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A lot of news is relevant to parents.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please add news items and comment on these.

More People are Reading!

2008 scored well for adults over 18 reading at least one novel, short story, poem or play -- online or in print. The number of people reading fiction had been on a steady decline since 1982. However, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the trend has, reversed, at least for the time-being. Whether it's the Big Read, Oprah's Book Club or more online options remains to be seen.

Children Seeking Families

There are over 100,000 U.S. children in foster care who have been legally cleared for adoption. The average age of these children is eight, and as each year passes, their chance of being adopted dims, according to Barbara Holton the project director for Adopt US Kids and the executive director of Adoption Exchange. Many foster children “age out” of the system at 18 or 21 without ever having had the experience of being part of a permanent family.

American couples seeking to adopt need to be made aware of these kids who need homes. AdoptUSKids and the Adoption Exchange help match children with suitable homes, and remind the public that there is training and parenting support available for families that adopt.
"Our end goal is to get as many kids as possible placed into families," says Holton.

You can reach the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids at:
Adoption Exchange Association
8015 Corporate Drive, Suite C
Baltimore, MD 21236
(410) 933-5700
(888) 200-4005

Men at (House) Work?

Women still do more of the housework and childcare according to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On an average, married women with kids put in about 30 minutes day more than their husbands doing household chores and about 45 minutes more caring for family members. The study found that while couples with kids sleep the same amount (7.43 hours a night!) men work outside the home an hour longer (8.87 hours for men; 7.74 for women.) However, men spend more time on leisure and sports –over two and a half hours a day for men and slightly over two for women.

Among men in general only 20% reported doing some kind of housework, while 55% of women said they do housework. For more information on how Americans spend their allotted 24 hours.

Grandparents Matter

Grandparents play an important role in supporting their children and grandchildren -- especially during "times of need and crisis" according to Vern Bengtson, a gerontologist and sociologist who has been studying families for more than 30 years.

Bengtson identifies five different models of intergenerational connection. Over 50% of families are either "tight knit" or "sociable," with stong levels of support and contact. Another 32% have less on-going contact but indicate the potential to be there in times of need. Only 17% are "detached" with little promise of future connection. Bengston's study was done for the AARP and included 1,500 adults.

It's good to know that many grandparents play an active role in children's lives. A New York Times op ed piece by Hila Colman, a writer in her 90's, suggests that the kind of housing that isolates and segregates the elderly deprives all generations of the chance to get to know one another as people.

In our youth-oriented society we tend to undervalue experience. Older people have a lot to share. They have survived personal crises as well as events in history; have coped with loss and adversity and often have a perspective that can provide helpful insight to the younger generations. Given the opportunitiy, many grandparents and other older people have wonderful wisdom, as well as fascinating stories, to pass along if we only listen.

Are Kids Today Spoiled?

A Time Magazine/CNN poll found that 80% of Americans surveyed think that kids today are more "spoiled" than kids 10 or 15 years ago!

At CreativeParents we hate to see the word "spoiled" applied to children. Food spoils. Something that's spoiled is irreversibly damaged. That's not the case with kids.

The word "spoiled" may be ill-chosen, yet we all know what we mean when we hear the word used. It's applied to kids who have developed intolerable whines to get their way. Kids who have enough toys to fill the Taj Mahal; don't play with any of them -- and then say they're "bored." Kids who act as if they are entitled, but don't seem to recognize anyone else's needs.

As parents we get worn down, don't know where to set limits, offer things instead of time and may not be on hand to follow through on the boundaries we have set. Plus we're living in a world where kids are being told they need a whole lot of merchandise to make them happy, popular and cool.

But the situation is far from irreversible. Kids really want to have limits. It's okay to say "no." Explain your reasoning so your kids can learn from it. Encourage kids to use their imaginations and be resourceful with what they already own. Spend time with your kids and encourage them to understand others' perspectives. I've seen many a whiny kid turn into a "good egg."

Take a Hike

Once again, it's been determined that walking is good for you. This time Nanette Mutrie, a health professor at Glasgow University, found that walking three times a week, 20 minutes each walk, reduces the impact of depression.

So lift your spirits, and your children's, by getting out into the fresh air and walking, rather than driving. Walking with your child provides a great opportunity to converse about mundane topics, observe nature, contemplate the cosmos -- and get some healthful exercise, all at the same time.

If your child is too young to walk on his or her own, get out the stroller. Arrange a walk with some other parents of stroller-age kids and walk together. Your kids will enjoy the fresh air and the parallel company. You'll get exercise-- and a chance to spend precious time with other parents.

more thought on other topics...

School lunches- At a time of increased interest in health, school lunches have come under scrutiny. The economics of lunch programs is one factor. Enticing kids to eat veggies and low-fat protein is another. Any suggestions for what has worked in your kids' school?

Curriculum debates - As New York City begins to adopt a phonics-based reading program, the old debate between whole language and phonics proponents continues. Does learning to read have to be an either/or proposition? Please share any thoughts about how you or your kids learned to read?

Reading aloud to kids- Reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways of encouraging them to become readers. Up until what age can you read aloud? There are families that continue long after the kids have become adept readers. What books have you found are great read-alouds for older kids?

.Encouraging reading- One way of getting kids to practice reading is to encourage them to read aloud to the family dog. Apparently some dogs are receptive to hearing kids' sometimes halting efforts. And kids find it comforting to be able to practice, without anyone jumping in to correct them.

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