Book Review: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study

divorce-book-cover

Twenty five years ago, the general population was told that children and teens adjust to divorce within five years after their parent’s divorce. The controversial, New York Times Bestselling book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, came along in 2000 and tells a different story. A story that is difficult to process and challenges American society’s beliefs about divorce.

The Study

Wallerstein studied children of divorce since 1971, when she began observing some 131 children of divorced families in affluent Marin County, California. The original “children of divorce” study was funded by the Zellerbach Family Fund. Subsequent studies were done with the same children that ultimately led to The 25 Year Landmark Study.

The Book

The five-part, twenty-two chapter book presents a long-term perspective of children of divorce after they reach adulthood. “…when children of divorce become adults, they are badly frightened that their relationships will fail, just like the most important relationship in their parents’ lives failed,” (p. xiii).

College Students’ Responses

I used an article based on this book in my college Child Growth & Development course for small group discussions. The topic stirs up intense emotions alongside powerful opinions based on students’ personal experiences. The vast majority of students from divorced families agree with the authors’ long-lasting effects of divorce.

Interesting Chapters

Some interesting chapters include: Growing Up Is Harder; The Wages of Violence; Our Failure to Intervene; Undoing the Past; and Growing Up Lonely. Since divorce is so prevalent in our society, this is a well researched and documented book on the effects of divorce that should be read by anyone touched by divorce.

Book Information

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, & Sandra Blakeslee, New York: Hyperion, 2000. Available from Amazon.com hardcover $17.56; paperback $11.62; audio cassette $5.48; and Kindle $9.99.

To exercise or not to exercise?

5Bwww.stockpholio.com-5D-5032496501_4-Pilates-U-S-ArmyHas your doctor suggested you exercise for health benefits? Did your friend suggest exercising as a way to lose weight? Do kids ask you if you’re going to have a baby because of your tummy pouch?
Should I exercise today or not?
It’s a question you may ask yourself on a regular basis. Nah, not today, I tell myself. It’s raining. Maybe tomorrow…or if I’m lucky, maybe it will rain again. This week I spoke to a group of Mothers of Preschoolers in Tracy about The Physical Perspective. Most of us know that exercise is helpful to prevent weight gain, promote weight loss, or maintain our weight, but that doesn’t always do the trick. (1)

 

Some of us are motivated by health

Exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. (1, 2) It also reduces stress, depression and anxiety. (3) Enhancing mental performance and work productivity (whether your “work” is in your home or outside your home) are other benefits. Exercise can even improve your skin.

But some of us are motivated by sex

The benefit the mothers’ giggled about is that 20 minutes of exercise a day improves your sex life. (3) Who knew that the Harvard School of Public Health studies such things? It’s true. Just 20 minutes/day Improves sexual response in women, leaves you feeling energized, and helps you feel more desirable.

Dr. David Katz from Yale adds, “Working out with your partner not only will allow you to spend time together, but it will trigger adrenaline & other feel-good hormones to get you in the mood.” (3)

I shared with the ladies, “If your husband finds out about this, chances are he’ll ensure you get exercise time in!” Maybe that will work…rain or not!

Sources:

1. Physical Activity and Health, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/ Accessed 10/23/2013.

2. The Benefits of Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu › The Nutrition Source. Accessed 10/25/2013.

 

How About Some Positive Peer Pressure?

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013learning-the-rules-909359-s

Although the last five blogs highlighted parenting tips to help their school age children resist negative peer pressure, it is essential to remember that peer pressure isn’t always negative. Positive peer pressure assists school age children with reinforcing skills.

An important example is demonstrating appropriate social behaviors. You may hound your kids about their manner with little results, but when their friends make comments, they often listen.

“That’s gross.”

Take for example, body functions, like inappropriate belching. “That’s gross,” friends may groan. Or maybe your daughter doesn’t like washing her hair. A friend may comment, “You’re not going to the birthday party with your hair like that.” Of course not, and the hair is washed, styled and off they go.

Changing

Peers can also motivate positive personal changes. (1) Maybe your daughter is struggling with math. Her friend offers to lend her a hand. Or possibly your son wants to play a sport but hasn’t joined a team before. A friend may join the team with him. Perhaps your daughter is organizationally challenged. A peer can help arrange her school binder.

Belonging

Peers can rally round your child to maintain self-confidence and a sense of belonging and meaning. (1) Kids usually choose friends who are similar to them. This helps children feel like they belong to something beyond their families. Having good friends with similar values provides fun times together and helps children feel more confident.

Volunteering

Positive peer pressure can also influence peers to volunteer, work towards becoming more “green,” staying away from drugs and alcohol, and thriving in academics and goals. (1) Even amongst school age children, natural leaders will guide peers to make a difference.

Opportunities

Check to see which non-profit organizations allow school age volunteers, such as food banks, homeless shelters, or animal rescue organizations or shelters. Some kids help save our environment. Other children challenge peers to stay away from drugs and alcohol or do well in school. When parents hear about negative peer pressure, keep in mind that peer pressure can also become a very beneficial asset for you and your child.

Source: Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

 

Suspend Judgment: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Suspend Judgment   

Another tip for helping your school age children reduce negative peer pressure is suspending judgment when your child confides in you about his/her peers. 1 Sometimes the “friend” is actually the child him or herself so watch what you say. Your goal is to learn more about the situation by keeping communication open. Become an expert on asking open-ended questions. For example, “Sounds like Matthew’s really struggling. What could you do to help him through this tough time?”

Source:

  1. When Peer Pressure is Good For Your Child, Carolyn Hoyt, Good Housekeeping, Women.com Networks, Inc.

Awareness of “Virtual” Peer Pressure: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013victoria-and-the-laptop-1019022-m

Another parenting tip for helping reduce negative peer pressure for school age children is to become aware of “virtual” peer pressure and intervene early. A few months ago when I prepared this material for a group of school age parents in Ceres, California, I became distraught about the potential negative consequences of technology.

Everyone Knows

“Children can reject and blackmail others, encourage hate groups and ostracize others instantly. In the past, only your child’s class knew if he was ostracized, today, with Facebook, everyone knows, everyone can see it and everyone reads it right now.” (1)

Collecting “Likes”

Just as financial numbers equal power for some adults, popularity numbers are powerful for various school age children. “Children collect friends and ‘likes’ to demonstrate their popularity and influence–which can be used to pressure peers with a few keystrokes.

A Bully’s Power

Behind a screen, a bully has power.” (1) Bullying has expanded way beyond the school walls. I can’t count the number of television programs and movies I’ve watched about cyber bullying. Children can view so many negative comments and hatred online that it is easy for them to believe that saying things like this is okay. It eventually normalizes “bad” behavior. (1) And this bad behavior gains attention.

Using Technology

So as parents, do we prohibit our children from using the Internet? Some parents do, but the benefits of correctly using technology far outweigh the negatives. Here are five simple ways parents can help protect their children online.

Ways to Protect Online

  •  Connect to your children’s accounts immediately. Control their passwords. Don’t be passive. If you begin monitoring when they’re young, they’ll get used to it.
  • Keep computers in the family living areas where people are around. This helps remind you and your children that you are monitoring their activity. Role model this open accountability standard by using your computer in the same way.
  • Teach your child to use the computer correctly. There are so many fun options for them, keep them busy with learning activities.
  • Periodically check the search bar and view the site history and cache. Teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable for your family. What are warning signs that they are heading towards “dangerous ground”? Here’s one potential warning sign: The cache is empty when you view it!
  • Install a family-friendly software program that helps monitor your Internet. There are many available, even free programs. Consider using a program that reports all activity via email, rather than one that simply blocks certain words.

Feedback

If you’ve used software programs for internet safety, please post your results: good, bad, or otherwise. This can be helpful for other parents.

Source:

1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

Know Friends’ Parents: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

small-town-1276290-mby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Here’s another parenting tip to help reduce negative peer pressure with your school age children.

Mr. Rogers was Right

Get to know the parents of your children’s friends and adults in your neighborhood. Most children attend elementary schools in the neighborhoods where they live; therefore, many of your children’s friends will live close by. Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Reduce Crime

In an age of automatic garage door openers where neighbors can come and go without interacting with others, how can you get to know your neighbors? One way is to begin a Neighborhood Watch program with the help of your local police or sheriff department. Neighborhood Watch is built on the concept that knowing your neighbors helps reduce crime. Crime reduction appeals to many people living right near you.

Fun Ideas

National Night Out (NNO) is celebrated the first Tuesday in August. Communities across the United States are encouraged to plan an evening to get to know their neighbors. In Modesto, California, a city in Central California, finds that NNO grows in popularity every year. In many communities like ours, National Night Out is sponsored by the city’s police department.

McGruff & Horses

Every year is different, but community service representatives arrive at these neighborhood events scattered around the city. One year two mounted police officers paraded about on horses. Another year firemen showed off their fire truck. A favorite was the year McGruff, The Crime Dog, arrived in a black limousine to remind us to, “Take a bite out of crime.” McGruff even has a web page for teaching kids safety featuring games, videos, advice, and downloads. 1

Neighborhood Events

Block parties and other neighborhood events we’ve organized, such as holiday caroling and 4th of July dessert followed by fireworks facilitate building relationships with others and making community connections. These adults are potential role models for your children. Teenagers are possible baby-sitters. One elderly couple on our street serves as honorary grandparents to countless school age children.

Common Ground

Seek other parents who have similar family guidelines. Try talking about common ground rules, like a parent needs to be home when friends are visiting. You may encounter more families with similar values than you expect. We did. We discovered like-minded adults in every neighbored who became significant others in our daughters’ lives. Getting to know neighbors is a terrific strategy for helping your children reduce negative peer pressure.

Source:

1. McGruff, The Crime Dog. www.mcgruff.org. Accessed 12/10/2013.

Teach Ethical & Moral Values: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

my-kids-1186542-s

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.© 2013

Another tip for parents to help reduce school age children’s negative per pressure is teaching ethical and moral values that will last their children a lifetime. 1

Code of Ethics

As a college child development professor my students wrote their own code of ethics. What ethics and moral values do you live by? What character traits do you desire for your children to emulate? Your children are already learning your values and ethics by observing what you say and what you do. Do they match?

Your Children’s Values

Then consider what you consciously want them to learn. When our girls were little we began reading stories based on character traits, such as honesty, courage, and responsibility. Learning about values continues through elementary school, especially as children study historical figures.

Ethical Dilemmas

When school age children are faced with ethical dilemmas such as lying to keep from getting in trouble or telling the truth, what will they do? What about cheating or letting a friend “copy” his/her homework? Many children perceive what adults may call cheating as “helping out their friends.”

Morals

Some families rely on Biblical principles or religious beliefs for teaching morals, values and ethics. For example, what’s the difference between right and wrong? Our society teaches moral relativism. An Old Testament Proverb says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. 2

Sources:

1. Adolescent Rebellion Can be Quelled, www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail. Accessed 10/14/201.

2. New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 20:21.

 

 

Quiz: Are you a Helicopter Parent?

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2013helicptero-3-1032378-m

“Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment,” explains Indiana University psychologist, Chris Meno. (1)

She counsels “over-parented” college students on gaining independence. “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (1)

Here’s a quiz to help determine if you tend to allow your child to be responsible for her actions or if you lean towards helicopter parenting. I’ve used the term “child,”but you can also substitute the word child for “teen.”

Answer each question with rarely or never; sometimes; or usually. I’m looking for 5 more questions to add to the “quiz.” If you have a question or two to add, please post a comment. Thanks.

Question Never or Rarely Sometimes Usually
  • Do you wake up your child to get ready for school?
  • Do you continually remind your child it’s time to get up?
  • Do you keep repeating, “We leave for _____ (school, practice, or church) in ____ minutes.”?
  • If your child is late, do you change your schedule to accommodate your child’s tardiness?
  • Do you take responsibility for your child’s things, like packing her sports bag for practice or his backpack?
  • Do you complete or adjust your child’s homework and/or project until it meets your standards?
  • If your child forgets her homework, music instrument, and/or project do you take it to school for her?
  • Do you allow your child to stay home “sick” because he has a project due that isn’t done or a test she didn’t study for?
  • Do you regularly call or email your child’s teacher over grades or assignments?
  • Do you make excuses for your child’s misbehavior, such as, “The referee made a bad call.”?
  • Do you run onto the sports field immediately if your child’s hurt?
  • Do you rush in to settle your child’s disputes to ensure it is settled fairly?
  • When your child fails at something, do you reward him for trying?
  • Do you wait on your child by getting her snack or something to drink?
  • Do you prepare different food because your child doesn’t like what the family is eating?
  • Do you expect your child not to do chores since school is his “work”?
  • Do you manage your child’s schedule?
  • Do you call or text your child many times a day to check in?
  • Is your child or teen your best friend?
  • Do you manage your child’s money? Allowance?

 

Peer Pressure & Helicopter Parents

unhappy-920220-sby Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

“The more you like yourself,

the less you are like anyone else,

which makes you unique.” —Walt Disney

A generation ago, I didn’t teach parents of school-age children how to instruct their children about peer pressure. But times have changed.

Unfortunately, peer pressure, is starting earlier; happening at lightning speed; on an unprecedented scale; and is fueled by social media. To make matters worse, today’s children may be less equipped to resist peer pressure, due to overprotective “helicopter parents.” (1)

Helicopter Parents Defined

Jennifer O’Donnell defines the term “Helicopter parents” “as a group of parents who engage in the practice of over-parenting. Helicopter parents are accused of being obsessed with their children’s education, safety, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of their children’s lives.” (1)

Another Definition

Another description by Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno adds, “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (2)

Helping or Hindering?

Parents mistakenly believe they’re helping their children; however, their hovering and doing almost everything for their children is actually hindering them. These children cope less effectively than other children.  Since the parents have trouble setting limits for their children, the children have a hard time setting limits for their friends. (3)
Sources:
  1. What are Helicopter Parents? Jennifer O’Donnell, About.com Guide. Accessed 10/8/2013.
  2. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013.
  3. “Helicopter parents” stir up anxiety, depression. Indiana University, IU Newsroom, newsinfo.iu.edu. Accessed 10/8/2013.

 

 

 

New Opportunity for Writing

I’ve discovered a new opportunity for writing. It is called HARO, Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a network of writers who are seeking experts on topics they’re writing about. I’m responding as a child development expert to some of their requests. This is the first article I’m quoted in. Signs Your Child Is or Isn’t Ready for Preschool. Here’s a link to the article.

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1005839/signs-your-child-is-or-isnt-ready-for-preschool