All Articles Tagged "children"

Please Stop Trying To Convince Me To Buy A House Because I’m Single Without Kids

January 14th, 2016 - By Christine Mwaturura
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Get married, buy a house with a white picket fence, fill it with 2 children, and buy a minivan—this is the “American Dream” and the measuring stick by which we judge how successful of an adult a person is. I’m on the receiving end of this judgement all too often, now that I’m on the cusp of 30 but have yet to tick off a single box on the prescribed list of goals. Various people have warned me, time and again, that it would be sacrilegious to usher in my thirties without a husband or, at the very least, a house.

A recent conversation with an acquaintance of mine (let’s call her Julia) highlighted just how little people hesitate to express their opinions on my life choices when it comes to this matter. Our conversation started off as a rather general chat about the housing market but went south when Julia asked me a seemingly innocent question, “So, are you looking to buy a house anytime soon?”

“No. Not really,” I replied.

“Oh? Why not? I’m sure you could afford it.”

“Um, I just don’t see a need for it right now.”

Julia was now intently focused on me. I could sense that she wasn’t quite satisfied with my vague answer so I went on to say, “I’m single, I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on having kids in the near future, so I don’t see the need to purchase a house.”

Julia looked at me with wide eyes, as if I’d just told her that Men In Black was based on a true story and that I was actually an alien in a human skin suit. She eventually coughed up another question, “You don’t want kids?”

“Um, let’s just say that I don’t have a burning desire to have any right now and it’s not in my five-year plan,” I responded.

I thought that the conversation (which was already too personal for my liking) was over at this point, but Julia, clearly bewildered by my revelation, had to add, “You know what I’d do if I were single and didn’t have kids, I’d buy a house and then rent it out. It’s a good investment, you know.”

An awkward silence hung in the air while I chewed on her words, trying to find the nicest way to respond, “Yeah, but I don’t want to be a landlord and have to deal with the hassle of finding reliable tenants, or of doing maintenance and repairs. If I really wanted to invest in real estate, I’d probably do it through a REIT to avoid all of that. And as far as real estate being a good investment, I think it depends on what you’re comparing it to. I mean, consider the opportunity cost of investing in index funds or balanced mutual funds, and the diversification that you’d get investing that way instead of tying up most of your capital in one relatively liquid asset.”

I didn’t mean to crap all over Julia’s paradigm, but I doubt that her badgering would have ended if I hadn’t broken it down to her. I’m sure she meant well, like all the other people who have offered me unsolicited financial advice on real estate. Those types of conversations always end the same way—with me feeling bad for not wanting what so many strive for, despite the fact that my decision to hold off is based on hard numbers and what makes sense for me. I agree with finance guru Ramit Sethi who writes in his article,”The surprising myths about investing in real estate,” that there are many good reasons to buy a home but cautions readers to think twice if they’re buying for investment purposes.

I’m grateful that Julia didn’t dig further into why I don’t see kids in my immediate future. The kid conversation is always harder to explain to people and is met with even more judgement: ah yes, the burden of having a womb which automatically obligates a woman to procreate. The truth is I’m not ready for the lifestyle change that comes along with being a parent. It’s true that I am working on my career but what really keeps me from wanting to have a child is that I value my freedom—a lot! Freedom to go wherever I choose whenever I choose, freedom to sleep in, freedom to spend money however I want. I’m not ready to put down roots. Some call this selfish, but I argue that perhaps I’m doing a selfless thing by recognizing that I’m not ready for motherhood yet.

They look very cozy from the outside — those glossy suburban lives — some certainly are but others aren’t what they seem. I’ve lent my ear on many occasions to friends who are “living the Dream.” They love their kids, they assure me, but bemoan the hours spent doing home projects and weekend carpools, and resent the mortgage that looms over their heads. They long for years past when they had a moment to breathe–a moment for themselves.

It’s hard to say whether I’ll feel differently about home ownership and children in the future, but if I do change my mind that will be as a consequence of having done the necessary due diligence and self-reflection, not because of societal pressure. There’s nothing inherently wrong with aspiring to achieve the American Dream, but consider for a moment: is the Dream right for you?

Why Teaching Sexual Consent Is Essential To Ending Rape Culture

January 5th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Image Source: Shutterstock

On a side note: Let’s talk about sexual consent.

And no, we are not just talking about it because of Bill Cosby.

We are talking about it because based on a number of conversations I have had with the populace both online and off, I can tell that quite a few of us do not have a clue about what it means to explicitly give or receive permission before we engage in sexual activities (including kissing, touching and intercourse) with another human being.

And this is kind of important because sexual assault is a crime…

For instance, many are under the impression that if someone offers you a mood-altering drug, and you willingly accept it, then you basically consent to every action that happens following the consumption of the pill.

While it is conceivable that a person who accepts a mood-altering drug might be interested in a sexual relationship, not everyone who takes drugs is “asking for it.”

Many people are also under the impression that a person has given consent to be sexually assaulted by virtue of being in an active sexual relationship, or previously having sexual relations with the person who assaulted them.

That is also false.

There are other beliefs that many of us have about consent that are not very accurate and are potentially dangerous. And while there are tons of resources already available to help us all understand better what consent is and how to apply it to our lives (like here, here, here and this great Nigerian Jollof Rice consent video here…just to name a few), I am beginning to wonder if just having the information readily available is enough?

Maybe it’s not enough to tell folks to “Just Google it.” Lord knows what they might return with. Perhaps it is time we start drilling into people’s heads the importance of no means no. And maybe, just maybe, we need to start doing it as early as preschool and in all of the schools across America.

Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking: Isn’t this topic a little to heavy for children? Personally, I don’t believe that it is as children too can find themselves victims and perpetrators of unwanted sexual advances. But teaching consent isn’t a sex talk. And teaching consent is not only about showing folks how to effectively communicate their boundaries and wants, but also showing people how to navigate through situations when the “yes” or “no” is ambiguous.

As noted by Michelle Dominique Burk in a post for Everyday Feminism:

The way consent has been framed for most children — in cases where it is explicitly addressed — is that we tell kids something along the lines of “If someone says ‘no,’ then you need to listen to them.”

While this is an important lesson, it is normally as far as the discussion goes.

And simply couching all aspects of consent into this one no-means-no phrasing misses several key components of consent that are essential for kids to learn and employ as they start developing interpersonal relationships.

Discussing consent with a child in only this way proposes that “no” is the only form of non-consent available. This isn’t true, and when children learn about consent in this way, they can grow up with a sense of ambiguity about what constitutes consent.

Because discussing all aspects that encompass boundaries and consent can seem incredibly overwhelming – especially when trying to explain them to a child – many adults shy away from talking to kids about consent in a way that is comprehensive.

However, discussing consent with children in a way that acknowledges its various facets is hugely important because as children go through adolescence and then adulthood, the way that they have learned about consent as a child will inform how they interact with other adults and children in their own interpersonal relationships.

It should be noted that last year, California became the first state to mandate sexual consent lessons be required in high school sex education classes, which is a great start. But in all honesty, it’s nowhere close to where we need to be as a society.

And based on a lot of comments that I have been reading online, folks are going to find themselves in some serious trouble. While I am certain that some of the “folks” behind some of these comments are actual predators, I have to also acknowledge that some of the misinformation from those who aren’t comes from living in a culture that 1. does not value women and 2. treats rape as the norm.

What Would You Do If Your Daughter Left Daycare Missing A Braid?

October 28th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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It’s hard enough for parents to send their children to daycare knowing how sick and twisted people can be; and it’s stories like this one that certainly don’t make it any easier.

According to ITV News, Shantel Wallen, a woman in Birmingham, England, went to pick her daughter up from the Erdington’s Little Ripley Nursery when she was given one of her daughter’s braids in an envelope…with no explanation.

The braid had been completely and cleanly removed from her daughter, Malaya’s, two-year-old scalp, leaving no stubble in its place.

The nursery called Wallen back in August to tell her that her daughter had lost one of the 12 braids in her head.

Shantel and her partner Jahzeel Davis contacted education watchdogs Ofsted and had a meeting with the nursery bosses.

She said, “When I found out, I was really worried that someone had tampered with my daughter’s hair. The hair is not easy to pull out, yet it had been removed so cleanly. It’s almost as if it has been waxed. The only way it would have dropped out is if Malaya had a medical condition and even if she did, it would have come out in patches. I’ve been to the doctors and there’s nothing wrong with Malaya.”

Wallen removed her child from the nursery, which she had attended since she was nine-months-old.

A spokesman for the nursery issued this very vague statement.

“This is highly confidential and there will be no comment. Procedure has been followed and everything is complete. That is all I can say.”

I guess procedure includes not telling the parent what the hell happened to her child when she was left in the nursery’s care. And I guess procedure includes sending this little girl home with the detached braid as a memento of her abuse.

Wallen absolutely did the right thing removing her daughter from this nursery and contacting officials. But for the parents and want-to-be parents out there, is there something else you would have done in this situation? Personally, I would need some answers. And if none were being given, the authorities would have to get involved because this is truly strange and unacceptable.

How would you handle this?

Paternity Fraud: If A Man Grows Close To A Child He Finds Out Is Not His, Should He Still Provide For Them?

August 12th, 2015 - By Deja Jones
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A statistic shared by the American Association of Blood Banks in 2012 revealed that there were reportedly 100,000 out of 300,000 men who fall victim to paternity fraud per year in this country. According to an article published on a national Nigerian news site, a significant number of men in that country are unknowingly bringing up children who are not theirs biologically. More recently, DNA experts have found that these figures have increased in Nigeria within the past year. What’s going on here?

In the United States, paternity fraud is recognized and handled as a criminal offense. It happens more often than we think and is often done in an attempt to obtain higher child support benefits than can be provided by the biological father. Or better yet, to hide infidelity. It’s a messed up situation, however, in Nigeria, cases like these are often swept under the rug and rarely result in legal action. Culturally, West African fathers often care for their children as well as children born out of wedlock, children from extramarital affairs, and children from a different father if they are in a relationship with the mother. A majority of the cases have more to do with creating a stable family for the children regardless of if he’s the real father or not. In Nigeria and other African countries, it’s also not uncommon for some women to marry for status even if they already have children, and it is also not uncommon for men to have several women with whom they have children with. As for the way things play out Stateside, it’s much different. Men and women are less likely to care financially for a child who isn’t theirs biologically. Being a key figure or positive role model in a child’s life is one thing, but being mandated by courts into child support is another, and questions fairness. But it happens all the time. Just ask the singer Ne-Yo, who was forced to pay child support for a boy his ex-girlfriend made him believe was his own–until a DNA test cleared things up:

“In the state of California, if you put yourself out there as the father, the mother can then come after you in court like you’re the biological father,” Ne-Yo told VH1. “So we settled out of court for what I thought was an ungodly amount of money. Shortly after that, Jesseca and Chimere vanished.”

Across the globe, men are falling victim to paternity fraud and are being ordered by family courts to pay child support for kids who aren’t theirs. For cases in Nigeria, many of the men accept the responsibility of being the caretaker because it is much more affordable than getting tangled in a court battle. Some men have voiced that even when a DNA test proves the impossibility of fatherhood, it is still really difficult to get out of child support once it has been established. It’s sad because they shouldn’t have to be mandated to pay it if the child isn’t their own, especially since they were initially misled.  However, paternity fraud is a complicated thing.

But if by choice they want to remain a father figure in the child’s life, that doesn’t involve the legal system. And while many people don’t stick around after being misled in such a way, some do because they are the only father figure the child knows. It’s a commendable thing to do for the sake of the kid, who is innocent in all of this.

So I ask, if the tables were turned and you were a man who found out that a child you cared for wasn’t your own, would you continue to be in their life? What if the child has grown considerably close to you? Would you continue to provide for them?

Too Soon? Things To Consider When Introducing Your Child To Your New Partner

August 8th, 2015 - By Brooke Dean
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Dating with children can be complicated, especially if you are in the public eye. If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture, you’ll know there was a big to-do about singer Ciara introducing her son to her new football player beau Russell Wilson. Well, maybe the person making the biggest deal out of it is her ex-fiancé Future, but it seems everyone had something to say about her decision to involve Russell in her son’s life this early in their relationship. While some were for it, others have denounced the situation, even going as far as questioning her parenting. And while none of us know for sure how long they’ve been dating or just how serious their relationship really is, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that there are no set rules as to how and when a man or woman should introduce their child(ren) to a new partner. Since every situation is different, we can only say there are a few things to consider before taking it to the next step.

For one, the child’s age, maturity level and emotional state all play a major part in this mind-boggling decision. While it could be argued that Ciara and Russell are very early in their relationship and meeting her son was premature, I have to wonder how much damage she could potentially be doing since baby Future is only a toddler. Sure you could say that his age makes no difference, but let’s say they break up next week. Do you really think he will remember Russell after a few weeks or months post-breakup? It’s hard to say, but my guess is no. While I think couples should wait until they’re serious to introduce a child to a new partner, I also think it’s important not to wait too long before knowing how your new partner will interact and get along with your child. Not everyone knows how to handle a baby or a toddler, so perhaps Ciara wanted to find out sooner rather than later if Russell was up for the task of playing a role in her son’s life.

Now if you have teenagers, you may not want to wait too long to make introductions because you may want them to play a part in your dating process. While they may seem mature enough to handle mommy dating a new guy, they also are old enough to establish their own relationship with him without mom facilitating, allowing their rapport to grow organically and not forced. Also, children of a certain age understand what it means when a man or woman is “spending the night,” so make sure you handle that situation delicately. If you have young children that may entail explaining that mommy is having a sleepover with her friend. But if you have teenagers, that “sleepover” mess won’t fly. Be honest with your older children. Explain to them how you feel about your partner and why you two have decided to share a bed. And most important, make sure you lock the doors and wear pajamas. Children of any age don’t need to be exposed to anything that is grown folk’s business.

Remember, you are your child’s role model. You set the example for how they see you, so make sure you ask them their thoughts or concerns about who you’re dating. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings, not dismiss them. And while you want your partner to feel comfortable, you also have to make sure your partner understands how your children may react to mom’s new man. Make sure he’s on the same page when it comes to rules and boundaries. Again, depending on the maturity level of the children and communication involved, that may spell disaster if not handled correctly.

Lastly, if the other parent is actively involved in your child’s life, be sure to tell them about your new relationship as soon as you and your new partner decide that your relationship is serious and exclusive. Who knows if Future and Russell have met, but by all accounts that’s another grey area where messiness can stem from. While not all co-parenting situations are amicable, it’s always best to let the other parent know who will be spending time with your children if you can. Always keep the lines of communication open when dealing with your kids, your ex and your new partner and make sure all concerns are heard and addressed. Like it or not, you all are in this together, and everyone needs to play their part if your relationship is going to work. Adults and their children can have a healthy, happy relationship if done with love and respect.

This Is My Money: Celebrities Who Refuse To Pass Their Wealth On To Their Kids

July 27th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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disinherited celebrity kids

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These celebrities say their kids need to work and create their own wealth because they’re not passing down their millions. Is this good parenting, or a crying shame?

Common Myths About Having a Second Child

June 4th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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I will (hopefully) go into labor with my second child any day now, and started thinking about how the dynamics of my home are going to change. My husband and I were blessed with our first son early last year who has made things very interesting to say the least. As we continue to navigate the land of “toddlerhood,” I can’t help but wonder about all the things I’ve heard when it comes to having a second child.

Some of the stuff is pretty scary.

Thankfully I know quite a few mommies with multiple children who helped ease some of my fears. No matter what everyone else goes through, your journey is your journey. All children are different and don’t always have the same behavior. Should you be expecting your second child, here are some common myths we can debunk.

Having a second child is faster than the first. Okay so the jury is still out on this one as I haven’t yet delivered. As much as I hear the second delivery is faster, this baby is taking his sweet time to exit stage right. My first was nine days late (most likely due to my active lifestyle and workout regimen), and this one is coming up on a week overdue.

Your firstborn will hate his/her new sibling. Sure there might be behavioral issues, but everything is an adjustment period. Plenty of mommies have told me their children love playing with each other.

It might be hard to love your second child as much. One amazing thing us parents possess is the ability to expand our hearts. I find it really difficult to believe I won’t love my new child as much as my first. The journey of being pregnant again has been nothing but a blessing, minus the nausea and stuff.

Your second child will operate in the same manner as the first. Kudos to you if you’re able to get your little one to eat their veggies and sleep through the night. Just because siblings are related doesn’t mean things will come as easy with the second child. Remember, everyone has their own personality.

The second child will fall in line with the first. Again, that personality thing is very powerful. Ideally it would be awesome if your second child followed your firstborn when it comes to listening to rules. Just prepare yourself in the likely event it doesn’t happen.

You’ll give your second baby just as much attention. Obviously you’re going to need to pay a wee more attention to your baby when it comes to feedings and diaper changes. Do realize that many parents have admitted to not going “overboard” when it comes to chronicling their lives. All of those social media posts, scrapbooks and other keepsakes you created with your first child might not happen as much with the second.

What have been some common second child myths you experienced?

15 Child Essentials for a Beach Day or Summer Trip

June 2nd, 2015 - By Rich
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Get ready to feel the warm breeze through your hair as you and your family take off to the beach or an amazing summer trip. Before you go, make sure you have these essentials for your little ones.

15 Summer Trip Child Essentials

The Realities of Raising a Toddler and Newborn

June 2nd, 2015 - By Rich
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What did I get myself into?

Sometimes I ask myself this question as I have a 16 month old son and a baby on the way. My husband and I planned to have our children closer together in age, but this will definitely make for a very interesting household — to say the least.

On one hand, I’m kinda thankful our second child is another boy. Given we already have one, it will make things a heck of a lot easier in the sharing and supplies department. Our little guy shot up in height and wasn’t able to wear many of the things I purchased for him. At least this way they’ll get some use, along with other baby-related items we never got around to donating.

Now that we got the pleasantries out the way, let’s get a little real. Raising both a toddler and newborn is going to be very difficult. This is a reality I’ve come to grips with over the course of my pregnancy — and as much as I’ll try my best to plan for two little ones in diapers, there are certain things I just have to take in stride.

Luckily I know of a few other mothers who’ve had children very close in age. While they do warn me of stressful times ahead, in the end, they say it’s all worth it.

“If you can make it through the first few years everything else will fall into place,” notes one of my gym buddies. “They end up taking care of each other.”

Well this is a little refreshing to hear.

The biggest shock to the system is obviously going to be the whole sleep thing. Luckily our toddler has been able to sleep through the night since he was four months or so, but we get to push the reset button with our infant. Any parent of a toddler can attest to how much energy — and rest — you need to keep up with them, especially when they hit the wonderful stage of exploring, not listening to “no” the first time and talking back. Needless to say, it’s going to be a wee bit difficult to do so when we look and feel like extras from The Walking Dead.

I can’t begin to imagine how parents with multiple children balance their time and attention between each. Obviously my newborn is going to need additional eyes and assistance given he won’t be able to communicate for some time. Yet in the same breath, I don’t want to not give my toddler the one-on-one time he deserves.

Another thing I’m not looking forward to is the amount of diapers we’ll need. Sure my oldest will hopefully potty train  with time, but purchasing diapers each month definitely adds to your budget. Thus far I’ve been pretty savvy with buying in bulk online and getting a nice deal. I’ll just have to come to terms with the fact that I need to do it a second time for baby number two. The same goes for their 529 college savings plan.

So little to no nights with rest, two babies vying for your attention and little to no social life. Got it.

All jokes aside, I think it will be fun for them to grow up together. Sure the first year or so of raising a toddler and newborn will be challenging (one will go through the baby motions while the other enters the terrible twos), but it’s nothing too impossible.

I’ll rely on a ton of prayer…and a few glasses of wine.

13 Family Summer Hacks to Entertain Your Kids

May 28th, 2015 - By Rich
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Summer is just about here which means parents will work on the double to entertain their children. Here’s a look at some fun seasonal DIY ideas to make their summer more enjoyable.

13 Family Summer Hacks to Entertain Your Kids