Monday, September 01, 2014

Is Divorce Contagious?


 
As if divorce statistics aren’t depressing enough…a colleague recently sent me this link. It’s research from Brown University that is published by the extraordinary Pew Research Center and is enough to make me sick. “Social contagion” theory suggests that the spread of information, attitudes and behaviors is through friends, family, and other social networks. One degree of separation is 75% more likely to divorce? OY!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Going From Man-To-Man….to Zone


When you go from 2 children to 3, that is what happens to parents; zone defense.  A recent NYTimes article described a growing number of three-child households in Manhattan. Really? With some of the highest apartment prices in the world, could that be true? It turns out the article describes the significant increase in three-child families with incomes in the 200K to 400K range. So we’re not talking your typical American family here by a long shot.
Community does play a role in family size decisions. For people in normal income brackets who frequently use the subway system, holding on to your child/children continuously is a priority. I am often on the NYC subways and I am personally much calmer when I see two parents and each has one child rather than one parent with 2 or (Yikes) 3 children all to him/herself. The high cost/small square footage of Manhattan apartments makes it impractical to have a large family size. So it follows that many couples, when expecting their second or third child, move out to the suburbs. The one child family is still the most common family size in NYC.

This article reminded me of when family size researchers altered the standard FamSize question and began to ask: If money is not at all a concern, how many children would you and your spouse like to have?

 

Monday, February 03, 2014

Half of U.S. Pregnancies are Unintentional: Think Family Size Decision People!

 
Your Family Size decision is the most important decision of your marriage. I have told hundreds of couples in my 36 years as a marriage therapist, that there is no more vital decision in the hands of every couple than, when to start a family and how many children to have. I stress vital decision because other marital decisions, such as where to live, are in the hands of every couple, but don’t rank nearly as high as the family size decision.

Employment, proximity of extended family, and fertility are also essential to a marriage, but they are not decisions that are firmly in the hands of each couple. Today’s Blog Post coincides with the release of Guttmacher Institute data showing that over 50% of the 6.6 million pregnancies each year in the U.S. are unintended. I plead with couples, please wake up and smell the data!

My principal concern: Dozens of noteworthy research studies have shown that marital satisfaction declines with each child because of the enormous cost of each child, emotionally and financially. That being the case, I don’t want couples to have children…for no reason. I believe that the whimsical approach to this crucial decision has significantly contributed to the agonizing 50% divorce rate in the U.S.

Don’t be haphazard about this decision….make your family size decision with confidence and determination. And what is the ideal family size for you? As many or as few…as long as you think it through. Couples should not spend time contemplating the ideal number of children; they should ask themselves one key question: Is now the best time in our lives, from a personal, health, and marital perspective, to have a(nother) child? 

Advice Bullet Points:

>Don’t have another child for gender balance: you may not get the gender you hoped for.

>Don’t have another child to mirror your family of origin: that was then; this is now.

>Don’t make up for lost time by having rapid-fire children: have a minimum 2 year space between children.

>Don’t have another child to hang onto your Nanny: some couples do it----I kid you not.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Your Child Asks if It’s Ok to Bungee Jump Off One of the Highest Bridges in the World....



What irked me most about J F Boylan’s Op-Ed in the NY Times was the statement "It's impossible for me and all those other parents, not to want to shield our young from the many accidents we know are waiting for them".
 
So I responded to the Editor:
Intriguing how Ms. Boylan intertwines themes of parental responsibility as it pertains to thrill-seeking adventures and then love, as it pertains to her gender decision. A parent’s primary responsibilities are safety and protection; love and respect are secondary. If Ms. Boylan believes that “many accidents are waiting” for her children, then for God’s sake she should do her job as a parent and instill in them an understanding of recreation and adventure that excludes bungee jumping and sky-diving. When my adult children explore the world, I know they’ll research shark-cage diving and understand the waters are “chummed” to incite sharks into a feeding frenzy. They’ll surely have the common sense to go swimming in a different risk pool.
 

 

 


Monday, August 26, 2013

Good News Beats Bad When it Comes to Friends


Here’s a feel-good story to end your summer. It’s about hearing good news from friends.

“When it comes to the media, the classic rule is: Bad news sells. If it bleeds, it leads. No news is good news, and good news is no news. Wars, earthquakes, plagues, floods, fires, the more suffering and mayhem, the more coverage,” states John Tierney in the NY Times.

“But now that information is being spread and monitored in different ways, researchers are discovering new rules. By scanning people’s brains and tracking their e-mails and online posts, neuroscientists and psychologists have found that good news can spread faster and farther than disasters and sob stories.”
“The ‘if it bleeds’ rule works for mass media that just want you to tune in,” says Jonah Berger, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “They want your eyeballs and don’t care how you’re feeling. But when you share a story with your friends and peers, you care a lot more how they react. You don’t want them to think of you as a Debbie Downer.”

On that upbeat note, I want to wish you a safe and enjoyable end of the summer!