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Archive for March, 2012

10 Reasons the Youngest Child in the Family Has it Made

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Most people think of the youngest child in the family as spoiled rotten brats unless they themselves are the youngest. Then they have a much different perspective, but still will acknowledge that they have advantages. Conscientious parents try not to coddle the youngest, but that special place in the birth order is impossible to ignore. Older siblings often resent the extra attention and indulgence the baby of the family gets while the baby wonders what all the fuss is about. Here are 10 reasons the youngest child in the family has it made.

  1. Gets babied – Parents tend to baby the youngest child knowing that there won’t be any more babies coming along. There’s no pressure to get them off the bottle, out of the crib and potty trained to make way for another baby. Some parents may want to prolong the baby stage as long as possible.
  2. Less discipline – Youngest children usually get less discipline than their older siblings who often refer to them as getting away with murder. Minor transgressions don’t seem to get punished as severely if at all. The older kids are resentful while the youngest thinks he’s got it made.
  3. Center of attention – The babies of the family quickly get used to being the center of attention. They have their parents and older brothers and sisters there to attend to their every need. Even friends and relatives tend to give the youngest child extra attention.
  4. Very social – Since the youngest is used to being the center of attention, they tend to be much more social. They like being around other people which makes them gregarious and extroverted. This helps them to make friends and become popular with their piers.
  5. Indulged – The youngest child will get indulged more than the older children. A pout or the slightest whimper will often result in getting whatever they want. Why do something yourself when you can get someone else to do it for you?
  6. More freedom – By the time the youngest comes along, parents feel better prepared and more confident in their parenting skills. This results in them taking a more relaxed approach which allows the last child more freedom and independence. Their allowed to try things at an earlier age than their older siblings.
  7. No pressure – The baby of the family has less pressure from others to learn new things or achieve in school and sports. They can sometimes ride on the coattails of older siblings who have done well. However, they may put pressure on themselves to keep up and have unrealistic expectations.
  8. No competition – The youngest in the family isn’t getting any competition from younger siblings for attention or other needs. The parents know they don’t need to save money or other resources for the next child so the youngest has it made. Toys or clothing can get destroyed with no consequence and allowances can be higher too.
  9. Less sharing – Older siblings are always told to share with the others while the youngest is less likely to be required to. They may need to share with other kids in daycare or on the playground, but not with older siblings.
  10. Special – The youngest child can’t help but feel special and often ends up with a sense of entitlement. They’re so used to getting special treatment, they come to expect it. They go through life figuring they just have it made.

Even though many people feel the youngest child has it made, the opposite can be true. Babies of the family often end up with behavior problems and have difficulty coping with challenges as they get older. The constant attention seeking will often label them as smart alecks or class clowns. Their self-centered personality can lead to relationship problems because they tend to seem needy and clinging. Parents who over-indulge their youngest child may not be doing them any favors if they have problems dealing with harsh realities later in life. The old adage of sparing the rod and spoiling the child has some merit, so parents should try to raise their youngest to be as responsible and caring as their older siblings.

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10 Significant Studies About Being the Oldest Child

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Does your place in the family structure affect who you are? There are plenty of stereotypes about the firstborn child in the family. People tend to think of them as superior, smart, confident and high achievers, but are these common traits or is this just a common misperception? Scientists and researchers have studied the affects of birth order on human development for years. You can draw your own conclusions from these 10 significant studies about being the oldest child.

  1. National Longitudinal Study of Youth – This study published in the Economical Journal has found that the oldest child often has a tougher time growing up. Parents tend to discipline their firstborn more and have higher expectations for them while being more lenient with their younger siblings.
  2. Explaining the Relation Between Birth Order and IntelligenceScience has studied about a quarter million people and concluded that the oldest child in a family has a slightly higher IQ than their younger siblings. There are many factors that seem to influence this phenomenon including family environment and upbringing, but also biological effects.
  3. Dr. Per Smiseth study on burying beetle – This biologist from the University of Edinburgh has done extensive research on the Nicrophorus vespilloides or burying beetle. He claims that his studies help us understand the basic principles of how family relationships work and show a biological tendency for parents to favor their firstborn.
  4. The Power of Birth Order – Time Magazine explores the effects of birth order on all siblings including the oldest child. They site the IQ advantage or firstborn siblings plus biological observations in other species regarding survival of the fittest.
  5. Birth Order – Frank J. Sulloway is one of the leading authorities on birth order research. In this study he notes that firstborn children are favored over their younger siblings in a variety of ways. They’re more likely to be named after their parents and inherit property plus marry and have children.
  6. Birth Order, Sibling Competition and Human Behavior – In another study, Sulloway uses a Darwinian approach and concludes that firstborns who tend to act as surrogate parents are more conscientious than laterborns. He also states that the oldest child is more likely to be more extroverted and assertive.
  7. The Birth Order Book – This book by Dr. Kevin Leman depicts the oldest sibling as being the guinea pig of the family. Parents make all their mistakes with the first child as they hone their parenting skills. Since the firstborns are held to higher standards they tend to be reliable, conscientious, list makers and natural leaders.
  8. Birth Order, Educational Attainment and Earnings – Another study by Jasmin Kantarevic and Stéphane Mechoulan indicates that firstborn children are more likely to benefit from the allocation of limited resources in the family. The oldest child often gets a better education and thus has a better chance of a successful career.
  9. Birth Order and Personality in the Workplace – Being the oldest can even affect your personality in the workplace according to this study by Ben Dattner, Phd. He concludes that firstborns support the status quo represented by their parents and later born siblings. They tend to be more task-oriented, conscientious and disciplined at work.
  10. Birth Order Effects in the Formation of Long-term Relationships – The Hartshorne study examines the effects of birth order on long-term relationships. Since the oldest child is usually more responsible and dependable, they may be more likely to sustain relationships longer than younger siblings.

Some people read these birth order studies like they do horoscopes. Although your position in the family may have an effect on your personality and behavior, each individual reacts differently. Being the oldest child doesn’t necessarily make you smarter or more responsible than your siblings. It may be wise to be a bit skeptical about all these studies, especially the one that compares people to bugs. Firstborn children have both advantages and disadvantages in the family structure and need to make the best of their unique situation.

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10 Studies About the Struggles of Single Parents

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The challenges of single parenting are legion, and all-too-familiar to those who have had to raise their kids solo. For everyone else, there are a number of very interesting studies which investigate the struggles peculiar to single parenthood. We’ve put together a selection of studies on single parenting that touches upon a variety of issues that confront lone parents. Whether you are raising a family on your own, or know someone who is, the information provided is enlightening:

  1. The Stress of Single Mothers and Its Effect on Quality Child Care This study, conducted by Salome Bronnimann of The Master’s College, sought to determine what, if any, stressors were faced by single mothers, and whether they presented difficulties in their ability to provide quality child care for their children.
  2. Female-Headed Single Parent Families: An Exploratory Study of Children’s Influence in Family Decision MakingUsing specific demographic characteristics of single mothers and their families, Roshan “Bob” D. Ahuja and Kandi M. Stinson of Xavier University studied their effects on children’s influence in making family decisions from the perspective of consumer behavior.
  3. A Study of Single Mothers’ Experience of  Persistence At a Four-Year Public University – Of particular interest to young low-income single moms attempting to further their education, this study addresses the obstacles associated with adult education as they apply specifically to that group. Data was gathered for each year of enrollment at a 4-year school.
  4. Black Single Fathers: Choosing to Parent Full-TimeA study conducted by Roberta L. Coles of Marquette University which investigates the motivations of African-American single dads for choosing to be full-time parents. In addition to providing insight into the reasons for their choices, the study provides a counter to the stereotype of the black absentee father.
  5. One-Parent Households Double Risk of Childhood Sexual Abuse – William C. Holmes, MD, MSCE, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shares his findings about the increased risk of sexual abuse to children of single parents. The study infers that much of the risk is due to a combination of  prolonged absence of the parent, opportunistic predatory adults, and the quality of child care affordable to low-income parents.
  6. Mother’s Education and Ability More ImportantResearcher Henry Ricciuti of Cornell University found that the education level and overall ability of a mother had a more significant impact on her influence than whether she was a single parent or a partner. The study showed no ill effects on the behavior nor academic performance of 12- and 13-year old kids.
  7. The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4)The study classifies children into six different categories of domestic status, compares rates of abuse in each category and compares the findings with previous studies (NIS-2, NIS-3, etc.). It concludes that in all categories, the incidence of child abuse is down except for the case of single parent homes.
  8. Kamp DushUsing data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and 4, 910 single mothers as subjects, as well as 11,428 kids, Claire Kamp Dush studied the effects of growing up in a single parent home on children’s rates of success. The study ultimately concluded that family stability was a more significant factor than whether the children were raised by a single parent or two.
  9. Single-parent Families in Poverty – Jacqueline Kirby, M.S. Of the Ohio State University. conducted this study of the relationship between poverty and single parenting. The findings included the statistic that 53% of single mothers are not working because they cannot find affordable, quality child care.
  10. Single Moms’ Sons Can SucceedPointing to high-profile examples that include President Barack Obama and Lance Armstrong, the study demonstrates that the ill effects that threaten   associated with being raised without a father are not as prevalent among boys as previously thought. In homes where other important factors existed such as adequate socioeconomic resources and strong relationship with the in-home parent, the risk was minimized.

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10 Interesting Studies that Focus on Single Parent Families

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Some estimates suggest that at least one half of American kids will spend part of their childhood in a single parent household. This has advocates of the traditional two parent family very concerned for the future of today’s youth. It’s commonly believed that children growing up in a single parent household have a tougher time than those in traditional families, but is this true? Following are 10 interesting studies on single parent families that may shed some light on the subject.

  1. Female-Headed Single Parent Families – This study done by Roshan “Bob” D. Ahuja and Kandi M. Stinson at Xavier University examines the relationships among selected characteristics of female-headed single parent families, and the influence the children have in the family decision making process. It focuses on consumer behavior research instead of possible family outcomes.
  2. U Study Looks at Race in Single Parent Families – Comparing census data from the past 130 years, this study done at the University of Minnesota focuses on racial differences in single parent families. History professor Steven Ruggles examines this very controversial subject in great depth.
  3. Case Studies: Lesbian mothers and single parents – An article written in The Guardian compares interviews by Joanna Moorhead and Julie Bindel on raising families without fathers. The focus on lesbian single mothers is an interesting twist to this type of research.
  4. Millennium Cohort Study – Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK, this study shows that some 12 per cent of children brought up by one parent displayed serious behavioral problems by the age of seven. In other words, kids with single parents are little brats.
  5. Single Parent Families in Poverty – Jacqueline Kirby, M.S. from the Ohio State University did this interesting study in the 1990’s. Her concerns focused on the economic issues facing single parent households whose numbers have exploded since 1970.
  6. Kamp Dush study – Author and assistant professor Claire Kamp Dush conducted a study that indicates family stability may be more crucial to a child’s success than two parents. She finds that children who are born and grow up in stable single-parent homes generally do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior problems.
  7. The Swedish study – Published in The Lancet medical journal, this study of nearly a million death statistics and hospital admissions revealed some startling results. Children growing up in single-parent households are twice as likely to suffer a mental illness, commit suicide or develop an alcohol-related disease as children who live with both parents.
  8. Sons of Single Moms Succeed – This interesting article in USA Today cites several experts that poke holes in the theory that males of single parent households are less likely to succeed. Using President Obama, Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong and others as examples, Sharon Jayson reveals research to counter common beliefs about single parent households.
  9. A Comparison of Social Capital Between Parents in Single and Two Parent Families in Japan – Across the Pacific, Cherylynn Bassani of the University of British Columbia studied families in Japan. Her research focuses on the unique subject of social capital in various family structures.
  10. NIS-4 – The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect focuses on child abuse in single parent families. It concludes that though the percentage is down, it’s still higher than in traditional two parent households.

Extensive research has been done around the globe to study the various effects on children raised in single parent families. There’s no doubt this statistic has increased over the years in several countries and many are concerned about some of the alarming results. Each individual circumstance is different and many kids raised with single parents turn out just fine. As these studies show, there are several factors that influence the outcomes of single parent households. When circumstances beyond anyone’s control put children in this situation, these challenges can be overcome. However, raising children without the help of a spouse is a far from ideal situation and probably shouldn’t be encouraged.

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10 Signs You May Need Parenting Lessons

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Not everyone is cut out to be a parent. For that matter, not every parent is completely up to date on his  or her training, if personal observation and news headlines are any indication. To be fair, most parents are loving and conscientious caregivers whose top priority is their children. On the other hand, there’s these folks listed below, who provide us with today’s list of ten signs you may need parenting lessons:

  1. For the mullet alone, we think this guy is in serious need of some parenting lessons. As if the fashion statement wasn’t  bad enough, he’s making quite another one that we’d rather not even try to interpret.
  2. This one is on the kiddie park designers more than the parents, but still. We’re not sure if that’s supposed to be Harry Potter with a magic wand, or something far more sinister and perverse, but either way, that’s one scary image for little tykes.
  3. Sure, it’s all fun and games until someone swallows their tonsils. What was this guy thinking anyway? We don’t see any leaves in this photo. Heck, we don’t even see a lawn. Did he break out the leaf blower just to try turning his daughter into a Thanksgiving Day Parade float?
  4. Even those SUV’s can only hold so much cargo. After a full day of shopping, we suppose Mom simply had to economize on her available space, forcing her to make some tough decisions.
  5. Call us old-fashioned, but seeing this photo makes us long for simpler times when kids got to lick the spoon after mom whipped up some cake frosting. We seem to recall it being a lot less likely to rearrange our faces.
  6. The best that we can hope for here is that this is just a tailgate party for a soccer match, and these infants will merely be drinking a few cervezas. Even so, having a designated driver doesn’t make it safe for them to be partying it up in the bed of a pickup truck.
  7. We thought about making some joke about the Donner family Thanksgiving dinner, but that would have been tasteless. Much like this baby sammich. Let’s just pray that this was photo-shopped, and that no actual parents were involved, nor babies harmed, in the making of this sub.
  8. It’s good that this kid’s parents at least had the presence of mind to equip him with a bib. Hopefully they also had the forethought to hide his car keys and clear his calendar for the next couple of days.
  9. We’re all for the idea of kids communing with nature, but this may be a little more nature than our young friend needs to be taking in. Or is it the other way around? Nice that they at least let him take his favorite toy with him into the cage.
  10. So maybe you can save a few buck on diapers by taking the crate training approach over potty training, but this can’t be a good for the child’s spine. At least invest in a larger size and, wait… Are those pee pads hanging on the side right there?

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