries and if a child steps out of the approved zone, an alert is sent to the parents.

I find this troubling but I can understand why some parents would want it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2007

The Fever Effect

More than 80% of autistic children with a fever show some improvements in behavior and 40% had dramatic improvements.

Fever can unlock autism's grip

The change involved things like longer concentration spans, more talking, improved eye contact and better overall relations with adults and other children.

Zimmerman's team said the fever effect had been noted anecdotally in the past by parents and doctors.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2007

The Great Relearning - Part 2

Consider the latest news out of Chicago. Are we going through the Great Relearning**, Part 2?

Rickets returns as kids' bones weaker.

Rickets is a softening of the bones in children potentially leading to fractures and deformity.

Usually a disease seen only in developing countries, in most cases it can be easily cured with milk, sunshine and exercise. In the absence of vitamin D, either from sunshine or from supplements, calcium can not be absorbed by the body.

But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren't building as much strong bone as they should, a gap that may leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later.

''This potentially is a time-bomb,'' says Dr. Laura Tosi of Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

That means parents have to insist that their kids drink their fortified milk, turn off the TV or computer and go outside and play.

Otherwise, they will grow up fat, with bowed legs, frequent fractures, deformed chests or curved spines, like this poor 2-year-old with rickets. _2-year-old_with_rickets.jpg

***The Great Relearning comes from a brilliant essay by Tom Wolfe who observed that many social problems are the result of a large-scale rejection of well-established principles that were generally accepted by everyone until the 1960s.

In 1968, in San Francisco, I came across a curious footnote to the psychedelic movement. At the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. And how was it that they had now returned? ... The hippies, as they became known, sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero... And now , in 1968, they were relearning... the laws of hygiene... by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:18 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2007

Home Libraries a Biopsy of Power and Success

They love their own libraries, read philosophy, history and fiction and when they need a great manager, the call goes out, "Get me poets".

CEO Libraries Reveal Keys to Success
If there is a C.E.O. canon, its rule is this: “Don’t follow your mentors, follow your mentors’ mentors,” suggests David Leach, chief executive of the American Medical Association’s accreditation division. Mr. Leach has stocked his cabin in the woods of North Carolina with the collected works of Aristotle.


Forget finding the business best-seller list in these libraries. “I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction,
----
Personal libraries have always been a biopsy of power. The empire-loving Elizabeth I surrounded herself with the Roman historians, many of whom she translated, and kept one book under lock and key in her bedroom, in a French translation she alone of her court could read: Machiavelli’s treatise on how to overthrow republics, “The Prince.” Churchill retreated to his library to heal his wounds after being voted out of power in 1945 — and after reading for six years came back to power.

The National Endowment of the Arts reports that reading is declining especially for young Americans and so are their test scores in data said to be "simple, consistent and alarming".

The number of books at home correlates with academic achievement which makes sense to me. 
students who lived in homes with more than 100 books but whose parents only completed high school scored higher on math tests than those students whose parents held college degrees (and were therefore likely to earn higher incomes) but who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books.

Home libraries are predictors of success.

     Books In Winter Jessie Wilcox Smith

Print by Jessie Wilcox-Smith

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

November 12, 2007

They'll Grow Out of It

My mother used to counsel younger mothers nervous with a rambunctious child, 'Don't worry, they'll grow out of it."

Apparently that's the case with most kids with  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

ADHD Kids Can Get Better.

researchers found that some areas in the ADHD brain — particularly those involved in thinking, attention and planning — matured an average of three years later than "healthy" brains, but otherwise followed normal patterns of development.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 PM | Permalink

November 5, 2007

Orienting towards parents

With data from 24 colleges and universities, the National Survey of Student Engagement releases a study that gives hovering college parents extra credit.

"Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics," said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

The study found no evidence that helicopter parenting produces better grades. In fact, students with very-involved parents had lower grades than those whose parents were not so involved, but the authors suggest that "perhaps the reason some parents intervened was to support a student who was having academic difficulties."

Why shouldn't parents stay engaged with their children?

Keeping children primarily oriented towards their parents as "their guide for discovering their identity, morals and virtues"  keeps them
attached to more mature and civilized principles and values.  They still can attach to peers, but not as a primary source of orientation.

Jennifer F. posts on The Lost Children and quotes the authors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

As children grow, they have an increasing need to orient: to have a sense of who they are, of what is real, why things happen, what is good, what things mean. To fail to orient is to...be lost psychologically -- a state our brains our programmed to do almost anything to avoid. [...]

What children fear more than anything, including physical harm, is getting lost. To them, being lost means losing contact with their compass point. Orienting voids, situations where we find nothing or no one to orient by, are absolutely intolerable to the human brain.
----

Peer bonds have come to replace relationships with adults as children's primary sources of orientation...Children have become the dominant influence on one another's development.
---
In the separate tribe many of our children have joined, the transmission of values and culture flows horizontally, from one unlearned and immature person to another. This process...is eroding one of the underpinnings of civilized social activity. [...]
--
No wonder, then, that "cool" is the governing ethic in peer culture, the ultimate virtue...It connotates an air of invulnerability. Where peer orientation is intense, there is no sign of vulnerability in the talk, in the walk, in the dress, or in the attitudes. [...]

Peer-oriented kids will do anything to avoid the human feelings of aloneness, suffering, and pain, and to escape feeling hurt, exposed, alarmed, insecure, inadequate, or self-conscious. The older and more peer-oriented the kids, the more drugs seem to be an inherent part of their lifestyle. Peer orientation creates an appetite for anything that would reduce vulnerability. Drugs are emotional painkillers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

October 17, 2007

Lack of Sleep Makes Adolescents Stupider, Fatter and Gloomier.

Only 5% of high school seniors sleep 8 hours a night.  Half of adolescents get less than seven.

Snooze or Lose

Overstimulated, overscheduled kids are getting at least an hour’s less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years.

--
Using newly developed technological and statistical tools, sleep scientists have recently been able to isolate and measure the impact of this single lost hour. Because children’s brains are a work-in-progress until the age of 21, and because much of that work is done while a child is asleep, this lost hour appears to have an exponential impact on children that it simply doesn’t have on adults.
--

Perhaps most fascinating, the emotional context of a memory affects where it gets processed. Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine.

It seems as though lack of sleep makes adolescents stupider,  fatter and gloomier.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2007

One small glass of wine a day okay

One small glass of wine a day is okay for pregnant women and safe for the fetus  says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the U.K.

Safer to avoid  wine in the first three months of a pregnancy.  That's when the brain and nervous system are  developing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:06 PM | Permalink

Mom, Please don't write, don't call

When a grown child cuts off communication with a parent,  the parent(s) feel shame, disillusion and hurt.  Even if they have done nothing wrong,  Even if their other children turned out fine. 

Joshua Coleman's new book, When Parents Hurt, can help such parents cope and carry on.


"When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along" (Joshua Coleman)

His website is here - whenparentshurt.com - along with excerpts from the first chapter

Dear Mom,

I have decided that I don’t want to have any contact with you ever again. Please don’t write or call me anymore. I can’t stop thinking about all of the ways that you were never there for me when I was growing up. Whenever I see or talk to you, I just end up feeling depressed, angry, and upset for weeks afterwards. It’s just not worth it to me and I need to get on with my life. Please respect my wishes and don’t contact me again. 

Letter from Clarice, 23 to her mother, Fiona, 48

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2007

Telling on Patients

Pediatricians in Massachusetts,  following guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are grilling children about their parents' habits, apparently as a matter of course.

Doc, what's up with snooping?

The paranoia over parents is so strong that the AAP encourages doctors to ignore “legal barriers and deference to parental involvement” and shake the children down for all the inside information they can get.

And that information doesn’t stay with the doctor, either.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:16 PM | Permalink

September 10, 2007

Little Barbarians

Nobody who's stood between a toddler and the last cookie should still harbor a belief in the inherent virtue of mankind. An afternoon at the playground is apt to make one toss out the idealist Rousseau ("man is a compassionate and sensible being") in favor of the more realistic Hobbes ("all mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power"). As a father of four sons, I've signed on to Mr. Sowell's summation of a parent's duty: "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."

Tony Woodlief on parenting

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2007

Freedom from Parents

The most dramatic change in the day-to-day experience of childhood since the abolition of child labor is the decline of the street as a place where children can play writes Peter Wilby in the Guardian.

Britain has lost the art of socialising the young.

What we can do is give children more space and stop treating them as though they were an alien species, to be corralled into organised activities in designated locations. The street and the neighbourhood, not supervised playgrounds approved by health and safety officers, are the child's natural environment. That is where they should learn how to rub along with each other and with adults from outside the family; where they should learn the limits of acceptable social behaviour; where they should learn to climb and fall out of trees, to explore abandoned buildings and scrubby bits of unused land in which they can invent games and let off steam. "Even the youngest children talked about having freedom and time away from parents and adult supervision," says the Play England report

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2007

Stop Playing with the Kids

WHAT COULD BE more natural than a mother down on the rec-room floor, playing with her 3-year-old amid puzzles, finger-puppets, and Thomas the Tank Engine trains? Look -- now she's conducting a conversation between a stuffed shark and Nemo, the Pixar clown fish! Giggles all around. Not to mention that the tot is learning the joys of stories and narrative, setting him on a triumphal path toward school.

A "natural" scene? Actually, parent-child play of this sort has been virtually unheard of throughout human history, according to the anthropologist David Lancy. And three-fourths of the world's current population would still find that mother's behavior kind of dotty.
--
"Adults think it is silly to play with children" in most cultures, says Lancy, who teaches at Utah State University. Play is a cultural universal, he concedes, "but adults aren't part of the picture." Yet middle-class and upper-middle-class Americans -- abetted, he says, by psychologists -- are increasingly proclaiming the parents-on-all-fours style the One True Way to raise a smart, well-adjusted child.

A contentious debate has bloomed. 

Leave those kids alone

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:11 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2007

"Give it to her"

If I were someone with a history of post-partum depression and I were pregnant again,  I would definitely be interested in this.

Ingesting the placenta

Debi French was dreading the birth of her fourth child. She wanted the baby, to be sure, but she was terrified of being visited again with the overwhelming despair that came over her in the days and weeks after her last delivery.

French's midwife offered her an unusual remedy: She suggested the expectant mother ingest her own placenta as a means of allaying postpartum depression. The temporary organ was saved, dried and emulsified, then placed in gelatin capsules and taken by the mother in the months after the birth in December 2004.
---

The practice, known as placentophagy, is far from widespread and is received with great skepticism by more traditional medical experts. But among a small but vocal contingent of expectant mothers and proponents, it is strongly believed that the organ created by the woman's body to pass nutrients between mother and fetus and is expelled after birth is rich in chemicals that can help mitigate fluctuations in hormones believed to cause postpartum depression.

Seems as most mammals do precisely that, but it's tough  to get control of the placenta in some hospitals where, because it contains blood,  it's classified as hazardous medical waste.  But not for long I bet since Ann Swenson went to court .

"
We didn't even have to have a trial — the judge said, 'Give it to her' — so it was shocking to everybody, actually,"
--
The hospital has been storing the placenta in a freezer; Swanson says it's probably too late for it to be of any medicinal use to her. "Recovering from a C-section was a lot more traumatic, and I was definitely a bit emotional, so my husband will attest I definitely could have used my placenta," she says.

I expect the hospitals will find a way to charge mothers much as they do with umbilical blood banks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

July 9, 2007

Home Itself

Having so recently lost my mother,  Geography Incarnate is especially telling.

To be a Mother is to be the sacrament--the effective symbol--of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by a long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the extended sense that she remains our center of gravity throughout the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered, and have our wounds bound up and our noses wiped. She is geography incarnate.

....The mother is the geographical center of her family, the body out of whom their diversity springs, the neighborhood in which that diversity begins ever so awkwardly to dance its way back to the true Body which is the Mother of us all. Her role then is precisely to be there for them. Not necessarily over there, but
there--thereness itself, if you will; not necessarily in her place but place itself to them; not necessarily at home but home itself.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

May 31, 2007

When Boys are Forced to Wear Dresses

Sweden has long been ahead of other countries in exploring new ways to insure diversity, support multiculturalism and gender equality with such vigor that British historian called them The New Totalitarians.

So maybe it's not surprising that young boys in pre-school and kindergarten are sometimes forced to wear dresses and use girls' names.

The noted Swedish blogger Fjordman reports a story by Swedish journalist Todd Lundgren who inveighs against recommendations by the Swedish Teachers' Union for pre-school teachers to promote gender and sexual equality among the very very young.

“A three-year-old doesn’t have to learn queer theory, a four-year-old shouldn’t have to be force-fed lectures on gay sex by some sex freak from the Teachers’ Union. Children are supposed to play and discover their roles entirely on their own. Children are defenseless and shouldn’t be exposed to indoctrination, neither regarding sex nor politics.

When Lundgren received a email threatening to report him to the police for what he had written, Lundgren replied

“To give sex education to preschool children, to force them to have an opinion on gay sex and queer (lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuality, fetishism, cross over, sex change etc.) I regard as abuse of children. (…) Little children, we are talking about three to six-year-olds here, cannot in the preschool protect themselves from these sexual assaults. Their parents are not there, the children are totally left to themselves.

One commenter said
“My 13-year-old son had ‘equality day’ [in school] and had to listen to a transvestite. I have myself never encountered or talked to one during my considerably longer life. Why is this important? Today’s children know nothing about the crimes of Communism, but everything about the sexual orientation of transvestites.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2007

Pro-choice or pro-diversity?

Are far are pro-choice people willing to extend choice?  How far does a woman's right to choose extend before some balk?  When a child may have Down's Syndrome?  When a child is not the sex the woman wants?  What if they discover the gene that predisposes a child to homosexuality, should a woman be allowed to abort?

Mollie at Get Religion explores when choice and diversity collide in a post that sheds new light on the abortion debate.

And many are finding that, while they support a woman’s right to have an abortion if she does not want to have a baby, they are less comfortable when abortion is used by women who don’t want to have a particular baby.

“How much choice do you really want to give?” asked Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “That’s the challenge of prenatal testing to pro-choicers.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

Most HS grads unprepared for college

Only one in four high school graduates who took a core curriculum met the benchmarks for college readiness in English, math, reading and science according to new report.    Almost 20% didn't even met one benchmark.

Sobering indeed since these students are our future. 

HT Phi Beta Cons

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 13, 2007

Flying Granny Nannies

The efforts some moms are making to help out their children and grandchildren are quite remarkable.  They are the Grandboomers profiled today in the New York Times.

“This is the first generation where we have so many older people living long enough, being healthy enough and being affluent enough to provide these services on a large scale” since women entered the workplace in large numbers, Dr. Cherlin said.

But the involvement cuts across the economic spectrum. According to the census, 19.4 percent of preschool children with working mothers were primarily entrusted to grandparents in 2002, the latest year for which there are statistics. Grandparents took charge more often than fathers (18.2 percent), day care (19 percent) or hired help (9 percent). In 1995, grandparents ranked third behind fathers and day care centers, at 15.9 percent.
--
Some grandparents find lending a hand fulfilling. Kay Govoni of Burlington, Mass., retired 10 years ago so she could take care of her grandchildren full time.

“I do think that a lot of people my age are beginning to see that, O.K., we’ve retired, and so what do you do with your life: spend it all in a selfish let’s-go-play, let’s-go to-Florida, let’s-go-out-to-dinner lifestyle?” she said. “That gets old hat very fast.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Anorexia of the Soul

Courtney Martin writes  For Girls Who Hate Their Bodies: A Spiritual Crisis in the Christian Science Monitor and worries about anorexia of the soul.

...our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks, grades, and gifts – not the amazing miracle of mere existence.

In this climate, we feel perpetually called to perfect our own "body projects" – the term used by historian Joan Jacob Brumberg. Thinness and achievement stand in for the qualities of kindness and humility. We think that our perfect bodies – not God's grace or good works – will get us into heaven. We have no deeply held sense of our own divinity, so we chase after some unattainable ideal. Perfect girls, as a result, feel they are never enough. Never disciplined enough. Never accomplished enough. Never thin enough.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 2, 2007

Praise Junkies are Harming Their Kids

Parents praise their kids too much and their children are responding with a stunning lack of confidence in their ability to tackle new challenges.    Surprisingly, it's often criticism that conveys a positive belief in a child's ability to do better.

If you want your above average child to do well, don't praise them for their intelligence, but for their effort and their persistence.

So concludes Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia. According to a survey they conducted,
85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent.
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Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
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Dweck’s research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern—they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.

The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids

Also cited in the article is Dr. Roy Baumeister, a former proponent of  self-esteem.

After reviewing those 200 studies, Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) At the time, Baumeister was quoted as saying that his findings were “the biggest disappointment of my career.”
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He will soon publish an article showing that for college students on the verge of failing in class, esteem-building praise causes their grades to sink further. Baumeister has come to believe the continued appeal of self-esteem is largely tied to parents’ pride in their children’s achievements:

It doesn't take long for kids to discount praise and to consider it as a sign that they lack ability.

Psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer’s findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well—it’s actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it’s a teacher’s criticism—not praise at all—that really conveys a positive belief in a student’s aptitude.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:54 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

Fear and Treats

As I  struggle to finish my book, I've been thinking about fear a lot lately, fear as the parent of regret. 

Apart from an awareness of danger present in the moment, fear is the most paralyzing, enfeebling and deadening emotion that robs us from engaging fully in life.    I've noticed that kids today are far more fearful than we ever were or so it seems.  Paula Spencer writes

We Protect Kids From Everything But Fear

After 14 years and four kids, I thought I'd feel comfortable as a mother. Instead, I'm increasingly aware of a prickly new sensation: that I'm some kind of renegade. Who knew that buying potato chips would become a radical act? Or that letting my daughters walk home from school alone would require administration approval? How did I, a middle-of-the-road mom, become a social deviant?
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Watching my daughter's friends ogle my pantry, I realized there's one big, legitimate fear that I haven't heard anybody mention: what's the effect of our collective paranoia on the kids? Yes, these very kids we want to be so self-sufficient, responsible, confident, happy and creative (not to mention not food-obsessed). They're growing up thinking these weirdly weenie views are healthy and normal.

Walking out my front door that day, each girl happily clutched a plastic baggie stuffed with the exotic kid snacks that my daughter had doled out in pity. I may be a rebel mom, but at least I'm not afraid of a chocolate-chip cookie.

It reminds me of nothing so much as this Chesterton quote
When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

Lawsuit against clinic that used wrong sperm

NY Judge rules Lawsuit against the clinic that used the wrong sperm can proceed.

The couple says that they have been forced to raise a child who is "not even the same race, nationality, color ... as they are," the judge said in the ruling.
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The judge quoted the couple as saying that after their daughter, Jessica, was born Oct. 19, 2004, they knew something was wrong because of her physical appearance.

They say that "while we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her; it is simply impossible to ignore," the judge's decision said.

But what are they going to say to their daughter when she is older?  That she is a "terrible mistake?"    There are a lot of lawsuits that should never be filed.  Even though they have been "wronged",  money damages will never right it, while the lawsuit itself will have incalculable damage on the child later on in life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

Umbilical Blood Banks

Are Umbilical Blood Banks "Taking Advantage" of Parents?

You could spend thousands of dollars ($1700-$2500) to collect plus the doctor's fee and your insurer won't cover the cost.  Add that to the annual fee of $175-$200 that you know will go up, and you're talking real money without understanding the limited benefits.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics said parents should only bank if they have an older child with a condition that could benefit.

Because genetic diseases are already present in umbilical cord blood, the cells cannot help children who later develop that type of disease, although they could help family members.

You might want to consider donation to public banks that store blood for treatment and research.

"You also don't know what can happen. A lot of diseases, most diseases are not genetically based," he said, citing anemia and brain injuries.

"It's like an expensive insurance policy, but right now I can't tell you what my insurance is against,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 6, 2007

What happened to her sister had happened to her.

When anorexia is diagnosed, it takes about one year to fully refeed an anorexic child at home and another year for the sisters and brothers to get back to normal behavior.

A Diagnosis for One, but an Impact Shared

For better or worse, what had happened to her sister had happened to her, and to all of us. None of us would ever be the same again.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

The Male Biological Clock

And you thought men could father babies at any age.  Seems as if the older they get, the more they face an increased risk of fathering children with abnormalities like autism and schizophrenia.

It Seems the Fertility Clock Ticks for Men Too

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

Multitasking Teenagers

Most teen-agers multitask because they can and they have  the gadgets to do so.  Yet some neuroscientists are raising red flags that those teenagers may be harming their still developing brains.

Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs?
Here's Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

"Introducing multitasking in younger kids in my opinion can be detrimental.  One of the biggest problems about multitasking is that it's almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you're multitasking. And if it becomes normal to do, you'll likely be satisfied with very surface-level investigation and knowledge."

Russell Poldrack, associate professor of psychology at UCLA, who did a study

Multitaskers "may not be building the same knowledge that they would be if they were focusing.  While multitasking makes them feel like they are being more efficient, research suggests that there's very little you can do that involves multitasking that you can be as good at when you're not multitasking."

But researchers don't know for sure.  David Meyer,  director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. 

"The belief is they're getting good at this and that they're much better than the older generation at it and that there's no cost to their efficiency."

Seems to me, teenagers should learn both multitasking and deep concentration if they really what to prepared for becoming a fully-functioning grown-ups. 

Some jobs, like air traffic controllers, may demand multi-tasking, but others, like surgeons, demand absolute focus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 19, 2007

A Miracle Baby

   Amillia Taylor's Little Feet

Those little things that look like gummy candies are the feet of Amillia Taylor who was born weighing less than 10 oz just  22 weeks after she was conceived.

She is the youngest premature baby to survive and she just went home today weighing 4 lbs.

She's truly a miracle baby with an amazing spirit.  Congratulations to her doctors and her parents from Homestead, Florida.

You go, Amillia!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

The State of Britain's Children

Even though Britain is the fourth wealthiest nation in the world, its children are the worst off in the world's 21 richest nations.

The Betrayal of a Generation is shocking and depressing.

The UNICEF report blames it on family breakdown, drink, drugs teenage sex and fear of violence.

The Government has stripped the last tax breaks from marriage while bringing in benefits like tax credits which help single parents rather than couples.

Yet Unicef linked single parent families and stepfamilies with poor education, poor health and poor quality jobs.
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Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: 'I have seen the evidence piling up for 20 years that married families are better for children than single parents or stepfamilies. It has become impossible to ignore.

'The question is how long the Government can close its eyes to the reality.'

Teenagers blame the baby boomers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2007

Giving What Normal Children Can't

I happened upon this article in the New Oxford Journal, called American Genocide. 

What struck me was after the experience of raising and living with a child with Down's Syndrome, none of the families would, even if they could, go back and correct the abnormal gene. 


Recently, attending a Down Syndrome League dinner, I asked the families at my table the following question:
"If you could go back and correct the genetic abnormality in your baby, would you do it?" Everyone said "No." They all said that they would not change their families at all. I then asked them if they would choose to have the same child, but without the genetic abnormality. They all said "No." They explained that the Down syndrome child is a unique individual and that Down syndrome defines the child as uniquely as any other genome (genetic pattern). I was amazed. Here were middle- to upper-class Americans who are accustomed to having everything they want, and they were telling me that what the world may call abnormal they call normal. But more than this, they told me that their child was an untold blessing to their families, bringing to it what their "normal" children could not provide. Moreover, the overwhelming number of people with Down syndrome will tell you that their life is good and that they experience happiness.
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In the U.S. today 85 to 90 percent of Down syndrome babies are selectively put to death. They are selectively aborted by their own mothers, usually on the advice of their physician.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 29, 2007

"Cruel and good fate brought us together"

When Kevin Cohen, 20, was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in 2002, he was single, although he dreamed of a family some day.

His parents sued to gain access to his sperm, a sample of which had been taken 2 hours after his death, because they wanted to continue their bloodline into the future.  They wanted a grandchild even if the hospital said only a spouse could have access to the dead man's sperm.

Four years later, an Israeli court ruled that his family can have his sperm impregnated into the body of a woman he never met.

Family Gets OK to Use Dead Man's Sperm.

... soldiers increasingly have been leaving sperm samples, or explicit instructions on post-mortem extraction, before heading to battle.
She said she knew of more than 100 cases of Israeli soldiers who, before last summer's war with Lebanese guerillas, asked to have their sperm saved if they were killed. American soldiers have also begun donating sperm before heading to Iraq, she said.

"I think it is a human revolution," Rosenblum said. "Ten years ago, who would believe that a human being can continue after he has died. I think it is great for humanity."

Rosenblum said the woman who is to act as surrogate mother has requested to remain anonymous.

"She's like family to us," Rachel Cohen told the Tribune. "Cruel and good fate brought us together."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 19, 2007

Torn from Grandchildren

When grandparents can't see their grandchildren because of family disputes, it's always sad, and especially so when the grandchildren are the only connection the grandparents have to their child, killed in the 9/11 attacks.

“Sometimes, the spouse is remarried and just doesn’t have time for Grandma and Grandpa anymore,”
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One 9/11 family advocate said he had encountered more than 100 conflicts in which aging parents of a World Trade Center victim, desperate to remain connected to the children of their lost offspring, had found themselves in bitter struggles with a surviving spouse who would rather they did not. A mediator who helped negotiate settlements among 9/11 families in the early years after the attacks said 1 in 10 of his cases involved estranged grandparents.

Torn from Grandchildren

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 16, 2007

Crowded Womb

 Twins In The Womb

They are called 4D scans, a more developed form of ultrasound, that produces a "real-time" video of tins in the womb as they move. 
There's even one of twins that appear to be kissing.

Crowded Womb

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Recovered Grandchildren of the Disappeared

In Argentina, what happened to the children of the 'disappeared' who were never returned to their next of kin? 

Claudia Carlotto, coordinator of the National Commission for Right to Identity said,

"It is an open wound, an unfinished search, an unrepaired damage,"

Argentina's 'recovered grandchildren' seeking truth.

For three decades, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, formed by mothers of the disappeared, have struggled to find their surviving grandchildren. They have scoured birth records, filed lawsuits, and established a DNA bank with samples from thousands of relatives. Thanks to their efforts, dozens of children were reunited with their families, but hundreds more, now adults, remained undiscovered.

"We have long said there will come a day when our grandchildren will search for us, and that day has finally come," said Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit, 87, vice president of the Grandmothers group.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The "Fitness" Cost of Reproduction

What is was like in the 19th century.

Children, Parents Drive Each Other to Early Graves.

A pair of researchers, drawing on the experience of nearly 22,000 couples in the 19th century -- has measured the "fitness cost" of human reproduction. This is the price that parents pay in their own health and longevity for the privilege of having their genes live on in future generations. The findings, published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, manage to be both predictable and surprising.

Not surprisingly, women paid a bigger price than men. Older mothers were four times as likely to die in the year after having a child than their mates. Having lots of children was especially risky. A mother of 12 had five times the risk of dying prematurely as a mother of three. Even after their child-bearing years came to an end, women who had had many children died earlier than women who had had few.

The price of parenthood wasn't trivial for men, either. Despite the obvious fact that men avoided the hazards of childbirth, fathering more children meant more risk of dying before their time, too.

And it wasn't only parents who paid the "fitness cost" of reproduction.

The later-born children in very large families had less chance than their older brothers and sisters of surviving into adulthood and having children themselves. Losing a mother raised every child's risk of dying young.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 4, 2007

Rescued Embryos from Katrina

In the chaotic aftermath of Katrina,  3 state troopers and 7 Illinois conservation officers, using flat-bottomed boats, rescued nitrogen tanks filled with 1400 embryos from a sweltering hospital.

On January 16th, Rebekah  Markham will give birth to one of them, nine months after being implanted with one of the rescued embryos.

UPDATE: It's a boy!  Noah Benton Markham.
Named after the most famous flood survivor of all

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 1, 2007

Single and stupid

Emily Yoffe, an advice columnist, found that the advice she gave to a  pregnant woman to marry her boyfriend and think about the new baby rather than what her parents would think and her advice to stable, happy couples to have children provoked the most mail, mainly con, then she got all year.

readers let me know that my notion that a young woman in a committed relationship should marry the father of her child-to-be is as passé as serving aspic at the wedding—if there were a wedding.
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One said - Marriage and motherhood are two of the biggest steps a woman will ever take, and to take one just because you're taking the other is ludicrous."

With nearly 40% of children being born to unwed mothers, it's  the "unmarriage revolution", one with disastrous consequences.

Who are these women listening to?

When will these women wise up and think about their own futures and the futures of their children that will be handicapped in just about every respect by having only one parent.

Miss Kelly has a fine summary post on Kids, Marriage, Mothers and Fathers, Wealth and Poverty.

UPDATE:  T.J.  knows all about the DNA syndrome - DNA -Daddy Not Around

"Most of the kids I deal with today, they say, 'My mama be tripping' or 'My daddy, I don't know where that sucker's at.' They're angry. They're raising themselves. ... No wonder we've got 14-year-old kids having kids. That 14-year-old girl is on her own and she's easy prey for men. That 14-year-old boy has a friend who's 21 and you wonder why you've got a Glock in your house.

"I know. That 14-year-old boy was me. That man preying on the girls was me. We've got to raise our children. They can't raise themselves, and that's where the problem is. A lot of men, especially black guys, we say we're not with our baby's mama because of what that woman did to us ... .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 19, 2006

More Genetic Bewilderment

Katrina Clark's story, My Father Was An Anonymous Sperm Donor, broke my heart.

...a whole other part of me was a mystery.  That part came from my father. The only thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never seen a picture of him. I didn't know his name. My mother never talked about him -- because she didn't have a clue who he was.
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I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place.

Never did think of the children mean so much.   

When did adults' rights to have children trump the needs of the children?

We have jumped into this brave new world with little thought of the consequences.  Now, we are seeing the results.  Some women are buying sperm online and exploring made-to-order embryos.   

The donors aren't off the hook like they once thought.  Some are facing  compulsory child support for the donor,    Buffalogirl who blogs at Whosedaughter? reminds us that one person's DNA is another person's 'dad'.    Donor-conceived children demand the right to search for their biological fathers much as adopted children do.

What is sure is that such children will be genetically bewildered with a "life debt" leaving them feeling confused, alienated and 'experimental' with little understanding of what a real family is.

This is the future being created before our eyes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

December 12, 2006

Troubled Children

At least six million American children have serious mental disorders, according to government surveys, a number that has tripled since the early 1990s writes Zach Lynch in Brain Waves who has many links to articles describing some  the difficulties families have in sorting through conflicting advice and diagnoses.

Such a tragedy for both the children and the parents. 

I wonder how much is exacerbated by the frenetic pace of the modern world, the pressure to compete and succeed, fragmented families and an increasingly depraved mass culture. 

It's hard for anyone to find a foothold, a sure place on which to grow.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 7, 2006

Adults rights to children vs. children's needs

Miss Kelley has a fine discussion on Kids, Marriage, Mothers and Fathers, Wealth and Poverty wherein she quotes

First, Claudia Anderson writes at The Weekly Standard about a report produced by the Commission on Parenthood's Future, an independent, nonpartisan group of scholars and leaders.  From the report:

“The two-person mother-father model of parenthood is being changed to meet adults’ rights to children rather than children’s needs to know and be raised, whenever possible, by their mother and father,” according to the report, The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children’s Needs."

then Kal Hymowitz who has written that the marriage gap is increasingly responsible for the growing divide between economic classes.

When the mass consumer culture is so sexualized  and the chastity of young women not only devalued but derided, it's only a few wrong steps and they're trapped in the culture of poverty where having children without a husband is a rite of passage.

Last quote from Miss Kelley - 

The Brookings Institute has determined that if people 1) graduate from high school, 2) get married, 3) don't have kids until after they're married, and 4) have small families, they're virtually guaranteed to avoid poverty.  I don't know how we shift ourselves back to committing to marriage and bringing back a social stigma to single parenting, but we need to swing that pendulum back. 

A young blogger, donor-conceived, writes about the psychological and emotional anguish young adults like her experience as they try to craft their adult identities.  Whosedaughter? does not look kindly on adults who try to re-engineer the family.  In this post she quotes a Canadian ethicist Margaret Somerville

Evidence is starting to come in: “Donor conceived adults” describe powerful feelings of loss of identity through not knowing one or both biological parents and their wider biological families, and describe themselves as “genetic orphans”. They believe society was complicit in a serious wrong done to them in the way they were conceived and ask, “How could anyone think they had the right to do this to me?”

We now need to recognise in law what, traditionally, we have simply assumed: that children’s fundamental human rights include knowing who their biological parents are and if at all possible being reared by them, and being conceived with a natural biological heritage – untampered with biological origins – in particular, a right to be conceived from an untampered-with-sperm from one, living, adult, identified man and an untampered-with-ovum from one, living, adult, identified woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 28, 2006

Doctor ordered to pay for unwanted baby

In Germany, a doctor has been ordered to pay monthly child support of 600 euros because he prescribed a contraceptive device that failed.

Doctor to pay for unwanted baby.

And we thought American courts were bad.  Thank goodness, some Germans find this nuts.

The decision in Karlsruhe, made on Tuesday, has met with disapproval in the German press.

The conservative Die Welt said the whole idea of damages being paid for the birth of a child was "perverse": "In addition to the highly private inkling that he was not wanted by his parents, he now has official confirmation that he was born by mistake," it said.

via Medpundit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

Blanket

When I read that Michael Jackson named his three children, Paris  Prince, and Blanket,  I wondered what sort of father  would name his child "Blanket", forgetting that this was Michael Jackson after all, but then I didn't know about name abuse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Anti-adulthood

Madeline Bunting writes a provocative column on "anti-adulthood", the latest and pernicious way of marketing to children.

She argued that marketing to children has boomed over the past decade, and its content has been characterised by anti-adultism. Cool is of the ultimate symbolic importance, and what is cool is usually anti-adult, oppositional, rebellious. Adults are never cool - they are boring, often absurd, sometimes stupid - and when they try to be cool they are pathetic. Even popular cartoons such as Rugrats are aping the format. The universe conjured up is one of "kids rule", in which children are "empowered into an adult-free space".
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Why listen to your parents when they are so uncool? Meanwhile, for the child the evidence of failing, frustrated parents gives the cruel edge of experience to those lighthearted comedy sketches of incompetent adults.

Even more worrying, the experience instils in children a powerful uncertainty about whether adulthood is a desirable state to achieve at all.
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the much more important question is the state of adulthood. Why are parents of this generation so uncomfortable about projecting the kind of authoritative certainty of adulthood with which many of us grew up, and against which we framed our own sense of identity?
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We need to be able to answer the question of what is successful adulthood

HT Normblog.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

Peace on the Road for Working Moms

If you wonder how working Moms get it all done, some of them have a secret they don't talk about.

Working Mothers Find Some Peace on the Road.

Hers is the guilty pleasure of the traveling working mom. After slogging through airports, sitting through PowerPoints and networking through lunches, there is, at the end of the day, a small taste of freedom. And as hard as it can be to balance the demands of business trips and family life, for the relatively small group of employed mothers who travel, it can be delicious.

No chores to tackle. No homework to oversee. No bedtimes to bird-dog. For many working mothers, business trips become mini-vacations. The simple pleasure of unbroken sleep and an uninterrupted meal can feel like an indulgent getaway for these women burdened at both ends.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Young disabled girl 'kept small'

The ethical dilemmas in caring for children with profound developmental disabilities in this brave new world are new and unparalleled.    I've never heard of such treatment, yet, it makes sense.

Young disabled girl 'kept small'.


In a report published in a medical journal this month, the doctors described a six-year-old girl with profound, irreversible developmental disability who was given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth so that her parents could continue to care for her at home.

The controversial growth-attenuation treatment, which included hysterectomy, was requested by the child's parents and initiated after careful consultation and review by an ethics committee.
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For children with severe combined neurologic and cognitive impairment who are unable to move without assistance, all the necessities of life – dressing, bathing, transporting – must be provided by caregivers, usually parents, and these tasks become increasing difficult, if not impossible, as the child increases in size.

"Achieving permanent growth attenuation while the child is still young and of manageable size would remove one of the major obstacles to family care and might extend the time that parents with the ability, resources, and inclination to care for their child at home might be able to do so," the doctors wrote.

The parents of the six-year-old, both of whom were university-educated professionals, indicated a strong desire to continue caring for their daughter.

Despite having the neurologic development no greater than that of an infant, the six-year-old responded to her parents and two healthy siblings – vocalising and smiling in response to care and affection – and "clearly is an integral, and much loved, member of the family," the authors said.

After extensive evaluation, the combined opinion of a team of specialists was that the child would have no significant neurologic or cognitive improvements.

The onset of puberty and continued growth caused concern in the parents about how they would care for their daughter long-term, which they clearly wanted to do.

They were concerned about having to turn over care to "strangers" and also about the complications that would arise when the child started menstruating.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

Mobile phones and infertility

Hey, you guys, if you want to be a father, get off the phone.

Men who use mobile phones face increased risk of infertility.

A new study shows a worrying link between poor sperm and the number of hours a day that a man uses his mobile phone.

Those who made calls on a mobile phone for more than four hours a day had the worst sperm counts and the poorest quality sperm, according to results released yest at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans.

Doctors believe the damage could be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets or the heat they generate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:10 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 19, 2006

Puberty in Pre-Schoolers

Be very careful about any products you use that contain hormones because you might be the cause of pre-school puberty in your children.

Like the father who used a testosterone skin cream that was determined to be the cause of the onset of puberty to his two pre-school children who developed pubic hair and enlarged genitals.

Don't let your boys use shampoos containing lavender or tea tree oils because their breasts might enlarge.

Preschool Puberty and a Search for the Causes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 AM | Permalink

October 18, 2006

Television and Autism

Could TV be the cause of the increasing rates of autism? 

Gregg Easterbrook discusses the findings from a recent Cornell study on Slate in TV Really Might Cause Autism.   

Last month, I speculated in Slate that the mounting incidence of childhood autism may be related to increased television viewing among the very young. The autism rise began around 1980, about the same time cable television and VCRs became common, allowing children to watch television aimed at them any time. Since the brain is organizing during the first years of life and since human beings evolved responding to three-dimensional stimuli, I wondered if exposing toddlers to lots of colorful two-dimensional stimulation could be harmful to brain development. This was sheer speculation, since I knew of no researchers pursuing the question.


Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
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Everyone complains about television in a general way. But if it turns out television has specific harmful medical effects—in addition to these new findings about autism, some studies have linked television viewing by children younger than 3 to the onset of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—parents may urgently need to know to keep toddlers away from the TV.
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If screen images cause harm to brain development in the young, the proliferation of these TV-like devices may bode ill for the future. The aggressive marketing of Teletubbies, Baby Einstein videos, and similar products intended to encourage television watching by toddlers may turn out to have been a nightmarish mistake.


If I were the parent of a baby, I'd be very concerned.  The relationship between television viewing and autism and ADD seems quite strong.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

October 9, 2006

More Play

From the American Academy of Pediatrics, what children really need for healthy development is more old-fashioned playtime.

Let Kids be kids

Numerous studies have shown that unstructured play has many benefits. It can help children become creative, discover their own passions, develop problem-solving skills and relate to others, the academy report says.

"Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood," says the report, prepared by two academy committees for release today at the group's annual meeting in Atlanta.

A lack of spontaneous playtime can create stress for children and parents alike.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:05 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2006

It's the Mother, not the Breast Milk

You've heard it said that breastfeeding babies makes them smarter.  It's not the milk but the mothers that make them smarter.

In and of itself, breast milk does not boost IQ.

Researchers found breastfeeding mothers tended to be more intelligent, more highly educated, and likely to provide a more stimulating home environment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 22, 2006

"Give Birth to a Patriot"

What do you do when your nation is in the midst of demographic collapse ?

Via Tinkertytonk's Go Forth and Multiply, I learned

One Russian provincial governor gives workers the afternoon off  to go home and make a baby.

If you're lucky and your baby is born on June 12, Russia's Independence Day, you've given birth to a patriot and all sorts of prizes await.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 13, 2006

The Death of Childhood

In London, a group of renowned psychologists, academics, teachers and authors say that action is needed now in order to prevent the death of childhood.

Junk food, TV and the Internet are poisoning childhood
The 110-strong lobby group wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph asking that the Government intervene before children suffer irretrievable psychological and physical damage.

They say politicians have failed to appreciate how damaging the modern world has become to children's development.
They wrote: "We are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children's behavioural and developmental conditions
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Studies found that cognitive skills in 11-year-olds were two to three years behind the average levels of 15 years ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2006

"Life Debt" of Donor Conceived Children

Some women who want a child resort to sperm from anonymous donors with little thought as to how the lives of their children will be effected.

What seemed to be an easy answer for the mother has created a complex "life debt" for the children, burdening them in unexpected ways as they struggle to make sense of their genetic heritage. 

Buffalo Girl, herself donor-conceived, gives voice to the complex personal narratives of such children.

How would you feel having 45+ unknown half-siblings.

the more dispersed your genetic kin the more extraordinary the numbers of them, the more confused, overwhelmed, alienated and experimental your life feels.

Donor as Genetic Parent
From Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry
I am afraid that a child brought up being told that their donor did nothing more than donate a "cell" may not fee fully able to express their own true thoughts, curiosities and feelings on the matter.
We have also heard story after story of donor conceived kids and adults connecting with their donor relatives, either half siblings or donors, and it being a profound and meaningful experience. These people are definitely acknowledging avery important genetic bond. Please parents, allow your kids to decide for themselves. Please do not set it up that somehow they will think they are hurting or betraying you to be curious about or value this genetic piece of themselves.

Living with the Pain of Not Knowing.
Katrina: "I don't have a dad and I never will."
Steve Chenevy: "Prices daughter, Katrina is now 17."
Katrina: "..and there is a lot of anger involved….I don't support anonymous donations for several reasons. First and foremost is the mental health of the offspring." "I don't understand the concept of a dad ....

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 27, 2006

Dads and the sorrows of an empty nest

`Everybody said, `enjoy every minute of it, it goes by really quick,' " he says of raising a family. ``Now all of a sudden, we have no one in the house. You have melancholy feelings about it, no question. Time does not stand still."

Dads who did the home work now face the sorrows of an empty nest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2006

Fleeing from Rwanda, "I never gave up hope"

When the Hutu militias came to his front door in Kigali, Rwanda, Damascene held them off so his pregnant wife could escape out the back door with his young three-year old son Derrick.

As Jeanne fled she saw her husband being beaten and she didn't know if he had been killed.  All she could do was save the children.
Two weeks later, she was in Brussels and a week after that she gave birth.

Damascene lost all 11 brothers and sisters, his parents and 140 others from his extended family.  He thought he lost his wife too.

Damascene fled through Africa to Indonesia, than to East Timor, then to Darwin, Australia where he told immigration officials his passport was forged.  They locked him up; he was safe. 

He reached Darwin in 2001, was released from Villawood as a temporary resident in 2002 and granted permanent Australian residency last year. He had not given up hope and sought Red Cross help to find his family.

They finally found her in Brussels. He flew to her in February. "Thank God, you're safe," he said. And: "Why didn't you find someone else?"

"Because I never gave up hope. And I could see you in your son's face." He replied: "Thank you. Thank God."

Once were lost, but family finally found.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

When Mutilation Saves

When Cutting Isn't Cruel

Our mutilation of girls may be killing them. Our mutilation of boys may be saving their lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Twin girls meet for first time

Two girls, fraternal twins, were separated, then abandoned a week apart on the same spot on a sidewalk in China.

The Funk family in Illinois adopted one and named her Mia; a year later,  the Ramirez family in Florida adopted the other and named her Mia.

Thanks to a website and DNA tests,  the two adopted girls, twins, met for the first time. 

  Chinese  Girl Twins

Separated at birth, united by chance
The girls, whose parents had dressed them identically in Chinese-themed outfits, shyly surveyed each other. Urged a little closer, they finally reached for each other's hand.

"I'm just awed," Holly Funk said as she looked at the tiny girls, a little island in the flow of travelers crowding the luggage claim area. "Grateful to God. To me, it's a divine thing. It's a miracle. In the sea of humanity, these kids found each other."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

She's Her Own Twin

They thought she was lying about giving birth to her three children because the DNA didn't match.  Then, they found she's her own twin.


"In her blood, she was one person, but in other tissues, she had evidence of being a fusion of two individuals," Uhl said.

It's a rare condition called chimerism, with only 30 documented cases worldwide. In Greek mythology, "chimera" means a monster: part goat, part lion, part snake.

In human biology, a chimera is an organism with at least two genetically distinct types of cells -- or, in other words, someone meant to be a twin. But while in the mother's womb, two fertilized eggs fuse, becoming one fetus that carries two distinct genetic codes -- two separate strands of DNA.

The twin is invisible, but for chimeras the twin lives microscopically inside the body as DNA.

When Uhl told Keegan she was her own twin, Keegan said she was shocked. "You wouldn't imagine that that could even be possible."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

Everyone loses

Two lesbians married in Vermont in 200 and had a child by artificial insemination.  Let's call them Anna and Susan.

Anna, the biological mother, renounced her homosexuality and taking the child with her, moved to Virginia where she won custody in the Virginia courts.

Susan brought suit in Vermont where the family court gave Susan custody and the Vermont State Supreme Court ruled that Vermont has exclusive jurisdiction.

So who's most closely following the twists and turns of this jurisdictional battle?  Fathers, who after divorce, lost custody battles against "moveaway" petitions filed by their ex-wives.

Kids, dads have much to lose

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Child-Free Society

Even if you have children, most of your adult life will be spent without them.

Life Without Children

"Demographically, socially and culturally, the nation is shifting from a society of childrearing families to a society of child-free adults. The percentage of households with children has declined from half of all households in 1960 to less than one-third today, the lowest percentage in the nation's history," according to a study by the National Marriage Project (NMP) at Rutgers University.
 
This change in America has gone virtually unnoticed and undocumented. Thirty-six years ago, 62 percent of an adult's life was spent with a spouse and children, the highest in history. By 1985, that dropped to 43 percent, the lowest in history.
   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Poor baby, UPDATED

It's hard to imagine but a husband and wife arrested in the British terror raids planned to take their six month old baby with them on their suicide mission to bomb planes in mid air.    Their baby's bottle would have hidden the liquid bomb.

Just in case you wondered how far the anti-life ideology of the islamo terrorists would go. 

Bottle and baby used as bomb

With his parents in jail, I  hope that the poor baby will be placed in a good foster home with a chance at a normal life

UPDATE:  Dr. Sanity says we have moved into a time beyond wisdom and points to a discussion she calls heart-breaking and she's right  at Blackfive, On the virtues of killing children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Just who's in your family tree?

You'd be surprised at some of your ancestors.

Star is Descended from Kings.  Of Course, Most People Are
Even without a documented connection to a notable forebear, experts say, the odds are virtually 100 percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal personage or another.
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Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 11, 2006

Video joys

Two good, short videos from around the Web for a Friday afternoon

9 months of gestation in 20 seconds at Google Video

Together Can  Dick and Rick Hoyt, a remarkable father-son team  runs marathons and triatholons.  Son Rick's  cerebral palsy made him a mute quadriplegic still he joined forces with his dad.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:23 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 8, 2006

Beautiful Baby Women

I wondered why there were so many girls in my family.

Beautiful people tend to have girls say scientists
or as my feminist friends say, baby women.

According to research, attractive parents are 26% more likely to have a daughter than a son as their first child. It is an inexorable process that has resulted in women becoming increasingly more attractive than men.

This is because of differing “evolutionary strategies” that each sex has adopted to survive, claim researchers at the London School of Economics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink

No Marijuana for Would-be Mommas

If you want to get pregnant, lay off the funny stuff.

Marijuana May Sabotage Pregnancy.

 Mona Lisa Marijuana

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 7, 2006

Made to Order Embryos

You now can buy fresh embryos to fit your requirements, say blond hair, blue eyes, PHd material, at the Abraham Center for Life in San Antonio.  Ethical row ensues

The world's first human embryo bank has been launched offering 'bespoke babies' for infertile couples.

For around £5,000 couples can buy ready-made embryos matched to their specific requirements - even down to choosing what eye and hair colour they would like their child to have.

In each case the embryos are made from eggs and sperm from two donors who have never even met. The moment of conception occurs in the laboratory and is determined by the genetic combination the clinic thinks will best meet the needs of the paying couples on its books.
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The Center Director, Jennalee Ryan is quoted

But what I say to them is Jesus was not conceived in the normal way either. I don't lose any sleep over what we are doing. I feel what we are doing is positive.

"We are helping couples and putting good genes back into the universe."

But Josephine Quintavalle of the UK campaigning group Comment on Reproductive Ethics said it amounted to the "absolute commercialisation of human life."

She said: "It is heartbreaking to see children reduced in this way to the equivalent of a special offer supermarket commodity. Cut price, tailor-made human embryos, complete with door to door delivery."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 4, 2006

Big Mother

The case against parental surveillance devices.  Big Mother is Watching

Now, the obvious danger of such devices is that they raise paranoid parenting to an even more extreme level, thereby further depriving children of the chance to test their capacity for independence.
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The more subtle, but equally important, objection to spyware is that it isn't good for parents either. By making snooping relatively impersonal, these technologies prompt mothers and fathers to bypass important moral questions about their relationship with their children. If it's all right to scrutinize your daughter's text messages, then it should be OK to read her diary. If it's all right to electronically monitor her driving, then it should be equally kosher to get in to your own car and follow her. Yet there are good reasons most sane adults would balk at these low-tech invasions of their children's privacy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 30, 2006

A Nation of Wimps

Psychology Today.

No one doubts that there are significant economic forces pushing parents to invest so heavily in their children's outcome from an early age. But taking all the discomfort, disappointment and even the play out of development, especially while increasing pressure for success, turns out to be misguided by just about 180 degrees. With few challenges all their own, kids are unable to forge their creative adaptations to the normal vicissitudes of life. That not only makes them risk-averse, it makes them psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety. In the process they're robbed of identity, meaning and a sense of accomplishment, to say nothing of a shot at real happiness. Forget, too, about perseverance, not simply a moral virtue but a necessary life skill. These turn out to be the spreading psychic fault lines of 21st-century youth. Whether we want to or not, we're on our way to creating a nation of wimps
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A small percentage of children seem almost invulnerable to anxiety from the start. But the overwhelming majority of kids are somewhere in between. For them, overparenting can program the nervous system to create lifelong vulnerability to anxiety and depression.

There is in these studies a lesson for all parents. Those who allow their kids to find a way to deal with life's day-to-day stresses by themselves are helping them develop resilience and coping strategies.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Are We There Yet?

A professor of mathematics in the U.K. has worked out an equation to calculate how long into a car journey it takes a child to ask: "Are we nearly there yet?"

I'll let the Scotsman deliver the equation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Parents Shape the Romantic Lives of Their Kids.

How parents interact with their kids has a great deal of influence of the quality of their children's future romantic lives, even more than their peers!

Reports Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal


Having divorced parents has been linked in research by Paul Amato, a Pennsylvania State University sociology professor, and others to a 50% to 100% higher probability of divorce among children. Now, plying observational techniques previously used only to study adult marriages, scientists have been able to tease out the mechanisms by which specific parental behaviors affect kids. These studies suggest it is how parents relate to their children that has the most direct impact, regardless of the marital bliss -- or lack of it -- in the parents' marriages.

The large influence of the parent-child interactions on a child's romantic relationships "surprises people constantly," says W. Andrew Collins, a professor in the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development, and lead researcher on a 30-year study of the subject. Although peers and other factors play a role, "where the rubber really meets the road" in shaping future relationships "is t
he way the parent treats the child and relates with the child. That's the laboratory in which the child learns how to relate lovingly with other people."

Among the most influential factors: whether parents teach kids to resolve conflicts well; whether they're warm and nurturing; whether they show interest in teens' activities and set good limits and appropriate parent-child role boundaries; and whether they avoid fostering feelings of rejection in their kids.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Money stories

The best way to teach your children about money is to tell family stories that illustrate the money lessons you think are most important.

Jonathan Clements in the Wall St Journal says telling stories really worked in his family.  Every one of his siblings is incredibly careful about money because they heard the stories of the maternal grandfather who inherited millions of dollars and how he spent it all, spending his last days working as a part-time gardener to pay the bills.

We all have parents or grandparents who lived through the Depression and they can tell us a few stories and they probably have.

Clements has some pointers.

Choose your stories carefully and embellish them a bit.
Set a good example
Frequent short stories beat long discussions

The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money (subscribers only)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 8, 2006

Parental cyber snooping

How do you feel about using technology to spy on your children?

Parents turn to tech toys to track teens.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Rising Whole

Are we moving towards a higher view of motherhood, one that embraces a variety of ways of being a mother? Can we go from Me to We?

Motherpie rises above the either-or debate of motherhood in Whole Mothers.

Can those on either side of the "Mommy wars" rise with her or will they continue to throw insults and taunt those who make different choices?

I'll listen to just about anyone but... Me, I have big difficulties with Linda Hirshman who lays all the faults of society to women who didn't stick it out at work once they had children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 7, 2006

Damien

This is for real.

Suzanne Cooper, 36, was induced for 6 days before giving birth to a baby boy at 6 am on 6/06/06 weighing 6 lbs, 6 oz.

So she names the poor baby Damien, after the child in the movie The Omen, the remake of which debuted on the same day.

But wasn't Damien the anti-Christ?

There is Father Damien of course, a Catholic missionary who cared for the lepers on a remote Hawaiian island and who also died of leprosy and who is awaiting elevation to sainthood.

Still, it seems an awful lot of baggage for the poor kid.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

A Nation of Wimps?

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, now represented by a sole blogger, reprints "A Nation of Wimps" from Psychology Today that should be required reading for all parents.

Summary: Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're breaking down in record numbers.

It's great reading, take for example, the corruption of playtime, the cell phone as the eternal umbilicus, parental hovering causing acute anxiety, the endless adolescence all making kids risk-averse, psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2006

Words Can Wound

There's enormous power in words.

It's no surprise that verbally abusing a child -belittling, shaming or threatening - can contribute to depression and anxiety that can plague the adult for years.

Now, a study of more than 5600 people, aged 15-54, offers evidence.

"Those who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder in their lifetime," study author Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, an FSU professor, said in a prepared statement.

Words as Powerful at Sticks and Stones.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2006

The Unlimited Capacity of a Mom's Heart

From Gifts of Motherhood in the Washington Post.

Before Michele Booth Cole walked her two daughters inside the Toys R Us that December morning two years ago, she made herself clear. They were there to buy a Christmas gift for a little girl at Mommy's job whose own mommy and daddy couldn't afford to get one, she explained to 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Madison.

"You will get gifts later on, but we're not getting anything for you. Do you understand?" The girls nodded. "Are you going to be okay?" They nodded again. "And we're not going to ask for anything," Cole stressed. More vigorous nodding.

They combed the colorful aisles of the huge Langley Park store, and the girls couldn't resist pointing to all the toys they liked but were careful not to ask for. They found the Bratz doll from the other little girl's wish list and stood in line. They looked at the games and dolls and dressy feather boas one more time. Hard to leave it all behind, but they did without a fuss, Cole recalls.

It was a small moment to reflect on sharing and selflessness, she says.
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Part of good mothering "is to teach your children about the entire society, not just your own microcosm neighborhood of 10 square blocks,"
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"Your heart doesn't have this limited, finite capacity," Cole says. "It has unlimited capacity, and you find out the more you share, the more you are able to do."

Now that's a good Mom.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2006

Helicopter Parents

Newsweek calls it The Fine Art of Letting Go. Can Boomers do it?
Let their children live their own lives?

Most boomers don't want to be "helicopter parents," hovering so long that their offspring never get a chance to grow up

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Alarmed by these intrusions into what should be a period of increasing independence, colleges around the country have set up parent-liaison offices to limit angry phone calls to professors and deans. Parent orientations, usually held alongside the student sessions, teach how to step aside.
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Letting go is the final frontier for boomer parents, who've made child rearing a major focus of their adult lives.
--

Try the quiz to see if you're a helicopter parent.

You're probably not if you remember the goal is not to raise a child, but to raise an adult

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:06 PM | Permalink

Is Having Children Worth It?

Glenn Reynolds says the fun has gone out of parenting even as the costs of raising a middle class child till age 18 is now $200,000 and that doesn't include the costs of college!

The Parent Trap

Parenting was always hard work, of course. But aside from the economic payoffs, parents used to get a lot of social benefits, too. But in recent decades, a collection of parenting "experts" and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what's amazing isn't that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:10 PM | Permalink

May 16, 2006

Mr. Rogers, Ecstatic Ascetic

The Real Live Preacher thought he was over Mr. Rogers

Damn. She caught me, so I went ahead and put my hand under my glasses and wiped away the tears. I don’t like people seeing me cry. When I thought I was under control, I talked about Mr. Rogers some more.

I told her how speaking into the camera was his idea. He wanted to talk to children. I said that there were probably a lot of people out there who grew up pretending that Mr. Rogers was their dad. Some kids don’t have any grownups in their lives who will talk to them like that. I told her about the Emmy he won and how the audience grew quiet when he stepped to the microphone

I wonder how many people pretended Mr. Rogers was their dad, how many boys and girls learned important lessons, about being genuine and kind, from him. Always gentle, always courteous, always a role model.

I came across this absolutely wonderful piece by Tom Junod who wrote about Mr.Rogers -- somehow I just can't call him Fred. Can You Say...Hero? was his eulogy to Mr. Rogers, published in Esquire in 1998.

When Mr. Rogers accepted the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement, Junod writes

he went onstage to accept Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, "I'll watch the time," and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked…and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.

Another snippet from Tom Junod's Can You Say ...Hero? that had me crying by the end.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Mister Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He didn't have an umbrella, and he couldn't find a taxi, either, so he ducked with a friend into the subway and got on one of the trains. It was late in the day, and the train was crowded with children who were going home from school. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn't even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. They just sang. They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and turned the clattering train into a single soft, runaway choir.

I am so happy that my friend Bob Berks, has been commissioned to create a sculpture of Mr. Rogers which I saw underway last summer. Bob Berks is the American sculptor whose "Biographies in Bronze" encompass some 300 portraits. You can see some of them at his official website including videos, made by his talented wife Tod, where Bob talks about sculpting the Albert Einstein now on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, Frank Sinatra and his quartet of Lincoln sculptures, one of which I gaze on every day on my desk, one of my most treasured possessions. I just know that his sculpture of Mr. Rogers will be treasured by millions who have a special place in their heart for that man who helped love them into being.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2006

Impaired Fecundity

Is the drop in teen-age pregnancy attributable to education or is it the decreased fertility of boys?

Pesticides with estrogen-like effects have the strongest evidence for sperm reduction.

Liza Mundy writes in Sperm counts and teen pregnancy rates

The great sperm-count debate began in 1992, when a group of Danish scientist published a study suggesting that sperm counts declined globally by about 1 percent a year between 1938 and 1990. This study postulated that "environmental influences," particularly widely used chemical compounds with an impact like that of the female hormone estrogen, might be contributing to a drop in fertility among males. If true, this was obviously an alarming development, particularly given that human sperm counts are already strikingly low compared to almost any other species. "Humans have the worst sperm except for gorillas and ganders of any animal on the planet,"

At a conference at Stanford
the evidence presented are several trends that seem to point to a subtle feminization of male babies: a worldwide rise in hypospadias, a birth defect in which the urethral opening is located on the shaft of the penis rather than at the tip; a rise in cryptorchidism, or undescended testicles; and experiments Swan has done showing that in male babies with high exposure to compounds called phthalates, something called the anogenital distance is decreasing. If you measure the distance from a baby's anus to the genitals, the distance in these males is shorter, more like that of … girls.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2006

How much are mothers worth?

Just in time for Mother's Day is the news that work-at-home Moms would earn $134,121 a year if they were paid for all their work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

April 19, 2006

Tracking Your Family's Whereabouts

Now you can track where your teenager is going. For $9.99 a month, Sprint offers you the Family Locator that lets parents track their kids' whereabouts using the GPS capabilities in each child's cellphone.

Big Mother Is Watching.

The whole idea of tracking your family in this manner is weird and alarming on some levels. So is the notion that we're all so deathly afraid for our kids that there's even a market for this.

But now that the technology is out there, it's not going away anytime soon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:32 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2006

Involuntary Parentage

That's what Michael Wofford says about the suit his ex-girlfriend is bringing for child support and college tuition for the twins she gave birth to after Michael agreed to donate sperm so she could have children.

Sperm donor sued for child support

"She was a lady with a plan -- and that plan wasn't marriage," Mirabelli said. "He trusted her. Why? Because she said 'I don't want anything from you. I just want your semen.' "

Both are 45 and met online at Match.com.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 PM | Permalink

April 11, 2006

First-time Mothers

In this brave new world, new mothers have things to do older mothers can't even imagine. No wonder they're so exhausted.

From Mother Pie, First Baby? Top 10 Must Do List.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 PM | Permalink

April 6, 2006

Baby Shower Goes Bad

Three guests arrested in what police call 'baby shower gone bad'

A baby shower erupted into a fight among guests in which one man was shot and several other people, including the seven-months-pregnant guest of honor, were beaten with a stick, police say.
--
The argument, over whether the woman let their five-year-old daughter drink beer, escalated

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

March 31, 2006

Punishing Educated Mothers

If the state subsidizes your education, does it have a say in how you use that education?

If you are a woman and want to stay home to raise your children, should you be punished?

Sharon Dijksma, a leading figure in the Dutch Labour Party, thinks so.

"A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work – that is destruction of capital,” she said in an interview last week. “If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society’s expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished"

Talk about draining the life from a society.

There seems to be a blinder on the eyes of some feminists that they can not see the tremendous value and benefit to all society in mothers who devote their time to raising loving, secure and educated children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2006

New Moms Exhausted

Did we really need a new study to tell us that most new mothers are exhausted?

Well, maybe we did to learn that those who had C-sections or are breast-feeding are experiencing the most symptoms.

Or to learn that
76 percent of working mothers return to work within a year after the birth of their child. Forty-one percent of working mothers are back within three months, and nearly one in six is back within the first month after delivery.

Or to realize that in most other countries, mothers receive a great deal more support than they do here. Whether it's medical leave for post-partum recovery or support by existing groups of family, friends and neighbors.

New mothers need all the support and help they can get. Surely, if you know of a new mom, you can figure out a way to lend a hand, even for a couple of hours.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2006

Nature deficit disorder

I'm a nut on natural sounds.

Years ago, I started collecting sounds of nature on cassette tapes, later on CDs. I've found them wonderful accompaniments to focused work, meditation, even sleep. I find actual recordings are far superior to white noise or sound machines though the latter works too.

I have them on my computer, my iPod, on CDs, even on my Audubon clock. I thought with a different bird call for each hour, I would learn to identify them by their song alone. No such luck. Seems as though I can only tell the nine o'clock bird from the noon bird.

I believe that without sounds of nature around, at least part of the day, we lose contact with the natural world. Too much sound from radio, TV, computers and iPods, disconnects us from the living, breathing world outside of our own bodies.

Natural sounds emerge from the silence that descends when we turn machines off. In a sheltered space, be it house or office or apartment, with windows closed, silence still brings the hum of the refrigerator or computer. That's why I use recordings.

True well-being brings an expanded sense of being alive. You can't be expanded without a greater sense of self that includes connectedness with nature, her ocean waves, morning song birds, waterfalls, and crickets.

Nature deficit sends kids down a desolate path

Author Richard Louv says kids don't get outside enough and so their bond with nature is not developed and they are suffering as a result. Kids need nature to develop their senses of learning and creativity and wonder.

"Nature is directly connected to our health. It helps us feel better physically and psychologically. It helps us pay attention."

He wonders whether the increase in ADD is attributable in part to children's isolation and alienation from the natural world. His campaign, "No Child Left Inside," calls for less time wired up, more time outside. Any patch of grass, vacant lot, woods or fields will work for kids.

His book


"Last Child in the Woods : Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" (Richard Louv)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:48 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2006

The Child is Father to the Man

A fascinating thread on Metafilter. "Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child" which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?"

The contributions are moving and heartfelt. What struck me the most is how often a single action by a parent or a stranger can affect a whole life. Almost as striking is the number of people who found a home in books when their own was abusive or belittling.

Here are some selected responses:

1. Wayne Arnold let me hold the trumpet he just got from school (I was in kindergarten) and at that moment, I knew that I would have to play. 32 years later, I still play.ntinual process of lifelong learning.
--
I was taken on a visit to a newspaper office when I was seven. Stood on the floor of the press hall and just knew.
---
Parents' divorce and alcoholism. I learned these lessons early: I trust few people, never think about the future (in a fatalistic sense, not a live-for-today sense), and err on the side of caution every time. Life is a long series of hazards to be avoided and inescapable heartbreak.
---
I won't talk about specific instances, but the abuse and neglect I experienced as a child has shaped the adult I am. I'm shy, withdrawn and have an extremely low sense of self-esteem. It has been, and will continue to be, a lifelong struggle to overcome my childhood.
--
12 years old, just beginning to take those "career aptitude inventory" tests they give you, I share with my father my interest in one day becoming a computer engineer. His response, "How the hell are you ever gonna help anybody doing that!?" leads me to completely devalue my own interests and goals for the next four years or so in favor of what I think other people think I should be doing. Later I get my head on straight and realize he was being a complete jerk, but the damage is still done.
--
My father had a serious heart attack the day before my twelfth birthday, and was not expected to survive. A very good cardiac surgeon completed the bypass operation on my birthday, and he survived for the next 18 years.

It was definitely an eye-opener about doctors, how important they were and how they sometimes did world-shaking things. I don't know if it's fair to say it's why I became a doctor, but it definitely got me thinking.
--
When I was 16, our house burned down while our family was away. We had spent the last 6 years building it. We lost essentially all of our possessions. I lost a stamp collection and an Atari 400 that I'd worked an entire summer to earn. My father lost negatives and equipment from a 20-year photography career.

Building the house taught me and my siblings what hard work was, how to face it and thrive in it. Losing it, and all our possessions, taught me that things are just objects, not the center or my life or cause for deep, abiding emotional attachments.
--
My father's childhood was one of those horrorshow ones about which others have written.

My deepest respect for him is that as a young man, he swore that he would never be like his father. And to his credit, he broke the cycle of violence. That took a lot, I'm sure.
--
The short and easy answer would be the death of my father when I was five.

The better answer would be the time when I was probably 12, at a church father/son event of some sort, with a neighbor. I won the door prize -- for the third year in a row. It struck me that the contest was rigged, and I was being given some consideration for the fact that my father was dead. I decided to not let on that I had figured this out.

There were many adults I knew as a child who, in a quiet way, tried to help me out in whatever ways they could. I doubt I was ever grateful enough at the time, but as an adult and a father, their efforts, even the feeble and transparent ones, are always on my mind, and I do believe that I have a responsibility to do the same for the kids I know.
--
We moved every year from the time I was born until I left home. I have no ties to anyone and no old friends. I joined the service, moved some more then went to college and moved twice more for a graduate then a doctorate program. I don't know anyone and have no idea how to maintain a friendship. But, I make a hell of a first impression.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

March 10, 2006

Contempt for Parenthood

What's with this?

Culture of contempt for parenthood

The painful paradox is that while women have liberated themselves from being defined by their biology - the fate of the girl in many African and Asian societies who is not truly a woman until she has given birth - mothers have ended up relegated to the status of constant abject failure in a culture driven by consumerism and workaholism. There is no kudos in being a mum, only in being other things - such as thin, or the boss - despite being a mum. Motherhood is a form of handicap.

Seems to me it's much of the reason behind the baby gap in Europe and elsewhere.

If our greatest biological imperative is the survival of the species, why are we so worried about becoming parents?

Mark Steyn as usual as the best word It's the Demography, Stupid.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:19 PM | Permalink

March 7, 2006

"Queen Bee" syndrome

There is growing evidence that female mammals with very high degrees of testosterone are more likely to give birth to males.

TOUGH, confident females may be more likely to give birth to sons than women with less pushy personalities, researchers have found.
---
The discovery of the “queen bee” syndrome in mammals is the latest in a growing body of work that challenges the traditional view that a baby’s sex is determined by chance.
---
Previous research by Grant has found that men with masculine jobs — police officers, soldiers and butchers — are more likely to produce girls.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2006

Mixed Twins

 Fraternal Twins, Black, White-1

Kian and Remee, one white, one black, both twin sisters born to mixed race parents. The odds, experts say, are about a million to one.

"It was a shock when I realized that my twins were two different colors," Kylie Hodgson, 19, told London's Daily Mail. "But it doesn't matter to us — they are just our two gorgeous little girls."

Snopes has the full story.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2006

Parental Blood Surge

Im reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty and came across this passage

He was having an odd parental rush, a blood surge that was also above blood and was presently hunting through Howard's expansive intelligence to find words that would more effectively express something like

don't walk in front of cars take care and be good and don't hurt or be hurt and don't live in a way that make you feel dead and don't betray anybody or yourself and take care of what matters and please don't and please remember and make sure.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 AM | Permalink

January 21, 2006

Genetic bewilderment.

Is the promise of anonymity forever best for sperm donors? What about the children of sperm donors?

Most of the exotic reproductive technologies are unregulated and private fertility clinics like it that way. Anonymity allows them to escape accountability. After all, who wants to deal with health problems, like diabetes, that may not show up until decades later? Even more troubling is the possibility of inadvertent incest.

Like children anywhere, sperm donor children want to know where they come from. They want a more complete sense of their identity and not just on Father's Day. And there are 40,000 of them born each year

At least one child has tracked down his sperm donor father on the internet.

Britain now requires fertility clinics to register donors in a database the children can access later. But that has resulted in a steep decline in donors. I can understand why after the Swedish Supreme Court ruled that the biological sperm donor father of three children in a lesbian relationship was ordered to pay child support for all three.

The New York Times explores the issue in Are You My Sperm Donor? Few Clinics Say.

With ever more exotic reproductive technologies looming, like cloning and the engineering of traits like eye color and intelligence, some advocates for more regulation say there is a growing urgency to protect these children from what they call "genetic bewilderment." Guaranteeing children access to their genetic heritage, they say, could be the cornerstone of an industry ethics code.
"We need to get it right for donor conception," said Rebecca Hamilton, a law student at Harvard who created a documentary about searching for her donor father in New Zealand, "and use it as the basis for the million weird and wacky decisions coming our way."

Giving sperm donor children a right to access their genetic heritage is one cause I can fully support.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

January 11, 2006

Fathers of Teenage Girls

One of the more interesting phenomena of growing older is seeing men you knew as boys or as college lotharios become fathers of teenage girls.

Here's Jack Yoest's 10 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter.

Rule Nine:
Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a middle-aged, gray-headed, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and a half acre behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

December 4, 2005

Where Have the Men Gone?

Only 43% of college students are men. This is a very troubling trend for society. Why aren't more of us concerned about how poor our school system is for millions of boys. They are struggling and need help. They are our sons, our brothers and will be husbands and fathers. It's time for a Movement for Boys so they can be their very best.

Michael Gurian writes more in the Washington Post: Disappearing Act
Where Have the Men Gone? No Place Good

We all need to rethink things. We need to stop blaming, suspecting and overly medicating our boys, as if we can change this guy into the learner we want. When we decide -- as we did with our daughters -- that there isn't anything inherently wrong with our sons, when we look closely at the system that boys learn in, we will discover these boys again, for all that they are. And maybe we'll see more of them in college again.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2005

Love Gone Right

Don't miss this tale of Love Gone Right over at Ambivablog who has the whole story and lots of photos. Where's there's life, there's love.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'."

 Baby Hippo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:10 PM | Permalink

Brat Patrol

With 92% of heirs switching their advisors soon after getting their inheritance, private bankers are pulling out the stops in the battle for assets.

In the Brat Patrol, Barrons reports how private bankers are wooing the next generation.

banks, brokerage houses and boutiques catering to the wealthy appear to be brimming with ideas on how young people can handle money responsibly and gracefully. They're doling out parenting advice, running financial boot camps for clients' children and moderating family disputes. In part, the bankers are responding to clients' anxieties; many wealthy parents fear their kids will become idle layabouts or spoiled brats.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2005

Mom or Alien?

  Mother Alien

On the left is how a newborn perceives his mother's face says psychologist Frederck Maimstrom. On the right is the most familiar depiction of an alien.

In fact, it's how most self-described abductees describe their alien kidnappers. It may all be due to our primitive facial recognition template says Maimstrom. You can read more about Your Mama Looks Like E.T. in the Washington Post. Or read Maimstrom's article in Skeptic Magazine called Close Encounters of the Facial Kind.

HT Bookofjoe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2005

Parents Tears

Some of the disaffected, unemployed Muslim youths 6 who kept Paris burning for 16 days and entirely too gleeful after torching cars, churches day care centers and busses seem to be listening to their parents.

From the Washington Post, Parents Tears Calm Youth Rage

The parents have reclaimed the night in the suburban Paris town where France's unrest began two weeks ago. While arsons and clashes with police are continuing in dozens of
cities across France, fires have not burned in Clichy-sous-Bois since Monday night.

"
The tears of our mothers stopped us," said Maldini, 26, a stout, French-born son of Algerian immigrants. He declined to provide his family name for fear of police harassment. "The parents, the mothers and fathers were all crying."


Other parents have no control. Some in France Ask: Where Are the Parents?

Many parents are struggling to make ends meet, leaving them little time for their children. They often can hardly communicate with their sons and daughters: Many parents are not French citizens and never learn to speak French, while their children don't learn the language of their ancestors.
----
According to Sonia Imloul, who works with troubled teens in Seine-Saint-Denis, the Paris-area town hit hardest by the unrest, an estimated 40 percent of families in the suburbs are dysfunctional, causing a high rate of school dropouts, drug use, petty crime and aggressive behavior.

As David Brooks writes in Gangsta, in French, they are taking hip-hop as their model of how to be men.

After 9/11, everyone knew there was going to be a debate about the future of Islam. We just didn't know the debate would be between Osama bin Laden and Tupac Shakur.

Yet those seem to be the lifestyle alternatives that are really on offer for poor young Muslim men in places like France, Britain and maybe even the world beyond. A few highly alienated and fanatical young men commit themselves to the radical Islam of bin Laden. But most find their self-respect by embracing the poses and worldview of American hip-hop and gangsta rap.

One of the striking things about the scenes from France is how thoroughly the rioters have assimilated hip-hop and rap culture. It's not only that they use the same hand gestures as American rappers, wear the same clothes and necklaces, play the same video games, and sit with the same sorts of car stereos at full blast.
It's that they seem to have adopted the same poses of exaggerated manhood, the same attitudes about women, money and the police. They seem to have replicated the same sort of gang culture, the same romantic visions of gunslinging drug dealers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:48 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2005

Tracking down anonymous sperm donors

For the first time, an anonymous sperm donor was traced on the Internet

LATE last year, a 15-year-old boy rubbed a swab along the inside of his cheek, popped it into a vial and sent it off to an online genealogy DNA-testing service. But unlike most people who contact the service, he was not interested in sketching the far reaches of his family tree. His mother had conceived using donor sperm and he wanted to track down his genetic father.

That the boy succeeded using only the DNA test, genealogical records and some internet searches has huge implications for the hundreds of thousands of people who were conceived using donor sperm. With the explosion of information about genetic inheritance, any man who has donated sperm could potentially be found by his biological offspring. Absent and unknown fathers will also become easier to trace.

The teenager tracked down his father from his Y chromosome. The Y is passed from father to son virtually unchanged, like a surname. So the pattern of gene variants it carries can help identify which paternal line an individual has descended from and can also be linked to a man's surname.

The boy paid
FamilyTreeDNA.com $289 for the service. His genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site, but all that was needed was for someone in the same paternal line to be on file.

------
Though his donor had been anonymous, his mother had been told the man's date and place of birth and his college degree. Using another online service,
Omnitrace.com, he purchased the names of everyone that had been born in the same place on the same day. Only one man had the surname he was looking for, and within 10 days he had made contact.

"This is the first time that I know of it being done," says Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford and chairman of
OxfordAncestors.com, a genetic genealogy service. The case raises serious questions about whether past promises of anonymity can be honoured, he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2005

He Asked His Mom

He was only 14 when Blake Ross began working at Netscape. By 19 he had co-created Firefox, an open-source browser that has been downloaded 100 million times and garnered 10% of Internet Explorer's market share.

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue interviewed him in One Teen's Gigantic Contribution to the Internet.

My absolutely favorite part:

DP: And how were you, a bunch of volunteers, able to do this when the best and the brightest, highest paid programmers from Microsoft could not?

BR: First of all, they dropped the ball. Internet Explorer hasn't been updated since 2001. And so when Microsoft basically disbanded the Internet Explorer team, the Web started to outpace the Web browser.

We guide our development by what our users want, not by the dollar. You know, no other factors come into play except these features that people are asking for. So basically I go home and I say, "Hey, Mom, you know, what's still wrong with the internet? What's bothering you?" And she tells me.

DP: You ask your mom?

BR: Well, she'll yell at me. And I'll say, "Mom, calm down. What's wrong?" And then I'll fix that.

DP: I wonder why Bill Gates's mom couldn't do the same thing?

BR: Yeah (laughs).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2005

36% of babies born to unwed mothers

Nearly 1.5 million babies were born to unmarried woman in the U.S. last year, almost 36% of all births, a new record.

There is a downward trend of teenagers who accounted for only 24% of the births. The increase was among women 25-29.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:39 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2005

Smart and Dumb States

States Ranked: Smart to Dumb. Graded on 21 factors by the 2005-2006 Education State Rankings, New England states made the top three. The smartest state is Vermont. The dumbest is Arizona.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2005

Diet Coke in a sippy cup

Thinking ahead, parents have to start early, like Dooce

This is what I like to call Vacation Parenting. Much like a Vacation Diet you get to break all the rules: you get to eat bacon and let the kid drink Diet Coke out of a sippy cup. OH DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT, my sister fed her babies Diet Coke in a bottle. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. Jon asked me yesterday if I thought we were terrible parents, having let our daughter watch television in her lap and ingest orange Styrofoam. And I told him, “You forgot the part where she backed up into the wall and I laughed at her. If anything we’re preparing her for the first time she gets drunk in college.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2005

Sperm donor must pay child support

A Swedish man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple now must pay child support for their three children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2005

New SIDS policy

Nothing is more heart-breaking than the sudden death of an infant especially when the parents thought the infant was sleeping.

SIDS, the sudden infant death syndrome, is mysterious and remains unexplained even after an autopsy and examination of the death scene and it kills more than 2000 each year.

Monday, at the annual meeting of the american Academy of Pediatrics, new guidelines to prevent SIDS were released.

In a nutshell, they recommend giving infants over one month a pacifier at bedtime and letting infants sleep in their parents' room but not in their parents' bed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

August 30, 2005

The Childbirth is Not the Family

Fascinating essay by Ann Althouse discussing whether the man  should be present at childbirth if it could destroy the man's sexual attraction to the woman

Must - should - the man witness childbirth?

I'd say get the facts and make a sound decision for yourself. And don't focus on the childbirth experience so much. It's like focusing on the wedding and not the actual married life that will follow. The wedding is not the marriage, and the childbirth is not the family. The real happiness is to be found (or lost) in marriage and family, not in weddings and childbirth. Real life is lived in all those ordinary days, not on those big occasions that seem to matter so much when you're starting out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2005

Emotional Midwife

In the secret world of surrogacy,  where older women buy eggs from other women or arrange for other women to carry and bear their child,
Melanie McGuire was an "emotional midwife", available at any time to talk with her clients.

A client of Reproductive Medical Associates, Jennifer Calise, is quoted in the Style section of Sunday's New York Times

The entire process is a leap of faith.  As a parent who is entrusting strangers with your DNA - your eggs, your sperm, your future children - it's really a scary prospect.

The emotional midwife has been arrested for murder.    Prosecutors charge her with shooting her husband, dismembering him, putting the cut-up pieces into black garbage bags, then into suitcases, throwing them off a bridge, before carrying on her life and career for over a year before her arrest.

Murder Stirs Surrogacy Network

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

August 12, 2005

Who's Your Daddy

A recent study in the UK reveals that many dads are unknowingly raising children that are not theirs.

Calling it a Pandora's Box with broad health implications, British researchers say genetic testing is informing about 4 percent of fathers that a child they are raising is not their own.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2005

Pregnant Poses

It all began with Demi Moore.    Remember how shocking it was to see her naked and very pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair way back in 1991?

  Demi Moore Vanity Fair

Now, pregnant women are clamoring for similar shots of their pregnant selves.  This new type of family portrait is taking off with even J.C. Penny offering a maternity package at its 400 photography studios.

From Letting It All Hang Out in the Wall St. Journal

Jennifer Loomis, a photographer who focuses almost exclusively on maternity clients, brings in revenues of about $300,000 annually.

"The message I'm trying to communicate is one of strength, transformation and beauty," says Ms. Loomis. "I'm helping them capture one of the most interesting times of their lives."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:03 PM | Permalink

August 9, 2005

Soldier Dad sees Baby Born via Internet

There was a time not so long ago when fathers weren't allowed in delivery rooms to see their children being born.    Today, that's completely changed and fathers are expected to support their wives and share in the miracle of childbirth.

Neither an ocean nor a war could keep Sgt William Hammock from seeing his wife Angela give birth through streaming audio and video.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:40 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2005

Congratulations and condolences

Was there ever such a story that combined tragedy with hope, sadness with love? 

Is there any doubt that this is what Susan Torres would have wanted?  Her dying body, riddled with cancer, was yet suffused with love sufficient to bring a healthy baby to life - Susan Anne Catherine Torres.

Brain dead mother taken off life support from the Washington Post .

After her husband and parents said their last goodbyes and after a priest offered a prayer -- words about weeping in a valley of tears -- Susan Torres, her improbable mission accomplished, was unhooked yesterday morning from the machines that sustained not only her body but that of her baby for the past three months.

The 26-year-old Arlington woman, who was felled by cancer and declared brain-dead in May, but who gave birth by Caesarean section Tuesday to the girl she had hoped for, died shortly thereafter. It was the end her family knew was inevitable, but it was no less difficult to fathom.
...
Jason Torres, who slept by his wife's side for three months, whose cell phone still carries her voice and who made the final decision to unhook the machines, stayed away from the cameras and crowds of reporters who had come to the hospital to find out, among other things, how his new daughter, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, was doing.

Strange happening on the night of Susan Torres' tragic collapse.

On the night of Susan’s collapse, May 7, said Sonny, he returned home with his wife Karen at about 3:00am, and went to bed, exhausted. At about 4:15am, without any warning, he awoke and sat bolt upright. Karen also awoke and asked him what the matter was.

“What it was,” he said, “it wasn’t a dream…This was so different from a dream…so…so powerful. It was words that came to me. It was a woman’s voice; my wife made me write it down. It wasn’t a request, it was a command.”......

“.......Sonny said that although it struck him at the time as a singular and unusual experience, he put it down to overwrought nerves, still barely coming to terms with the tragedy of his daughter-in-law’s sudden collapse only a few hours before. It wasn’t until the following day when he began to tell his son what happened that he was given a palpable reason to think of it as something more than imagination.

“I went to my son later that day,” continued Sonny, “and I began to tell him about it and he said ‘Stop! Let me tell you what I had.’ We compared notes, and it happened about the same time—4:15 in the morning. And his is almost word for word of mine.”

The words that both Sonny and Jason believe they heard, before the life-affirming story of Susan ever reached the ears of a journalist or a newsman, are the following:

“You and others will tell the world of a fight to save a precious life, not to change hardened hearts, but to give hope to those who believe, so that they know that there is more than what they see and hear. Let them come and see for themselves.”

Congratulations and condolences to the Torres family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2005

Unwitting Dad

Ripped from today's headlines Pop Shock.

A Brooklyn man who claims his estranged wife forged his name to get hold of his frozen sperm and used it to conceive a daughter has been ordered to pay child support — and has filed a multimillion-dollar suit for reimbursement.
The lawyer for the unwitting dad, LIRR engineer Deon Francois, says New York University's famed fertility clinic should be responsible for the little girl's expenses through college.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2005

Marriage Losing to Cohabitation

It may seem like good news that divorce rates have declined until you learn that marriage rates have declined even more dramatically.

Couples who once might have wed and then divorced now are not marrying at all, according to The State of our Unions 2005. The annual report, which analyzes Census and other data, is issued by the National Marriage Project at New Jersey's Rutgers University.

-----
Cohabitation is here to stay," says David Popenoe, a Rutgers sociology professor and report co-author. "I don't think it's good news, especially for children," he says. "As society shifts from marriage to cohabitation — which is what's happening — you have an increase in family instability.
---
The USA has the lowest percentage among Western nations of children who grow up with both biological parents, 63%, the report says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:13 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2005

Caring for Mothers

I'm  with Brooke Shields and not Tom Cruise when it comes to post-partum depression or baby blues.

Better yet, I'm all for midwives, visiting nurses and temporary nannies to help a new mother out.  It only makes sense when a mother is going through one of the biggest transitions of her life.  She needs the experience of people who understand what's going on and what she needs, especially sleep.

Turns out, now a study shows that personalized care by health professionals may very well prevent post-partum depression. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2005

Sperm babies on Father's Day

Just catching up on some Father's Day posts when I come across th

What do donor-sperm babies do on Father's Day? 

Many are adults now and they want to know more about their genetic dads.  Sperm donors' offspring.

As the first large generation of sperm donor babies comes of age, some are beginning to look for their biological dads, much as adopted children have sought out their birth parents. The searches pit young people's desire to discover their roots against donors' expectations that their identities never will be disclosed.

Like so many new developments, this one is unfolding in large part on the Internet, where many sperm donor offspring are posting queries about their origins and claiming a right to know their parentage.
--------------
In a survey of adolescents published in November in the journal Human Reproduction, researchers at the University of California-Davis found that the thing the children wanted most, other than the donor's name, was a picture.

"They are not looking to establish a father-son/daughter relationship and [they] are not looking for financial or other support," said Eric Blyth, a professor of social work at the University of Huddersfield in England, who has written extensively about the topic.

What they want, he says, is "a more complete sense of their identity."
---

"I feel my right to know who I am and where I come from has been taken away," she says.

Via Daddytalks who says

well, it seems no one was really thinking of the children when the whole spermbank thing started. Gee, you mean an industry that's almost entirely dependent on college students masturbating for beer money doesn't think much about the future consequences? There's a surprise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 PM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Lost Boys

It seems as every day, I learn that there are more ways to be cruel than I ever imagined.  Life is tough for boys these days all around and everywhere. 

Julian Borger in The Guardian

The lost boys, thrown out of US sect so that older men can marry more wives

Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men, Utah officials claim.

Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven.

via Best of the Web, James Taranto

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2005

The Real Test of Character

It is fitting with father's Day close upon us that I remember again the most important lesson my beloved father, dead now 14 years taught me. 

He treated everyone the same, everyone with respect.    A tall, good-looking Irishman, he was greatly respected in his profession - he was an arbitrator and loved by many. 

I was reminded when I read Janice Turner's piece in the London Times.

The real test of character: how big people treat little people

OVER THE YEARS I have improvised my own psychometric tests for evaluating a person’s character. I determine someone’s profligacy with money by how deeply they are prepared to fish around in a full kitchen bin to retrieve a lost knife. I rate their joie de vivre by whether, if a child’s football crosses their path in the park, they step over it glumly or boot it back with a grin.

But my definitive test is how someone treats the people who serve them, those over whom, if so inclined, they can exercise cruel and arbitrary power. I once listened to a teenager boast, while her mother giggled indulgently, that she had tormented their Austrian au pair until she’d left. That one remark told me all I needed to know about that family. Men who are churlish to waiters, women who berate their cleaners, mothers who brag that they’ve run through 14 nannies in seven years: can’t middle-class professionals learn how to behave with all these newly acquired staff?
--------
A colleague who had lunch with the Prime Minister told me that even deep in conversation about the euro he always made eye contact with the waiter each time he was served. Of course, it would be crass to judge someone entirely on their private good grace, to rate US presidents not by, say, their foreign policy but the fact that the Clintons were cold and haughty with their security detail while the Bushes are affectionate, informal and kind.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

June 12, 2005

Baby Boot Camp

"I get babies to sleep through the night" could be the elevator pitch for Suzy Giordano.  But she doesn't need it.  She's already a legend in the Washington DC area for her ability to teach newborn babies how to sleep through the night. 

"Sleep," says Tia Cudahy, a Giordano client who has a toddler and infant twins, "is the difference between misery and joy when you have a newborn."
-------
According to Giordano, there are two basic tasks to accomplish before the big sleep can be achieved. The first is to shift babies to a schedule where they consume enough breast milk or formula during the day to sustain a night without feedings. The second is to teach the baby to self-soothe, so that he or she can get back to sleep without assistance, and even stay happily in the crib in the morning until mom or dad arrives for breakfast.

"The key is to just slow down the parents so they can have a better vision of the responsibility," Giordano says.

So there are feeding logs and plans based on a baby's weight and age. By about eight weeks, as long as a baby has passed the nine-pound milestone, Giardano shifts into what she calls "
baby boot camp," when nighttime feedings are gradually spaced apart and phased out, and late-night and early-morning wakings are handled without the baby getting picked up and held. Instead she rubs the babies, pats their bellies, helps gently move them into more comfortable positions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2005

Last Act of Love

"Children are always a good thing, devoutly to be wished for and fiercely to be fought for."

Justin Torres writes about the "hesitation" many of the attending doctors, even his own family feel about what they are doing.   

Last month his sister in law Susan Torres, 26 years old, the mother of a two year old and 17 weeks pregnant, suffered a stroke brought on by undiagnosed melanoma.  She now lies brain dead in a Virginia hospital, on life support, with no hope of ever recovering.  Her family is keeping her alive in the hope that by so doing they will save the life of the unborn child.

Keeping this baby alive is Susan's last act of love, one that has been tremendously moving to watch even as it makes you question everything you thought you knew about the fundamental justice of the world.

----
Fifty years ago, medicine could not have done what we are trying to do. But I suspect that if it could have been done, no one then would have hesitated. The answer would have been, Of course, we must try to save the child, because saving children is what medicine is meant to do.

Via Amy Wellborn's Open Book

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:35 PM | Permalink

June 1, 2005

Dust-off -a scary story

You know those little cans of compressed air that you use to clean off your computer? Dust-off. 

Turns out that teen-agers, especially those 14-16,  have died after 'huffing" from cans of Dust-off.  The propellant R2 is to blame as a father writes about the tragic death of his son Kyle, confirmed by Snopes.

But it could.  Time to tell your kids some scary stories.

a great number of teens and pre-teens routinely attempt to get high by abusing inhalants and solvents found in common household products. Dust-Off is just one of a thousand or more products that can abruptly end the life of someone foolishly looking for an inhalant high. The list of items that can be turned to this purpose is almost endless and includes such innocuous-looking goods as hair spray and aerosol whipped cream. Depending on how the intoxicant is taken in, the process is referred to as 'bagging' or 'huffing' — bagging requires the substance be contained in a plastic or paper bag which the thrill-seeker then breathes from, while huffing involves either breathing directly from an aerosol or through a cloth soaked in solvent.

Both bagging and huffing can, and have, proved fatal. Sudden death can result on the first try, making one's first time seeking this particular kick also one's last. That first time's being a killer isn't an exaggeration, either: 22% of all inhalant-abuse deaths occur among users who had not previously bagged or huffed. Suffocation, dangerous behavior, and aspiration account for 45% of inhalant abuse fatalities, with "sudden sniffing death" (fatal cardiac arrhythmia) causing the remaining 55%.
-------
Inhalant abuse is rife among children and teens for a number of reasons beyond the usual factors that inspire young people to experiment with drugs, such as curiousity, thrill seeking, escapism, defiance, and peer pressure. First, the products required to produce inhalant highs are readily available in every home. Even when users have to resort to buying their own, the goods cost little and are easy to purchase, both in terms of availability (almost every store sells at least a few items that can be huffed) and lack of challenge by sales clerks (kids generally need not fear provoking adult disapproval or undue questioning through the act of buying cans of whipped cream). No drug dealers need be sought out, no furtive connections with the underworld made; purchases are easily effected at the corner store, even by the most unsavvy and knock-kneed with terror at the thought of being caught.

Second, because these products are an ordinary part of the household landscape, they take on for many a presumption of safety. Few adults are accustomed to thinking of air freshener as something that can kill, or of Magic Markers as items that can end lives; these are instead viewed as non-dangerous goods, the sort of ordinary household necessities one doesn't so much as look at twice let alone regard with mistrust. Kids can easily take that bland acceptance a step further, adding a presumption of harmlessness to that which is routinely left about for anyone to use.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:08 PM | Permalink

The new "Mommy wars"

Mothers of all types from all backgrounds are increasingly upset at the popular culture which threatens their ability to impart positive values to their children according to a recent survey.

"We heard mothers talking about the kind of hypersexuality that's out there, about violence and disrespect, about body image, all the things that are not exactly news, but cutting across a huge and diverse sample of mothers," says Martha Farrell Erickson of the University of Minnesota, lead researcher on the study, released by the Institute for American Values in New York. "What they would really like to see is mothers and fathers joining forces more effectively to take on some of these issues."

Politics did not come up naturally in these mothers' group conversations; they see the solutions more through the avenue of personal and community action, rather than dumping these problems on the doorstep of government

The new Mommy wars

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2005

Abortion - Understanding what's at stake

I have never read a more moving, intelligent discussion about abortion than by Amba, an accomplished writer, whose AmbivaBlog is describes as "the swing state of the religious and political blogosphere."

Here are the first two of a three-part series.

Part 1

The simplest central tenet of feminism – that being female is a full human plenitude, not a shameful lack – had saved my soul. Abortion, I believed, was a woman’s business. My body, my choice. Case closed.

Then I had one.

Part 2

But once it has successfully taken root, there’s something else we know about a human embryo:

-- That it has a drive to live and to become. How sensate or aware it may be at this stage is a mystery. That it intends with every molecule of its being to survive and fulfill its design is not. In fact – and it is a fact -- that drive is powerful enough to propel it eighty years into the future.

I should probably amend my statement that “we know this.” When we’re young, we don’t. We just think about “having a baby,” and maybe raising a child, from the foreshortened perspective of our own desires and life plans. This is one of the drawbacks of living in a culture that does its damndest to stay “forever young.” Only someone older, who’s taken a step back from the life cycle, can point out to you the reality that “a baby” will, barring misfortune, become a young adult, a middle-aged person, an old woman or man. I now look at the young and see how time will change their faces; I look at the old and imagine how they looked as a child. And when I think about a new embryo, and our “choice” to uproot it or harbor it, I don’t only, or even mainly, see an “innocent child.” I see that what we hold in our hands is the power to greenlight or to cancel – to make nothing -- a potentially eighty-year human life.

That’s pretty terrifying, when you think about it. And I’m suggesting that we should think about it. I know I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing the “pro-life” that early abortion should stay legal, as I still sadly believe it must. But I do think I have a chance of convincing at least some of the “pro-choice” that women should be as terrified of risking accidental pregnancy now as we were back when abortion was illegal – not out of fear of the law or the dirty scalpel, but out of understanding of what’s at stake.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2005

My Daddy is a Donor

What does it feel like to know that you were created with donated sperm or a rented womb?

The Chicago Tribune today has a story about such donor-conceived children who suffer not knowing anything about their real fathers or mothers  even as they are protective of their nurturing , generally same-sex couples.    Their search to make sense of themselves and their origins is  painful when people tell them "it shouldn't matter."

...[D]onor-conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally created them with a severed relationship to at least one of their biological parents. The pain they feel was caused not by some distant, shadowy person who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them.

This knowledge brings the loyalty and love they naturally feel for the parents raising them in direct conflict with the identity quest we all must go through. When they ask, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?" they confront a welter of painful uncertainties our culture hasn't begun to understand.

From Kids need a real past by Elizabeth Marquardt.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2005

Kids Too Busy for Their Own Good?

At the UCLS Center on Everyday Lives of Families, a recent study concludes that family dynamics are changing dramatically with both parents working outside the home -they are barely coping. 

From Compassion at stake for families in motion by Joseph Verrengia

That change means parents and children live virtually apart at least five days a week. When they are together, today’s families tend to stay in motion with lessons, classes and games.

Mothers in the UCLA study still bear the key household and child-rearing responsibilities, even while working full time.

Researchers contend that this appears to erode families from within, like a rusting minivan dropping parts as it clatters down the highway.
What’s falling by the wayside? Playtime. Conversation. Courtesy. Intimacy.

“We’ve scheduled and outsourced a lot of our relationships,” said the study’s director, Elinor Ochs, a linguistic anthropologist. “There isn’t much room for the flow of life, those little moments when things happen spontaneously, and we’re moving from a child-centered society to a child-dominated society. Parents don’t have a life after the children go to bed.”

For Ochs,
the most worrisome trend is how indifferently people treat each other, especially when they reunite at the day’s end. Other human cultures — even other species like wolves — greet each other in elaborate ways that reinforce social bonds. In her view, the chilly exchanges repeated in so many of the study’s households suggest something has gone awry.

“Returning home at the end of the day is one of the most delicate and vulnerable moments in life,” Ochs said. “Everywhere in the world, in all societies, there is some kind of greeting.

“But here, the kids aren’t greeting the parents and the parents are allowing it to go on,” Ochs said. “They are tiptoeing around their children.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2005

Extra credit if grandma dies

From the Annals of Improbable Research, the Dead Grandmother / Exam Syndrome

The basic problem can be stated very simply: A student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year.

And in Britain, extra credit given if a pet dies on day of exam, more if parent or grandparent, as reported by the BBC.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2005

Mom Happy to Go to Jail

A German mother of three is happy to go to jail instead of paying a parking fine so she can get a rest from her "demanding" children and "lazy" husband.

I don't doubt it for a moment.  I am the oldest of seven children and my mother loved working part time in a hospital emergency room when we were all young.  I heard from people she worked with that when she got to work, she'd say, "Thank God, I can relax."  In an emergency room!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:58 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2005

"Momisms"

Here's a wonderful passalong for Mother's Day.  I'd love to credit the original author of these "Momisms" but I don't know who it is.  If you do, let me know.

WHAT I OWE MY MOTHER

My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. If you're going to kill each other, do it  outside.  I just finished cleaning.

My mother  taught me RELIGION. You better pray that will come out of the carpet.

My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. If you don't straighten up, I'm going to  knock you into the middle of next week!

My  mother taught me LOGICBecause I said so, that's  why.

My mother taught me MORE  LOGIC. If you fall out of that swing and break your  neck, you're not going to the store with me.

My mother taught me FORESIGHT.  Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.

My  mother taught me IRONY.  Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.

My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.   Shut your mouth and eat your supper.

My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.  Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!

My mother taught me about STAMINA.    You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.

My mother taught me about WEATHER.    This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.

My mother taught me about  HYPOCRISY.    If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!

My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE. I brought you into this world,  and I can take you out.

My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. Just wait until we get home

My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. If you don't stop crossing  your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.

My  mother taught me ESP. Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?

My mother taught me HUMOR. When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.


  My mother taught me GENETICS. You're just like your father.

My mother taught me about my ROOTS. Shut  that door behind you.  Do you think you were born in a barn?

My mother taught me WISDOM. When you get to be my age, you'll understand.


My mother taught  me about JUSTICE. One day you'll have kids and I hope they turn out just like you!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:21 PM | Permalink

May 5, 2005

Mom's Salary

With 11 million stay-at-home Moms caring for 41 million children under 15, Salary.com has estimated that each, if paid at prevailing rates for the jobs they do, would earn about $131,471//year.  And that's without a 401(k)

They estimated the salaries of a day care worker, van driver, housekeeper, cook, CEO, nurse and general maintenance worker to come up with a base pay of $43, 461 and overtime of $88,009.

Makes the gift you've chosen for Mother's Day seem sort of puny, doesn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:09 PM | Permalink

April 14, 2005

Strict about laundry

I don't think you have to go this far.

Arnold Schwarzenegger burns his children's dirty clothes if they leave them lying about.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:36 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2005

Boy who divorced parent is adopted

From the Boston Globe, by Megan Trench

The tragic journey of Patrick Holland, the first child in state history to divorce a parent, passed a hopeful milestone yesterday when the 15-year-old emerged from a courthouse grinning alongside his new adoptive parents.
..........
In a brief but emotional ceremony at Norfolk Probate Court, Patrick was adopted by Ron and Rita Lazisky, his mother's best friends. The couple cared for him after his father shot and bludgeoned his mother to death in Quincy in 1998
.....
Patrick didn't set out to make national news by winning a groundbreaking legal battle last year to divorce his father. He also didn't aim to be a trailblazer by pushing a bill now before the Legislature.

Called Patrick's Law, the bill would automatically terminate the parental rights of a parent convicted of murdering the other. There are similar laws in Florida, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Virginia. The bill would also give children a say in whether to terminate the parent's rights permanently.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:01 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2005

Got Kids?

If you're a parent with young kids, here's a why to keep up with Kid-Tech News

With a HT to Ken LeeBow at Blogging about Incredible Blogs who says in Got Kids?  "Believe me, there are a lot of issues. For example, here's an article about cyberbullying. It's moved to the blogosphere.  If you're a parent or you work with kids, be sure to put this one in your RSS reader.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2005

Tim Russert's Rule of Life.

Via the Anchoress, this from Tim Russert

Russert said. "Who are our children? How do we get into their hearts and minds," Russert asked, "to get them to see the value of our values?"    In dealing with his own son, Luke, Russert added that he tells him, "You are always, always loved, but you are never entitled."

You are always loved, but you are never entitled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2005

Mom in Texas

Passalong lessons learned from a Mom in Texas.

Things I have learned from my boys (honest and not kidding):

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.

2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3.) A 3-year old boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.

5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6.) The window panes (even double-panes) do not stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it is already too late.

8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9.) A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.

12.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15). VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18.) You probably do NOT want to know what that odor is.

19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on. Plastic toys do not like ovens (and vice versa).

21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24.) Most  of the men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

25.) Almost all of the  women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

February 22, 2005

Children with Mental Illness

Paul Raeburn, was once a senior writer and editor at BusinessWeek where he covered science and medicine for seven years and has written a harrowing book Acquainted with The Night about the mental illness of two of his children.  One suffered from bipolar disorder and the other from depression and the quest to find them proper treatment laid waste his marriage and his sense of himself.  One Amazon reader called it "the best book I've ever read about mental illness."

You don't get through life without suffering and often, it's the only way you grow up, but the suffering of one's children seems particularly hard.  Children with mental illness seem to suffer especially from our health system and very few get good counseling or therapy.  That is not how we should be treating our future which children are.

This book was non-put-downable  because Raeburn is such a marvelous and honest writer, even when it comes to his own many faults.  Still, because of his relentless love and advocacy, I'm happy to say both children survived, got through some very bad patches and seem to be living decent lives.  The  unsettling message:  If you have a child with a mental illness, no one will really know what's wrong or how to treat it.  You do the best you can and hope they outgrow it like Raeburn's children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Because I said so, that's why

With all the moaning and groaning by the women in the Newsweek cover story on Mommy Madness, all  trying to be perfect Moms, it's a cold, clear drink of refreshing thought to read Rachel Balducci at Testosterhome, mother of four young boys

It is absolutely painful for me to watch when parents let their children run the show. One saving grace for Paul and I is that, when Ethan was very little, my sister-in-law told us about putting the baby down when he was still awake so he could learn to fall asleep on his own. She was the Queen of the 7 p.m. bedtime (and didn't get a lot of support from her friends, some of whom thought it cruel). I have seen families whose entire lives are up-ended for years because a child cannot fall asleep on his own. By taking that first step of control (Bedtime!), so many other things fell into place ("Because I said so, that's why!").
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 PM | Permalink

"Frank" dead

Here's a great story via Jeff Brokaw's Notes & Musings about a brave young boy who named his tumor "Frank", short for Frankenstein. 

His mother employed the power of the Internet to save her son's life.

She found a surgeon who used an alternative procedure to the traditional craniotomy, the cutting through her son's face and skull that in any event would be too risky given the location of 'Frank'

She printed up "Frank Must Die" on bumper stickers and sold them on ebay to cover the costs of the surgery.

The tumor was shrunk, then removed through the boy's nose without cutting his face.

The surgeon did not charge for the procedure.

The mother donated the money raised to a charity to help other children with cancer.

The tumor was no longer cancerous according to the biopsy.

The boy is alive, happy and celebrated his 10th birthday.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2005

Grandparents raising grandchildren

According to the website, raisingyourgrandchildren.com, more than six million children, approximately 1 in 12, are living in households headed by grandchildren (4.5 million children) or other relatives (1.5 million children). That's a lot of grandparents suddenly facing new challenges -financial, legal and emotional, the business of life.

When grandparents or kinship caregivers raise children, it is for various reasons. It may be because there was the death of a parent or a parent is away in the military, but more often than not, there is a correlation between alcohol and drug abuse and neglect. The parent/s may be mentally ill, incarcerated, or simply and unfortunately incapable of caring for their children.

According to the U.S. 2000 Census, there were close to 2 1/2 million households with grandparents raising their grandchildren. This figure does not even count kinship caregivers such as people raising their brother or sister's children or, even yet, raising their niece or nephew's children. Fifty-seven percent of grandparents raising their grandchildren are still in the work force and 17% are living in poverty.

As grandparents we may have had no mental, emotional, or financial preparation when we began raising our grandchildren. It can be more than overwhelming. Everything, from needing diapers and formula, an appropriate car seat for the toddler, to dealing with a drug-addicted teenager, may need to be immediately addressed.
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Karen Anderson, who began the website, is also writing a blog.  My hat off to her and her husband and all the other grandparents who are doing such important work saving children from shattered families.
Thanks too to David St. Lawrence at Ripples for letting me know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:57 PM | Permalink