Here’s another shot in the debate over “attachment parenting," the newly popular style of American mothering (and yes, it almost always refers to moms) that includes “always-on” mommy behavior such as baby wearing, extended breastfeeding, and co-sleeping.
A study published recently in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that mothers who subscribe to this sort of intensive style of parenting – moms who feel, for instance, that they are the essential caregiver for their child, or that mothering should be child-centered with a constant stream of intellectually stimulating activities for the kid – tend to have more stress and lower levels of life satisfaction than other parents.
In the new study, researchers from the Psychology department at the University of Mary Washington – Kathryn Rizzo, Holly Schiffrin, and Miriam Liss – evaluated online surveys by 181 mothers with children under 5 years old. Their goal was to gain more insight into what has become known as the “Parenting Paradox.”
The Parenting Paradox is the discrepancy that’s been found in a number of studies between people’s idealized perception of parenthood (that it is one the most beautiful and fulfilling experiences in life) and the negative mental health outcomes often associated with parenthood. (More stress, less happiness, more fatigue, that nagging and constant desire to sleep past 6 a.m. for one day, just one day, please.)
The Mary Washington researchers noted, though, that there is quite a lot of debate about this paradox. While some studies have linked parenthood with these lowered levels of happiness, higher stress levels, and so forth, others have found no link between parenthood and psychological well-being. (These latter studies find that parenting is a tradeoff. As in, sure, the morning wake-ups are a drag, but then there’s that beautiful, smiling baby cooing in the crib. Let’s call it a wash.)
Perhaps, the researchers theorized, it was the style of parenting that led to the paradox, not the fact of parenting itself.
So they asked moms a series of questions to identify those who have embraced “intensive” mothering. Moms rated how strongly they agreed with statements such as: “Although fathers may mean well, they generally are not as good at parenting as mothers.” Or: “Finding the best educational opportunities for children is important as early as preschool.” And: “It is harder to be a good mother than to be a corporate executive.” (For those who think Marissa Meyer doesn’t know what she has coming.)
The researchers controlled for family support, which they expected would have a significant impact on mom’s perceived happiness. Then they broke down the other findings. And it turned out that some key indicators of what they described as intense parenting had strong correlations with lower mental health markers for mom.
Women who believed that mothers were the most capable parent, for instance, had significantly higher levels of stress and life satisfaction. (Researchers theorized that these moms might be less likely to accept help with child rearing – even from dad.) Those who believed that parenting is challenging also seemed to suffer – they had higher levels of depression and stress, as well as lower life satisfaction.
“Believing that parenting is demanding appears to be particularly toxic for women,” the researchers wrote. “It may be that if women are supposed to be inherently natural parents (i.e., Essentialism), then viewing it as difficult and exhausting is particularly bad for women’s mental health.”
And women who believed that parents’ lives should revolve around their children (this was measured by answers to child-centered questions in the survey) had lower levels of life satisfaction.
“If intensive mothering is related to so many negative mental health outcomes, why do women do it?” the researchers asked. “They may think it makes them better mothers ... so they are willing to sacrifice their own mental health to enhance their children’s cognitive and socio-economic outcomes.”
But there needs to be more research, the scholars wrote, to see whether this sort of parenting does, actually, benefit kids.
“Intensive parenting may have the opposite effect on children from what parents intend,” they wrote.
Something to chew on during the baby's next teachable moment.
Compared with Mattel’s typical fare, the Katniss doll was refreshingly unsexualized – reflecting the character’s positive portrayal in the film. The Katniss doll is flat-footed (no Barbie-style feet molded for high heels), and she is dressed for battle (not in a gown or dress).
Compared with the typical Barbie doll, Mattel’s Katniss wears very little makeup. Only her eyes seem made up, but the colors are neutral, suggesting this is actually meant as contouring to make the doll’s eyes appear more three-dimensional.
In the beginning of June, Mattel released another doll based on a strong female character: Merida from Disney/Pixar’s "Brave." (The film was released June 22.) Merida is an atypical princess: Like Katniss, she is strong-willed, independent, and a skilled archer.
Unfortunately, unlike Mattel’s Katniss doll, Mattel’s versions of Merida leave much to be desired. Melissa Wardy of the Redefine Girly blog was shopping at Target, and she was shocked by Mattel’s small doll treatment of Merida. The small doll is a 6.5 inches tall, fully plastic doll priced at $5.99. Regarding this doll, Melissa wrote:
"The toy that comes out of the package looks nothing like the character on the package. The toy looks like Merida’s hot older sister, who despite living in the Scottish highlands during medieval times, got her hands on some serious eyeliner and lipstick."
A quick Internet search indicates that Mattel’s other Merida dolls aren’t much better. Their 13-inch fashion doll version is priced at $17.95. You will notice the incredibly long eyelashes, the impeccably groomed eyebrows, the rosebud lips, the gentle expression, and the dainty body language. Also, she is wearing the dress Merida is depicted as hating in the movie, for she is obliged to wear a restrictive corset beneath it.
For a few dollars more ($20.99), Mattel also offers a “Gem Styling Merida Doll,” dressed for archery … and sparkly fashion fun.
The product description on Amazon explains that girls can “decorate Merida’s hair or outfit with sparkly gems,” and that “girls will love reenacting their favorite scenes from the movie.” (Um, sorry, Mattel – there are no gem styling scenes in the movie. Poor Merida!)
Compare these dolls to any image of Merida from the film, and you’ll see that Mattel has feminized Merida, making her much more stereotypically girly and much more conventionally pretty than she is in the film.
Merida is lovely just the way she is. Mascara? Who needs it?
Fortunately, the version of Merida available for $16.50 from the Disney Store is truer to the film’s character. I checked out the products available in my local Disney Store and found them to be preferable to Mattel’s versions.
It has a more focused expression, the crooked smile (also found on the toddler doll), the lighter touch around the eyes, the film-centered accessories. All in all, it’s a nice doll. (I just hope Disney can resist making a super sparkly version.)
In short, a comparison of the different Merida dolls make it clear: Although Mattel designed a Katniss Everdeen doll that reflected the character’s strength and personality, when it came to Merida, Mattel didn’t even try.
But why would that be? Both Katniss and Merida are strong, independent, and enjoy archery – yet their treatments by Mattel couldn’t be more different.
The answer: Just as the films target different audience members, these dolls target different markets, as well.
According to Amazon.com, Mattel’s recommended age for the Merida dolls is “36 months to 8 years.”
Amazon says the recommended age for Mattel’s Katniss doll is 6 to 15. However, according to Barbiecollector.com, the Katniss doll is actually meant for adults. In point of fact, Katniss is from the Black Label line – all of which are described as being meant for adult collectors, ages 14 and up. Katniss’s design was led by one individual, Bill Greening, who describes himself as a "Hunger Games" fan and who approached the design with care.
“Hopefully 'Hunger Games' fans can appreciate the attention to detail,” Greening says. “The doll’s minimalistic style and details – such as her loosely braided hair and makeup-free look – also really embody the heroic character Katniss.”
Fan response has been tremendous: The Katniss doll sold out almost immediately and is now on back order with an expected availability four months from now.
Unfortunately, because Mattel’s "Brave" line is intended for the preschool-to-grade-school set, Merida received no such treatment from Mattel. Presumably designed by committee, the Merida dolls rely on stereotypes about little girls’ interests. Make a little girl’s doll whose face isn’t redesigned to conform to Mattel’s beauty norms? Present a little girl’s doll as strong and independent, rather than dainty and sweet? Nah, that would be much too risky! Mattel clearly believes that long eyelashes and gemstone dress-up activities are a safer marketing bet.
In my opinion, Mattel underestimates little girls. Give them a Merida doll that reflects the movie’s character, and they will love it. Mattel is also blind to why parents have responded positively to the "Brave" trailers: many appreciate that Merida is not a stereotypically princess-like princess.
What a shame that Mattel couldn’t afford young girls who love "Brave" the same respect they afforded to the teens and adults who love "The Hunger Games."
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Rebecca Hains blogs at rebeccahains.wordpress.com.
I hope parents and educators have seen these two clear signs of how kids are using social media to “be the change.”
There’s 14-year-old Julia Bluhm from Maine who noticed that friends in ballet class were always criticizing their bodies and spearheaded a protest in front of Seventeen magazine’s New York headquarters. She got 80,000-plus people around the world to sign her online petition at Change.org to get magazines to stop digitally altering models so that they appeared in photos “impossibly thin with perfect skin,” an MSNBC blog reports.
“Girls want to be accepted, appreciated, and liked. And when they don’t fit the criteria, some girls try to ‘fix’ themselves. This can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem,” Julia wrote at Change.org.
Although the magazine said it had “never been guilty of the extreme airbrushing that takes place in some other fashion magazines and advertising spreads,” it will publish a “Body Peace Treaty” in the August issue pledging, among other things to “‘always feature real girls and models who are healthy’ and ‘be totally up-front’ by posting pics from their photo shoots on their Tumblr,” MSNBC added.
They found a glaring omission on the website about the studio’s film "The Lorax:" none of the environmental messaging that was in Dr. Seuss’s book of that name – “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”
So they too started a petition at Change.org and got more than 57,000 signatures, ABC News reported. “An executive at Universal Studios told Mr. Wells that development was already in the works, and that his class accelerated their plans,” the Examiner later reported.
It’s exciting to see adults supporting and responding to what children seem to understand – how new media allow anybody to participate and make a difference now on a global stage. This is real-world civic engagement enabled by social media.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier blogs at NetFamilyNews.
Earlier this week Albie, our new Yellow Lab-Golden Retriever mix rescue dog, met Sheldon and Molson. I know, sounds like a Jewish comic and a Canadian brewer, but Sheldon and Molson are dogs Albie met at a local pond popular with dogs and their owners. We’ll come back to Sheldon and Molson in a moment.
Albie has already grown very attached to us, so much so that whenever I leave the house he sits by the door waiting for me to come home. (I know this because my wife told me, not because we have a doggie-cam.) You think I get that kind of affection from anyone else in the family? No wonder people love dogs.
Despite the bond that’s rapidly bound Albie to us and vice versa, our limited experience letting Albie off the leash has taught us two things: 1) he doesn’t know his name, and 2) he’s much faster than us. So, on our trips to the doggie pond, we’ve kept him on the leash because adjacent to the pond are acres and acres of woodlands. If Albie takes off, I’m going to have to run through the forest chasing him like Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Back to Sheldon and Molson: Sheldon is a 5-month-old mixed breed puppy and Molson is an older retriever. Molson was content to observe from a distance as Albie and Sheldon had an energetic game of tag. Albie was at a distinct disadvantage because every time Sheldon would nip his ear Albie would take off after him only to find he could travel exactly six feet. And don’t think Sheldon didn’t know Albie was tethered to a 180-pound man. He took full advantage of it.
Now, being a dog owner is going to take some getting used to. First, there’s camaraderie among dog owners that I’m not fully on board with yet. They are such friendly people, but I’d rather talk about politics than dogs for hours on end. Dog people seem to assume you’re as obsessed with dogs as they are. I’m just obsessed with Albie. (I mean, really; look at that picture. Is that a face?) Second, when Albie stops to relieve himself, I feel like I’m back in sixth grade trying to shoplift a Playboy from the newsstand at the Port Authority bus terminal in New York. I feel like everyone’s looking at me and thinking what I used to think when I saw people walking their dogs: “You’re really gonna pick that stuff up in a plastic bag and carry it home?”
Albie’s been with us almost two weeks now and as in any relationship you learn more about one another as time goes along. What I love about Albie – besides his ears, his nose, the shape of his head, his expressive eyes, his unfailingly gentle nature and his manners (trust me, you could leave a filet mignon on a plate he could easily reach and he won’t even make a move in that direction) – is his infinitely sweet disposition.
On the medical record form completed by a volunteer from Labs4Rescue in Louisiana where Albie was found as a stray, there’s a note at the bottom: “Sweet/soft boy,” it says. “Loves all.”
I think I could learn a lot from this dog.
A few weeks ago a new study came out of the University of Manitoba showing the effects of spanking and corporal punishment including slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues and mood disorders in adults, which includes depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse and that spanking ups the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent. This study only looked at regular discipline involving physical punishment and excluded more severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
The study was no surprise. The comments from readers were. Almost all were like these:
• My mom was a serial spanker when I was a kid. I am 63 and have managed a pretty normal life and I am no murderer or haven’t attempted suicide. I don’t remember ever getting spanked when I didn’t deserve it.
• This article is ridiculous. That is all.
• In my 65 years I’ve seen the results of people who were spanked on the behind and people who weren’t. I’ll hang out with the spanked ones, the others are usually horribly self-centered.
• I was spanked as were my siblings, as were my children.
• I got spanked quite a few times as a kid, and I deserved every one I ever got.
• Me too! And heaven help us if we picked a bad switch!
• I disagree with the experts, that is what is wrong with this society there is no consequence for their actions, so they don’t have a valid reason to not just do whatever they want from disrupting in public to murdering someone.
• I got spankings and I turned out fine. Let's not try to turn the tables to keep from spanking these bad a– kids.
• No study is going to tell me how to raise my kids. My mom did it old school and the four of us turned out just fine.
These are the ostrich parents who can’t or won’t look beyond their own experiences to see there are better ways; the parents who have their heads in the sand and see the only option to the traditional reward and punishment method as the complete opposite—pushovers who let their kids run wild with no limits. They are the black and white thinkers who miss the balance of connected, nurturing, yet structured parenting.
Are we really fine? Can we say what was good enough for me is good enough for my kid and keep on with the same old, same old? We are the society of the walking wounded. Do we really think our emotional state as a result of physical and emotional punishment is not going to affect our kids?
The biggest problem I see is parents who do reach out, who don’t want their heads in the sand but who want desperately to find a better way than how they were raised. Yet once they learn the skills they want to use, they often feel worse than ever because now they know what they want to do but they still can’t do it—because their buttons get pushed—because their past is haunting them. There’s a lot of work to do. Many would rather just continue blaming their kids.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Bonnie Harris blogs at Connective Parenting.
Dear Ms. Mayer: Congratulations on your new gig as CEO of Yahoo. Congratulations, too, on your other big news – your pregnancy. Congratulations as well on provoking many of us mothers out there who otherwise would have preferred to stay out of the “Mommy Wars.”
I have been loath to join the debate about whether women can have it all. But Ms. Mayer, you gave me no choice. How could I possibly stay mum after you told Fortune you were expecting your first child in October and you prefer to “stay in the rhythm of things.” Hence, you said, “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”
Those words at first made me seethe. Then, they made me sad for what you will miss if you focus more on work than on the first weeks, let alone months, of motherhood. Not to mention, what about the physical recovery time many mothers need after childbirth? Two weeks is nothing. Your body, believe me, will feel a lot different after delivery.
What message are you sending to mothers in America being so nonchalant about maternity leave? The nation’s Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows new parents to take up to 12 unpaid weeks of leave, was only passed in 1993. Our country is behind many other nations, and if anything, the United States needs to do more not less to give new mothers a break before they return to work. Australia, for example, gives new mothers up to one year of job-protected leave, according to an Associated Press article. You have a terrific bully pulpit as a new female CEO. The message you’re sending now is terrifying. Have a new baby, work at home as much as you can during those exhausting first weeks of motherhood, then head back to the office.
I too had a great job when I became pregnant with my first and only child. I was an assistant city editor overseeing education at The Boston Globe, where I had always wanted to work. I got the job in 2004, was married in 2006, and became pregnant in 2007. Most women where I worked took three months or six months off, but I knew of a few who took an entire year. I took a year off with the understanding that I likely would not return to the same position I had upon departure. My career would go backward, but I decided I was OK with that. That, of course, was my choice. So was ultimately deciding to quit the Globe in favor of freelancing and teaching and spending several days a week with my son, who’s now 4.
I respect your decision to return to work, but chafe at the notion that all will be fine if you try to work during those first weeks of maternity leave and then go back full-time long before most women would even consider it. Part of the reason of maternity leave is to give the new mother time to recover physically. Part of it, too, is to give the new mother the all-important period she and the baby need to bond. Yes, it’s important for the father to have bonding time, too, but mothers often play the key role in the first months, particularly if they breast-feed.
You will never be able to get that time back with your new baby. After I read the news about you, I pulled out the three scrapbooks I made of my son’s first year. Yes, I overdid it. But in those scrapbooks, I see reminders of the beautiful moments I had with my son during his first year. My husband and I both wrote notes to our son during his first year of life, notes like this one I wrote when he was five months old:
You are absorbing the world more and more every day. It is so special to see your eyes sparkle as you discover something new. You are now so aware of your feet and hands, your parents’ faces, …
There is nothing unique about such moments, but they are everything when the child is your own. You may miss countless moments with your baby if you’re working more than you are at home during those first months. You may miss your baby’s first smile, first coo, and first laugh. You may miss the chance, for the first time in many years, to focus on the beginning of life, your child’s life.
New motherhood, of course, is not all bliss. Some of it is boring. Some of it is drudgery. Sometimes, severe complications follow. Six weeks into my maternity leave, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I never expected my past would make me a candidate for post-partum depression when I became a new mother at age 43. I did not know that getting depressed after my brother died in a car accident, plus being an older mother and a career woman could put me at higher risk for post-partum depression and the extreme anxiety and sleeplessness I experienced.
My post-partum depression was caught early. Within weeks, I was enjoying new motherhood to its fullest again.
Once your baby is born, I wonder whether you will back off your plan for such a short maternity leave. Will you decide that it’s better for you and your child to take even a few months off? If you do, there is no shame in that. When I asked for my year off from my employer, a wise supervisor said that I could come back early if I wanted. Maternity leave, she said, works differently for each woman. Some want more time off. Some prefer less. She is right. But she was referring to women who at least were taking three months off. I hope you will be more generous with maternity leave time for your employees than you are with yourself.
Linda K. Wertheimer
PS – As long as you’re working at Yahoo, could you resolve a glitch I’ve noticed? I cannot get Yahoo email to work on my Android phone anymore.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Linda Wertheimer blogs at Jewish Muse.
Bath salts, synthetic marijuana, Salvia. What’s next? As a parent, how do you even keep up with the new drug trends?
To keep pace you would probably need to spend a great deal of your time glued to your computer reading the internet. Just when you think you have all the information you need, there is a new drug that the kids see as all the rage.
Part of the problem with today’s drugs is certainly the misleading presentation. Synthetic marijuana, for example. The name itself implies it is not real marijuana, which may then suggest that it is not a real drug. How about bath salts? Who would ever believe that this product sold at the local head shop could be dangerous and/or addictive? Unfortunately, that is exactly what the distributors of these drugs want your kids to believe.
Just because their efforts to skirt regulation laws have been successful, however, does not mean they are safe. Recently, I'm happy to say, there have been attempts to make these cleverly packaged bath salts illegal.
Then there’s alcohol. All teens drink, right? Wrong! As parents, it is easy to tell ourselves that a drink here and there is not so bad. Find a bottle of vodka hidden in her closet; maybe he had a water bottle cleverly filled with rum? No big deal. Well … maybe. Where do you draw the line?
Maybe you’re a parent who believes it is better for your teen to be partying at your home where you can keep an eye on him and his friends. Before you go ahead and give permission there are a few facts that you should know:
Research indicates that teens who are allowed to drink at home are more likely to become substance abusers. This is also true for teens whose parents allow their kids to smoke pot. Researchers (and clinicians) offer a clear explanation for these findings. You see, your teens look to you for answers. When teens are given permission to drink or do drugs, they make generalizations that such behavior is OK outside of their home as well. If a parent allows his or her teen to drink beer there is a high likelihood that the teen will also believe they have the green light for hard alcohol.
You should also be aware of your local laws. In many localities if teens are found drinking or doing drugs at a teen’s house, the parents of this teen can be arrested and charged with serving minors. This can even occur if the parents were not home and/or had no knowledge the partying was going on in their home. If kids are doing drugs in their home, the charges can be quite serious.
As a parent you know the importance of talking to your teen about drugs and alcohol. You also are probably aware that this is never just one conversation but a series of many over the course of the teen years and the transition to young adulthood.
The key is to avoid talking to your teens about the perils of alcohol and drugs with a martini in your hand.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blogs at Talking Teenage.
Here’s another reason for policy makers grappling with the country’s economic woes to keep a focus on kids:
The study, whose lead author was Dr. Joanne N. Wood of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, found that for every percentage increase in a metropolitan area’s foreclosure rate, the rate of hospital admissions for children who had been beaten increased by 6.5 percent. And for every 1 percent increase in the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate, child abuse admissions increased 3 percent.
The numbers run counter to other past studies that show an overall decline in child abuse rates – studies that have primarily taken their data from child protective services rather than hospitals.
“This suggests that maybe the problem is not getting better,” Wood told Reuters.
Although researchers acknowledge that they can’t know for sure whether or how the two statistics are linked (social scientists, by the way, tend to look critically at these sort of Freakonomics-style correlations), they say that the findings make sense – both the stress and disruption of home foreclosures may well lead to more abuse.
While researchers found that unemployment rates did not have a similar correlation with abuse admissions, it’s possible, they theorized, that foreclosure and mortgage delinquency rates were more representative of a family’s breaking point.
Researchers studied the numbers of children admitted to 38 hospitals in the Pediatric Hospital Information System database. They found that between 2000 and 2009, there were approximately 11,800 admissions for physical abuse in children younger than 6 years old – about a quarter of a percentage of the nearly 4.2 million admissions overall.
The worst year was in 2008 – the height of the housing crisis.
As if taking over Yahoo isn’t a big enough professional challenge (she will be the fifth CEO in one year, according to The New York Times), Mayer is taking the position knowing that she will go on maternity leave in October.
Mayer announced on Twitter, just hours after the Yahoo announcement, that she and her husband are expecting a baby boy on Oct. 7. Mayer broke the news in an interview with Fortune, saying that the baby is very active.
“He moves around a lot,” she said. “My doctor says that he takes after his parents.”
Yahoo first contacted Mayer in mid June about the CEO position, and she told the search committee about her pregnancy. In a meeting with the full board last week, Mayer told Fortune, no one expressed any concern about her ability to handle a demanding job and motherhood.
“They showed their evolved thinking,” she said.
Mayer says that she will only be on maternity leave for a few weeks and even expects to continue working throughout it, saying, “I like to stay in the rhythm of things.”
The rhythm of being high-powered decision maker for a technology company is evident in her bio, which Yahoo included with its announcement. Mayer worked for Google for 13 years, hired as the company’s 20th employee and its first female engineer in 1999. She held various positions – engineer, designer, product manager, and most recently, executive – and played an integral role in helping Google establish its brand and culture. Fortune included Mayer in the list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for the past four years, and she is the youngest woman to be included on that list. She has also been recognized by Glamour as the “Woman of the Year.”
She joins the limited ranks of women executives in Silicon Valley, which include Facebook COO and board member Sheryl Sandberg, Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, and IBM chief Virginia M. Rommetty.
Mayer definitely fits in with Sandberg’s motto of “Don’t Leave Before You Leave,” which she describes in a commentary for Fortune as women’s tendency to mentally check out of work when planning to have kids. She writes:
“But slowing down too early is a mistake that too many women make today, often without even realizing it. Because they sincerely want to stay in the workforce, they try to make room for everything and they slow down – or unconsciously pull back – well before their circumstances actually change. By the time they fully return, they are in jobs that no longer challenge or reward them enough to hold their attention.”
Mayer isn’t slowing down with this career move. In fact, she is speeding up.
Her ability to “have it all” – the balance of professional career and family – doesn’t reflect the typical position of most working moms. Yahoo’s first concession to its new pregnant CEO is to move its September board meeting from New York to Sunnyvale, Calif.
It seems like she will redefine what it means to balance work and family life. It will be interesting to see how she will use this new position to support working mothers and women in the tech industry.
Here’s a new snapshot of the state of child well-being in the United States, brought to you by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics:
Infant mortality rates are down. So are premature births and teen births. Fewer young children than in the past live in a household where someone smokes regularly, and fewer adolescents were the victims of serious violent crime. And math scores even increased for fourth and eighth graders.
Looks pretty good, right?
But here’s the bad news: More children are living in poverty. In 2010, according to “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012,” 22 percent of children ages 0-17, or 16.4 million kids, live in poverty. For kids living in female-headed households, the number shoots up to 47 percent. And looking at different ethnic groups, the numbers get even more grim: In 2010, about one in five black, non-Hispanic children lived in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold, a value of $11,057 for a family of four. The report says that this estimate is the highest since 1994.
And there is not only economic trouble. According to the report, more children (67 percent in 2010 versus 59 percent in 2009) live in counties where the levels of one or more air pollutants are above allowable levels.
These numbers are not new. The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics coordinates with 22 different federal agencies to combine and integrate existing data to provide an easy look at a number of child well-being indicators, such as economic circumstances, behavior, and physical environment and safety.
But by bringing the various statistics together, they present a unique, yearly, snapshot of the 73.9 million children in the US. (That number is from 2011.)
There’s a lot to celebrate in the report. But it’s also clear the country’s economic woes are hurting kids. Badly. And that should be a concern to all of us.