The happily ever after trope goes something like this: Love, marriage, children, happiness. However, that is not what the statistics show. “Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting.” The source of this sad passage is “Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids,” in Fortune Magazine. The statistics show that having children drives a married couple apart more than it brings them more closely together:
The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.
Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness, because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one’s satisfaction with their spouse.
Eric Barker’s advice has been excellent – on point, succinct and loaded with links to research.
His recent post on how to raise children is no exception. Here’s an excerpt advocating for mealtime conversations:
A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.
My relationship with the Boy Scouts of America was not the most pleasant. I was an oddity, to be sure. I think I was at one time the only—only—second class scout to be a patrol leader. Second class. For those who may not have been through the quasi-military organization, the way it was structured in […]
I was surprised to see the cover of the most recent Time Magazine: an attractive young woman breast-feeding her 3-year old boy, who is standing on a chair to reach her breast, wearing army fatigues. I’m not shocked or disturbed in the least by the breastfeeding. There is nothing wrong with public breast-feeding. The subject of the main article, Attachment Parenting, does intrigue me, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
This is an unscientific response to a ridiculous claim. Rick Santorum, who wishes to be the next Bishop In Charge of America (or whatever prelate his church might recognize) recently made the claim that Gay couples are going to destabilize the family in America in order to accommodate their lifestyle.
We’ve all been hearing this claim now for, oh, since gays stopped sitting by and letting cops beat them up on Saturday nights without fighting back. Ever since Gay Pride. Even on my own FaceBook page I had someone telling me I was blinded by the “Gay Agenda” and that the country was doomed—that because of the Gay Agenda little children were being taught how to use condoms in school and this—this—would bring us all to ruin.
If we collectively allow homosexuals to marry each other, how does that do anything to American families that’s not already being done by a hundred other factors?
I’ll tell you what destablilizes families. And I’m not genius here with a brilliant insight, this is just what anyone can see if they look around and think a little bit.
Families are destabilized over money.
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How often do you cross paths with a parent who is attempting to make his or her children in the parent’s image and likeness? I see it on a regular basis. The prototypical case is the parent who didn’t make it to the Broadway stage who tries to turn his/her child into a Broadway performer. You often see parents who demand athletic excellence from their kids, often (it seems) in an effort to compensate for the parent’s failed strivings to make it big in sports. This style of parenting reaches every high-earning or high-prestige profession. Or maybe it’s not to make up for the parents own failings as much as it is an attempt to create a trophy child so that, at cocktail parties, the parent can nonchalantly drop a few hints about his or her child’s (sometimes admittedly spectacular) accomplishments.
This afternoon, a friend sent me a perfect antidote for this mindset. It’s a poem by Kahlil Gibran, titled “On Children.”
Upon reading it, I was reminded of the following quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “What does your conscience say? — ‘You should become the person you are’.”