Archive for July 2009
By the time our second and youngest child graduates from high school, my husband will be two years shy of the official retirement age. (I’ll be 51, just for the record.)
On one hand, that seems old to me. When I turned 18, my mother wasn’t even 40. At the time, my dad was 45 — even younger than when my husband was when we had our second baby.
But on the other hand, it’s nothing extraordinary. According to “Babies and Boomers,” an article this week in The Boston Globe, more couples are waiting until their late 30s and 40s to have children.
“For some at the tail end of the boom, parenthood is just beginning… These boomers may not be the norm, but they’re making older parenting seem normal, broadening our ideas of the ‘right’ time to start a family.”
While there are some health risks involved when a woman over the age of 40 gets pregnant and gives birth, many babies with perfect health are born to older women. Some say that waiting a little longer and having a baby later in life also has plenty of advantages including maturity and financial security. By spending one’s 20s and 30s establishing a career, traveling and pursuing personal interests, some of these individuals say they’re better prepared and finally ready to have kids.
I’m not saying that older parents are better than younger parents, but for some people – my husband included – they’ll tell you that they’re probably better dads and moms now that they would have been when they were 25 or even 30.
How old were you when your children were born? Do you think there’s ever a right time to start a family?
I am looking for a woman’s shelter that could use a dining set. It is from the 1930’s and has 6 chairs. Anyone know of a shelter in need?
Spokesman-Review reporter Becky Nappi’s Sunday story, “The power of siblings,” shows us how our brothers and sisters not only provide us with company especially in the early years; but they also keep us healthy and sharp as we get older.
Becky focused on three families, but my favorite was the one about Mary and Maggie Smith, ages 9 and 11. The siblings, who also have a younger sister, have always had a close connection. “When they are old women, they say, they’ll happily live together,” Becky wrote in her story.
I hope my own children will someday love each other as much as these girls do, but at the moment, things aren’t exactly harmonious at my house. My 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter squabble a lot. They often want the same toy (even if there’s two of the same item) and they compete for my attention. We talk about taking turns and sharing. We explore ways to resolve conflict. Truthfully, however, there are days when all I do is referee.
Do your kids get along? What are some of the strategies you use to settle disputes? What do you do to promote harmony among the siblings?
Need a break from the kids? If you lived in the Seattle area, you could head over to Ikea.
According to this New York Times’ story, “A Cheap Date, With Child Care by Ikea,” a growing number of moms and dads are taking advantage of the store’s free 1 ½ hours of child care so that they can get some shopping done, eat Swedish meatballs at the café or even have a date (inside the store) with their spouse or partner.
The store known for its affordable and Scandinavian-style (particle-board) furniture and household products has an area known as “Smaland” where kids can have fun in a ball pit or area and other play structures. There’s also plenty of toys and some might even have a TV.
The NYT story noted that Smaland attendance nationwide has risen about 20 percent so far this year.
Ikea’s goal is to get you to shop, of course. Although they can’t leave Ikea when they drop their kids off at Smaland, several parents interviewed by The NYT admitted they used the place as a kind of respite.
Locally, Fred Meyer offers a Playland for kids so that their parents can go grocery shopping in peace. The YMCA also has childcare so that moms and dads can get a workout in (although I know of at least one parent who actually left the building once to run errands instead).
Any other businesses or places in town that offer free (and safe) child care? Do you take advantage of the free babysitting? (I know some parents who wouldn’t even consider leaving their kids in Playland, Smaland or the like.) What do you do to get a break from the kids?
As a mom of young kids, I often look to other parents for advice.
By seeking their wisdom through experience, I’ve learned more about childbirth, breastfeeding and other issues that I never even thought about before having kids. One mom has inspired me to cook more and explore healthier and local foods. Another introduced me to slings and babywearing. One of my favorite dads, who stays home part-time with his children, often tells me about the best kid bargains in town – from used clothing and toys to where to go for free, child-friendly activities.
But learning about the parenting techniques and daily routines of other families does have its drawbacks. For a while, I couldn’t help but compare myself to other parents. Especially when my kids were younger, I was plagued by insecurities: “Am I not strict enough?” I would ask myself. “Do I work too much? Am I a bad mom for giving my kid a microwaved hotdog for lunch?”
Redbook magazine recently interviewed several parenting experts, including marriage, family, and child therapist Lisa Dunning, author of Good Parents Bad Parenting. “If you’re always worrying — am I doing it right? — it could hinder your ability to parent effectively,” she told Redbook. “But if you trust yourself as a parent, you can focus on what’s best for you and your child. When you’re confident and reliable in your parenting, kids know what’s expected of them, and they learn to trust you and feel safe.”
The article, “Why You’re a Great Mom, No Matter How You Mother,” gave me some comfort because it emphasized that there are no absolutes in parenting, that one size doesn’t fit all. The reporter, Aviva Patz, included five steps to help parents listen to their inner voice:
* Stop comparing yourself to other parents.
* Trace the roots of your parenting style.
* Celebrate your style.
* Understand your child is unique.
* Follow your instincts.
As a parent, when did you become comfortable with your own style and trusting your instincts? Was there a particular incident or issue that helped you gain confidence as a parent?
Parents who want to help pay for their children’s college tuition are often advised to start saving right away – even if their kid is still in diapers.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, the average tuition (not including room and board and other expenses) at a private four-year university was $25,143, according to the College Board. The cost was significantly lower at public four-year universities, but the average tuition was still $6,585 a year. Tuition rates will continue to rise, of course, and many families won’t be able to keep up with the costs.
Shortly after my son was born five years ago, we opened a 529 savings plan for college. I was able to set a little money aside each month, but the contributions became less frequent after the birth of our second child. Now that I no longer work full-time and have other expenses, I can’t remember the last time I put money into that educational fund.
Parents should start setting aside money for their children’s education if they can afford it, experts say, but putting money into an educational fund may not always be the most fiscally responsible thing to do.
In this MSNBC.com story, “Six reasons not to save for kids’ college,” reporter Sally Herigstad advises moms and dads to save money for retirement first before putting money in a college fund. “Remember, your kids can get student loans, but there’s no such thing as a retirement loan,” she wrote.
She also tells readers that it’s a better idea to buy your house and then using a home-equity loan to help pay for college. Herigstad also notes that placing money in your child’s name may also hurt their chances of getting financial aid.
Are you helping your child pay for his or her college tuition and expenses? Why or why not? If so, how long have you been saving for your child’s college costs? Are you investing your savings in an educational fund or finding other ways to set that tuition money aside?
Women from the United States, Great Britain and other parts of the world are now going to India to have babies.
In this article published earlier this year in Marie Claire, reporter Abigail Haworth tells us the story of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic, located in a small Indian city called Anand. For the past three years, foreigners have been coming to the clinic in order to find women who will carry and give birth to their children. According to Haworth’s story, “Surrogate Mothers: Womb for Rent,” surrogacy in India costs about $12,000 – about one-fifth of the cost in the United States. Forty-five women are on the list to serve as surrogates. During the time of the interviews, 27 were pregnant and scheduled to receive compensation of about $5,000 to $7,000. That’s a lot of money in a country where many people earn less than $1 a day.
The women who
apply to be surrogates say they’re looking for ways to feed their own families. One of the women bearing a child for an American couple is 30-year-old
Rubina Mondal, who decided to become a surrogate in order to pay for her
8-year-old son’s medical care (the boy has a hole in his heart). Karen and
Thomas, the Los Angeles couple who contracted with Mondal to carry and give
birth to their child, called her every week during the pregnancy. In addition
to the fee, the couple paid for a two-bedroom apartment for Mondal’s family and
sent packages with gifts and toys for Mondal and her sons. In the weeks before
the baby’s birth, Karen flew to India and lived with her baby’s surrogate
mother. “Karen became my sister,” Mondal told the reporter.
What do you think? Is this exploitation of poor women in the developing world or does it provide couples who cannot bear children an opportunity to have a baby while also enabling others to earn a living?
A growing number of children of U.S. military troops are seeking mental health care, according to “Military kids seek more care,” an Associated Press story published in today’s Spokesman-Review.
Here are some statistics from the article:
It’s not clear why so many more children are seeking treatment. The story noted that the military has encouraged troops’ family members to seek mental health. At the same time, their need for mental health counseling and treatment coincides with the fact that many service members have had repeated tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the economic recession.
Do you know any military families? How have the children coped with the absence of a parent deployed overseas? How can we support the spouses and children of these service members?
During the Great Depression, the U.S. fertility declined from about 3.5 to 2.3, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. The same thing happened in the 1970s as Americans struggled with a recession and oil crisis.
With the current economic downturn, some couples are thinking twice before getting pregnant. Workers are losing their jobs, companies are cutting benefits, and the cost of raising a family is increasing.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 report called “Expenditures on Children by Families,” families spent anywhere from $7,830 to as much as $17,500 a year on each child, depending on the child’s age and the family’s income level.
And if you think diapers, car seats, cribs and other nursery
items are expensive, just wait. Parents actually spend more each year as
children get older, the report shows.
What do you think? Should the economy affect childbearing? Should couples planning to have a baby or more children reconsider given the current financial crisis affecting many Americans? Do you know any couples who are waiting until the economy gets better before having kids or getting pregnant again?