October 11th: International Day of the Girl Child (from the United Nations)

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/

Why and how to talk to children about pornography, by Anne McCormack

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The internet and social media are now a normal part of established culture for young people growing up. For parents, this can bring a whole new level of concern as even with safety filters on devices, having access to the internet and the social media world makes it more likely that young people may come across and gain access to content that is sexually explicit.

Internet access and social media has changed the landscape for parents in many ways. When it comes to teaching young people about what is healthy and safe in relationships, as well as the issue of supporting young people’s individual sexual development, these aspects of parenting now point to the need for discussion around the issue of pornography.

Young people can accidently encounter sexually explicit material online or they can actively seek it out. And while secondary schools have an obligation to teach on the topic of relationships and sexuality, according to Mairead McNally of Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, there is no part of the curriculum that addresses pornography. It is useful for parents to think ahead about how to talk with young people about pornography.

Here are some reasons why young people could benefit from such talk:

 1. Social media as a sexualised environment

The social media world and the internet in general can become a sexualised environment quite quickly for some young people. For example, the young person may follow a celebrity online who posts sexually explicit selfies or content of themselves. This selfie culture can contribute to normalising the uploading of material that is sexually provocative or explicit, and it can inadvertently give young people the message that they must present themselves in a certain “sexual” way in order to be deemed of worth. The trend towards the sexualisation of the self can tend to glamorise the area of pornography.

2. Interest in sex

Wanting information about sex is normal and if young people are not getting the message at home that they can ask questions and talk openly about sex, they may feel more inclined to access such information and pornography in order to find out for themselves what sex is about. Pornography is not real and yet young people viewing it can often think it is.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/parenting/why-and-how-to-talk-to-children-about-pornography-1.2692131

Five things pediatricians want dads to know about how important they are to their kids, by Megan Daley

 

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Pediatricians have a message for fathers: You’re more important to your child’s health and well-being than you — and we — might have realized.

After assessing more than a decade’s worth of psychological and sociological research, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new report about fatherhood and the things doctors can do to help the nation’s 70 million dads reach their full parenting potential.

Fathers aren’t just back-ups for moms. Their presence in their children’s lives is beneficial in and of itself.

For instance, a 2012 study in the journal Development and Psychopathology looked at pairs of sisters who had differing levels of father involvement. Researchers found that the chances of teen pregnancy and other early sexual experiences were lower for daughters who spent more quality time with their dads.

A review of multiple studies found that kids who grew up spending time with their fathers were less likely to have behavioral and psychological problems. They were also more likely to be independent, intelligent and have improved social awareness.

See the most-read stories in Science this hour »

“The role of fathers, and fatherhood, is in the process of changing,” said Raymond Levy, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the Fatherhood Project at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Traditional roles are merging, with moms spending more time in the workplace and dads spending more at home.

The new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics takes an expansive view of fatherhood. It defines fathers not merely as men who sire children, but as the male adults who are most invested in the care of a child. That can include a biological or adoptive dad, a stepfather or a grandfather.

Here’s further proof that modern dads don’t necessarily resemble Jim Anderson, the insurance salesman patriarch of the TV series “Father Knows Best” — today, fathers account for 16% of America’s single parents, a number that totals 1.9 million. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly 200,000 married fathers are stay-at-home dads.

The authors of the new report considered the special needs of specific groups of fathers, including those in same-sex relationships, those coping with military deployment and those who have spent time in prison.

“We’ve looked more broadly at our totally diverse groups of fathers,” said lead author Dr. Michael Yogman, a practicing pediatrician who studies father-child relationships at Harvard Medical School. “We’ve realized it’s really important to encourage fathers to be involved.”

Here are five things dads can do to take their parenting to the next level.

Be a role model

Children look up to their fathers and have a tendency to imitate their behaviors. That’s why pediatricians want dads to be conscious of how the actions they take — whether it’s lighting a cigarette or buckling a seat belt — will influence their children as they grow and learn to make decisions on their own.

Fathers should get involved with their kids right from the beginning, by playing with them or just talking to them. That lets them see their dads as supportive companions and teachers.

“The old expectation that men were inadequate mothers, and that they had to do everything just like mothers did with young children, was unfair,” Yogman said.

He encourages fathers to find their own relationship with their children and figure out what works best for them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fathers-pediatricians-20160613-snap-story.html

Love First: parenting to reduce racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hate, by Sarah McLaughlin

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it is hard to parent this week.

It’s hard to focus. Difficult to not check my phone for updates and news conferences. Tricky to keep from crying and being otherwise emotionally snarled. It is so hard to stay relaxed about our world and what the future may look like for our children when the news looks like this. This crazy election cycle, the Stanford rapist horror, and now, the deadliest civilian mass shooting in U.S. history.

It’s hard to take. Really hard. I’m tired, and very sad.

I often feel powerless in these situations, but I also I don’t want to do nothing. So I’m going to give blood this week, send money to my local LGBTQ rights organization, write this article, and vote in November no matter how bad things look.

Because I’m also angry. So angry.

But instead of ranting, I’m going to look through my parent education lens and I wonder, “How can parenting differently help?” Well, it seems it always can. It seems no matter what problem sits before me, I can find a way to help through parenting. I try to think of a way to “love first” when it comes to raising children. With that positive action in mind, here are five ways you can parent against misogyny and hate:

  1. Watch for your own prejudices. Talk to your children about privilege and power imbalances. Don’t assume a heteronormative or ethnocentric stance. Talk about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. When you speak about whiteness, the gender binary, and heterosexuality as if they exist in a vacuum and are “the norm,” (or ignore them completely which sends the exact same message), you perpetuate dichotomy and implicit bias. This leads to seeing differences as “other,” which diminishes people’s value and humanity.
  1. Parent against gender bias. This is still much more socially acceptable for girls than boys. That’s why I wrote about changing the culture of masculinity, and can’t wait to watch this important documentary: The Mask We Live In. Our culture’s gender norms hurt children. In her important book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Kate Stone Lombardi notes that a growing tide of modern mothers are helping their sons to be stronger by keeping them close and helping them gain important EQ (Emotional Intelligence) skills. These are skills we ALL need to get along with each other.
  1. Model good boundaries. When we set firm limits with children, we’re demonstrating what boundaries should look like. When we respect small growing people, we lay the foundation for consent. When we are clear about where we end and they begin, and allow emotional expression, we help them understand that their strong, messy feelings are A-OK with us. Closeness and intimacy does not necessitate emotional merging and they are not responsible for our feelings.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/2016/06/love-first-parenting-to-reduce-racism-sexism-homophobia-and-other-forms-of-hate/

6 Ways We (Accidentally) Teach Our Kids Rape Culture, by Joanna Schroeder

A cute 5 year old female child dressed in pink plaid shirt with blue jeans staring out into the rodeo arena dreaming of riding horses one day. The image has a vintage / western coloring theme with left side copy space.

No parent (that I’ve ever met) would ever dream of teaching their child that rape is okay. But every day, in many different ways, well-meaning parents contribute to rape culture, and our kids suffer for it.

As moms and dads, we probably don’t talk directly about rape to kids, at least not until they’re older. But we’re still sending messages about sex and consent all the time. Because of that, we need to make sure we’re not teaching them some very dangerous lessons, even if just by accident.

Here are six (very common) ways we get it wrong, and how we can do better …

1. Telling our kids that “boys will be boys.”

As a mom of very active boys, I know most people don’t mean any harm when they say “boys will be boys,” but too often that phrase is used to excuse bad behavior, like hitting other kids or being destructive.

The truth is, boys are perfectly capable of respecting other people’s bodies,possessions, and space. But every time they hear us excuse their bad behavior as part of boy life, they learn that they are not only above the rules, but also that boys cannot control their impulses.

This message will stick with them as they grow older and sexual desire starts to kick in. As parents, we cannot be shocked that boys feel entitled to sexually harass others (whether it’s standard rape, like in Steubenville, or as part of the all-too-common tradition of sexual “hazing”) when we’ve been telling them their whole lives that they are above the rules, by virtue of being boys.

2. Forcing kids to hug and kiss others.

Lots of well-meaning, loving parents tell their kids to give a friend or relative a hug without considering whether their kid really wants to. This sends the dangerous message that consent can be over-ridden, or doesn’t matter at all.

Instead, suggest a few different ways to greet or say goodbye to loved ones. I ask my kids, “Do you want to give grandma a hug, or maybe a high five or a wave goodbye?”

Kids need to know, from the beginning of life, that consent matters.

 

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.babble.com/parenting/ways-we-accidentally-teach-our-kids-rape-culture/

Why It’s Imperative to Teach Empathy to Our Boys, by Gayle Allen and Deborah Farmer Kris

Empathy, Boys

When searching for toys for their kids at chain toy stores, parents typically encounter the following scenario: toy aisles are color-coded pink and blue. They shouldn’t bother looking for LEGOS, blocks, and trucks in the pink aisle, and they certainly won’t find baby dolls in the blue aisle.

While parents, researchers, and educators decry the lack of STEM toys for girls — and rightly so — what often goes unnoticed is that assigning genders to toys harms boys, as well. Too often children’s playrooms reinforce gender stereotypes that put boys at risk of failing to gain skills critical for success in life and work. The most important of these? Empathy.

Meg Bear, Group Vice President of Oracle’s Social Cloud, calls empathy “the critical 21st century skill.” She believes it’s the “difference between good and great” when it comes to personal and professional success. Researchers at Greater Good Science Center out of the University of California, Berkeley, echo Bear’s assertion. They define empathy as “the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/25/why-its-imperative-to-teach-empathy-to-boys/

20 things to say to your daughter before she’s grown, by Jenna McCarthy

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I always wanted to have daughters—and I got them. I love every minute of it, from the tea parties and pedicures to what we affectionately (mostly) call the “hair wars” in our house. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy. From a very young age our girls are targeted with messed-up media messages (think “Thin is beautiful, and beautiful is everything, and if you want to be happy, you need these shoes!”) and exposed to all manner of temptations, online and otherwise. As a parent who can shape who they’ll become, there are many life lessons that I’d want to teach any child of mine. But there is also some specific advice for daughters. Here are 20 girl-centric things I want them to know.

1. Learn the word NO. Sure, I don’t like it one bit when you say it to me, but in the big, scary world out there you will be faced with endless tough choices. From boys to beers to inappropriate Instagram photos, potential trouble will lurk everywhere you go. You know that little voice you have inside, the one that tells you something doesn’t feel right? Listen to it. Respect it. And most importantly, use it to say NO. It won’t be easy a lot of the time, but I assure you, you’ll almost always be glad you did.

2. Spend more time worrying about how beautiful you are inside than outside. It’s fine to take pride in your appearance and want to be pretty. But if how you look is all you care about, you’ll pay for it down the road. Yes, you are beautiful—magnificently, achingly so—but never forget that you didn’t do anything to create or even deserve that. True beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly. Period.

3. Stuff won’t make you happy. Oh, in the moment—when you’re pining for that headband/skateboard/Fijit Friend/designer purse—you will truly, madly, passionately believe that they will. But things break. We lose them. They run out. They go out of style. They become uncool(the worst!). Happiness comes from appreciating the things you do have, not acquiring more.

4. Some girls are mean girls. Be extremely careful when you choose your friends. At the risk of throwing our entire gender under the bus, girls can be nasty and petty and jealous and cruel. Some of them will lie to you or pretend to be your friend or stab you in the back, and it will hurt like hell every single time. If you’re totally unprepared for it, it will crush you even more.

5. Girlfriends will save your life. Yes, girls can be awful, so when you find a loyal, true friend, hold onto her for dear life, and do your best to be loyal and true right back. Boys will come and go, but a good girlfriend will be your steady through the peaks, the valleys and everything in between.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.today.com/parents/advice-daughter-her-mom-I532617?cid=eml_tpp_20160404

International Women’s Day… so important for children of both genders too! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Here at “The Forever Years” we feel it is important to have a post acknowledging this special day, as the lives of women children are so closely linked.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. 

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International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  On this day we honour and celebrate the progress of women in the past, but also look towards the future and examine how things can be further improved for women (and the children they care for) around the globe.

Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.  Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them.

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York.  The day has since become recognised internationally and is also the focus of annual United Nations Conferences, addressing issues which affect women (and, so very often, their off spring).  A recent report  in the USA found that 80.6% of single parents are women and this is thought to be similar across the globe.  With the improvement in the situation of women and a focus on this by both male and female there is, by definition, also an improvement in the lives of all children, both boys and girls.

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International Men’s Day is also celebrated on November 19 each year.

Related Links:

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

http://www2.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day

 

Yay for Barbie’s New Looks! By Mary Bowerman and Hadley Malcolm

Barbie

Barbie may now look a bit more like the rest of us, curves and all.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, announced Thursday the iconic doll will now come in three new body types and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. This is the first time the doll will be available in body types beyond its original stick-thin frame.

Mattel has been putting Barbie through a transformation for the past two years to bring the doll in line with realistic body standards and reflect the diversity of the kids playing with the dolls. Last year Mattel introduced 23 new dolls with different skin tones, hairstyles, outfits and flat feet, rather than the perpetually pointy ones meant to fit into sky-high heels.

This year’s dolls will be available in tall, petite and curvy body types. Online sales start Thursday on Barbie.com and dolls will start hitting stores March 1, with a total of 33 new dolls being rolled out by the end of the year.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/01/28/barbies-new-shapes-tall-petite-and-curvy/79449784/

 

Why Having an Emotional Boy is The Best Thing, Not the Worst, by Meredith in the USA

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When my oldest was born, I remember being so overwhelmed by motherhood. But as she grew, I was relieved that she seemingly inherited my husband’s temperament. Looking back, I realize now that she was an easy going baby. She adapted easily to moves across state lines more than once, and traveled well. She even used to sit with her toys and whisper as a 9 month old. I’m not even kidding.

I thought this parenting thing wasn’t so bad and as long as my kids all inherited my husband’s easy going nature, I might just figure out how to be a good mom. I was certainly relieved that she didn’t inherit my highly emotional mood swings, and constant worry.

Then, I had my son.

He was a colicky baby due to some severe food allergy issues that he suffered from as an infant. I cried all the time from frustration just trying to adapt to this tiny screaming bundle who seemed upset all the time. But, we all survived it, and I’m happy to say that he’s a thriving six year old now. He’s also still a very emotional child.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.perfectionpending.net/2015/10/07/why-having-an-emotional-boy-is-the-best-thing-not-the-worst/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-3