Oh Say can you see?: The American Dream

8 Dec
Courtesy of activerain.com

Courtesy of activerain.com

There is economic stress in my family (I am referring to my fiancé and I) and it relates exactly to the safety and education goals identified by Warren (Family in Transition-16th edition).

“Within the middle class, and even the upper middle class, many families experience an almost threatening pressure to keep up, both for themselves and their children.  They are deeply concerned about the rigors of the global economy, and the need to have their children attend “good” schools.  This means living in a community with relatively high housing costs.” (Warren & Warren Tygai, 2011).

I’ve mentioned this before, but next year I am getting married.  We are both saving money every month in preparation for the milestones that are rapidly approaching—specifically, wedding costs and a down-payment on a house.  I do feel the pressure to “keep up” sometimes.  Do my fiancé and I want to live the American dream?  Of course we do.  We want a big, beautiful home on a lovely block with green grass and friendly neighbors.  We want healthy, happy, well-educated children that are able to walk to the school bus stop without a care in the world.  It’s the simple life, yet difficult to achieve these days.

As mentioned in the quoted text above, we all want our children to attend good schools.  This means living in a community with high housing costs.  If we are using the words “high costs”, then that usually means prices one cannot afford.  If the house was not recognized as a “high cost” then it most likely wouldn’t hurt my bank account.  What I am trying to say is that many Americans will purchase a home in a nice area with great schools—but it’s those same Americans that are spending more than they can afford.  We cannot afford what is known as the ‘American dream’ and yet we will sacrifice our financial stability in order to achieve it.  A bit of a contradiction, no?  This discussion has really made me come to grips with reality.

Hey, I will admit it.  I am constantly insisting that my fiancé and I view homes with the best schools and in the safest neighborhoods.  Can we afford this financial burden?  Absolutely not right now.  It’s funny though, how Americans just like us are willing to take that blow to the bank account, or commit to a 30-year mortgage (30 years, jeez!), rather than settle for what we could afford based on both of our incomes.  We’d rather spend what we can’t afford then afford what we are spending because of safety and education.  I am being honest, but considering all things, it sort of makes me feel foolish.

(I’d like to thank my Professor at ESC for initiating this fantastic discussion board)

America is Obsessed with Marriage

19 Nov

America is obsessed with marriage.  I am getting married next year to the love of my life and I couldn’t be happier.  Almost immediately following my engagement, I had girlfriends from all walks of life voicing how badly they wanted to get married as well.  I felt bad in a way, as I did not want them to feel pressured to achieve that sort of a commitment just because I reached that stage in my life.  I also did not want them to feel as if they were failures because I was engaged to my significant other and they were not.

When I attempt to glorify their situations, they will often reply: “Easy for you to say”.  However, I still remember what it was like to be single.  It was exciting and fun.  There truly are many benefits for being single.  I do not know of any separate benefits as far as gender differences go (I look forward to reading what my fellow peers think).  The list that I have come up with is beneficial to both women and men who are single.

Living a single lifestyle means having the freedom to be spontaneous.  You are able to see the world when and how want to.  There are virtually no limitations—you can travel anywhere and anytime you choose.  This also goes for career choices; since meeting my fiancé, I have personally had to pass-up career opportunities.  When you are in a serious relationship and about to be married, the two of you are a team.  You are no longer making decisions for yourself—you are making decisions for the both of you.

Another benefit to a permanent single lifestyle is that you have the ability to make your own decisions.  You can do things you own way both socially and financially.  An unmarried man or woman has the freedom to decide how they want to spend their time and who they want to spend it with.  You may want to spend more time alone, with friends, family, or even travel to see friends and family that you don’t get to see as often as you would like.  As far as finances go, you are not obligated to share expenses with another person.  You choose how you spend your money and there’s no one to consult other than yourself.

If you are not living alone, then prepare to be ridiculed.  “Oh my gosh, you LIVE together?!?!”  Yes, my fiance and I are living together.  I moved in with him after only 6 months of dating, gotta problem?  No, but in all seriousness I’m so over this “living in sin” crap.  It’s 2012.  Get with it!

Cohabitation is not right or wrong, but a wave of the future.  Page 250 in the Benokraitis text lists opposing views on the practice of living together.  It states:

“Don’t make a habit of cohabiting because multiple experiences of living together decrease the chances of marrying and establishing a lifelong partnership”.

To me, a habit is a form of addiction, or an obsession.  The word habit is not particularly associated with something of positive nature.  I believe that in America, marriage is a symbol of succession.  If a person is married, then one may have a false sense of trust instilled in them.  They may see that their wedding ring signifies some sort of stability in their life—then comes the desire for others to want the same stability in their own lives.

As I dissect the reasons why I believe that America is obsessed with marriage, I attempt to point out the pressures of marriage as well.  There is nothing wrong with living together before marriage.  I mentioned in the beginning that cohabiting is a wave of the future.  With the divorce rate so high, I think it’s actually pretty smart to test-drive the car before you buy it, so to speak.

There is also nothing wrong with remaining single, or not getting married.  “…multiple experiences of living together decrease the chances of marrying.”  I had to address this quotation again because it reads as if there is something wrong with NOT marrying—as if there’s a reference here that you will not succeed in life if you do not marry.

I think that it’s wonderful to have companionship in a lifelong partner however, I personally know unmarried couples that have been together for many years and have solid relationships; some more solid than married couples that feel “trapped” or unable to face the stigma, or financial consequences of divorce.  It’s all so confusing.  All I can say is learn to love; if it doesn’t work out, then learn to remain positive and happy.

 

Photo courtesy of Hawaii Derm.

Prenatal Influences: Yay or nay?

19 Nov

I believe that the knowledge discussed in the article: “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life” is beneficial to expectant women.  As the author explains, “no woman who is pregnant today can escape hearing the message that what she does affects her fetus”.  I personally work with pregnant women on a daily basis and this statement couldn’t be more accurate.  There are so many doctors, family members, and books telling them what to do, what not to do, and what sort of terrifying consequences can result from their actions as a mother.  However, as I’ve said, I agree with Paul’s position.  “The power to change behavior” and the “excitement of discovery” can be helpful in educating pregnant women.

“We’re used to hearing about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, but as these researchers are finding out, it’s frequently the intrauterine environment that makes things go right in later life” (Paul, 2010).

I’ve mentioned that scientific knowledge can help women to change their behavior once they discover that they are with child.  One of the most important tasks of a mother is to maintain a healthy weight during their pregnancy.  The study on obesity conducted at Harvard Medical School found that a child will most likely be overweight by the age of 3 if their mother had gained too much weight during the pregnancy.  When researchers compared women who had average weight gain during their pregnancy with women that gained weight excessively, the results concluded that the child would most likely be obese during the stage of adolescence (Paul, 2010).

These findings can open the ears and eyes of overweight women—not only for the sake of their unborn children, but for their own health as well.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women out there that aren’t eating enough.  David Barker (the Barker hypothesis) suggested that when an unborn child is malnourished, then most of the nutrients is does receive will go to the brain.  When the child becomes an adult, he or she will most likely survive to middle age—but the unbalanced nutrients will then result in increased chances of heart disease and other illnesses (Paul, 2010).

According to the Levine and Munsch text, the goal of a newborn’s weight is between 7 and 8 pounds for Caucasian babies; this number is slightly less for African and Asian children.  The research mentioned on page 159 states that when a mother’s diet is inadequate and the infant grows in a household where there is an abundance of food, then this child is more prone to obesity.  It also states that malnourished fetuses are born with a lower basal metabolic rate.  These infants will burn calories slower after they are born, which puts them at higher risk for obesity and maybe even diabetes in their future (Levine & Munsch, 2011).

I know I may be contradicting myself here, but upon completing these readings I have realized how much stress expectant mothers are REALLY experiencing.  I do believe that learning about these findings could potentially provide mothers with helpful knowledge for the duration of their pregnancy.  However, I could also see how it may have a tendency to overwhelm some women.  These hypotheses/discoveries are somewhat scary, but they exist for preventative purposes as well as to raise awareness—that’s a positive aspect that we cannot ignore.

Sources:

Levine, Laura E., and Joyce Munsch. Child Development: An Active Learning Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011. Print.

Paul, Annie Murphy. “How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life.” Time. Time, 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2012 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2021065,00.html&gt;.

Photo courtesy: everydaypeoplecartoons.com

Toddlers: Explorers By Nature

30 Aug

Let’s say that there’s a mother of a boy named Christopher.  Christopher is a toddler and since getting ‘into everything’, as toddlers do, his mother has been keeping him in a playpen for most hours of the day.  Here is my response for my Infant and Toddler Development class based on Erikson’s theory of development….

I would try and help Christopher’s mother to understand just how important it is to keep her child out of the playpen.  Toddlers are explorers by nature; they are extra curious in discovering how the world works around them.

Parents and caregivers should allow children to become familiar with the environment.  Children require stimulation, ie: sensory and the manipulation of objects.  Allowing them to explore is also vital to their physical growth (University of Illinois).  By crawling around and grabbing onto furniture a child is slowly enhancing their gross motor skills.

This would be best explained to a person like Derek’s mother through Erikson’s first three stages of psychosocial development:

1.) Trust vs. Mistrust, where parents should interact with their child in order to instill an element of trust.

2.)  Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, where it is important to introduce independency in order to instill confidence.

3.)  Initiative vs. Guilt, where children assert power and control through play and interactions.  This instills the feeling of social cabability to lead others (about.com).

As previously mentioned, allowing toddlers to explore their natural surroundings is necessary to their social and physical development. Most importantly, toddlers require parental interaction and improval to enhance their confidence, thus shaping the people that they will become in the future.  This will not only assist them in developing confidence with people, but with their world surrounding them as well. So in reality, a playpen is not the best place for Christopher.  As he grows, it may affect him in negative ways, socially.  His mother may find that he does not trust others, or that he has developed a fear of exploration.  According to Erikson, Christopher could also have feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, as a result of not having control over certain choices such as food, toys, or clothing, which is vital to the beginning stages of independency (about.com).

In my opinion, toddlers are some of the most interesting human beings on earth.  When parents provide them with the freedom to explore is when they will discover how joyful it is to watch their child grow during a crucial stage in development.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial_2.htm

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/toddlers/exploring.cfm

Let’s Examine the Language of a 2-year-old…

13 Aug

I have recently completed a language observation assignment for my Infant & Toddler Development class.  Here are my results…

For the past few days, I having been listening and observing the language of 2-year-old Liv.  Judging by what I have read in the Berk text, she is exactly where she should be as far as language development is concerned.  It is also amazing how much this child relates to the many explanations of her growth stage in chapter six of my college textbook, as it relates to the tactics I have been using to aid in enhancing her growth.

At exactly 25 months old, Liv is in “the two-word utterance phase”  Today, I went to go and visit with her.  Even this very morning when I walked in the door to her home, she said: “Cole here!”–meaning “Nicole is here”.  As described on page 239 in the Berk text,  these two-word utterances are known as “telegraphic speech”.  Ths means that the child will focused on the subject matter, leaving out the shorter, less important words or phrases.  In this case, Liv left out the word “is”.

I’d like to believe that I have had much influence in supporting Olivia’s early language development.  She has terrific capabilities of recognition and recall–this had been developed through reading stories, and the incorporation of child-directed speech as well as flash cards.  Through the utilization of flash cards I have been able to help strengthen Liv’s language, object recognition skills, and cognitive development.  This is done through lots of repetition and, as mentioned, child-directed speech (CDS).  CDS is a form of speech in which parents and caregivers speak to the child in short sentences with “high-pitched, exaggerated expression, meaning, and repetition of new words in a variety of contexts” (Berk, 2012, pg. 241).  This behavior is similar to that of the mother who was dressing her baby in The Baby Human DVD.  She utilized that opportunity for face-time with the little girl with melodic CDS.  As mentioned in the DVD, it almost sounds like song–a mixture of high and low pitches.  What is interesting is that the child seems very engaged with her mother; this could very well be a result of the soothing rhythum of her mother’s words.

I believe that as a child enters the toddler years the CDS gradually changes.  For instance, I still find myself speaking in various tones and pitches with 2-year-old Liv, but there has been a decreasing use of “baby talk”.  Now I exhibit kindness in my voice and use longer sentences.  The more words that are used when speaking to a toddler means the more new words that they will learn, as there exists a demanding task of using additional words in order to communicate (Berk, 2012).

Baby Vision, Inc. (2009). The Baby Human (DVD). Richmond Hill, Ontario

Berk, L. (2012). Infants and Children Prenatal Through MIddle Childhood. Seventh Edition: Pearson Education, Inc.

False Hope With Early Development

6 Aug

Ever see that commercial for “My Baby Can Read”?  No offense, but I think it’s sort of silly.

Let’s say there was a neighbor that was reluctant to enroll a 5-moth-old baby into an infant stimulation class.  In this class the baby would “learn” to reading and mathematics.

There is nothing wrong with exposing a young child to reading, adding and subtraction.  According to Dr. Lin Day, early experiences play an important role later with math and science learning in school.  By introducing a child to math through play, it may help them build an interest for future learning.

However, I would tell this parent to beware of any false hope.  Five-month-old babies do not possess the mental capacities that school-aged children do.  They may be able to eventually understand the concept of order (the number 3 follow the number 2), but it is doubtful that they will leave an infant stimulation class with the ability to count nonetheless add or subtract (Day, 2008).

In the DVD, The Baby Human: “To Walk”, there are a few babies that are crawling on a raised checkered floor.  The floor next to it is an optical illusion—the checkered floor is down below a glass surface, so it appears to the child that if he or she crawls on top of it, they may plummet through (although they won’t because of the clear, glass surface).  What is interesting is that these babies were able to use logical thinking skills.  They looked down and recognized that it may have been unsafe for them to continue across the unit. In reality, the children were wrong—the glass would have saved them from falling.  So while I am commending the children for using reasoning skills, this test from the DVD proves that they only did what was appropriate for their age group.  These children were far too young to understand that if they simply put one hand on the glass to determine if they would fall through or not, then they would have been able to crawl across.  Therefore, how can a child of the same learning caliber possibly comprehend any kind of mathematical or reading skills?  In the end, 5-month-old babies do not have the cognitive capacity for such a level of learning.

I personally believe that infants can only be prepped for what the type of learning that they will be exposed to in the future.  For example, the University of Vienna concluded that there is no proof that listening to Mozart or any type of “passive learning” provides miraculous reasoning benefits.  It has been found though, that children that receive musical or instrumental instruction excel in fine motor skills, tone discrimination, and vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning.  Other researchers claim that these children also do well in mathematical reasoning and spatial relationships (Their, 2010).

Each of these studies back up the claim that a 5-month-old child does not have an advanced-enough learning capacity to learn math or reading.  As I’ve mentioned, it is great to introduce babies to learning strategies, but we shouldn’t expect any newsworthy results.  It’s only the first step in enhancing the developments of a child.  As Their states in his article: “…you may need to do more than put on a CD during playtime”.

In addition, why are we rushing children to learn so much, so soon?  They won’t stay babies for long and when they are grown then trust me, you will wish you had cherished those goo-goo gah-gah moments with all your hearts.

Sources:

Day, Dr. Lin. “Babies and Mathematics.” Baby Sensory. N.p., 2008. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://www.babysensory.com/Downloads/MathsEN.pdf&gt;.

The Baby Human: “To Walk” Discovery, n.d. DVD.

Thier, Dave. “‘Mozart Effect’ on Babies a Myth, Research Says.” AOL News. America Online, 11 May 2010. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://www.aolnews.com/2010/05/11/mozart-effect-on-babies-a-myth-research-says/&gt;.

When I become a Mother…

18 Jul

I interviewed my mother for my Infant & Toddler Development assignment.  After the interview, we were required to reflect on it.  Here are my thoughts…

My mother has three children including myself, age 25, my brother Steven who is 15 and my brother John who is 12.

She had me when she was just 17 years old, so I came as quite a shock to my family.  My mother did not have another child until I was 10 years old.  She said she hoped to have at least two children.

Her decision to have three children came because she had felt sorry that I had gone 10 whole years without having a sibling.  Then, when my brother Steven was 3, I had become more of a mother figure to him (after all, we were and are 10 years apart).  I was becoming a teenager and like most teenagers are, I was constantly wanting to be around my friends.

That’s when my mother decided that it was time to have another child, my brother John.  She wanted Steven to have a “buddy”, as she puts it.

My mother’s motives did match some of the motives on page 92 of the Berk text.  She had more than one child because she thought we should have siblings.  One aspect that was interesting was that Yolanda’s grandmother mentioned how if she had settled with only one child, that child may have become spoiled.  She also mentioned that she did not think about having children because everyone had them.

I’ve already mentioned this in my response to another student’s post, but I will repeat.  I feel that people years ago had a lot of children.  My mother is one of 6.  This day in age you have the modern mom.  I feel that the 2012 modern mother thinks A LOT about having children, how many children she should have, and what sort of direction she should take as far as parenting tactics go.  There is nothing wrong with this; mothers just think more carefully now as far as family planning goes, than they did in the past.

I do not have any children of my own yet.  I am getting married next year and excited to start a family as soon as we are settled in a home.  When I am pregnant someday, I can imagine that I will be pretty confident about the kind of parents my husband and I will be.  Some concerns will be involved with the birthing process, as it is a scary thing.  I am sure every women is a bit nervous before they give birth though.

My main concerns will have to do with what will occur when the baby comes home.  Can my husband and I be on the same page?  Will I be an extremely paranoid mother?  What sort of changes will my body go through mentally and physically?  Also, will I be a better parent than my parents were to me?  My biggest fear is becoming my mother.  She was not a terrible mother, but she was not the kind of mother that I want to be to my kids.

As it states on page 121 in the Berk text, many parents look to negative experiences from their own childhood in order to understand how they can do it differently.  I really do appreciate the idea about the marital workshops for expectant parents.  That is something I would love to get involved in when my fiance/soon to be husband decide to have a child.

References

Berk, E., Laura. Infants and Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. 7th ed. Pearson Education, Inc. 2012.

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