TIME Courts

NJ Teen Suing Parents For Child Support Loses First Round

Rachel Canning
High school senior Rachel Canning, 18, appears in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J., Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bob Karp—AP

Rachel Canning, 18, wanted $600 a month in support as well as tuition fees paid for her private schooling

A judge has rejected the first round of a New Jersey 18-year-old’s lawsuit against her parents whom she says abandoned her and refused to pay her school costs, a decision that could set an important precedent for a family’s obligation to support an of-age child who has left home.

The family court judge rejected Rachel Canning’s request for $600 a month in support as well as tuition fees paid for her private schooling, Reuters reports, after Canning claimed her parents kicked her out of her house in November 2013. Canning, 18, wants her parents to pay for her college and high school tuition, and living expenses.

Her parents say Canning left home voluntarily, and had severe behavioral problems.

The case could set legal parameters on whether New Jersey parents are required to pay for their children’s college education and offer other support after their child has left home, say family law experts.

Another hearing date is set for next month.


TIME viral

Baby Bootcamp: Tot Leads Her Dad Through An Intense Workout

Out of the mouths of babes


Hey, that new bootcamp instructor is a total babe. No, really.

Michael Stansbury noticed that his baby daughter, Lilly Ann, was quite the drill sergeant, so he decided to set up a camera and follow along as she put him through his paces. The tiny tot set up quite the routine for dear old dad with many reps of Push up! Plank! Push up! Bow pose! Crawl! before they both collapsed from exhaustion.

Stansbury posted the resulting workout video to YouTube, so if you’re looking for a tough new workout routine to shed those last few pounds of baby fat before swimsuit season starts, let this little girl show you how to train to be a babe. It worked for her!

MORE: This Baby Is Terrified Of Brian Williams

MORE: This Interactive Map Shows How Baby Names Have Spread Nationwide

TIME Children

How To Make Your Kids Smarter: 10 Steps Backed By Science

Young boy writes math equations on chalkboard
Justin Lewis—Getty Images

I’ve explored the science behind what makes kids happier, what type of parenting works best and what makes for joyful families.

But what makes children — from babies up through the teen years — smarter?

Here are 10 things science says can help:

1) Music Lessons

Plain and simple: research show music lessons make kids smarter:

Compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ. The effect was relatively small, but it generalized across IQ subtests, index scores, and a standardized measure of academic achievement.

In fact musical training helps everyone, young and old:

A growing body of research finds musical training gives students learning advantages in the classroom. Now a Northwestern University study finds musical training can benefit Grandma, too, by offsetting some of the deleterious effects of aging.

(More on what the music you love says about you here.)

2) The Dumb Jock Is A Myth

Dumb jocks are dumb because they spend more time on the field than in the library. But what if you make sure your child devotes time to both?

Being in good shape increases your ability to learn. After exercise people pick up new vocabulary words 20% faster.

Via Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:

Indeed, in a 2007 study of humans, German researchers found that people learn vocabulary words 20 percent faster following exercise than they did before exercise, and that the rate of learning correlated directly with levels of BDNF.

A 3 month exercise regimen increased bloodflow to the part of the brain focused on memory and learning by 30%.

Via Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:

In his study, Small put a group of volunteers on a three-month exercise regimen and then took pictures of their brains… What he saw was that the capillary volume in the memory area of the hippocampus increased by 30 percent, a truly remarkable change.

(More on how exercise can make you and your kids smarter and happier here.)

3) Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them

Got a little one who is learning to read? Don’t let them just stare at the pictures in a book while you do all the reading.
Call attention to the words. Read with them, not to them. Research shows it helps build their reading skills:

…when shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of children’s reading skills and strategies, then shared book reading is an effective vehicle for promoting the early literacy ability even of disadvantaged children.

(More on things most parents do wrong here.)

4) Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid

Missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.

Via NurtureShock:

“A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explained.

There is a correlation between grades and average amount of sleep.

Via NurtureShock:

Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers by Brown’s Carskadon. Certainly, these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out. Every fifteen minutes counts.

(More on how to sleep better here.)

5) IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self-Discipline

Self-discipline beats IQ at predicting who will be successful in life.

From Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success… Students who exerted high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and gain admission into more selective schools. They had fewer absences and spent less time watching television and more hours on homework. “Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable,” the researchers wrote. “Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”

Grades have more to do with conscientiousness than raw smarts.

Via How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character:

…conscientiousness was the trait that best predicted workplace success. What intrigues Roberts about conscientiousness is that it predicts so many outcomes that go far beyond the workplace. People high in conscientiousness get better grades in school and college; they commit fewer crimes; and they stay married longer. They live longer – and not just because they smoke and drink less. They have fewer strokes, lower blood pressure, and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Who does best in life? Kids with grit.

Via Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

The best predictor of success, the researchers found, was the prospective cadets’ ratings on a noncognitive, nonphysical trait known as “grit”—defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

(More on how to improve self-discipline here.)

6) Learning Is An Active Process

Baby Einstein and braintraining games don’t work.
In fact, there’s reason to believe they make kids dumber.

Via Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five:

The products didn’t work at all. They had no positive effect on the vocabularies of the target audience, infants 17-24 months. Some did actual harm. For every hour per day the children spent watching certain baby DVD’s and videos, the infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them.

Real learning isn’t passive, it’s active.

What does Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code recommend? Stop merely reading and test yourself:

Our brains evolved to learn by doing things, not by hearing about them. This is one of the reasons that, for a lot of skills, it’s much better to spend about two thirds of your time testing yourself on it rather than absorbing it. There’s a rule of two thirds. If you want to, say, memorize a passage, it’s better to spend 30 percent of your time reading it, and the other 70 percent of your time testing yourself on that knowledge.

(More on how to teach your child to be a hard worker in school here.)

7) Treats Can Be A Good Thing — At The Right Time

Overall, it would be better if kids ate healthy all the time. Research shows eating makes a difference in children’s grades:

Everybody knows you should eat breakfast the day of a big test. High-carb, high-fiber, slow-digesting foods like oatmeal are best, research shows. But what you eat a week in advance matters, too. When 16 college students were tested on attention and thinking speed, then fed a five-day high-fat, low-carb diet heavy on meat, eggs, cheese and cream and tested again, their performance declined.

There are always exceptions. No kid eats healthy all the time. But the irony is that kids often get “bad” foods at the wrong time.
Research shows caffeine and sugar can be brain boosters:

Caffeine and glucose can have beneficial effects on cognitive performance… Since these areas have been related to the sustained attention and working memory processes, results would suggest that combined caffeine and glucose could increase the efficiency of the attentional system.

They’re also potent rewards kids love.

So if kids are going to occasionally eat candy and soda maybe it’s better to give it to them while they study then when they’re relaxing.

(More on the best way for kids to study here.)

8) Happy Kids = Successful Kids

Happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.

Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents:

…happiness is a tremendous advantage in a world that emphasizes performance. On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love. They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.

And what’s the first step in creating happier kids? Being a happy parent.

(More on how to raise happy kids here.)

9) Peer Group Matters

Your genetics and the genetics of your partner have a huge effect on your kids. But the way you raise your kids?
Not nearly as much.

Via Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference:

On things like measures of intellectual ability and certain aspects of personality, the biological children are fairly similar to their parents. For the adopted kids, however, the results are downright strange. Their scores have nothing whatsoever in common with their adoptive parents: these children are no more similar in their personality or intellectual skills to the people who raised them, fed them, clothed them, read to them, taught them, and loved them for sixteen years than they are to any two adults taken at random off the street.

So what does have an enormous affect on your children’s behavior? Their peer group.

We usually only talk about peer pressure when it’s a negative but more often than not, it’s a positive.

Living in a nice neighborhood, going to solid schools and making sure your children hang out with good kids can make a huge difference.

What’s the easiest way for a college student to improve their GPA? Pick a smart roommate.

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

One study of Dartmouth College students by economist Bruce Sacerdote illustrates how powerful this influence is. He found that when students with low grade-point averages simply began rooming with higher-scoring students, their grade-point averages increased. These students, according to the researchers, “appeared to infect each other with good and bad study habits—such that a roommate with a high grade-point average would drag upward the G.P.A. of his lower-scoring roommate.”

(More on the how others affect your behavior without you realizing it here.)

10) Believe In Them

Believing your kid is smarter than average makes a difference.

When teachers were told certain kids were sharper, those kids did better — even though the kids were selected at random.

Via The Heart of Social Psychology: A Backstage View of a Passionate Science:

…Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968) did the same study in a classroom, telling elementary school teachers that they had certain students in their class who were “academic spurters.” In fact, these students were selected at random. Absolutely nothing else was done by the researchers to single out these children. Yet by the end of the school year, 30 percent of the the children arbitrarily named as spurters had gained an average of 22 IQ points, and almost all had gained at least 10 IQ points.

Sum Up

  1. Music Lessons
  2. The Dumb Jock Is A Myth
  3. Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them
  4. Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid
  5. IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self-Discipline
  6. Learning Is An Active Process
  7. Treats Can Be a Good Thing — At The Right Time
  8. Happy Kids = Successful Kids
  9. Peer Group Matters
  10. Believe In Them

One final note: Intelligence isn’t everything. Without ethics and empathy really smart people can be scary.

As P.J. O’Rourke once said:

Smart people don’t start many bar fights. But stupid people don’t build many hydrogen bombs.

So if you want to learn how to raise a happier kid go here and a more well-behaved kid go here.

I hope this helps your child be brilliant.

Related posts:
Good Parenting Skills: 7 Research-Backed Ways to Raise Kids Right
How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research
How To Raise Happy Kids – 10 Steps Backed By Science
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Join 45K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

TIME psychology

My Mother Told Me I Was Fat, and It Was the Best Decision Ever

A candid talk about my weight helped make it less taboo

“I don’t want you to freak out,” my mother told me one morning when I was 12, “but I think you may have put on a little bit of weight.”

Pick your jaw up from the floor and put away your pitchfork, because this nugget of real talk was one of the best things my mother ever did. Horrified relatives said I would need years of therapy to forgive my mother for “fat-shaming” me into anorexia, that I would eventually turn to drugs and cutting to heal my crippled psyche before I succumbed to a life of crime. None of these things happened. Instead, I have a good relationship with my body and my mother, partly because she told me when I was getting a little plump.

“It’s only 3 or 4 pounds, and it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “It happens to everyone. I’ll help you figure it out.”

Charlotte Alter—Illustration for TIME

The conversation around young girls and weight is so fraught that many mothers avoid having it altogether, or opt for gauzy platitudes about unconditional love. But girls aren’t stupid, and tip-toeing around the body talk just reinforces the idea that weight is some kind of all-powerful force to be reckoned with, A-Thing-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. My mother decided to name the demon and teach me how to deal with it, which demystified the weight loss process and made it a lot less scary.

“If your hair was unruly, or if you had missed a button and your shirt was lopsided, I would have told you,” she told me when I asked her about it for this piece. “It’s the same thing.”

In the wake of dozens of “Real Beauty” ad campaigns, and billions of adolescent selfies, everyone’s talking about mothers, daughters, and body image. On Wednesday’s installment of the TODAY Show’s new “Love Your Selfie” campaign, Cameron Diaz and Maria Shriver gathered together moms and girls to discuss how their self-confidence affects one another. “I was taught always from day one that beauty comes from within,” said one of the girls, echoing the schmaltziness that usually surrounds this topic.

Numerous studies have shown that mothers influence their daughters’ self image more than the media does, and some scientists recommend that mothers nix body talk entirely; Dr. Leslie Sim of the Mayo Clinic told USA Today that she recommends “zero talk about dieting, zero talk about weight.” Diaz was urging women to talk more openly about the science of healthy eating, but most people are still uncomfortable with candid discussions of a girl’s actual weight. Just ask Dara-Lynn Weiss, who was practically tarred and feathered for putting her 7-year old on a diet and writing about it in Vogue.

The mystical amulets of “self-love” and “inner beauty” sound nice and progressive, but they’re little comfort during a meltdown in the bathing suit store. And these ephemeral ideas leave girls stranded between two worlds, unsure whom to trust; their mothers who say they’re perfect just the way they are, or a world that tells them otherwise. Eventually it becomes too exhausting to maintain total acceptance of the way we look, and the “self-love” gets drowned in a wave of self-doubt fueled by everything from the media to the kids at school.

Body-image theorists are right that we as a society need to develop a greater acceptance of different body types, but my mother wasn’t concerned with society, she was concerned with me: she noticed that I wasn’t exercising, that my clothes weren’t fitting me right, that I would come home depressed from school dances and look glumly in the mirror. Of course, no middle school girls likes to hear that they’ve gained weight, and I had a good 15-minute tantrum about when she told me, but at that age I would cry when Blockbuster was out of the Titanic VHS.

So after I pulled myself together, my mother and I devised a simple and easy plan: I would cut dessert for two weeks, and run two laps around a small park near our house every day. When I came back sweaty after my first run, she said, “It’s already working!” At the end of the week, she said “you’re looking so much healthier already,” and after the second week, she said “Congratulations! You did it!” The next time I asked her if I looked fat, she said I looked great. And I believed her.

That was the first of many candid conversations with my mother about my weight. She explained that it was much easier to lose 3 or 4 pounds than 10 or 15, and that she would tell me if I was getting bigger so I could make healthy changes before the situation got out of control. That made sense to me, and besides, the psychological effort to maintain a zen-like acceptance of my body was much harder than doing a few sit-ups now and then.

Sometimes I would ask her if I looked big, and sometimes she would tell me I was looking a little “zaftig” or “getting a butt.” I wasn’t thrilled to hear this, but it never sent me into a tailspin. Instead, it was like she had just tasked me with something mildly annoying but doable, like cleaning my room every day. It didn’t feel like a condemnation, it felt like a reality check.

My mother’s strategy might not work for everybody; I’m lucky that I have a medium build, a normal metabolism and am fortunate enough to have access to healthy food. But being frank about weight loss has helped me stay sane about my body even into adulthood. “Everyone has a basic weight equilibrium, sometimes you’ll be above that, sometimes you’ll be below that,” she told me, “but the important thing is to not go nuts about it.”

TIME mental health

More Bad News for Older Dads: Higher Risk of Kids With Mental Illness

Getty Images

The effect of paternal age on autism, schizophrenia, and ADHD may be greater than previously thought

For so long, mothers – particularly older moms — bore the brunt of responsibility for genetic disorders in their children. And for good reason. Eggs are stockpiled from birth, not made anew with each monthly reproductive cycle, so eggs stored for decades until childbearing can develop genetic mutations. The older the mother, the greater the chance of abnormalities that can contribute to conditions such as Down syndrome, especially after age 35. Fathers, on the other hand, constantly make sperm, so their reproductive contribution was supposed to be fresher and free of accumulated DNA damage.

That may not actually be the case, however, according to the latest study in JAMA Psychiatry investigating how advanced paternal age can affect rates of mental illness and school performance in children. After a groundbreaking genetic analysis in 2012 highlighted the surprising number of spontaneous mutations that can occur in the sperm of older men, scientists have been delving into the relationship to better quantify and describe the risk. While some studies confirmed the connection, others failed to find a link.

MORE: Older Fathers Linked to Kids’ Autism and Schizophrenia Risk

In the latest research, Brian D’Onofrio, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University, and his colleagues attempted to address one of the biggest problems with studying the trend. Most of the previous investigations compared younger fathers and their children to different older fathers and their offspring. “That’s comparing apples and oranges,” says D’Onofrio. “We know young fathers and old fathers vary on many things.”

So his team turned to birth registry data from Sweden and compared children born to the same fathers, evaluating the siblings on various mental health and academic measures. The study included 2.6 million children born to 1.4 million fathers.

What they found surprised them – so much so that they spent about two months re-evaluating the data to make sure their numbers were correct. While the previous genetic study found that an older father’s DNA may account for about 15% of autism cases, D’Onofrio’s group found that the increased risk for children of fathers older than 45 years soared to 3.5 times compared to that of younger fathers. Children of older fathers also showed a 13 fold higher risk of developing attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a 25 times greater chance of getting bipolar disorder, and twice the risk of developing a psychosis. These kids also had doubled risk of having a substance abuse problem and a 60% higher likelihood of getting failing grades in school compared with those with younger fathers.

MORE: Too Old to Be a Dad?

“What this study suggests is that the specific effect of older paternal age may actually be worse than we originally thought,” says D’Onofrio.

The scientists controlled for some of the well-known factors that can account for poor grades and psychoses and mental illnesses, such as the child’s birth order, the mother’s age, the mother’s and father’s education level, their history of psychiatric problems, and their history of criminality. Even after adjusting for these possible effects, they still found a strong correlation between higher rates of mental illness among younger siblings compared with their older ones.

The 2012 genetic study pointed to a possible reason for the higher rates of mental illnesses – because genetic mutations tend to accumulate each time a cell divides, older men may build up more spontaneous, or de novo, changes each time the sperm’s DNA is copied. While a 25-year-old father may pass on an average of 25 mutations to his child, a 40-year-old dad may bequeath each offspring as many as 65; the researchers calculated that the de novo mutation rate doubled with every 16.5 years of the father’s age. In contrast, regardless of her age, a mother tends to pass on about 15 mutations via her eggs.

The findings still need to be repeated by other groups, but the large sample size and the careful way that the researchers designed the study – to analyze the same fathers over time – suggest that the association is significant and worth considering for those who put off having a family. “This study suggests that paternal age does need to be considered as one of many risk factors associated with children’s mental health,” says D’Onofrio.

MORE: Fewer Drugs Being Prescribed to Treat Mental Illness Among Kids

Whether it gains the same amount of weight that maternal age does in family planning decisions isn’t clear yet, but even if it is confirmed, he notes that the correlation doesn’t predict that every child born to an older father will develop a mental illness. Older parents also have protective factors against these disorders, including more maturity and financial and social stability, that can offset some of the effect.

TIME Family

WATCH: Brother’s Ingenious Way of Avoiding Kiss Cam With Sister



In a video uploaded by the Minnesota Gophers, a man and a woman appear expressionless on the “Kiss Cam” during the men’s hockey game vs. Michigan at the Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Valentine’s Day. But it looks like the man was anticipating the “Kiss-Cam” because he held up a sign that says “my sister” with an arrow pointing towards the woman.

YouTube commenters argued that he could have just given her a kiss on the cheek or a hug, according to The Telegraph, but then, of course, the video wouldn’t have gone viral.

TIME Family

Mom Delivers Three Babies, Gets One Free

Kim Fugate looks in on Kristen, one of her four identical quadruplets.
Kim Fugate looks in on Kristen, one of her four identical quadruplets. University of Mississippi Medical Center

Kimberley Fugate was giving birth to triplets when doctors found a fourth set of feet during her C-section

A Mississippi mom has given birth to a surprise fourth baby while delivering what she had thought was a set of triplets. Kimberley Fugate learned of the surprise delivery mid-operation when a doctor told her, “there are more feet.”

The fourth baby had somehow hidden from the sonogram throughout Fugate’s pregnancy, serving up a big surprise to doctors and the Fugates on delivery day, Feb. 8.

Fugate was not planning on having more children at 42 — she and her husband already have a 10-year-old daughter — and was shocked to discover that she was pregnant with triplets last year.

But then she gave birth to identical quadruplets, an event so rare it has “almost incalculable” odds, Fugate’s doctor, James Bofill told the Clarion-Ledger. Medical experts put the odds at 13 million to one.

Bofill admits he felt sheepish when he heard the news of an extra baby, something he’s never seen in his 27-year career. “I was very embarrassed, obviously,” he said. “The news was sent to me by one of my fellows. I thought she was kidding.”

Fugate’s husband, Craig, didn’t find out about the fourth baby until he visited his wife in the recovery room. She told him to count the identification bracelets on her arm, one for each of the four children. They named the four girls Kenleigh, Kristen, Kaleigh and Kelsey. All four babies are healthy and staying in the neonatal intensive care unit, the hospital said.

Fugate said she considers the births “a blessing,” but that these are the last children she’s having. And she means it this time. “This. Is. It,” she told the Clarion-Ledger.


TIME Family

Twin Sisters Separated at Birth Reunited Thanks to Social Media

Kinda like The Parent Trap IRL


Last Spring, two women named Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier launched a Kickstarter called Twinsters with the hopes of creating a documentary to find out if they were really related.

Futerman, an actress from New Jersey, and Bordier, a fashion designer from Paris, looked remarkably similar. After Bordier spotted Futerman in some YouTube videos, she sent a Facebook message asking where Futerman was born. As it turns out, the two were born in the same Korean town on the same day, stoking their belief that they were actually related. And though they grew up on different continents speaking different languages, they had managed to find each other thanks to social media.

Now, according to a segment from Good Morning America, we know for sure: the two took a DNA test, and they are indeed identical twin sisters. They even share the same laugh. It’s like a real live version of The Parent Trap.

MONEY Careers

Get Your Spouse Onboard With Relocating

Before you decide to relocate, find out if your new employer will pay for moving expenses. Photo: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Getting the job was hard enough; convincing your spouse that it’s worth moving for can be even tougher. While employee relocations have been on the rise since 2011 thanks to the thawing real estate and job markets, 61% of people who have declined a far-flung job cited family issues as a reason, according to surveys by moving company Atlas Van Lines.

“Relocating goes way beyond what job you want to do,” explains psychologist Peter Pearson, co-founder of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. “It requires a huge leap of faith from your spouse.” Use this talk to help you decide whether this move is the right one for both of you.

The Ground Rules

Ask about help. “Know all the details about what support package the company has to help your family transition before you talk,” says Anne Copeland, founder of the Interchange Institute, which works with families moving abroad.

Buy time. Hiring managers usually understand that out-of-town candidates can’t evaluate an offer overnight. So don’t be afraid to ask for a few weeks or more, says Brenda Harrington, president of Adaptive Leadership Strategies. “You can’t rush this. It isn’t a purchase you can return.”

When You’re Face to Face

1. Open the floor: “They offered me that job in Texas. What do you think? Should we do it?”

Why it works: Acknowledging that this is a joint decision lets your mate know that his or her opinion carries equal weight. “Spouses often feel voiceless because they’re not included in the initial exchanges with the company,” says Copeland.

2. Show empathy: “I know this would be a big change and would mean moving away from your sisters and leaving your job.”

Why it works: You’re letting your spouse know that you understand how much he or she will have to sacrifice. “It seems counterintuitive,” says Copeland, “but articulating the downsides keeps the other person from having to go to an extremely negative point of view to balance you out.”

3. Lay out the stakes: “Taking this job puts me on the path to senior management, and the town’s burgeoning tech scene could offer you a chance to move up.”

Why it works: You’re spelling out not just why the job matters to you, but also how the move could benefit your spouse and family. Showing that you’re thinking through a mate’s concerns can make him or her more receptive, says therapist Lois Bushong.

4. Run the numbers: “Let’s do the math to make sure this move will be a net gain for us.”

Why it works: Distilling the discussion to hard numbers can sway a reluctant spouse. Use a cost-of-living comparison tool, to help make sure your raise won’t be eaten up by higher taxes or home prices, suggests Fairhope, Ala., financial planner Scott McLeod.

5. Suggest a trip: “Why don’t we go there this weekend to see if we like it?”

Why it works: Ultimately, this decision is too important to resolve with a conversation. Visit your potential hometown before deciding, says Bushong. Meeting with a real estate agent, investigating the job market, checking out schools, and getting a sense of what life is like in the new place can put your spouse’s fears at ease — and can set you up for a smoother move.

TIME Research

Eating Your Feelings? Your Mom Might Be to Blame

A new study finds that women with an insecure attachment to their mothers are likelier to have kids with unhealthy eating habits.
A new study finds that women with an insecure attachment to their mothers are likelier to have kids with unhealthy eating habits. Catherine MacBride—Getty Images

Mothers' relationships with their own moms can lead to parenting styles that could cause their kids to be obese

The U.S. is in the midst of a baby obesity epidemic. A quarter of our 2 to 5-year-olds are now overweight, according to a study published in JAMA in 2012, and a child’s obesity at age 5 is a strong predictor that they will be obese as adults. Increasingly, experts are expanding their efforts beyond eat-your-veggies programs to target family relationships that may contribute to unhealthy eating. A new study just out suggests that a mom’s relationship with her own mother may be a key factor in whether the youngest generation becomes obese.

The study by University of Illinois researchers, published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, found that women (or primary caregivers) with an insecure attachment to their mothers are likelier to have kids with unhealthy eating habits and who are overweight or obese.

The researchers gave in-depth questionnaires to nearly 500 primary caregivers of 2½ to 3½-year-olds, probing their close adult relationships (that is, their attachment style), how they handled their children’s negative emotions, how and when they fed their kids, the frequency and quality of family meals, and their children’s TV viewing habits.

When parents are unresponsive or inconsistent to our needs as small children, we grow up with what psychologists call an “insecure attachment style” and have more trouble dealing with the distress of our own children, explains lead author Kelly Bost, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois. Such a parent might respond to a 3-year-old sobbing that little Sophie hurt her feelings with a dismissal or denial: “You don’t need to cry about it,” or “You’re not sad.”

When parents punish or dismiss their children’s sadness or anger, says Bost, the kids don’t learn how to handle or “regulate” their own difficult feelings. “These responses,” says Bost, “are related to emotional feeding practices like giving children food when they’re upset but not hungry, or pressuring them to eat and clean their plates.”

The study also showed that dismissing a child’s sad or angry feelings was linked to fewer family mealtimes and more TV viewing, as well as to more comfort feeding. Bost suggests that insecure mothers may become more easily overwhelmed and plant their kids in front of the TV when they can’t cope.

Other scholars caution that this study shows only an association between insecure attachment and children’s obesity, rather than proving that it’s a cause. But, says Joseph Skelton, a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in highlighting the importance of family relationships, this research surveys the right territory. “We see this quite often in our obesity program, Brenner FIT, [a pediatric weight-management program at Brenner Children’s Hospital], Skelton says. It isn’t just about what food is being served or how much TV is being allowed, but the quality of parent-child interaction really influences the child, both short and long-term.”

Another caution with this type of research “is not to let it devolve into mother blaming,” says Miriam Liss, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington.

Blaming moms is not at all the point, says Bost. The aim is to help moms to parent better in order to reduce their children’s unhealthy eating. For example, she says, “We can give parents practical tips on how to respond to their kids’ distress based on age, and how to manage their own distress while dealing with their kids.” Parents can also be helped with planning for family meals, she says, including teaching them what to expect from their kids at different ages. For example, she says, “When kids are 2½, don’t expect them to sit at the table for more than 15 minutes.”

Whether a mother’s insecurity causes her child to become fat or is linked to unhealthy weight in other ways, improving the parent-child relationship has got to be a step in the right direction.

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