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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.

Reminder That Priests Are People Too: US Priests Stage Dance Off

October 29, 2014

Too often, I think, I determine that those involved in religion as a profession are somehow less human, that they forget that humanity is frail, preferring to live in the imagined future as in the reality of daily life. I begin to think that maybe these religious occupations separate life as it progresses with an imagined existence, one that exists only in the mind. Imagine my shock when I catch a video like this of two men who by occupation are religious professionals who very much enjoy life not as an imagined space but as two human beings who get lost in the music. It’s worth a watch.

Comments about their performance:

“We would just refer them to the Bible,” Rider says, “where the Lord tells us to live with joy.”

I Know Why Katie Perry Fell In Love With Russell Brand Because I Love Him Too: Intelligence on Renee Zellweger

October 28, 2014

I always wondered why Katy Perry fell in love with Russell Brand, or even if she had, because celebrity marriages so often seem removed from real life. It’s as if in a celebrity marriage, one wonders if you do fight over leaving the toilet seat up, if someone has to work around sharing items over which people pick fights, such as a car or cleaning the house. We imagine that the excess of money in a relationship relieves the burden of fighting over how to hang a picture, whom has put away the dishes, and whatever else two people might disagree over when they share a living space. Perhaps extra money, we imagine, relieves them of the realities of life as we know it, of the emotional import of things that we plebes argue about but also immediately relate to as part of a “real marriage.” After all, how many toothpaste fights have been depicted between married couples on sitcoms? Perhaps it’s fights over toothpaste that give a relationship real depth, fights over money, fights over sharing things, space, etc. that people with a plethora of money and therefore things and space don’t argue about, ergo then don’t engage in “real relationships.”

The reason I always wondered, myself, about the Russell Brand/Katy Perry marriage was because of their appearances, namely that she took infinite care with hers to present a perfect pout, and he seemed to take very little care with his. One wonders if this purely visual discrepancy relates in any way to their relationship. We are, after all, hugely visual beings, with our eyes taking up almost half of our heads. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, and who is really to say but them after all, but not much surprise when they split after all because we “saw” it coming.

So what is the allure of Russell Brand if he refuses to primp for Hollywood cameras? Maybe it is his refusal, or maybe it’s his brain. Maybe this man has a brain behind his refusal to primp. And lo and behold, he does. It’s a brain over which I am gushing at the moment. He speaks about Renee Zellweger in a way that is practical and smart. He takes on the cattiness of a woman’s appearance documentary and calls it out for what it is, meanness.

We have all heard the speculation regarding Renee’s appearance at some recent event, namely speculation that she has had plastic surgery, for which I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to applaud or attack. No matter, the media had plenty to say about it so my advice went unsolicited; however, Russell Brand put the media in a new light that is worth watching. Sure, it’s a bit long for our quick sound bite of the internet world, but that’s because he take apart multiple media commentaries. Watch it. It’s worth it, and I think I am in love with Russell Brand now. See if maybe you are, too.

JLo And Iggy Azalea Don’t Have To Work That Hard At Big Booty

October 28, 2014

Strangely enough this song starts with a Huggies ad, a diapers bit follows the big booty dance floor bliss? Cracks me up.

Ok, here’s what I like: the belly dance riff, the fact that both women are secure enough to dance together simulating sex, the fact that women are talking about big booties.

What do I hate? The list is longer than the likes:

Jlo and Iggy Azalea are both incredibly talented women, so why do they have to advertise that they apparently know how to pose for rear-entry sex? When do the men have to do the work? JLo is over 40 and still hasn’t figured out to promote herself any other way than by demonstrating she knows how to be dominated in a sexual video? Just sad. Come on, JLo, you did better in the Love Ya Papi video. I will post that below.

“It’s his birthday; give him what he asks for?”–for real? Give him what he asks for, as if women only enjoy sex if a man asks for it, or it’s something to withhold because men only like it? Seems strange to have a premise like this when the whole video is about women and sexuality

JLo just has to show ass in order to sell a song? She has 10 albums out and she still has to focus on her ass only? How many ass shots are there in comparison to face shots? More ass shots than face shots…

This video looks more like a porn shoot than a commentary on music. Music, what music? There was music? Just water dripping off of female asses bumping one another for male pleasure. Fake orgasm, parted lips, no music needed. It’s not about the music. Never was.


JLo offers a better take on male objectification on the video, and while the “I love ya Papi” is no feminist manifesto, it’s infinitely better than showing her ass more than her face.


All About That Bass Sung By Male Bass

October 27, 2014

The original has been covered by a male bass. I like the pastels of the original, but take a look at the comparison when sung by a man…

And, hey, I think she has the best male back-up dancer I have ever seen. I watch the video just to see him, seriously.

Slut Shaming Bristol Palin in Bar Brawl

October 24, 2014

According to Bristol Palin, she is just standing up for her 20-year old sister by “confronting” an old woman who pushed “little” Willow. Then, when Bristol “confronted” the “old lady,” some man allegedly pushed Bristol down and called her a slut and cunt:

Palin then says that when she confronted the woman, she was attacked by a man, who pushed her down and dragged her across the grass, saying, “You slut, you fucking cunt.” Palin says on the recording that someone took her $300 sunglasses and shoes.

What is Bristol Palin’s response to why she confronted an “old lady” about pushing her sister? Classy…

“My little sister comes over to me and says ‘some old lady just fucking pushed me, she just hit me,’” Bristol Palin says in the recording. “Oh fucking hell no, no one’s gonna touch my sister.”

Of course in Palin-land, pushing requires physical confrontations, or so it would appear, and a bar brawl single-handedly instigated by the famously quipped “Momma grizzly in lipstick” brethren begins.

True, it doesn’t read any more white trash than the Palin family, from their overabundance of children, to their undereducated morass of public commentary (“I can see Russia from Alaska…”), but it’s entertaining, if nothing else. Who among us doesn’t like to pick apart the storied factual fuck-ups of the Palin family? If we didn’t have them, who would we have? The Bush family doesn’t even do much anymore. The Hilton’s speak too little to really get into a factual analysis. Michelle Bachman pulls a close second, but people even got tired of her. So, the real question is: why not rubberneck at the Palin family? It’s a good show.

The problem is that little Bristol is obviously sexually active, as proven by her teenage pregnancy, and publicly commented on her sexual activity with hollow protestations of her marriage plans that evaporated after her mother’s presidential politicking ended (would you ever have imagined we could ever put Palin and presidential politics in the same sentence a few years ago? neither could I…). No, it’s more that in a brawl a man decides to physically hurt Bristol Palin while calling her a “slut” and “cunt,” and then the sexual shaming comes in that is unacceptable.

Sometimes I want to smack Bristol Palin, but never to shame her sexuality. I think she makes bad choices, then talks about those bad choices in a way that makes her look even worse on television. She seemed to capitalize on her bad sexual choices resulting in a firestorm of a media circus akin to: look what the little teen momma can do when she keeps her legs together and admits that sex at 16 is wrong. In that sense, Bristol made all the wrong choices about sex, but it sure as hell is not some random bar dude’s place to physically attack her for her bad teenaged sex decisions. And, one could argue that with Sarah Palin as a mother, Bristol had no choice but to make bad choices and say the wrong thing–it’s in her genes. Sarah Palin lauded Bristol’s bad choices every time.

A police report released earlier this month identifies Korey Klingenmeyer, a host of the party, as the man who allegedly pushed Bristol Palin to the ground. The report says Palin punched Klingenmeyer multiple times.

Palin told the officer on the recording that she had injuries to her face and knees, and that her 5-year-old son was waiting for her in a car.

Prosecutors have said they won’t press charges in the brawl.

Sarah Palin defended her family in a Facebook post accompanied by pictures of Bristol Palin holding a gun after reports of the brawl emerged last month.

“I love my Bristol! My straight-shooter is one of the strongest young women you’ll ever meet. I have to say this as a proud mama: right up there with their work ethic and heart for those less fortunate, my kids’ defense of family makes my heart soar!,” Sarah Palin wrote.

Everyone mama grizzly is proud of a bar brawl with a 5-year old child in the car. One could argue that getting into a bar brawl with your kid in the car could be a CPS investigation, but it seems like par for the course with the Palin family. Here is what happens when the Palin family attends a Klingmeyer family birthday party:

  • Bristol Palin told the officer the family had attended a birthday party at the home of Korey Klingenmeyer. At the party, Bristol says she confronted a woman whom younger sister Willow Palin said had “pushed” her.
  • According to Bristol, the party’s host, Korey, “pushed [Bristol] down to the ground” and “called her a ‘slut’ over and over.” Then someone stole Bristol’s shoes and sunglasses.
  • “Korey told me he had been hanging out in his back yard with approximately 20 other guests when Bristol Palin had approached the group saying she was going to ‘knock that bitch out.'”
  • “[Bristol] stated she didn’t know who Korey was and then said that Korey had drug her across the lawn by her legs and was calling her a cunt and a slut.”
  • Korey said he was “angry that the Palins had showed up and were causing the problems.”
  • “Bristol and her sister came up to the home owner in the back yard. [Korey] was asking her not to do anything there because it was a birthday party, and she punched him in the face 6 times” before “a bunch of wives tackled her ass.”


This shit is for real; that is a series of excerpts from the police report. “Defending her sister”/punching old women in the face. Who is to know. What we should allow is the use of the term “slut” to “discipline” someone. Sounds like the brawl was a full family affair, but why wasn’t Sarah Palin called a slut? For real, let’s just keep these fights clean, people…

Crazy Shit Men Put Out There About Women Taking Their Last Names

October 23, 2014

That whole taking a man’s name bit has come under media scrutiny. I, personally, see it as a personal character flaw for a woman to mindlessly change her name while giving up on her dreams of sleeping with multiple male models through her thirties; however, there is some crazy shit out there that men say about a woman’s commitment and name changing.

Jezebel has published a piece on taking names, as has Huffington Post, it’s the comments regarding the concept of name changing that are galling. Jezebel published these reasons men gave for wanting women to take their names when married:

“I’d like her to want to be a part of my family and be proud of our name.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

“One family, one name. If she didn’t take my name, I’d seriously question her faith in us lasting as a couple. And I don’t want hyphenated kids.” —Brandon Robert Joseph Peyton, via Facebook

“I believe the purpose of marriage is raising children, and children take their father’s name (as a way of identifying paternity). Mothers always have a special bond, carrying their young. Fathers don’t, so [passing on our name] is our compensation.” —Matthew Bratcher, via Facebook

What about a woman liking or disliking a name? Why couldn’t she love the guy but hate the name? Apparently for some men, loving the name is the same as loving the man. Of course, what I love about the Jezebel’s article is that the author just calls out the ownership aspect of name change for what it is:

See? It’s just about family. It’s just about togetherness. It can’t be sexist, it’s tradition! And lighten up—traditions are just rituals through which we fetishize and deify the past, confining our modern social mores to shapes that our great great grandparents would be comfortable with if they happened to time travel here for a drop-in status quo inspection. NBD. THAT’S ALL. How could anyone complain about a tradition? Ugh, historically marginalized groups are such killjoys. (PS Happy Columbus Day!)

Whatever your opinion on 21st-century women taking their husbands’ names (more on that in a second), can we all just agree up top that it is a historically proprietary maneuver with shitty roots? It may mean something different to you now, but it was designed to signify ownership. It’s the equivalent of getting your Dockers home and cutting the tags off and writing your name in the waistband. (STEVE’S DOCKERS! DON’T TOUCH!)

I am not sure women are Docker’s but maybe for some men, they are. Go Lindy West! (Author of the above great comment.)

Here is the thing: American traditions are antiquated when it comes to changing names:

In France, many women keep their maiden name legally but go by their husband’s name socially. According to the Quebec Charter of Rights,women can’t change their last names after marriage without the authorization of the registrar of civil status or the authorization of the court, an effort intended to promote gender parity. In Italy, Chile and the Netherlands, women also, for the most part, keep their maiden names after marriage. Stateside, it’s even becoming (slightly) more typical for husbands to take on their wives’ names.

“I took my wife’s name, because mine was common and I was sick of getting mail, phone calls and other inconveniences from people with the same name,” Rob Wheelock wrote.

Yes, time for the collective gasp of surprise, American traditions (albeit short ones as is the nature of our cultural history) are antiquated and are below international standards. Don’t you just love it that the land of the free apparently still espouses ownership of women once they have sex or agree to have sex with just one man? Are we all more free if we give up the monogamy bit?

Women who decided to keep their names often gave reasons that I am not sure I believe:

I kept my maiden name because I like how it sounds. It takes parents a long time to choose a name for their child (my parents named me Jessica Woods and later had it legally changed to Aubrey Woods). After all that, how could I change to my husband’s last name?” – Aubrey Woods, 34, of Milwaukee

Parental respect? Okay, I guess I believe it could happen, but probably not at 34. Besides, it sounds a bit like the father hand off to the husband as if granting her permission to have a sexuality. I think the first answer is more accurate.
I like the response below best, but she is older and a bit more mature:
“When I got married, I kept my name for several reasons: 1) I had just received my master’s degree with my name, and thought it silly to change my name after achieving that milestone; 2) Whenever you try to look up friends from high school, you can never locate the women because of the name change. It’s an identity eraser, and I didn’t want to erase who I was; 3) I felt it was an antiquated custom that I didn’t need to follow. My husband was fine with it, so why bother? You aren’t fusing yourself with another person, you are joining him in equality. I don’t know why women feel the need to change their last names, to be honest.” – Julien Fielding, 43, of Omaha, Neb.
 I like the idea of not fusing. Fusing in marriage sounds suffocating, something which only a codependent would love. Maybe that’s why some people do get married. Another woman’s father drilled into her the idea of self identity:
“When I was a little girl, I remember very clearly my father saying, ‘Don’t ever change your name…it’s just too good.’ He was a very Italian man with strong roots and our last name is classic in so many ways. His advice has stayed with me even with his passing and although I am getting married in eight months to a man with an equally awesome last name, he understands that my name is important to me and has helped define a lot of who I am. If we have children, they will hyphenate and their last name will be 18 letters long and they will be taught the pride behind each.” – Samantha Contarino, 31, of Philadelphia
Thankfully someone’s father didn’t feel he needed to do a hand off in ownership! It could just be that the woman has worked hard to elevate her name professionally and taking her husband’s name would offer her no bonus, could hurt her career:
“There were two reasons — one personal, one professional — why I kept my birth last name. My parents had two daughters, and my dad’s only sibling — a brother — also had a girl. I wanted to keep my birth name as a way to show respect to my dad and his side of the family. Also, I was a successful pharmaceutical salesperson and had worked really hard to establish respect and credibility. I was not willing to start over with a new last name. And an added bonus: My spouse said he could not imagine marrying someone who would change their last name!” – Tracy McCreery, 46, of St. Louis

You can find the quotes at the Huffpost link here, but in all reality, the name-changing bit is all over the news because of George Clooney’s marriage. Why an old guy getting married is suddenly news fodder, I will never know, but there it is.

Amal Now-Clooney’s name change was rightfully called oppressive, by a CNN writer:

Amal Clooney, a human rights attorney, was quick to take on her husband’s surname, even reflecting the change on her professional webpage.

But one writer for CNN calls the move “oppressive”, calling Amal a “strong, career-driven woman” who was not in need of a man for 36 years.

It could also be seen as just plain power-hungry, that the woman wants the Clooney recognition factor for her career.

I think you can guess where my loyalties lie, in keeping a woman’s name to herself because she isn’t owned by any man. And besides, American traditions, if we can even call them that, are only 200 years old and started by religious fanatics that Europe couldn’t tolerate. Who wants to carry on those “traditions”?

Back to the Jezebel writer, whom I have now turned to as a woovy (comfort blanket for the uninitiated), who speaks rationally about this emotional issue:

“My name is part of who I am.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

“Call it pride or ego, whatever. It’s not happening.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

“It sounds like she’s trying to hang onto her “single person” identity and not identify with the fact that she’s married now.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

Translation: My name is part of who I am. To change it would be unthinkable. It would be like giving up my identity. My identity is too important to give up. It would be a sort of death. So here, women, YOU DO IT. His identity supersedes yours. And any desire to maintain your “‘single person’ identity”—your you-ness—is an insulting affront to the institution of marriage itself.

This is not esoteric academic feminist theory. This is in goddamn MEN’S HEALTH. This is shit you hear from your mom. This is normal.

Depressingly normal. I did hear it from my mom. My mother still believes that feminism killed the American family. Actually, what was killed in her family to disrupt its stable nucleus was the death of my grandfather from cancer, but the devil is in the details for her. Father gone, family shredded, in her opinion, ergo, do anything to keep the father/husband/male in the picture.  So, it’s entirely refreshing to hear someone else just own up to the fact that most people don’t consider women equal to men. More Jezebel genius:

Case in point, here’s what the Men’s Health respondents have to say about disobedient sluts who keep their maiden names:

“It’s not a close relationship.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

She puts herself ahead of her marriage.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

“Their sex life is probably terrible.” —Anonymous respondent, via a SurveyMonkey poll

When I read that, I don’t hear anything but pee-pants fear

“Pee-pants fear” just can’t stop laughing. Yes, fear. Maybe these men need to read the post that I wrote about why women don’t want to choose marriage:

Written five years ago and still a top post, so must resonate. Religious zealots = so-called traditions or just plain equality that is recognized worldwide–you decide.



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