TIME motherhood

What the Recent Drop in Single Motherhood Really Means

Thanasis Zovoilis—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Another way to look at the recent figures

According to a new report just released by the National Health Center for Health Statistics, there has been a sharp decline in the number of kids born to single moms.

About 1.6 million women who weren’t married had kids in 2012, down from 1.75 million in 2007 and 2008. And more of those kids were born to co-habiting couples than before. Since not having two parents around is linked with an increased likelihood of having a lousy childhood and a more difficult life, that should be a cause for rejoicing.

This is the first significant decrease in several decades in what’s known as “nonmarital births.” (Probably “out-of-wedlock” sounded too Jacobean). But on closer inspection it’s not unalloyed good news.

Even after the recent sharp decrease, the number of kids born to single moms is still twice as high as it was in the 80s. And while the nonmarital birthrate has dropped 7% since the late 2000s, the overall birthrate—the number of births to all women—has dropped twice as much. What that means is that the percentage of kids born to single moms hasn’t changed much: 40% of all the people born in America have parents who aren’t married.

Similarly, while single black and Hispanic women are less likely to have a kid than they were in 2008 (the rate has dropped particularly sharply for Hispanic women), 72% of black kids and 54% of Hispanic kids are brought into the world via single moms. That number hasn’t budged much since 2011.

There are nuggets of good news in the report: the teen birth rate continues to fall. And the number of births to cohabiting couples (versus mothers who do not live with a partner) represents a much bigger slice of the unmarried birth pie than it did 10 years ago. In 2002, 60% of single women who gave birth were not living with the father. Now it’s down to 42%. But again, this number doesn’t look quite as good under close inspection.

Take this chart for example:

One indicator of a likelihood of a stable childhood is whether or not the child was planned. In the chart above, unintended pregnancies among women who are not living with a guy—the archetypal single mom—are down from 36% of the nonmarital births in 2002 to 28% by 2010. But unintended pregnancies among cohabiting couples went up. So the proportion of kids born to single moms who weren’t trying to have a kid did not change between 2002 and 2010: 57%. (And the raw number of nonmarital births is about 300,000 higher, so that’s a lot more unplanned kids).

How much difference does it make if the father and mother are living together when the kid is born? The jury is out on that. A lot depends on the circumstances under which people shack up. Studies have shown that if a couple is living together and intends to get married in a year or so, there’s very little difference in the stability of their union compared to married couples.

But couples who are living together out of economic necessity, or because they can’t quite decide if they can make the relationship work are less likely to stay together for a longer term. A child can really complicate that. It doesn’t seem yet that the U.S. is at that European-style place where kids born to couples who live together are in the same boat, stability-wise, as those with married parents.

Recent studies suggest cohabitation can make a slight difference, but so does a father’s age, education and race. (Absent black fathers are much more involved in their kids’ lives, than absent Hispanic fathers, and by some measures, than absent white fathers, according to this study.) “The extent to which cohabitation is a marker for social and financial support and for father involvement deserves further exploration,” write the authors of this new study.

One of the clearest findings of the Fragile Families Study done by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute in 2010, was that even if a baby was conceived by accident, many single fathers originally intended to stick around when the infant was born. But they didn’t. The combined pressures of poverty and parenthood proved to be too much for the relationship. The fact that the nonmarital birth rate has dropped is not at all the same as a drop in the number of kids born into very difficult family circumstances.

TIME

A Lot of Kids Think It’s Normal to Play Rough in Sports

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Martin Wahlborg—Getty Images

42% either hid or down-played injures to stay in the game

More than one-fourth of kids say it’s normal to purposely foul hard and “send a message” when they’re playing sports, according to a new survey on youth injuries.

With 3,400 kids suffering sports injuries every day that are serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, the non-profit Safe Kids Worldwide examined youth sports culture to figure out why so many kids are getting hurt. The organization, which aims to prevent childhood injuries, worked in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson to survey 1,000 kids (in 7th to 10th grades), 1,000 parents and 1,005 coaches about frequency of injury as well as awareness and prevention.

Here are some statistics that parents might want to look at before the season starts:

  • 28% of athletes say it’s normal to play rough and “send a message,” and one-third have been injured as a result
  • 42% of kids say they have hidden an injury, or down-played it, so they could keep playing; 62% know someone who has done it
  • 54% of athletes say they have played injured, even though 70% of them told their parents or coaches about the injury — 27% of those injuries were sprains and 7% were broken or dislocated bones
  • Half of coaches say they have played an athlete with an injury
  • 94% of parents think their kids’ coaches are knowledgable about injury prevention, but less than half of coaches have received certification to prevent—or even figure out—when injuries actually occur. Thirty-eight percent of school coaches have received certified training on how to recognize and prevent overuse injuries

“We need more education, not just for coaches, but for parents and athletes, too,” former NCAA coach Jack Crowe said in a statement. “There are steps we can take to prevent most serious injuries, and one of the most important is to give athletes a chance to heal when they do get hurt.”

TIME celebrities

Robin Williams’ Family Remembers the ‘Gentle, Loving’ Actor

Zelda Williams
Zelda Williams arrives at the Abercrombie & Fitch: “The Making of a Star” Spring Campaign Party in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2014 Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP

His children and second wife release heart-wrenching statements about Williams' death

Robin Williams had a child with his first wife, Valerie Velardi, and two kids with his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams, the woman who had been his first kid’s nanny. At the time of Williams’ death, he was married to his third wife, Susan Schneider. It all seems pretty complicated, but clearly the family all had a lot of affection for the man they were all connected to. The kids, Zak, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody, 22, and his second wife Marsha all released statements about Williams’ death and they’re pretty heart-wrenching.

Zelda’s is the saddest.

“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”
— Zelda Williams

Zak and Cody have less to say, but it’s just as heartfelt.

“Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”
— Zak Williams

“There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.”
— Cody Williams

And clearly, Marsha, who also worked on some of Williams’ films as a producer, still had a lot of affection for her former husband.

“My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous — and yes, brilliant and funny — man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
— Marsha Garces Williams

TIME Family

Mom Says She Was Booted For Changing Diaper at Restaurant Table

Baby in nappy on changing mat.
Baby in nappy on changing mat. Lisa Stirling—Getty Images

A debate over parenting manners breaks out in a Texas pizzeria

A Texas mom told a local news station that her dinner out came to an abrupt end when she changed her baby’s diaper on a chair in the dining area of a restaurant.

Miranda Sowers says she was alone at Brother’s Pizza Express in Spring, Texas with her three children, ages 8, 4, and 4 months, when she realized her youngest needed a diaper change. But, Sowers says, the restroom didn’t have a changing table and she didn’t want to herd all of her kids out to the car, so she did what she had to do.

“I thought you know what I’ve got my own changing pad, she’s tiny, she fits right here on the chair.” she told KHOU, a Houston TV station. “So I laid her down quickly and quietly changed her diaper.”

While Sowers saw this is an inoffensive act of convenience, claiming that no one saw her do it, restaurant employees and patrons had a different take.

“As soon as you start opening the diaper, people start complaining about the smell of the diaper,” manager Donny Lala told KHOU. “Last thing I want is a customer throwing up.”

Comments on the story from KHOU readers were mainly against table-side diaper changing. Many self-described parents deemed Sowers inconsiderate: “Gross! I would have used the changing pad on the bathroom floor or gone to my car. Why do people feel so entitled?” wrote one reader.” Others urged the restaurant to install changing tables.

According to KHOU, the incident prompted the restaurant to bring the Sowers’ their food in t0-go containers and they were asked to leave. Sowers has since filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Brother’s Pizza Express hasn’t backed down, but it might consider installing changing tables in the bathrooms. Brother’s Pizza Express did not respond immediately to calls for comment about the incident or the reported lack of changing tables in their restroom.

TIME Family

Andrew W.K. Gives Powerful Advice to Liberal Son Slamming ‘Super Right-Wing’ Dad

2nd Annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards - Arrivals
Musician Andrew W.K. arrives at the 2nd annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards held at Club Nokia on April 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Frazer Harrison—Getty Images

"The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won."

Musician, brony advocate and Village Voice advice columnist Andrew W.K. sent a powerful message to a self-proclaimed “liberal democrat with very progressive values” bashing his right-wing father that has been resonating throughout the Twitterverse.

“Son of a right-wing Republican” wrote:

I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics … Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Andrew W.K’s response was one that begged for compassion and understanding, in spite of ideological differences.

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you.

According to Pew, Republicans and Democrats are more divided by political and ideological lines in 2014 than they have been in the last two decades. There’s been an increase in antipathy as well — polling found that 27% of Democrats see the Republican Party as a threat to the nation’s well-being, while 36% of Republicans saw the Democratic Party as a threat to national well-being.

Andrew W.K. continued:

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist – the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

In the end, the columnist’s advice was as follows:

Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind – the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. Don’t feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to.

[Village Voice]

TIME Family

When Couples Fight, It Affects Fathers More

Markus Haefke—Getty Images

Husbands and fathers, take note

Men, it is frequently said, are very good at compartmentalizing—usually when they’ve done something wrong. But new research suggests women can compartmentalize too, especially around family.

A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology looked at the effect marital squabbling had on parents’ relationships with kids. The researchers found, not surprisingly, that when a couple fights, that spills over to the relationship each parent has with his or her offspring. But, interestingly, this effect does not last very long for moms.

By the next day, most mother-child relationships were back on an even keel, while the fathers still reported things were tense. “In fact, in that situation, moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension,” said the study’s lead author, assistant psychology professor at Southern Methodist University Chrystyna D. Kouros. “Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child.”

Are the moms compensating for their lousy relationship with dad by looking for human bonds elsewhere? Are they making a pre-emptive strike, even subconsciously, in case there’s a custody battle? Do they not care so much about fights with their spouses? Or do they just need someone to talk to? Kouros says it’s not clear why the women are more able to isolate the relationship with their kids from the tension they feel toward their spouse, but there are several theories.

It could be that because women’s parenting role is more clearly defined, they don’t allow their marital woes to negatively affect other relationships in the family. Or it could be that the women are compensating and seeking support from their kids that they would normally get from their husband. “If the first theory is true, then the fact that moms don’t show the same “spillover” between their marital relationship and relationship with their child is a good thing, ” says Kouros. “However, if the second theory is true, then leaning on your child for support is not a good thing for the long-term.” In psychology this is called “parentification,” and has been linked to depression and other mental health problems in kids.

The data was gathered by asking more than 200 families to make daily diary entries for about two weeks, in which they rated how the marriage was going and how the relationship with their kids was going at the end of each day. It’s possible that what was causing the marital tension and the grumpiness with the kids was something that only affected the fathers. A bad day for a guy at work, for example, might be the source of stress in all his relationships. Kouros admits this third variable is possible, but says the study has some specific data that suggests that’s not always the cause.

“The findings of our study show that it’s men who have marital tension and their wife shows symptoms of depression that are the ones that carry over that marital tension to their relationship with their child on the next day, whereas all men appear to do this on the same day,” she says. “This is consistent with some other studies showing that when men have marital stress and some other stress, like work stress, that’s when they are more likely to compromise their relationship with their child.” The wife’s depression points to the marital tension as being the source of the man’s inability to communicate effectively with his kids.

In other words, if you have to fight with your spouse, keep it quick and fair. For the children.

TIME Parenting

I’m a Male CEO and I Decided to Lean Out

I realized that the only way to balance fatherhood and my job was to step back from the role as head of my company.

Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself. Here is my situation:

● I have three wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.

● I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every two to three weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car, or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.

● I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford, where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high-risk obstetricians and conducts research on on prematurity, surgical techniques and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful and infinitely patient with me. I love her; I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job. MongoDB is a special company. In my nearly four years at the company, we have raised $220 million, grown the team 15-fold and grown sales 30-fold. We have amazing customers, a great product that gets better with every release, the strongest team I have ever worked with and incredible momentum in the market. The future is bright, and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be “all-in” and make the most of the opportunity.

Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given that the majority of the company is in New York and my family is in California.

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have a meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice, the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

In one month, I will hand the CEO role to an incredibly capable leader, Dev Ittycheria. He will have the task of leading the company through its next phase of growth (though thankfully not of commuting across the country while doing it!). I know the company will be in great hands; his skills fit our next phase of growth better than mine do. And I will be there to help (full time, but “normal full time” and not “crazy full time”) in whatever areas he needs help. More about the announcement can be found in today’s press release.

I hope I will be able to find a way to craft a role at MongoDB that is engaging, impactful and compatible with the most important responsibilities in my life. As great as this job has been, I look forward to creating one that is even better.

Max Schireson is currently CEO of MongoDB, Inc., transitioning into the Vice Chairman role in early September. This piece originally appeared at Max Schireson’s blog.

TIME Family

Mom Sells ‘Brat’ Daughter’s Katy Perry Tickets on Facebook

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Singer Katy Perry performs at a concert in celebration of the Special Olympics on July 31, 2014 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN--AFP/Getty Images) MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images

Said she "didn't deserve" the tickets, and they sold in 5 minutes

It’s old-school discipline with a social media twist: when one North Dakota girl acted like a “brat,” her mother reportedly sold her Katy Perry tickets on Facebook to punish her.

In a Facebook post which started “daughter is a spoiled brat and doesn’t deserve these tickets,” Fargo, N.D. mom Cindy Bjerke sold her daughter’s Katy Perry tickets for $90 within five minutes of posting. They were reportedly sold on Fargo/Moorhead Online Garage Sale Facebook page, which requires administrator privileges to view.

Bjerke’s punishment drew criticism from other parents, who thought she didn’t need to publicly humiliate her daughter. “I think a lot of parents are like me where they feel like they’re being bullied about how they should parent their own children,” Bjerke told local media outlet WDAZ. “It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, you’re always wrong to somebody.”

The post was then removed by the Facebook page’s administrators.

TIME Family

Sisters Make You Popular, According to Baboon Study

Christian Heinrich—Getty Images/Imagebroker
Yellow Baboons with babys sitting on a trunk, Moremi Nationalpark in Botswana, Africa. Christian Heinrich—Getty Images/Imagebroker

Mothers pass their high ranks onto their daughters, and sisters help give that a boost

A study of dominance in female baboons reveals two keys to a high rank in primate society: a close bond with your mother and a circle of supportive sisters.

Duke University biology professor Susan Alberts and her colleagues studied a population of yellow baboons in Kenya, observing the rise and fall of females on the baboon social ladder.

“Daughters of high-ranking females generally mature more quickly, produce more offspring, and have better access to food and mates. It’s like being born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” said Alberts.

Baboon mothers often assist their daughters in competition for food and mates, helping establish their daughters’ position in the animal kingdom.

Researchers also discovered the power of sisterhood among baboons; female’s with many sisters were more likely to reach the rank of their mothers.

Sisters are willing to gang up on rival families in order to boost their siblings’ rank. But when it came to competition within the family, that support drifted away; baboon sisters helped each other only as long as their own rank wasn’t in jeopardy.

The study, published in August’s issue of Animal Behaviour, suggests that the secret to the Kardashian family’s popularity might not be its reality show, but rather sisterhood. And that baboon theory could also explain why Kim is always the queen bee.

MONEY deals

A+ Back-to-School Deals Priced from 1¢ to $1

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Catherine MacBride—Getty Images/Flickr

To get your business during prime back-to-school shopping season, stores have launched wild price wars on school supplies, starting for as little as 1¢.

We’ve compiled a checklist of some back-to-school deals that just might seem too good to pass up: None runs more than $1, and one is available for a single penny.

But before filling up your (online or actual) shopping cart, take note of a few caveats. First, despite the fact that these offers are from national retailers, prices can vary from region to region, so the deals at your local store may be different than the ones below. Second, in many cases these rock-bottom prices are only available in-store, not online. They’re essentially “loss leaders,” existing mainly to entice you into the store, where you’ll perhaps be tempted to buy other things, some of which just might be (the horror!) full price.

Lastly, customers may be limited as to how many of these super-cheap items they’re allowed to buy, to stop some bargain-hunting hoarder from cleaning out the entire store and ruining the sale for everyone else. For the most part, the prices below are valid through Saturday, August 2. If you miss out, don’t sweat it: A whole new set of back-to-school deals is sure to appear like clockwork in the Sunday circular.


When you spend at least $5 at participating Office Max and Office Depot stores, you’re allowed to buy their store-brand colored folders for a penny apiece (limit of 10 per household).

15¢ to 20¢
The “Less List” of sale items at many Staples includes two-pocket folders for 15¢ and 70-page one-subject notebooks for 17¢.

25¢
Kids’ scissors, 12-inch rulers, 6-inch protractors, and 4-oz. bottles of glue are among the back to school standards priced at a quarter each at Office Max and Office Depot.

50¢
Pick up a 24-pack of Crayola crayons (normally $1.47) at Walmart and Staples (normally $1.99).

One-subject notebooks and 5-inch scissors go for 49¢ apiece at many Walgreens.

$1
Five-pack of highlighters (normal price: $4.29) at Staples

12-pack of Bic pens (normally $1.99) at Office Max and Office Depot

12-pack of colored pencils or two-pack of Sharpies at Dollar General

Absolutely everything at Dollar Tree

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