Financial Affordability & Children

Had a great weekend, and loved spending Halloween taking my God Children trick or treating(I wish I could put up pictures).  On Halloween(before I took my God Children trick or treating) I had deep discussion with a friend of mine who is engaged to be married and who is really anxious about having children.  The conversation centered around how much she believes she needs to make in order to have children ASAP.  She believes that all you need is love, a steady paycheck(even if it’s slightly above minimum wage), shelter, and supportive family and friends. I agreed but also stated that she should at least make enough to afford the basics, and to also provide a good solid foundation for the child. This was a hard pill to swallow for her because admittingly she isn’t at all financially prepared for a child–like most young twenty somethings she has student loans, debt, and a below-median salary which doesn’t really afford her many luxuries and also barely keeps her afloat. Her fiance is in a similar position. Needless to say when she found out I was taking my God Children trick or treating I could sense in her voice that the topic was a very sensitive point for her–knowing that she wants to have children, hearing about me spending time with children, but also being aware that she isn’t in the position(realistically) to have children. She claims that at 24 her biological clock is ticking and that it depresses her that she isn’t able to have a child(sooner rather than later).

Later on that night, after I was done trick or treating I talked to my best friend(the mother of my God children) about the conversation I had with my other friend(the one who is engaged). She was on the side of my “engaged” friend. This is probably because she had her children with the idealist approach that all you need is: love, a steady paycheck, and support. Yet she is very much struggling right now and isn’t at all where she thought she would be financially. So listening to these two give their opinions about why you don’t need to be completely “stable” before having children was really intriguing to me. These were some of the reasons that they believed that having a kid even when one isn’t completely financially prepared is okay:

1. Babies don’t need very much(they only need love)

2. Hand-me-downs, used baby furniture, and baby showers are good enough for covering the basics (in other words, she won’t have as much out-of-pocket expenses by relying on these things).

3. She can build wealth later on(she already has her degree and is in the beginning of her career).

4. She can cut corners the first 4 years of the baby’s life(i.e. breast feeding instead of buying formula, using clothe diapers, living in an apartment, relying on family members to watch the child to avoid daycare costs, and so on).

5.  You can never be financially prepared for a child.

 

All of this sounds nice and I’m now on the fence. A part of me thinks that is possible for a financially unstable person to “wing” it by doing the things listed above though another part of me(the more cynical side) feels as though this sort of thinking is far too idealistic and does the parent and the child a disservice.

What is your opinion?

 

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Young kids watching too much television

I found an article on MSNBC.com, about preschoolers watching far too much television than what they should be, look at the article below, and tell me what you think:

“Young kids are watching too much television, some averaging more than five hours a day, a new study suggests.

The findings include screen time at home and in different child care settings.

And nearly 70 percent of the preschool-age children exceeded recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for limiting screen exposure (including TV, DVDs, computers and video games) to one to two daily hours. The recommendation is based on research linking screen time with adverse effects, including language lags, obesity, possibly aggressive behaviors and decreased academic performance, according to study researcher Dr. Pooja Tandon of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington.

“A majority of children under the age of 5 years in the United States spend almost 40 hours a week with caregivers other than their parents, and it’s important to understand what kind of screen-time exposure children are getting with these other caregivers,” Tandon said.

Tandon and her colleagues will detail their findings in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

TV tallies
The team looked at data collected from nearly 9,000 preschool-age children (4 to 5 years old) along with their parents and caregivers who took part in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). The ECLS-B has followed a nationally representative sample of 10,700 children born in 2001. The sample is meant to represent about 4 million children of the same ages and demographics.

Results were grouped by child care setting: home-based care (in the child’s home or a relative/non-relative’s home), commercial day care centers, Head Start programs and no child care arrangement (parents only).

 

Overall, children stared at TV screens 4.1 hours a day, including 3.6 hours at home and the rest in child care. Kids in home-based care showed the highest screen time, about 5.5 hours a day, with 1.5 of those hours in front of screens during child care. TV time for kids in commercial day cares was the lowest, at 3.2 daily hours. Kids cared for by parents only were exposed to 4.4 daily hours, and Head Start kids got 4.2 daily hours of screen time.

Tandon said the results aren’t that surprising. “When children are at home, whether with parents or another caregiver, it’s easier to turn the television on,” Tandon told LiveScience. “Many of those settings are not regulated or licensed; many tend to be less structured.”

As for the overall abundance of TV-watching among the tots, parents’ hectic lives may be partly to blame. From her own experience as a parent as well as anecdotal evidence from friends, Tandon said, “there are times when the television is used as a babysitter in a sense.”

Part of the problem is that parents aren’t as comfortable sending their children outside to play on their own. And with so much media available, kids are spending more and more time indoors, she added.

TV tips
Since TV and other media are here to stay, Tandon recommends screening quality shows. “For children over 2, I think programs that teach things like numbers, letters, different languages, [those] that have positive messages like sharing and respecting diversity,” Tandon said, adding that programs such as “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues” [s1]and “Sesame Street” would be considered positive shows.

Tandon offers tips for limiting screen time :

  • Use DVDs or on-demand television, because when the show is over, it’s over. “The problem with television is it keeps going,” Tandon said. These media also eliminate advertisements, which tend to promote unhealthy foods, she added.
  • Set rules for screen time early in children’s lives.
  • Turn off the TV during meal times.
  • Take TVs out of bedrooms. (Tandon mentioned research suggesting a certain percentage of preschoolers have TVs in their rooms.)
  • Watch television with kids, and discuss the shows and the messages put forth.

And the take-home message from the study, Tandon said, is for parents to loop caregivers in — let them know what the recommendations are for TV time. If parents are in the know about how much screen time they soaked up during the day, television at home that day or week can be tailored to keep it at a dull roar.”

 

5 ways to get your child to eat Veggies

If your a mommy that has a hard time getting your child to eat veggies then read the article below to gather tips on how to get your child to WANT to eat veggies! The article was found on the San-fransico Chronicle.

 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month indicating that American adults were eating fewer vegetables in 2009 than they were in 2000.

The study didn’t specifically look at children but we can only guess that if the parents aren’t eating green stuff then their children aren’t either. And so it seems like an appropriate time to bring in an expert who can offer up some fresh ways for parents to prepare veggies for their kids.

Enter Catherine McCord, Los Angeles mother of two whose wildly popular Weelicious website is dedicated to feeding kids healthy, yummy foods. With inventive recipes, fabulous photography, and fun instructional videos, McCord encourages parents to get their kids eating green beans, carrots, corn, salad, even beets, kale, onions, and okra.

McCord says that parents often offer their kids a veggie only once or twice. If the children spit out the food and say they don’t like it, then the parents say, “Well, I guess that my kid is just a picky eater.”

“Studies show that it takes up to 10 tries before a person starts enjoying a certain vegetable,” McCord says. “We also have a habit of not offering our kids foods that we don’t enjoy. I try to offer my kids a variety of foods and let them decide on their own if they enjoy them without saying a word either way. We have a tiny garden, go to the farmers market to try the fruit and vegetable samples and try to include the kids in the cooking process as often as possible. The more you can empower your kids in the kitchen, the more excited they will be about trying new foods.”

We asked McCord to offer up 5 fun ways to prepare vegetables for kids.

1) Sweet Beet Cookies

Catherine McCord

McCord says: “Not only are these cookies gorgeous, perfectly sweet and super crunchy, they’re also packed with folates and vitamin C. They’re the kind of treats that make everyone happy. Beet that!”

Sweet Beet Cookies recipe

2) Kale Chips

McCord says: “When you’re trying to inspire kids to eat healthy, my experience has been if whatever you are making for them is in the form of a chip, muffin, pancake or on-a-stick, it’s usually a hit! We’ve been making these kale chips a lot recently and I can’t tell you how fast they disappear! I truly can’t believe how tasty they are — I know that’s a huge statement, but I think I like them even more then potato chips (and that’s saying a lot)!”

Kale Chips recipe

3) Cheddar Cauliflower

McCord says: “When I was a kid, my mother would take an entire head of cauliflower, bake it, cover it with tons of grated cheddar cheese and then put it back into the oven to continue baking until it looked like a great big orange basketball. I loved the taste, but felt if I recreated it, it may look a bit overwhelming to a little kid. I think smaller pieces of roasted cauliflower with just a light sprinkling of melted cheddar has more eye appeal for little ones.”

Cheddar Cauliflower recipe

4) Baked Zucchini Coins

McCord says: “Zucchini has a very delicate flavor, so I focused on a simple preparation. These zucchini coins are baked, which makes them crunchy on the outside and soft and tender inside — a real textural treat for kids. Add a little tomato sauce on the side and they’re the perfect side dish for your family to enjoy with any meal.”

Baked Zucchini Coins recipe

5) Maple Roast Veggies

McCord says: “This roast veggies dish is a holiday favorite in my house and is great no matter if you are having twenty people over or just two. I first started making this simple dish for Thanksgiving years ago, but it’s so delicious and easy to make that I started making it all the time. Roasting is one of the best techniques for getting the maximum amount of flavor out of vegetables. They become super tender, sweet on the inside and a bit caramelized on the outside. For anyone who has a child who is prone to say, ‘I hate vegetables,’ just try making this dish and tell me if those words ever come out of their sweet little mouths again!”

Maple Roast Veggies recipe
More kid-friendly recipes at Weelicious.com.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=74943#ixzz12vgYNjZy



Working Moms Kids Turn Out Just Fine

I found the following article in Time’s Magazine:

Another day, another study on whether women who work are jeopardizing their children’s well-being. According to a review of 50 years of research on the subject, kids whose moms went back to work before the kids were 3 years old had no worse academic or behavioral problems than kids whose moms stayed home. In fact, in some instances they did better. The research, which appears in the Psychological Bulletin, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Psychological Association, looked at 69 studies between 1960, when research on the issue started, and 2010. The researchers looked specifically at academic and behavioral outcomes. “We really wanted to try to resolve some of the controversy and inconsistent findings around the issue of maternal employment,” says lead author Rachel Lucas Thompson, an assistant professor of psychology at Macalester College in Minnesota.

The researchers found little evidence to suggest that mothers who work part-time or full-time have children with problems in later life. But the researchers did find two positive associations between working motherhood and well-adjusted children: kids whose mothers worked when they were younger than 3 were later rated as higher-achieving by teachers and had fewer problems with depression and anxiety.

The only small caveat was that children whose mothers worked in the very first year of their lives tended to have slightly lower formal academic scores than those whose moms didn’t. However children whose mothers were employed when the child was 1 or 2 years old had higher academic scores than kids with full-time moms. Over the three years, the effects evened out.

The debate about working moms is often conducted as if the only group affected were guilt-ridden high-income college-educated women. But most working mothers have little choice but to hold down a paying job, especially in single-parent families. The children of single moms who work tend to do better than those who don’t. “These findings suggest in single-parent families there should be no guilt about employment,” says Lucas-Thompson. “They can also alleviate some concerns among the wealthy,” although among children of higher-income families whose moms were working before they were 3, there was a slightly higher incidence of aggressive behavior.

It’s not just the extra money the working mothers bring in that helps the kids, although that’s a huge part of it. Other research has suggested that an employed mother provides children with a positive role model about the value of working hard, and lessens other, non-economic stresses on the family.

Recent studies have shown that wives and mothers are taking on an increasing share of the burden of providing for the household, partly because of the decline in jobs for men with only a high school education. Many experts are concerned that child care and flexible work options have not nearly kept apace with this change.”

Most of the “fat” is coming from the outside.

So I read a few articles online today that confirmed what I have always known about the large epidemic of overweight children.  Let me preface this by saying that when I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to eat certain junk foods: Debbie snacks, cookies, and any other fatty food that my mom thought would make us fat. For dessert we had canned pineapples, grapefruit, or a banana. For lunch, my mom’s idea of a “snack” was a Nutri Grain bar or a fruit-roll-up. Needless to say the “healthy” habits grew old. Especially when I saw many of my friends eating the honey buns, the Twix bars and the ice cream sandwiches.

When I turned 9 my mom started taking us to my grandmother’s house every morning before school. My grandmother had honey-buns, processed donuts, waffles, french toast, etc–you name it she had it. She also was morbidly obese and felt that “healthy eating” was a pretty stupid concept. Anyway my mom warned us NOT to eat over her house in the morning. She told us to eat some toast  or fruit if we were hungry. We didn’t listen.  After months of accumulating honey-buns in the morning, cafeteria lunch, and stopping at the vending machine for a Twix bar before coming home, I eventually gained a lot of weight. So did my sister.  My mom had warned us consuming fatty food on the outside  would make us  fat and boy was she right.

The articles I read stated the exact same thing: kids who are overweight are often gaining weight from food that is eaten outside of the home.

So what does this mean for parenting? This means that we can feed our children healthy foods at home, pack them healthy lunches, but once they leave OUR home there is still a possibility that the child has access to junk food.  Now I don’t want to be one of those people who tell parents that they need to monitor their child’s every behavior(because most of us barely have enough time in the day to focus on ourselves).  But what I will say is that parenting starts in the home.  Children need to be educated about obesity,  junk food, and how unhealthy it is. And it probably should start while they’re young.  And it should be emphasized what foods are “okay” to eat when a child is outside of the home, and what foods are “not” okay.  We don’t want our children to be scarred from “fat-talks” , we don’t want to turn into the fat police, but we also don’t want our children to go out and eat food that will eventually lead to massive weight gain.

How many of you KNOW what your child is eating when they are out with friends, at school lunch, or even during the school day when they have access to vending machines? How do you convey the importance of good nutrition and being “healthy”?

 

What is happening with Miley Cyrus?

So this morning while browsing the news I saw a ton of articles about Miley’s new video “Who Owns My heart”. If you haven’t seen the video I urge you to go on to YouTube for a preview.  But to give you a good idea about why the video is controversial: remember her video “Can’t be tamed”–well let’s just say Miley’s new video takes it up a few notches.  And of course parents are upset. This is a young woman who became quite successful because teeny-boppers and little girls loved her. Many still do. If not for her the “mass” of young tween fans Miley probably wouldn’t be popular or “mainstream” right now.  Yet Miley seems very “quick” to alienate herself from her “fans” trying to appeal to an “older” demographic group.

Miley has claimed that this is “who she is” that she is sick of being told “who she should be” and that she is comfortable in her skin and her body. In other words the image we see above is really Miley Cyrus, not the Hannah Montana character we saw on Disney.  Fine… But why in the world did she ever try to be Hannah Montana if that wasn’t “her”?  And who is listening to her music right now? I can’t recall any 17 or 18-year-old girls listening to her. Her fans are the “teeny boppers”. The same fans that she is moving away from.  If you recall this is the same thing that happened with Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay started off as a Disney Star and slowly but surely made her way into the person she is today.  The further she moved from her fans, the more she hurt her career.  Some have compared her to Britney Spears. But the main difference between Britney and Miley is that Britney started off with a “sexy” image.  The sexy pop girl was the image that Britney ALWAYS portrayed. Whereas Miley is coming into this “image”–or at least trying to push the image onto fans. And I suspect that this is why parents are upset.

To be perfectly honest Miley Cyrus is no different from your average 17 or 18-year-old girl. She is simply coming in to terms with her sexuality.  And–like a lot of young woman-she wants us to notice her.  I want everyone to take a trip to highschool in 2010. You’ll see that there is a mass of young women that dress just as provocatively and act as provocatively as Miley.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that the real her at 17 (because hopefully at 30 this behavior will die down) is overtly sexual.  Matter of fact I’ve posted several blog topics about America’s oversexualized culture and the impact on young women and Miley is a pretty good example.  Britney was a good example. A lot of these young celebrity pop artists are “examples”.   So who do we blame? Their agents? Media? Do we blame that novel idea that “sex sells”?   Or do we just chalk it up to Miley being the “average” american teenager?

At this point we know that her fan base will eventually stop listening to Miley in the way that many were before. We know that parents are angry and upset and will probably continue to “rank” on her. We know that people are baffled by her “sudden” change.  And we know that Miley is happy with her new image.  I would like to know what Miley’s parents think about her new image. Her dad already defended her when she was gyrating like a stripper on a man, saying “that is what people her age do”. What are her parents saying now? Do they care?

Bigger questions: Will this “new image” hurt Miley’s career in the long-term? Will Miley turn into another Lindsey Lohan? If you have children are you still letting your children listen to her music?

 

 

 

 

Sister Wives Speculation

So I’m going to be honest I haven’t completely watched a full episode of the show. I’ve seen certain “parts”  or segments, but I’ve never had the time to sit through an entire episode. So this is simply my own perspective from the little I have observed about this show.  I’ve read many articles speculating about this family, and it all seems to boil down to the fact that the show is really only portraying the more “surface” dynamics of how this works without getting any deeper. We sort of “get” why this man obviously would find this type of arrangement favorable.  But for many people, men in particular, the mere premise of maintaining 4 marital relationships and 16 kids is it a bit much… Kody has even indicated that he’d like more children. Now this could boil down to his core beliefs, BUT for the average person this sort of arrangement would become stressful after the “newness” and “fun” wore off.  Kody paints everything with a positive attitude, and as something completely doable–something he is proud of. But we don’t really understand why at his age (of 20) he made the decision to have numerous wives, we don’t understand how he isn’t stressed out by it all(we wish he’d at least admit to that) and we’d like to know the depth and “feelings” that he has for each woman.

This is all “touched” so lightly that we really don’t get to see the “reality” of it but merely an “we’re typical, we’re happy, we have normal problems” sort of image. This would be fine, but it’s obvious that this sort of arrangement would have some pretty “major” issues because let’s face it this type of family is NOT the typical family. We see SOME of the advantages of this sort of arrangement. Wife number 2 gets to work a lot of hours without childcare worries, or worrying about who is raising her child. Wife number three gets to stay at home with the children. Wife number one only had to have one child(but she seems most unhappy with this arrangement which makes us wonder WHY she kept pushing Kody to find more wives). Wife number 4 gets a huge ready-made family with an obviously good financial situation. All of these sort of “explain” why this sort of arrangement could be beneficial. But what many of us are trying to understand is:

1. How in the world can they afford 16 children, a huge house, and all of the other financial costs and expenses? I mean Kody drives  a luxury car! While it’s clear that two of the wives work, and that Kody works (as a sales man) we’re wondering how even with all three incomes combined–they could afford this sort of lifestyle. I’d like to see more segments on “budgeting”, and the “costs” of such a lifestyle. Because even if the average salesman made 250k to 300k and both his wifes made 60k-100k, they still be considered pretty average in financial footing with a large house and 13 children. And speaking of “costs” who does Kody have on his insurance plan? Isn’t it irresponsible to have so many of his children uninsured?

2. For Wife number 4 (Robyn), why would she bring her three children into this sort of lifestyle, when she clearly did not raise them in such a way? And since I’ve only seen small segments–I may be missing something but is her EX husband in the picture? If he is, doesn’t she worry about potential custody issues, such as the fact that she is in an “illegal” marriage. Wouldn’t that make it so much easier for her ex husband to get custody?

3. Is this really healthy for the children? How does one man (Kody) manage solid loving relationships with each of his 13 children? It’s hard enough balancing a typical 3-4 kid family, but how in the world does he manage to have good relationships with each kid and be a good husband to each wife AND be a highly paid salesman? It just seems far-fetched.

4. Some of the older children are opposed to the lifestyle. I’d almost want to see more of the show highlighting how the kids feel about each “mom” and how they REALLY feel about Kody?

These are really some of the questions that have been plaguing me. And these questions haven’t really been answered or addressed. The Brown Family says that this show was created to “inform” the public about their “typical” lifestyle, but rather than doing so, we’re getting a very “surface” image of what happens in this sort of family unit. How exactly is this informational helpful? If we’re all asking the same questions about this show then I’d say that the show has NOT really painted the sort of  “reality” that would help us relate to this family. At least HBO’s Big Love seemed to make much more sense and has a further sense of depth. This show is very one-dimensional so far.