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Military Couple Takes in Homeless Man for Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014

An homeless man has one wish for Thanksgiving, and that wish is to spend it with a family. He put out a plea to a local news station, and he was surprised at the generosity of others.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. We have so much to be thankful for here in our family…

And the results of his plea:

“Women Are Not Equal to Men” –Life According to Turkish President

November 25, 2014

I suppose no one is surprised that the president of Turkey declared that men and women are not equal. Only mothers, not all women, have a special status in Islam, according to the Turkish president, making women in Turkey nothing if not brood mares:

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a new controversy on Monday, declaring that women are not equal to men and accusing feminists of not understanding the special status that Islam attributes to mothers.

Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on women and justice, Erdogan said men and women are created differently, that women cannot be expected to undertake the same work as men, and that mothers enjoy a high position that only they can reach.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” Erdogan said. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

Erdogan added: “Motherhood is the highest position … You cannot explain this to feminists. They don’t accept motherhood. They have no such concern.”

Women sometimes don’t have a choice in motherhood, so to say that all feminists choose not to be mothers and therefore not respected by Islam is ridiculous. There are women out there who would love to be mothers but can’t. There are women who have become mothers and hate it. It appears that in Turkey’s version of Islam, women are no more than their uterus determines. So glad I don’t live in Turkey, but women in Turkey have already come out against this kind of simian content:

Lawyer and women’s rights activist Hulya Gulbahar said Erdogan’s comments were in violation of Turkey’s constitution, Turkish laws and international conventions on gender equality and didn’t help efforts to stem high incidences of violence against women in Turkey.

“Such comments by state officials which disregard equality between men and women play an important role in the rise of violence against women,” Gulbahar said. “Such comments aim to make women’s presence in public life — from politics to arts, from science to sports — debatable.”

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, often courts controversy with divisive public comments. He has previously angered women’s groups by stating that women should bear at least three children and by attempting to outlaw abortion and adultery.

Of course why bear 3 children? First only mothers get respect from Islam and then only mothers who bear at least 3 children? Can Erdogan please make up his mind? Now only women who bear 3 children and are not feminists are respected in Turkey? And how does one determine a feminist by her uterus? Is there an 8-ball in a woman’s body that tattles about her feminist status? If a uterus is enough to determine a feminist nature, then why does it need to even produce children? Only if a woman has 3 children she is protected?

Idiocy with feminism aside, the Turkish president has also declared that Muslims “discovered” (aka pillaged and plundered) “America” before the Europeans.

“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” Erdogan said. “Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast.”

Erdogan is not shy of making provocative statements, whether it’s about his political rivals, ethnic minorities or social media Web sites. His latest remarks are, in comparison, less incendiary.

They echo the research of a small coterie of scholars who believe there’s archaeological and documentary evidence of Muslims in pre-Columbian America. Erdogan is apparently citing the disputed work of Youssef Mroueh, an academic affiliated with the As-Sunnah Foundation of America.

In a 1996 paper, Mroueh referred to the presence of a mosque spotted by Columbus along the Cuban coast. “Columbus admitted in his papers that on Monday, October 21, 1492 CE while his ship was sailing near Gibara on the north-east coast of Cuba, he saw a mosque on top of a beautiful mountain,” writes Mroueh.

Most scholars insist the “mosque” mentioned was a metaphorical allusionto a striking land feature. There have been no archaeological discoveries of Islamic structures pre-dating Columbus’s arrival in the New World.

Mroueh, who is not listed as a historian at any institution of higher learning, suggests that explorers from Muslim kingdoms in West Africa made the same journey across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands well before the Italian seafarer did in the employ of the Spanish Crown.

 I get irritated enough when Christian Europeans spout about “discovering” America, which really amounted to a European form of biological warfare and a starvation of native populations, but now apparently followers of Islam did the same sort of thing? Barf. To say that Europeans discovered America is like saying Africa discovered Ebola. To say that followers of Islam discovered America is much the same, really it’s a slick convergence of patriarchal egoism to say that any country “discovered” America, as though an entire continent was lost until some Christians found it, or some Muslims found it. And by found, I do mean plundered.
So, I am not surprised that the Turkish president has equally obnoxious things to say about women. I am disappointed. Women don’t need a religious icon to tell them that they are important. Men literally wouldn’t exist without us, but it always has to come back to whether or not we are willing to reproduce? Is this more male anger about having to rely on someone else’s uterus to have a child? For uterus envy that translates to violent undertones, Erdogan receives the Asshole of the Week Award.

Orphaned Baby Kangaroos Meeting Makes A Monday Better

November 24, 2014

Because we all need something to believe in on a Monday…

Teen Mothers Have Children With Lower Test Scores

November 19, 2014

Becoming a teen mother entails a host of problems for the young mother, lessened education, higher incidents of living in poverty, increased risks for depression and health problems during the pregnancy, etc. New studies have also pointed to problems for children of teen mothers in school and with academic progress, namely that children born to teen mothers have more problems in school.

As early as kindergarten, children who were born to mothers age 19 or older tend to perform better on tests than children born to younger mothers, researchers found. The data came from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, which followed over 14,000 U.S. students between 1998 and 2007. That research tracked students’ math and reading scores in third, fifth, and eighth grades, after initially assessing them in kindergarten. As the students got older, children with older mothers continued to have higher test scores than their peers.

The research also found that if a young mother continued her education after having children, her children went on to perform better on tests than they would if their mother had stopped her education after giving birth. However, within this group, a knowledge gap still existed between children with younger mothers and those with older mothers.

In my own experience dealing with teen mothers, I have found that teen mothers don’t know how to prepare their children for school. Because they are so young and haven’t finished their educations themselves, these young moms are not equipped to help their children succeed in school or prepare for school when their children get to that age. It’s not surprising that teen moms who haven’t finished schooling would have children who struggled with schooling. Even when a teen mom goes back to school and finishes her education, her children still tend to struggle in school or achieve less educational pursuits than their peers. What gives?

Teen mothers struggle to pursue their own educations, and they rarely make it through school in a traditional manner or on a traditional timeline, which means that they may struggle with teaching their children how to make it through school or attain higher levels of education. For teen moms who do continue their education, the results are beneficial. Teen moms who continue with their educational instruction have children who do better in school than teen moms who skip out on school themselves:

Children of young mothers may also be less likely to pursue higher levels of education. A 2010 study in the United Kingdom found that a child’s odds of staying in school increased for every year a mother continued her own education. According to theNational Conference of State Legislatures, only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school and just 2 percent complete college by age 30.

Teen moms who don’t finish high school are ill-equipped to prepare their children for a schooling system that they rejected themselves. The rates of poverty that emerge from this lack of education are astronomical, making teen pregnancy a life-changing course that is difficult to overcome:

Thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons. Rates among Hispanic (36 percent)  and African American (38 percent) girls are higher. Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are poor, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. Many children will not escape this cycle of poverty. Only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of their peers with older parents.

Basically, though, the more education the mother has, the more likely her children are to succeed in school and attain higher levels of education:

This summer, a study from the Foundation for Child Development compared children whose mothers had not graduated high school with children whose mothers had graduated from college. They found that children with mothers who graduated from college generally had higher family income and better reading proficiency. Children whose mothers did not graduate from high school, on the other hand, were more likely themselves not to graduate high school on time.

Mothers who don’t make it through the educational system have children who don’t make it through the educational system. It’s pretty simple, but the long lasting effects are startling. According to a recent study, children of mothers who don’t graduate from high school generally make around $25,000/year compared with children of college-educated mothers who make over six figures or over $100,000/year:

Children of mothers who did not graduate high school had a median household income $25,000. Children of mothers who graduated college had a median household income of $106,500.

Huffington Post has a good breakdown of this study, complete with graphics.  Again, the more educated the mother is, the better her children tend to score on school tests of proficiency:

Sixteen percent of children whose mothers did not graduate high school were reading proficiently in eighth grade. Forty-nine percent of children whose mothers graduated college were reading proficiently at that age.Sixteen percent of children whose mothers did not complete high school were deemed proficient at math in eighth grade. On the other hand, 52 percent of children whose mothers graduated college were proficient in math at the same age.

That sixteen percent is consistent. Children of mothers who failed to graduate from high school overwhelmingly fail to graduate from high school, at a rate of 40% compared to women who graduated from college who had only 2% fail to graduate from high school. Since almost half of teen moms fail to graduate from high school, and a mother’s lack of education directly affects her children’s education, it makes sense that children born to teen moms have more problems in school, earn less as adults, and are unlikely to graduate from high school themselves, ensuring that pattern of poverty continues.



Men Are Generally Less Emotionally Intelligent Than Women

November 14, 2014

I can’t stop laughing. That is a direct quote: “men are generally less emotionally intelligent than women.” The context is that researchers have determined that parents show gender preferences for training girls to be more emotionally in tune with other people than boys.

The study, published Wednesday in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, analyzed conversations between 65 Spanish parents and their four- and six-year-old children. “Our study suggests that parent-child conversations are gendered, with mothers talking more expressively to their daughters than their sons,” lead author Dr. Harriet Tenenbaum, of the University of Surrey in the U.K., notes in a press release. “This inevitably leads to girls growing up more attuned to their emotions than boys.”

The researchers also found that fathers use fewer emotional words than mothers, which, they say, “unconsciously reinforce[es] gender stereotypes to their children,” and accounts for why men are generally less emotionally intelligent than women.

I would add here that cultural stereotypical roles are very pronounced in Spain. I have studied Spanish culture extensively and been to Spain myself, and the stereotyping roles of gender expression are definitely more pronounced in Spain than in some areas of the US. In short, part of Spanish cultural expression pushes boys into machismo roles and girls into so-called nurturing roles. I found it excessively frustrating, but then cultural forces are a tide unto themselves.

The prescription is just as baffling as the pronouncement that men are less emotionally intelligent than women: to try to ask boys how they feel more.

Still, Newman thinks this imbalance is shifting. “As more women are working, and more men are in care-taking roles, there’s going to be a greater balance in the language,” she says. As the language evens out, so too, says Newman, will our kids’ emotional competency.

But until then, parents should focus on helping their sons express feelings. “If your son wins a game, for example, instead of saying ‘great job,’ say ‘how did this make you feel?’ Mothers should probe their sons to pull out their emotions,” she says. “Parents, particularly of boys, don’t always discuss it when a relative is ill or a grandparent dies, but those are good opportunities to get emotional words and feelings into a son’s life.”

Wait, I thought were talking about reading emotions of others, not how the boys feel all the time. And why is just the mother asking this? Because moms are working more somehow the men are going to be more nurturing? For real? We are getting back to working moms and dads having to be more emotional? Most men are emotional idiots until their wife leaves to go to work? Strange, but according to this article, apparently true.

Here you go, the simpleton advice for the day (keep in mind that boys can’t be caring until prompted about how they feel):

Look out for situations in which you can ask questions about emotions, suggests Newman. Try simple ones: Are you sad or happy? How do you feel? “That will bring out the caring boys in them,” she says.

Dads Who Do Housework Have Daughters With Ambition

November 13, 2014

Dads who demonstrate their views of gender equality produce daughters who don’t see gender as a barrier to their career success. We all talk about how important it is for men to do housework, but not many people realize that when fathers do housework, their daughters don’t assume that housework is a career option for them. A new study points out that when fathers do household maintenance, their daughters talk about attaining higher level careers:

…this study found that a stronger predictor of girls’ career goals was the way their dads handled domestic duties. The daughters of parents who shared housework were more likely to tell the researchers they wanted to be a police officer, a doctor, an accountant, or a “scientist (who studies germs to help doctors find what medicine each patient needs),” lead author Alyssa Croft wrote via email, quoting one little girl in the study.

It’s not a stretch to believe that daughters watch their father’s actions closely, and that the way the fathers’ act has the capacity to impact their daughters’ lives. What is interesting is that the research study points to measurable actions that have measurable outcomes. Dads, want to help your daughters succeed? Do the dishes. Pretty simple and pretty easy to execute.

I am not alone in this discussion of how powerful and motivating a father’s actions are, as opposed to just stating that the father is in favor of gender equality–actions speak louder than words:

Here’s more from the Association for Psychological Science:

The study results suggest that parents’ domestic actions may speak louder than words. Even when fathers publicly endorsed gender equality, if they retained a traditional division of labor at home, their daughters were more likely to envision themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs, such as nurse, teacher, librarian or stay-at-home-mom.

Even feminist fathers who fail to lift a finger around the house might be unconsciously telling their daughters that housework equals women’s work, this study suggests. So, dads: Do the damn dishes already. 

Dads, if you want your daughter to succeed, just do the dishes. Pretty easy. Pretty life-changing.

Parents At Home Improve Test Scores for Teenagers: Having a Stay-at-Home Parent Equals Higher Grade Point Averages in High School

October 30, 2014

We all know that having parents around in a child’s early years, say while they are in preschool and before has positive benefits, but researchers were surprised to find that having parents at home for middle school and high school students meant higher school performance for those students. Parents really do matter!

“The results suggest that even older students in middle or elementary school could use guidance from their parents,” Bettinger says. “For years, we have known that parental presence is extraordinarily important in the very early childhood years. What we’re finding is that parents continue to be important much further along in a child’s life than we had previously thought.”

It’s easy to think that teenagers are rebellious beings who don’t benefit from having parents around simply because the teens want to exercise their independence. Considering the brain development and rate of brain growth is similar to that of a two-year old, it’s not surprising that the the teenagers benefit from the attention from a parent in much the same way the two-year olds benefit; however, this benefit begins when the child is six or seven years old. In other words, parents unsurprisingly build a foundation for how their teen will perform when the child is still in first or second grade. That quick spurt of brain development in the teen years is impacted by whether or not a parent stays home with that child in the early grades of school and continues to be important into the teen years.

Researchers studied Norway’s system of giving parents a childcare subsidy if they stayed home with their children, and researchers found that the longer a parent stayed home, the better a child’s grades were in the 10th grade:

Nevertheless, the older children in families that did qualify for the payments tended to do better in school. On average, the older siblings in those families increased their grade-point averages in 10th grade by .02 points on Norway’s grading scale of one to six points. The increases seemed strongest among children around the age of six and seven at their sibling’s birth.

Granted, six and seven is the age most children start school, so having a parent home with them could provide a foundational element for school success. It could also be that having a parent involved early in giving a child attention when they start school helps support the study that found that the way children perform in first grade can predict their rate of high school graduation.

It makes sense to study this phenomenon more closely, but lo and behold–there is no substitute for a child’s parent! Having more parental attention leads to an increase in a child’s school performance. When even 5% of parents in Norway chose to stay home with their children, grade point averages shot up, causing researchers to determine that parenting at home has an “outsize impact” on children’s performance:

If those few parents were responsible for the overall jump in school performance—and the researchers think they were—it means that the individual parents had an outsized impact on their own children.


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