Attentive to Habit

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, The Family, Values on August 29, 2014 at 10:38 am


My father wanted me to be as well prepared for life as I could be. He was attentive and took time to correct misconduct when needed. He was home enough, and I was into mischief enough, that it seemed I was in “the doghouse” throughout my childhood. He was not austere but was simply unable to let any inappropriate behavior sink too deep into habit before being corrected. I was a sensitive young man, and I never took his correcting very well. He had a practice, however, which always repaired my hurt “little boy” feelings and brought us close even when I felt he was very demanding. On Sunday afternoons he would often say, “Let’s go for a walk around the track.” I grew up on a small farm in northern California, and every spring Dad would disc and scrape a flat track around the perimeter. It was approximately one third of a mile around, and we used it for running, driving practice, and to bring loads of fruit home from the orchards in the pickup truck. Dad and I would walk around that track and talk. It was usually a one-sided conversation at first. Dad began by reinforcing the folly of my misbehavior but then spent the bulk of the time reminding me of who he knew I was piece by piece. I can still remember him telling me how handsome I was, what a good boy I was, and that I would turn out to be a great man. He made me feel like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. This building time would usually open me up so that by the end, I was the one doing most of the talking. It was a deliberate expression of his love for me, an intentional strategy to create a confident young man. I would not be who I am today without his loving correction.


Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Edwin Wells’ story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 25. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.


Breastfeeding Awareness Month – Who Knew?

In Breastfeeding, motherhood on August 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Breastfeeding momSince August is National Breastfeeding awareness month…  What? You didn’t know that?   Well, it is and we at United Families International are firmly in the camp of thinking that breastfeeding is essential for the best health and development of babies.

In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness, we have compiled a list of studies that we think you might appreciate browsing through.  Also, here’s a link to Huffington Post and “22 Candid Photos that Show How Beautiful Breastfeeding Really is.”  Not sure we are up to a debate about the pros and cons of  breastfeeding in public, but we are sure that breastfeeding is a beautiful AND important gift you should give your baby.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Fewer Infections and better health

Exclusive breastfeeding for four or more months appeared to diminish the risk of respiratory hospitalization in infancy to one-third or less the risk observed for formula-fed infants.  V. R. Bachrach, E. Schwartz, and L.R. Bachrach, “Breastfeeding and the Risk of Hospitalization for Respiratory Disease:  A Meta-Analysis,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 157, 3 (2003):  237-243.

Breastfeeding for at least four months confers a statistically significant “protective effect” against antibiotic treatments at 1.5 years and at 2.5 years.  “[T]he more-at-risk children could be protected by breast-feeding and by being taken care of in a familial setting, especially before 2.5 years of age.” Lise Dubois and Manon Girard, “Breast-feeding, day-care attendance and the frequency of antibiotic treatments from 1.5 to 5 years: a population-based longitudinal study in Canada,” Social Science & Medicine 60 (2005): 2035-2044.

Breastfeeding appears to reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections in premature infants up to seven months after release from hospital in a 2002 study of 39 infants.   Bier Blaymore, et al., “Human milk reduces outpatient upper respiratory symptoms in premature infants during their first year of life”. J Perinatol 22, 5 (2002): 354–359.

A case-control study found that breastfeeding reduced the risk of acquiring urinary tract infections in infants up to seven months of age, with the protection strongest immediately after birth.  S. Marild, et al.,”Protective effect of breastfeeding against urinary tract infection”. Acta Paediatr. 93, 2 (2004): 164–168.

The 2007 review for AHRQ found that breastfeeding reduced the risk of acute otitis media, non-specific gastroenteritis, and severe lower respiratory tract infection.  S. Ip, et al., “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries” Evidence Report Technological Assessment 153 (2007): 1–186.

A study conducted at a University in Germany found that breastfeeding halved the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in children up to the age of 1.  M.M. Vennemann, et al., “Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome?”  Pediatrics 123, 3 (2009):  e406-410.

Infants exclusively breastfed have less chance of developing diabetes mellitus type 1 than peers with a shorter duration of breastfeeding and an earlier exposure to cow milk and solid foods.   F. Perez-Bravo, et al., “Genetic predisposition and environmental factors leading to the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Chilean children,” Journal of Molecular Medicine 74, 2 (1996): 105–109.

In children who are at risk for developing allergic disease, atopic syndrome can be prevented or delayed through exclusive breastfeeding for four months, though these benefits may not be present after four months of age.  However, the key factor could be the age at which non-breastmilk is introduced rather than duration of breastfeeding. F. R. Greer, et al.,”Effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: the role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, timing of introduction of complementary foods, and hydrolyzed formulas,” Pediatrics (journal) 121, 1 (2008): 183–191.

Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, can be reduced through exclusive breastfeeding beyond 12 weeks in individuals with a family history of atopy, but when breastfeeding beyond 12 weeks is combined with other foods incidents of eczema rise irrespective of family history.  H. R. Pratt, “Breastfeeding and eczema,” Early Human Development 9, 3(1984): 283–290.

Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk of extreme obesity in children aged 39 to 42 months.  J. Armstrong and J. J. Reilly, “Breastfeeding and lowering the risk of childhood obesity,” The Lancet  359, 9322 (2002): 2003–2004.

A 2011 study showed that among children who were never breast-fed — or who stopped breast-feeding before the age of 4 months — introducing solid foods before 4 months of age was linked to a sixfold increase in the risk of obesity.  The timing of solid foods didn’t increase the odds of becoming obese in youngsters who were breast-fed. Susanna Y. Huh, et al., “Timing of Solid Food Introduction and Risk of Obesity in Preschool-Aged Children,” Pediatrics 127, 3 (2011):  e544-e551.

Higher Intelligence

**There are a few studies that have found no connection between breastfeeding and higher intelligence in later life, but there is a more robust amount of research showing that there is a connection.

 In tests of low birth weight children at age seven or eight, it was found that those who had been breastfed for more than eight months had verbal IQ scores six points higher than comparable children breastfed for less time.  L. J. Horwood, et al., “Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years,” Archives Dis. Child. Fetal Neonatal Ed. 84, 1 (2001): F23–27.

A study using data on 2,734 sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health “provide[d] persuasive evidence of a causal connection between breastfeeding and intelligence.” The same data “also suggests that nonexperimental studies of breastfeeding overstate some of [breastfeeding's] other long-term benefits, even if controls are included for race, ethnicity, income, and education.”   E. Evenhouse and S. Reilly, “Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias,” Health Services Research 40, 6 Pt 1(2005): 1781–1802.

A review of the literature conducted for the World Health Organization showed that “breastfeeding is associated with increased cognitive development in childhood.” The review also states that “The issue remains of whether the association is related to the properties of breastmilk itself, or whether breastfeeding enhances the bonding between mother and child, and thus contributes to intellectual development.”   B. L. Horta, et al., Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding: systematic reviews and meta-analyses. (2007) Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

The country of Belarus carried out the largest randomized trial ever conducted in the area of human lactation.  Of 13,889 infants born at these hospitals and polyclinics and followed up in 2002-2005, those who had been born in hospitals and polyclinics receiving breastfeeding promotion had IQs that were 2.9-7.5 points higher.  The authors concluded that the data “provide strong evidence that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding improves children’s cognitive development.”  M.S. Kramer, et al., “Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial,” Archives of  General Psychiatry  65, 5 (2008): 578–584.

Benefits for Mother

 During breastfeeding beneficial hormones are released into the mother’s bodyand the maternal bond can be strengthened. “Benefits of Breastfeeding,” (2009) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lactation that lasts for at least 24 months is associated with a 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease.  A. M. Stuebe, et al., “Duration of lactation and incidence of myocardial infarction in middle to late adulthood,” American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 200, 9 (2009): 138.e1–8.

 According to a study out of Sweden, women who breast fed for a longer duration have a lower risk for contracting rheumatoid arthritis than women who breast fed for a shorter duration or who had never breast fed.  M. Pikwer, U. Bergstrom, J.A. Nilsson, et al., “Breast feeding, but not use of oral contraceptives, is associated with a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis,” Annals of Rheumatic Disease 68, 4 (2009): 526–530.

 Breastfeeding diabetic mothers require less insulin.  W. Rayburn, et al., “Changes in insulin therapy during pregnancy”. American Journal of Perinatology 2, 4 (1985): 271–275

 Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.  Kavitha T. Ram, et al., “Duration of lactation is associated with lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in midlife—SWAN, the study of women’s health across the nation,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 198, 3 (2008): 268.2e1-268.e6.   E. P. Gunderson, et al., “Duration of Lactation and Incidence of the Metabolic Syndrome in Women of Reproductive Age According to Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Status: A 20-Year Prospective Study in CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults),” Diabetes 59, 2 (2010): 495-504.

Women who breastfeed enjoy less risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer.   L. M. Gartner et al., “Breastfeeding and the use of human milk [policy statement],” Pediatrics 115, 2 (2005): 496–506.   S. Ip, et al., “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries” Evidence Report Technological Assessment 153 (2007): 1–186. K. Rosenblatt and D. Thomas, “Prolonged lactation and endometrial cancer. WHO Collaborative Study of Neoplasia and Steroid Contraceptives,” International Journal of  Epidemiology 24, 3 (1995): 499–503.   P. Newcomb and A. Trentham-Dietz, “Breast feeding practices in relation to endometrial cancer risk, USA,Cancer Causes Control 11, 7 (2000): 663–667.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of post-partum bleeding.  S. Chua, et al., “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity,” BJOG:  Int’l Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 101, 9 (1994): 804–805.

 Although 65 percent of infants are breastfed at some time (up from 54 percent over the last decade) there is a sharp decline in any breastfeeding … Expandwhen infants are between two and three months old, often as a consequence of mothers’ return to work or school, but also because of other cultural constraints and beliefs.  Ruowei Li, “Prevalence of Breasfeeding the U.S.:  The 2001 Immunization Survey, Pediatrics 111, 5 (2003):  1198-1201.




Consequences of a Sexually Desensitized Society

In Abortion, Abstinence, AIDS, Birth Rate, Child Development, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, Health Care, Marriage, motherhood, Values on August 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm

youth in love (lust)


Tashica Jacobsen

In a review of many scholarly journals studying negative effects on youth, sexual promiscuity and early sexual activity, are listed as a risk factor along with drug use, delinquent behavior, and violence. However, society is now changing its standards, and is actually encouraging what once was considered (and still is) a risk factor. The encouragement of promiscuity and experimentation along with “sexual rights” are desensitizing our society to sex, and the consequences are great.

Promiscuous behaviors and beliefs are not only risk factors in themselves, they are also a catalyst for a variety of negative consequences. Widely known is their potential for causing pregnancy and STD’s. Other less known consequences are confusion and the destruction they cause to relationships.

During sexual intimacy powerful chemicals are released in the brain. One of these chemicals is oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.” Oxytocin plays a role in adult bonding and is released during sex. It creates a powerful bond between the two people. This bond is good in a long term committed relationship where it unites a couple. However when couples engage in casual sex this bond leads to confusion and heartache; couples may verbally deny any attachment but cannot change the bonding taking place in the brain.

Dr. Van Epp’s RAM model is used to show the healthy progression of a relationship. In this model couples move through five different stages: know, trust, rely, commit, and touch. Each level moves up as the relationship progresses, but to remain healthy the previous level must be higher than the proceeding one. Touch is the last of these stages because it solidifies what a couple already has established. It is an expression of all they have gone through. Since sexual relations are the ultimate touch it needs to follow after the ultimate commitment of marriage.

Sexual intimacy has also been described as a funnel. Individuals enter in and experience a narrowing of mind and focus. When this takes place in a healthy marriage, it leads to bonding and fulfillment. However when this funnel is entered into alone it leads to isolation, confusion, and guilt. The same process, when entered into in a healthy versus unhealthy relationship, has dramatic consequences, yet society is teaching that sex is good, regardless of the circumstances or outcomes.

This devaluation of sexual intimacy is also affecting marriages. Premarital sex increases the likelihood of infidelity in a marriage. In a premarital relationship individuals are laying the ground work for patterns that will continue throughout their marriage. If there is a lack of sexual self-control before marriage, the likelihood of sexual self control within marriage also decreases. The rate of divorce is also higher for those who have sexual relations before marriage. One study found “women who lost their virginity before 18 doubled their risk of divorce, as nearly 31 percent and 47 percent dissolved their marital unions within five and ten years, respectively.”

Sexual intimacy is a uniting act. It unites people in the ultimate way; no other act can do this. “It is the union of their whole selves—heart, mind, flesh, spirit.” But what we are teaching our children is to disconnect this act from others, and focus solely on personal gratification. If we cannot connect the most uniting form of human expression with another person, how is it that we are able to interact and connect with others on a day to day basis? We won’t be able to. We will start to view every interaction in terms of our wants and desires, regardless of others, and view our urges as uncontrollable things we have no choice but to give into. As this happens we give up our power to make decisions.

Given the confusion and destruction of relationships that comes as we devalue sex, it is easy to see why sexual active teens are more likely to suffer from depression and attempt suicide. This new standard of morality is destroying relationships leading to isolation that then spills over into other aspects of our lives making us even more selfish, isolated, and alone.



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