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Archive for the ‘Family Planning’ Category

Family-together Time…It’s worth the effort!

In Child Development, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Parenting, Research, The Family, Values on March 30, 2015 at 7:06 am

family funCaitlin Woolbert

Families are becoming busier and busier in their schedules and are involved in more activities outside of the home. Researchers have studied children of all ages and looked at whether age influences the amount of time a child is willing to spend participating in family activities. One study concluded that

“We ordinarily think of family-shared recreation as age-graded. That is, as children grow older they gradually become emancipated from the family and establish their own circle of friends and activities. The responses of the Pacific County High School students, however, show that older students are just as likely as younger students to desire more recreational activities with their families” (Stone, 1963, p. 85).

There are many benefits of spending time together as a family in recreational activities.

“In general, it [family recreation] is believed to improve parent-child understanding of the interests, problems, and points of view of each by the other” (Stone, 1963, p. 85). Leisure time helps to foster those feelings of mutual understanding and creates a bonding opportunity in which all members of the family can be actively involved in getting to know each other and come closer together.

Family leisure or family time is important to me and my family. Life can be crazy and hectic, but we make it a priority to spend time together. It is easier to spend time with your immediate family. Connecting with extended family is also important. One thing my family has started is getting together once a month for family dinner. It is a great way to catch up and bond together. Looking back through the years, some of my greatest memories come from spending time with my extended family. It is fun to reconnect and reminisce about the good old days.

One of my favorite quotes reads, “Family, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” Families are constantly growing and changing, but we need to remember that we all come from the same roots. Making family leisure or family time a priority is important to strengthen your growing family tree.

Resources:

Stone, C. L. (1963). Family recreation-a parental dilemma. The family life coordinator, vol. 12, pp. 85-87. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.byui.idm.oclc.org/stable/10.2307/581462?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Family&searchText=Recreation-A&searchText=Parental&searchText=Dilemma&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DFamily%2BRecreation-A%2BParental%2BDilemma%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff

 

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE – PART 2

In Child Development, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, The Family, Values on March 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

????????????????????Chuck Malone

Time is Limited!

As co-parents of 5 active children, my wife and I determined early on that we would only have a limited time to create lasting and hopefully character building experiences as a family. We watched older children of other family’s, age and leave the nest to form their own family; the opportunity to create personal and family experiences had passed for the parents. Their role would change from leader to supporter; in many cases from parent to grandparent. The season of creating meaningful family experiences diminished…

UNLESS … they built within their family a legacy of enjoying time together and experiencing life together, even as they raised their own family and developed their own legacy of family experiences.

Have a Plan…

The first step in having experiences with family begins with a plan. The parent(s) must decide what they want to achieve with their children. What lessons of life do they want to teach? Which character attributes do they want to instill?

As one of our boys grew to adolescence, we noticed that when he greeted an adult he looked down at the floor when being introduced. We recognized a deficiency that needed experience, so we planned family activities around being introduced to others. This included attending weddings, funerals, business events, and church gatherings. Before long this deficiency was no longer prevalent in this particular child, or our family in general, as his siblings also benefited from these experiences.

It’s all about the experience!

One of our character goals was to develop leadership skills in our children. Now this can be quite a challenge since not all children, ours included, naturally possess the leadership temperament. But it is our belief that if it is a skill, it can be learned.

So, along the way we provided opportunities for our children to plan, schedule, and assign responsibilities to other family members during family events and activities. We were careful not to impose negative reaction to failed attempts at developing leadership, but it didn’t take long for the more creative children to use that effort in their defense when they made wrong choices, which ended them in the time-out corner.

The cry of “But mom, I was only practicing my leadership skills,” took me back to my own leadership development as early as kindergarten.

An experience in Leadership?

It was a cold, frosty morning in my home town of Holbrook, AZ, and as my schoolmates and I waited anxiously for the school doors to be unlocked and warmth again to once again thaw our frozen bodies, I remembered the ring of keys I so proudly wore on my belt loop. My father was manager of the local Ford Motor Company and he had given me these spare keys to play with.

Feeling desperate to get inside, I crept down the steps of the building which led to a door. I had no idea where the door led, but I knew on the other side offered warmth. I tried a few keys without success as my fellow classmates hung over the steel railing about 8 feet above me, cries of encouragement replaced with groans with each failed attempt.

Then success! The key inserted… and turned! I froze with excitement as I processed what had happened, only to be jarred back to reality by the cheering of my schoolmates. I had successfully become their leader.

With the door ajar, I moved to open it widely and felt the warm air immediately rush out to greet me. And the cold stare of Custodian Reynolds leaning on a mop handle. I had successfully entered the girl’s bathroom!

Leadership training often comes at a price, and being hauled to the principal’s office so early in the morning, sitting on a hard, wooden chair for what seemed like hours for my father to come, gave me time to think… and worry!

Allow wiggle room…and growth

Back in the day, strict adherence to rules and common courtesies were enforced with an iron hand, or whatever tool might be readily available to “teach a lesson.” But parents who hold a child to strict adherence to rules without allowing occasional “crossing the white lines” may find that the child, as an adult refuses to take normal risks in life which are necessary to social and economic success.

It’s all about the experience.

My parents, although known for imposing a non-tolerance for certain social behavior (breaking out their car headlights with a hammer at the age of 5 years old, or shooting out the postmaster’s rear window of his 1949 Ford coupe, with a power BB gun as he headed home from work) were wise enough to choose their battles without breaking my spirit for adventure and curiosity. Yet they burned into my psyche a fear and respect for authority and laws. Did that keep me from being summoned before Judge Shelley’s court, for drag racing? Not really. But I learned from my experiences as I grew that there would be consequences resulting from ALL choices.

Without being clinical about it, my wife and I developed parenting skills from a combination of our own upbringing, as well as outside sources. We read parenting books, attended parenting classes at church, and formed lasting relationships with other parents who were going through similar experiences. We thought about who our children would become, and tried to plan personal and family experiences that would give each child a chance to develop skills that we saw in them.

The PBS link to “The Whole Child” recommends activities such as “field trips, celebrating holidays and activities with other ethnic groups, and encouraging children to bring visitors to school,” to enhance the creative process in our children. (http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/play.html)

As I look back on it, there were at least 5 character traits/skills we hoped our children would individually possess, not necessarily in order of importance:

1) Leadership -capable of making independent decisions

2) Faith in a Supreme Being

3) Socially functional

4) A work ethic

5) A love of music

This list is in no way complete, but is shared with the intent to provide an “example” of a visual plan of what is important to the parent(s) to instill in their children before the world has its way.

As you look over the areas of emphasis you choose to instill into your children, you can begin to see how this is a “first step” in planning activities that provide experiences to enhance and strengthen.

What about those “unplanned” experiences?

Although being on the hot seat for breaking into the Elementary School Girls Restroom brought the wrath of a concerned parent, it also opened the way for lessons to be taught and learned.

Isn’t that a purpose of family, to provide a safe environment for our children to learn and grow, as they become exposed to life’s experiences?

Thinking back to the time when our children were experiencing life’s challenges as they grew, I remember such outcries as: “you don’t trust me.” Or “You don’t think I’m capable.” Years later it would dawn upon us that we were often negligent in turning lemons (poor choices and actions of our children, often creating unplanned experiences) into lemonade. We were not using these infractions against rules as teaching moments. We were just “reacting” rather than teaching.

We can’t always be prepared to teach when life’s unplanned events occur, but we can develop a mindset to become more aware of those opportunities.

Planning experiences which serve to enhance and support the development of character traits takes thought and getting to know your child’s interests and temperament (more on this in future posts) on a deeper level than most parents feel they have time to give. But those of us who feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood, let alone learning to understand and create a plan for each child’s character development will soon find that advance planning of experiences will become a key to unlocking time we didn’t know we had… as well as the opportunity to create character traits and relationships with our children that will last a lifetime – and beyond.

It’s all about the experience…

For twenty strategies (and proven activities) to help your children develop good character traits, visit Character Ed.net at http://charactered.net/parent/parenttwenty.asp

(If you happened to miss part 1 of Chuck’s blog post entitled “It’s All About The Experience,” read it in the Archives section dated Feb 9, 2015)

Appreciating Your Siblings

In Birth Rate, Child Development, Divorce, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Marriage, The Family, Values on March 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

siblingsTashica Jacobson

My Nutrition and Foods teacher, in high school, was a fun talkative lady. She cared about each of her students and had unique way of getting us to look at the world. One day she told us that both of her parents were only children…which at first doesn’t appear too unusual. It’s not unheard of to be an only child. But then she told us to think about what this meant and how that would influence her life. “It means,” she told us, “that my parents have no siblings, but that I also have no uncles, aunts, or cousins. So you can imagine how much fun family reunions are.”

Her statement made me take a moment to look at my siblings and gain an even greater appreciation for having them. Not only will I have an amazing support system throughout all of my life because of them, but I have so many adventures and good memories already because of each one of them. Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll be able to tell you that my siblings are an enormous part of my life. I could write a whole book on how amazing each of them is, but for this paper I’ll look at the benefits that siblings have on each other throughout all of life.

Our siblings  affect how we relate to other people, how we see ourselves, and provide the support system that we will have in later years. These relationships accomplish all of this because “it’s a bond unlike any other that we have in our lives.” This is why parents are encouraged to promote affection and closeness between their children.

Health

Studies have shown that having siblings can lead us to be more active and healthy. That a blessing to have a constant playmate. Activities that require physical activity like sports, tag, water fights, or hiking, are activities that more often require someone to do them with. Even eating habits improve because of siblings. When children have someone close in age to base food intake on, they eat smaller portions, and healthier foods.

Social skills

Positive social skills are more easily developed because of interaction with siblings. Brothers and sisters provide an opportunity to interact with peers on a daily basis. It provides a chance for children to do good deeds for one another and allows for positive interactions. Even fighting provides an opportunity for siblings to learn. Children are able to learn social rules regarding conflict. They learn how to control their emotions and work through their frustrations with other people, along with developing forgiveness, compromise, and sympathy. Mastering these traits helps us in all of our relationships throughout life; having good relationships with siblings, has even been shown to decrease the likelihood of divorce.

Mental Health

Mental health is also improved when siblings have good relationships with one another. They lend support to each other, provided a listening ear, and give children someone “who’s got their back.” A child’s likelihood of depression is decreased when they have  siblings that are dealing with the same family crisis and stresses as they are. This support system extends into later life as siblings often become each other’s closest friends in adulthood. From them we also have an extended support system in aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews. This support system encourages individuals to take on challenges, and stay positive during difficult situations. Mental health benefits are also seen specifically when we have sisters. A combination of studies found that “having a sister protects adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful.”

Every situation with siblings is unique. Age differences, gender, and overall experiences will vary but I can speak from personal experience that having siblings is fun. And more than that it provides opportunities for growth and learning. The friendships and support that we develop with them will continue throughout childhood and be a factor even in later life. Healthy sibling relationships should be promoted and cherished.

Who Should Provide the Care?

In Birth Rate, Breastfeeding, Child Development, Courts, Diane Robertson, Families, Family Planning, father, Government, Health Care, Human Rights, Marriage, motherhood, Parental Rights, Parenting, Single Mothers, The Family, Values, Women's Rights, working mothers on February 25, 2015 at 7:43 am

pregnant and workingDiane Robertson

Last December the Supreme Court heard arguments about the workplace and pregnancy. A pregnant employee wanted UPS to accommodate her pregnancy by switching her to a job where she would not have to lift heavy packages. UPS refused, so the woman took unpaid leave while keeping her health insurance, and later sued in federal court stating that the UPS didn’t adhere to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

In my home state, a bill has come before the legislature asking that pregnancy and breast feeding be included in the state non-discrimination law. Again the question becomes how much should employers do to accommodate pregnancy and breast feeding.

Along the same lines as the UPS case, new science is warning about the necessity of prenatal care and the possibility that a stressful job during pregnancy could cause a lifetime of health problems for the unborn child.

As the mother of 10 children. I fully understand that pregnant and breast feeding women need care and accommodation. It takes a lot of energy and nutrition to build a person. But who should care for and accommodate women and their children?

The question comes down to this: should the government mandate the care of the mother and baby to the woman’s employer? To me this question is not one of rights and regulations, but one of families.

This week, I read a rather sobering article. It said that 54% of children will not be raised in a home with both their mother and father. Many of these are abandoned mothers left to fend for themselves and their children. The majority of families are not taking care of their own.

This question would not have been asked in the past. In the past, families took care of their own. The father stayed with the mother and worked hard enough to support his family. When a father failed, the woman’s parents, siblings, or other extended family took over this care. I think the care of mothers and children should be on the shoulders of the families.

Instead of mandating that employers provide the needed care for mothers and babies, maybe the government should look at other policies that have encouraged this adult-centric world where sexual desires trump the essential needs of vulnerable women and children. The needs are real.

What do you think? Who should provide the care?

Stress with Families

In Child Development, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, Religion, Research, The Family, Values on February 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

family holding hands 2Tashica Jacobson

Many joys come from family life. It allows us to be in a situation where we can give and receive love, feel fulfillment, and accomplish goals. But that does not mean that it is without its challenges. Having a family and even dealing with life’s daily challenges can be very difficult. Even planned events that people anticipate still bring their share of stress, such as pregnancy or weddings. While unplanned events, like unemployment and death, can be even more stressful. Whatever the cause of these stressful situations, families need to have the means to effectively cope with them.

In one of my classes my professor instructed a group of students to stand in a circle and hold hands; and then to remain holding hands throughout. He then went around the circle and moved different individuals to see how the whole group would respond. At one point he pulled a student back, at another time he pushed a student into the middle of the group. Each time everyone in the group reacted and moved to keep the circle together and to keep from falling over, sometimes stepping back other times moving inward so that they could remain intact.

This example illustrates how all members of a family are effected by change. One member may be effected by the direct pressure, but all members feels its effects. That is why all family members need to be aware and work together to overcome challenges as they arise.

Families need to develop the ability to be resilient. Family resilience is the ability of families to adapt and rebound to stressful situations. This quality is very desirable and allows individuals as well as the whole family to effectively deal with events. While resilience appears to come easier to some, it is a quality that can be developed in all families. It creates a different way of looking at life experiences, and how we view a situation has a large influence in how we respond.

One of the most basic models used to demonstrate family stress and coping is Hill’s ABCX model. The idea behind this theory is that the outcome of the experience is not only determined by the event itself but other factors. There are three parts to every trial A- the actual event, B- the family’s resources, and C- the perception or cognitions. All of these added together equals X- or the actual event. Thus A+B+C=X.

Some of the resources that families have are flexibility, connectedness, and social and economic support. When families view a trial in these terms it increases their resilience. Families can work on flexibility by allowing change to happen but still creating a stable environment and schedule. Equal partnership in marriage also allows for flexibility. Each spouse can play to their own strengths and still work together. When couples do this their children see them as united and the set rules that come from this unity allow for clarity even within the midst of a crisis.

Connectedness is “the emotional and structural bonding among family members.” Not surprisingly when families are close they respond better to crisis because they are aware of each members needs as well as the support of each member. Commitment also plays a role in connectedness, since members who are committed to each other are more likely to work to help one another.

Families fare better when they acknowledge and accept the resources that they have. And these resources can come in various ways. They can be community organizations that are able to lend assistance. They might also be social support in a variety of forms; friends and family are the most commonly thought of, but it could also be support groups or religious organization.

When families view their trails in terms of resources and outcomes they are more able to more effectively deal with them. This allows them to create shared meaning from the experience and grow closer together as they cope with stressors whether they are planned or unplanned.

Childproofing your marriage

In Birth Rate, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Polls, Research, The Family, Values on February 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

marriage happiness with newborn

What to do to keep that marital spark alive and well…

Erika Walker

Most people believe that after marriage, the next natural step in a couple’s life is parenthood, but after I got married, the thought of becoming a parent terrified me. Not because I didn’t want kids or because I didn’t think I’d be a good mom, but because I was afraid of what having children would do to my marriage. Based on what I had heard and read it seemed that the transition to parenthood was marked by an inevitable decline in marital satisfaction. This scared me because I had a strong loving relationship with my husband; one we had worked hard to build together; one that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice to become a mom. So before taking the plunge of parenthood, I set out to learn what I could about the transition to parenthood so that I could more effectively childproof my marriage against my future children.

Decline in Martial Satisfaction

My first question was: Is a decline in marital satisfaction inevitable in parenthood? What I discovered was that not all couples experience a decline in marital satisfaction with the birth of a child (Lauer). A study of 250 new parents during their first “postbaby year” found that:

  • 13% of the couples marital satisfaction declined severely
  • 38% experienced a moderate decline
  • 30% reported no change in their marital satisfaction
  • 19% experienced an improvement

Notice that based on these statistics, nearly 50% reported either no change or an improvement in their marital satisfaction, which goes to show that decline is not inevitable.

However, the results of this study didn’t satisfy me until I realized that a decline in marital satisfaction doesn’t mean dissatisfaction, it just means less satisfaction (Lauer). And whether we want to admit it or not, satisfaction tends to decline whether or not you have children. Think about it, when a couple first gets married they are typically at the peak of satisfaction in their marital relationship which is why it is referred to as the “Honeymoon Phase”. Therefore, if the relationship changes at all, it is likely to go down. Studies have shown that the sharpest decline in satisfying marital functioning typically occurs just after the birth of a child (Lauer). But the average decline in satisfaction is modest and does not go down to the point of dissatisfaction for most couples.

Factors that Contribute to Dissatisfaction

Next I wanted to know: What is the difference between the couples who experienced little to no change in their marital satisfaction and those whose satisfaction declined severely? And how do I make sure that my marriage is the former and not the latter?

One factor that I found contributed to dissatisfaction in parenthood was the quality of the relationship before pregnancy and parenthood. Some couples who experienced a decline in satisfaction were already having serious problems before the baby came and believed that having a child would fix their rocky relationship (Lauer). The truth, however, is quite the opposite. Because parenthood requires both parents working together, parenthood has the ability to make a good marriage better or worse, but it rarely makes a bad marriage better.

Another factor among those whose satisfaction dropped was gender differences (Kluwer). It seems that the ‘postbaby’ decline in marital satisfaction is greater among women than men. This discrepancy has been thought to be due to mothers’ perceptions of a lack of support both from the father and social network, creating feelings of stress and isolation for the mother (Ahlborg).

The final major factor was lack of leisure time together. As with any relationship, a lack in couple togetherness, impairs the intimate relationship and makes the individuals feel disconnected as a couple. This lack of time and energy also contributes to a loss of sensual and sexual affection (Ahlborg).

How Can I Minimize the Negative Effects of the Transition to Parenthood?

  1. Preparation- Maintaining marital satisfaction in parenthood begins during pregnancy. Use the time before baby comes to strengthen your marital relationship and learn key parenting skills. The more competent both parents feel about their parenting abilities and satisfied they are with their marriage during pregnancy, the more satisfied they will feel about their role as parents and their marital relationship postnantally (Wallace).
  2. Father Inclusion- It is typical the mother and baby to build a close bond even before birth. However this bond can sometimes make fathers feel left out of the picture. “Both marital and parental satisfaction are likely to be higher when the father is more involved with the baby” (Lauer). Thus, it is important to find ways to include the father both before and after the birth of the child.
  3. Coping Mechanisms in Parenthood- Maintain a sense of continuity by continuing to do some of the activities you and your spouse did together before the birth of the child (Miller).Take time away from the baby (Miller). Make a conscious effort to express appreciation for each other, express concerns, and listen to one another’s feelings (Miller). Rely on friends and family for help, emotional support, and advice (Miller).

 

References

Ahlborg, Tone, and Margareth Strandmarka. “Factors Influencing The Quality Of Intimate Relationships Six Months After Delivery” First-Time Parents’ Own Views And Coping Strategies.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 27.3 (2006): 163-172. Informa UK Ltd. Web. 7 July 2012.

Kluwer, Esther S.. “From Partnership to Parenthood: A Review of Marital Change Across the Transition to Parenthood.” Journal of Family Theory & Review 2.2 (2010): 105-125. Print.

Lauer, Robert H., and Jeanette C. Lauer. “Becoming a Parent.” Marriage & family: the quest for intimacy. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 257-281. Print.

Miller, Brent C. , and Donna L. Sollie. “Normal Stresses during the Transition to Parenthood.” Family Relations 29.4 (1980): 459-465. JSTOR. Web. 29 June 2012.

Wallace, Pamela M, and Ian H. Gotlib. “Marital Adjustment during the Transition to Parenthood: Stability and Predictors of Change .” Journal of Marriage and Family 52.1 (1990): 21-29.

 

The Benefits of Adoption

In adoption, Birth Rate, Child Development, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, Schools, Single Mothers, The Family, Values on February 5, 2015 at 7:13 am

teen pregnancy 2

700,000 teen pregnancies each year: Decisions made have lasting impact.

Kristen Jan Cannon

According to StayTeen.org, approximately 3 in 10 teenage girls will get pregnant in the U.S. each year. That equates to 700,000 teen pregnancies annually!

For such cases, adoption is a phenomenal route to go. And while it is not the only option available to teen parents, it may very well be the best one for everyone involved. Here’s why:

In terms of teen pregnancy, adoption can be a very beneficial option long-term for the teen parents. Teen parenthood is the leading reason why teenage girls drop out of high school. In fact, less than half of all teen moms will even graduate, and less than two-percent will earn a college degree by the time they are 30. Choosing to keep the baby could drastically alter the course of a young mom’s life in terms of employment opportunities, academic growth, and simply just being a teenager.

Choosing to keep the baby also may not be the best long-term option for the baby, and could potentially result in many missed experiences. For example, 8 out of 10 teen fathers don’t end up staying with the mother of their child. Choosing adoption can give the baby involved an opportunity to be part of a family where both a mother and father are present in their lives. This can benefit them financially, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

And finally, adoption benefits those families who are so desperate and hopeful for a child of their own. By considering the possibility of placing a child for adoption, teen parents could be blessing the lives of a family who will love their baby and be able to provide for their needs. Although adoption would be an extremely difficult choice to make, what a sweet experience that only people who have participated in can fully appreciate.

If you or someone you love is considering placing a child for adoption, there are many factors to consider. For instance, you might want to examine the stability of the marriage of the couple adopting, their financial situation, their ability to nurture your baby, their desire for a child, and their ability to love a child who is adopted.

Certainly, there is not a one-size-fits-all plan for coping with teen pregnancy. But adoption is something to think about-it can truly benefit everyone for life!

 

 

 

The Goal of Parenting

In Child Development, Drug Use, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Health Care, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Schools, The Family, Values on January 26, 2015 at 7:31 am

Family Enjoying meal,mealtime TogetherTashica Jacobson

There are many things that parents try to accomplish with their children. They try to get them to eat vegetables, do homework, and keep up on household chores. But what is the ultimate goal of parenting; what should parents really try to accomplish? To answer these questions parents have to look beyond what they hope to accomplish in the moment. Good parenting is more than obedience, it’s more than being a child’s friend. It is raising children to have an understanding of why they do what they do and how to act appropriately in situations. It is this understanding that eventually allows children to get along on their own.

However this goal is not accomplished without effort. The way a parent interacts with their child will be one of the largest influences in that child’s life. Involvement doesn’t mean that you do everything for them. In some ways it is the opposite. It means that you know your child and so are able to teach when they don’t understand, help when it is needed, and at other times give them full responsibility. Parenting is hard work and involves a lot. It involves providing care for children as they grow and develop. Parenting also entails teaching, socializing, offering guidance, and emotional support. It is all of these things interacting together that influence the type of person that a child will become.

As parenting plays such a crucial role in a child’s life it is so important that parents are intentional about their parenting. They have to plan and actively work to be involved in their children’s lives. If an active plan has not been devised beforehand, people typically revert back to what they are accustomed to, meaning how they were raised or what is familiar. While the home of origin of today’s current parents are not always bad, parents need to develop an environment and parenting style that is unique to their child’s needs and abilities.

When children’s parents are active and involved in their lives, children have better social skills, higher self-esteem, and internal control. Multiple studies have found that “youth who experience higher levels of parental involvement and a closer relationships with their parents are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems and to engage in risk behaviors”.

One example of parental involvement helping kids to be self-sufficient is involvement in school. Research has shown that “Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status.” Involved parents are aware of their child’s studies, encourage them, and aide them when needed, in fulfilling their academic responsibilities. When parents are involved in a child’s schooling they are more likely to attend school regularly, have better grades, and eventually go on for higher education.

The benefits of family meals has been a subject of discussion within recent years, and this is another way parents can be involved. These benefits range from better nutritional intake to lower drug and alcohol use. However it is not just the meals alone that provide these benefits in a child’s life, it is the time that parents spend with their children during these meals. Family meals are a symptom of something else. These meals show that the family and especially the parents, put forth an effort to come together throughout the week. Parents who make the effort to have meals together are more likely to make the effort in other areas of their children’s lives.

The benefits of involvement are tremendous and parents can provide them in different ways for each child. Making time together as a family, as well as individual time with each child is important. But in addition to time it is also important that parents be aware of what is going on in a child’s life. Knowing about the child’s teachers, friends, homework, and problems is important; as well as asking about their daily experiences.

As one scholar put it, that in parenting “our primary job is to put ourselves out of a job.” Parents take upon themselves a huge and immensely rewarding responsibility. Theirs is the job of raising the next generation and preparing their children to become self-sufficient. When parents take the time to be actively involved they are able to teach their children daily and monitor their growth so they are on the right track to becoming self-sufficient.

A New Option for Adoption

In Family Planning, IVF, Sanctity of Life on January 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

embryoWith so few children available for traditional adoption, here’s a way to help parents and honor life.

By Gary Boyd

Imagine that, through in vitro fertilization, you were able to have the children you had always hoped for, but which had not come as easily as you might have anticipated when you were first married. Life is good, and you feel your family is complete. In your quest for children, however, you were not able to utilize all of your embryos that the clinic had stored up. You feel concern about your embryos being used for research purposes, and you certainly do not believe in destroying them. What is the answer?

Rebecca and Chris Henderson found themselves in the very scenario described above. Their story may be read in a news article by Karen Weintraub, Couples give up frozen embryos for ‘Adoption’. As the title of the article indicates, Rebecca and Chris gave up their embryos for adoption. In addition to their concerns over embryo use in research or embryo destruction, the Hendersons wanted to give someone else the opportunity they had been fortunate enough to realize. Weintraub concisely expresses the case for embryo adoptions, paraphrasing Kimberly Tyson of Nightlight, one of the two substantial embryo adoption organizations:

In part, interest is increasing as conventional adoption gets tougher, says Kimberly Tyson, marketing and program director for of Nightlight. International adoptions have been drying up, teen pregnancy rates continue to fall, and having children out of wedlock has become socially acceptable, reducing the numbers of babies available for adoption.

Those who have been blessed by the institution of adoption can understand that in most circumstances, children are not going to be left on one’s doorstep. Whether domestic or international, and with much more involvement from birth mothers than in the past, adoptable children may not easy to come by.

It would seem that embryo adoption, though an option for making adoption opportunities available to more couples, also comes with greater uncertainty in some respects. When a financial outlay is made in a traditional adoption situation, the adoptive parents know they are getting a child; with an embryo, there is still the possibility that the pregnancy does not survive. And, one may suspect that to even a greater degree than in traditional adoptions, helping the child to understand his origins may require great wisdom and delicacy.

Notwithstanding the uncertainties surrounding embryo adoption, some things may prove more certain, such as the superior medical information on the embryo that would be available to adoptive parents. As in most choices between similarly good things, there are both advantages and disadvantages to traditional adoption and embryo adoption.

Notwithstanding possible obstacles that accompany this relatively new kind of adoption, embryo adoption seems to be emerging as a viable possibility to complete families, and provide opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. As changing social conditions limit adoption possibilities, at least for the time being, technology has come through for adoptive parents.

Mom Shame

In adoption, Birth Rate, Breastfeeding, Child Development, Families, Family Planning, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Values, working mothers on November 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

  busy mom  Rebecca Mallory

We thought there was pressure raising our four girls during the 80’s. All four girls are now very busy wives and mothers but believe me, my life was cake compared to theirs.  In the 80’s my diaper bag said “Safeway” on it. We bought an $80 crib that we used for all four kids until the last baby karate chopped the spindles on the bottom so she could simply roll to the floor to escape. It was not required to have a designer diaper bag, a $200 blinged out cover for the car seat (Heck! We didn’t even have a car seat!) that matched the high chair, stroller, toddler seat, crib and the partridge in a pear tree.

Whew! It’s expensive, and exhausting to be a mom today. Another “must” are clever 4×6 glossies printed for the baby shower invitations and cutest shower deco that matches the car seat, diaper bag, and decked out nursery. Nursery?! A Pinterest original, of course. And when mom arrives at her own shower, she can’t look stressed, tired, haggard, huge, or miserable. She must be perky, fun and at all times joyful.  What’s worse though, beyond this perfect personae that most mommies can’t afford let alone master, is the shame or judgement that moms fling at each other. Why is it that many opinionated mothers seem to grow mother claws as they have children. It’s their way or the highway. I recently read an article by Stephanie Barnhart about this very subject that really struck a cord with me. Here’s my take on some of her insights.

No doubt you’ve heard all the hubbub about breast feeding especially in public. To breast feed or not is very controversial in the mom community. My girls were all bottle fed. Not one grew up to be an ax murderer. Pretty good, huh? If you’re a breast feeder aficionado, congrats. But before you pass judgement on a mom bottle feeding her baby, consider this. What if she tried for weeks and just couldn’t do it? What if the baby requires a special formula? What if this mom had breast cancer and a double mastectomy? Maybe she simply chose to bottle feed? What if?

Snacks and eating habits. I’ve had to seriously consider super glueing my lips shut on this one. To see the kids eat an entire bowl of “Goldfish”, chips, or some other equally “fake” substance makes it hard not to blurt. But here’s the deal. My kids didn’t always… no they never…. ate totally balanced meals nor followed the four food groups 24/7. In fact if we were on a road trip, we’d lay the seats down, spread a few blankets, load them up with chips, candy, and other yummy but tooth-decaying items just to make it to our destination without fights, whining, and screaming while maintaining an iota of sanity. And yes, you read that right. No seat belts. Those were the days when saying “Be careful!” was enough, I guess.

Dress and fashion. Ok, we all need to back off on this one. “Mom jeans” to you, may not be “mom jeans” to her. Maybe that’s all she has, or can afford. Maybe she thinks yours are “mom jeans”! Looking perfect is in the eyes of the beholder, right? Let’s judge each other the way you want other women to judge you. Fair enough?

Lots of Parenting Styles

Discipline and parenting styles. All of our girls and their husbands have different parenting styles. It’s fascinating to watch them parent; especially having grown up in the same house with the same parents and rules. But as we choose a spouse we become “one” with them in almost all decisions which is an awesome blessing! (Ok maybe not totally awesome…) We have one daughter whose husband has been pretty stern with the kids. Result? They go to bed perfectly, eat their broccoli, and sit quietly in church.

We have one daughter who has five little kids, the fourth and fifth are twin 1 year olds. Her biggest concern used to be shopping, getting her hair and nails done, and keeping up on “What Not to Wear.” Now she stars in her own “Survivor” episodes and hopes to make it to bedtime each night without any broken bones or something catching on fire.

One daughter speaks very softly in all situations and is amazingly patient. All three oldest girls have five kids each. Their baby sister has one and vows she will never have five. Our kids have crazy lives.

We’re all in survival mode

Stay at home or have a career? Another potentially heated topic. I had to teach school when our kids were little. I was overcome with guilt a lot of the time and wanted to be a stay at home mommy. We just couldn’t afford it and had four jobs between us at times.  So when you see a mom dropping her child off at daycare, don’t judge. Is she going through a divorce? Did her husband lose his job? And if you drop your kids off at daycare while passing a mom in her husband’s sweats, with a stroller and three other kids walking to the bus stop, don’t immediately assume that her life is boring and unfulfilled. Or vise versa. What good comes of that? Nothing.

I have two sisters who had horrible experiences with trying to have babies. They both adopted and then were able to have their own naturally. Go figure. I have another sister who was nearly killed in a tractor accident at age 14 which resulted in the heartbreak of her inability to ever have children. Yet she’s had to endure the stares and insensitive questions from non-thinking women. “When are you going to have a baby? Or “Why don’t you have any kids?” She even had to endure her seven sisters whining about the day to day stress of motherhood when she would have given a million bucks to be experiencing our pain.

So you get the drift. Most moms are in survival mode. We all yearn for love and acceptance. It’s such a boost when it comes from our peers. (I know we’re not supposed to care what others think; but darn it, we do!) Instead let’s all admit that parenting is the hardest but most rewarding job there is. But when those sweet kids get out of the bathtub and into their jammies with faces shining, and hair dripping wet, and throw their arms around your neck with an “I love you mommy” it becomes more than worth the daily wear and tear.

Let’s love each other for trying to raise productive and happy children. With so many people choosing not to have children, let’s applaud and lift each other up for our efforts in parenting. Let’s look for the good.  It’s right in your own mommy community.

 

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