TIME

Navy Dad Surprises His Daughter by Posing as Catcher in Baseball Game

Grab a tissue

Philip Elmore hadn’t seen his daughter since October.

The United States Navy Gunner’s Mate 1st Class had been stationed in Germany for months and wanted to make his reunion with his 8-year-daughter Isabella a memorable one. He contacted his hometown baseball team, the Charlotte Knights, and asked them to help him surprise his daughter and the team was more than happy to help.

Isabella was invited to make a ceremonial opening pitch for a Friday night Knights’ baseball game. Before she headed to the pitcher’s mound, the team aired a message from her father on the Jumbotron. From his post in Germany, Elmore told his little girl that he loved her and missed her and encouraged her to do her best to nail the catcher with her pitch.

Isabella then took to the mound and threw out a pitch like a pro, easily making it over home plate and to the catcher. When the catcher came to congratulate the girl, she got another surprise: The catcher was her dad. It’s clear she could scarcely believe her eyes, but soon enough she was in her father’s arms.

Grab a tissue and watch.

[Via Fox]

MORE: This Compilation of Troops Surprising Their Kids on Christmas Is the Sweetest Thing You’ll See All Day
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TIME Parenting

World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer on the Power of Motherhood

Anne Geddes' Mother's Day message

Protect. Nurture. Love. These three words have served as my mantra and inspiration throughout my 30-year career as a photographer, allowing me the opportunity to travel the world, meeting and working with families from many walks of life. And throughout this journey, what I’ve learned about the power of motherhood is that the one emotion uniting all of us as women and mothers, is the instinctive drive to ensure that our children are safe, loved and treated with respect. In allowing them to grow and flourish, we protect the future of our world.

This Mother’s Day, let’s take time to join with the devastated mothers of the over 270 girls who have “disappeared” in Nigeria…at the hands of brutal thugs and fanatics who are obviously threatened by females; especially when they are simply demanding their absolute right to an education. I also commend the families of these girls, who value their daughters and bravely support their dreams. Let’s find these girls and bring them home.

To quote Chilean poet Pablo Neruda… “You can cut all the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring”… and this is what the world of motherhood and newborn babies means to me — our eternal chance at new beginnings.

Anne Geddes’ most recent book is Little Blessings.

TIME Parenting

The Best (and Worst) Advice From Famous Moms

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve rounded up some of the of the most thoughtful — and sometimes not so thoughtful — advice from moms who don’t hesitate to make their feelings known.

Beyoncé

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six
Elsa—Getty Images

The singer, who became a mother almost two and a half years ago, shared advice in Out Magazine on how to be powerful as a woman by embracing many identities at once.

“There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

Kristin Cavallari

Kristin Cavallari Visits "FOX & Friends"
Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of Jenny McCarthy, former reality TV star Kristin Cavallari admitted to not vaccinating her son during an interview on Fox & Friends during which she urged mothers to think of vaccination as a personal choice

Listen, to each their own. I understand both sides of it. I’ve ready too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”

Hillary Clinton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in A No Ceilings Conversation at Lower Eastside Girls Club  in New York
Andrew Kelly—Reuters

The former secretary of state shared some of her wisdom at the opening of the Women of the World Conference in New York in April, talking about the double standard for women and advice for how they can get ahead.

Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient to keep moving forward despite whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others, believe me this hard-won advice. But it is a process. You need other women, you need your friends to support you, and you need male friends as well as female ones. You need good role models all of that is true. But at the end of the day, you really have to be good if you have high aspirations. You need to be well-educated, prepared, and willing to take your chances when they come your way. Cut yourself a little bit of slack.”

Angelina Jolie

86th Annual Academy Awards - People Magazine Press Room
Jason LaVeris—WireImage/Getty Images

The Maleficent actress has become an outspoken advocate for all the rights and health of all women, especially in the wake of her preventative double mastectomy last year. She’s also a mom of six who spoke to Entertainment Weekly earlier this year about how motherhood has changed her life.

“It changes you forever. It changes your perspective and it gives you a nice purpose and focus. I am disheartened by many things but I wake up, like I woke up this morning, to kids and we talk and we laugh and we play and I’m light again, and I’m a kid again, and I’m loving and soft again because they’ve brought that back in my life.”

Michelle Obama

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Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, shortly after Justin Bieber was arrested on drunk driving charges and authorities claimed his private jet reeked of marijuana, First Lady Michelle Obama talked about what she would do if she were the singer’s mother during an interview with Univision Radio host Enrique Santos. The mother of two (Sasha, 12, and Malia, 15) reminded listeners that Beiber’s just a kid despite his larger than life role as an entertainer.

“They just want you near, you know – they want that advice from a parent. They want to see you on a daily basis, because the thing is he’s still a kid. He’s still growing up. So, I would pull him close.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

Goldene Kamera 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
Luca Teuchmann—WireImage/Getty Images

The queen of healthy living can’t seem to avoid controversy this year, especially after she unwittingly stirred up another round in the mommy wars by commenting on how difficult it is for her as a working actress on a movie set versus a regular mom with a nine to five job. But with a recent statement on her lifestyle site, Goop, she attempted to smooth some ruffled mommy feathers.

“Is it not hard enough to attempt to raise children thoughtfully, while contributing something, or bringing home some (or more) of the bacon? Why do we feel so entitled to opine, often so negatively, on the choices of other women? Perhaps because there is so much pressure to do it all, and do it all well all at the same time (impossible).”

Susan Patton (Princeton Mom)

Today - Season 63
NBC/Getty Images

The viral sensation sparked conversation online after a Valentine’s Day-themed editorial in the Wall Street Journal encouraged women to start looking for a husband instead of focusing on their career.

“You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
David Livingston—Getty Images

This actress has never hesitated to talk about how much faith she has in her kids. After people criticized her for allowing her daugther Willow to cut her hair, she spoke out on her Facebook page about the decision-making process.

“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain.”

Sheryl Sandberg

The Davos World Economic Forum 2014
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Facebook COO might be best known for her “Lean In,” career manifesto for young women, but she’s also also shared advice about motherhood during an interview with NPR last March.

“I want everyone to be able to choose, but I want us to be able to choose unencumbered by gender choosing for us. I have a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Success for me is that if my son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, he is cheered on for that decision. And if my daughter chooses to work outside the home and is successful, she is cheered on and supported.”

Jessica Simpson

11th Annual John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit - Arrivals
Tommaso Boddi—WireImage/Getty Images

The actress, fashion mogul and mother of two, has been very public about her pregnancies and post-baby weight loss campaign with Weight Watchers. And she continues to showcase her early years of motherhood through social media, regularly posting to Instagram with captions like: “Falling asleep looking at pictures of my kids…now I know what my life is about. I am so grateful.” But her gratefulness doesn’t come without the nerves of a new mom, as she told People during her second pregnancy, “There are little things that you kind of obsess over. I never knew how protective I was until I had my own child. I’m already thinking about intruders coming into the house and what our escape route would be.”

Tina Fey

Celebrities Visit "Late Show With David Letterman" - August 21, 2013
Jeffrey Ufberg—WireImage/Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, comedienne Tina Fey mixed humor into her honesty about motherhood. She told David Letterman that though it was great to be home with her kids more, “you’re just like a human napkin for your kids, like, they just wipe their face on you and stuff.” And she’s learned to take even the difficult moments of motherhood with a grain of salt, considering when her youngest daughter was two, she tried to choke Fey after being upset about bath time being over. “It’s so funny because they’re not strong enough to kill you and they want to kill you so bad!”

Kim Kardashian

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
Larry Busacca—Getty Images

Keeping up with motherhood is no small feat for the queen of the Kardashian Klan. Her daughter, aptly named North, with rapper Kanye West, gave the reality star a new take on racism, she explained on her blog. “To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been,” she wrote. “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing. So the first step I’m taking is to stop pretending like this isn’t my issue or my problem, because it is, it’s everyone’s… because the California teenager who was harassed and killed by his classmates for being gay, the teenage blogger in Pakistan who was shot on her school bus for speaking out in favor of women’s rights, the boy in Florida who was wrongly accused of committing a crime and ultimately killed because of the color of his skin, they are all someone’s son and someone’s daughter and it is our responsibility to give them a voice and speak out for those who can’t and hopefully in the process, ensure that hate is something our children never have to see.”

TIME Parenting

A Case for Parenting the Dolphin–Not Tiger–Mom Way

Today
Amy Chua appears on NBC News' "Today" show. NBC NewsWire—NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Today’s disturbing trend of over-parenting is interfering with kids' self-motivation and ability to adapt.

I just accomplished my childhood dream of becoming an author, but my mom won’t be able to read my book. She never went to school, so she can’t read. Because of this, she never hovered over my homework and didn’t even know I applied to medical school when I was 19. She didn’t read any parenting books or blogs either. My mom parented me (and my four siblings) simply with what she felt in her gut was right for her kids and family. Like most parents of her generation and those that came before her, my mom raised her children by looking and listening to her parental intuition.

My mom was a Dolphin Mom, which means she was a collaborative (authoritative) parent. She was not a controlling (authoritarian) Tiger Mom, or a indulging (permissive) Jellyfish Mom. In addition to this parenting style, my Dolphin Mom prioritized long-term goals of living a healthy, balanced life with connection and purpose over short-term goals of medals and test scores.

As a psychiatrist and medical director, I have seen firsthand how modern-day parents are fast losing that knowledge gifted to us by nature. I believe this disconnect from our parental intuition partly explains the great paradox of our time: that we are the most involved group of parents in human history, yet our children have the highest rates of anxiety, depression, obesity and addiction than ever before. Today’s disturbing trend of over-parenting is under-preparing our children for a rapidly changing and ultra-competitive 21st Century by interfering with their self-motivation and ability to adapt.

This Mother’s Day, I will thank my mom for being a Dolphin Mom, for not over-parenting and for nurturing my nature and self-motivation. And for those who want to follow her example, this is how she parented:

Dolphin Moms are balanced and collaborative.

My mom was not an over-controlling, overbearing Tiger Mom. Nor was she a permissive, directionless Jellyfish Mom. My mom was the balance of these extremes, firm yet flexible. She had rules and expectations, including expecting us to do well in academics and be disciplined. But she also valued our autonomy, individual passions and independent choices.

Dolphin Moms do not overschedule.

I was never in a single scheduled activity. My parents didn’t have the time, money or interest to sign me up. My mom believed that the smartest people were not the busiest, but the most peaceful. Like many of today’s grandparents, she is horrified at our hurried lifestyles – and I agree. I’ve seen far too many kids who are sleep deprived, stressed out and burnt out simply because of the schedules imposed on them by their parents.

Dolphin Moms do not over instruct.

My mom believed in classroom learning, but also real-world learning. I learned math by counting change for passengers in my dad’s taxi. I learned spelling by translating documents to English. I learned that living in the real world is what ultimately prepares you for the real world. And without schedules and constant instruction, I learned to play freely and vigorously. It was not until I became an expert on the science of self-motivation did I realize the power of play. Play is directly linked to the development of our prefrontal cortex and helps a child develop vital social, intellectual and emotional skills that cannot be acquired any other way.

Dolphin Moms don’t over protect.

Of course, my mom protected me from serious harm, but she didn’t shelter me from life’s ups and downs. She let me make my own mistakes – plenty of them! And as long as I was okay, she didn’t rescue me when I fell down. My mom was known for saying, “It’s your choice, but it’s also your mess to clean up if it doesn’t work out.”

Dolphin Moms create a pod of support.

Social connection and bonding are the centerpieces of our culture. Dolphin Moms encourage their children to connect and contribute to others in a meaningful way. This forms essential social skills, character, values and a sense of community for mom and their children. My mom expected me to be fully independent yet fully connected to my family and community. She expected me to live a healthy life of balance, meaning and purpose.

Dolphin Moms adapt.

My mom did not parent all five of her kids the exact same way, nor did she stick to the same methods as her kids grew up. She constantly adapted to her changing kids and their changing environment.

As a mom of three, I have learned more about parenting from my mom than from my 15 years of academic training, my 12 years of clinical practice and all the books and blogs that I read. So although my mom will wait for the audiobook version of my book, The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into a Tiger, she doesn’t really need to. She has lived The Dolphin Way her whole life.

Dr. Shimi Kang is a Harvard-trained physician and an expert in the neuroscience, psychology and day-to-day reality of human motivation. She is currently the Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health for the city of Vancouver and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia.

TIME Parenting

What Mothers Really Want for Mother’s Day

Elderly Care
Enrique Pellejer—flickr Editorial/Getty Images

Sandwich generation moms need flexible work schedules and family leave policies more than they need cards, flowers and jewelry.

Last year, Mother’s Day spending on brunches, jewelry, salon appointments, flowers and greeting cards topped $20 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. And no doubt retailers hope to meet that amount this year too. Brands like American Greetings and Kay Jewelers, a Mother’s Day advertising regular, portray the holiday, and therefore motherhood, as an event for young women doted on by attentive husbands and young children. But for many, both the holiday and the reality are as much about being a mother as they are about having, and caring for, their own mothers. And mothers taking care of mothers need more than mimosas and manicures to cope with life in the sandwich generation.

Last year, I started the day having breakfast at home with my family. I then drove more than an hour with my kids to visit my mother, while my husband headed out to visit his. I spent the afternoon with my elderly parents, providing lunch and a cake and doing a few odd jobs for them at their home. I returned home after six to start the Sunday night routine: showers, stray homework assignments and stressing about the impending workweek. I went to bed that night feeling a mixture of emotions: grateful for another year with my mother, guilty for wanting the day to myself, overwhelmed by all that my parents needed and I couldn’t give them in a five-hour visit and, as always, exhausted.

Based on data from the National Alliance for Caregiving, the AARP and Pew Research, I’m pretty much an average caregiver in the sandwich generation: female, married, late 40s, a living parent or parents age 65 or older, at least one dependent child and feeling pressed for time. Luckily for me, because I’m also among the 40% of women who serve as primary breadwinners for their household, I won’t experience the same career and financial setbacks that many caregivers do—at least I hope.

The Census Bureau reports there are 39.6 million eldercare providers in the U.S., and the majority of them are women. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, 70% of them suffer work-related difficulties as a result of their caregiving roles, with female caregivers in particular at risk of financial hardship. That’s because many women report changing their work arrangements to accommodate their caregiving duties by switching to a less demanding job, taking time off or quitting altogether. I know I’ve considered it. But as a result of women making career changes to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities, they are more likely to lose job-related benefits and suffer lost wages. In fact, a study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving calculated women lose an estimated $324,044 in wages due to caregiving. Often, a working mother’s time out of the office during her childbearing years is compounded by the time she takes off later to care for her parents. With one in three American women already living in poverty or on the brink, it’s imperative we find a way to support these working mothers and daughters.

So while brunches and spa treatments are certainly welcome on Sunday, May 11, a more meaningful way to honor mothers is to recognize their multifaceted roles as parents, adult children and breadwinners, and to advocate for workplace solutions such as flexible schedules and family leave policies, and access to financial and career planning tools. That’s how we keep mothers at work: allow their mothers to age with dignity and raise the next generation of compassionate caregivers. And what mother wouldn’t want that on Mother’s Day?

Liz O’Donnell is the author of the book Mogul, Mom & Maid: the Balancing Act of the Modern Woman and founder of Hello Ladies, named one of the top 100 websites for women by Forbes and a Best of the Net by Working Mother Magazine.

TIME Culture

Study: Keyboards Are Influencing What You Name Your Baby

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Darryl Leniuk / Getty Images

A University of Chicago psychologist analyzed baby names cataloged for the past 50 years and found a modern right-side bias

A psychology professor from the University of Chicago is doubling down on research that caused a great kerfuffle among linguists in 2012. In Daniel Casasanto’s previous paper, he presented the QWERTY effect, named after the standard American keyboard: that words typed using more letters on the right side of the keyboard (like y, u, i, o, p, m, n, j, k, l) tend to be be viewed as more positive, while words typed with more letters from the left side (like z, x, c, v, b, a, s, d and f) tend to be viewed as more negative.

Now, in a paper to be presented this summer at the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Casasanto will present findings that show Americans have started to favor baby names typed with more right-side keys since 1990, the point his team chose as the beginning of the keyboard-centric era. This builds on the same basic theory that people favor things on their dominant side, and because the vast majority of people are right-handed, that means most humans should associate positive feelings with the right side of the keyboard, too.

It just so happens that the top two baby names for 2013, announced on May 9 by the Social Security Administration, were Sophia and Noah, both of which use more letters from the right side than the left. But Casasanto, who used SSA data from 1960 to 2012 to do his analysis, warns that this isn’t a theory that operates on an individual, name-by-name level.

“It may be that Asa, which is spelled with all left-hand letters, is nevertheless a popular name throughout history,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone is naming all of their babies with letters from the right side instead of the left. This means this is a very clear influence that is contributing to the choices we make. This is an effect that works unconsciously and can only be detected statistically.”

Along with his colleagues Kyle Jasmin, Geoffrey Brookshire and Tom Gijssels, Casasanto computed the “right side advantage” year-over-year for every name given to at least 100 babies for over a half-century. What they found was that the number of right side letters–with the imaginary dividing line running where the home keys are divided–started to significantly outnumber the left-sided letters over time. They also found that in names invented after 1990, right-side letters were more common than in names that existed before that time.

The basic theory behind this research started bubbling out of Casasanto’s psychology lab years ago. “We discovered that people implicitly associate good stuff, positive things with their dominant side of space and bad things with their non-dominant side,” he says. In his foundational right-left study, Casasanto showed people pairs of alien creatures, one on the right and one on the left. He then asked which was smarter or nicer or more honest, switching which sides the aliens appeared on for different respondents. On average, he found that the righties were choosing the alien on the right and the lefties were choosing the alien on the left.

Casasanto’s lab repeated these results in other studies, finding the same implicit bias to like things on one’s dominant side, whether it was an arbitrary political candidate or job applicant. He also found that if, say, a right-handed fellow was forced to perform tasks with his left hand, experiencing what it felt like to favor those motor skills, immediately after the tasks he would show a bias for things on his left. “Because we interact with things on our dominant side more fluently, with a greater sense of ease, we come to associate that side with positive things,” he says, “and the other side, where we interact more clumsily, with negative.”

Since debuting the QWERTY effect, Casasanto has discovered that it holds true for multiple languages, some of which have keyboards shaped differently than the typical America computer; for made-up words and for the individual letters on the right and left sides of the keyboard. But he knows the assertion that spending all day at a desk could have an influence on what people choose to call their children is not going to go down easy with everyone. “This intuition that we have a stable mental dictionary, a mental encyclopedia, is so deeply ingrained in psychology and linguistics, threats to that are threatening to our mind-view,” he says. “What we’re showing here is a new sense of non-arbitrariness in language, a new way in which the form of a word and the way we articulate it—not with our mouth but with our fingers—is connected to the meaning of those words.”

He also knows people will point out individual names that seem to upend the theory, loving them or hating them despite their right-ness or left-ness. But that, he says, misses the point. Consider, he says, the statistic that Dutch people are the tallest in the world, on average. That doesn’t mean that every Dutch person will be tall or that a Dutch baby can be predicted to be tall. “If you know a lot of Dutch people and you can think of five of them who are short, that doesn’t make the statistic not true,” he says.

And so Ava, an all-left name that has been in the SSA’s top ten for the past decade, may remain a favored name for decades to come. But perhaps, if Casasanto’s theory holds true, some new parents might eventually opt for something like Mia instead.

TIME Parenting

How Your Career Can Make You a Better Mom

Office Technology
A woman working at a machine at the offices of Martin's Bank in London, March 1961. (Photo by Bert Hardy Advertising Archive/Getty Images) Bert Hardy Advertising Archive—Getty Images

Next time you feel guilty, just remember: your career doesn't make you a worse mom, it makes you a better one

One morning a few months ago, I got a phone call from my mother in the middle of the workday. “I did something totally crazy,” she said in a hushed tone.

My first thought was that she’d gotten a tramp stamp.

“I asked for a promotion for the first time in my life,” she said. “It was really scary.”

This got me thinking about how important my mother’s job has been for me as her daughter. Despite all the anxiety that working moms are somehow “slacking” on parenthood, I don’t remember any missed dance recitals or thrown-together dinners from my childhood (although I’m sure there were some). Instead, I remember serious conversations about what I wanted to be, and practical advice about how I would get there. I remember meeting friends she’d made at work, which reassured me that I, too, could have my own life even once I had a family. And I remember her telling me, over and over, that being a woman does not mean you have to live “a life deferred onto the next generation.”

My mom’s job didn’t make her a worse mom, it made her a better one.

There’s lots of research to show that kids of parents who work full time turn out no worse than kids who have a mother at home at least some of the time. But for some moms who work, those studies provide little comfort when they’re racked with guilt over serving dinner at 8:30 again. So this Mother’s Day, I spoke to some friends whose moms also worked full time, to see what they remembered about their mother’s jobs.

“My mother’s career has improved my life in every possible way,” my friend Antonia Kerle told me. “It’s not just that she’s made me ambitious, but she’s also made me believe that I really can do what I want to do and be happy doing it. I think lots of women may hear that, but they don’t have a role model for it.”

Antonia just finished a stint in the Peace Corps and is currently getting a master’s in labor relations at Cornell. Her mother Kathryn Kerle is the head of risk reporting at the Royal Bank of Scotland. She told me she never had doubts about working full time throughout her girls’ childhood, because she knew she was setting a good example for them. “I want my daughters to feel that there are options for them,” she said. “And how better to do that than by showing them how you can have a full and vibrant family life without dedicating yourself 100% to child rearing?”

Another friend, Isabel Strauss, also says her mother’s job at the MacArthur Foundation has been instrumental in forging her own ambition. Without her mom’s career as an example, “I wouldn’t have tried to get good grades, I wouldn’t have tried to get into college, I wouldn’t have pursued a career in the arts, I wouldn’t have done anything that was a risk, because what would be the point?” she told me.

“You know the expression ‘Do as I do, not as I say’? It’s easier to trust people when they do what they say to do also,” she said, adding that her mother had taught her about hard work and professional behavior. “So because my mom’s actions matched the advice she was giving me, I believed them.” Strauss just graduated with a degree in art history from Harvard and is pursuing a career in set design in Chicago.

Hannah Habte told me that after her parents separated, her mother went to computer classes at night school so she could get a full-time job as a paralegal to support their family in Sacramento. Now that Habte is teaching third grade with Teach for America in New York, she says she realizes she can work just as hard as her mom did. “I think that my mom being able to do all of those things has given me the work ethic I have,” she said. “Now I have a full-time job, and I go to graduate school at the same time. It’s stressful, but I don’t feel like it’s overwhelming, and that’s because I had a mom who was doing a million things at once.”

Habte also said her mother acts as her unofficial professional guide. “I’ve learned a lot from her about sexism in the workplace, especially if your boss isn’t taking you seriously as a woman,” she said. “She’s dealt with that her whole career, especially as a paralegal. She taught me that I should speak up and say something but be respectful at the same time.”

Of course, working is usually more of a financial decision than a parenting one, and Kathryn Kerle told me that her income made it possible for their family to achieve a certain standard of living. But it also sets an example of financial and personal independence for her daughters. “Having your own source of income gives you options and gives you leverage in a relationship that you don’t otherwise have,” she said. “So if I stay in my marriage, it’s because I want to, as I’m perfectly capable of leaving.”

But even if we’re grateful for our mother’s careers as young professional women, did we feel the same way when we were younger? I asked my friends if they ever remembered a time when they felt neglected because of their mom’s jobs. “No,” said Isabel. “Definitely not,” said Hannah. “Never,” said Antonia.

Neither did I.

During that phone call a few months ago, I asked my mom why she asked for a promotion.

“I did it for you and your sister,” she said. “So you’d know you could do it too.”

TIME

Good Parenting Skills: 7 Research-Backed Ways to Raise Kids Right

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Oliver Rossi—Getty Images

I’ve posted about the research behind happy families and solid marriages, but what does science say about good parenting skills?

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman do an excellent job of rounding up the latest research in their book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.

Here are my highlights:

1) Praise Kids For Effort, Not Smarts

Praise kids for something they can easily control — the amount of effort they put in.

This teaches them to persist and that improvement is possible.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

“Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.” In follow-up interviews,Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort.

But praising too often can be a problem.

If a child’s persistence is based only on rewards like praise; when the praise stops, the effort stops.

Best thing to do? Be like a slot machine. Praise intermittently.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

“The key is intermittent reinforcement,” says Cloninger. The brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

2) Make Sure They Get Their Sleep

Losing an hour of sleep reduces your sixth-grader’s intelligence to that of a fourth-grader.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

The effect was indeed measurable—and sizeable. The performance gap caused by an hour’s difference in sleep was bigger than the gap between a normal fourth-grader and a normal sixth-grader. Which is another way of saying that a slightly-sleepy sixth-grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explained.

If continued long enough, sleep issues can cause permanent problems. Teens surliness may actually be due to chronic sleep deprivation.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

A few scientists theorize that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure—damage that one can’t sleep off like a hangover. It’s even possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of being a tweener and teen—moodiness, depression, and even binge eating—are actually just symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

And staying up late on the weekends is problematic too. Weekend shift causes a drop of 7 IQ points — the equivalent of lead exposure.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

Every hour of weekend shift costs a child seven points on the test. Dr. Paul Suratt at the University of Virginia studied the impact of sleep problems on vocabulary test scores taken by elementary school students. He also found a seven-point reduction in scores. Seven points, Suratt notes, is significant: “Sleep disorders can impair children’s IQ as much as lead exposure.”

A study of over 3000 high school students showed a clear correlation between sleep and grades.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers by Brown’s Carskadon.

(More on good sleep here.)

3) How To Raise Honest Kids

No, you don’t know when your kid is lying. That’s your parental ego.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

Talwar has run hundreds of people through this test, and on the whole, their results are no better than chance. People simply cannot tell when kids are lying.

Kids want to please you. Tell them that the truth makes you happy – not just the right answer — and you’re more likely to get the truth.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

What really works is to tell the child, “I will not be upset with you if you peeked, and if you tell the truth, I will be really happy.” This is an offer of both immunity and a clear route back to good standing. Talwar explained this latest finding: “Young kids are lying to make you happy—trying to please you.” So telling kids that the truth will make a parent happy challenges the kid’s original thought that hearing good news—not the truth—is what will please the parent.

What’s a quick trick for getting your kid to be honest?

Say: “I’m about to ask you a question. But before I do that, will you promise to tell the truth?”

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

In Talwar’s peeking game, sometimes the researcher pauses the game with, “I’m about to ask you a question. But before I do that, will you promise to tell the truth?” (Yes, the child answers.) “Okay, did you peek at the toy when I was out of the room?” This promise cuts down lying by 25%.

4) Kids Need Rules

It’s a myth that being too strict causes rebellion and being permissive equals better behavior.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

Pushing a teen into rebellion by having too many rules was a sort of statistical myth. “That actually doesn’t happen,” remarked Darling… “Kids who go wild and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set rules or standards. Their parents are loving and accepting no matter what the kids do. But the kids take the lack of rules as a sign their parents don’t actually care—that their parent doesn’t really want this job of being the parent.”

Parents who set ground rules and consistently enforce them were also the parents who were the warmest.

And their children lied less than most kids.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

“Ironically, the type of parents who are actually most consistent in enforcing rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids,” Darling observed. They’ve set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and they’ve explained why the rules are there. They expect the child to obey them. Over life’s other spheres, they supported the child’s autonomy, allowing her freedom to make her own decisions. The kids of these parents lied the least. Rather than hiding twelve areas from their parents, they might be hiding as few as five.

That doesn’t mean you should be a Tiger Mom.

Parents that are too controlling = kids that are bored. And bored kids are the ones who drink and do drugs

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

Even the really busy kids could be bored, for two reasons. First, they were doing a lot of activities only because their parent signed them up—there was no intrinsic motivation. Second, they were so accustomed to their parents filling their free time that they didn’t know how to fill it on their own. “The more controlling the parent,” Caldwell explained, “the more likely a child is to experience boredom.” …The Mod Squad study did confirm Linda Caldwell’s hypothesis that teens turn to drinking and drugs because they’re bored in their free time.

5) Arguing With Teens Is Normal — And Healthy

Moderate conflict with teens produces better adjustment than none.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

University of Rochester’s Dr. Judith Smetana, a leader in the study of teen disclosure, confirms that, over the long term, “moderate conflict with parents [during adolescence] is associated with better adjustment than either no-conflict or frequent conflict.”

More than 3/4 of daughters felt arguments with their mother strengthened the relationship.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

But only 23% of the daughters felt that their arguments were destructive. Far more believed that fighting strengthened their relationship with their mother. “Their perception of the fighting was really sophisticated, far more than we anticipated for teenagers,” noted Holmes. “They saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way, as a result of hearing their mother’s point of view be articulated.”

6) Fighting In Front Of The Kids Can Be Good

Fighting with your spouse in front of the kids can be a good thing — if the children see the argument resolved in front of them.

Fighting and sending the kids away before it’s resolved — that’s what causes problems.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

In one study, a third of the children reacted aggressively after witnessing the staged conflict—they shouted, got angry, or punched a pillow. But in that same study, something else happened, which eliminated the aggressive reaction in all but 4% of the children. What was this magical thing? Letting the child witness not just the argument, but the resolution of the argument. When the videotape was stopped mid-argument, it had a very negative effect. But if the child was allowed to see the contention get worked out, it calmed him. “We varied the intensity of the arguments, and that didn’t matter,” recalled Cummings. “The arguments can become pretty intense, and yet if it’s resolved, kids are okay with it.” Most kids were just as happy at the conclusion of the session as they were when witnessing a friendly interaction between parents…

…being exposed to constructive marital conflict can actually be good for children—if it doesn’t escalate, insults are avoided, and the dispute is resolved with affection. This improves their sense of security, over time, and increases their prosocial behavior at school as rated by teachers. Cummings noted, “Resolution has to be sincere, not manipulated for their benefit—or they’ll see through it.” Kids learn a lesson in conflict resolution: the argument gives them an example of how to compromise and reconcile—a lesson lost for the child spared witnessing an argument.

7) A Gratitude Journal Works Magic

I’ve posted before about the incredible benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. It works for kids too.

Students who kept a gratitude journal were happier, more optimistic, and healthier.

Via NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children:

In one celebrated example, Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, asked college students to keep a gratitude journal—over ten weeks, the undergrads listed five things that had happened in the last week which they were thankful for. The results were surprisingly powerful—the students who kept the gratitude journal were 25% happier, were more optimistic about the future, and got sick less often during the controlled trial. They even got more exercise.

What Next?

Here are three other research-backed posts that can help build a great family:

  1. How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research
  2. Recipe For A Happy Marriage: The 7 Scientific Secrets
  3. Parent myths: How much of what your parents told you was wrong?

For more helpful tips, join 45K+ other readers and get my free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME Education

My Fight With California to Treat My Autistic Son

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

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

“Freeze!”

The kindergartners stop what they are doing.

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

“Everybody freeze again!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIME Parenting

Stay-at-Home Moms: Not Who You Think They Are

Carey Kirkella; Getty Images

Forget the mommy wars, the real battle; for many stay at homes is just getting by.

The phrase Stay At Home Mother generally conjures up two images: the nice Midwestern mom with a car pool and a husband with a nine-to-five, or the highly educated former career woman now channeling all her hard-won achievement and scholarship into finding the exact right kind of juice box and organic cheese stick. But the data keeps suggesting that both these images are off the mark. Increasingly, the stay at home mother is beginning to look like a woman who doesn’t have too many other choices.

This is not to say that most stay at home moms are only staying home because they’re no good at anything else. Rather, it’s that an increasing proportion of the women looking after their kids full time are having a tough time of it. They can’t find well-paid work and they can’t find childcare that would make less than well-paid work worthwhile. Average weekly child care expenses rose more than 70% from 1985 to 2011, according to the Census Bureau. Wages, especially for women with only a high school education, did not rise at nearly that rate.

Of course there are some übermoms–women willingly reining in their considerable earning potential to look after their offspring. Who are they? Opt-out mothers, by Pew’s definition, have a postgraduate degree, an annual family income of more than $75,000, a working husband, and they say they are out of the workforce in order to care for their family. And despite all the media attention on these women, there aren’t very many of them. According to an analysis from Pew Research, a very, very small percentage of home-based mothers are highly educated and affluent. “Just 1% of the nation’s 35 million mothers ages 18 to 69 who are living with their children younger than 18,” are the so-called opt-out moms, notes Pew in analysis released on May 8.

In fact, only 4% of all stay-at-home moms are in this highly educated category. According to Pew, only about 10% of women with such qualifications decide to stay home. And almost 90% of those say they intend to return to work and historically 70% of them do, after about an average of two and a half years.

So let’s take stock: A tiny percentage of moms are extremely highly educated and affluent and have chosen to raise children full-time. Most of them are only stepping out of the workforce fleetingly. This is what all the cover stories and books have been about?

The other end of the stereotype—the midwestern mom with her traditional values—is also misleading. Guess which state has the lowest proportion of stay-at-home mothers? If you picked South Dakota, come to the front of the room and collect your prize. I know I didn’t. But according to an interesting study on the history of the working mother by Ancestry.com using Census data, 80% of mothers in the Mount Rushmore state work outside the home, the highest in the nation. Conversely, California has one of the lowest rates of working mothers: 62%.

Check where your state falls here:

So what are most stay-at-home mothers like? The Pew Report released a few weeks back paints a darker picture. A third of them were not born in the U.S. Half of them are not white. Almost half of them have a high school diploma or less, 20% are single mothers and 7% have husbands who were unemployed in the 12 months prior to 2012. More than a third of them live in poverty. Stay-at-home mothers’ education levels have risen across the board in the last 40 years, but the share of them living in poverty has more than doubled.

Most Americans still think that having a mother at home full-time and a father at work is the most optimal arrangement for raising a family. But increasingly, that arrangement is also becoming untenable or unrealistic. So next time you see a headline saying More Women Are Staying Home To Raise Kids,” you might want to brace yourself for what that story is really going to say.

 

 

 

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