TIME Education

My Fight With California to Treat My Autistic Son

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Young boy with autism selecting the right combination of beads to string together. Large beads allow the boy to better manipulate the objects to develop fine motor skills. Linda Epstein—Getty Images

When Ana Beatriz Cholo's son turned three, state and local agencies tried to pull the plug on her child's special education.

“Freeze!”

The kindergartners stop what they are doing.

“Now, everybody stomp your feet!” The children oblige and watch carefully for their teacher’s next command.

“Everybody freeze again!”

“Good,” she compliments them. Her band of mimics, which includes my 6-year-old son Jude, is doing a nice job of following her movements and looking at her face.

When Jude seamlessly makes the transition from one activity to the next, he is rewarded with a “Great job!” and one minute of individual play with an action figure of his choice. When his minute is up and his teacher requests that he re-join his peers, he asks politely, “Can I have another minute, please?”

“Yes, Jude,” his teacher responds. “Nice asking!”

Jude is one of 10 kids with autism spectrum disorders in this special education class in a public school in Seal Beach, Orange County, that I got to visit one recent morning. It’s one of the components of a program I’ve put together so Jude can learn effectively and interact better with other kids. As a parent of a kid with autism, let me tell you, I’ve had to learn a lot, too.

In 2006, I moved back home to California from the Midwest, where I had been working as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Even though I was now working for the Associated Press in downtown Los Angeles, I wanted to live in Seal Beach because it was close to where my parents lived and because the Los Alamitos Unified School District (which oversees public schools in Seal Beach) had, among other attributes, high test scores. My daughter had been accepted into the Orange County High School of the Arts and I was looking for a good junior high school for my second oldest child.

I had no idea what the special education programs were like, and I didn’t care. But after we’d been here nearly five years, my youngest son, Jude, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder when he was 2 ½.

At first glance, you would probably not detect anything “different” about Jude. Kids along the autism spectrum commonly have difficulties with communication, behavior, and social interaction, but there’s a wide variation in how this neurodevelopmental condition affects each one. My adorable boy with olive-green eyes and a disarming smile is very verbal and loves socializing with other kids his age. If you engage him in conversation, he may charm you and lure you into a conversation about his favorite video game, “Angry Birds ‘Go.’” He may even impress you by saying something profoundly insightful for his age.

Jude’s challenges are focused mainly on his communication, behavior, and what his teachers and therapists call “non-compliance” issues. When Jude loses his temper he bites, kicks, punches, pinches, scratches, or throws things. He’s not fully potty-trained, and persuading him to go to the bathroom often results in arguments, tears, tantrums, and, yes, messy accidents. He cannot, like children who develop typically, learn language, play, and social skills by observation. He has to be taught.

When I heard Jude’s diagnosis, I was scared, confused, and worried about his future. Would he still be able to attend college, get a job, and get married? Would he ever be able to live independently?

The county initially funded therapy for Jude through the Orange County Regional Center and asked us to pick from several providers they were contracted with. Back then, there was no Yelp for special education services. Because we were clueless at the time, Jude’s father and I were more likely to pick the provider with the most professional-looking website.

After doing some research and talking to experts in the field, we realized we wanted services that followed the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), which, generally speaking, is used to increase functional skills and reduce challenging and interfering behaviors. ABA has undergone rigorous research at UCLA and is supported by 40 years of scientific research, which means a lot to Jude’s father and me.

Some parents like to experiment with different techniques and methods, but there is also a lot of anecdotal “evidence” out there. I never paid attention to actress Jenny McCarthy until I realized she was peddling misinformation on the alleged dangers of vaccinations. Minerals, gluten- and casein-free diets, and chelation therapy are also sold as remedies that will “cure” autism but these so-called treatments seem to me to be just pseudo-science.

A few months into his first treatment, we faced another hurdle. At 3, children need to meet certain criteria to continue receiving services from the county. For whatever reason, we were told that our son did not meet the criteria. We were incredulous; we suspected state and local agencies were under pressure to cut their budgets. Autism advocates told us that if parents don’t fight to get services, they often won’t get them.

At the time, Jude’s vocabulary was less than 25 words, his temper tantrums were fierce, and he was being threatened with getting kicked out of his regular daycare. We took out a loan and hired a clinical psychologist to conduct a thorough assessment, which proved he fit the criteria for continued services. The price tag was $3,500, but her 25-page report was worth it. Jude would continue to get state-funded therapy, and he would also begin attending a public preschool class for 3-year-olds with autism.

But school is just one of the three kinds of support that are recommended for Jude: a therapy team from the Culver City-based Lovaas Institute visits him at a regular district-run afterschool daycare and also at home. The 10 hours a week of additional therapy is funded by Jude’s father’s medical insurance. This kind of therapy is no longer covered by the county or the state, as it was just two years ago.

These additional services are important because he needs the reinforcement: recently his case supervisor at Lovaas said his therapists would begin pulling Jude out of his regular play at daycare for one-on-one sessions to practice socialization skills. The therapists will teach Jude to say, “What are you guys doing? Can I play with you?” when he wants to join the action. The therapists will also hone in on behaviors he should not engage in, for example, getting too close to his peers’ faces or touching them. I just wish these therapists – mostly young adults – didn’t all move on so quickly. Some of them worked with him for just a few months, leaving Jude feeling abandoned on an ever-changing Conga line.

It hasn’t been easy to juggle all this additional care and pay the up-front costs for it. We started twice-a-week speech therapy for Jude in 2012 at Cal State Long Beach. But I had to take off work early and pay $500 per semester. I was staying up until midnight or 2 a.m. to catch up on work and this took a toll on our family’s emotional health. We just couldn’t keep doing it. On top of everything else, Jude has also had to deal with the 2012 death of my mother, who had been spending time with him almost daily, and my split-up with his father.

All told, my son seems to be improving, but it’s uneven. Before, he would get frustrated simply getting ready for school in the morning. He would resist going to the bathroom, getting dressed, and walking out the door. Now, he’s at least open to the idea of going potty first thing in the morning and then getting dressed. And I know now to “prime” him for the transition from an activity he likes to one he doesn’t – for instance, telling him while he’s playing in the evening, “In 10 minutes, we’re going to have dinner. What are we going to do in 10 minutes?”

For the future, I want Jude to be able to make friends and hang out with his pals and talk about the stuff they are interested in. I’d love for him to attend college and experience living in a dorm, dating, studying, and dreaming of his future. But I try not to get ahead of myself: I know he needs to find his own way, his own tribe, and embrace the uniqueness that is his own. Do I want him to be “normal”? No, I don’t wish that upon anyone. How boring! And besides, what is normal?

Ana Beatriz Cholo is a freelance writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. This piece originally appeared at Zocalo Public Square.

TIME career

Leaning In at Work, Traditionalist at Home: Women Who Hide Their Success

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Retro housewife Bojan Kontrec—Getty Images/Vetta

Why we need to stop worrying about emasculating men

I once hid my raise from my live-in boyfriend for a full year before he found out. I was already the decision-maker in our relationship, and I didn’t want him to feel bad that he made less than I did.

It’s the kind of scenario we hear often: ambitious, hard-charging women purposely shaving off a couple digits when talking about money with their partners. Women who subtly downplay their accomplishments in order to protect their boyfriends’ egos. Those who play the damsel in distress to cater to some caveman-like need to save. Even toning down an online dating profile – deleting accolades and advanced degrees – to sound less “intimidating” to potential suitors.

“I would let him make the decisions even when I knew they weren’t the right ones,” one friend told me recently, of her (not coincidentally) now ex-husband.

“I never reveal where I got my PhD on a first date,” said another, who is an Ivy League grad.

“I think my biggest fear in a relationship,” a New York editor quipped over brunch recently, “is emasculating the guy and ending up alone.”

It’s a feminist by day, traditionalist by night way of life, and it would make our Second Wave mothers cringe. By day, these women are successful and self-assured – part of a cohort dominating the working world and outpacing their male peers in college and advanced degrees. The under 30 set are outearning their male counterparts in nearly every major city in America. And when it comes to married couples, the number of female breadwinners has been steadily rising: 24 percent of wives now make more than their husbands.

And yet when it comes to their romantic lives, these women are unabashedly shrinking violets, their behavior influenced by age-old stereotypes about men, women and power that have simply not shifted as quickly as the working world. They’re also being influenced by a bevy of advice books – including a new one, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women, by financial advisor and journalist Farnoosh Torabi.

One part financial manual and two parts primer in retro-femininity, the book is a guide, she says, for single women whose success may intimidate potential suitors. Rule No. 1: Face the Facts. And the facts, she explains are clear. “When a woman makes more than her man, the odds are stacked against her in many ways: she’s less likely to get married, more likely to be unhappier in marriage, and there are many psychological and sexual costs,” writes Torabi.

Torabi is wrestling with the contradictions of a particular cultural moment: women are less dependent and passive than ever before. And yet, as Ronald Levant, the editor of the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity, put it recently, “men are stuck” – caught between caveman-like desires to protect and provide, and the fact that more and more women are the ones doing the providing. One recent study found that men subconsciously suffer a bruised ego when their wives or girlfriends excel — regardless of whether they are in direct competition. Another survey, from Pew, found that 28 percent of Americans believe that it is “generally better for a marriage if the husband earns more than his wife.”

Where that leaves us? If you believe Torabi, with a complicated set of rules to follow – lest we end up, as the Princeton Mom warned, a “spinster with cats.” Not only must we achieve at work, we must stroke our partner’s ego. We can land the big deal, but we still must play the damsel in distress. We can go to Pilates, but might still consider asking him to lift that box – to make him feel like a man. Oh, and we may be the primary breadwinner, but we should still let him pay in public (as Torabi often does with her own husband) – even if it’s coming out of a joint checking account.

“Calling it stroking his ego can sound controversial, but money is a huge source of power and self worth for a lot of people,” she says. “So you have to understand that.”

Or better yet: you can reject it altogether.

Yes, men have been breadwinners for 10,000 years. They’ve been conditioned to be dominant. Hunters, gatherers … you know the drill. But let’s give dudes some credit.

College-aged men and women almost universally say they desire unions in which housework, child-rearing, ambition and moneymaking will be respectfully negotiated and shared. There are plenty of men – as a recent Cosmo survey on the topic helped made clear — who would happily date a woman who made more money than they did (and like it). (Of more than 1,000 straight men ages 18 to 35, nearly half say they’ve dated a woman who made more money than they did. Fifty seven percent say they are “more attracted” to a woman who is ambitious at work.)

We are, as the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher recently told me, “in a time of tremendous transformation.”

So here’s a rule for when you make more than your male partner: Don’t believe everything you read.

TIME viral

WATCH: Mom’s Dance Party Backfires in the Most Hilarious Way Possible

Turn down for what?

Moms are just like the rest of us. And that means that sometimes they need to bust a move to a little T. I. and have a dance party of one in the living room.

However, being a mom, it may be worth sweeping the vicinity for breakable objects and wandering children, first. That’s the lesson to be learned from watching this video where a mom is trying to turn things up and ends up knocking them down instead.

The woman described the series of events that lead to her viral video in her YouTube comments: “I decided to enter an online dance off for moms, but was a little hesitant about posting a clip of me dancing on the Internet. I wanted to practice a little before and this is an outtake from my ‘warm-up.'” Now more than 1.4 million people have seen her not only dancing, but knocking her kid in the face with her booty. Viva la internet!

MORE: Authorities Seize Speakers from Man Who Repeatedly Blasted Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”

MORE: Here’s the Rap Anthem About Bounce Houses You Never Knew You Needed

TIME Family

Firstborn Girls Are the Best at Life

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Sheryl Sandberg, billionaire and chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., pauses during a panel session on day four of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new study finds that firstborn girls are more likely to be ambitious and to pursue higher educational degrees than their younger siblings

Firstborn girls are more likely than their siblings to succeed, according to a study from the University of Essex.

Scientists applied modeling techniques to data from the British Household Panel Survey, which contains 1503 sibling clusters and a total of 3552 people. They examined both within-and between-family variances to find that birth order actually does affect academic success.

Firstborns are most likely to be “ambitious” and “accomplished” compared to their younger siblings. And firstborn girls turn out to be the most ambitious: they are 13 percent more likley to aspire to attend graduate school than firstborn boys. These statistics are true regardless of how many siblings you have and what gender combination they are.

But those who are truly the most likely to succeed are eldest siblings with a significant age gap between themselves and their younger siblings (four years or more): those eldest siblings are more likely to pursue advanced degrees.

“Educational disparities exist not only between families but also within families,” lead researcher Feifei Bu writes in the study. “It is interesting that we observe a distinct firstborn advantage in education, even though parents in modern society are more likely to be egalitarian in the way they treat their children.”

Previous research has shown that eldest siblings tend to develop a higher IQ, and scientists have posed many theories as to why. One obvious hypothesis is that parents invest more resources into the first child than into any other (by numbers two, three and four you might realize that playing only Mozart for your toddler is not a worthwhile task). But why female firstborns would do better than male ones is still a mystery.

But there’s really no empirical proof quite like celebrities. And what more evidence do you need than knowing that Beyoncé, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Lena Dunham, Kate Middleton and Angela Merkel were all firstborns?

TIME relationships

The Science of Happily Ever After: How Millennials Beat the Odds to Find Love

Millennials know that living happily ever after is a long shot, but they're not giving up. Here are some of the strategies young people are using to find love.

Like generations before them, millennials were told bedtime stories that ended happily ever after, but they have grown up to find a new technology-driven dating scene that has lost the plot. I’ve spoken with many millennials while touring for my new book, The Science of Happily Ever After, and the question I hear over and over is: “Does happily ever after even exist?”

It’s a fair question from a group of young people who watched almost 50% of their parents’ generation divorce, another 10% permanently separate and another 7% remain in unhappy marriages. Maybe it’s because I’m from Gen X, but a one-in-three chance of finding enduring love sounds a little depressing to me. But millennials are an optimistic bunch, so they’re usually relieved to hear that enduring love exists, even if they know that the odds are not in their favor.

Although singles of all ages yearn to find enduring love, many are uncertain about how to navigate the thousands of dating partners that are now available through online dating sites and mobile apps. Technology has given singles far more choice than previous generations, which sounds good in theory, but people are finding that the sheer volume and speed produced by dating technologies quickly becomes overwhelming.

It’s what social psychologist Barry Schwartz calls the “tyranny of freedom”: a feeling of being overwhelmed, uncertain and anxious when we are given too many choices and no updated framework for managing those choices. Singles of all ages feel dizzied from the carousel of Tinder photos, resigned to the hundreds of online dating messages sitting in their inboxes and weary from serial hookups that eventually give one’s love life an unbearable lightness. Collectively, these changes can give single young people a feeling of derealization, far away from the days of getting to know the girls next door over a milkshake at the soda fountain.

However, millennials are accustomed to a postmodern world that does not always provide genuine experiences. They didn’t have to put worms on their fishing lines, but instead were fed genetically modified fish, raised in a fake stream on a fish farm, that was colored to look more fish-like. They watched the economy almost collapse after Wall Street sold loans of loans, packaged in algorithmically complex securities, which led everyone to forget what the loans were worth in the first place. Millennials watched what happens when life becomes representations of representations and they decided that this is no way to live.

Now they are finding that the convenience of Tinder geolocation or algorithmic online matches can insert a layer of artifice, which makes it harder to really get to know someone. Like other aspects of their lives, millennials want to find a process that is more organic, a method of dating that is more real. Maybe that’s why millennials seem less inclined than previous generations to fall in love with the idea of marriage and instead are determined to find the right person for marriage.

I decided to write The Science of Happily Ever After based on the premise that good relationships come from choosing good partners. I do not promise love in ten days or the one secret to finding your soulmate, but instead provide a framework and methods for assessing the traits that really matter while choosing a partner. As I have talked about the book with university students around the country, I have realized that millennials have certain tendencies that are already changing the way we date and that there are a few things we can learn from them. Here are a few valuable lessons from the way millennials search for love:

  • Be Clear About Your Goal: It sounds obvious that singles need a goal, but previous generations often felt trapped by narrow societal views of marriage. Millennials are generally more open to diversity, which has broadened our views of what can be a happy marriage, including changes in beliefs about gender roles, support of gay marriage and more favorable attitudes about interracial marriage.
  • Be Smart: Millennials are generally optimistic, but they delight in smart, contrarian views of cultural standards. They eagerly latch onto research findings that demonstrate how holding onto fairy tale notions of the beautiful princess, powerful princes, and fate delivering a soulmate, actually make it less likely that one’s love story will end happily ever after.
  • Find Undervalued Traits: Millennials do not want fate to provide the answer, they want to find an answer through their resourcefulness. They love the Moneyball aspect of the book, the idea that just as there were undervalued traits in baseball players that were key to winning, there are also undervalued traits in romantic partners that are key to happy relationships.
  • Take Action: Although millennials deliberate before acting, they don’t ruminate, which makes them amenable to solution focused psychological approaches. They want to create dating habits that create creating congruence between what they know are the right decisions in relationships and how they actually act.
  • Keep The Faith: Millennials may be dissatisfied with modern dating, but they are not giving up. They know that who you choose as a marital partner is one of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime and they are powered by an optimism that they will find a better way to do it.

Ty Tashiro, Ph.D. is a relationship expert and author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love. Visit him online at www.tytashiro.net.

TIME Family

Kids With One Parent Are Just as Happy as Kids With Two

Father and daughter holding hands
Getty Images

New study of 7-year olds finds family structure doesn't affect happiness in kids

When it comes to parents, quality is more important than quantity. Because new research out of the UK shows that kids who grow up with a single parent or step-parent think of themselves as no less happy than kids who grow up with their biological mom and dad.

Researchers from UK’s NatCen Social Research analyzed data from almost 13,000 children and found that children’s stated happiness had no correlation to their family structure. 36% of 7-year olds said they were “happy all the time” and 64% said they were happy “sometimes or never,” regardless of whether they were raised by two biological parents or one. This result stayed the same even when researchers controlled for social class.

Instead, relationships with family members and friendships at school were the main predictors of kids’ happiness or unhappiness, and factors such as fights or bullying had a much larger affect on kid’s stated happiness than how many parents they had.

But other research has shown that kids in single-parent homes may be more likely to become incarcerated or drop out of school, so maybe happiness isn’t everything.

 

TIME Family

There’s a Gender Pay Gap in Kids’ Allowances and Parents Are To Blame

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Rob Lewine—Getty Images/Image Source

Why paying our daughters less than our sons is creating a broken workplace system for grown women and men

The pay gap between the sexes begins early—very early. Research gathered by ThinkProgress suggests young girls are doing more chores for less pay.

Girls are doing two more hours worth of chores than boys are, while boys are spending twice as much time playing than girls do, according to a study from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. And yet, boys are 15 percent more likely to get paid for doing the chores they do take on. Another new survey from Junior Achievement USA and the Allstate Foundation points to the same trend: 70 percent of boys get an allowance, compared to only 60 percent of girls.

The most damning survey comes from Westpac, which found that boys earned an average of $48 for spending 2.1 hours on chores per week, while girls only got $45 for working for 2.7 hours on household jobs.

Before we dismiss these studies as cute—after all, we’re talking about money used to buy toys and candy—remember that this system reinforces the expectation that females won’t be paid as much as males for equal work, even at a young age. This could help explain why women earn less than men in all but 7 of of the nearly 600 occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (A female physician, for example, earns 67 percent of her male counterpart’s paycheck.) Even when you remove factors like women taking time off or working part-time to raise children, an analysis by the Government Accountability Office found that women still earn around 80 percent of men’s wages.

This chore pay gap also demonstrates to girls that household work doesn’t count as work that should be rewarded. It’s no wonder then that when they grow up, women spend more than twice as much time on unpaid work (like childcare and household chores) as men do each week, while men find more time to relax.

These findings suggest that we’re still stuck in a system that discriminates against women and are still too far away from equal pay goals.

Some have argued that the pay gap is the result of women choosing lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work over higher-paying jobs like engineering. But some researchers argue that’s simply not the case. A recent study by a Harvard labor economist traced the source of the pay gap. As Claire Cain Miller wrote of the data in this Wednesday’s New York Times:

[A] majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine, according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy…

Rearranging women into higher-paying occupations would erase just 15 percent of the pay gap for all workers and between 30 and 35 percent for college graduates, she found. The rest has to do with something happening inside the workplace.

Goldin’s solution? More flexible hours and locations, according the paper she published this month in the American Economic Review.

It’s a solution we’ve known for a long time. A friend and I watched the 1980 Jane Fonda comedy Nine to Five for the first time last night, in which three women secretly take over the office management from their sexist boss. They put in place a flexible hour program, a daycare center and equal pay—all office programs that working women desperately want and need—making all the employees happier and more efficient. Corporate praises the changes, though they bristle under the equal pay and revoke it. The movie ends with the three women opening a bottle of champagne and celebrating their achievements. When one comments that they still didn’t get equal pay, another responds that this is just the beginning and they’ll get there.

Thirty-four years later, we’re astonishingly still not there: Republicans voted down the equal pay bill this month, citing the explanation of diverging professional preferences between men and women. The reason we’ve fallen short of implementing the changes we knew we needed to make 34 years ago could be rooted in what we teach our children: that men and women don’t need to be paid equally and that the extra burdens women take on at home are not worthwhile. Changing that will mean that both mothers and fathers will have to think about whether they’re creating a junior gender pay gap at home.

 

TIME Family

6 Insulting Terms for Adults Who Live With Their Parents

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yubomojao—Getty Images/Flickr Select

More often than not, the phrases coined to describe the rising ranks of grown adults living with their parents are subtle backhanded insults. And sometimes the insults aren’t subtle at all. Here are a handful of phrases that have popped up in recent years to categorize the millions of adults who live with their parents—typically moving back home for financial reasons after living on their own for a few years, or perhaps a few decades.

“Boomerang Generation”
This is probably the most common (and also probably the least offensive) phrase for describing the legions of young Americans in their mid-20s to mid-30s who have moved back in with their parents after a stint of independent living. A 2012 Pew Research Center study focused on this increasingly large group—report title: “The Boomerang Generation”—indicated that while a majority were frustrated they didn’t have enough money to live the life they wanted, most were also happy with their living arrangements bunking with mom and dad once again.

“Boomerangers”
Members of this special breed of boomerang offspring are not only old enough to live independently, but also old enough to have adult children of their own. Essentially, they’re middle-aged Baby Boomers who have fallen on times so tough that they’ve been forced to move back in with their elderly parents, who are likely to be retired and perhaps not in the best financial condition themselves. The rise of “boomerangers” was understandably noticeable during the heyday of the Great Recession in 2009, and the unfortunate trend hasn’t gone away. Just this week the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the increase in adults in California ages 50 to 64 who have moved back home with mom and/or dad—a 68% rise from 2007 to 2012.

Earlier this year, Le Monde attempted to chronicle the rise of this trend in France, a task that proved difficult because “middle-aged people who live with their parents are often ashamed,” and few were willing to speak about their first-hand experiences.

(MORE: Being 30 and Living With Your Parents Isn’t Lame — It’s Awesome!)

It’s no coincidence that many “Boomerangers” also have another (insulting) label slapped on them: “Unemployables.” As CNN Money noted, because workers in their 50s who lost their jobs in recent years were less likely than younger people to subsequently become re-employed, a Boston College study dubbed them the “new unemployables.”

“Go-Nowhere Generation”
This phrase is largely credited to a New York Times op-ed that encouraged young Americans to move to hop on a Greyhound bus and move to a state with low unemployment, such as North Dakota. The column’s authors wrote that they expected few to follow that advice, because “young people are too happy at home checking Facebook,” among other reasons. “Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother,” the op-ed sums up.

“Growing-Ups”
A Clark University professor’s research into young adults who have no good job prospects and no clear career path—and who of course still live with their parents—refers to them as “growing-ups,” as well as the more positive “emerging adults.”

“Failed Fledglings”
Leave it to the United Kingdom to come up with this humdinger. According to a survey published last summer, some three million parents over age 50 had grown children living at home—a category the poll called “failed fledglings.” A corresponding 16-page “Parent Motivators” booklet was published in order to help parents cope with adult kids back in the nest, and the contents reportedly included “tips about how to get rid of children who you would prefer to have moved out.”

(MORE: This Is AT&T’s Plan to Smother Google Fiber)

“Parasite Single”
Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, came up with this lovely phrase to describe Japanese women (men too, but it’s mostly women) in their 20s and 30s who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and had decent jobs—but were considered parasitic because they never got married, hadn’t yet had children, and lived a carefree consumerist lifestyle under their parents’ roofs. Interestingly, news outlets noted a widespread effort to marry parasite singles off in Japan via dating services and old-fashioned family matchmaking in the late ’00s—about the same time that the Great Recession was wreaking havoc across the globe, sending tens of millions of adult children boomeranging back into their parents’ homes.

TIME Family

Michelle Obama: I Love ‘Splurging’

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U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks alongside President Barack Obama and the Easter Bunny during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2014 SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

The First Lady said that pigging out on favorite foods was fine from time to time, just so long as kids maintain a balanced diet and do plenty of regular exercise

Michelle Obama said Monday that “splurging is the key to life,” as long as it’s a small part of a healthy lifestyle.

“How would you appreciate vegetables if you never had chocolate?” the First Lady said during the White House Easter Egg Roll. “You couldn’t live without a little chocolate, a little French fries.”

The First Lady took questions from kid reporters during a question-and-answer session at the annual White House Easter event, and emphasized that occasionally splurging was O.K. as part of a balanced diet, alongside regular exercise, the Associated Press reports. “I still splurge when I can, but that’s why I try to exercise almost every day,” she told the young journalists, ages 6 to 13 years old.

Obama also said that her favorite sport is tennis, and she plays with her daughter Malia about once a week. She added that Malia also likes track and Sasha likes basketball and dance.

[AP]

TIME

5 Amazing Runaway Kid Stories

Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) American statesman, printer and scientist. Anonymous portrait.
A portrait of Benjamin Franklin Universal ImagesGroup/Getty Images

From Ben Franklin to Harry Houdini, sometimes running away is a good call

A 16-year old runaway survived over 5 hours hidden in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii, despite lack of oxygen and temperatures as cold as 80 below. We don’t yet know why the teen ran away from home, but he’s clearly got some gumption. While many runaway kids end up trafficked or worse, there are some gutsy runaways that end up famous, or at least have a really good story.

1) Ben Franklin: Ben Franklin only came to Philadelphia because he ran away from his family Boston. He worked as an apprentice in his half-brother James’s print shop, but the brothers butted heads when James wouldn’t publish Franklin’s writing. Ben got tricky and started writing well-received letters under the world’s greatest pseudonym, “Mrs. Silence Dogood,” but when James found out he was furious. So Ben Franklin ran away and ended up in Philadelphia, where he founded the University of Pennsylvania and did some other stuff (discovered electricity, signed the Declaration of Independence, etc etc.)

2) Harry Houdini: The master showman pulled his first disappearing act when he ran away from home at the age of 12. He left his family, who had immigrated to Milwaukee from Hungary, and jumped on a freight car. Little is known about the year Houdini spent away from home, but he may have spent time in Kansas City. He later re-joined his family in New York and helped support them by working as a necktie cutter and photographer’s assistant. He later became the world’s most famous magician/showman.

3) Frank Abagnale Jr.: The real-life teenage trickster played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can got his start in crime when he ran away from home at 16. He forged checks, played doctor, posed as a lawyer, and even pretended to be an airplane pilot to get free flights. When he was finally caught, he served time in French and Swiss prisons before he was handed over to American authorities, but escaped out of the airplane used to transport him. After he was captured again, he served 5 year of his 12 year prison sentence and then started working with the FBI to help them fight check fraud. He’s now a millionaire security consultant.

4) Barbara McVay: 17-year old Barbara McVay really wanted to go to England in 1966. Her dad was stationed with the Air Force in the U.K, and, as she told the the Sarasota Journal later, “I like English boys.” One problem: Barbara lived in Baltimore. So she did what any teen would do, and stowed away on a Britain-bound submarine that was visiting Baltimore. The 1,600 ton submarine (called the Walrus) had been at sea for four hours when Barbara left her hiding place, feeling groggy from carbon monoxide. Crew members say it’s good she left when she did, because she would have drowned when that compartment filled with water. The Walrus turned around and brought Barbara straight back to Baltimore. “We certainly can’t have that sort of thing going on in the British Navy,” Captain Douglas Scobie told the Sarasota Journal. “Taking away one of Baltimore’s citizens is rather overextending our appreciation of their hospitality.”

5) Semaj Booker: In 2007, Washington 9-year old Semaj Booker really really wanted to see his grandfather in Texas. So he stole a car (which he learned how to do from playing video games) and led police on a high-speed chase. Police caught up with him and brought him home, but the next day he hopped a bus to the airport and snagged a plane ticket to Phoenix by using a fake name. Police picked him up when he tried to get to Dallas. In 2010, the 13-year old Booker had another run-in with the police when he allegedly stole a yo-yo from a store.

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