Parenting Wars

Found a really good article from the Irish times (found below):

“A COUPLE OF months ago in the UK there was a furore over parents who allowed their children, aged six and eight, to cycle the short journey to school each day unaccompanied. Parents of other children were so upset at this that they made official complaints to social services, which escalated when the parents refused to change their behaviour. The case caught the attention of the national media and opened a polar debate about the rights and wrongs of the parents’ decision. Whatever the risks of cycling to school at a young age, the case certainly highlights the increased scrutiny that modern parents are under and the pressure to conform to certain child-rearing practices. Whereas in the past, parenting differently was tolerated, there is now a belief that there is only one “right” way to parent, and parents seem to be quicker to judge rather than support one another.

Parenting is embroiled in major controversies such as the issue of stay-at-home versus working mothers or the tug of war between following your babies’ demands and getting them into a sleep routine at an early age. Rather than being polite debates, these discussions often become more like “parenting wars”, and are driven by very strongly held views with little tolerance for differences. This trend represents the emergence of “competitive parenting” as a feature of modern child-rearing. More than ever, parents feel under pressure and are anxious about getting their parenting right. They labour under the false idea that there is a single “best way” to bring up children, and they therefore can easily become defensive and be quick to judge anyone who parents differently. At the heart of this competition is insecurity. If someone is doing something different, this makes us question whether what we are doing is wrong, so we can either become insecure in our parenting or rush to defend it at all costs. Parenting brings out strong feelings, and we feel we must defend our way of parenting at the expense of accepting other people’s. A more balanced view is to realise that most differences in parenting are not right or wrong but reflections of different values and culture, as well as of the different needs of parents and children.

 

While not the choice for every parent, allowing young children to cycle to school reflects a respect for independence and could be a boost to a child’s self-esteem if it suits their needs and what they are able for. At the heart of this is the fact that parents, children and families are different, and that these differences are okay – there is no one-size-fits-all approach in parenting. Parents come with their own specific needs and personalities. For example, some parents seek to establish their children’s early independence as a means of achieving the right balance for themselves, while others value a closely connected relationship with their children as a means of making the sacrifice of parenting bearable.

As a clinician, I see many parents in difficulty who have been pushed into choices that don’t suit their own needs or values. These can include mothers who feel pressured to achieve a routine with their child when they would be much happier responding to demand, or mothers who are worn out by their babies’ demands and would be better to prioritise their own needs more. It also includes mothers who become depressed when they stay at home to mind children and neglect their need to work outside the home, as well as fathers who, driven by the pressure to be “a provider”, become depressed in work when they would more naturally fit the nurturing role of caring for their children at home.

 

The first principle of good parenting is to be aware of your own needs as a parent and as a person, so you can then more freely attend to your children. In addition, children are different and come with their own personalities and temperaments. Good parents tune into their own needs and those of their individual children, and try to find a match between them. In my work, parents often come to see me when there is a mismatch between their needs and those of their children – for example, an independent parent bringing up a fussy child who needs much more reassurance than the parent naturally gives, or a very self- reliant child who battles for independence from a parent who prefers to be much more connected. In those cases, my work focuses on helping the parent to reflect, and to tune into their child’s different perspective, so they can find a way to meet both their needs. There are many different ways to parent that are “good enough” and allow children to grow into happy, well- adjusted adults.

The key is to find a synergy between your own needs as a parent and those of your children. This is very important, as the biggest gift we can give our children is that we enjoy being with them and we enjoy being their parent. If we choose parenting practices that leave us resentful, depressed or unfulfilled, then we serve neither their interests nor our own. As a result, an overly competitive approach to parenting that makes mothers and fathers judgmental or insecure in their own parenting should have no place in society. My hope is that we will establish a more compassionate culture of parenting. We need to call a truce in the parenting wars and see the different sides of the debate as both contributing a valued perspective. Then we can begin to create a more supportive culture of parenting that values diversity and gives parents the space and support to make the right choices for themselves and their children.”

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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.”

What kind of mom are you?

Found an article from PR Newwire about Heidi Murkoff the author of “What to Expect” series and a study she conducted on “new moms”, this is what she has  to say:

“Moms are always evolving to keep up and keep connected – and they’re always looking for new and innovative ways to make pregnancy and parenting easier, more satisfying, less stressful, more  enjoyable,” explained Murkoff, “and this research showed exactly what they’re looking for and where.  Let’s face it moms have always been amazing, but this fascinating research showed just how incredibly confident and empowered today’s mom is, how open she’s become about pregnancy and parenting, and how eager she is to share insights, tips, and resources with other moms who are going through the exact same experience at the same time.  She’s pregnant and proud – out from behind those yards of polyester that used to keep her beautiful belly a secret.  She’s celebrating her pregnancy calling attention to her pregnant curves – in fact, today’s maternity fashion, all those tights, stretchy cute clothes, is a great metaphor for that pregnancy pride.

“And to say that today’s moms are embracing technology along with their bellies is an understatement.  The research showed that they are twice as likely to use Twitter – I should know, I Tweet with them – and 32% more likely to use a Smartphone than the national average of users. From tweeting the results of a pregnancy test, to putting sonograms on their profiles, to texting friends and family just seconds after the birth of their child – well, we’ve come a long way, mommy!”

Three Categories of Moms

The “Delivering a Mom” study identified three distinct segments of women in terms of how they approached decision making:  The Plan-Aheader, The Right-on-Timer, and The Lagger. “The Plan-Aheader likes to be prepared, skips ahead in books and online, can be an ‘inexperienced influencer’, and is more likely to change her mind because of her early decisions,” explained Laura Klein, Senior Vice President, Everyday Health Inc., publisher of WhatToExpect.com. 72% of first time pregnant women are Plan-Aheaders. “The Right-on-Timer takes each phase as it comes, does research and makes product choices based on her current needs. This often minimizes unwanted and unused items because her choices are thoughtful. Moms with more experience are more likely to be in this group,” Klein continued.  “Lastly, The Lagger mom is often the one playing catch-up, feeling chaotic and overwhelmed.  We found that this mom-to-be was more likely to take advice from others and when making purchasing decisions, likely to select what others have chosen.”

Murkoff concluded, “Today’s moms and moms-to-be are connecting like never before, and using technology  that moms just ten years ago would never thought possible. Best of all, they’re part of a virtual global community of moms, a family really, they can turn to 24/7 to learn from, share with, celebrate with every magical (and challenging) moment.  That’s mom power at work!”

 

What kind of mom are you?

The value of SAHM

Want to know how much a SAHM really should make? Read the article I found below, courtesy of Crestonnews.com.

“Have you ever put a dollar figure on how much the stay-at-home parent in your household would earn for all the jobs they do? Or how about the adult child who is now caring for aging parents or other relatives?

So how much is a stay-at-home parent’s work really worth? According to Salary.com’s 2010 Mother’s Day Paycheck for Mom’s Job, the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $117,867 for a stay-at-home mom.

Historically, families often undervalue the primary caregiver’s contributions, and that can lead to some troublesome circumstances in the event that there is a disability or unexpected death and the caregiver’s contributions are no longer available to the family.

The result is that many “stay-at-homers” have been inadequately accounted for in family financial plans, leaving both the financial and emotional stability of the family at even greater risk if funds aren’t available to help cope as a family rebuilds.

“When I talk to families who have made the decision for one parent to stay home, I’m surprised by how often families overlook the value of the work being done by the family caregiver, whether that’s a man or a woman,” says Kelley Gay, assistant vice president, Market Development for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual). “Trust me, as a working mother, I know how many different hats that caregiver is wearing all at the same time, including caring for and nurturing kids emotionally, physically and intellectually, cooking the family’s meals, cleaning the house, racing in between playing with the kids and keeping the laundry moving along, running errands and driving all over town in the same pattern three times a day! The truth is that if you had to pay for each of those services, the cost can be exorbitant – even prohibitive. Families today need to make sure that they not only think about the value of the hours that are being worked out of the house, but also consider those hours being put into working in the home – and actually assign the true combined value that they’re worth.”

The demand for more information about the role of stay-at-home dad has also led to other studies, in addition to Salary.com’s. About 25 percent of America’s preschoolers are cared for by dad while mom is at work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 234,000 school-aged children are watched over by 140,000 fathers who stay at home.

Families reviewing their financial plans should look at the value a caregiver provides the family, and plan for an insurance policy that gives the family flexibility if something were to happen to the caregiver.

“Once a family takes a deeper look at both the value of the wage-earner and the caregiver, depending on the family’s needs, a whole life insurance policy can be a good fit. A permanent policy that provides coverage for the entire life of the owner, may also help create flexibility for the family through its cash value build-up in ways that can provide benefits to the family while the caregiver is living,” Gay says. “I have found that in many cases, a combination of term (or temporary coverage) and permanent insurance may be the ideal answer for growing families who need the coverage but also want to start the process in an affordable way.”

Gay suggests families also consider discussing other financial planning topics when formulating a well-rounded plan, including:

* Creating an emergency fund and developing a budget that both parents can commit to.
* Creating a will and assigning guardianship of the children.
* Defining and addressing retirement income needs.
* Preparing a college savings plan.
* Caring for loved ones, including preparing for long-term care needs.

Moms that don’t have Mom friends

Found a nice little article in Time magazine titled: “Mompetition: Why you just can’t make Mom Friends”.

 

“A generation or two ago, “parenting” probably wasn’t a noun. It was just something a mom and a dad did once baby made three. Fast-forward to 2010, where endless choices, along with their perceived pitfalls, await. How we choose to raise our child, the incremental everyday decisions we make, define the kind of parents we are. Use cloth diapers? Co-sleep with your child? There’s no chance you’d be caught feeding your baby formula. Ply Junior with Cheetos for an afternoon snack? It’s doubtful you spend much time worrying about any link between childhood vaccines and autism. Moms line up neatly into one of two camps — the anal-retentive, organic produce-plying perfectionists or the TV-watching, junk-food-feeding slackers — or so the conventional wisdom goes. Both sides are simultaneously and smugly convinced the other side is failing at raising their kids. The feeling of being constantly judged has inspired a new video on YouTube, Why I Can’t Make Mom Friends, which has put a laugh-out-loud, refreshingly satirical face on the way we judge each other.

In the video, two moms meet at the playground. One, a mom of twins, shares that she stopped breastfeeding after a month because it was too difficult. The other, a mom of three, responds: “That is a shame. Your poor children.”

“They are just fine,” replies the first mom. “They are in the 90th percentile for height.”

“Mine are in the 95th,” counters the second mom.

The video’s creator, Valerie Stone Hawthorne, 30, is a stay-at-home Texas mother of 2-year-old boy-girl twins who holds a doctorate in cancer biology and cell biology. These days she’s more apt to hold forth on the merits of graham vs. animal crackers, although she hasn’t lost her ability to think profound thoughts. For example, she’s got a pretty good idea what’s behind all this “mompetition”: nostalgia. (More on Time.com: Photos: America at Home)

Behind many moms at the park is a formerly successful professional who’s forsaken a career path to bring up baby. Now that’s their job, and they take it seriously. “Competition is a way to regain what they had in the work world,” says Stone Hawthorne. “We want to impress each other because we need validation.”

As an earnest new mom, Stone Hawthorne would troll mommy message boards only to get beaten down. “No matter what I was doing it was always wrong,” she says. “You know, if you don’t hold your child a million times a day and attend to his every need, he will grow up dysfunctional.” A researcher, she read scores of baby how-to books to determine the “right” way to raise her children. What she’s discovered is that there is no right way. Wouldn’t we be a lot happier if we’d all just acknowledge that?

Stone Hawthorne did her part by channeling her dry and sarcastic nature into formulating a retort to all the sanctimony. On her personal blog, she posted the video clip. As is the way of the Web, one person sent it to another; it’s now been viewed in various places, including on YouTube, about 350,000 times. “People were emailing me to say, I’m so glad you’re finally standing up,” she says. Amusingly enough, some of those emails came from women who act suspiciously like the blonde mom of three in the video, the one with the robo-voice. And that got Stone Hawthorne thinking again: What if the know-it-all smugness is just a show? Her suspicion was reinforced one day when she watched a woman offer grapes to her daughter only to have the girl demand a Snickers bar and dump the fruit on the ground. “We don’t eat Snickers,” the mom chided. Stone Hawthorne couldn’t help laughing when the girl’s brother proceeded to eat the grapes off the floor. “My kids eat Snickers and food off the ground all day,” she told the mom. “Really?” responded the mom, relaxing. “I was just trying to impress you.”

Funny, true, and very telling about what it means to be a mom and face “mompetition”.

Are reality moms, really living in reality?

These days when you turn on the television it’s difficult not to watch television shows about “reality” moms. In a lot of cases these reality moms are NOT at all the reality for the majority of us. We don’t have nannies, cooks, cleaning people, or a staff dedicated to our every need. We don’t have cameras following us around and exposing our private moments to the public. We don’t have personal trainers, or money to get plastic surgery (Kate Gosselin). We don’t look glamorous as we’re heading to the grocery store, kids in tow, and after a long day at work. We certainly don’t get the privilege of going to 4 and 5 star vacations whenever we want. And more importantly we aren’t duped into thinking that we are above the law–which I’ll get to soon enough.

It appears that reality moms really aren’t living in reality… Or at least not our reality. Most reality moms live lives that most of have us will never experience.  Trying to follow these moms parenting styles proves to be moot. And yet these moms are considered the “reality” of most American parents. In which reality do they live in? Apparently a reality where certain rules and laws just don’t apply to them. In many cases what starts off as a “regular” real parent, soon transforms into the reality of a celebrity, which in many cases IS in fact a reality where laws and rules just don’t apply. This is why Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton can get away with numerous drug charges and still party the next day. This is why Miley Cyrus at 17 was able to go into a 21 and up club(she was spotted at one last weekend) and this is why at 6 Drew Barrymore was smoking pot and drinking until she was drunk.

But obviously there is a difference between a reality parent and a celebrity parent. Yet for some reason many reality parents fail to remember they aren’t necessarily celebrities. Though the lines often get blurred these days–with the variety of reality shows where the people are treated as celebrities–we must remember that they are in fact “real people who started off “real” but ONLY  recently began living lives that many of us would deem “celebrity” living. So while they live their lives posing as a celebrity, they must remember that they are in fact in a “reality” where certain rules still apply–even for them. This brings me to my main point.

As of lately, I’ve been reading more and more news articles where “reality moms” act as though they are celebrities(where rules don’t apply) and when reality catches up with them, it’s sort of like an “oh sh$$” moment. It started off with Nadya Suleman, who for some reason, with her 14 children–thought that her “child-rearing” and living environment was “okay” (as chaotic as it was) because she compared herself to Jolie.  Months later CPS investigated her–apparently her living environment wasn’t “fine”.  Now this same “said” mom is on the brink of “welfare” because UNLIKE a celebrity having 14 kids doesn’t mean you are rich. And Nadya didn’t get the memo that when you have 14 kids on a nurse’s salary you become broke.   Then last week we saw the “teen mom” episode where Amber Portwood somehow thought she was above the law when she physically abused her boyfriend in front of cameras. Not too sure what possessed her to “show out”(literally) in public, but she did, and unfortunately it came at a consequence: she is now being investigated by CPS. I’m sure that she thought being “big and bad” was cute until the reality hit. She has issued a public apology which probably will only slightly help her case.  And then the new reality show “Sister Wives”– at one point one of the mothers’ said: “When we decided to do the show, we knew there would be risks. But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”  Well apparently the risk was worth it, because they are now being investigated by Utah Police and could face up to 5 years behind bars. Not sure how that was worth losing their kids? But hey I guess the “call” of fame was more important!

Anyone else find it amusing and a bit ironic how reality moms are starting to REALLY face the reality of “poor” decision-making skills on national television?

Progress Denied: Women in Management Left Behind (Minding the Kids)

Found this article below at the Huffington Post,

“The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s new glass ceiling report on women in management was just released by the Joint Economic Committee, and the news is bad. In a comparison of the years 2000 and 2007, women comprised 49% of non-managerial workers in both years, but their representation in management rose slightly from 39% to 40%.

Although the report does not say why things are still so bad, the numbers hint that marriage and children are part of the problem – but only for women. In 2007, 74% of the men in management were married, while that only held true for 59% of the women. While 57% of the men had no dependent children, 63% of the women had no children. Further, 27% of the men had at least two children, but only 20% of the women did.

These differences reflect what we call “bias avoidance strategies.” Here’s how it works. If you think your co-workers or bosses view care-giving commitments as a negative, then you will either avoid those commitments entirely or hide them when you have them. When men take on care-giving responsibilities, that’s fine. It is automatically assumed that family will not interfere with work. On the other hand, when women take on care-giving roles, they are no longer taken seriously; instead, they are “just moms.” Bias avoidance behaviors are rooted in the harsh reality that women still perform more housework and provide more childcare than men. However, young men are doing more housework and are more involved in childcare today than ever, yet the outdated workplace expectations that induce bias avoidance remain… No wonder women in management often avoid marriage and children.

The GAO report also highlights the economic incentives for bias avoidance. Among women in management without children, average pay rose from 81 cents to 83 cents for every dollar earned by males between 2000 and 2007. The story for women in management with children? Their earnings stayed flat at 79 cents on every dollar earned by male managers (and that is male managers with children).

Fortunately, many of our leading employers have recognized the economic danger inherent in forcing employees, and particularly women, to engage in bias avoidance strategies: we lose the productivity of many of our most talented citizens when they “choose” to make family commitments. Those employers, spotlighted annually by Working Mother magazine, strive to be family-responsive, and are much better at holding onto talented women (and men), regardless of care-giving commitments.

Unfortunately, our national response has been anemic, with around half of the workforce receiving unpaid time off for care-giving under the Family and Medical Leave Act. We can and should do more, including ensuring the provision of paid sick days with the proposed Healthy Families Act. The proposed act provides sick days both for one’s own illness and to care for ill family members. Congress should also pass the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would promote the negotiation of work schedules that are win-win for both employers and families. Finally, because the wage gap exists for both mothers and non-mothers, we need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, to help equalize wage disparities between women and men.

We can do better, and if we do, those dismal numbers for women in management will improve.”