Tag Archives: parents

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)

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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.

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.

The Dangers of Consuming Alcohol While Pregnant

10 Jul

This is my latest research for a written assignment I completed for my Infant & Toddler Development course.  I thoroughly explain the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.  I honestly believe it is not that difficult to wait 9 months to have a cocktail.  Think before you act Mommies…

Fetal alcohol syndrome has caused devastating effects in children, causing abnormalities in brain functioning.  This includes, but not limited to, activity that’s associated with transferring messages from one side of the brain to another (Berk, page 109, 2012).  As a child with FAS becomes of age to attend school, they tend to have poor motor coordination, and difficulties processing information.  In many cases, this means extremely hard times for these children, as they exhibit poor performances in their studies.  Couples that wish to be parents, or at least mothers expecting should avoid drinking alcohol completely (Berk, 2012).

The following studies confirm the long-term effects FAS has on school children.  It is with hopes that those planning a pregnancy will not only take this information seriously, but utilize it when faced with the decision of whether or not they should have a drink while pregnant.

Abusing alcohol is a dangerous habit, but when a mother is drinking for two, it does pose additional risks to her unborn baby.  According to a PubMed Health article on ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’, when a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol easily passes across the placenta to the fetus.  With reports of 25 percent of U.S. mothers drinking during their pregnancies, it is more likely that there are many children out there whom are diagnosed with developmental disorders as a result (Berk, 2012 page 109).

Alcohol is one of the many teratogens that can cause damage to a child during a prenatal period.  Table 3.4 on page 109 in the Berk text shows that children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are given one of three diagnoses: fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), partial fetal alcohol syndrome (p-FAS), or alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).  These diagnoses differ in the severity of symptoms such as: slow physical growth, brain injury, and some, if not all three of these facial abnormalities—short eyelid openings, a thin upper lip, and smooth or flattened philtrum.  The diagnostic p-FAS contain two facial abnormalities and some brain injury.  ARND only contains some brain injury, and FAS, the most serious of the three diagnoses, contains slow physical growth, some brain injury, and all three facial abnormalities (Berk, 2012).

The brain injury which results from FAS can affect areas of functioning that are imperative for children that are trying to learn—for example, memory, delayed language development, poor attention span, difficulties planning and reasoning, poor motor coordination, and minimal social skills (Berk, 2012).

But why exactly are children so affected by exposure to alcohol while in the womb?

A journal from the Fetal Alcohol Disorders Society explained how FAS children may have learning disabilities in these four areas: input of information, integration, memory, and output, all of which are crucial for completing simple tasks.

A case study proves that a child with FAS having difficulties processing and outputting is quite normal.  For instance, let’s say a child is asked to transfer toys from the living room into the toy box in her bedroom.  The expected behavior of this child would be to either: go into the bedroom and forget what to do, or go into the living room and arrange the cushions on the couch.

These actions of a FAS child are the result of changes to the central nervous system.  A study was conducted at UW-Madison where they exposed a chick embryo to alcohol.

“We found that calcium released by alcohol has an immediate and devastating effect on certain neurological cells,” says Susan Smith, a professor of nutritional sciences in UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “In this study we show clearly the source and the target of the calcium, and we also show that the pathways of cell death overlap with some of the pathways that give the addictive and rewarding properties of alcohol.”

The finding that alcohol acts through similar pathways to both kill embryonic cells and affect adult brain function suggests that researchers may be able to predict how alcohol will affect neurons, Smith says. And she adds, “The shared signaling is consistent with concerns that prenatal alcohol exposure could increase a person’s desire for alcohol rewards later in life.” (UW- Madison News, 2005).

The researchers examined the embryos under a microscope thoroughly to observe how the calcium released by the alcohol affected the developing neurological tissue.

“We immediately saw a flood of calcium, and within the first second we saw that certain brain cells were affected, and died shortly afterward – and those cells are not regenerated. It only took one dose of about .3 percent alcohol, which by human standards is high but achievable, especially for alcoholics,” explains Garic-Stankovic (UW- Madison News, 2005).

According to the UW-Madison, fetal alcohol syndrome is even more common than Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy.  FAS is the leading cause of mental retardation in much of the world, occurring two to three times in every thousand live births in the United States (UW- Madison News, 2005).

Recent research also implies that if an unborn child is exposed repeatedly to even low amounts of alcohol, problems can still occur.  This includes issues regarding learning, judgment, and attention disorders—many of which are unrecognizable until the child is four or five years old (UW- Madison News, 2005).

Thankfully, there are teaching tactics to help the development of children with FAS.  For example, strategies such as visual cues may enhance language development, rhyme and music for memory and integration, scripted plays to exercise social skills, and the use of videotapes to instruct certain concepts (Fall, 1991).

Although treatment for these children is available, it should be absolutely necessary for pregnant women to be educated on the genetic and environmental consequences that result from drinking alcohol during the prenatal period.  Hopefully if they become aware of these long-term effects, it could possibly cause a decline in mothers choosing to drink while expecting.

Sources:

UW-Madison News, S. S. (2005, August 9). Study suggests broader damage from fetal alcohol syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.news.wisc.edu/11394

Fall, D. (1991). A.d.a.m. medical encyclopedia.. Retrieved from http://www.faslink.org/j.htm

Vorvick, L. J. (2011, August 15). Pubmed health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001909/

We are Responsible for Who Our Children Become

13 Jun

After reading this chapter in my textbook for my Infant and Toddler Development class, it amazes me on how many factors can affect a child’s environment.  It is kind of frightening actually, as a child can be enormously affected by factors that they have no control over. According to the journal by Knafo and Plomin, a child’s prosocial behavior is heavily influenced from the parenting styles chosen by his or her mother and father.  This makes me want to be the perfect parent.

I believe this is a fear of mine, but isn’t it the fear of anyone who will be a parent someday?  I am absolutely petrified that I will not raise my children in the “ideal” fashion.  It’s kind of funny of how I am not ashamed to admit that in the least bit–how very vulnerable of me!

I strongly believe that genetics does affect the environment.  As explained on page 85 in the Berk text, passive correlation is when values are instilled in children when they have no control over it.  The book uses the example of a child inheriting athletic abilities or interests because their parent(s) had emphasized outdoor activities.  However, what if the passive correaltion is not so positive?  In some cases, violence is hereditary; it is sometimes passed down for more than one generation.  Children cannot control these unfortunate circumstances, which means there is a possibility that they may inherit this quality and become violent themselves.

The other side of this negative passive correlation that I speak of is the simple fact that not every child is affected by it, or they are not always a product of their environment, so to speak.  On page 86, it states that “accumulating evidence reveals that the relationship between heredity and environment is not a one-way street, from genes to environment to behavior”.  Both affect one another; it is biodirectional.  It was proven in the study on page 86 that unfavorable genetic-environment correalation can be uncoupled through good, caring, parenting strategies.  Through good parenting, positive experiences are bestowed among children, which “modify the expression of heredity”.  For example, a child may have had negative passive-correaltion from their biological parents.  Let’s say he or she was then adopted by a kind, loving family that treated them in a positive manner–this could very well result in prosocial behavior rather than aggression, or other unfavorable attitudes.

As mentioned in the Berk text, genes affect children’s behavior and experiences, but their experiences and behavior also affect gene expression.  So, I while I do agree that genetics affects the environment, I also believe in the biodirectional theory; that the environment affects genetics as well.  I am a walking example of this.  My childhood was not perfect, but who’s is anyway?  I made a huge promise to myself–my kids will have it a lot better than I did, and I strongly believe that I am the only one who is responsible for this outcome.

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

Knafo, Ariel, and Robert Plomin. “Prosocial Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Stability and Change.” Developmental Psychology 42.5 (2006): 771-86. Print.

(http://pluto.huji.ac.il/~mshayo/Ebstein3_Prosocial_behavior.pdf)

My Most Personal Post Yet

7 Jun

So, I very rarely use my blog as a personal venting area.  I find that many people DO use their blogs as a diary.  Anywho, here’s getting to know me….

On February 10th, 2012, my boyfriend Brian and I were on the observation deck of the Marriot Custom House in Boston, Mass.  After kissing me on the head he got down on one knee and proposed.  Ever since that day, scratch that—ever since the day that we met…I’ve been on cloud nine.

How cliche; boy meets girl, they marry, and live happily ever after.  Blah, blah, blah.  No but in all seriousness, I am so happy.  Sometimes I can hardly contain my happiness.  I tell my friend Loretta that I feel as though sunshine and rainbows are going to burst through my skin (lol).

I just love my fiance so very much.  Sometimes I think God built the perfect man and sent him to me through some sort of debt; not that the “big man upstairs” owes anyone (let alone me) any debts, and I won’t get into specifics here…but did I deserve this man?  I’d like to think so.  My road has not been easy up until this point and I cannot thank the good Lord enough for sending Brian to me.  I like to thank God for him, but in reality I should thank Brian himself.  He is the most wonderful person I have ever met in my entire life–fiance or not.  He’s a great man, and the fact that I am marrying him in 1 year and 4 months makes me beam with pride.

I can only hope that I get to change my blog to “The Nifty Mommy” is a couple of years!   🙂