All Articles Tagged "family"
According to a study done for the Council on Contemporary Families that studied 22 countries (European and English-speaking destinations), the United States has the largest deficit in terms of happiness when comparing parents and people without children. Utilizing the International Social Surveys of 2007 and 2008, and the European Social Surveys from 2006 and 2008, researchers from the University of Texas, Baylor University, and Wake Forest University found that most countries dealt with some pretty unhappy parents while a few, including Norway and Hungary, had more caregivers who were actually happier than nonparents. What’s that really all about?
Well, the study’s findings seem to come about not because, as some would assume, having a child is this soul-crushing thing that zaps you of all your time, money, and energy; but rather, it’s because of the lack of policies set up to provide affordable child care and opportunities for employees to spend time with their kids. Parents from the United States were the most unhappy due to the lack of policy changes that could be most beneficial, including a focus on “the duration and generosity of paid parenting leave, the number of annual paid sick and vacation days guaranteed by law, the cost of child care for the average two-year old as a percent of median wages, and the extent of work schedule flexibility offered to parents of dependent children.”
Without some flexibility with these things, many mothers and fathers find it hard to balance their work responsibilities and their familial obligations. As researchers pointed out, countries that had pretty solid policies to help working parents found no gap in happiness for those with kids and those without. In fact, they found that policies that were beneficial for nonparents, including guaranteed minimum paid sick leave and vacation days, helped parents and made everyone happier. The same was true for certain countries that offered less expensive out-of-pocket costs for child care. Fathers reported that their happiness was more likely to be impacted by child care costs, and mothers said their happiness was most affected by time policies, including paid sick and vacation days, allowing them more or less time to be at home with their families.
So to summarize, the better the packages and policies that benefit working moms and dads, the happier they are. When they aren’t so accommodating for parents, you see the large gap in happiness between those with and without children. The less stressful balancing work while raising children is for parents, it seems, the happier everyone is.
It’s funny how, as a kid, my family felt perfect. Whole. Things, life in general, are always easier when you’re a child, amirite?
It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized we weren’t the Huxtables by any stretch of the imagination. As a kid, my grandparents would visit my dad, mom, sister and I in Maryland and send birthday cards like clockwork. Even after my parents divorced, I would spend several weeks during the summer hanging with my cousins in the Bronx. I mean, we were closer than close, almost like siblings. My dad’s family was my comfort while I was still reeling from my parent’s split. They were a major part of my childhood.
With that being said, I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment when my bond with them began to break down, but I knew once my dad had some trouble with the law and our own relationship faltered, I wouldn’t get a taste of the Big Apple or his side of the family for a while, especially since my mom wasn’t close with them. But my underdeveloped preteen brain had no clue that due to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, communication would come to a screeching halt.
You see, I was the only grandchild who didn’t live in a neighboring borough, so I suppose my relationship with the rest of my paternal pack became an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of thing. The birthday cards and phone calls slowed as I got older. And while my dad’s family was attending the grade school graduations of my cousins and taking trips to the circus, I felt like the neglected grandchild of the bunch. Still, even though I harbored resentment for things out of my control, when I moved to New York City after college, I was eager to reconnect with the paternal branches of my family tree. I assumed the universe would bring things full circle, ya know? I returned to where I’d built a unbreakable bond with my dad’s family so I’d have a chance to reconnect with them and make things right.
Well, spoiler alert: Things didn’t go as I’d hoped.
Their lukewarm reception to my return, filled with side-eyes and “Why haven’t you reached out to us?” initiated my emotional defenses. Considering I was the child in the situation, was it really my responsibility to keep in touch all those years? Was it my fault that my immediate family didn’t live in New York City like the rest of them? I’ll spare you all the details, but let’s jut say in the nearly five years spent dwelling in the city, I lived no more than a 20-minute cab ride from my grandparents’ front door and barely saw them. Guess you can say the blame game was intense.
When I did visit, I watched sports games with my grandfather as he told me stories about his childhood, gossiped with my grandmother, and even tried to keep up with my cousins, but I always returned to the feeling that they were virtually strangers who just so happened to look like me and share my DNA. I wasn’t invited to my cousin’s baby shower or alerted when my grandparents had to go to the hospital. I had to dig for answers about such things and I didn’t understand why.
Don’t get me wrong, there were occasional shared laughs, slivers of moments when it felt like there was no hurt between all of us. But to be honest, for so long, I felt forgotten about and I couldn’t shake that feeling.
So now, as Father’s Day approaches and I’ve been able to work on my relationship with my dad, I wonder if trying to mend fences with his side of the family is worth it. I’ve gone this long and survived so much without them. By no means do I hate them or wish them harm, but I do feel like some emotional destruction is irreparable. Both parties have to want the same thing and actively try to regain the love lost. I don’t feel like doing so is of interest to them.
I’ll give it to my aunt, though. About a week before I left New York, she called me to reminisce about the days she took me to get my first Dominican blowout and buy me some cute summer clothes. It was a sign that there is still love deep down and a warm embrace being offered.
With the understanding that time is precious and life is short, I struggle with finding peace about letting go of past resentment, but I think it’s important to try and to show them love and respect as long as we all have breath. As a little girl, I couldn’t control the narrative, but now I can write my own story and I wonder if they deserve to be apart of it. Ultimately, I just want to be able to move forward and really, your family is all you have.
If you live anything but a dull existence, there will always be a meddler around to get in your business. It’s just how they roll. Some do it because they have your best interest at heart and don’t want to see you get hurt. Some do it because gossip is life, or being bossy is life, and they don’t know any other way. And chances are, if you have a meddler on your hands — especially if they’re an adult meddler — there’s nothing you can do to change them.
But you can change the way you react to these nosy nuisances without having to give them the boot. We can’t always cut all of the messy people out of our life. For some of us, that would mean there would be very few people left in it. Instead, change how you deal with their shenanigans, and with time, it won’t interfere with your day.
We all wish we were SuperMom, but that goal seems so far beyond reach at times. We’re sharing one mom, Brandi of MamaKnowsItAll.com, story as she realized just how accessible the title of SuperMom could be.
This year has been incredibly hectic for me, both personally and professionally. First I got a new job, then I got engaged, and after that I got married. Of course, with all of that came lots of work, travel, wedding planning, and everything else that comes along with impending nuptials and a career advancement. The one constant in all of that was my Ayva. My little girl is seriously amazing. She is so flexible and open to new experiences, and even when I feel like I’m not being the best mom, she still thinks I’m the greatest.
It’s because of Ayva’s confidence in my mothering abilities that I made a commitment to being a better mom. I beat myself up pretty bad, y’all, over my parenting deficiencies. I wanted to be that mom that baked delicious treats, and always engaged my little one with crafts. The truth is, I’m always so exhausted, and the thought of being SuperMom seemed daunting. Ayva deserves a SuperMom, though, so I’ve been making a few adjustments that are helping me to be able to give her more attention, and create more meaningful interactions with her. Really, with just a few simple changes and intentional additions to our routine, I’m becoming a better mom every day in 20 minutes or less.
Make being a mom a priority.
So, what did I do? The main thing was to make being a mom a priority. It’s true, I have my shows that I like to veg out to. All of “The Real Housewives,” as well as anything reality based that I can indulge my voyeur tendencies on. Well, some of those had to go. I needed more rest in order to have more energy during the day when Ayva was awake and needed me. I also started saying no to non-essential travel that would take me away from her, and declining opportunities that would decrease the time we could spend together.
Be realistic about the time that being a better mom takes.
The greatest lesson I learned, though, was to to be realistic about the time that being a better mom actually took. For example, a few months ago, Ayva went to a friend’s house for a playdate. While she was there, the mom made muffins. Of course, the next day Ayva came home and asked for muffins. My first reaction was, “I don’t know if we have time, Ayva.” Then I pulled up a muffin recipe and realized that it’d take me about five minutes to mix everything up (eight minutes if Ayva was helping), and 12 minutes to bake. I had 17 minutes. So, I made the muffins. And Ayva and I have been baking at least once a week every since.
Learn how to listen better. If influence is something you think you may need in your arsenal once children are beyond the phase of simply being told what to do, consider learning how to really listen.
Get up earlier.
Get up half hour earlier than the kids to get yourself together & have alone time so you can be refreshed & mentally available for the kids.
Reading together is awesome. Even when you have a teen.
Look at your child.
Look into your child’s eyes when you talk to them. Be focused on them and them alone when you are engaging with them. This lets them know you value them and are not distracted by life not to look them in the eye when you are talking.
Just put away the screens. Telephone, computers…put them away.
Schedule time for your child.
When working from home with a little one, take a 20 minute break to read a story, color a picture or work on puzzle. I think of it as a person working outside of the home would: when you have a scheduled break you aren’t doing any work…same goes for your scheduled break with the kid. No work, no phone calls, no quick emails. You are off the clock!
How are you becoming a better mom?
(As relayed by Lauren R.D. Fox based on a culmination of experiences)
Once my siblings and I graduated college, our parents began to plan annual vacations. Although I enjoy spending time with my family, there have been major changes in my life within the past six months.
My long-term boyfriend proposed to me and I moved to his hometown of Philadelphia. Since my move, we began wedding planning and even paid off some of our vendors. Although they’re excited for me, my parents want me to have a long engagement so my wedding will not interfere with the family trips they pre-scheduled. I told them several times I will not put my life on hold for them, especially since these pre-scheduled vacations are always planned at inconvenient times with no regard to my own schedule.
Our next family trip is scheduled for June but I told my parents I will not be going because I have to pay my bills and take care of wedding expenses. Since I ignored their request to hold off my wedding, my parents want me to pay back the money they spent on my portion of the trip. I don’t think I should have to pay since they didn’t consult with me before booking the trip.
Am I tripping or should I pay them?
I typically don’t cry when I watch an episode of the daytime talk show The Real because, well, it’s The Real. But this revelation really spoke to my heart. I recently came across a clip of co-host Jeannie Mai sharing a touching story about her upbringing and the fear she had of not being able to provide for her family.
Her parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in hopes of providing better opportunities for their children. With limited funds, her father took a meeting at Jeannie’s school in order to land a janitorial position. The only catch is he wanted to work at night so his children wouldn’t see him. Throughout the week he would treat his family to take-out and would watch them eat. Whenever Jeannie asked him why he wasn’t hungry, he simply answered because he already ate. One night, she found him digging in the trash eating their family’s scraps. Telling this story brought tears to her co-host’s eyes, and mine.
Talk about sacrifice.
There’s something about becoming a mother that has opened my eyes even more to my limits and how far I would go to provide for my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but he can take care of himself at the end of the day. I’m so thankful we’re financially stable, but I know–without a doubt–he would take any and every job he could to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. His parents did the same for he and his sisters in Panama, lighting the path for them to attend college and pursue their dreams. Heck, my own father worked overtime as a police officer to make sure he could help pay for my higher education. Because of his line of work, I didn’t see him all the time, but knew he was out risking his life to make sure I had a better one.
As much as I’d like to think folks would do what’s necessary to provide for their family, I honestly don’t see it as a reality many could handle. If it came down to you having to work a blue-collar job you thought was “beneath you” to pay your bills, would you do it? Could you set your pride aside to ensure your household wouldn’t have a care you couldn’t provide for? The recession really opened my eyes to the reality of people’s financial situations and who was willing to do what it takes to keep their family afloat. I knew some people who would work nights and part-time at CVS or Burger King while others would turn their noses to such a thought because it didn’t utilize their master’s degree. Rather than work an “in the meantime and between time” hustle until they landed a better job, they would kick back until their next interview and collect their unemployment check.
And what about the other end of the spectrum, that is, those who bend over backwards all the time for their family? Is there such a thing as doing too much? While I agree with Jeannie Mai about wanting to provide for my family, I also need to keep it “real” with myself when it comes to who and how. To keep it real, unfortunately, not everyone in my immediate clan is financially savvy. They would definitely misuse any funds I provide, or make excuses as to why they no longer need to work. One close family member in particular has borrowed money from me here and there since I was 18-years-old… and never paid back a cent. I had to learn to love without attaching my wallet because my “bailouts” seemed to create more financial trouble and never taught them to do things on their own.
It’s important to set some realistic guidelines when it comes to providing for your family and just how far you’d go. You have to ask yourself if the sacrifices you’re making to bring in money helps or hinders their general well-being. If someone is bad with money, should you look for financial alternatives, like an IRA that will provide for them down the road? Cut them off entirely?
What would you do to provide for your family?
Once upon a time, not too long ago, we thought we knew it all. Our parents were always around telling us what to do, and we all thought we could do it all by ourselves — until we moved out on our own. When we’re no longer under the same roof as our mothers, we realize that maybe we’re not quite as grown as we thought.
We may feel grown, but when it comes to mom, we’re never too old to get a little advice. Whether you’re 25 or 55, there are still some questions that only your mom has the right answer to. And thank goodness for Skype, cell phones, text messages, instant messenger and just showing up from time to time. Because we still have a million things we need to learn, and we need some advice, to touch base, and to know how long to cook this chicken because sometimes, our mothers do know best.
What should I take for this? Is this normal? If I eat this expired chicken will I die? She’s not still kissing boo-boos, but she’s still doctor mom.
When it comes to meeting the parents of someone you’re dating, there is no such thing as being prepared. You can ask your significant other a million questions about family history, lifestyle, and essential facts, but you will never be prepared to actually meet and interact with them. All that you know is irrelevant. I was reminded of that when I met my boyfriend’s parents for a nice Saturday brunch in Baltimore on a cold and dreary day.
Think back to when you were a teen, and you had your first boyfriend or girlfriend and the first thing you had to do was tell your parents…unless you were sneaky. You had to endure the chaperoned dates, family ogling over you two sitting in the living room watching TV because you weren’t allowed to be in your room. Remember those days? Well, it’s just a little different as adults. You’re still ogled. But when you meet the parents, that’s when you know it’s serious. Therefore, the questions go beyond family history, lifestyle and essential facts. They get a bit deeper and are a lot more purposeful.
The day I met his parents, I was extremely nervous. I kept smiling and reassuring him that I was okay, telling him, “I’m usually good with parents.” The food was good, the ambiance was lively, but after some jokes and laughter and the cliche introductory “So, how did you two meet?” questions, they turned up the heat a bit. Make that a lot.
I knew that my boyfriend was strong in his faith, but he also has a lot of open-minded, laid-back qualities. His parents are another story. I wasn’t prepared for his parent’s traditional ways. They are devout Christians who attend Sunday services all day, put on their Sunday best, love Tyler Perry, and don’t play when it comes to their faith. In comparison, while I come from a similar type of family dynamic, I’ve since grown distant from the church. I wouldn’t consider myself a practicing Christian as I don’t attend services, and I haven’t touched a Bible in years. That’s why it was so awkward when his parents asked me repeatedly about my home church, who my pastor is, if my parents are saved, and if I’m saved. I couldn’t lie, but I felt exposed in a way. My boyfriend knows my struggles with the faith, struggles I didn’t necessarily want to share with his parents. But it brought me back to the idea that when you make a commitment to someone, you also are committing to their family in a way.
Soon after meeting mom and dad, I started getting offers to accompany his mother to church. I ended up at the mall in the MAC store getting the Sunday best makeup and in Nordstrom, LOFT, and Arden B holding piles of skirts, dresses and cardigans. It was all too overwhelming for me. Especially since I haven’t gotten to a place in my life where I want to spend my Sundays in a church again. I’ve adopted the rest and relaxation rituals that come with Sundays. I enjoy my face masks in bed while watching shows on the DVR as my hair is deep conditioning. I have my own schedule to follow and stance on the church to keep in mind, but I don’t want to make a bad impression.
So, while his parents seem to like me, I’m facing a dilemma: Should I oblige them by agreeing to go to church with them sometimes and take part in other traditional Christian things I no longer practice or enjoy?
(As Relayed To Lauren R.D. Fox)
Last year, my cousin Anais sent out the save-the-dates for her wedding. Aside from detailing the time and date of the wedding, it also noted that she and her fiancé’s were to be wed in Medellin, Colombia.
I, along, with our cousins were excited to celebrate the next stage of her life and immediately started planning our travel accommodations. As months inched towards her wedding date, we created a travel itinerary for ourselves so we could explore the Colombian city a few days before the wedding festivities began.
When we arrived in Colombia, I received a WhatsApp message from Tracy, a first, but distant, cousin of Anais and I. Although Tracy is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, she’s a bit flighty and known to not be reliable. In her message, Tracy told me she’s been backpacking throughout South America and made it to Medellin just in time to celebrate Anais’ wedding.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have a place to stay and wanted to know if she could stay with me. Tracy was also honest enough to tell me that she didn’t have any money to contribute towards my hotel room. To earn money she sells jewelry and she’d spent the majority of her income traveling to the wedding.
Although I had more than enough room and Tracy is family, I didn’t want her in my space. Tracy can be extremely disorganized and if she didn’t have money for a hotel room, I knew I would (most likely) also have to pay for her to participate in our family tours, and maybe even eat. I don’t want to leave my cousin stranded but I also don’t think it’s fair she put me in this situation?
Should I allow Tracy to stay with me or leave her stranded in Medellin?
Years ago, my now ex-boyfriend’s sister reached out to me and told me that he had been cheating on me with a couple of other girls. She didn’t really tell me anything that blew my mind, but she did confirm my suspicions while giving me the kick in the butt I needed to kick his butt to the curb.
A woman, who we’ll call “Rachel,” recently found herself in a similar predicament and turned to Reddit for advice. Rachel spotted her sister, Eleanor, in a coffee shop with a gentleman who was not Eleanor’s husband of four years, John. The two were behaving quite inappropriately. This is particularly devastating to Rachel who was always felt that John and Eleanor were the “perfect couple,” and now she’s ready to drop dime to her brother-in-law.
Well, today I was out for an early stroll around town with my boyfriend. We stayed out for maybe 3 hours or so, before walking back to the parking lot. On the way back, I couldn’t help noticing that my sister was sitting in the window of a coffee shop along the main street. I stopped us and I asked my boyfriend if we could sneak in to surprise her, since we hadn’t seen her for a few weeks. He said yes, but then suddenly grabbed my hand just before I went to go to the door.
My boyfriend said “Wait… she’s in there with a guy.”
I was confused, and she hadn’t noticed us so I just walked back around the corner, and then peered through the window again. Sure enough, she was seated opposite a man that was determinately not John. He had dark hair and he kept winking at her, holding her hand and bringing it up to his mouth to kiss it.
I was distraught. My boyfriend asked if I wanted to do anything, but I certainly wasn’t going to march in there and make a scene in front of all the other customers, so we just left.
Rachel seems to be hoping that there’s some sort of explanation for her sister’s behavior. But no matter how you slice it, a married woman being smooched up by any man other than her husband is suspect as hell. She definitely wants to say something, but is wondering if she should give her sister a chance to explain herself before going to John.
Now, I’m wondering who to bring this up with first. I was thinking I should bring this up with Eleanor first and tell her I saw them, but I’m risking her either 1.) denying everything (most likely) or 2.) admitting everything and then telling me not to tell John. If she did that, I’d tell him anyway, because f-ck no am I keeping infidelity from a loving husband, but she’d most likely completely hate me for telling him and cut me out of her life.
Unlike my situation, Rachel’s sister is married with a child, and clearly has a lot more to lose. When my ex’s sister rang the alarm, I was able to make a clean break; however, this news could potentially break up a family. Rachel has found herself in quite the pickle.
Would you tell on a cheating sibling?