TIME Family

Mom Says Her Facebook Rant Got Her Child Expelled from Preschool

A mother named Ashley Habat was upset that her son’s preschool, Florida’s Sonshine Christian Academy in Florida, didn’t give her enough warning about school picture day. So, like many people do when they’re upset, she took to Facebook to vent.

“Why is it that every single day there is something new I dislike about Will’s School?” the post read, according to Jacksonville, Fla. news outlet WJXT-TV. “Are my standards really too high or are people working in the education field really just that ignorant.” She also tagged Sonshine Christian Academy in her post.

Will was expelled the next day, she claims. WJXT-TV reported that a letter of dismissal said that Habat’s “relationship with Sonshine did not get off to a very good start the first day of school . . . You utilized social media to call into question not only the integrity but the intelligence of our staff.”

“I was in shock,” Habat told WJXT-TV. “Why would you expel a 4-year-old over something his mom posts on her private Facebook page only people on her friends list can see?”

TIME Family

It Took 9 Months to Make This Vine

A pregnancy in six seconds

There’s nothing as awe-inspiring as the creation of life — except for maybe this man’s dedication to creating this Vine.

Filmed over nine months, the mini-video documents a pregnancy from barely showing to baby toting. It’s Vine user Ian Padgham’s (@origiful) modern take on the staid old tradition of the pregnancy photo.

Padgham,whose day job involves making time-lapse clips on the social site for various brands, used his professional skill set to film his wife, Claire Pasquier, over the course of the nine months of her pregnancy. He captured her physical transformation in a six-second-long looping clip, shooting to frames at a time over nine months.

It’s a cool homage to family, life and technology, that has become one of the most viewed Vines of all time, with more than 12 million views so far.

MORE: Get “Happy” With This American Sign Language Performance of Pharrell’s Hit Song

MORE: Portland-Area Man Accused of Most Portlandian Crime Ever: Shoplifting With a Kilt

TIME Family

Why Access to Screens Is Lowering Kids’ Social Skills

Brothers Watching TV
Chris Stein—Getty Images

Kids read emotions better after being deprived of electronic media

People have long suspected that there’s a cost to all this digital data all the time, right at our fingertips. Now there’s a study out of UCLA that might prove those digital skeptics right. In the study, kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives.

The California research team’s findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior this month tries to analyze the impact digital media has on humans’ ability to communicate face-to-face.

As an experiment, 51 sixth graders from a public school in Southern California were sent to outdoor education camp, spending five whole days completely deprived of TV, phone and Internet. Contrary to the kids’ expectations, they survived just fine and actually had genuine fun.

The first pool of kids was then compared to another group of 54 sixth graders from the same school who had not yet attended the camp, but had spent the previous five days with their normal amount of screen time.

Both sets of students were given photos of people expressing emotions—sadness, anger, joy, anxiety and so on, before the camp and after the camp. Both sets of students were also shown video of people interacting and displaying emotions. The students who had been to camp got much better at discerning how the people in the photos and the videos were feeling after that five day period. They scored much higher at recognizing non-verbal emotional cues (facial expressions, body language, gestures) than they had before the camp, while the scores of the students who had not been deprived of screens did not change at all.

With online training courses being used for almost everything now, this new study may give teachers, parents and administrators pause on such widespread use of digital media in education. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia M. Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs—understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

Lead author Yalda T. Uhls, a senior researcher with the Children’s Digital Media Center, said she hopes that people won’t merely take away the idea that all screens are bad, but that face-to-face time for young people is an important part of the socialization process.

According to a survey given to the study’s participants, the kids spent an average of four-and-a-half hours texting, watching television and playing video games during a single typical school day. According to Uhls, this is on the low end–many children and teenagers spend more than seven-and-a-half-hours a day interacting with a screen of some sort. And when interacting with a screen, they aren’t interacting with a human.

“You can’t learn non-verbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication,” Uhls said.

MONEY Saving

Why Parents Should Procrastinate on Back-to-School Shopping

School supplies arranged in clock face formation
iStock

If you've been a slacker thus far in rounding up your kid's back-to-school supplies, there's good reason to keep on procrastinating.

The simple reason why this is so is that very soon, almost every store will be putting kids’ scissors, notebooks, glue, pencils, and other back-to-school merchandise on clearance. For that matter, clothing marketed for the back-to-school season will be deeply discounted starting around Labor Day as well if not sooner, in order to make space for the next big seasons for retailers—Halloween and Christmas.

Don’t tell your kids about this, especially not at the start of the school year when homework and exams are about to become painful realities, but the truth is that sometimes it pays to sit back and do nothing. Many consumers are utilizing this “strategy” this summer, though it’s unclear whether they’re doing so consciously—or, more likely, lazily and obliviously. The Integer Group estimated that more than half of shoppers wait until one to three weeks before school starts to buy school supplies, and that 36% of consumers won’t do any back-to-school shopping at all, up from 31% who skipped back-to-school purchases last year.

The most prudent, responsible, cost-conscious approach for back-to-school shopping is for a parent to dutifully browse for bargains throughout the summer and scoop them up when they’re optimal. Back-to-school promotions started even before the previous school year ended, and Staples, Walmart, dollar stores, and other retailers have periodically rolled out 1¢ folders, 25¢ rulers and protractors, and other loss-leader sales in order to rev up business. For that matter, truly savvy shoppers understand that kids tend to need more or less the same supplies every fall, so they strategically snatch up pencils, notebooks, and whatnot whenever they’re at rock-bottom prices throughout the year.

The ship has sailed on the chance to do the prudent thing and buy items whenever the optimal price appears. That approach is too time-consuming and requires too much attention for the average parent anyway. This late in the game, there are two options left: 1) Turn into a whirling dervish and hit one store to buy everything your student needs in the few days before school starts; or 2) make do with what you have for the first day of school, then complete your kids’ list sometime around Labor Day.

The first option is the more responsible one, of course, and ensures that your child will have all of the required supplies on time. Yet the Integer study found that price is the most important element in back-to-school purchases for roughly three-quarters of consumers, and with this first approach, shoppers will wind up paying more than is necessary for many school staples.

That leaves us with the second (slacker) option, which is attractive not only because you can do nothing for a little while longer, but also because of a bonus in the form of saving a bundle of money. By the time Labor Day arrives, the majority of what you need to buy will likely be marked down for clearance sales. You’ll get the cheaper prices on glue, notebooks, and such without having to shop around, monitor Sunday circulars, or hit multiple stores. All in all, you’ll save time, effort, and money, with the main tradeoff being that your kid might get dirty looks from the teacher if he shows up on the first day of school with an empty backpack—or perhaps no backpack.

“Like most seasonal items, the longer you wait to buy back-to-school items, the better your chances are of scoring a significant discount,” said Lindsay Sakraida, features director at the deal-tracking site dealnews.com. Normally, clearance aisles are a hodgepodge of random, undesirable leftovers, but this isn’t the case for basics like pens, notebooks, and calculators, which are more or less immune to trends and seasonality, said Sakraida. “While sorting through the clearance section can sometimes yield limited options, it’s less of an issue with school supplies, making this an even more appealing option for cash-strapped back-to-schoolers.”

She suggested starting to look for big back-to-school markdowns a few days before Labor Day weekend. Around that time a year ago, Staples and Office Max cut prices dramatically on many items, sometimes with discounts of more than 75%. Other retailers will surely be posting printable coupons good for 20% or 25% your entire purchase over the holiday weekend, said Sakraida.

And prices will only drop from there as retailers try to clear shelf space to prep for the next season’s goods. In terms of fall clothing and school supplies alike, “look for the deals to get pretty aggressive by mid-September,” NPD retail analyst Marshal Cohen told the Wall Street Journal.

Even if your kids are fully outfitted for this school year by then, it might be wise to hit the clearance section and round up some supplies for next fall. You know prices will be cheap. And perhaps by planning ahead you’ll show your children that even the laziest procrastinators can change their ways and become more responsible.

More Back-to-School advice:
Would You Spend $60 for Your Kid’s Lunchbox?
Parents Worry More About Back-to-School Shopping Than Bullying
4 Best Credit Cards for College Students

TIME apps

Teenage Kid Ignoring Your Calls? There’s an App for That

iphone teenager
Getty Images

The "Ignore No More" application locks teens Android phones until they call mom or dad back

A New York mom got so sick of her teen kids ignoring her calls she created an app so they couldn’t.

Sharon Standifir, the creator of the “Ignore No More” smartphone application, told CBS New York that after repeatedly having her calls to her teens go unanswered, she researched how to develop an application that would shut their phones down until they called her back.

And so, that’s what she created after working with developers for months. The $1.99 app, which is currently only available for download on Android phones, allows parents lock their kids’ phones from a separate device, forcing them to call a list of select numbers (including 911) in order to gain access to the device.

“No calls to friends, no text, no games, notta’ until they call you back. When they do, you can unlock their phone if you choose to do so,” reads the application’s website. “How’s that for parental control?”

 

TIME Family

10 Myths and Facts About Breastfeeding

breastfeeding
Getty Images

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month—and while breastfeeding rates in the United States continue to rise (nearly 80% of infants born in 2011 started to breastfeed), there’s still a lot that people don’t know about the topic. Does it hurt? Will my child not be as smart if I don’t do it?

We spoke with Kathy Mason, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, to clear up some common myths and misconceptions.

This guide is helpful for women making the decision whether to breastfeed their children—and for people tempted to comment on another woman’s choice on the matter.

New moms don’t make enough milk

MYTH

It’s true that women don’t produce milk for three to five days after giving birth, but they do make a thick, concentrated liquid called colostrum—and for the first few days, that’s all a newborn needs, Mason says. “Moms worry that they’re not producing enough right away, but it’s very normal for the baby to nurse and not take more than two teaspoons at a time.”

Health.com: 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Health

It’s better for baby’s weight and IQ

MYTH

If you aren’t able to breastfeed your baby—or you decide not to—you can rest easy knowing that the beneficial effects of breast milk on babies’ weight and intelligence appear to have been overstated. A 2014 Ohio State University study looked at families in which one baby was breastfed and another was fed formula and found no “breast-is-best” advantage in one child over the other. Though Mason says breast milk does have one clear advantage over formula: It contains antibodies that protect baby from infection.

It helps you shed baby weight

FACT

Moms who breastfeed burn about 300 to 500 extra calories a day compared to those who feed their babies formula, and research shows that they do tend to slim down faster. Breastfeeding also releases hormones that trigger your uterus to return to its pre-baby size and weight faster. “When the baby starts nursing you can actually feel uterine contractions as it starts to shrink,” says Mason. “It’s nature’s way of getting your body back into shape.”

Health.com: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

It’s normal to have difficulties

FACT

While most women should be able to breastfeed their newborns, it’s not always easy: In a 2013 survey published in Pediatrics, 92% of new moms had at least one concern on their third day of breastfeeding—such as the baby not latching properly, low milk supply, or breast pain—and only 13% breastfeed exclusively for six months as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Unfortunately, we send moms home from the hospital after just two days, and the days immediately after that are the hardest ones for breastfeeding,” Mason says. Women having trouble should know where to turn for advice, she adds: Most hospitals have breastfeeding support groups or offer out-patient consultations, and moms can also take advantage of the La Leche League‘s toll-free breastfeeding helpline: 877-452-5324. Many hospitals have classes you can take before the baby arrives, so ask if you’re interested.

It may protect against postpartum depression

FACT

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that women who breastfed were less likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression over the first four months than those who bottle-fed. Researchers aren’t sure what the connection is, but Mason suspects it has to do oxytocin, the “feel-good hormone” produced when a baby nurses. “Plus, if breastfeeding is going well, it helps mom feel confident that she’s able to provide for her baby,” she adds. A 2011 study from the University of North Carolina suggests the opposite link may exist, as well: New moms who have negative breastfeeding experiences within the first two weeks had an increased risk of PPD.

Alcohol helps with milk letdown

MYTH

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, booze is not a galactagogue, which is a substance that promotes milk production. (Studies have shown that drinking beer can boost hormones associated with breast milk creation, but it’s actually the barley and hops that are responsible.) So what actually helps with milk letdown? Relaxation for mom, and skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, Mason says. “When moms put babies up to their chests, their hormones just go wild,” she says.

You can’t breastfeed after breast surgery

MYTH

Mason has seen many women with breast implants nurse their babies successfully; these surgeries often involve incisions on the underside of the breast that don’t interfere with milk production or delivery. Women who have had breast reductions, on the other hand, may have more difficulty—especially if nerve endings around the nipple have been cut. “You may not know until you try to nurse,” Mason says.

It makes your boobs sag

MYTH

One reason many women with breast implants don’t breastfeed (or stop earlier than planned) is because they think it will change the appearance of their breasts, according to a 2011 study from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons. But, as the study authors point out, it’s the number of pregnancies a woman has—not whether she breastfeeds—that causes breasts to sag over time. That’s true with or without implants.

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It’s supposed to be painful

MYTH

“A lot of moms expect breastfeeding to hurt, and it is true that mom’s nipples may feel tender for the first couple of weeks,” says Mason. “But if the baby’s latching properly, there shouldn’t be real pain or soreness.” That’s why it’s so important to talk to a lactation consultant at the hospital (and perhaps after you go home) who can help you and your baby make the process as comfortable as possible, she adds.

It’s important to stay hydrated

FACT

Not drinking enough water can certainly affect how much milk you’re making, says Mason, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated (among other reasons). But you don’t have to go overboard, she cautions: “You don’t have to drink until it’s coming out of your ears; in fact, research suggests that overhydration can also decrease milk production, just as dehydration can.” Judge your hydration levels by your urine color, she recommends: light yellow means you’re drinking enough, dark means you should sip more.

Health.com: 14 Weird Reasons You’re Dehydrated

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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.

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