Teenage hugging epidemic

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Is it an expression of a nurturing concern for the others? Or is the outbreak of hugging amongst teenagers an empty fad that thrives in today’s atmosphere of boundless informality? Whatever is behind it, hugging is hip with teens.

Parents, who grew up in a generation more likely to use the handshake, the low-five or the high-five, are often baffled by the close physical contact. “It’s a wordless custom, from what I’ve observed,” wrote Beth J. Harpaz, the mother of two boys, 11 and 16, and a parenting columnist for The Associated Press, in a new book, “13 Is the New 18.”

But the sight of kids embracing every time they run into their pals is beginning to get on teachers’ nerves. Some schools have banned it; others have imposed a three-second rule. There are concerns about litigation if some of the boy-girl hugging gets out of hand.… click here to read whole article and make comments



‘Mum, Dad, where are you? I need to talk’

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It’s Youth Week in New Zealand and a survey of almost 10,000 students at 96 secondary schools shows that more than half of them want to spend more time with their parents.

Some 54 per cent “sometimes” or “hardly ever” get enough time with their mothers and 61 per cent sometimes or hardly ever get enough time with their dads. This is “big stuff”, says Auckland University researcher Simon Denny. “Having a close relationship with a parent is one of the most important predictors of good health and wellbeing for young people.”

An important reason for not seeing enough of one or other parent is family breakdown. Only 73 per cent of students in 2007 lived in their main home with two “parents” -- and that included step-parents. Some 29 per cent of students said they lived in more than one home, usually spending part of the time… click here to read whole article and make comments


TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2009

Two divorces, a new partner, and the great mortgage meltdown

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Here’s a telling family angle on the Great Mortgage Meltdown in the United States: two divorced people get together and start up a new household in a very expensive house while he is paying more than half his take-home pay in alimony and child-support and she hasn’t even got a job. But the bank says, “No Problem!” -- or, at least, none that we can’t get around.

The irony of it is that he, Edmund L. Andrews, is an economics reporter for the New York Times and has even written “early-warning articles in 2004 about the spike in go-go mortgages” and knew “a lot about the curveballs that the economy can throw at us.”

But in 2004, I joined millions of otherwise-sane Americans in what we now know was a catastrophic binge on overpriced real estate and reckless mortgages. Nobody duped or hypnotized me. Like so many… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 25 MAY 2009

A great new British brand: National Family Week

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It’s National Family Week (25th to 31st May) in Britain, a new idea that has the simple aim of bringing families together and has the support of leading commercial brands, charities and all political parties.

Each day of National Family Week will be themed around an activity encouraging families to spend more quality time together, whether that is playing or watching sport, preparing and eating a meal together, playing family games or watching family-orientated films.

Today sees an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Picnic in multiple locations across the nation.

With sponsors, schools, community organisations, government bodies, charities, local councils, sports clubs, associations, celebrities and even the Prime Minister behind the week, the only thing missing is your family! Families like yours all across the country can enjoy hundreds of events and competitions, offers and promotions to make National Family… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2009

From grades to goals: middle schoolers and education

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Helping middle school students with their homework may not be the best way to get them on the honour roll. But telling them how important academic performance is to their future job prospects and providing specific strategies to study and learn might clinch the grades, according to a research review.

The onset of adolescence brings changes in parents’ relationships with their children. They want to hang out with friends and make their own decisions, and, according to the research (if research was needed on this point) they are not keen to have mum and dad helping them with their homework. Interest in schoolwork and grades declines. But parents can still play a vital role by “instilling the value of education and linking school work to future goals”, says Harvard’s Professor Nancy E Hill.

… [A]dolescence is also a time when analytic thinking, problem-solving, planning and decision-making skills… click here to read whole article and make comments



Think family, not soul-mate, Singapore tells singles

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Singapore’s National Family Council is pushing the boundaries of taste somewhat in its latest effort to promote marriage and family life, but the island nation’s dismal fertility rate of 1.09 children per woman helps explain why.

As part of its Think Family campaign the council is running a competition for the “most imperfect-perfect couple” (prize: romantic getaway) and an ad in which a widow pays a funny/sad tribute to her deceased husband’s “imperfections” at his funeral. A trifle crass, but evidently a necessary wake-up call for Singapore singles waiting too long for the perfect mate to turn up.

From the council’s website:

“The National Family Council was established in May 2006 to be a champion and advocate for the Singaporean family. We are passionate about anything and everything that makes Singapore a great place for our children to play and grow,… click here to read whole article and make comments



The secret of self-control

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Image: The New YorkerRemember the marshmallow kids? The four-year-olds who were tested for their ability to delay taking a sweet back in the late 1960s are still under the microscope as scientists try to fathom the secrets of self control.

According to The New Yorker, the experiment went like this. Children from the Bing Nursery School at Stanford University were invited into a room where they could be observed and allowed to pick a treat from a tray of marshmallows, cookies and pretzel sticks. They were told they could eat it straight away, or they could wait a few minutes and then have two when the researcher returned.

Footage of these experiments, which were conducted over several years, is poignant, as the kids struggle to delay gratification for just a little bit longer. Some cover their eyes with their hands or turn around… click here to read whole article and make comments


TUESDAY, 19 MAY 2009

Ballerina trades fame for family

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Darcey Bussell Photo: Telegraph/Martin PopeIn 2007, after receiving a historic eight minute standing ovation, Darcey Bussell -- famed prima ballerina and once the youngest principal dancer in the history of the Royal Ballet -- traded in her toe shoes for an apron. Nearly two years on, this mother of two enjoys being able to pick up her daughters, and having only forty-five minutes of exercise a week.

Once hailed as “the first English ballerina since Margot Fonteyn to capture the popular imagination”, Bussell had it all in terms of fame and fortune.

“Bussell interspersed a career of endless prizes and accolades with an enormous public profile, pirouetting from magazine cover to television show, to being awarded an OBE and voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine, to having a waxwork made of her in Madame Tussauds.”… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 18 MAY 2009

What makes us happy?

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The scientific search for the secret of happiness continues, and one of the longest-running studies of mental and physical well-being -- the Harvard Study of Adult Development -- provides some interesting, if unsurprising, insights. A long article in the June edition of the Atlantic Online presents some of the findings from this study of 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s and have been followed up ever since. The author, Joshua Wolf Shenk, was allowed to read personal files (anonymously) and he interviewed the main interpreter of the case histories, psychiatrist George Vaillant.

Dr Arlie Bock, who was in charge of health services at Harvard in the 1930s, launched the study with the aim of shedding light on the subject of healthy living. He chose undergraduates who were healthy and well-adjusted and who were to be measured from every conceivable angle; he thought their histories would provide knowledge… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 15 MAY 2009

‘We give thanks’ for food - but to whom?

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Formal Hall at NewnhamBrits attached to their traditions but without the faith that gave rise to many of them face some knotty problems -- like, whether to say Grace before (or after) meals. Some students at Newnham College, a women’s college at Cambridge University, have decided that they cannot stomach the Christian Grace said at the start of formal evening meals held once a week, so they have made up one of their own. Both versions are in classical Latin -- more or less.

The traditional version runs: “Benedic nobis Domine Deus et his donis quae de liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.” It will be familiar to Catholics in this or similar English versions: “Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which of thy bounty we are about to receive, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” It was introduced into Newnham by… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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