TIME working moms

Jen Garner Has Your Work-life Balance Right Here

"The men in Hollywood event is every day—it’s called Hollywood," says the actress

Jennifer Garner, who’s starting to flex her political muscles a bit more in her work with Save the Children, is also speaking out about that old bugbear, sexism in Hollywood. “The fact that there even needs to be a Women in Hollywood event is a little bit sad,” Garner said at Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood celebration.. “I mean, the men in Hollywood event is every day—it’s called Hollywood. Fifty-one percent of the population should not have to have to schedule a special event to celebrate the fact that in an art that tells the story of what it means to be human and alive, we get to play a part.”

Garner, who recently sat down with Time to talk about her movie Men, Women & Children, in which she plays an overprotective mom, likes being known for her parenting skills. When told that she is known on the internet as “America’s most relatable celebrity mom,” she said she had no problem with that. “That’s great with me. I really appreciate that, internet,” she joked.

But at the Women in Hollywood event, Garner pointed out that she and her husband Ben Affleck get treated very differently. “My husband and I do kind of the same job, a little bit. Not long ago we both had one of those magical days, we call it a junket, where we both attended these lovely events where people come in every four minutes, they ask the same questions over and over again.” When they got home, the couple compared notes. “ I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, and this is true of the red carpet here tonight Elle, asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ and he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on [his Gone Girl co-star Emily Ratajkowski], which, for the record if we’re talking about them, they are real and they are fabulous. Take a look and enjoy.”

Also for the record, at Time’s interview, we didn’t ask her about work life balance. We asked her about sex ed instead. See the video below.

 

TIME Parenting

This Is How to Stalk Your Teenage Children Online

MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN
Jennifer Garner plays an intenet snooping mother in Paramount's Men, Women & Children Dale Robinette—Paramount Pictures.

One mother comes clean

I knew I had to be very careful when choosing a fake online identity with which to stalk my kids. It needed to be somebody that my children would want to be friends with, but not close friends, somebody who might plausibly notice them, but they might not notice being noticed by.

That’s how I ended up becoming Clara Lemlich. She was a leader of a massive strike of female shirtwaist workers in New York City more than a century ago. Logically, a modern Clara would be interested in clothes and young women, exactly what both my teenagers are interested in.

It’s well-known that only loser teenagers befriend people who don’t already have friends so I rounded out Clara’s profile by prefriending a whole bunch of people I knew my kids (a 13 year old girl and 16 year old boy) would find cool. That noted labor organizer, Channing Tatum, for example.

Given Ms. Lemlich’s areas of expertise, it’s not weird or creepy or anything that my children might crop up on her radar. Well, perhaps it’s a little creepy. I mean, if I were their mother and I saw some random adult pretending to be a dead union activist looking at their photos on Instagram, I’d be alarmed. But I am their mother, so …..anyway, I digress.

My ruse made just enough sense that when Clara Lemlich started following my kids, she seemed both acceptable and ignorable; they took the bait. Online friends are after all, more desirable for their quantity than their quality. The only person my children do not want to add to their list of followers is me.

Surely, you’re saying, there’s some more upfront, reasonable, less sneaky way to do this. Experts recommend, for example, that you have all your children’s passwords and make sure that you have full access to all their social media sites. To which I say: bwahahahahaha. Good luck. You will never get ahead of your teenagers on nefarious uses of technology. I’ll wager young Rory Gates has already figured out at least one way to digitally outsmart his dad, Bill.

In the new movie Men, Women & Children, Jennifer Garner plays a mom trying to do exactly what those parenting gurus recommend. She has all her daughter’s passwords. She tracks her daughter on her iPhone. Her computer records every website the girl has visited, every text her phone receives and every person who texts her, just to make sure there are no predators. (Her daughter goes along with all of this, because her daughter is a completely fictional construct.)

I’m not worried about predators. I pity any poor perv who tries to get my kids off the couch. But like Garner’s character Patricia, I do worry that what the kids are posting might blow back on them later. As Patricia says: “our children will be the first generation whose lives have a searchable database.”

That’s why I felt I needed Clara Lemlich. The Internet is too vast and labyrinthine to be mapped. Parents can’t give their offspring a guidebook or a list of dangerous neighborhoods, even if they knew them. They can’t warn them ahead of time to avoid doing something that might later seem terrible. But this public vast world is also holdable in one hand; It’s as if their bus pass could allow them to time travel. And strip when they get there.

But once I had successfully Trojan horsed my way into my kids’s online lives, I found their cities somewhat lacking in drama. There were no fights to join. Their activities mostly consist of friends being excessively complimentary of each other and excessively unpleasant about strangers. It’s narcissistic but not dangerous. The biggest infraction my daughter seems to be guilty of is copyright infringement: she’s posting photos I took. Without attribution.

So I’m outing Clara Lemlich. Hi kids, it’s me. Isn’t this Instagram thing fun? Of course, they don’t follow me on social media, so they’ll never know.

TIME celebrities

Watch Jennifer Garner Explain How She’ll Talk to Her Kids About Sex

Jennifer Garner, who stars in a new movie about the perils of the Internet called Men, Women & Children, has nothing particularly against porn. She just doesn’t want her three kids to see it online before she’s had a chance to talk to them about sex. “I really hope my kids don’t run across stuff online that could appear violent to them,” she said in a recent interview with TIME.

Garner — who admitted to taking a pretty disciplined approach to bringing up Violet, 9, Seraphina, 5 and Sam, 2 — said she’s done a lot of thinking about how to teach her kids, especially her daughters, about sex. Even after attending talks, reading books and talking to experts, she’s still not quite sure about the right approach. Her own mother and father, whom she called “the best parents in the world,” have still never talked to her about it. “I’m waiting for The Talk, mom, dad,” she joked in the interview, which TIME subscribers can read here.

TIME Parenting

Watch Jennifer Garner Talk About Sex… Education

Jennifer Garner, who stars in the new movie about the perils of the internet Men, Women & Children, has nothing particular against porn. She just doesn’t want her three kids to see it online before she’s had a chance to talk to them about sex. “I really hope my kids don’t run across stuff online that could appear violent to them,” she said in an interview with TIME.

Garner, who admits she takes a pretty disciplined approach to bringing up Violet, 9, Seraphina, 5 and Sam, 2, says she’s done a lot of thinking about how to teach her kids, especially her daughters about sex: she’s attended talks, she’s read books and she’s talked to experts, but says she’s still no quite sure what’s the right approach. Her own mother and father, whom she calls “the best parents in the world,” have still never talked to her about it. “I’m waiting for The Talk, mom, dad,” she jokes in the interview, which TIME subscribers can read here.

Of her kids, Garner says, “I want them to see sex as something joyful, as a gift, as a celebration of love and of their bodies. And I’ve never thought about that before, but it makes me feel really cool and hippie-ish to even think of it that way.”

Elsewhere in the interview Garner says she’s not nearly as connected online as her husband, Ben Affleck, and although she doesn’t want her kids to enter the digital world just yet, he may have other ideas. “It’s definitely a team sport, parenting,” she says.

While Garner says she quickly closes pages that have any mention of her or her family on them, she does sometimes take online courses. She was an active participant in a course run by New York Times writer Nick Kristof when his and his wife Sheryl WuDunn’s book Half the Sky came out. Anonymously, of course.

Because on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a movie star.

TIME Physician Assisted Suicide

Why a Young Woman with Brain Cancer Moved to Oregon to Die

The story behind Oregon's controversial Death With Dignity Act

A 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer has moved to Oregon to be able to legally take her own life when she’s ready. Brittany Maynard has made a video explaining her plight and promoting what’s called the “death with dignity” movement. Diagnosed with a rapidly growing brain tumor, Maynard says she faces a debilitating, painful and certain death. Hence, she decided to forego additional radiation treatments and take advantage of laws in Oregon that would allow her to choose the time and circumstances of her death. Oregon has been a pioneer in allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of anesthetics for people who have incurable diseases and would like to take charge of when they go, but the legislation is not without controversy.

The Death With Dignity Act was passed in 1994. It allows doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of painkillers to patients who request it in writing. The patients can’t just be anyone however; two doctors have to certify that they are likely to be dead in six months. They have to be deemed to be mentally healthy and not depressed, or at least not suffering from more than the regular, to-be-expected sadness about dying. They have to be residents of Oregon and two people have to witness the writing of the request, at least one of whom cannot be a beneficiary of their estate.

If all these criteria are met, and the mandatory 15-day waiting time has passed, a doctor is legally allowed to write a prescription, which the patient then fills and takes the medication whenever he or she sees fit. Opponents of the legislation argue that once the drugs are in the house, there’s little oversight. If the patient changes his or her mind, but then becomes debilitated, there’s not much technically to stop a relative or carer giving them the drugs anyway. Some medical practitioners, including the Royal College of Surgeons, argue that it’s always wrong for a doctor to deliberately cause death, no matter how much thought has gone into the decision.

One of the 700-plus Oregonians who have availed themselves of this exit plan was Dr. Peter Goodwin, who was instrumental in helping to write the legislation and push for its passage. He issued three such prescriptions for terminally patients after the legislation passed and admitted to writing at least one before it was legal. In an emotional video interview with Time in March 2012, he explained the difference between suicide and doctor-assisted death: “If you think of a typical suicide, it’s impulsive, it’s often violent, and it’s almost always in seclusion. This is a process done with the support of the family, after a great deal of consideration. And it’s a gentle death.”

By the time the interview appeared in the magazine a few days later, he was already dead.

 

TIME relationships

Why Your Grandparents Are Divorcing

Dan Chung—Dan Chung / Aurora Photos

And why you might need to worry about it

For several years now, sociologists have noticed that education is a great protector against divorce. College-educated couples are about half as likely to divorce as high-school-educated couples. In fact, the rate of divorce among the college-educated is lower than it was 30 years ago. All except in one case: people older than 50.

Nearly 1 in 4 people who is experiencing divorce in the U.S. is over 50. Almost 1 in 10 is older than 64. People over the age of 50 are twice as likely to divorce as their forebears were as recently as 1990. And for that age, education doesn’t matter: those with degrees and those without are having the divorce papers drawn up in equal numbers.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that older people are often on their second or third marriages, which traditionally are less stable than first marriages. But a lot aren’t. “More than half of gray divorces are to couples in first marriages,” write Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin in a new paper for a Council on Contemporary Families symposium, adding that even more than half of these late-life breakups were between couples who had been married more than 20 years.

You’d think after two decades of living in close quarters, people would have ironed out their differences. And you could well be right, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. “Many of these marriages have not been marked by severe discord,” says the study Gray Divorce: A Growing Risk Regardless of Class or Education, which went online on Oct 8. Instead, it seems like empty-nesters, having finished that joint project known as raising the kids, now find they don’t have so much in common. And since divorce can be free (at least theoretically) of finger-pointing and blame — no-fault divorce is now available in every state — they go their separate ways once the children are grown.

Brown doesn’t think there’s a direct link between no-fault divorce and the uptick in elderly divorces, but rather that they are both part of the same reshaping of marriage that has been under way for several decades. “Marriage is now more individualized,” she says. “For couples who aren’t happy, divorce is an acceptable solution. Neither partner has to be ‘at fault’ — instead, the couple could have simply grown apart.”

The other new realities that make splitting up an increasingly attractive option for the AARP crowd are the fact that women are more financially independent and don’t need to stay with a spouse who really gets on their nerves, nor do their spouses need to stay with them, and the increasing length of time people are living after they stop being in paid employment. “They might spend another 15 to 20 years together beyond retirement, which is a long time if you don’t love someone anymore,” says Brown. Add to that the low stigma attached to divorce and the high level of thrill people expect their marriages to provide (plus let’s throw in, say, the way their spouse crunches on grapes), and it just seems easier to cut bait.

(MORE: Your Facebook Habits Can Help Predict if You’ll Get a Divorce)

But while gray divorce is not bad for children in the way an earlier divorce can be, it still has a significant cost. Older divorced people tend to have only a fifth of the wealth that older married couples or even older widowed folk have. “The net wealth of those who were widowed after age 50 is more than twice as high as the net wealth of gray divorceds,” says the study. “And … on average, gray divorceds can count on less than $14,000 per year from Social Security.”

Brown is worried about this trend on more than just economic grounds, however. “I think there is good reason for serious concern,” she says. “A growing share of older adults is on the brink of old age alone.” These are the years, after all, when the vows about sickness and health really get tested. “Traditionally, spouses have been the first line of defense in caring for frail elders. But now, an increasing share of older adults don’t have a spouse who can care for them.” Asks Brown: “Who will step in and provide this care?”

TIME relationships

5 Reasons George Clooney’s Marriage Will Survive

George Clooney Amal Alamuddin wedding photos
People Magazine

The suave star and his new wife are the model modern couple

Celebrities, as anyone who has ever passed a magazine stand at the checkout knows, are always on the verge of divorcing. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie veer toward the off-ramp to splitsville at least once a month, or whenever tabloids aren’t selling so well. The Beyonce and Jay-Z rumor mill churns so hard, it could crush diamonds. Now that George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin have been wed long enough to have their wedding pictures sold for charity, we should expect to see rumors of the demise of their marriage any day now.

But be warned, ye Cassandras, Clooney and Alamuddin have gone about getting married in the way that sociologists say leads to a lower likelihood of divorce.

Here’s why, with help from economist and Brookings Institute egghead Isabel Sawhill’s new book Generation Unbound.

1) They’re Old.

Clooney is 53, Alamuddin 36. That’s higher than the average age people get married (for men it’s 29, and women it’s 27, although this is Clooney’s second marriage.) There’s a pretty strong correlation between the age at which you get married and the likelihood that your marriage survives, says Sawhill. “Later marriages are more durable than earlier ones,” she writes. “The most recent data suggest that it is best to wait until your mid-twenties, and better still your early thirties, if you want to reduce the risk of divorce.”

2) They’re Childless.

This may seem obvious, but in the U.S. it’s not. The average age at which women get married is now higher than the average age at which women have their first baby, notes Sawhill. Marriages that happen after children have a high rate of failure, especially if the children were unintended. Some studies show that in poorer families, who are often delaying marriage because they don’t feel they’re financially stable enough, a child is welcomed and “highly valued,” as Sawhill puts it. However, she notes “about four in ten [of these relationships] will have ended before the child is age 5.”

3) They’re Equally Educated.

Both Clooney and Alamuddin have similar interests and come from similar socio-economic backgrounds. Alamuddin’s mother was a journalist, Clooney’s dad was an anchorman. Alamuddin has way more formal education than Clooney, who never finished college, but seems to have picked up some useful skills. “The tendency of the well-educated to marry each other,” notes Sawhill is “what scientists call ‘assortative mating.”” Those relationships have proved to be the most stable.

4) They’re Wealthy.

Clearly Clooney’s wealth dwarfs Alamuddin’s, but she’s not without means. In any case, wealth — not crazy money, but a lack of need — tends to produce more stable families, or at least poverty produces unstable ones, especially if there are kids involved. This is such a big predictor of marital stability that sociologists are not quite sure if richer people have more stable marriage or whether more stable marriages produce better wealth.

5) They Decided.

Clooney, you may have noticed, dated a lot of women before marrying Alamuddin. He even lived with some of them. But the relationships never just slid into marriage because they had nowhere else to go. Alamuddin and Clooney had only been dating for about a year when they got married, and only about six months before they got engaged. This is in contrast to many families which are founded out of convenience or lack of choice. “The less privileged …are drifting into relationships they did not plan and frequently cannot maintain,” writes Sawhill. Those who carefully choose their spouses and delay starting a family until they have chosen one, tend to stay married.

Of course, these trends may fade to meaninglessness in the blinding glare of living in the public eye, which, if the reality shows are to be believed, is not very easy on newlyweds. Nevertheless, we’re sure nobody is hinting at a Clooney-Alamuddin rift yet. Or are they?

 

TIME Family

African American Donor’s Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom

A medical worker works on a dish ready f
Georges Gobet—AFP/Getty Images

Lesbian parents tell the TODAY Show that they love their mixed race daughter but are suing their sperm bank to prevent future mixups.

The Midwest Sperm Bank sent Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, the wrong sperm. She’d requested sperm from donor number 380 and received instead sperm from donor number 330. Ms. Cramblett and her partner are now suing the sperm bank.

What makes the story a whole lot more complicated is that donor number 330 is African American.

“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” says the lawsuit. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Among the issues that are causing these anxieties are the prospect of sending her mixed race child to an all-white school, traveling to a black neighborhood—where she feels unwelcome—to get Amanda’s hair done and the lack of acceptance by her extended family, who, according to the suit, are already having issues with the whole same sex couple arrangement.

Ms. Cramblett told The Today Show that she and her partner Amanda Zinkon love their daughter very much, but she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” she said. She’s primarily angry, she says at what she considers the sperm bank’s cavalier attitude and “lack of concern for me and my family…if they had some compassion and just said sorry. But they didn’t.”

So far, the Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment.

(This might be a good time to direct Ms. Cramblett’s attention to Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, a website used by many transracial adoptive families. You’re welcome.)

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser