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Nymphing the Green Weenie: Husband & Wife Fly Fishing Adventures On the Fabled Gunpowder River

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Audie Cockings

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Nymphing sounds naughty. Perhaps because it is. Teasing a rainbow trout out from under a boulder with flashy fake bait can be at once titillating, nerve-racking, frustrating, and exhilarating when the mission is indeed a success. The drive to feed is a universal pillar among survival instincts. A satisfying rush on par with few other basic human functions. Besides, what’s more sexy than a big, goofy human in monstrous green overalls?

The husband and I hadn’t been on a date for over three months so when a business friend introduced him to fly fishing on a recent trip out west, he came home and suggested we get a babysitter and a private lesson.

This is where our geography comes in handy. We live five miles from the famed blue ribbon Gunpowder River in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Anglers from near and afar boast her bounties of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

To get started, we booked a lesson for Friday, March 27th, the day before trout season opened, then secured my fishing license with trout stamp online. The morning of, we met Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis guide at Great Feathers Fly Shop. The four hour lesson for two came in at just under $300 and included instruction, technique critique, waders, and all other necessary gear. We followed Rob to the site and after a quick glance at the GPS, realized we were stationed pretty darn close to our own backyard.

We parked by a wader washing station, a near promise of munificent waters. But first things first: Rob showed me proper form, tucking the dominant elbow into the waist, using the forearm as a lever of sorts, pumping the fly rod with kinetic energy to be dispatched upon casting. The rod is ideally restricted to “ten and two” position as the line forms the sequential overhead arc in front of and behind the angler before the rod is pointed at the intended spot and finally released.

After 10 decent practice casts in a clearing, Rob determined that I was sufficiently prepared to begin and into the damp wilderness we went.

The “path” was a hilly forested expanse dotted with girthy, felled trees railroading our passage, their exposed, nutrient-rich interiors akin to coffee grinds. Next was less-navigable outcroppings blanketed in Kelly green moss and pale-hued fungi, increasingly more dense as we made our way down to the river. A quarter mile in, the crunch of leaves, twigs, and remnant ice underfoot gave way to spongy vegetation. We trekked alongside what seemed a shallow creek only to turn a corner revealing a top-50 fly fishing destination… The feverish rush of tail waters on the fabled Gunpowder River.

It was overcast, breezy, rainy and about 45 degrees out — perfect fishing conditions according to Rob as the fish won’t be “lethargic from heat or too much sun… They like it cold.”

He said, grinning: “Despite the rain, the water is pretty clear, so the fish can concentrate on eating, not just staying alive.” Rob explained how the fish filtered out murky sediment which is inherently hard on their gills. The Prettyboy Dam stationed upstream helps regulate the flow of the Gunpowder River unlike other Chesapeake Bay tributaries where rain run-off can create unfavorable fishing conditions.

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Practicing casting technique with Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis fly fishing instructor.

Even after a casting lesson, a quick study in knots, flies, and suiting up, we still had three hours left to let loose on unsuspecting Oncorhynchus mykiss. I planted my grippy steel shank boots on a boulder the size of Rhode Island, tallying a few arcs before sinking my neon pink foam “redworm” into tender water straddled by rapids and shoreline. This is where oversight came in handy… I wouldn’t have known where to land my fly had Rob not been very specific about where to place it. Namely, the deeper, cooler, slower moving pools that exhibit model rest areas for congregating trout.

Here’s where my prior fishing experience severely boogered up my attempt at setting the hook. It’s exceedingly hard to unlearn something, especially when that one something is so deeply inherent. You see, fishing is in my blood. My father’s family has been in Southern Maryland for three hundred years, all fishing blues and rock, requiring a quick jerk to set the hook and a brawny pair of guns to reel the catch in. Not so much the case in fly fishing. I needed to stop bullying the line and ease up as I lost three fish by getting antsy after a nibble. The most difficult part of fly fishing is keeping cool, and cool is not something I’m particularly good at.

So who got on the board first? The husband. He caught a lovely little rainbow trout then released it.  Meanwhile, I got a whole lot more of the big goose egg. I would have been irritated had I not been so happy for him. It’s a joke in our family that he’s a terrible fisherman.

But Friday’s small victory may just redeem him with my father and uncles after all…

Fly fishing is a sport where patience prevails. It is one of the few sports accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of age or sex. As a matter of fact, a notable authority on the sport is an elderly woman half my size, Joan Wulff, who cast at 161 feet in her heyday. She still teaches technique at the school bearing her name.

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Tenkara “Soto” rod… Notice no reel.

After two hours of wholly unsuccessful loose line management, Rob offered me a try with his Tenkara rod. The rod was telescopic, increasing in lengths up to thirteen feet. No reel necessary. It was light, effortless. Casting was thoroughly natural, intuitive. Better control of the fly and easier handling quickly sold me on the simplistic Tenkara. I could switch hands, work tighter spots along tree lines, and easily tease the trout with a submerged “nymph” or a “dry” fly on surface water. Attempting to mimic natural movement of live insects yielding in the current seemed more probable with the lighter, more agile rod.

As with nearly every sport, gear can be expensive. Initially I ordered a pair of Simms Vapor wading boots and an Orvis women’s stocking foot waders, an investment of nearly $500, just to send them back, instead settling on a pair of boot foot men’s Hodgeman waders that I got on clearance for under $50.  As for rods, there are pre-owned deals to be had on eBay, or consider the Orvis Encounter series rod and reel package that has excellent reviews and is well priced at $159. All you will need are some tackle and nippers. Even more affordable is the Tenkara rod, the ultra light system that breaks down to the size of a mailing tube, easily and safely transported to any locale across the globe. Rob reported he was going after shad using his Tenkara rod. I’m anxious to hear how that went.

It’s only been a few days and I’m itching to get my waders back in the river.

I snapped up the last Tenkara “Sato” rod at Great Feathers and got a small tackle box  of line, stoneflies, midges, San Juan worms, and “Green Weenies.”

The boss and I settled on a standing date, one Friday morning a month, to fish together deep in that ravine just five miles from our home. We’ve got fishing “go bags” at the ready complete with waders, gear, snacks and water bottles. Now all we need for some good nymphing, is each other.

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A view upstream on the Gunpowder River. Me with the Tenkara rod (freezing my can off!)

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Is the Second Income Worth the Work?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

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In Fall of 2013, I took a full-time job for the first time since my children were born. With the kids in high school and college and mostly independent, I felt ready to take on a new challenge and the extra money would be nice. This year was the first year we had to file for taxes for a full year, however, and we were shocked. My modest income had pushed us into a higher tax bracket. The end result was that even though my husband and I had claimed no deductions and were putting the maximum to taxes each month, we nonetheless owed nearly a third of my annual income in extra taxes. I will be working most of the rest of this year to pay for the privilege of working.

In modern America, the two-income family is almost an expectation. However, unless it’s a job you really aspired for, you and your spouse might want to take a little time and do the math. Sometimes, that second job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be financially.

Two Income Trap

Interestingly, the articles I found concerning the costs of working outside the home[KF1]  list the expense of moving to a higher tax bracket as the #1 expense. In one mother’s example[KF2] , it cut her monthly salary by an additional $500/month. (This is after she’s already paid taxes on her salary.) Then, there are the transportation costs, which are still large despite the slight decrease in gas prices. If you have younger children, child care will take a big chunk of your paycheck.

Then there are the expenses that occur because you are away from home, such as lunches with colleagues, and maybe an increase in take-out dinners. Personally, cooking is not my forte, and once I started working, we gave in more easily to take out from nicer restaurants. Some women may find they don’t have the energy to keep up the house, so a regular housekeeper is added to the expense list. (Though some may agree it’s totally worth it!)

Finally, you need to add the incidentals: seasonal gifts, office activities, wardrobe needs and dry cleaning. One writer mentioned that she had to start purchasing disposable diapers whereas at home, she’d used cloth. These small things add up.

One other consideration: Are you setting yourself up for the two-income trap? This is where your family, used to the increased income, spends the increased income. Please note that this is different from both parents having to work to keep food on the table. Rather, it’s the temptation to say you can afford the bigger house, the newer car, the fancy vacation… every time. Be honest with yourself: Do you need it or do you want it? And if you want it, is it worth 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year away from home?

Stress of Being a Working Mom

In addition to the financials, you should give some consideration to the non-financial costs of the two-income family. These include stress on both spouses as they share more greatly in the housework (or argue about it or let it slide) and the guilt of missing moments in a child’s life. (Which is an issue for dads, although it’s talked about more with moms). It means less time and energy for indulging hobbies, doing things yourself, and relaxing. It also means being part of the rat race with all the interpersonal conflicts, competition and unique stresses.

When you take on a job after having been a full-time homemaker, you are not trading jobs, but rather adding a new job on top of the one you already have. True, you may cut or share a lot of your at-home duties, but the responsibility never goes away.

Cutting to two incomes

At the end of the day, whether you can or should become a two-income family is your choice. There are certainly advantages to working outside the home. You get to interact with a wider range of adults, do work that may be more intellectually stimulating or is emotionally rewarding in a way different from that of parenting. And if one spouse loses his or her job, you still have one income to sustain you.

My husband and I ran the math, and we’re still net positive enough to justify my continuing to work. More importantly, however, I like my job. The work is interesting, and I’m learning things that will help me in the future. My coworkers are delightful. In the 18 months I’ve worked there, there have only been a handful of times I’ve not awakened excited to go to the office, and those times usually had something to do with what was going on at home. However, having done the math, I would feel comfortable quitting if our home situation warranted it. I’m simply not making that much after expenses.

The two-income family is becoming the norm of American life, but it may not be the best bet for every family – emotionally or financially. Before you join the rat race, take some time to figure out the expenses vs. the income so you can decide if the cheese is really worth it.

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Does a Podcast Have to be About Sex to be Feminist?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Salon’s resident feminist Jenny Kutner chronicled her top 7 feminist podcasts that are “way sexier than Serial“. A spin-off of This American LifeSerial is a non-fiction podcast that harkens back to the golden era of radio, sourcing material from old headlines to generate serial tales of true life criminal investigations. It’s as remarkable as any other product of the entertainment industry in that it’s managed to put a slight twist on a tried and true endeavor. But feminist? Not particularly. And neither are Kutner’s alternatives.

Sexy, yes. Six out of the seven essentially discuss only sex. The seventh, Crybabies, is a podcast hosted by two women who get weepy. A lot. As in “let’s listen to this Adele song and cry”. It’s strange that a contemporary feminist would cite a crying female podcast as a feminist totem given all that angry bra-burning for which they’re supposedly famous. Isn’t crying contradictory to their anti-biology trend?

In any case, why does a podcast have to be about sex in order to be considered feminist? Are buzz words like “frank and funny” or “deep and interesting” enough to justify discussions about orgasms, phone sex and drag queens as being feminist? What’s the alternative for women looking to embrace their empowerment outside the bedroom?

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Australian Kelpies: Coolest Dogs Ever?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

I was strolling through my parents’ village yesterday, when I suddenly saw a very sweet, active, and beautiful dog that I didn’t recognize. My mother told me that it was an Australian Kelpie. We spoke to its owner, while playing with the dog, and learned that they’re very active (they’re used as sheep dogs in Australia, apparently), but also extraordinarily obedient, loyal and kind-hearted.

Now, I’m a labrador guy myself, but I truly fell in love with this wonderful dog. What do you guys think? Here’s some information about Kelpies, and here are two photos I made of this wonderful, extremely social dog.

And:

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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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Is Successful Feminism Capitalist Feminism?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, while a wife and a mother of a special needs child, pioneered an all-female staffed software company in England in the 1960s. Fascinated by technology, she also had a head for business. Possessing an interest in employing working mothers, her staff were able to work from home in a variety of capacities, including as coders and programmers. A self-made millionaire, Shirley turned many of her employees into millionaires as well by opening stock options to them at a time when that was a relatively unheard of benefit. 

Adopting the nickname “Steve” in order to get her foot in the door with male clients, she employed “extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination” in a pre-second wave feminist era. Shirley didn’t wait for bras to be burned or Gloria Steinem to appear in her bunny suit before taking charge. In fact, the UK’s Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, a direct result of the second wave feminist backlash, required that Shirley hire more men into what she was proud to make a nearly all-female company.

This pioneering businesswoman’s story flies in the face of second wave feminist tropes regarding female business owners, women in the workplace, equal pay and women in STEM. Which demands the question: If feminism seeks to be an empowering voice for women, what can it learn from the ideologies, like capitalism, that it chooses to berate or ignore?

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Why Jewish Women Scare Lena Dunham (and the Rest of Hollywood)

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Jewish women are fierce. We carry many arrows in our quiver including love for life, command of the situation, determined opinions, and freedom of expression. We are not lithe and unfettered. We do not “go with the flow.” We don’t wait until we are on our deathbeds to express our emotions, resolve hurt feelings, or pursue our passions.

Ultra-Orthodox men pray thanks to God that they were not created a woman. This is only because they don’t have ovaries enough to take on our mantle.We are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, prophetesses, administrators, investors, and the greatest security blanket men will ever know. But perhaps what shocks these religious men the most is that we regret none of it. This is why they need to hide behind sheets to protect themselves from their own animal lust for us, that is precisely how powerful we are. 

Thank God we are women; someone has to be in charge of this mess. And that is precisely why we are the objects of fear and scorn. Because what you cannot control, you try to contain and what you cannot contain you either love or hate with reckless abandon.

Hence, Jewish women are constantly the brunt of jokes in the entertainment world. Whether it’s yet another good Jewish boy succumbing to shiksappeal or Lena Dunham berating her Jewish boyfriend’s mother, Hebrew women just can’t win.  Our intellect becomes neurosis, our love becomes smothering, our agility becomes goofiness, our sexiness our comedy. In Freudian terms we are the mother from which no man can escape. In pop culture terms we’re the JAP, Jewish American Princess, to whom guilty Jewish men are obligated to commit in misery forever. When God commanded circumcision we’re the ones who didn’t stand in the way and now we’re doomed to forever pay the price for our holy allegiance.

But, don’t be fooled for one second into thinking we’re slaves. Dunham blames her boyfriend’s failings on his mother’s supposed cultural weaknesses:

…he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates. …As a result of this dynamic, he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant.

She offers the asinine complaint of feminism, the pagan belief that a woman cannot ever be truly independent because she is umbilically tethered to fostering life. It is a bizarre notion, one that makes no sense if we’re talking power and authority. A child cannot survive without its mother. Said mother not only nurtures and carries life within her body, she is the primary influence on that child from the moment they are born until the day they die. For better or worse, a mother’s relationship with her child has the greatest impact on their social, emotional and character development. Dunham acknowledges this concept in the negative only because she rejects her own womb as a burden instead of the greatest source of a woman’s power on earth.

Statistically Jewish women enjoy having children. Stereotypically, we have lovingly been dubbed “smothers.” Weaklings like Dunham who reject their womb power find humor in these stereotypes because their own egos are a poor substitute for the authority intrinsic to motherhood. They must constantly jab under the guise of humor in order to recharge their power source. Real women thrive on building up the ones they love. Lost women who have surrendered their biological power to political leadership are left seeking to offend. In the end, it is their only reward.

So if you ever wonder why feminists are stereotyped as bitter hags, look no further than the angst-ridden humor of Lena Dunham, feminism’s pop goddess who has sacrificed her wedding on the altar of gay marriage, her womb on the altar of Planned Parenthood. She has not chosen life, therefore death becomes her.

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Are We Enslaved by Politics This Passover?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Recently I engaged in an interesting Twitter conversation on the ability to confirm a religion’s biblical veracity. My editor, David Swindle, had been approached by Mormons a few days prior and was seeking out further explanation to understand how the Book of Mormon confirmed or contradicted the Word of God. The gentleman he engaged could not answer his question, so I stepped in with Deuteronomy 18:17-22: The Spirit of God does not contradict the Word of God. That is the test of any faith, religion, or spiritual leader claiming to represent the God of the Bible. God is One, He cannot contradict Himself. If a person claims to speak for God, their words better match His, plain and simple.

This concept has been tailored over time in Judaism due to the horrors of diasporas, invasions, and Temple destructions. The scholarly culture that began codifying the oral law that would become the Talmud eventually proclaimed themselves the inheritors of the gift of prophetic interpretation. In a bureaucratic coup, these ancestors of today’s rabbis took command of the prophetic role from God’s hands. Hence, today’s Judaism is informed by the concepts that the biblical manifestation of the prophet died with the second Temple, and the Talmud (Rabbinic oral law) is the equivalent of the Torah, leaving religious authority within the realm of the rabbis.

Yet, Torah teaches us that all human beings fail and that spiritual leaders schooled in this truth are held to a higher standard of behavior, because of their willful acknowledgement of and commitment to this truth. Knowing this, we are to be even more vigilant when it comes to scrutinizing our teachers and their teachings. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are free to judge each other in the process. Being human, we are far too susceptible to getting caught up in the cult of leader-worship, leaving us vulnerable to criticism when our leader fails.

Take, for example, the Forward’s Jay Michaelson questioning why adherents of disgraced Rabbi Barry Freundel didn’t come forward with their suspicions sooner:

How can some of our community’s leading (if self-appointed) cultural sages lionize and valorize someone who, in fact, they didn’t really know that well? …I also wonder what criteria we use to evaluate our spiritual leaders when a serial sex offender can sneak past them. …There are questions that should have been asked, suspicions that should have been raised. But the self-reinforcing loops of elite power — X likes him, X is powerful, therefore I should like him — blinded those entrusted to keep watch.

One of Freundel’s converts, Bethany Mandel, treats Michaelson’s observation as a criticism of her own ability to judge Freundel’s character, while illustrating that as a convert she was the one being judged in turn:

To be clear, Freundel had a great deal of power over us, but while he could sometimes be controlling and manipulative, he could also be our greatest defender. I will never forget the evening when my then-boyfriend and I agreed to host another couple for a meal…. Upon learning of my status as a convert-in-process, the couple refused to eat my food without hearing directly from the rabbi that it was safe according to the laws of kashrut. My then-boyfriend, a friend and the husband literally ran from Dupont Circle to Georgetown to knock on Freundel’s door to ask about the status of my food.

This dangerous cycle of judgment and blame makes us all victims of one another instead of family, friends, or event compatriots. We become so caught up in the opinions of others, whether they be rabbis or fellow Jews, that we lose sight of who God is and our true purpose in being a part of the Jewish world.

In the wake of Israel’s elections we are being baited once again by this cycle of judgment and blame. Rabbis now feel compelled to preach politics from the bench to congregants pressured to question their allegiance to the concluding line of the Passover Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem!” Instead of finding unity in our eternal freedom as Jews, we’re squabbling over political leaders who will come and go. Instead of taking joy in one another, we’re seeking authoritative approval of our political opinions. Instead of rejoicing in our freedom, we are being bound by the threat of destruction. And when we succumb to the fear we transition from freedom to slavery. This victimhood propels our judgment of and separation from one another.

The rabbinic claim to prophecy should motivate us as a community to engage with the Word of God firsthand, not with the goal of disproving one another, but with the aim of being the people God has chosen us to be. When it comes to religious leadership, it is our prerogative to “trust, but verify.” We cannot be blamed for the failings of others. But we are answerable to God for our own actions, and judging one another is not in His playbook.

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How Many More Children Must Die from a Mutant Strain of Malaria?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 - by Theodore Dalrymple

I am slightly ashamed of how much I liked Burma when I visited it nearly a third of a century ago. What a delight it was to go to a country in which there had been no progress for 40 years! Of course it was a xenophobic, klepto-socialist, Buddho-Marxist military dictatorship run by the shadowy, sinister and corrupt General Ne Win, and so, in theory, I should have hated it. Instead, I loved it and wished I could have stayed.

Since then there has probably been some progress, no doubt to the detriment of the country’s charm. Burma (now Myanmar) is slowly rejoining the rest of the world, and one consequence of this will be the more rapid advance of treatment-resistant malaria.

A recent paper in the Lancet examined the proportion of patients in Burma with malaria in whom the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was resistant to what is now the mainstay of treatment, artemisinin, a derivative of a herbal remedy known for hundreds of years to Chinese medicine. The results are not reassuring.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the global eradication of malaria was envisaged by the WHO, and it looked for a time as if it might even be achieved. The means employed to eradicate it was insecticide that killed the mosquitoes that transmitted the malarial parasites, but a combination of pressure from environmentalists who were worried about the effects of DDT on the ecosystem and mosquito resistance to insecticides led to a recrudescence of the disease.

At the same time, unfortunately, resistance to antimalarial drugs emerged. Control of malaria, not its eradication, became the goal; an insect and a protozoan had defeated the best efforts of mankind. And this is no small matter: the last time resistance to a mainstay of treatment for malaria, chloroquine, emerged in South-East Asia, millions of people died as a result in Africa for lack of an alternative treatment.

What most surprised me about this paper was the method the authors used to determine the prevalence of resistance to artemisinin in the malarial parasites of Burma: for I remember the days when such prevalence was measured by the crude clinical method of giving patients chloroquine and estimating how many of them failed to get better.

The genetic mutations that make the parasite resistant to artemisinin have been recognized. The authors were able to estimate the percentage of patients with malarial parasites that had mutations associated with drug resistance. Nearly 40 percent of their sample had such mutations, and in a province nearest to India the figure was nearly half. The prospects for the geographical spread of resistance are therefore high.

Nor is this all. Artemisinin resistance was first recognized in Cambodia 10 years ago but the mutations in Burma were different, suggesting that resistance can arise spontaneously in different places at the same time. From the evolutionary point of view, this is not altogether surprising: selection pressure to develop resistance to artemisinin exists wherever the drug is widely used.

One way of reducing the spread of resistance is the use in treatment of malaria of more than one antimalarial drug at a time, but this will only retard the spread, not prevent it altogether. As with tuberculosis, it is likely that parasites resistant to all known drugs will emerge. The authors of the paper end on a pessimistic note:

The pace at which the geographical extent of artemisinin resistance is spreading is faster than the rate at which control and elimination measures are being developed and instituted, or new drugs being introduced.

In other words, deaths from malaria will increase rather than continue to decrease, which is what we have come to think of as the normal evolution of a disease.

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You’ll Be Shocked to See What They Are Paying Babysitters These Days

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to the Care.com 2015 Babysitter Survey, the national average babysitter rate is $13.44 per hour, up 28% from the 2009 rate of $10.50. This is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and higher than the nation-leading $9.50 per hour that the District of Columbia mandates.

Care.com, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care,” surveyed 1000 of their members and combined that with their own internal data to determine the going rate, which varied from a high of $16.55 in San Francisco, to a low of $11.31 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor and global parenting expert at Care.com, said, “It’s a babysitter’s market where sitters can not only determine their hourly rate, but they can also expect an annual raise and even a tip.”

Apparently, it wasn’t a babysitter’s market when I used to charge $1.00 per hour (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). In addition to babysitting, I always tidied up the house and washed any dishes that were left in the sink. The only hope for making more than ten bucks for an evening’s work was if the dad who drove me home opened his wallet and realized that he didn’t have anything smaller than a ten-dollar bill.

Two questions for our readers today:

1) How much do you pay your babysitters?

2) How much did you charge when you were a babysitter?

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VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?

The national department store catalog includes:

The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”

Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.

Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.

 

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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Presbyterians Approve Gay Marriage: Forward-Looking or Surrender to a Culture Gone Wild?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

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The Presbyterian Church has once again confirmed its progressive reputation:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a “commitment between two people,” becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

Is this a sign that Presbyterians are forward-looking and profoundly modern, or are they selling out? Opinion polls show that 55 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage. No church can survive when it ignores the wishes and ideas of the culture at large. Gay marriage is going to be legalized nationwide eventually, as the culture is moving in that direction. Might as well get on board now rather than wait and be accused of being out of touch.

On the other hand, many devoted Christians rightfully argue that the Bible clearly states that a marriage is an arrangement between a man and a woman. They’ll claim they’ve got Genesis to back them up if they believe in a literal interpretation of Christianity’s holy book:

Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

What do you think? Are the Presbyterians right and should other churches follow suit, or are they selling out their religion in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in today’s society?

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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VIDEO: What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want to Know About Sex

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.

Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.

Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?

No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.

Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?

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Shocker: How the Cinderella Re-Make Does Something Almost Unthinkable Since Walt Disney’s Death

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Cinderella at the ball from the 2015 re-telling of the classic Disney story.

The tale of Cinderella has been retold, directly or indirectly, countless times in recent years, but something just happened to it that I would not believe if I had not seen it.

The latest rendition, released in theaters this past weekend, tells the story with delightful charm, breathtaking beauty, squeaky-clean morality and — most surprising in this age of sly sarcasm — “without a hint of irony.”

That last phrase I stole from another princess film — Enchanted — which was, phrase notwithstanding, rich in irony (as well as terrific humor and great music).

With Cinderella (2015), director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have done the almost unimaginable. They’ve displayed sincere affection between a prince and a servant girl, without post-modern angst or politically correct messaging.

In a word, they made a “Disney movie” the likes of which I feared had faded to black with each year since Walt’s passing.

If there is any seemingly obligatory commentary about the role of women, gender equality, and the impossible dream of true love, it’s among the bitter on Twitter, not in the film.

Perhaps more shocking than the genuine and chaste love between the prince and Cinderella is the sincere respect, love and admiration between the prince and his father, the king, as the son struggles to balance his love for the mysterious maiden, with his desire to honor his father. Most men yearn for a such a relationship with their boys.

Fairy tales were meant to sweep us from our mundane lives, captivate our hearts, lift our spirits and make us dream again. This Cinderella does all of that better than anything I’ve seen since Beauty and the Beast (1991).

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The Meaning of 31 of the Most Popular Biblical Names in America

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Arlene Becker Zarmi

Biblical Hebrew names have been used since before this country was founded. Captain John Smith had a biblical name. The name John comes from the Hebrew name Yohanan, which means “G-­d has been gracious.”

Many Historical U.S. Figures Have Had Biblical Names

Most of our presidents, with the notable exception of George Washington, had some form of biblical name.  In addition to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, there was James Madison. James comes from the Hebrew name Ya’akov by way of the English translation of the New Testament. Ya’akov is otherwise known as Jacob, which means “he will impede or hold up.” Abraham Lincoln’s name was a direct biblical name: “father of a multitude.” John Kennedy was another Yohanan; James Buchanan and James Carter both had names that came from the Old Testament. How well known is the fact that President Warren G. Harding was really Warren Gamaliel, which in Hebrew is Gamliel or “G-­d Has granted to me”? Of course the well-liked Dwight Eisenhower was Dwight David. David in Hebrew means “beloved.”

Two presidents of Yale, Ezra Styles and Noah Porter, had recognizable biblical names. Ezra means “help” and Noah “comfort.”

Those are just a few of the notables of our country who were given Hebrew names from the Bible. Many of us in everyday life have Hebrew names as well and don’t even realize it.

In the U.S., almost fifty percent of the most popular girls’ Hebrew names are either directly from Hebrew or derived from the Bible. Among boys, some of the most popular names in America are biblical names.

Here are some of the most popular girls’ names:

1. Mary from the Hebrew name Miriam or “bitter, bitterness.”

2. Elizabeth from the Hebrew Elisheva, “an oath to G­-d.”

3. Maria, also derived from Miriam.

4. Susan from Shoshanah, which means “lily or rose.”

5. Margaret from Margalit, which is a pearl.

6. Ruth connotes “appearance”; she was the famous convert to Judaism and ancestor of King David.

7. Sharon, the name of a fertile plain in Israel.

8. Sarah means “princess”; she was the wife of Abraham.

9. Deborah is a honeybee (Hebrew Devorah), a judge in ancient Israel.

Then there are the boys’ names:

10 James, still as popular as two hundred years ago, heads the list (it was defined above).

11. John, also defined above, is next.

12 Michael, “who is like G-­d?”

13. David, “beloved,” and the second king of Israel.

14. Joseph, “he will increase” (Yosef, in Hebrew).

15. Daniel, “G-­d is my judge.”

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Check Out This Amazing Live Bald Eagle Nest Cam

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

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If you’ve ever wondered what a bald eagle nest looks like from the inside, or how a bald eagle cares for her eggs, then check out this live bald eagle cam. Set up in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the cam can give you a rare glimpse into the lives of two majestic bald eagles during their breeding season.

According to the PA Gaming Commission, “The bald eagle’s history in Pennsylvania is a precarious one. Only 30 years ago, we had a mere three nests left in our entire state. With the help of the Canadian government, several agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought bald eagle chicks back to their states to reintroduce bald eagles to the Northeast. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests.”

If you’re looking for a great way to distract yourself for a few minutes, or just want to share a view of a beautiful bird with your children, follow the link and see what the bald eagles are up to now. You might even be lucky enough to be tuned in when a little eaglet hatches.

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Are Parents to Blame for Their Narcissistic Children?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

New research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the “Origins of narcissism in children” and finds that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.”

But wait, what if my child really is the smartest at math in his class, or the best soccer player on her team, or the fastest fourth grader in the school? Is this study of narcissism in children suggesting that I hold back from praising my child’s skills, or areas in which he or she is genuinely exceptional? Well, based on the study, it seems that part of the answer is in the difference between narcissism and self-esteem. According to The Ohio State University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, who co-authored the study, “People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others.”  In other words, yes, by all means, we should praise and love our children, but we should be cautious when it comes to “overvaluing” our children and telling them things that make them believe they are “more special than other children” or that they “deserve something extra in life.”

This study was based on surveys of 565 Dutch children (aged 7-11 when the study began) and their parents. As one might expect, the study found that when parents overvalued their children, they would often claim that their child knew more than a child possibly could — even about fabricated information.  I wonder if that’s because these parents felt that if they claimed their children knew more than other children, that would mean that they are also superior examples of parents.  What better way to sustain one’s own impulse toward overvaluation than by elevating the intellectual stature of our progeny — it’s like narcissism by proxy.

But let’s get back to that key distinction between narcissism and healthy self-esteem. It turns out that even in children with a natural predilection toward narcissism (it isn’t all nurture, after all), if parents show them more warmth and affection rather than overvaluation, it can help curtail that tendency toward narcissism.  Perhaps if this study gains enough attention, and more children get warmth and affection along with positive encouragement,  we’ll see fewer teenagers (and adults) walking in beautiful places taking selfies instead of appreciating what’s in front of them.

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Anatomy of a Murder: How Feminism Defends Sex-Selective Abortion

Monday, March 9th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.

Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”

Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.

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The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:

“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:

“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”

Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”

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Curt Schilling Shows Us How to Take Down Nasty Twitter Trolls Who Harass Women

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

In case you missed it, Curt Schilling was not impressed with someone harassing his daughter via Twitter and so he decided to do something about it. Here’s how he introduced the situation on his blog:

I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.

If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.

My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.

Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.

Understandably, the former MLB pitcher was proud of his daughter’s achievement, and probably never imagined that sharing that pride publicly with his daughter via Twitter would invite the ugly comments of two textbook Internet trolls. We won’t repeat the offensive Tweets here, but suffice it to say that Schilling was well within his rights to be outraged and offended that anyone would say the things that were said to his daughter via Twitter.

Here’s what Schilling first posted about the incident on his own Twitter feed:

While it might have been one of the first things he said publicly about the incident, it also happens to summarize the directed, serious nature of his response to it all. Rather than just getting angry and responding to the culprits directly in a form of a flame war, Schilling opted instead to ask for help from his Twitter followers:

He even received a response from a Twitter employee:

As it turns out, though, Schilling was being modest. He says on his blog that he’s been using computers since 1981 and that he’s not unfamiliar with the pitfalls of social media sites like Twitter. It’s not all that surprising, then, that he not only took in the names of the two miscreants who were harassing his daughter, he shared their information on his website:

“The Sports Guru”? Ya he’s a DJ named Adam Nagel (DJ is a bit strong since he’s on the air for 1 hour a week) on Brookdale Student Radio at Brookdale Community College. How do you think that place feels about this stud representing their school? You don’t think this isn’t going to be a nice compilation that will show up every single time this idiot is googled the rest of his life? What happens when a potential woman he’s after googles and reads this?

The other clown? He’s VP of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University. I gotta believe if Theta Xi is cool with a VP of one of their chapters acting like this I’d prefer to have no one I know in it. Also, does anyone attending Montclair State University have a student handbook? If so can you pass it along because I am pretty sure there are about 90 violations in this idiots tweets.

I stopped because the rest was more of the same. And while these, to me as a dad, are just stupid and vile in ways you can’t fathom, they aren’t alone.

There have been personal tweets, texts and emails to more than one party in all this.

In other words, he was making sure that there would be real-world repercussions to their online actions.  And there have been consequences. The Sports Guru has been suspended by his school and is now being investigated by the police and the clown from Montclair State University, Sean MacDonald, has been fired from his job with the Yankees. You can follow Schilling’s updates on further repercussions either by following him on Twitter or visiting his blog.

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Is This the Most Bizarre Bar Mitzvah Video of the Year?

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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There’s a subset of Jewish culture that has so much money to blow on their kids that celebrations like Bar Mitzvahs turn into outrageous, television-worthy affairs. If you want the full story in the form of a cute, thoughtful comedy, check out Keeping Up with the Steins. If you want to skip straight to the awkward horror of the real-life version, watch the video above, posted by the UK Jewish News with the one line comment:

Usually, we’d write something here, but we are a little speechless.

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Confessions of a Former High School Teacher: 10 Tips for Parents

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Joni Nichols

In high schools across America, from small country farm towns to bustling cities, I have seen quite a bit of the high school landscape. In the turmoil of Common Core ideological wars and stories like this award-winning teacher jumping ship earlier this month, it can seem daunting to send our kids to public school. It’s daunting to work there, too. Teachers are riding out big swings in educational reform while moms and dads just want a happy, well-adjusted student.  During my ten years in, I did not have children of my own. I do now. And here are the notes I would want from the other side if I were a parent of a public high schooler today:

1. You are still in charge.

As a parent, you’ve chosen the vehicle to get your child to 12th grade, so you oversee the process along the way. And with free k-12 public school online and university model part-time high schools, you are not locked into any standard. (Here’s what I do.) No, Common Core has not taken over everything everywhere. Don’t let anyone boss you into a picture of what your kid’s education has to look like. You still have those keys.  (And this OHS “Online High School” attender will certainly broaden your definitions of high school through a few confessions of her own.)

2. Don’t be afraid of “paying extra” to customize what isn’t working.

Remember, teachers must aim at the middle, which means they are going too fast for the slower processors, and too slow for the fast processors. There’s nothing the teacher can do about that. But you can do a lot about that. And you should. The teacher will not have the time or emotional investment to initiate, but she is capable of tailoring more than she will ever admit. Yes, it is a little bit of legwork and back-and-forth communication, but this is not barbed wire you are getting through; it’s an email. You’re opening conversations that can lead to compromise.

3. Don’t misinterpret the pushback.

If a blank stare or a little resistance can get someone to solve their own problems and save them from more headache and heartache, then wow, what a skill to develop! Graciously bypass this defense mechanism (rudeness) and set up a meeting or ask for someone else to speak to you about it. They don’t know how serious you are, if you are just venting, or indeed impossible;  just as you don’t know what they are made of. Frankly, these adults are overrun with unique situations, and their brain and heart spaces are limited, so a little pushback of your own may be in order. (A little.)

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Contemporary Feminism’s War Against Women in the Name of Radical Islam

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.

Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.

Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.

He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.

Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.

What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:

And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?

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University Study Says That When Parents Play Favorites, the Kids Pay the Price

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Carlos Perez

A recent study on the impact of parental favoritism on their children is finally getting the attention it deserves. While it might seem like a truism to say that parental favoritism can harm children, a study by Brigham Young University professor Alex Jensen found that favoritism, even when it’s just perceived preferential treatment, can lead children who feel less favored to use alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

Professionals in this field of family psychology refer to this as parents’ differential treatment (PDT). The very existence of a common acronym for this family dynamic points up just how impactful something we might accept as just so might be for the development of children.

Substance Abuse Increases among Children Who Perceive Parental Favoritism

According to the study, in families where preferential treatment is more dramatic, “the less favored child was 3.5 times more likely to use any of these substances.”  Jensen further clarifies this last point, saying, “It wasn’t just that they were more likely to use any substances, it also escalated.” That is to say, disconnected children who smoke are more likely to try alcohol and drugs as well.  Even without the study one can easily comprehend how children who feel that their parents treat them and their siblings differently might find themselves disaffected enough to follow a solemn path toward what the study describes as “delinquency and substance use.”

The Solution Is Simple: Show Your Children You Love Them More Often

One of the more fascinating, albeit alarming, findings of Jensen’s study was that the mere perception of favoritism affected children profoundly.  Children who felt that their parents favored a sibling reacted more to their own perceptions of that disparity than to any actual disparity as such.

So if that’s the case, and given that it seems natural for children to believe that their parents treat them differently, or favor one sibling over another, what are we as parents to do? Jensen recommends this simple advice: “Show your love to your kids at a greater extent than you currently are…more warmth and less conflict is probably the best answer.”

There you have it. In order to ensure that our children do not have to confront the deleterious affects of feeling less favored, we just have to show them that we love them more often, and reduce the amount of conflict they experience in the home.

You can read the entire article from the Journal of Family Psychiatry here.

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