TIME Parenting

A Tale of Two Summers for Parents

lustration by serge bloch for time
lustration by Serge Bloch for TIME

It’s not just the heat that makes this season frustrating. It’s the scheduling

Am bad at being a summer mom. I’m always the one Googling “help last minute camp” the day after school gets out. One summer, I got my babysitter to take my kids each day to my gym, which had a pool, and pretend she was me. (Finally, an upside to wearing a skintight latex cap and goggles: anonymity.) Another summer, I managed to sign one of my kids up for an advanced-skills soccer camp, even though he didn’t really play soccer. It’s not surprising that the emergency child-care center at my workplace cottoned on fairly quickly to the fact that my emergencies occurred for a week or two every August.

For many parents, summer is oppressive not mostly because of the heat but because of the scheduling. The lengthening days are a hint of the specter of more than 50 million school-age children with six more hours of free time than usual. It’s a child-care chasm that I usually end up crossing by building an emergency bridge made of cash: for more babysitting, more late fees, more hastily put-together sort of fun-ish activities.

But no matter how unprepared I am, I’ll never be arrested for my choices. That’s what happened to Deborah Harrell, who was taken into custody earlier this month, officially for unlawful conduct toward a child, also known as leaving her 9-year-old daughter in a park in North Augusta, S.C., for several hours while she was at work. Her kid had a cell phone, and the McDonald’s Harrell works at was close by, but the girl was there without any adult supervision for much of the day, a witness said.

The mom’s arrest led to a round of national hair pulling (our own and one another’s) about How a Person Could Even Do That or How a Person Could Even Report That. In fact, about 40% of parents leave their kids on their own, at least for a while, estimates the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Three states have even established a minimum age for being home alone, ranging from 8 years old in Maryland to 14 in Illinois.

Kids have raced around outside by themselves since the dawn of time. That’s why those on the free-range end of the child-raising spectrum blamed the busybody who reported Harrell. Yet she was doing exactly what child-protective-service agencies have asked citizens to do, especially since data indicates that child-abuse reports tend to go down over summer but child-abuse incidents do not.

So, once we get past the finger-pointing, it might be worth having a different conversation: one about the gap between what we expect and what we’re willing to pay for. If, by way of analogy, we go to Harrell’s place of work for our luncheon needs, we cannot order McTruffles. McDonald’s can’t make the numbers work on that. Similarly, we cannot expect somebody to fund enriching child-centric summer activities on minimum wage. She can’t make the numbers work on that.

Age is a factor here. More than 45% of hourly workers whose income falls at or below minimum wage are older than 40, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and more than half are women. Harrell is 46. Parents in that type of job are caught in a double bind. The lower their earnings, the more inflexible their job. I could be writing this essay from home, in case my teenage kids suddenly needed help or to accuse someone of ruining their lives. Fast-food workers have to be where the food is. “High-wage jobs are associated with hard-to-replace skills,” says Kenneth Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute. “[Corporations] need to do something to keep those individuals. Low-wage jobs are generally associated with highly replaceable people, so it’s not worth investing in flexibility.”

Harrell can’t do that job without child care, but at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, she can’t get child care doing that job. End result: she cobbles together something ad hoc, just like I do. The difference is that my bad choices are cushioned by cash and society’s false assumption that people who have it don’t abuse their kids. When I make a mistake, my kids don’t get taken away by social services.

Harrell may get lucky. On July 21, child-abuse charges against 35-year-old Shanesha Taylor, who left two toddlers in a hot Arizona car for more than an hour, were dropped. Taylor left the kids there because she had a job interview and nowhere else to take them. Both women’s plights have touched a nerve; Harrell and Taylor have been given support and thousands of dollars in donations via social media.

As for me, I’m not sure where my 13-year-old daughter is at this moment. I left her some money this morning and told her to have a nice day. If anyone wants to arrest me, I’ll probably be at McDonald’s, getting her some dinner.

TIME movies

EXCLUSIVE: Watch Philip Seymour Hoffman Talk About His Last Film

"You just kinda trust he's going to make something special," says the actor of Anton Corbijn, who directed Hoffman in the last film he finished

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A Most Wanted Man, the last film Philip Seymour Hoffman completed before dying of a heroin overdose on Feb. 2, hits theaters on July 25. It’s directed by the Dutch photographer-turned-music video director-turned-movie director Anton Corbijn, who’s known for distinctively quiet, dark movies like Control and The American.

Hoffman plays an anguished German intelligence operative in the movie, who’s trying to prevent further terrorist attacks without stomping on anyone’s human rights. While his character is both ruthless and tortured, the actor wasn’t like that on set, Corbijn tells TIME in a new feature. “He was fun to be with,” he says. “During editing when he was sitting next to me, I’d look at him and think, It’s not possible—this is absolutely not the guy ­onscreen.”

He does recall with regret that Hoffman didn’t look well, especially when the two promoted the film together at Sundance. “Only when I look back now I see that he was actually more disheveled than I realized. I just thought it was the way he operated.”

Hoffman, who appeared in this promotional video with co-stars Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe, apparently had equal respect for his director. “He’s an artist and he looks at everything in a very unique way,” says Hoffman. “And you just kinda trust he’s going to make something special.”

In his book about the movie (also called A Most Wanted Man), Corbijn writes of a disagreement he had with the actor about shooting a scene Hoffman didn’t feel he was ready to film. But after they argued, the two figured out how to work together. “He’ll let me do what I need to do to get where I need to go,” says Hoffman in the video. “He doesn’t get in your way. In fact, he lets you run with the ball.”

Corbijn had asked Hoffman to appear in a small role in his next film, a biopic about James Dean and a photographer who changed each other’s lives; he says Hoffman was trying to find a way to make it work. Hoffman, meanwhile, found a good working relationship with Corbijn; he says the director’s films work because “his trust of other people is complete.”

For his part, Corbijn feels an extra responsibility to get people to see A Most Wanted Man. During the interview, he needed a moment to compose himself after talking about the late actor: “I wish he were here to do these interviews with me,” he said.

TIME Marriage

Are You ‘Monogamish’? A New Survey Says Lots of Couples Are

Guy D'Alema/USA Network

Having kids makes people want to stray and social networks help them

Perhaps because the premise of its new original drama series about a cheating married couple, Satisfaction, is not depressing enough for couples, the USA Network conducted a survey on cheating and marital satisfaction among Gen X and Y.

Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)

Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.

If people must seek out some strange, the participants in USA’s survey suggest they really take it elsewhere; 81% believe it’s better to cheat with a stranger than a friend.

Why would it ever be O.K. to betray a spouse? More than half of the respondents (54%) believe cheating could be justified, particularly if the other party had already cheated first. Presumably, many of those were also in the group that already cheated.

The idea that monogamy “is a social expectation but not a biological reality,” as the survey put it, was true for more than half of all the Gen X and Y respondents. (The survey apparently didn’t ask if it was neither of those, but a learned skill, like, say, reading, gymnastics or coding.) But somewhat surprisingly, only one in five men preferred the idea of what could be called a “monogamish” relationship—where people are mostly faithful—over a monogamous one.

In other findings, the study—which, as an opt-in internet survey of only 1000 people has not been peer reviewed, lacks rigor and should not be used to make life decisions—also uncovered these nuggets:

*More than 40% of men 25 to 34 have discussed having a three way with their significant other. (No details, alas, on how these suggestions were received…)

*Almost three quarters of the GenX and Ys questioned think a few more hoops to jump through before people get married wouldn’t hurt, including living together for at least a year beforehand (35%), being required to finish high school (24%) and genetic testing if the couple wants kids (9%).

*Should that not prove to be enough, that’s O.K. More than half of the survey participants think a marriage that doesn’t have to last forever to be considered successful.

*And finally, in a sign that no celebrity behavior goes unnoticed, the Paltrow Martin style of split is getting some traction: a third of the survey takers say they’d rather “uncouple” than divorce.

TIME movies

Keira Knightley’s Husband is Not Her Favorite Frontman

Also, the actress says she "doesn't really listen to music."

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Keira Knightley, who has been married to musician James Righton since last year, apparently doesn’t think he’s the most sensational frontman for a band. That honor goes to a different British musician, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. To be fair, Knightley admits she’s not much of a music fan — and to be even fairer, Righton isn’t exactly a frontman: he’s the pianist and co-vocalist for his band, the Klaxons.

Knightley, who plays a young singer songwriter in her new movie Begin Again, made the observation during her 10 Questions interview for TIME. She admits that although married to a musician and surrounded by musical sorts, “I don’t really listen to music.” Perhaps it’s because her life is too full of other types of performance. Her father, Will Knightley, is an actor and her mother, Sharman Macdonald, is a playwright. In fact, her mother wrote her first play, When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout, because her dad said they couldn’t afford to have another kid unless she sold a script. The play was a success — and the child was Keira.

In her next movie, Knightley plays a codebreaker during World War II in a film based on the life of Alan Turing, the brilliant British mathematician and pioneering computer scientist. “I like to explore people that I don’t necessarily understand in situations that I don’t necessarily understand,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve played anybody who’s stupid, and maybe I should — maybe that would be a challenge.”

Find more of her interview — including tips on how she turns away guys! — below:

 

 

TIME movies

Actually, Keira Knightley Does Not Live on $50,000 a Year

The Internet is lying to you — but that's why we're here

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There are many, many websites out there who will tell you that Keira Knightley limits her spending to $50K a year — we’re looking at you Daily Mail, Us and Business Insider among others [et tu, ABC News?] — but here at TIME, important stories like that get checked. And the actress says it ain’t so.

“It’s not true,” Knightley said during her interview for TIME’s 10 Questions about her new movie Begin Again, in which she plays a singer songwriter who lives on almost nothing at all. “I don’t know where that rumor comes from.” (It actually comes from something she said to Glamour magazine earlier this year to Amanda Foreman, who wrote the book that her movie The Duchess was based on. Hmm. )

Knightley dispenses with some other myths in the interview, including that Ian McShane was her drama teacher. (It was a different Ian McShane — not the scary gentleman from Deadwood and Sexy Beast and Kung Fu Panda.)

And if you always believed that Knightley comes across as a bit of an ice queen, well, that is actually true, and the actress knows it. It’s one of the methods she says she relies on to discourage unwanted male attention. Another is the thousand yard stare, so that nobody catches her eye. “I think I have quite a frightening exterior, so unless I’m soliciting, unless I’m up for it, I’m far too intimidating.”

Hear more about that, plus her favorite era in history, in the longer version of the interview, below.

TIME Friendship

Study: BFFs May Have Similar DNA

RyanJLane—Getty Images

Really close friends might be as genetically similar as fourth cousins

Next time someone says “You would really like my friend, she’s just like you,” try to refrain from giving her the side eye. It turns out she might have some science to back her up. According to a new study from Yale University and the University of California at San Diego, good friends are often genetically similar, and can share as much as 1% of the same gene variants. In genetic terms, that’s a lot. As close as, say, fourth cousins.

“This gives us a deeper accounting of the origins of friendship,” says Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology, evolutionary biology, and medicine at Yale, who co-authored the study with James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego. “Not only do we form ties with people superficially like ourselves, we form ties with people who are like us on a deep genetic level. They’re like our kin, though they’re not.”

To do their study, which was published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Christakis and Fowler looked at 1.5 million gene variants from the Framingham Heart Study, a dataset which has details on the friendships and genetics of its participants. Most of the participants were of European descent. Researchers genetically compared pairs of friends with pairs of strangers from among the same 1,932 subjects they studied. None of the pairs were related to each other.

The study found that, oddly, close friends are often genetically similar in their sense of smell. But it also concluded that friendship may play a role in evolution. The genes that were shared by friends saw the most “evolutionary activity”, or have evolved the fastest over the past 30,000 years. Whether the friendship or the genetic similarity came first is up for debate. Do we seek out genetically similar friends or do our friendships and mating affect what genes get passed on

“Human beings are one of the few species who form long-term, non-reproductive relationships with other members of our species,” says Fowler. “This role of affiliation is important. It ties into the success of our species.”

TIME Terrorism

#BringBackOurGirls Still Hasn’t Brought Them Back

Nigerian mothers, with some girls who escaped Boko Haram, are covered in sheets to hide their identity Aderogba Obisesan—AFP/Getty Images

Some women escaped, but Boko Haram continues to kidnap and kill

Despite the encouraging news that 63 girls and women have reportedly escaped the grip of Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group still holds the more than 200 schoolgirls it kidnapped in April captive.

The hostages who escaped were taken from the Kummabza village on June 18 after four days of fighting, in which more than 30 of the village men were killed and all homes were burned. Vigilantes from the region now say 63 women and girls slipped away when the fighters guarding them were called out to help in an attack on military barracks and police headquarters in another town, Damboa, that was tougher than the terrorists had expected.

“The women seized that rare opportunity to escape when they realized they were alone in the camp,” Bukar Kyari, a local vigilante fighting Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, told CNN. “But we still have five women, including a nursing mother, missing.”

Meanwhile, in Chibok, the home of the schoolgirls whose April 14 kidnapping by the group sparked off the #bringbackourgirls campaign, things have not improved. According to a Nigerian newspaper, 50 people were killed and five churches razed there on June 29, when the town came under attack again. After the initial kidnappings, says the paper, about 20 soldiers were dispatched there. Villagers have opined they are not getting much support from their local government because Chibok is a mostly Christian town in a mostly Muslim region.

If we were to be Kanuri, the state government would have since come to our aid. – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/07/chibok-prone-boko-haram-attacks/#sthash.3HD51a1Z.dpuf
Speaking to our correspondent, a 66-year old resident, Mr. Ezekiel Inuwa, a retired civil servant but now living in Kautikari, and lost one of his sons in last Sunday deadly attacks on three communities in Chibok LGA, during church service that claimed over 50 lives, said, “If we were to be Kanuri, the state government would have since come to our aid. – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/07/chibok-prone-boko-haram-attacks/#sthash.3HD51a1Z.dpuf

The future looks increasingly difficult for the Chibok abductees the longer they are away. (At publication, they have been gone for 84 days.) If recent history is any guide, even if they return, they face a tough time resuming their former lives. If they come back with children, as other abductees have, those children will be considered tainted by their Boko Haram lineage. Even if they aren’t pregnant or mothers, the girls are quite likely to have difficulty finding husbands, as the suspicion of impurity tends to scare off suitors. (Notice how the returned abductees in the photo are covered in sheets to protect their identity.) In northern Nigeria, unmarried women do not have many options.

It’s purely speculation, but if the experience of the girls who were taken by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda is any guide, the girls’ captors could very well use the threat of shame and alienation from the community as a method of dissuading their captives from running away. Some of the kidnapped Ugandan girls were gone for as long as a decade.

On Sunday, June 29, no fewer than 50 people, mostly Christian worshippers, were killed in Chibok, while five churches, including Cocin, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church, in Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok LGA, were razed when some gunmen laid ambush to the village during church service. – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/07/chibok-prone-boko-haram-attacks/#sthash.3HD51a1Z.dpu
On Sunday, June 29, no fewer than 50 people, mostly Christian worshippers, were killed in Chibok, while five churches, including Cocin, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church, in Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok LGA, were razed when some gunmen laid ambush to the village during church service. – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/07/chibok-prone-boko-haram-attacks/#sthash.3HD51a1Z.dpu
TIME Breastfeeding Wars

What Starbucks Tells Employees About Breastfeeding Customers

PraxisPhotography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

A young male barista comes to the defense of a nursing mother winning accolades and some criticism as the story goes viral.

A Starbucks employee who defended a woman’s right to breastfeed in the coffee shop was not acting under instructions from head office, but on his own, according to the company.

In a sign of how supercharged the emotions have become about public nursing, a Canadian midwife’s tale of nursing her baby at a local Starbucks in Ottawa went a little viral in early July, getting picked up by news outlets around the globe. The story was, to many, a heartwarming one: after a woman complained to a young, male barista that another woman was breastfeeding without a modesty shield, the barista said he’d take care of it. However, instead of telling the nursing mom to cover up, he just brought her an extra coffee for having to deal with the unpleasantness.

This is not actually Starbucks’ official policy. In fact, Starbucks doesn’t have an official policy on breastfeeding, according to spokeswoman Laurel Harper. The cappu-chain does have an official policy about making customers feel welcome, Harper noted (several times). “We empower our local partners to reach a decision about how best to make a customer’s experience a positive one,” she says. (Starbucks calls its employees partners, because they all get stock in the company.) It was up to the employee to decide which customer in this case was going to have a less-positive experience.

The company also doesn’t have a policy on what to do if a customer comes and exposes different, less nourishing body parts, either, but does expect “partners” to be familiar with local law.

Not all of the reactions to the story, which was first picked up by woman behind the Canadian website PhD in Parenting, have been of the “Awww, good for him” type. For many people, public breastfeeding is akin to indecent exposure. They can’t understand why they have to be confronted by nudity. “I know it’s just life for the nursing mom, but seeing something partially exposed isn’t normal for everyone around them,” was one of the more moderate comments. “I’ve been in a few situations where I just happened to turn my head and my gaze caught sight of something I didn’t want (or mean) to see.” For others it’s an inoffensive as watching someone drink, say a Venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato with an extra shot and no whip. It’s not their beverage of choice, but it’s not a big deal.

But perhaps because of the very primal urge mothers feel to feed their children, emotions run very high whenever the subject comes up and the right to breastfeed has become something of a cri de couer for mothers—and others—and Nurse-In protests are becoming more popular. One the most recent was at a Connecticut Friendly’s in June. If the actions of the young Starbucks “partner,”are any indication, the culture is tipping in the moms’ favor.

As for the 19-year-old barista in question, he hasn’t been named. Although you might be able to find him by looking for the mom in Ottawa with the biggest smile on her face and working back.

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