family life and homeschooling

How Home Schooling Became the Fastest Growing Form of Education

“Schooling operates out of an assumption that ordinary people are biologically or psychologically or politically inferior; education assumes that individuals are sovereign spirits. “

–John Taylor Gatto

Family Life and Homeschooling—A Growing Educational Trend

Home schooling has been steadily becoming a more popular option for parents around the world. According to one article, it’s the fastest growing form of education, increasing at an annual rate of between 7% and 15% per year. While information isn’t available for all countries, countries in which home schooling is on the rise include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the U.K. Those statistics don’t include parents who homeschool just one of their children or those that homeschool part time or only for a year or two.

There are a number of reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children. Some choose homeschooling for religious reasons. Others believe that school environments aren’t conducive to learning or don’t foster independent thinking. Still others are concerned about perceived deterioration of the academic quality of public schools as a result of overcrowded classrooms. Parents of children with special needs often choose to homeschool their children because their homes provide better accommodation for those needs. The majority of parents who choose to homeschool do so for the best of reasons. However, sadly, there are some parents who choose this option as a way to hide child abuse.

Benefits of Family Life and Homeschooling

Whatever their reasons for choosing to home school their children, most parents report that one of the benefits of family life and home schooling is a sense of togetherness. Family life and home schooling advocate and educational reformer John Taylor Gatto believes that rigid school routines discourage children from the process of self-discovery. He describes self-discovery as a process of making choices, noticing patterns within those choices and using that self-knowledge to make future choices. Further, he believes that if the personal growth that accompanies this process is interfered with, it can result in creating adults who are easily manipulated. He says that his 30 years of teaching left him with the realization that “Institutionalized schooling… is about obedience in exchange for favors and advantages.”

One of the benefits of home schooling is gaining valuable experiences that cannot be created within the confines of a classroom. For example, the ability to take far more field trips allows both parents and their children to experience, rather than read about, the changing of the seasons. Family life and home schooling also become inseparable as children gain hands-on experience. For example, a nutrition class can include shopping for and cooking a meal, which could also include a valuable lesson in hosting a social event, as well as the sanitary importance of cleaning up afterwards. One mother’s personal experience with family life and homeschooling lists some additional benefits.

The Challenges Presented by Family Life and Homeschooling

One of the challenges of family life and homeschooling is that the parents must often reeducate themselves. This is especially true in the age of technology, in which new information is being discovered and disseminated more quickly than at any other time in human history. Because it is rare for any person to have a passion for every subject, many parents that homeschool form support groups in order to utilize one another’s interests, talents and abilities. For example, a parent who enjoys and excels in teaching science but dreads teaching grammar might arrange to have their child attend another parent’s grammar lesson in exchange for their child attending a science lesson. Another benefit of this approach is that it provides an avenue for supervised socializing since home schooled children often have fewer opportunities to socialize.

One of the most common challenges of family life and homeschooling is that of sibling rivalry. Maintaining an emotional atmosphere that promotes optimum learning can be difficult. All families experience occasional conflict among siblings, and some parents report that teaching children respectful conflict resolution skills can be the most difficult aspect of family life and homeschooling. Another is the potential for parental burnout, since parents who home school are often on duty 24 hours a day. That’s why scheduling time away to relax on a regular basis is extremely important.

In 1909, President Woodrow Wilson, who was then the president of Princeton University, said “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity to forgo the privilege of a liberal education.” For many parents who want their children to receive a first class education, but are unable to pay expensive tuition, homeschooling can reduce the effects of income inequality.

There is no shortage of examples of successful people who learned to be such independent thinkers at a young age that they found it unnecessary to earn a college degree. That list includes computer whizzes Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Michael Dell, creator of the CNN news network Ted Turner. Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, and Warren Avis of Avis Rent-a-Car. It’s hard to argue with success like that.

family life and homeschooling

clinical child psychologist

How Trauma Can Result in Inspiration Leading to Positive Change: Dr. Tanya Bryon

“Our distorted perception of young people creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: why bother to try when you are told that you are a failure? Why bother to strive when your existence is seen as a nuisance?”

–Clinical Child Psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron

Dr. Tanya Byron, born to film and television director and nurse and model Elfie Corbett, is more than your average clinical child psychologist. Photogenic and media savvy, she was professionally trained in psychology at University College London, and University of Surrey and North London Collegiate School, University of York, from which she received an honorary doctorate in 2009. She was inspired by both her parents and the tragic loss of her grandmother, who was murdered by an addict when Byron was only 15. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled “The evaluation of an outpatient treatment programme for stimulant drug misuse”.
For 18 years, she world for the British National Health Service as a clinical child psychologist in the field of drug addiction and mental disorders. That extensive experience informed the popular television shows, Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways. In addition to those shows, she collaborated with Jennifer Saunders in creating the sitcom The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle  for the BBC. Her media presence has extended to radio as well, including a program about psychiatry called All in the Mind.

Clinical Child Psychologist and Youth Advocate

In addition to her work as a clinical child psychologist, she is also an educational and political activist. She often advocates for young people and has expressed outrage over the fact that only 6% of the budget of the National Health Service is reserved for young people, despite being 25% of the population. She believes that adolescents and young adults represent 50% of mental health cases. In her view, money spent on early intervention can prevent chronic conditions that require costly long-term treatment from developing.
In a 2009 article written for the Guardian, she pointed out that society seems to have a fear of children, which she calls ephebiphobia, or the fear of youth. Her advocacy of youth includes calling for a more individualized educational system rather than one that encourages what she calls a herd mentality. Overcrowded classrooms can lead to mob behavior that increases society’s fear of youth. In her view, under the current system, nearly all young people could be classified as at-risk.


One Clinical Child Psychologist’s View of the Educational System

Ironically, in the view of this clinical child psychologist, part of being at-risk is the result of overprotective parents responding to media sensationalism and wanting to protect their children from dangers such as violent crime. Such protection comes at the cost of the risk-taking that is necessary to experience life fully. In an interview, she expressed concern that parents “are removing the possibility for children to learn how to be emotionally resilient.” She is equally concerned that the system rewards high scores on tests, which has the effect of preventing teachers from creating more innovative teaching methods and students from learning valuable independent thinking skills.

Due to these concerns as a clinical child psychologist, in 2007, she headed an independent review sponsored in part by the Department for Children, Schools and Family which researched the effects of internet and video games on children’s mental health. The results, referred to as the Byron Review, were published with the title “Safer Children in a Digital World” in 2008. Her advocacy for youth includes providing an educational alternative in the form of Edge Hill University, where she is a Professor of Public Understanding of Science, as well as serving as the school’s first chancellor. A patron of Prospex, North London charity which works with young people, she also partners in a media company. In her first book, The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psychologist, published in April of this year, she recounts many of the most interesting cases she has encountered during her career.

A New Age of Enlightenment

One of the most interesting things about Ms. Byron is that, even as a clinical child psychologist, she questions current definitions of sanity and insanity in light of recent social trends. For example, in addition to questioning the effectiveness of the current educational system, she also believes that litigation and paranoia abound in Western society. Further she questions the wisdom of only rewarding “success´, for which society bestows high marks to students and money to adults, when failure is often a much better teacher. In her view, risk-taking is the key to both personal growth and positive social change. As humanity moves from the industrial to the technological age, positive change is something that many of our institutions are in need of if we are to make a successful transition into a new age of enlightenment.

clinical child psychologist

sperm donation

How Technology has Changed the Meaning of Family

The Creation of Family

For many single women and couples alike, artificial insemination has become an option for a variety of reasons. Single women who want to experience the joys of motherhood but haven’t found a suitable partner within the time allotted by their biological clocks are among them. Others have found suitable partners with less than viable sperm counts. Sperm donation is also often utilized by same-sex couples. Despite the continued controversy surrounding sperm donation, it has made parenthood possible for many for whom without it, would have never had the opportunity to create a loving family.

In the U.S., it is estimated that between 30,000 and 60,000 children are conceived through sperm donation and artificial insemination each year. These statistics are approximations because the fertility isn’t yet required to report statistics. According to current statistics in the United Kingdom , there has been a steady increase in the number of young people under age 25 registering as sperm donors, who account for a quarter of newly registered donors.

Controversies Surrounding Sperm Donation

Sperm donation has been controversial since its invention. Part of the reason for that was that the very first reported case of artificial insemination violated a number of ethical principles that most people adhere to. In that case, which took place in Philadelphia in 1884, a professor of medicine obtained sperm from his most physically attracted student and inseminated an anesthetized woman whose husband was sterile—without her consent! Global advances in women’s rights would make such a thing unthinkable today. However, there are still a number of objections to the practice of sperm donation.

Many of those objections are based in religious beliefs. Most religions prohibit practices which interfere with natural processes believed to be sanctioned by a creator. Sperm donation is among those prohibited practices. This prohibition is one of the reasons for the development of an “infertility belt” in areas of central and southern Africa, where preventable infections and poor nutrition often result in infertility. Poverty also prevents many people from utilizing other more costly options offered by modern technology, such as in vitro fertilization.

However, the controversy surrounding the practice of sperm donation is not just a religious one. For example, one article claims that children produced through artificial insemination suffer from identity confusion. Another article points to the potential for racism in choosing a sperm donor. Others point out that unlike the adoption process, the process of artificial insemination is still largely unregulated in comparison. For example, there is no screening process for prospective parents. Just as many adoptions are now “open”, allowing adopted children the option to know and develop relationships with their biological parents, some are calling for the same rights for children conceived through artificial insemination. In a survey, two-thirds of people questioned believed that donor offspring had a right to information about the donor.

Sperm Donation Regulation

Sperm banks have a screening process for donors, and some even have criteria for a minimum height. Others adhere to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for suitability regarding sperm samples. According to an article in Salon magazine, the cost of screening donors is partially responsible for the protocols in place, such as the requirement that donors agree to donate once a week for up to a year. The article also points out the ways in which practices surrounding male sperm donations versus female egg donations differ. For example, women donating eggs are required to speak to a mental health professional about potential issues of loss or guilt, while men donating sperm are not. Women are also held to stricter physical requirements. Additionally, the amount of payment can be affected by race. In this case, higher payments are made to non-white donors due to their relative scarcity.

However, no matter how much regulation is in place, mistakes can still happen. For example, in one recent highly publicized case, a woman received sperm from a donor of another race, when she had specifically chosen a blue-eyed, blond donor. When she sued the sperm bank, their attorney argued that her claim of “wrongful birth” couldn’t be sustained because a healthy child had been born. The court agreed. The parents of the beautiful, healthy mixed-race child now have to consider moving to a more diverse community for the safety and well-being of their child due to the high incidence of racism in their current community.

Rather than utilizing professional sperm banks, a growing number of people are choosing donors from among family and friends, thereby making the process more closely resemble an open adoption. One study showed that lesbian moms were most likely to choose sperm donors who are willing to be contacted someday.

Just as parents often struggle with whether, or when, to tell their adopted children that they were chosen, parents of children born of artificial insemination face the same struggle. While like adopted children, they may feel a need to seek out their birth parents, studies show that whatever their origin, children who are given time, attention, and love grow up to be happy and well- adjusted adults.

sperm donation

parental expert

Parental Expert Jo Frost And The True Meaning Of Values And Time In Parenting.

“Your role is not to make your child happy every moment of the day regardless of the personal cost, but to raise her to be a thoughtful, kind, productive citizen of the world. Some people would beg to differ, but it’s not a choice to discipline or not. Your child needs discipline, just like she needs food and water.”

An Unconventional Parental Expert

Recognized parental expert Jo Frost was skyrocketed to fame by the popular television show “Supernanny”. Supernanny, debuted on the UK’s channel 4 in July of 2004 and ran for a full seven seasons until it’s final episode in March of 2011. The show was viewed in 48 countries, including the U.S., with an estimated viewership of over 5 million. Her books have also sold in the millions.

One of the things that differentiates her from any other parental expert is the life experience she gained during her years as a professional nanny. While another “parental expert” may offer the results of research studies based on theoretical analysis, she offers solutions to many of the difficult real-life situations that modern parents actually face. Further, viewers can literally see the implementation, as well as the results, of these solutions for themselves.

Top Three Parenting Tips from a Parental Expert

In one interview, when asked what her top three parenting advice tips were, she offered the following advice.

  1. First, she recommended that parents ask themselves what their values are and what kind of parents they want to be. Considerations such as religious beliefs are a component of family value systems, as well as other values such as cooperation and responsibility. Results are easier to achieve when the goals are clear.
  2. Secondly, the importance of leading by example cannot be overestimated. A policy of “Do as I say and not as I do” results in hypocrisy which children are quick to identify and often rebel against. Even as a parental expert, Ms. Frost believes that no amount of expert advice can take the place of role modeling the behaviors that parents want to encourage and develop in their children. Further, rather than just being blank slates to be taught, children, by mirroring their parent’s behavior often teach their parents as well. One of the most important emotional characteristics that parents model for their children is that of respect.
  3. Her third top parenting tip is for parents to make time for their children. Learning requires both time and patience, both of which are important elements of the ability to demonstrate love. In an increasingly materialistic world in which many adults driven by economic concerns have forgotten its true value, children still recognize that time is much more than just money.

Parental Expert Advice on Parenting Effectiveness versus Parental Ego

In an interview with the Telegraph, she even offered parenting tips to the interviewer, including the opinion that use of a “dummy” or pacifier can delay speech. Known for her straightforward style and willingness to sacrifice parental ego in pursuit of positive results, she stressed the importance of discipline in parenting. However, she insists that parents must discipline themselves as well as their children. Using a sports analogy, she made the point that

“We do not question an athlete who is disciplined in order to achieve their goals, and yet as parents the same premise is not applied.”

In addition to her other work in television and the publishing industry, Jo Frost works with the United Nations Foundation‘s Shot@Life movement as an advocate. The program’s goal is to decrease preventable childhood diseases through vaccination. She was also recently named the newest celebrity patron by the anaphylaxis campaign in her continued quest to raise consciousness of children’s health concerns.

While her work has kept her too busy to start a family of her own so far, in an interview with the Daily Mirror, she revealed that she and her fiancé, Darrin Jackson, with whom she lives in California, are considering doing just that. One of the most valuable legacies of her work is demonstrating that with consistent practice, anybody can become a parental expert.

parental expert


education of parenting styles

Can an Education in Parenting Styles Actually Improve Parenting?

“The rearing of the child must become a process of liberation by methods which shall not impose ready-made ideas, but which should aid the child’s natural self-unfoldment. The purpose of such an education is not to force the child’s adaptation to accepted concepts, but to give free play to his [and her] originality, initiative, and individuality”.

–Alexander Berkman

Mothers’ Experiences with Education of Parenting Styles

Julia Grant’s 1998 book, Raising Baby by the Book: The Education of Mothers, provides an overview of the education of parenting styles throughout modern history. Rather than hearing from the experts, though, we hear from mothers who took the experts’ advice and what they experiences as a result. Through interviews with a diverse group of mothers from a wide variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, we are able to see the actual impact of the education of parenting styles on their everyday lives.

Since there is so much conflicting advice among those dedicated to the education of parenting styles, parents have become more discriminating consumers of professional advice. Most no longer follow such advice to the letter, but adapt it to their own circumstances, or sometimes, choose to ignore it completely. However, since parenting is probably the most difficult, and most important, endeavor that anyone can undertake, there will likely never be a shortage of new literature on the education of parenting styles to choose from.

The Role of Education of Parenting Styles in Determining Social Policy

Many people believe that parenting skills should be taught in school. One article in the Guardian, described a government program called Save the Children, designed to provide free parenting classes for anyone with a child under five years of age. Researchers will be studying the results of such programs. One of the reasons for the government instituting parenting classes is the belief that improved parenting will reduce social unrest manifested in behaviors such as rioting. Such behaviors in response to difficult living conditions created by economic inequality are increasingly being attributed to poor parenting free sample pack.
According to children’s minister Sarah Teather

“We want parents to be able to seek help and advice in the earliest years of their child’s life and for this to be a normal part of family life.”

The program is being piloted in areas experiencing a high degree of economic deprivation. Octavius Black, the founder of one of the courses taught in the program, believes that parenting skills can be taught. However, he also believes that sensitivity is required when initiating such programs because “challenging someone’s parenting skills is one of the strongest challenges to their identity”. High levels of participation in such programs is only possible if providers present the programs as a way to help parents build on their strengths, rather than shaming them for their weaknesses.

The Role of Education of Parenting Styles in Abuse Prevention

According to the Brookings Institute, in the U.S., there are more than 3 million investigations of child abuse each year. From those investigations, 800,000 children are identified as abused or neglected. For more than 1,500 children each year, the abuse and neglect is severe enough to result in death. Those deaths are usually attributed to parents overwhelmed by a sense of failure.
The institute points to research that demonstrates that parenting classes can not only reduce abuse and neglect, but can also save money. The offer statistics which prove that spending a relatively small amount to provide free parenting classes can save costly therapy and incarceration in the future. In addition to improving child development in terms of academic and social achievement, good parenting also results in reducing child mental illness and teen pregnancy.

Three such parenting programs have been tested in studies and were found to improve parenting outcomes. The first program, called Parent Management Training (PMT) uses a science-based approach, utilizing everything science has learned about parenting. The second program, used with families involved with child welfare services is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). This intervention program is the only one that requires parents to show competency in a variety of effective parenting skills to successfully complete the program.

The third program, developed in Australia and employed in a large-scale trial at the University of South Carolina, is called the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program. The program was found to reduce child maltreatment and the number of out-of-home placements. It was calculated that these programs resulted in real savings of $3,427 per family, a figure which did not include potential future costs of health services directly related to abuse. The cost of the media portion of the program cost less than $1.00 per child, and the costs of training service providers to host the classes was calculated at a modest $11.74 per child. In addition to government programs, there are also a number of helpful online parenting classes.

Perhaps one of the most important components of parenting classes is the support system that parents are able to develop with other parents while attending them. Being with people facing similar challenges teaches parents that they aren’t alone.

education of parenting styles
Maternal Cares, Color repro. of watercolor by Maud Humphrey Maud_Humphrey
social change for single parents

How Single Parenthood Helps Bring Out the Best in Society

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

–Richard Bach

Global Social Change for Single Parent

Family structures are changing all over the world.  One modern aspect of social change for single parents is the increasing number of single parent households. Current statistics show that in North America, Oceania, and Europe, about one-fifth of children live in single parent households. In the United States, the rate is 27% in the U.K. and New Zealand it stands at 24%. Experts expect these numbers to continue to rise.

One of the reasons for this increase is that the meaning of marriage has changed over the years. With more career opportunities available for women, marriage has become more of an option than the financial necessity it once was. Additionally, attitudes towards both religion and women’s sexuality have changed. For example, it was once common to refer to children born “out of wedlock” as “bastard children”. Today, stigmatizing a child with that label would be almost unthinkable.

Social Change for Single Parents—the Role of Social Stigma

Similarly, although the social stigma once associated with single parenthood still exists, it is not as severe as it was in the past. Unmarried couples and parents living together has become common practice in many countries. For example, in North America, about four in 10 children, or 41%, are born outside of marriage. In Canada, the rate is 27%, and in Mexico, 55%.

An article in the Guardian points out that much of the stigma of single parenthood has been unfairly directed at women and is largely the product of sexual double standards. Women were held singularly responsible for controlling both their own, and their suitors’, sexual urges. Those who failed in this social responsibility were often forced to give their children up for adoption and were shunned by society as “fallen women”.

In recent years, society has begun to shift some of that responsibility to men in the form of DNA testing and child support laws. It is no longer considered socially acceptable for a man to escape supporting his children simply by refusing to marry their mother. Existing economic conditions within individual countries also plays a part in the amount of social stigma associated with single parenthood. Usually, in times of prosperity, the stigma decreases, while it increases in times of economic hardship.

Challenges of Social Change for Single Parents

According to 2012 data, there is an educational gap between children raised in single parent households compared to those raised in two parent households. A standardized test administered by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been given every three years since the year 2000 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The test includes measures the math, science, and reading achievement of 15-year-old students in 28 participating countries.

In almost every country, students living in single-parent households had lower achievement scores than those in two-parent households. In the United States, there was an average difference of 27 points, which is equal to approximately one grade level. However, it was also shown that the presence of books in the home affected those figures. Because the presence of books in the home is a factor, one positive social change for single parents and their children would be an increase in mobile libraries.

Past studies revealed academic disparities between different racial groups, disparities which were later shown to be the result of poverty rather than ethnicity. Similarly, it is impossible to ignore statistics which demonstrate the number of single parent households living in poverty. For example, in the United States, 45% of all female single parent households lived at or below the poverty level, compared to 21% of male single parent households.

The link between poverty and low academic scores is well documented, with some experts believing it to be the most important contributing factor linked to academic failure.

Positive Social Change for Single Parents

Despite the discouraging economic statistics for single parents, there has been a great deal of positive social change for single parents. For example, many single parents are coming together and creating communities which in many ways serve as extended families. These communities, in addition to providing emotional support, also enable people to barter child care and other goods and services that improve the quality of family life, rather than paying for it.

Modern social support systems for single parents also include a number of non-profit organizations that provide education, activities, and valuable social connections to struggling families. As many governments are cutting benefits, single parents are beginning to depend more on one another. The benefits to children are incalculable.

All studies show that the more adult role models and positive emotional support a child receives, the better. While the industrial revolution separated us, the technological revolution is re-connecting us. No matter how much technological progress we make, when it comes to raising happy healthy children, it’s always going to take a village.

Laubenstein Karen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CC2.0
social change for fathers

How Social Change For Fathers Has An Unshakable Impact On Family Life

A Time of Social Change for Fathers

A stay-at-home father is defined as a father who is the primary caregiver of his children under the age of 18. According to statistics, the number of stay-at-home fathers has risen significantly in the last decade. According to the U.S. Census, 32% of married fathers provide regular care for their children, compared to 26% in 2002. Regular care is defined as a consistent arrangement of at least one day per week. A 2014 Pew Research study estimates the number of stay-at-home fathers in the U.S. at 2 million, double the number reported in 1989. The criteria was based on men aged 18-69 who living with their children who were not employed for pay in the prior year.

According to research, stay-at-home fathers are less likely to have a high school diploma than working fathers. Equally disturbing, 47% of them live at the poverty level, compared to only 8% for working fathers. The number of stay-at-home mothers living at the poverty level is 34%, since many have working spouses. Stay-at-home fathers are also more likely to be disabled than stay-at-home mothers, with statistics at 50% for women and 68% for men.

And so, accurate statistics regarding fathers who choose to stay at home are difficult to obtain because many include unemployed or disabled fathers for whom providing childcare may be a temporary economic necessity rather than a choice. Conversely, the statistics may not count men who were employed full-time outside the home for a portion of the previous year. They also don’t account for fathers who work part time as well as being their children’s primary caregivers.

The Effects of Social Change for Fathers

In one article in which several families with stay-at-home dads were interviewed, some men reported feelings of inferiority, loss of self-esteem, self-respect. This demonstrates the necessity for increasing social awareness of the extreme importance of the task of child-rearing. Stephanie Coontz, a member of the Council on Contemporary Families, believes the number of stay-at-home fathers is much higher than official statistics indicate.

She believes that this growing trend of social change for fathers is due in part to the fact that more women are earning college degrees, and as a result, 28% of women earn more than their husbands. She also believes that men feel

“not just pressure, but the desire to be more involved in family life and child care and housework and cooking. And at the same time, all of the polls are showing that women are now just as likely as men to say that they want to have challenging careers.”

She adds that one of the ways men are being affected is that they are now experiencing

“higher levels of work-family conflict than women are.”

The Slow Rate of Social Change for Fathers

The concept of stay-at-home fathers is still a controversial one. Society has been slow to change the long-held view that women are more suited for caring for children. For example, in a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 51% of people surveyed believed that children benefit from their mothers remaining at home. However, only 8% believed children would benefit from their fathers remaining at home to care for them.

One example of society’s resistance to social change for fathers is a 2007 article that reported the results of a study of 6000 families with stay-at-home fathers. The Bristol project, funded by the Government’s Economic and Social Research Council, concluded that boys cared for by their fathers were less prepared for education when they started school. However, at the time of the study, potentially costly policies allowing fathers 26 weeks of paid paternity leave were expected to be approved and implemented.

Expert Opinions on Social Change for Fathers

Other experts, citing other studies, suggest the opposite. Psychologist Ross Parke has conducted many studies on fatherhood, including a study of 390 families in which parents described how they played with their children. He concluded that father’s play was

“characterized by arousal, excitement, and unpredictability”,

whereas mother’s was

“more modulated and less arousing”.

In his opinion, fathers teach their children how to use their bodies and regulate their emotions. Psychologist Daniel Paquette asserts that fathers’ distinct contributions to parenting include helping children be open to the world, take risks, and stand up for themselves.

Statistics also show that boys with quality relationships with their fathers are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior, while girls are more likely to avoid teen-aged pregnancy. A lower incidence of depression is reported by all teens that have a consistent relationship with their fathers, regardless of gender. Rather than research discouraging fathers from staying home with their children, it should be used to demonstrate the necessity for more parenting education—and experience.

Continued social change for fathers will ultimately result in greater mutual understanding and respect between the sexes. It may just result in a greater variety of more flexible and fulfilling roles for everyone, too.

social change for fathers

family life and adoption

Family Life and Adoption: Humanity’s Capacity for Care

For many couples unable to have children, and increasingly, couples who choose to adopt rather than, or in addition, having children of their own, experience the joys of parenthood. Increasingly, single people are also choosing family life and adoption rather than foregoing parenthood because they haven’t found a suitable partner. Adoption also benefits children by providing them with the stable loving environment that young, economically challenged, or inexperienced birth parents are unable to provide.

According to the most recent statistics, global child adoption rates have declined significantly in the past decade, from 22,991 in 1994 to 7092 in 2013. When most people think of adoption, they picture newborn infants, but surprisingly, children under one year of age represented only 541 of adoptions, with the greatest percentage of adopted children, at 2,682, being children aged 1-2 years old, followed by children aged 5-12 at 2,031. Of the children adopted in 2013, 54.6% were female and 45.4% were male.

Family Life and Adoption: A Global Perspective

The countries in which the most adoptions occurred in 2013 were China, Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and South Korea. While it may appear that the need may be greatest in those countries, statistics often don’t tell the whole story. For example, in 2011, of the 423,000 children in the U.S. without a permanent family, only 115,000 were eligible for adoption. This is partly the result of family life and adoption laws that grant birth parents suffering from addiction the opportunity to obtain treatment before severing their parental rights.

According to a 2009 U.N. report, 20 countries still did not have legal procedures in place for the adoption of children. Each country’s laws, restrictions and requirements are different. For example, at the time of the report, single people were only allowed to adopt in 15 countries.
 As late as the 19th century, many adoptions were for the benefit of adults rather than children. Common reasons for adoption included preserving inheritances, the continuation of family names, and expanding political power and influence by forging family alliances. It was only in the late 19th century that the welfare of children began to become the primary focus of adoption.

Questions, Benefits and Challenges Surrounding Family Life and Adoption

One site addresses many of the questions as well as myths surrounding adoption. One of those questions is whether it is possible for a parent to love an adoptive child as much as a biological one. If we spend time as well as money on that which we love, the fact that almost 75% of adopted children are read or sung to every day answers that question with a resounding yes.

The financial costs of adopting a child in the U.S. range from $5000 to $40,000, depending upon the type of agency and whether it is an inter-country adoption.

There are many benefits of adopting a child, for parents, children, and even birth mothers. One of the clearest benefits to the child is knowing they were wanted. Unlike pregnancies, an unplanned family life and adoption doesn’t exist.
Current adoption trends are also less traumatic for birth mothers than in the past, when they were not given any information about the adoptive parents and often never saw the child again. Today, open adoptions in which birth mothers continue to play a limited role in the child’s life are becoming far more common. In fact, currently, 67 percent of private adoptions in the U.S. are open to varying degrees according to agreements reached by the birth mother and the adoptive parents.
There are also some unique challenges associated with family life and adoption. Several studies conducted with adoptive parents revealed that many of those challenges are dependent upon the age of the child when the adoption took place. Older children often face psychological concerns such as abandonment issues and attachment disorders. The degree of psychological counseling necessary to successfully address these issues can also depend to a large extent on the number of moves the child experienced before being adopted. Shockingly, some children have experienced as many as 58 moves. Older adopted children may also experience more difficulty during social transitions, such as attending a new school.
However, there are not many difficulties associated with family life and adoption that can’t be overcome with love and commitment, two things that adoptive parents have in abundance. There is no other explanation for the existence of so many adopted people who went on to become successful.
A few of the most famous and successful people who began life as an adopted child include inventor and business mogul Steve Jobs, singers and musicians Faith Hill and John Lennon, and former U.S. President Gerald Ford.
family life and adoption
Mother Berthe Holding Her Child, Mary Cassatt, 1889 CC by 4.0
mixed family life

Intercultural Marriages: One of the Keys to a Better Future?

The Increasing Social Acceptance of Mixed Family Life

Mixed, or interracial marriages have only been legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, although many states chose to legalize it earlier. Anti-miscegenation laws both defined racial identity and enforced the racial hierarchy. After its legalization, interracial marriages increased from 2% in 1970 to 7% by 2005 and 8.4% by 2010. 15% of all new marriages in 2010 were interracial.
Statistics show that whites have the lowest percentage of interracial marriages, at 9.4%, compared to that of Asians and Hispanics at 25%, and blacks at 17.1%.
This increase in interracial marriage isn’t confined to the U.S. but is increasing globally as well. In 2011, 4.6% of all Canadian civil unions were interracial ones, compared to 3.9% in 2006 and 2.6% in 1991.
Of all the recorded marriages in Australia in 2009, approximately 42% one of the partner was born in a country other than Australia. In 2005, Korea reported a 21.6% increase in mixed marriages from the previous year. In the U.K., in 2011, 10% of people were reported as having a mixed family life, up from just 2% in 2001.

Historical Reasons for Mixed Family Life

Today, most interracial marriages are freely chosen, but that hasn’t always been the case. Many interracial marriages throughout history have been the result of slavery or economic hardships that prompted people to immigrate to other countries. For example, in 1891 in British Guiana, the ratio of Indian men to Indian women was 100:63 and the ratio of Chinese men to Chinese women was 100:43.
In many cases, racial intermarriage was the result of a shortage of women of their own culture. In San Luis Potosí Mexico, 3.45% of the population tested were found to possess O-M175 which is a common genetic marker among Chinese, East Asian, Southeast Asian and Central Asian.
Interracial marriages have also been used by rulers throughout history to expand their land holdings. For example, a story called “The Seven Beauties” written in Persian in 1196 describes a prince marrying seven foreign princesses from different racial cultures. They included Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Khwarezmian, Tartar and Slavic. Interracial marriage has also been used to ease cultural transitions during times of rapid expansion.
During the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368, in order to reduce violence that resulted from a clash of cultures as the country expanded, the Ming administration enforced a policy requiring all West and Central Asian males to intermarry with native Chinese females. However, this method of assimilation is not always successful. The Hui people, descendants of those subjected to that policy, rebelled against the government and tried to create an independent state in the 19th century.

Some Common Challenges of Mixed Family Life

One of the challenges of intercultural families face are differences in ideology, which includes religion and other cultural differences. Even wedding traditions differ from culture to culture, as well as how marriage is viewed. One culture may have a very different tradition of religious worship than another.
The same is true of child rearing practices. Disagreements over methods of discipline arise even in families with parents of similar backgrounds. Couples in mixed marriages must contend with learning and understanding the belief systems of their partners. Luckily, with the increase in mixed family life, there has also been an increase in the number of books written that address many of the issues they face. Some experts recommend using a list of cultural questions during the dating process to achieve a higher level of understanding. Depending upon where they live, many interracial couples also report having to deal with a degree of racism, which can also have an adverse effect on mixed family life.

The Many Benefits of Mixed Family Life

One of the advantages of an intercultural marriage is learning about other cultures. The ability to incorporate many of the best aspects of two different cultures enriches the life experience of the whole family. There are also some biological and genetic benefits in that the risks for some diseases and physical conditions are higher in some races, and those risks are reduced in children born into interracial marriages.
Finally, as a result of exposure to different cultural traditions and belief systems, individuals tend to become more tolerant of the cultural differences of others. That means that intercultural families have the potential not to just increase understanding and tolerance within individual families, but within entire societies as well. Modern technology has connected the global human community to an extent never before possible. It’s possible that with the increasing number of people serving as modern pioneers of freely chosen mixed family life, racism may one day become as extinct as the dinosaur.
 mixed family life
bonobo animal mother

Sisterhood Is Powerful: The Bonobo Animal Mother

Human mothers could learn a few things from a bonobo animal mother. One of the most important parenting skills of the bonobo animal mother is mastering group dynamics. In addition to being smaller than their cousins, the chimpanzee, one of the distinguishing features of the bonobo is their matriarchal society. Despite being smaller than the males, through the power of sisterhood, female bonobos enjoy superior social status. Bonding together, they present a united front in support of the alpha female.

One of the bonding mechanisms of peaceful bonobo society is sexuality, which is utilized for many purposes other than reproduction. In fact, sexual activity between females is common, and serves a variety of purposes in addition to creating strong bonds. Bonobos are non-monogamous, and rather sexuality being a form of exclusive commitment, it is instead a form of social diplomacy. It may be one of the reasons that rank is less important in bonobo society than in those of other primates.

Sex among bonobos serves many of the same purposes that it does for humans. Sexual behavior is engaged in to de-escalate aggression, express excitement, or even as a form of greeting. Whatever the reason, the result is usually an increase in sharing and compassion. These beneficial effects of sexuality have been described by sex therapist Dr. Susan Block in her book “The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure”.

Similarities and Differences Between the Human Mother and the Bonobo Animal Mother

Motherhood has its privileges, and as the sole guardians of future generations, one of those privileges is control over the food supply. Even though bonobo society is a relatively peaceful and harmonious one, bonobo animal mother is a fierce defender. Banding together, the females will attack any male bonobo that poses a threat to the resources necessary to care for their young. They have even been known to bite off fingers and toes.

Males are afforded social status only through the acceptance and consent of the alpha female. The rank of the male is dependent upon the rank of his mother, the sons of alpha mothers enjoying the highest rank among the males. Child-bearing age for the bonobo animal mother begins between 13 and 14 years of age. Unlike human mothers, they only give birth every five to six years. During those five years, the bonobo animal mother carries and nurses her offspring.

Our Genetic Link to the Development of Empathy

Genetically, humans have more in common with the bonobo than most people realize. In fact, humans share 98.7% of their DNA with bonobos. Human lineage diverged from that of chimpanzees and bonobos over five million years ago. Chimpanzees and bonobos diverged only two million years ago, so they still share 99.6% of the same genomes. Unfortunately, the Bonobo, which live along the Congo River, have become an endangered species. In order to preserve them, and everything we can still learn about ourselves through them, an animal sanctuary was created in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There, researchers Zanna Clay and Frans de Waal of Emory University were able to further study study their social behavior. Their focus was on the emotional development of bonobos as expressed by consolatory behavior after experiencing distress during a negative social interaction. The results of their study demonstrated many developmental similarities between bonobos and human children. One of those similarities was the importance of the relationship between mothering and the development of empathy for others.
It was found that orphaned bonobos cared for by the animal sanctuary displayed less empathy and conciliatory behavior than those cared for by their mothers. As with humans, conciliatory behavior includes affectionate touching upon meeting after having distanced as the result of an accidental injury during horseplay or a dispute. Those cared for by their mothers were able to regulate their emotions more effectively, displaying conciliatory behavior sooner than the orphaned bonobos. In human terms, they were less likely to hold a grudge after having been offended or injured.
Empathy and conciliatory behavior is even more important for humans, which experience sibling rivalry as well as social competition for resources. Humans have also developed dangerously sophisticated weaponry with which to resolve their disputes. All parents would do well to foster, and expand, the capacity for empathy found in bonobo society, or we too may one day become an endangered species.
bonobo animal mother