Family Connect

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spending Time with Our Kids Makes No Difference?

As American parents work to devise ways to spend more time with their children - and feel guilty about whether that time is enough,  a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that the amount of time parents spend with their children has little influence on who the child becomes. 

Working mothers today spend equal amounts of time with their children as at-home moms did in the 1970s, but researchers found that mothers who spend time with their children when they are stressed affect their children negatively. 

Melissa Milkie, one of the study's authors and a sociologist at University of Toronto, says, "“I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents’ time and children’s outcomes." The study found positive associations for teens who spent an average of six hours a week engaged in family time with the parents. “So these are not huge amounts of time,” Milkie said.

Here's what Five Experts say on the topic:
1."That’s not to say that parent time isn’t important. Plenty of studies have shown links between quality parent time — such as reading to a child, sharing meals, talking with them or otherwise engaging with them one-on-one — and positive outcomes for kids. The same is true for parents’ warmth and sensitivity toward their children. It’s just that the quantity of time doesn’t appear to matter." Brigid Schulte (Washington Post family writer).2. "Research does show that in highly stressed urban environments, having involved parents and even strict parents is associated with less delinquent behavior," child and adolescent psychiatrist at Georgetown University Medical Center Matthew Biel said.
3. Amy Hsin, Queens College sociologist says that parents who spend the bulk of their time with children under 6 watching TV or doing nothing can actually have a “detrimental” effect on them. 
4. The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that "children also need unstructured time to themselves without the engagement of parents for social and cognitive development."
5. Jennifer Senior (“All Joy and No Fun” author) attributed parent guilt to a nostalgia for the past and a continuing ambivalence about working mothers. “Perhaps if you were part of a culture that actually felt less ambivalent about mothers working, and had a system of child care in place where it was okay for mothers to work, I think you would automatically feel less guilt and pressure to spend more time with kids,” she said.

What do you think?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Did this sign show up in your social media feed this week? Spring sports are in full swing - are our sportsmanship manners? "Good sportsmanship is about playing by the rules, discipline, respect, and self control. A good sport has fun because they enjoy playing the game more than the final outcome." (

As we enjoy cheering for our favorite student athletes from the stands, let's encourage them to not only be good at their sport(s), but good sports as well. In encouraging your student athlete this week, share these

Five Tips for Being a Good Sport
1. Respect not only your teammates, but also your opponents. They worked hard to earn spots on their teams and are working hard on the field.
2. Respect your coaches and the officials of the game. They are present to guide you to becoming a better player.
3. Accept the judgment calls of the coaches and the officials without argument. While they can't see everything that takes place on the field, they are being as fair as possible...and most of them are unpaid volunteers who are present because they love the game as much as you do.
4. Offer encouragement to teammates, especially when they make mistakes. The best way to become better is to know that it's OK to make mistakes.

5. Lose without pouting and win without gloating. 

Enjoy the game this week!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Are your children using Yik Yak? 

“The Yik Yak app is the most dangerous form of social media I've ever seen,” says psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow. Commentators are divided as to the true danger of Yik Yak for children, but there are 

Five Things Parents Need to Know about the app:

1. Created for adults by fraternity brothers Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak is essentially a location-based, anonymous chat room app that does not require a login or registration. 
2. "Some of the comments left on Yik Yak are harmless and silly adolescent fun. But, just as we've witnessed on social media sites, a few could be hateful, harassing, sexually explicit and harmful," says Dale Archer of Psychology Today. 
3. "The nature of anonymity emboldens the user to post words and photos they would not say or show someone in person and it's much easier to insult another when you don't have to do it to their face. Social media allows hurtful words and unflattering photos to be posted without a moment's thought. Now it's even easier," says Archer.
4. Users themselves can control what's hot and what's not. If a post is good, users can up vote it—the equivalent of LIKE on Facebook or "favorite" on Twitter. If something is repulsive, mean or juvenile, then users down vote it. With 5 down votes, the comments are removed forever. In this way, the community of participants police themselves.
5. Parents need to monitor their children's social media interactions. According to Justin Patching of the Cyberbullying Research Center, "Cyberbullying is already a huge problem today and the last thing we need is an anonymous app that allows one to do that. Soon Facebook, Twitter and other social medias will be the least of our worries when it comes to cyberbullying and suicide." 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Break out the Bongos!

March 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Music in Our Schools month. While there will be celebrations and recognition in schools this month, what are we doing to foster an appreciation for music at home? Just like reading together encourages our children to love reading and the art of storytelling, sharing music encourages a love for the art.

We don't mean you have to take up an instrument together or hold "family jam sessions." Sometimes singing along with the radio is all you need. We don't always recognize this as therapeutic, but the fun associated with music is often beneficial to all members of the family. According to Jennifer Cerbasi, "Music therapy has proven to have some success among children with disabilities, as well. Children are drawn to the rhythm of the instruments and many find a way to communicate and open themselves up by singing or playing an instrument."So how do we incorporate music into our children's daily lives?

Five Ways to Share Music Fun with Kids
1. Talk with your child about how sound is made and make instruments that demonstrate the concept. Need some inspiration? Check out this comprehensive list of DIY instrument instructions.
2. Have a more tech savvy child? Put his/her iPad to use and create music using some of these apps for learning music.
3. Want to teach them some of the fundamentals of music? Start with symbols, notes, and sounds. Use these flash cards to help them internalize the meaning.
4. Incorporate your child's love of math and science with this music/math experiment or these multiplication songs.
5. Have an old-fashioned sing along/dance party with your child's favorite movie or album. The fact is, once you've danced and sang together, you'll all have fun and end up happy.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Treat Allergies with the Allergen?

One of the scariest things a parent or caregiver can experience is a child's severe allergic reaction. In the March 9 edition of Time Magazine, Alice Park discusses the New England Journal of Medicine study that found that "both allergic and nonallergic infants who ate small amounts of peanuts had a much lower rate of allergy than those who avoided nuts altogether for five years."

Many medical groups no longer instruct parents to avoid giving babies nuts...but is it really possible to prevent the allergy? Park suggests that "the best medicine for peanut allergies may, in fact, be nuts themselves."

Five Things You Need to Know About This Study
1. The average age of allergy onset is 18 months.
2. There are currently three times more peanut allergies than there were in 1997.
3. Researchers assert that there is an 86% lower allergy risk when infants ate peanuts.
4. Park shares the researchers' assertion that exposing kids to possible trigger foods may be wiser than avoidance.
5. The key is to start early. There have been no conclusive trials with older children or adults.

The same issue of Time also alludes to another allergy-based study: "Washing Dishes by Hand Leads to Fewer Allergies." "Evidence is mounting that getting a little dirty does the body good. This study suggests it's possible that eating off hand-washed dishes means kids get more bacteria exposure and build stronger immune systems, leading to fewer allergies."

Is this a potentially revolutionary protocol shift for families dealing with allergies or a risky chance parents aren't willing to take? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

We woke up to snow flurries this morning and the promise of the accumulation of several inches of snow as the day goes on. As you prepare to enjoy a snow day (or two) with your children, here are 
 Five Important Snow Day Rules
courtesy of Parents Magazine

1. Dress for Visibility. Be sure everyone is wearing bright colors and/or reflective materials before going out to enjoy the snow. Slippery road and bright snow or midwinter gloom can cause visibility problems. Read the research on this phenomena here.
2. Protect Their Skin. Just because you're not out at the swimming pool doesn't mean that you're safe from sun damage. Snow reflects 80% of UV rays, which can cause a bad burn if unprotected skin is exposed for prolonged periods. Use a water-proof sunscreen and SPF lip balm in addition to sunglasses while building your snow man or ice fort.
3. Prevent Frostbite. Frostbite is a dangerous effect of prolonged exposure to cold. Children should go back inside if they notice pain, decreased sensation, tingling, or numbness (the tell-tale frostbite blister is often a sign that damage has already been done). Dr. Holly Benjamin recommends using the acronym C.O.L.D:
C - Cover hotspots with a hat and gloves or mittens to preserve heat.
O - Avoid overexertion. Bring kids in for periodic breaks.
L - Layers. Think loose-fitting, lightweight, and water-repellent.
D - Stay dry. If kids are sweating profusely or get snow in their shoes or boots, change them into dry clothes, socks, and foot gear immediately.
4. Push Fluids. It's especially difficult to gauge hydration needs during the winter (cold temperatures actually alter thirst sensation). We lose a great deal of water breathing outside in chilly air, which dries us out even more. Encourage water and other fluids throughout the day.
5. Take a Breather. Cold, dry air can be problematic for children who suffer from asthma. "Just as the cold dries and chaps your hands, it can also be drying to the lungs, causing tightening of the bronchial muscles," says Amy Burack. Pull a neck warmer over the mouth to warm the air before it's inhaled and monitor children for shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, or chest pain. Should these signs occur, treat with moist heat (like a warm shower or a cup of hot cocoa).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Have you completed the FAFSA yet?

The FAFSA is a form parents should complete each year for children going to and in college. "Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. At the office of Federal Student Aid, 1,200 employees help make college education possible for every dedicated mind by providing more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 13 million students paying for college or career school." (

Five Things to Remember about FAFSA:
1. FAFSA is free. There are sites out there that mimic the FAFSA site, but they require a fee. FAFSA is all about FREE student aid.
2. There are deadlines. Be sure to file your taxes early and complete the FAFSA by the stated deadlines. 
3. You can file early. Even if you haven't filed taxes for this year, you can complete the FAFSA based on last year's taxes and then update once you have filed the current year's tax returns.
4. Don't fall for the myths. ALL students attending college should file regardless of financial status EACH year the student will be attending college.
5. FAFSA isn't just for federal aid. "Many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid." (

Learn more about FAFSA here:

Get started today by filing on-line at