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Survey Says: Want to be Happy? Have Kids! Less Stressed? Stay at Home With Them!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Yahoo Parenting and Care.com partnered on a survey of couples with and without children to determine who was happier. The non-kid couples proved happier by a 10% margin. That margin shifted drastically, however, when the couples were asked what they thought would make them even happier: 54% of those supposedly already happier couples agreed that having children would make them even happier.

In other words, “Yes, we’re happy now,” ticked one box while the following “..but…” ticked another.

When asked about their own pursuit of happiness, couples with children agreed by a solid majority that their life is better now that they have children.

“Kids are parents’ No.1 source of happiness,” Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor at Care.com, tells Yahoo Parenting about the research. However, once a person becomes a mother or a father, what constitutes happiness changes, 81 percent of survey takers admit. “They’re looking at happiness in a different way,” explains Bugbee,

Parents experience work in a different way, too, post-kids. Working parents, for example, are less likely to say they’re “very” motivated in their career compared to employees without children — 36 percent vs. 50 percent respectively.

The Stay at Home crowd (female and male) are overwhelmingly happy with their decision. Mothers who stay at home, but work part time, survey as the happiest in the bunch, leading Bugbee to advise, ”Talk with your employer about going part-time, perhaps, or work with your partner to lighten your load if you’re stressed.”

Stress plays a key factor in contemporary parenting, often due to economic pressures. The rise in ADHD and Autism among children has been directly linked to both stressful experiences and the child’s inability to form relationships with parents beginning at an early age. The survey says spending more time with your kids makes you happier. The science agrees it is good for your kids, too. So, what’s the solution? How can we, as a culture, generate more time with our kids?

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No Need to Read Anything Else Because Here’s What Will Happen with the Duggars

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton
Photo via Duggar Family Blog

Photo via Duggar Family Blog

Here’s what will happen with the Duggars:

19. Within a month, Josh and dad Jim Bob will issue fuller statements clarifying apparently contradictory narratives among the family’s joint Facebook message, the police report filed by Jim Bob, and other details disclosed by family members and inferred by bloggers and journalists.

18. Within six months, Josh and wife Anna, who will stand by him for many reasons, one of which is that Josh confessed everything to her years ago, will give interviews on Sixty Minutes or Oprah or something, reinforcing the tragedy’s redemptive themes.

17. Within a year, TLC will resume airing 19 Kids and Counting, possibly changing the show’s title (again) to signify a new, wiser chapter in the Duggar family’s very public history.

16. Within two years, Josh will write a book that contextualizes his teenage sins within the dark-hearted rebellious period of a confused, pubescent male in a mildly but increasingly famous, and oddly populous, family led by two parents whose marriage silently screams “SEX,” despite their modesty and monogamy.

15. The book, which will be titled something like What Really Counts, or Counting What Counts, will sell big and prove a key step toward rehabilitating Josh’s image, which for the next 20 years will be even more overtly Christian as he accepts countless invitations from evangelicals to speak on themes such as the gospel of Christ, slavery to sin, secret sin, God’s redemptive plan, and leadership.

14. Concurrently with releasing his book, Josh will found a not-for-profit ministry dedicated to (i) exhorting young men and women to expose hidden sins that are holding them captive by turning to Christ and counseling, and (ii) urging parents, pastors, and friends to be as supportive, firm, and forgiving as Josh’s were.

See next page to find out “Why These Things Will Happen.”

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5 Spiritual Lessons I Learned From My Pregnancy

Sunday, May 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Whether this is your first time out or you’ve already been around the bend, take a moment to congratulate yourself, Ms. Mom. You are a miracle maker. You, hovering over the toilet in the midst of all-day sickness, are in the midst of accomplishing what no one else on this earth but you can do. What pregnancy has taught me thus far is that motherhood, whether it is via pregnancy, foster care, or adoption, is a spiritual calling. Keep these five key lessons in your back pocket when you’re worn out and need a reminder of how divine you truly are.

5. Parenting is a calling, not a career, a chore, or the result of a shopping trip.

“I want a child” is an all-too common phrase in today’s world. If you’ve ever said it, listen very carefully to discern if the emphasis is on “a child” or simply “I want.” Having a child is not the answer to a mid-life crisis or a vision board checklist. Nor should motherhood ever be defined as a chore. If I hear one more person tell me how tired I’m going to be once my child is born I’m going to start wearing a spit up-covered t-shirt that says, “Duh! Who cares?” My child is already my life, not a task on my to-do list that takes away from “me-time,” nor a person who exists to make me feel special. Child rearing is a devout work. Unless you are accepting of the idea that you will, in some way, be on the same level as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and an ascetic from time to time, just buy a dog and be done with it.

4. Childbirth is a spiritual experience.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth should be required reading for every expecting mother. Regardless of how you choose to give birth, you should be aware of the fact that we have been acculturated to treat birth as an illness worthy of hospitalization. A baby is not a tumor in need of removal for the mother’s survival. Giving birth is not only a life-affirming experience, it is the primary connection we have with God and the source of our continued existence. By ignoring this fact and forcing patients to focus on pain, the medical community has done a huge disservice to women. Instead of believing that our bodies are doing exactly what they are meant to do, women focus on the struggles of pregnancy and the pain of labor, psyching themselves up for an experience worthy of a horror film. As a result their fear diminishes their faith in themselves and the very natural spiritual process of bringing new life into this world.

3. As with any spiritual experience, there are great moments of hope and of doubt.

Episode after episode of Call the Midwife has been running on my DVD player for months. Each baby that is born brings a tear to my eye. Finally, the other day I heard myself saying, “I get to do this. Me. This is for me.” Then it hit me that a part of me had doubted all along that I could have this incredible joy for myself. Sometimes we put up walls of doubt to protect our most fragile emotions. The hope that engulfs you every time you have a good ultrasound, a good doctor’s visit, can easily be consumed the following day when you’re sure you haven’t felt your baby move enough. For me, one nosebleed sent me flying into a state of panic. Doubt creates a tough barrier for faith to crack through. But it must, not only for the sake of our relationship with our child, but so that we may fully partake in this incredible blessing.

Continue Reading…

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7 Things I Want to Say to That Guy Watching Porn at the Library

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 - by Megan Fox
YouTube Preview Image

For the past year and a half I’ve been fighting the Orland Park Public Library, trying to get them to stop allowing men to access porn — and even child porn — on library computers (they even permit public masturbation!). To date, not one man has come forward at a board meeting or in the press to say, “I want porn in the library! Don’t take my favorite pastime from me!” The reason is clear. No one thinks it’s okay to watch porn in the library, including the guys who do it. Still, libraries across the country continue to allow it and men continue to watch porn at public libraries. Since I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to talk to one of these creeps, I thought maybe I could get some of them to respond to an open letter of sorts. Here are 7 questions I have for guys who watch porn at the library:

1. What do you think this is? An adult bookstore?

One of my all time favorite Cleveland reporters, Carl Monday, loves to sneak up on guys watching porn in the public library and shout at them, “Where do you think you are? An adult bookstore?”  Honestly, the question needs to be asked. There are places designated for guys to go and watch porn — and even to masturbate. They’re called porn shops and adult theaters. (Actually, I think they arrest guys caught masturbating there…so what does it say when porn shops call the cops on fondlers but a library refuses to do so?) On what planet is it okay to watch X- rated material — out in the open — in a public area where children are present and then to take your penis out and play with it? Seriously, I ask you … WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Have you no sense of shame?

2. Does your mother know you do this?

Everyone has a mother, even the library pervert. Does she know you do this? Better yet, what’s her name because I want to look her up and have a conversation with her about what you are doing. Do you know you are shaming your mother? Do you care?

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Want to Avoid Raising a Brat? Here’s What You Need to Know

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Avner Zarmi

Boy confronts his mother

Picture the scenario: Your little boy comes home from kindergarten and you tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do. He responds with the ethos of the playground: “Mommy, you’re stupid!”

There are typically five kinds of maternal reactions (all of which I’ve actually seen, at one time or another), depending on what kind of day you’ve had and on your own personality. But before I get to the typical responses — and the proper responses — I want to explain to you the concept of chutzpah.

In many ways, our present society can be characterized as a time of chutzpah. This handy Hebrew word is almost untranslatable into English; the dictionary offers such terms as impudence, arrogance, presumptuousness, rebelliousness, and so on, but none of these seems adequate. Perhaps the best way to understand it is in terms of an old joke: Chutzpah is the quality exhibited by someone who kills his parents and then demands mercy from the court on the grounds that he’s an orphan.

The Talmud tells us, in the last mishna in Sota, Bë-‘iqvoth Mëshicha chutzpa yisgé (“In the steps of the Messiah, chutzpah will increase”), and then goes on to describe this generation characterized by chutzpah: “The young will put elders to shame, and elders will rise against little ones, ‘son shames father, daughter rises against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the members of his household’ [Micah VII, 6]. The face of the generation is that of a dog, and son is not shamed before his father….”

It sounds like a description of daily life around us.

So, getting back to the kindergarten boy who is mouthing off to Mommy, here are some of the typical responses:

1. You’re so hurt by the outburst that you simply say nothing; the tears begin to well up.

2. You philosophize: “What can I do? That’s how kids are these days.”

In both of the above two examples, you’ve already surrendered and chutzpah has won the day.

3. You respond, “I ask you to speak nicely.” You ask? This offers the chutpadik kid the choice of not “granting” your request.

4. You yell back, “Well, you’re really stupid!” You’ve just reverted to your own childhood. Al ta‘an kësil kë-ivvalto (“Don’t answer a fool according to his folly”; Proverbs XXVI,4). You’re the one who is supposed to know better.

5. You slap the kid. This last is especially dangerous. A slap in the face is never appropriate and is not a punishment; it’s a degradation. The child doesn’t learn from it that he’s done wrong; he learns that Mommy hates him.

Do you see yourself here? You’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way, at least, not in your family.

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Three Words You Should Never Say to a Young Mom

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Tricia Lott Williford
Photo Credit: Bridget Colla via Flickr

Photo Credit: Bridget Colla via Flickr

I held my friend’s brand new baby, and I almost heard myself dole out that verbal adage that evokes serious maternal guilt.  I bit my tongue just before I told her, “Enjoy every minute.”

Last night I met Cayden, a long-awaited newborn who is fifteen days old.  He was wide awake and snuggly, and I was as smitten as I’ve always been with those perfect little newborn eyelashes and impossibly tiny fingernails.  I swayed gently as we moms do, because putting a baby in our arms is like turning the crank on a wind-up toy.  When he started to cry, I pulled out all my best newborn tricks, and I assured his mom that as long as she felt comfortable, I wasn’t really at all afraid of fussing baby boys.  I’m highly familiar.

But then I remembered that sometimes the only thing the baby boy wants is his momma, not any fancy tricks from some lady who thinks she knows the drill.  I waved the white flag, handed all ten pounds of him back to his mom, and he quieted as soon as he heard the voice he had been listening to for nine months.

I listened as Cayden’s parents talked about his midnight routines, as my friend described the tears pouring down her face from utter exhaustion at 2 AM.  I remembered those earliest days when my husband and I were new parents, when we were staying up all night at the best slumber party ever, floating on the euphoric fact that we had together created a person.

And that’s when I almost said, “Enjoy it.  Enjoy every minute of this sacred season.”  Even now, recalling that sentiment makes me want to kick myself in the shins.

Thankfully, just before the words came spilling out of my mouth with the weight of a cliche that’s a million years old, I remembered the truth: the season is sacred and fleeting, but it’s not every-moment-enjoyable.  That giddy stage I mentioned lasted roughly four nights, and then the sleepless hours caught up to us.  We were unspeakably tired for a good many years, and that’s when I was lucky enough to have my husband with me to partner in parenting.

But the thing is, just when we were starting to find our groove, Robb died.  He was sick for twelve hours, he died quickly and tragically from a misdiagnosed infection, and I suddenly became a widowed, single mom of two boys who weren’t yet in kindergarten.  Some days I’m still reeling from the truth of that statement, even four years later.  I’m still on my own, and the sleepless nights of my children are awfully reminiscent of those newborn stages, but without a partner to commiserate with.

I was listening to a country station on Pandora the other day in the car when Trace Adkins began to sing the song “You’re Gonna Miss This.”  It’s a whole song about the same sentiment—how fast these years are, how we parents are supposed to take it all in and love it so much, even when the toilet is clogged again with little pairs of Superman underwear, someone is home from school yet again because we can’t seem to make it 24-hours-fever-free, and there’s a melted crayon bleeding all over the clothes in the dryer.

You’re gonna miss this, he sang.  Doubt it, I said aloud as I turned off the radio.

So, when I listened to Cayden’s parents talk about how tired they are as they’re learning the likes and dislikes, needs and wants of this baby boy who is forever theirs, I stopped just short of those words I hate.  The truth is, they will have some really great moments, but those moments might be scattered between some long stretches of really, really hard.

Sometimes she’ll be just so utterly exhausted that she can’t see straight or think clearly.  She’ll have spit-up spots on her shirts for the next eight months.  She’s going to get peed on and pooped on.  She’ll add “go to the bathroom” to her list of things to do today, just so she can feel a measure of productivity.  She’ll cry a lot, she won’t know why, and Cayden’s dad will have to learn to take the unspoken cues from a walking roller coaster of hormones.

She will learn how tough she really is, how little sleep she really needs, and the subtle differences between his hungry cry, his angry cry, and his scared cry.  She will hear him learn his voice and her name.  She will love him with a ferocity that could very well break her in half.  She will wear her heart outside her body, from this day forward.

Instead of empty words that mean very little to one in the trenches, I said, “I bet you’re so tired.  But you’ll find your stride and you’ll get some sleep again someday. It’s okay if you don’t love being awake at 2 AM.  That doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, it just means you don’t like being awake at ungodly hours.  You know what?  You’re winning at this.  Congratulations, new mom.  You look like a total pro.”

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Did You Receive Your ‘Wife Bonus’ This Year?

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In Lifestyles of the Rich and Non-Famous news, Manhattan bankers’ wives have negotiated bonuses for good “work” performance at home:

A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.

These real housewives aren’t the only ones measuring their net worth as moms in terms of career metrics, including potential financial gain. There are a slew of professional development experiences out there for women who have turned mothering into a career:

MamaCon, a mothers’ convention, proffers “…top-notch parenting development and education, self-care tips that really work, relationship support, amazing vendors, wine tasting, great food and outstanding entertainment.”

For Mom Bloggers (yes, it’s a title) there’s the Mom 2.0 Summit, “…the premier professional conference for influential mom bloggers and female entrepreneurs who create online content. Every year, women leaders in media and business converge at the Summit to compare notes, discuss ideas, and forecast what’s next for women online and in the marketplace.”

Minority and alternative parents who identify as “blogger or on-line influencers interested in connecting with brands and monetizing your blog” can attend the Niche Parent Network and Conference, a “diverse and multicultural network connecting digital parents with brands that want to reach them.”

There’s also a slew of BabyCons out there, including the New York Baby Show, “the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country.” Self-described as the “loving lollapalooza of Baby Shows,” it’s a 2-day product and information convention. Combine Buy Buy Baby with your local hospital’s first-time parenting class, load it with steroids, and you have the mother of all information-laden “how to be the perfect parent” events.

Has American culture crafted motherhood into a career choice? Is that necessarily a good thing? Or are we seeking to redefine motherhood in contemporary feminist terms, as a choice that doesn’t threaten or conflict with cultural expectations that a woman seek professional fulfillment beyond raising the next generation? Whether it is clever marketing or cultural conformity, does this put more pressure, not less, on today’s mothers?

 

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The Real #WarOnWomen in One Easy Tweet

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This is what happens when you lump in pregnancy with chlamydia and refuse to include any real discussions on family planning and career in sex education classes. Is it any wonder women believe the best way to self-advocate is to demand free access to drugs and surgical procedures so they can contain, control and abort?

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NYT Buries Research Revealing That Kids Need More Time With Mom, Less Dependence on Government

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
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The Old Gray Lady has decided there is “mounting evidence of advantages for children of working mothers.” It’s a politically correct headline that follows the newspaper’s classically liberal slant. But, like one of those extensive designer-drug warning labels, to find out what constitutes “advantages” you have to read the small print.

The “silver bullet” factoids boil down to daughters of working mothers who are 3% more likely to work than the daughters of stay-at-home mothers. The daughters of working moms are earning an average of 23% more and are 4% more likely to hold supervisory positions. And if those whopping statistics aren’t silvery enough, “sons of working mothers in those countries spent an additional hour a week caring for family members and 17 minutes more per week on housework.”

That’s it, myths about working mothers be damned. We’ve got a 4% increase in supervisory positions among their daughters and their sons are spending an extra 17 minutes a week cleaning house. Talk about numbers that change the culture. At this rate, if “working moms” were a TV show they’d be cancelled before their pilot even aired.

The Times brushes by a 2010 meta-analysis of 5 decades’ worth of data on the impact of working mothers on children, mumbling something about how working moms were defended by those statistics as well. However, the numbers beg to differ. According to that meta-analysis:

The positive effects were particularly strong for children from low-income or single-parent families; some studies showed negative effects in middle-class or two-income families.

Bottom line: If you’re a single parent, it’s better to work independently than to rely on or continuously demand more government subsidies. But if you’re part of a two-parent household, one of you should plan to be at home for the sake of your child’s long term well being, especially during those baby and toddler years.

In other words, the data still defends the limited government, pro-family position the Times is unwilling to take.

Nice try, New York Times. But once again you’ve only managed to prove that the hot air you blow is all “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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Common Core Is Making Kindergarten Way Too Academically Hardcore

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
Preschool on the Ballot

Photo: AP

What do you remember about the time you spent in kindergarten? For me, it was a magical time of singing, learning to skip, and playing make-believe in the post office our teacher had set up in our classroom (we used those little silver scissors to cut stamps out of construction paper, gluing them onto handmade envelopes with that sweet-smelling white paste). We played with blocks, painted masterpieces with tempera paint — one boy named Tony got paddled for smearing it on the walls — and played foursquare with bouncy red playground balls. And even though it was only half-day kindergarten, Mrs. Liptak made all thirty of us squirmy kids lie down for a short nap time. We were rewarded with a snack afterward and then piled onto the buses to go home. We learned our ABCs and numbers in kindergarten, but were not taught to read or add until first grade. Everything about it was fun and happy and it set the stage for more formal academics in the years to come.

If you have children in school now, you know that things have changed drastically. David Kohn writes at the New York Times:

But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up…

In the United States, more academic early education has spread rapidly in the past decade. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have contributed to more testing and more teacher-directed instruction.

Another reason: the Common Core State Standards, a detailed set of educational guidelines meant to ensure that students reach certain benchmarks between kindergarten and 12th grade. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both the math and language standards.

But does it work? Do tiny children need serious academic work at a young age in order to succeed later in life? Experts are increasingly saying no. Kohn cites several studies showing that children do worse when structured play is replaced with early didactic teaching. One study of 400,000 15-year-olds in more than 50 counties found that early school entry provided no advantage to students. Another study found that those who started school at age five had lower reading comprehension than those who start school later. A study of children who had attended “academically oriented” preschool classes vs. those who went to schools that encouraged “child initiated learning” discovered that by the end of fourth grade, the student who had received more formalized instruction earned significantly lower grades than children who were encouraged to learn through play, suggesting that the didactic instruction may have slowed their academic progress.

What do you think? Should preschool and kindergarten children be focused more on academics or should children be encouraged to play more and explore the world around them without the structure of formalized education?

Just for fun, I’ve copied and pasted the Common Core English Language Arts Standards below so you can get an idea of what children are now required to learn in kindergarten. You can see why there’s not much time for painting and playtime anymore — and why teachers are insisting they need full-day kindergarten to accomplish all of this in one year.

 

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.A
Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.B
Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.C
Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.D
Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.E
Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.F
Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.A
Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.B
Recognize and name end punctuation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.C
Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.D
Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

Knowledge of Language:

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.4.A
Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowingduck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.4.B
Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5
With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5.A
Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5.B
Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5.C
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.5.D
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g.,walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.6
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

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CBS’s Supergirl: Nothing More Than a Rehash of Pop Feminist Tropes?

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

At best, CBS’s new take on Supergirl is a cross between pop feminist trends and complaints. Pretty blonde girl (guaranteed to be noted as such by intersectional feminists covering the race beat) who spends her time being told by her bosses to get coffee (didn’t Marvel’s Peggy Carter already cover this one to death this year?) learns to embrace her true identity (yes, it’s a gay metaphor – literally) only to have the science of her outfit explained to her by a male colleague (cue the whining about the lack of girls in STEM professions).

You know you’ve read too much contemporary feminist criticism when you can pick apart a TV series preview in 30 seconds or less.

Kara, aka Supergirl, comes off about as bland as a Barbie doll in this preview. Worse yet, she’s constantly seeking approval from those around her for the choice she made to “out” her identity. Forget Superman’s quiet stoicism and rejection of fame in the name of the greater good (and retaining some semblance of a private life). Supergirl is louder and prouder and more demanding of acceptance than a gay pride parade. Except about her name, of course.

“We can’t call her that. She has to be Super Woman.” Snore. Didn’t the Spice Girls cover that one over a decade ago? They did, which is why Calista Flockhart (90′s feminist du jour Ally McBeal) was recruited to play the angry boss who reminds Kara how great it is to be a grrrl …in that b*tch sort of way. (Cue feminist whining about female corporate stereotypes …now!)

The bottom line that will make or break the show will be the writing. If they can make 3-D characters out of 2-D comics, they’ll have television gold, as Arrow, Gotham, and The Flash have proven (along with their Marvel competitors). Let’s hope this Supergirl doesn’t fall into the Venus Flytrap of contemporary feminist tropes. Up, up, and as far away as possible from that train wreck, indeed.

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It’s Not Even Funny How Wrong John Oliver Is About Paid Family Leave

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

John Oliver, HBO’s version of Jon Stewart, decided to celebrate Mother’s Day by using his late night platform to argue for federal paid family leave in America. It was a compelling, heavy-handed report loaded with half-truths meant to support an ideologically beautiful, yet economically unfeasible concept. Based on my years administering FMLA in New Jersey, here is the list of Oliver’s myths that need to be debunked if we’re going to take the argument for paid family leave seriously.

1. Selena Allen, whose baby was born 6 weeks premature. Oliver presents her as only being able to take a total of 4 weeks off of work, which indicates that Oliver is oblivious to the disability period associated with giving birth. According to the Department of Labor, pregnancy is viewed as a temporary disability the 30 days prior and 30 days after birth. That post-birth time frame automatically increases for women who deliver via C-section. The disability period can always be extended in either direction with a doctor’s note. While this may be considered an unpaid leave by your employer, you are entitled to run your sick time concurrent to the leave, and you may also pursue temporary disability payments from your state or private disability insurer. Allen should never have returned to work the week following giving birth. Whether or not she was correctly informed of the law is not included in Oliver’s story.

2. Oliver argues for paternity leave by pointing out that Major League Baseball fans didn’t appreciate one player taking off 3 games to attend the birth of his child. What Oliver doesn’t mention is that fathers are just as eligible to take advantage of FMLA to bond with their newly born, foster or adoptive children. You do not need to physically give birth to be entitled to FMLA.

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Sure, the Black Widow Action Figures Are Sexy, But Little Girls Still Want the Princess Fantasy

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

As if Joss Whedon weren’t in enough hot water along with the rest of the Marvel folks for not producing a Black Widow movie series, Disney adds the icing onto the sexist cake by rewriting Avengers: Age of Ultron to promote a new Captain America toy. That heroic motorcycle ride Black Widow took to save the day in the film? Captain America is the spokesman of choice to sell the Cycle Blast Quinjet. So much for the Widow’s most heroic on-screen moment yet.

At least I’m not the only one wondering where the Black Widow action figure is amidst all the Ultron marketing. Thanks to Disney/Marvel’s woeful lack of attention to a major on-screen character, entire websites have been created to “follow the symbolic annihilation of women through merchandise.” The main assertion is that Disney has “never” been good at marketing “non-Princess” or warrior-Princess (think: Leia) female characters through the toy market.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t Disney think female action figures will sell? Let’s not fool ourselves (like the ideologues do) into thinking this is about being anti-feminist. This is about money. If a toy company thinks a product will earn money, they’ll sell it. According to a 2005 MIT study on toys and gender, children prefer stereotyped masculine or feminine toys, a trait that extends to “young nonhuman primates.” An examination of the packaging and marketing of these toys determined that boys preferred aggressive, competitive toys like action figures, while girls aimed towards attractive, nurturing toys like Barbie or baby dolls. In other words, the historical biological roles of hunter/gatherer and birthing/nesting, by and large, still manifest as the preferred respective fantasies of children of both genders.

If contemporary feminists want to market a Black Widow action figure to girls, they’d better quit grumbling and follow Marvel’s suit in characterizing her as the nurturer and “mother” of the Avengers. They’d also be wise to take a cue from Time Warner’s DC Entertainment and Warner Brother’s Studio, who have paired up with toy makers Mattel and Lego to create a colorful line of attractive teen female superheroes to market to today’s young female toy buyers. Let’s face it: Black Widow’s black jumpsuit is sexy, but hardly appealing to a five year-old girl.

Forget about textbook ideologies. When it comes to sales, the customer is the only one who is always right.

 

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Is Motherhood a Blessing, or a Curse?

Sunday, May 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Women have innate superpowers. Thanks to a century-old patriarchal system of doctors, politicians and insurance companies, women have been fooled into believing they have no power. What’s worse, thanks to a cadre of covert female agents, women today willingly hand over their unique powers to the hands of government agents who control the “threat,” either through a strict drug regimen, surgical procedure or both.

Women who refuse to relinquish their power face fear and intimidation tactics: You will be in pain; you will lose your figure; your partners will leave you; no one will employ you; you will be alone. Who ever thought the power to bring forth new life would be so damned scary?

Despite our overwhelming biological urge to reproduce, young women today are told to push off pregnancy or avoid it entirely. The women who don’t fall for this charade, the ones who take the leap into pregnancy and motherhood, are punished with promises of horrific labor pain and traumatic birthing experiences. Think about it: When is the last time you saw a peaceful birth recounted on television? Walk into a new-parents-to-be class at your local hospital and you’ll find out the number one reason young women are attending: “I want to know how not to be afraid of the pain.”

Mother of modern American midwifery Ina May Gaskin has made natural birth a feminist crusade, and rightly so. The myth that women need to be strapped to a table and drugged in order to give birth (a common practice from the 1920s through the 1960s) has led to generations of women entering birthing classes out of sheer fear that their bodies will fail at exactly what they are designed to do best. Pregnancy fear is the culmination of a cultural obsession with obtaining the perfect female body. Gaskin explains:

Remember this, for it is as true as true gets:  Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine.  The Creator is not a careless mechanic.  Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo.  Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.

And yet, we live in a culture that correlates birth to illness, babies to growths that must be removed, and childbearing to disease. When is the last time a sex-ed curriculum didn’t lump in pregnancy with chlamydia as an unwanted, avoidable side effect? Is it any wonder, then, that the reproductive power of women is treated as a threat to the State to be feared and controlled?

This Mother’s Day it’s time to rethink the way we view mothers and motherhood in America. Fostering healthy pregnancies should be one of the top priorities of the feminist movement, as should supporting all mothers, whether they have given birth or given their hearts to an adoptive or foster child. Mothers are the providers and caretakers of life, the sustainers of a great nation. As Gaskin observes, “When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.”

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This Is Amazing: Blind Pregnant Mom ‘Sees’ Her Unborn Baby for the First Time with 3D Printing

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
YouTube Preview Image

Tatiana Guerra, who lost her sight at age 17, was able to “see” her 20-week unborn baby through the miracle of 3D printing. The 30-year-old mother asked, “What does his face look like, doctor?” during a 3D ultrasound and she listened carefully as the doctor described her baby’s features. But then he surprised her by “printing” a 3D image of her baby and handing it to her, wrapped in a tiny blanket.

The video (actually an ad for Huggies diapers) captures her precious, emotional reaction to “seeing” her unborn baby for the first time — with her hands.

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The Avengers Pose the Greatest Argument Against Government Control: Motherhood

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Spoiler alert!

Don’t let the contemporary feminists fool you with their whining about Black Widow’s lack of star power. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow had the most powerful dialogue in the new release, Avengers: Age of Ultron. For the first time, movie audiences learn of her past as a Soviet agent trained from childhood. They also learn the most devastating aspect of being raised to kill: forced sterilization framed as a graduation rite of passage.

“It’s supposed to make it easier for you to kill,” she explains wistfully. The psychology behind training a school full of girls to become Soviet agents? Their biological mothering instincts must be destroyed if they are to be efficient and effective servants of the State. Now, Natasha the Black Widow can only celebrate vicariously as friends give birth to children and name them in her honor. The State may have marred her biology, but the permanent scars are in her mind and her heart.

Contemporary feminists complain that Black Widow is the mother of the group, but never bother asking why, because their politics force them to be completely out of touch with statistical reality. Despite the vociferous demands for increased access to birth control methods ranging from condoms to abortions, 96% of women ages 18-40 still express a desire to have a child. Why, then, do they demand the State have greater control over their reproductive rights? As the case of the Black Widow illustrates, a demand for control is a contradiction in terms with potentially deadly results.

Also read: 

Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoilers Review

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Stop Blaming Women for America’s Marriage Dilemma

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Anti-feminist Suzanne Venker went on a tirade about millennials who don’t marry. The problem, of course, are those women who give the milk away for free or let the man pick up the check at dinner. Seriously. If her rage isn’t stereotypical enough, check out the rom-com reasoning she quotes from Dr. Helen:

Men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family…They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.

Smart? Smart is noting that 70% of men ages 18-24 visit porn sites in a typical month. (Thirty percent of those monthly viewers are women.) Men don’t need to pay for dinner when they can pay for the milk (or get it for free!) with no consequences, STDs, pregnancy, or relationships.

The stat that sparked Venker’s rant is the one showing the number of never-married adults age 25 has doubled since 1960. What else has doubled since then? The percentage of college graduates. Whine all you want about women in the workforce, the economic reality (thanks to those obnoxious hippie Boomers) is that women today have to work, married or not. The fact that the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 1960 – 2010 didn’t seem to cross Venker’s mind, either. Unless you can swing a reality TV show in your youth, get “loaned” a house from mom and dad upon marriage, and cash in on those photo shoots and residuals when you start popping out babies, you’re at a loss for a serious, reliable income without some kind of post-high school education.

Severnty-five percent of millennials still want to get married and the majority still want to have children, statistics that effectively blow Venker’s claim out of the water. Want to beat the ethos of contemporary feminism? Your chief complaint needs to be a lot better than “Waaa, it’s not the 1950s any more!”

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What Has Made Adulthood So Damned Scary?

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

First it was adult preschool. Now it’s adult summer camp:

Now you’re an adult and your life is all work and emails and commuting. And booze, which is a good addition. But Camp No Counselors wants to get that summer camp feeling back in your life. You and your friends can take a long weekend to the woods of Albany to travel back in time, with water sports, color wars, a talent show and other favorite parts of your childhood camp memories—but with the added benefits of dance parties with live DJs, co-ed cabins and alcohol at every turn. It’s gonna get weird.

Millennials may be poor overall, but the ones who can afford a vacation are mocking the accusation of immaturity by embracing the rejuvenile ethos to the hilt. Camp No Counselors isn’t the only business capitalizing on the summer camp for millennials trend. Time Out New York lists six camps in the region specializing in everything from glamping to zombie survival preparation. Could summer camp be for millennials what Caribbean beach resorts were for Gen-X? Granted, Sandals was all about growing up and getting laid. Summer camp, on the other hand, could easily be seen as a twenty-something’s attempt to grab onto the last vestiges of youth, which leads to the question: What has made adulthood so damned scary?

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Forget Mom & Kid Time, It’s All About Me-Time

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

My PJ colleague Rhonda Robinson recently covered a study that concluded the quantity of a mother’s time with her children doesn’t have any real impact on their “academic and developmental outcome.” Quality time, not quantity time, is what matters. How much quality time is needed? The researchers only concluded that when the kids interfered with mom’s work schedule, causing her to stress out, the situation was bad for everyone.

The one area where science agrees that mother-child bonding on a 24/7/365 level is important is during fetal development. What a mother eats, breathes, hears, says, and feels directly impacts her child’s chances for living a successful, long life. And in the era of self-centered late in life parenting by-the-book, what’s more important than birthing a scientifically perfect child?

 

 

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A Selfless Parent Is a Bad Parent

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

My colleague Michael van der Galien directed our attention to a story out of Germany not so long ago about a 65-year-old woman pregnant with quadruplets. Her condition sparked controversy, posing the question: is getting pregnant at that age “amazingly beautiful or extremely egotistical“?

That’s a provocative question. But perhaps we should back up a bit and ask a more fundamental one. Why can’t it be both? From where does this dichotomy between beauty and ego emerge?

The conventional notion of ego suggests an irrational self-worship or whim-fulfillment. However, an alternative school of thought exists wherein ego proceeds from rationality. From this point of view, getting pregnant at 25 proves no less egotistical than getting pregnant at 65. The choice to procreate, by its nature as a choice, fulfills an egoistic desire. In that context, the question becomes not whether pregnancy is egoistic, but whether it proves rationally egoistic beyond a certain age.

Calling this German mother “extremely egotistical” suggests that she places her desire to have children above the wellbeing of those children. If that’s the case, if she wants children in the way that children want toys, then her decision to procreate proves irrational. In that case, she doesn’t want children as such, but a kind of maternal fantasy-fulfillment wherein the children become victims of her irrational pursuit.

However, if her decision to have children has been well-considered in the context of reality, if she has made arrangements by which her children will be cared for in her absence, or if she has good reason to believe she will remain healthy and capable enough to care for them, then her decision may be entirely rational. It all depends on context and intention.

The story provides a launching point for a consideration of the role ego plays in parenting.

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Smacking Your Kids Around in Public Does Not Make You a Hero

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

I agree with Paula on this one. And, oddly enough, with Joan Walsh at Salon as well. As Paula wrote here:

When children are consistently disciplined in a compassionate, controlled manner and given consistent boundaries and appropriate consequences, those qualities spill over into their lives and as adults, they’ll find they’ve been given the tools to be self-disciplined, self-controlled, and compassionate to their own children and others around them.

The instant resort to violence is a hallmark of the underclass, both black and white, and alas one sees it constantly on the streets of America’s major cities. But those of who were raised by responsible parents, and who try to be responsible parents ourselves, understand that it should be the appearance of the parent alone — a parent imbued with moral authority — that puts a stop to bad behavior, not whupping some kid upside the head.

Joan Walsh (no relation) naturally racializes the argument but, still, she’s on to something when she says:

Baltimore’s “Hero Mom” has a name. It’s Toya Graham. And the woman lionized nationwide for beating her 16-year-old son on camera, and dragging him away from Monday night’s riots, doesn’t feel at all like a hero.

“I don’t. I don’t,” Graham told CBS “This Morning” on Wednesday. “My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe.” Later in the interview, Graham confesses, “I just lost it.”  Her moment of losing it made her a hero to much of white America – and not just to the right. Coast to coast, the media is hyping Graham as “Hero Mom” and her on-camera beating as “Tough Love.” It’s not just Fox News or the “New York Post,” whose tabloid “Send in the Moms” front page this time reflects rather than rebukes the mainstream media. And that’s heartbreaking.

The debate over the moment Graham says she “lost it” is complex. There’s a parallel black debate going on that, as always when it comes to racial issues, is richer and more nuanced. But anyone white who’s applauding Graham’s moment of desperation, along with the white media figures who are hyping her “heroism,” is essentially justifying police brutality, and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the shit out of them.

I’m aware that a lot of African Americans are lauding Graham, too. This piece isn’t directed at them. Whether they applaud or critique Graham’s corporal punishment, most black people debating the issue acknowledge that the desperate public beating came from centuries of black parents knowing they have to discipline their children harshly, or else white society will do it for them – and they may not survive it.

The hypocrisy of the white mainstream applauding Graham is sickening. Let’s be honest: many white folks are reflexive critics of the greater frequency of corporal punishment in the black community. Witness the media horror at Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson beating his young son. If Graham beat her child like that in the aisles of CVS, you can be sure somebody would call CPS.

The best way to discipline your children is to love them and show them the ropes — not punch them around the ring.

 

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How Long Can You Shelter Your Children from LGBT?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In the above clip, Fox News’ Todd Starnes laments an incident in Maine where a primary school teacher taught five-year-olds about transgenderism. The kids were read a book called I Am Jazz about a boy who believes himself to be a girl.

Starnes properly rails against the school district’s disregard for parental rights. The nature of most public education is such that parents retain little control over offensive curriculum, certainly relative to a private model where business could be taken elsewhere.

That said, let’s take the public/private debate out of it and just consider the question of transgenderism itself. Surely, children are going to learn about such things at some point. We may prefer they be exposed at a point later than five-years-old, and that’s fair. But is it possible in this day and age to shelter our children completely from topics like homosexuality and transgenderism?

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65-Year-Old Mom Pregnant with Quadruplets: Amazingly Beautiful or Extremely Egotistical?

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

A 65-year-old German lady has told German newspaper Bild that she’s expecting quadruplets. This news story is the talk of the day in Europe. There are those who believe it’s a reason to celebrate, while others have a slightly different opinion. See, for instance, this tweet from a Dutch Twitter user:

Translation:

“A women of 65 years old pregnant with quadruplets. This is loathsome. Incredibly egotistical.”

Her argument is that the mother is a) too old to take care of one new baby let alone four, and b) that she’s basically nearing the end of her life, thereby making it very likely that her children will lose their mother at a very young age.

As far as I’m concerned, this is nothing to be ashamed of, let alone to find “loathsome.” People are healthier than ever before and become older because of it. If this German lady wants to have seventeen kids, why shouldn’t she? She could live on for another 30 or even 40 years. Should she, then, be deprived of family bliss just because some folks consider her to be “too old”? What nonsense.

I want five children myself; I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than a big, happy family. Just watch this video and tell me this isn’t exactly what you want:

If I want that for myself, I’m not going to deprive another of having that feeling of happiness either — no matter what her age.

What do you think? Is the soon-to-be-mother of quadruplets extremely egotistical, or is this actually a beautiful, heartwarming story?

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Woman Trades Baby Wishes for Open Marriage

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Robin Rinaldi wanted children more than anything. Instead of pursuing the journey of motherhood, she wound up experiencing what is being dubbed “feminist enlightenment” through sexual exploration, chronicled in her new book The Wild Oats Project:

When she was in her mid-30s and engaged to be married to a man several years older, Rinaldi, the author of a new book called “The Wild Oats Project,” entered premarital counseling with a quack named George. Rinaldi wanted kids, and her future husband did not.

…In fact, he had a vasectomy. And so Rinaldi decided that if she couldn’t have children, at least she should get to have a lot of sex with a lot of different men and women — and men and women together.

Yes, the logic escapes me, too — and I read the whole book. It seems to have something to do with the fact that both having children and having promiscuous sex are expressions of her “femininity.” Regardless, her husband apparently felt so guilty (or spineless) that he agreed to “open” their marriage for a year.

…Trying to suppress maternal desires in an effort to seem enlightened has the potential for disaster — as Rinaldi quickly learned.

Rinaldi’s conclusion: “I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.” Apparently she needed several men … and other women, for that matter. Which leads to the question, why did she “seethe” when she learned of friends’ pregnancies and dedicate her book to Ruby, the daughter she never had?

Is feminism still a movement focused on women’s equality, or has it become a narcissistic cult proffering temporal ego-satisfying sex in exchange for the eternal fulfillment of motherhood?

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