TIME

Mothers Talk Differently to Daughters than Sons: Study

Young school girl holding mother's hand, close-up
Lisa Stirling—Getty Images

They use more emotional language, which has an effect on girls' worldview

Most mothers would tell you they speak to all their children the same way. A new study suggests they might be deceived. In a study published yesterday in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, authors Ana Aznar and Harriet Tenenbaum found that mothers are more likely to use emotional words and emotional content when speaking with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

What’s more, since mothers tend to use more emotion-laden language than fathers do, they are often unknowingly perpetuating gender stereotypes in their children. On the plus side, though, it may be why women tend to have a higher emotional intelligence than men.

“We know…that children imitate same-gendered models [i.e. girls imitate moms and boys imitate dads] more than different-gendered models,” says Tenenbaum, associate professor of psychology at the University of Surrey, in an interview with TIME. “So they are taught that emotions are more acceptable for women than for men.” (Insert emotionally-unavailable husband/father/boyfriend joke here.)

Tenenbaum points out that learning emotional intelligence is incredibly important for children in terms of school success, getting along with teachers and having good peer relations. “[Past studies have shown that] children who are better able to show emotions in kindergarten did better in the 4th grade than kids who didn’t,” she says. Moreover, “children who use more emotional words are more popular in nursery school. People would rather be around someone who can understand and interpret emotions.” And kids who understand emotions better tend to have higher performance in school even after controlling for intelligence, she notes.

In this new study, researchers videotaped 65 Spanish mothers and fathers along with their 4-year-old and 6-year-old children during a storytelling task and then during a conversation about a past experience. The subjects lived in middle-to-upper-class neighborhoods. On the first visit, the mother or the father and the child were taped in conversation. Within a week, the other parent and the child came in and talked about a similar subject. The videotaped conversations were transcribed and emotion words like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “love,” “concern,” and “fear,” were singled out.

Mothers used a higher proportion of emotional words than fathers did with both 4 and 6-year olds, which is consistent with studies performed in the U.S. But they were particularly expressive with their 4-year old daughters. “American mothers and fathers do similar things in enforcing emotions,” says Tenenbaum. The theory is that mothers may be more comfortable talking about their emotions than fathers. Children might therefore think it is more appropriate for girls to talk about feelings. In fact, daughters were more likely than sons to speak about their emotions with their fathers when talking about past experiences. And during these reminiscing conversations, fathers used more emotion-laden words with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

Aznar and Tenenbaum did a few things in this study that made it different from previous ones. They added fathers to the equation, when most studies looking at emotions have focused only on mothers, and they examined Spanish families, which hadn’t been looked at before, because they wanted to see how patterns played out across different cultures.

And most importantly, the authors tested the children to determine their baseline emotional comprehension. They quizzed them on what people in various situations might be feeling and found that emotional understanding was the same for 4-year-old boys and girls. Thus, emotional intelligence is not an innate quality of females. Since the pretest didn’t show that 4-year-old girls understand emotions any better than boys, the fact that parents talk in more emotional terms to daughters over sons can’t be explained away by saying parents do this because they believe girls understand emotions better. “We didn’t find any difference in the children’s understanding of emotions in the pretest,” says Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum was surprised that mothers and fathers continue to perpetuate the stereotypes. “Most parents say they want boys to be more expressive, but don’t know [they] are speaking differently to them,” she says.

Parents should try to teach boys about emotion as much as possible, says Tenenbaum, and use emotion-laden language with both sons and daughters. “We are beyond the point in society where boys are taught never to express emotions,” she says. “We need to model for them how to appropriately express emotions. These are learned stereotypes and we are reinforcing them as a society.”

 

 

 

TIME Parenting

7 Things More Offensive Than Breastfeeding in Restaurants

Smartphone photo before fine dining
Thomas Lai Yin Tang—Flickr/Getty Images

Plantiffs are flirting with near fatal levels of hypocrisy, as patrons can commit some truly outrageous sins during their meals

I have a confession to make. Before I had kids, I was uncomfortable with moms breastfeeding their babies in public. Specifically, I thought it was offensive when they did it in restaurants.

My narrow view at the time saw it as women exposing themselves at tables populated by men, women and children simply trying to enjoy a meal. Why couldn’t they do that out in the car or in the bathroom? At the very least they could cover up and sit off in the corner. It’s just common decency, right?

Naturally, once I became a father and gained some perspective, I realized how ridiculous I was being. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to nurture a baby and one of the most natural and instinctive things a mother can do for her child. It isn’t something that should be hidden away or made out as shameful. If anything, it should be celebrated and encouraged.

But when restaurants make news for shaming breastfeeding moms, it’s particularly grating.

Any restaurant employees or patrons upset at breastfeeding moms are flirting with near fatal levels of hypocrisy, as there are some truly annoying things that happen during meals that are far more offensive than a woman breastfeeding her child. So in observance of World Breastfeeding Week, here are my top seven.

7. Personal Cell Phone Conversations

So, you think breastfeeding moms are revealing too much? Then I hope you’re not one of the dozens of people who go out to dinner and inevitably have awkwardly personal cell phone conversations within earshot of everyone. A mother feeding her child isn’t nearly as offensive and inappropriate as a room full of strangers knowing intricate details of your most recent colonoscopy.

6. Splitting the Check

As someone who worked in restaurants, I can say without a shadow of a doubt I’d rather wait on an army of breastfeeding moms than deal with one large group who hands over 10 different credit cards and asks to split the bill evenly. If anyone should go to the bathroom and feel shame for a few minutes, it’s check-splitters.

5. The Sound of Your Eating

Misophonia: a neurological disorder in which negative experiences are triggered by specific sounds. While some people claim they need bleach for their eyes after seeing the “horror” of a woman’s partially exposed breast giving the milk of life to her baby, that same person could be horrifying nearby diners with lip-smacking, open-mouthed, wet chewing noises that easily drown out any sound of suckling from the baby.

4. Bad Tipping

Too many people complain about seeing gratuitous flesh when moms are feeding their babies, and not paying enough attention to leaving the waiter or waitress an adequate gratuity. It’s ironic these people are full of generous suggestions for mothers regarding how, when and where to feed their children, yet their generosity is nowhere to be found when it’s time to leave a tip.

3. Taking Pictures of Food

Stop. Instagramming. Your. Dinner. People complain about nursing mothers in restaurants being exhibitionists, yet they’re taking 27 pictures of the food they’re about to consume so they can post it on various social media platforms for the world to see. At least breastfeeding is productive.

2. Hitting on the Wait Staff

Women baring their breasts in restaurants are inappropriate and unbecoming? That’s funny, since I’ve seen moron after moron staring at the breasts (and other parts) of their waitress, and then engage in a pathetic attempt to hit on her. For people so quick to be the moral arbiters of breastfeeding in public, decorum quickly disintegrates when it comes to their delusions of grandeur regarding their waitress’s nonexistent romantic interest.

1. Drunk People

We get it, you think breastfeeding in public is gross. Do you know how we know you think that? It’s because your “drunk whisper” is actually a sonic boom reaching even the far corners of the restaurant. While these people lament the lack of common decency amongst breastfeeding moms, they seem to have no care in the world when it comes to screaming, being belligerent and making drunken asses of themselves while mothers quietly feed their kids.

If we’re going to encourage mothers to breastfeed, then we need to get over ourselves and stop sexualizing breastfeeding. We also need to stop making mothers feel ashamed and self-conscious for it, while attempting to relegate them to the bathroom during feedings. And if common sense isn’t enough to make this a reality, then we need more laws on the books protecting the rights of moms to feed their kids not just in restaurants, but anywhere out in public.

Aaron Gouveia is a husband, father of two boys, and writes for his site, The Daddy Files.

TIME motherhood

The Top 16 Breastfeeding Controversies

Almost any discussion of how and when we feed our babies sets off a national debate. So to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2014 (yes, that exists), here’s a look at 16 nursing controversies, from the fracas over an Angelina Jolie breastfeeding statue to the suckling husbands phenomenon, and of course, TIME’s 2012 cover about mothers who nurse their kids into late toddlerhood:

 

  • What Starbucks Tells Employees About Breastfeeding Customers

    In a sign of how supercharged the emotions have become about public nursing, a Canadian midwife’s tale of nursing her baby at a local Starbucks in Ottawa went a little viral in early July 2014, getting picked up by news outlets around the globe. The story was, to many, a heartwarming one: after a woman complained to a young, male barista that another woman was breastfeeding without a modesty shield, the barista said he’d take care of it. However, instead of telling the nursing mom to cover up, he just brought her an extra coffee for having to deal with the unpleasantness.

    This is not actually Starbucks’ official policy. In fact, Starbucks doesn’t have an official policy on breastfeeding, according to spokeswoman Laurel Harper. The cappu-chain does have an official policy about making customers feel welcome, Harper noted (several times). “We empower our local partners to reach a decision about how best to make a customer’s experience a positive one,” she says. It was up to the employee to decide which customer in this case was going to have a less-positive experience.

    –Belinda Luscombe

  • Why All the Controversy About a Black Woman Breastfeeding?

    When Karlesha Thurman posted a photo of herself breastfeeding during her college graduation ceremony in June 2014, she never expected to stir up a national controversy about breastfeeding and race. She was met with a flurry of negative comments about her decision to nurse her daughter in public.

    “I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding of breast-feeding,” Thurman, 25, told the Today Show. “It’s not disgusting, it’s not a bad thing, it’s not a negative thing.”

    The photo put a spotlight on the African American community’s complicated relationship with breastfeeding. After some of the more negative comments were tweeted, the photo was picked up by Black Women Do Breastfeed, a page devoted to celebrating black women who nurse.

    Charlotte Alter

  • Mexico City Breast-Feeding Campaign Draws Backlash

    Mexico City’s May 2014 health campaign to encourage new mothers to nurse has left a sour taste in health advocates’ mouths due to campaign posters that feature topless celebrities.

    The posters show famous women without shirts or bras on, with a banner reading, “No les des la espalda, dale pecho,”or “Don’t turn you back on them, give them your breast,” strategically placed across their chests. Health advocates are peeved that the campaign both sexualizes women and faults those who choose not to breast-feed, rather than simply emphasizing the benefits of doing so.

    Eliana Dockterman

  • ‘My Husband Wants to Breastfeed:’ The Phenomenon Nobody Talks About But Everyone Googles

    It’s the suckle that dare not speak its name. In worldwide Google searches, “my husband wants me to breastfeed him” is a more popular search term than “my husband wants to separate” and “my husband wants a baby”combined.

    Um, what? In May 2014, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz originally reported these numbers in the New York Times, and most of that breastfeeding search traffic is coming from India. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that breastmilk is becoming a delicacy in India, it does suggest a lot of interest. And it begs the question: is this really a thing?

    Absolutely, says Dr. Wendy Walsh, a relationship expert and self-described “dairy queen” who nursed each of her children until they were 3. “Every breastfeeding mother I ever knew said their husband asked to drink it,” she says adding that the father of her child also asked to nurse once in a while.

    Charlotte Alter

  • “If I Could, I Would”: Photographs of Breastfeeding Dads

    Project: Breastfeeding
    Hector Cruz—Project: Breastfeeding

    A March 2014 ad campaign showed photos of fathers in solidarity with breastfeeding mothers. The campaign was spearheaded by Project Breastfeeding and featured shirtless men with their children a caption of, “If I Could, I Would.”

    TIME Photo

  • Controversial Time Breastfeeding Cover

    TIME Cover May 21, 2012
    MARTIN SCHOELLER—TIME

    TIME stirred up its own breastfeeding controversy when the magazine featured a photo of 26-year-old Jamie Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on a May 2012 cover. Critics questioned both the decision to breastfeed a child that old and the choice to put the photo on TIME‘s cover.

    In the onslaught of reaction that followed, including death threats sent to Grumet, the mother restated her support of both her breastfeeding choice and the magazine’s cover photo decision. “The statement that I wanted to make was this is a normal option for your child and it should not be stigmatized,” Grumet said. “I’m never saying this is for everybody, but it should be something that’s accepted.”

    Joan E. Greve

  • Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama

    First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial Center, Tuesday, March 3, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia.
    First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial Center, Tuesday, March 3, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Brandon—AP

    Michelle Obama probably didn’t expect her February 2011 campaign to promote breastfeeding to cause such a fuss. Then Sarah Palin weighed in: “It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you betterbreast-feed your baby. Yeah, you better — because the price of milk is so high right now!” After that, mom blogs on both the right and the left piled on, saying that Obama was putting too much pressure on mothers to nurse. Meanwhile, a number of newspapers dug up information showing that as governor of Alaska, Palin herself promoted breast feeding.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • The Realistic Breastfeeding Baby Doll

    Breast Milk Baby Doll
    Amazon

    The Breast Milk Baby — boringly renamed from the unfortunately titled “Bebé Glotón” (Glutton Baby) — is nothing if not good at grabbing headlines. The Spanish doll that simulates breastfeeding caught the attention of American morning shows in 2010 before it had made it across the ocean. The $69 doll made news again in 2011 after its manufacturer, Berjuan Toys, announced that the product was being released in the U.S. market.

    The doll, which is sold with a brassiere-like harness for a child, suckles when pressed against strategically placed magnetic daisies positioned precisely where any real baby goes to nurse. Plenty of people, including women, have recoiled and squealed “gross!”, but why the toy nursling is so controversial goes to the roots of Americans’ squeamishness with breast-feeding in general.

    Bonnie Rochman

  • Julie Bowen’s Revealing Photo

    The star of ABC’s smash hit Modern Family, Julie Bowen, made waves in May 2010 when she released a photo of herself topless and breast-feeding her twin sons in what’s called the “football hold” — a position that allows twins to nurse simultaneously. The image, taken from above, shows Bowen’s bare chest with the two babies latched on. When Bowen told George Lopez on TBS’ Lopez Tonight that she wasn’t allowed to show the photo on ABC’s The View, he promptly displayed it for so long that Bowen got a little embarrassed. And that was before Lopez put up Photoshopped images of the babies suctioning up various other things like the Gulf oil spill. And while Bowen may regret ever releasing the image, at least she didn’t pass judgment on women who don’t breast-feed.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Breastfeeding School-Age Kids

    A still from the documentary Extraordinary Breastfeeding Extraordinary Breastfeeding

    There’s lots of debate over how long to breast-feed, yet most Americans would agree that by the time a child reaches kindergarten, it’s time to stop. But not Amanda Hurst. The 29-year-old mother made headlines in 2010 by defending her decision to breastfeed both her 6-year-old and her 5-month-old. And she’s not the most extreme case. A 2006 British documentary, Extraordinary Breastfeeding, featured a mother who breast-fed her 8-year-old; viewers on YouTube have likened the practice to child abuse. And while nursing past the age of 1 is considered “extended breast feeding” in the U.S. and most Western countries, in India and parts of Africa, children are more commonly weaned later, usually between the ages of 3 and 4.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Facebook Accused of Censoring Breastfeeding Photos

    In 2009, Facebook endured the wrath of women who noticed that photos of them breast feeding were being deleted from their profiles — even when the photos were designated as viewable by friends and family only. Facebook countered by saying that photos with nipples showing are a violation of their policies (which permit the removal of photos deemed obscene or pornographic). The company added that almost all the images they removed were flagged by other users.

    The controversy hasn’t seemed to hurt Facebook much. In fact, instead of quitting the social network in protest, some of the mothers started a Facebook page to organize their cause. The“Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene” page now has more than 250,000 members and nearly 7,000 photos of babies nursing. The page has become somewhat of a hub for news about breast-feeding rights and other mothering issues.

    Facebook has since updated its policy to allow for photos of mothers nursing on the social media site. “We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re glad to know that it’s important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook,” their policy now reads.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Salma Hayek Breastfeeds an African Baby

    Actress Salma Hayek opened up a whole new kind of breastfeeding debate in 2009 when a video of her nursing a hungry baby boy in Sierra Leone surfaced on YouTube. Hayek told ABC’s Nightline that she fed the newborn in an effort to promote breastfeeding in a region that has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the world, mainly due to malnutrition.

    And while HIV transmission via breast feeding is a concern throughout Africa, and international health guidelines advise HIV-positive mothers to avoid breast feeding when an alternative source of nourishment is “acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe,” those conditions aren’t often met in places like Sierra Leone where starvation is an immediate threat.

    Hayek won praise for her mission, and the video prompted a wave of discussion over whether Western countries should be donating breast milk to nations in need instead of, or in addition to, infant formula.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • A Proformula Onesie?

    Old Navy

    A simple $5 Old Navy T-shirt for babies set off a firestorm in 2009, thanks to what the company thought was a clever illustration of a baby bottle and the words “Formula Powered.” Breast-feeding advocates called for a boycott of the chain for encouraging baby formula over breast milk. “It was not meant to be anti–breastfeeding,” said Louise Callagy, spokeswoman of Gap Inc., Old Navy’s parent company, who also pointed out that Old Navy also manufactures nursing bras and tops. The onesie was part of a fall clothing collection with a racing theme. Cate Nelson, a blogger at the green-parenting site Eco Child’s Play wasn’t convinced. In a statement sure to inflame bottle-feeding parents, she said, “Formula simply isn’t the healthy option. So, why doesn’t Old Navy know it?”

    —Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • The Angelina Jolie Breast-Feeding Statue

    Daniel Edwards

    In 2009, sculptor Daniel Edwards took it upon himself to depict actress Angelina Jolie seated while feeding twin infants simultaneously for an odd-looking work entitled Landmark for Breastfeeding. The New York–based artist favors celebrity subjects, including a much publicized sculpture of Britney Spears giving birth nude, which he described as “pro-life.”

    Edwards says the sculpture was originally inspired by W magazine’s 2008 cover of Jolie nursing one of her newborn twins, Vivienne and Knox. And while that image of Jolie was widely welcomed by breastfeeding advocates, it’s not entirely clear whether the grim-looking Jolie statue would inspire an increase in nursing.

    —Susanna Schrobsdorff
  • Woman Kicked Off a Plane for Breastfeeding

    Women breastfeed their babies at the Hir
    Women breastfeed their babies at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington on February 12, 2011 during a "nurse-in." Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images

    A legal dispute over public breastfeeding began in 2006 when Emily Gillette said that a Delta Connection flight attendant told her to get off the plane when she refused to cover up while nursing her 22-month-old daughter. Gillette filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, claiming that she was sitting discreetly by the window with her husband in the aisle seat when a flight attendant gave her a blanket. After Gillette declined the blanket, she was escorted off the plane.

    The incident sparked “nurse-ins” at Delta counters across the country. And while both Delta and its partner Freedom Airlines, which operated Gillette’s flight on behalf of Delta, have apologized and reaffirmed the right of women to breastfeed on their planes, Gillette filed a civil suit against Delta in the U.S. District Court in the fall of 2009.

    Gillette settled with the airlines for an undisclosed amount in March 2012.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

  • Redbook’s Breastfeeding Cover

    In 1997, Redbook magazine came out with what was then a fairly revolutionary cover featuring actor Pierce Brosnan gazing adoringly at his girlfriend Keely Shaye Smith as she breastfeeds their infant son. The image didn’t reveal more of Smith’s bosom than your average Oscar gown, but nonetheless, that cover only appeared on newsstands while a more traditional image of the family was on the version that went to subscribers. Editor in chief Kate White explained that the magazine produced two covers for the first time in its history because the editors didn’t want “to force the image on anyone.” Meanwhile, some convenience-store-chain owners said that if customers complained, they reserved the right to move the controversial breast-feeding cover behind the counter along with risqué men’s magazines like Playboy.

    Susanna Schrobsdorff

TIME White House

Obama Wants Federal Workers to Have More Family Time

President Barack Obama speaks at the first White House Summit on Working Families
President Barack Obama joins several working parents, (l-r) Roger Trombley, Lisa Rumain, and Shelby Ramirez for lunch at a nearby Chipotle restaurant prior to speakinging at the first White House Summit on Working Families at the Omni Hotel in Washington, June 23, 2014. Martin H. Simon—Corbis

Executive actions to work around Congress in an election year

President Barack Obama announced executive actions Monday that would give federal employees more flexibility to take time off to care for their families.

During a White House Summit on Working Families, Obama said it was time for business leaders and lawmakers to create work environments that respect employees’ lives outside the office. “Twenty-first century families deserve 21st-century workplaces,” Obama said Monday afternoon. “Our economy demands them because its going to help us compete.”

Obama accused Congress on stalling on policies that would benefit working families, and the executive actions he took Monday, while not far reaching, were his latest attempt to work around Capitol Hill in a midterm election year. Obama instructed government agencies to provide workers with the flexibility to take time off to care for sick family members, to take breaks to nurse, and to telecommute when necessary without running the risk of punishment.

“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth,” Obama said . “That’s a pretty low bar.”

At the summit, business leaders and Democrats gathered to discuss policies that could benefit American workers, with CEOs from Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs scheduled to appear alongside the President, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Democrats spent the day touting policies that have helped them maintain an advantage with women voters, but Obama said Monday that workplace issues—from workplace flexibility to raising the minimum wage—should not be thought of as issues that solely impact women.

“At a time when women are nearly half of our workforce,” Obama said. “Anything that makes life harder for women, makes life harder for families, and makes life harder for children. There’s no such thing as a women’s issue; this is a family issue. This is an American issue.”

More than 40% of mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners, and yet still make on average 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, according to a U.S. Council of Economic Advisors report released ahead of the summit (conservatives have called the 77-cents figure misleading). Men, however, are spending more time as caregivers than ever before.

Republicans dismissed the summit as a political ploy for women voters ahead of the midterm elections.

“It’s unfortunate that President Obama and the Democrats see women only as an electoral opportunity,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “How do we know this? President Obama could have held a bill signing ceremony instead of a politically-minded summit if he and Harry Reid would act on legislation to help working families that is being held up in the Senate.”

TIME Family

Having a Second Baby Makes Moms Less Happy Than Dads

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Smiling family of four sitting in bed together Monashee Frantz—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

Dads, however, are pretty happy after the birth of baby number two

The birth of a first child usually brings both parents great joy, but new analysis shows that a mother’s happiness begins to wane after the second.

According to the FiveThirtyEight blog, 60% of men and women say they feel an increase or decrease in happiness after the first child is born. For baby number two, however, the numbers shift. About 65% of women report being less happy after their second child enters the world, compared to 40% of men.

But a second baby doesn’t just significantly impact a couple’s happiness, the little bundle of joy can be a burden (or blessing) for couples’ relationships too.

According to the data, derived from the annual General Social Survey, a National Opinion Research Center survey that examines societal change, women are less likely to be dissatisfied in their relationships after the second child than men. About 85% of men reportedly feel less satisfied in their relationship as their family expands, compared to 51% of women.

So while mom is overwhelmed by the stress of raising kids, dad is growing less satisfied in the relationship. Great news to kick off Father’s Day weekend, huh?

[FiveThirtyEight]

TIME Family

Divorce: Shared Custody of Kids is on the Rise

Custody to moms only may soon be a thing of the past

Fewer mothers than ever are being given sole custody of their children as shared custody is on the rise.

A new study of Wisconsin Court Records published in Demography shows that from 1988 to 2008, the percentage of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their kids plummeted from 80% to 42%, but that was accompanied by a steep rise in joint custody arrangements. Over the same period of time, equal shared custody rose from 5% to 27% and unequal shared custody rose from 3% to 18%. Father-only custody stayed roughly the same the whole time, hovering around 10%.

The study doesn’t cover kids who are born into single-parent households, just households that have gone through a divorce, which is why it might seem a bit misleading– 45% of American babies are born to unmarried mothers, but those custody arrangements aren’t studied here.

TIME Family

Americans More Likely to Care for Ailing Mom Than Dad

But dads are more popular patients

You better work on your relationship with your mom, because Americans are more than twice as likely to care for an ailing mother as for a father or spouse, according to a new poll.

Over 40% of Americans say they’ve provided long-term care for a sick mother, but only 17% say they’ve cared for an ailing father, according to the Associated Press/NORC released Monday. That probably has more to do with life expectancy than favoritism. What’s more, 83% of caregivers say providing long-term care has been a rewarding experience, and almost 8 in 10 say it’s strengthened their relationships with the care recipient.

But it’s spouses who cause the real stress, meaning “in sickness and in health” may be one of the most difficult wedding vows to keep. Over 60% of those who have cared for an ailing spouse say it’s caused stress in their families, compared to about 55% for other relatives. And 50% of those who’ve cared for a spouse say it’s been a drain on personal finances, while that number hovers closer to 20-30% for parents or in-laws.

Fathers end up being pretty popular when it comes to long-term care. Over 80% of those who have cared for a sick father say it’s been a positive experience and strengthened their relationship with their dad.

TIME movies

The Good, the Bad and the Mommy: Five Great Movie Mothers, and the Five Worst

When she was good, she was very good; and when she was bad, she was horrible

On their annual Day, Mothers get candy, flowers or a brand new hat from their kids. Most moms deserve the gifts; and Hollywood often chipped in too. American cinema is full of films that emphasized the heroism of the maternal impulse — flinty, passionate and self-sacrificing — as indicated in the five pictures we’ve chosen, from 1940 to the current decade.

But villainy, whether cunning or deranged, has motivated some of the most memorable movie moms. They deserve mention as well: five harridans from Hell. To all these women, and to the brilliant actresses who brought them to screen life, Happy Mother’s Day.

TOP FIVE GREAT MOTHERS

1. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, 1940

Following the pioneer trail, the Joad family went West — from devastated Dust Bowl Oklahoma to California, “the Golden State” — to find work. They find tragedy instead, and only the flinty optimism of their matriarch, Ma Joad, sustains them. Directed by John Ford from John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath wrings every drop of rage and pathos out of the plight of desperate farmers, ten years into the Depression. Tom (Henry Fonda) is the firebrand of the family, Ma the hearth. Darwell, who earned a Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, had the last inspiring words for the American underclass: “They can’t wipe us out; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.” As men go to war and kill, so women give life. Their bodies are the arsenals of future generations.

2. Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce in Mildred Pierce, 1945

Her ex-husband (Bruce Bennett) was shiftless and her teenage daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) is needy. Mothers strive so their children can thrive, and Mildred Pierce goes to work as a waitress in a restaurant. Her drive and brains build that menial job into ownership of a restaurant chain and the fancy home, clothes and status that Veda thinks is her birthright. Yet she despises her mother for earning money the old-fashioned way: by earning it. Veda wants to be more than moneyed; she wants to be Old Money. So when Mildred marries the polo-playing Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), she schemes to take him too. Crawford, an Oscar-winner as Mildred, was no saint to her own adopted children; Mommie Dearest proved that. But she is plenty persuasive here, capturing the nobility of a working mother ready to sacrifice almost anything for a rotten kid.

3. Claudia McNeil as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, 1961

With her late husband’s $10,000 insurance policy, Lena hopes to move her family — her 35-year-old son Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier), his wife Ruth (Ruby Dee) and their boy Travis, plus daughter Beneatha (Diana Sands), a college student — out of their two-bedroom apartment in a Chicago ghetto to the integrated suburbs. In Lorraine Hansberry’s magnificent play, now revived on Broadway with Denzel Washington as Walter Lee, plays no favorites among the Youngers: they all have big ideas and strong wills — and, as Ruth tells Lena, “it takes a strong woman like you to keep ’em in hand.” Poitier, who like the rest of the cast had appeared in the play, was the star attraction, but McNeil (just six-and-a-half years older than Poitier) is the dominant force. She plants her ample frame at the center of the screen and rarely yields the spatial foreground or moral high ground.
4. Susan Sarandon as Michaela Odone in Lorenzo’s Oil, 1992

The earthiest Earth Mother in American movies, Sarandon has tangled with such screen children as Jake Gyllenhaal (Moonlight Mile), Natalie Portman (Anywhere But Here), Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown) and her own daughter Eva Amurri (Middle of Nowhere). This summer she’ll be Melissa McCarthy’s ornery grandma in the road comedy Tammy. The Sarandon mother faced her gravest challenge in Lorenzo’s Oil, in which she and Nick Nolte play a married couple sucker-punched by fate: their son has a dreadful disease, whose incurability the wife is loath to accept. The parents share an intimate closeup, nearly three minutes long, whose focus gradually shifts from Nolte describing the disease to Sarandon’s dawning dread as she realizes the consequences. Tears drop simultaneously from both eyes, as if the last of this mother’s illusions had been squeezed out of her. In a moment of spectacular subtlety, Sarandon shows how accepting bad news can be a mother’s most taxing form of heroism.

5. Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln, 2012

The former Gidget and Flying Nun won Oscars playing two feisty moms: the factory worker in Norma Rae and the Depression Texas farm owner in Places in the Heart. She raised Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias, and Tom Hanks to be Forrest Gump, and she’s a wonder of love and grieving as Peter Parker’s aunt in the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Her Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s film was less nurturing than nudging: advising her president husband (Daniel Day-Lewis) on political tactics and pleading with him to keep their son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from joining the Union Army. “She was complicated and brilliant,” Field told TIME, “and she would not be looked at fondly.” Really, though, what viewer doesn’t look fondly at Sally Field?

TOP FIVE MALEVOLENT MOMS

1. Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate, 1962

Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh were among two of the three top-billed stars, but the central, unforgettable tension is between Mrs. Iselin, the scheming wife of a Joe McCarthy-type Senator, and her son Raymond (Laurence Harvey), a Cold War cold-fish misfit who quite systematically kills eight people and, in the twisted logic of this acerbic thriller, is kind of the hero. He and his mother, both dripping sarcasm like formic acid, are two exceptional, odious creatures whom genetics and geopolitics have consigned to a death match. Amid the espionage, brainwashing and political assassinations (the movie came out a year before JFK’s death in Dallas), the most toxic moment is when Mrs. I explains her nefarious plan to subvert two warring nations. Then she gives her son a big slimy smooch on the lips; mother love never seemed so despotic or desperate.

2. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, 1981

In 1946, when Joan Crawford won her Mildred Pierce Oscar, she was making life miserable for her adopted daughter Christina. In the film version of Christina’s sad, vengeful memoir, Dunaway plays the star as monster mother in a horror movies. (Joan, in the rose garden: “Tina, bring me the axe!”) She treats the girl, played by Mara Hobel as a child and Diana Scarwid as an adult, like a scullery maid; she demeans her, beats her, nearly chokes her to death. No less hurtful is Joan’s trick of seeming the victim—“You love to make me hit you!”—to a daughter whose fear and devotion she demands in equal doses. When she insisted that Christina call her “mommie dearest,” Faye’s Joan says, “I wanted you to mean it.” Director’s Frank Perry movie lurches between operatic high camp and a catalog of child abuse, between operatic high camp. In the infamous scene of Joan whupping the young Christina with a wire coat hanger, Dunaway rises to sick, satanic majesty. Unlike many over-the top performances, this one is not a pleasure but an ordeal to watch—a scary-great turn.

3. Anjelica Huston as Lilly Dillon in The Grifters, 1990

Mothers in crime movies — White Heat, Bloody Mama, the Australian chiller Animal Kingdom — were every bit as devoted to their children as were Ma Joad or Mary Todd Lincoln. It just happened that their kids’ line of work was on the wrong side of the law, and crime moms were their ferocious enablers, sometimes encouraging their felonies and occasionally masterminding them. But even among this disreputable brood, Lilly Dillon, in Stephen Frears’ movie of the Donald E. Westlake novel, stands out like Lady Macbeth in a police lineup. A career con-woman, or grifter, Lilly has a son, Roy (John Cusack) into the family business, though they work separately. In friendlier moments, she treats him less as a boy than as a beau; that’s creepy. And when she feels conned by Roy, she can find a reason to kill him. Not protective but predatory, Lilly consumes her young for the same reason a mama scorpion does: she’s still hungry.

4. Mo’Nique as Mary Johnston in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, 2009

Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is an illiterate, grossly obese 16-year-old whose wildly abusive mother Mary allows Claireece’s father to have sex with the girl; he has already impregnated her twice. Mary bends her own talents for abuse to verbal and physical torrents against her daughter. In one tirade (with the obscenities excised here), she roars, “I shoulda aborted your ass! . . . I knew it when the doctor put you in my goddam hand you wasn’t a goddam thing!” Mary has a pathetic rationalization for permitting Claireece’s father’s depredations: if she doesn’t, he won’t have sex with her, and he’s all she’s got. Mo’Nique won an Oscar for summoning all the rage, and a bit of poignancy, in this all-time most vile, deplorable, eye-magnetizing monster movie mother: Momzilla.

5. Laura Hope Crews as Mrs. Phelps in The Silver Cord, 1933

“You’ll love Mother, she’s marvelous,” David Phelps (Joel McCrea) tells his bride Christina (Irene Dunne) at the beginning of this little-known bad-mother masterpiece, based on Sydney Howard’s 1926 play. In fact, Mrs. Phelps is a marvel of scheming, suffocating possessiveness. Jovial, when it suits her, and doting, to a fault, she employs flutter and bluster to shackle her grown sons David and Robert (Eric Linden) and divert outsiders. At her country home, she convinces David and Christina to sleep in separate rooms, while she visits David, sits on his bed, holds his hand and dulcetly plots to rid him of his wife. Crews, reprising her Broadway role under John Cromwell’s direction (he staged both the play and the film), reveals Mrs. Phelps’s evil artfully, gradually, like the slow opening of a Venus flytrap. But the movie allows the heroine Dunne to render stern judgment on maternal love turned rancid: “You’re not fit to be anyone’s mother.”

Adapted from Richard Corliss’s Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Mothers You Love (And a Few You Love to Hate), presented by Turner Classic Movies and published by Simon & Schuster.

TIME movies

Mom in the Movies: How Disney Killed Off Mothers, and Pixar Liberated Them

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Pixar/Disney

In classic animated features like Dumbo and Bambi, mothers were often an endangered species (and in the case of Frozen, still are). It took a half-century before Pixar showed moms who could be strong (The Incredibles) and, well, hairy (Brave)

How many mothers have emerged from a family trip to a Disney movie and been obliged to explain the facts of death to their sobbing young? A conservative estimate: the tens of millions, since the studio’s first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. Innocent parents might have thought that a musical cartoon version of a fairy tale would be a child’s ideal introduction to movie magic. Yet Walt Disney taught moral lessons in the most useful way: by scaring the poop out of the little ones.

As kids watched Snow White succumb to the poison apple proffered by the witch who was also her stepmother, they literally stained the seats of movie palaces with the first rush of primal anguish. Disney features, especially the early ones, were horror movies with cute critters, Greek tragedies with a hummable chorus. Forcing children to confront the loss of home, parent, friends and fondest pets, these films imposed shock therapy on four-year-olds. That psychic jolt could last a lifetime — or at least until the toddlers grew up and subjected their own children to the very same animated ordeals that they had undergone at the same age.

Those first Disney classics defined childhood as an unrelenting series of nightmares. In a backstory that suggests a palace murder spree as lurid as Hamlet Act Five, Princess Snow White (voiced by Adriana Casselotti) has been orphaned, with the dead King and Queen replaced by a stepmother (Lucille La Verne) who forces the dauphine into scullery-maid servitude. As vain as she is vindictive, the new Queen reacts to her talking mirror’s news that she is no longer “the fairest of them all” by ordering a huntsman to kill Snow White. The girl can survive only by fleeing her home and depending on the kindness of seven small strangers, for whom she cooks, cleans up and enforces cheerful discipline — becoming, in essence, the dwarfs’ doting mother.

To their young consumers, the Disney cartoon masterpieces sent mixed signals. Snow White must leave home to live; but when the puppet hero in Pinocchio (1940) goes AWOL from his creator and father-figure Gepetto, a Faginesque kidnapper named Stromboli tells the wooden boy, “When you grow too old, you will make good firewood.” In Snow White, a huntsman saves the heroine; but midway through Bambi (1942) —perhaps the most shocking moment in any Disney fable — another man with a rifle mistakes the deer’s mother for disposable game. One creature’s mother is another’s lunch.

(FIND: Bambi among the 25 all-TIME Best Horror Movies)

Indeed, among the most endangered of all Disney denizens were mothers — a fact that should have terrified the kids sitting next to their own moms in a darkened movie house. (Keep holding her hand, little one, to make sure she’s still alive.) A young boy or girl was naturally invested in the adventures of the movies’ young heroes or heroines, and would infer that their mothers were his or her mother. So what happens? Bambi’s mother dies in an act of random violence. In Dumbo (1941), the circus elephant Mrs. Jumbo is the loving single mom of her baby Jumbo Jr., who has been derisively nicknamed because of his outsize ears. When a boy at one performance cruelly pulls on Dumbo’s ears, Mrs. J. stomps forward to protect him and inadvertently causes a stampede. She is consigned to a madhouse, and her child to a life of pachyderm vagabondage in the company of a helpful mouse and some jive-talking crows.

The Disney animators’ rules on adult females: mothers are perfect but imperiled; stepmothers are wicked and occasionally homicidal; godmothers are sweet things with magical powers. Recall that the aristocratic widower father in Cinderella (1950) unwisely thought the girl needed maternal guidance and married the haughty Lady Tremaine. When the disposable dad dies, Tremaine and her gawky daughters Anastasia and Drizella treat Cinderella like a despised menial. The stepmother’s dictatorship finds its liberating equal in the Fairy Godmother’s magic. Say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” and a pumpkin is transformed into a royal coach and the girl’s rags into a silver blue dress, with glass slippers to catch a Prince’s eye and heart.

(GALLERY: 13 Disney Princesses and the Actresses Who Voiced Them)

Fairy godmothers, like the Witches of Oz, can be benign or malign. In Sleeping Beauty (1959), the blessings of three kindly fairies can barely hold off the curse of the evil Maleficent (voiced by the same actress, Eleanor Audley, who had played Lady Tremaine) on the princess Briar Rose. That 1959 film was the last animated fairy tale produced by Disney before Walt’s death in 1966.

A generation later, in the animation “Renaissance” under Jeffrey Katzenberg, the studio would return to fable territory with The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), both of whose heroines had fathers but no mothers. The female protagonists of two other Disney Renaissance features, the 1995 Pocahontas and the 1998 Mulan, also have to do without mothers, though Pocahontas does have a Grandmother Willow — a talking tree that croaks advice and warnings.

(READ: Corliss’s review of Beauty and the Beast)

More recent Disney animated features based on Grimm stories, The Princess and the Frog (2009) and the “Rapunzel” adaptation known as Tangled (2010), outfitted their leading ladies with a full complement of parents; Oprah Winfrey voiced the role of the frog-princess’s mom. Disney also modernized Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen” into the worldwide 2013 hit Frozen, a story of princess liberation that, in the grand Disney tradition, killed off both parents early on.

(SEE AND HEAR: a mashup of Frozen’s Oscar-winning “Let It Go” sung in 25 languages)

Tangled weaves the tale of a classic Disney princess — whose destiny is to come of age, triumph over adversity and, in general, woman up — with a very contemporary obsession: looking young by any means necessary. Re-enter that old reliable Disney villainess, the wicked witch. When Gothel (Donna Murphy) discovers that the 70-foot tresses of young Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) somehow bring eternal youth, or at least chic middle age, to an old crone, she swans around the kingdom while keeping her victim locked in a tower from infancy to her 18th birthday. Gothel could be many modern American parents who think that confining their teens in enforced preadolescence may make them feel younger too. Of course Gothel is a stepmother figure; Rapunzel’s real mother and father are virtuous, fretful and mostly absent.

(READ: A review of Disney’s ripping Rapunzel)

The Princess and the Frog and Tangled restored a smidge of equilibrium to the animated films of the preceding decade, when the major producers of CGI cartoons paid little attention to female characters and their offspring. DreamWorks movies (the Shrek and Madagascar series) are usually vaudeville capers. The Ice Age pictures from Fox/Blue Sky relocate the Road movies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby into a prehistoric winterland. Universal’s Despicable Me tandem touches on parenthood, but only from the viewpoint of a single dad who would like to believe he’s a supervillain.

Pixar, which stole Disney’s hand-drawn thunder by launching the first CGI animated feature, Toy Story, in 1995, usually ignored the themes of boy-girl and mother-child in favor of stories about bonding buddies: the Toy Story, Cars and Monsters, Inc. franchises, and A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, WALL•E and Up. Only two Pixar features so far have boasted strong mothers. In The Incredibles (2004), the superheroine Helen, aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), is able to raise three precocious kids while teaming with husband Bob, alias Mr. Incredible, to save the world.

(READ: A credible mom in The Incredibles)

And in 2012 Pixar finally devoted an entire feature to the mother-daughter perplex. Brave (codirected by Brenda Chapman, the studio’s first female director) took the classic Disney formula — a rebellious princess battles an imperious queen and is beset by magic spells — and gave it a beguiling twist. This time, the woman who makes the heroine’s life miserable is not her stepmother but her own mom.

In ancient Scotland, Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a lass as wild as her curly red mane. An expert in archery, like The Hunger Games’ Katniss, Merida feels closer to the bear-hunting machismo of her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), than to the civilizing demands of her mother Elinor (Emma Thompson). She’s both a tomboy and a sullen teen who responds to her mother’s every request by whining, in two harsh syllables, “Mah-ahm!” When urged to choose a suitable beau for a husband, Merida screams, “I hope you die!” at the woman who gave her life. The Queen doesn’t die, but she is transformed into a bear — part regal Elinor, part huge, clumsy creature.

Richard Corliss’ new book, Mom in the Movies Simon & Schuster

 

(READ: Corliss’s review of Brave)

Kids have often thought of their parents as monsters, and when Brave turns into My Mother the Bear, it taps both maternal helplessness and the love a child feels for any wounded creature. In this Beauty and the Beast, the sympathetic beast is a mom. Now isn’t that beautiful?

Richard Corliss’ book Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (And a Few You Love to Hate), published by Simon & Schuster, is out now.

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