Many of us are seduced by that middle-class family image. You know the one we’re talking about. A happy mom and dad with two happy children. A few nice things in the house, but nothing over the top. Enough money to put most of the things on your child’s wishlist under the tree on Christmas.
That image also usually includes family vacations. Most of us would love to take our kids to Disney World or Disneyland every year, and let them experience the “Magic” of those places.
The reality is that today’s middle class families are on a tight budget. You’re probably not going to be able to make yearly ventures to see Mickey and friends. However, if you learn to set aside some vacation money, you might be able to go every two or three years.
Here are some ways to set aside vacation money for your family when you’re on a limited budget:
- Plan for the long haul. The first thing you need to do is come to grips with the reality of your situation. It’s more important to buy groceries than it is to see the Grand Canyon. However, if you do it a little bit at a time, you can make your vacation dreams come true. Just don’t expect it to happen fast. You need to be patient.
- Get rid of debt when you can. If you’re paying $100 a month in interest on credit cards, that’s $100 you could be putting toward your vacation. Pay down your debt using the snowball method. In this method, you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. When you’ve paid that off, you apply the payment that was going to that debt to the next-highest interest rate and so on.
- Figure out what you can reasonably afford to set aside. $5 a week isn’t much, but over the course of five years it could take a family of 4 on a pretty nice vacation. If you can afford to set aside more than that, do so, but start with even just a little bit.
So, what about you? What techniques do you use to save up for your family’s vacations?
Every few years, breastfeeding becomes a hot topic. It raises questions about legality, decency, common courtesy and the rights of the mother. More recently, breastfeeding has been linked to another trending subject: childhood obesity. It was previously thought that breastfed children are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity. More recent studies, however, are showing this may not be the case.
Beginning in 1996, Harvard University teamed up with the University of Montreal to conduct a study of 15,000 mothers. Half the women were chosen to undergo training to encourage breastfeeding, while the other half received no support. Of these women, 43% of the supported mothers continued to exclusively breastfeed after three months. In contrast, only 6% of the untrained group continued to do so.
At the end of their first year, at age 6 ½ and again at 11 ½, the children went through regular checkups. Researchers found breastfed children:
- Had higher IQ’s.
- Experienced less gastrointestinal infections
- Had fewer cases of eczema.
On the other hand, scientists reported there’s no differences between the breastfed children and the formula fed with:
- Dental allergies
- Overweight and obesity
As it turns out, the recently released data from the 11 ½ mark revealed that approximately 15% of the children from both groups were considered overweight, and 5% were obese.
Previously performed studies concluded there’s a direct link to breastfeeding and obesity. Experts once thought that breastfed children learn to feed until their full instead of being forced to finish a bottle whether they’re full or not. However, prior research involved choosing breastfeeding mothers at random. This didn’t take into account a number of factors like dietary choices and education levels. Mothers that were chosen specifically which group they’d belong to eliminated these biases.
Despite new evidence that breastfeeding bears no weight on childhood obesity, there’s lots of other reasons to do so. Aside from the health benefits mentioned earlier, breastfeeding:
- Promotes growth of your antibodies. These help decrease incidences with diarrhea and pneumonia.
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Decreases your cholesterol levels
- Reduces your chances of ovarian and breast cancer.
Oddly enough, it’s also stated that if 90% of American families practiced breastfeeding exclusively for six months, the United States would save over $13 billion in medical costs annually.
K.W. Kellogg Foundation conducted a poll regarding breastfeeding. What they found after surveying 1300 Americans is that a huge margin support breastfeeding. They feel that changes need to be made to the system to support these mothers. Some of the results were:
- 68% feel hospitals should encourage and provide support to breastfeeding mothers.
- 71% responded that public places such as malls and restaurants should have private and clean places set aside for mothers who need to feed their child.
- 66% said workplaces should also provide time and safe places for mothers to pump milk, and a place to store it.
New evidence shows breast milk has no effect on obesity. However, research is likely to continue. With each subsequent study, the parameters will change and be refined until results are absolutely conclusive.
Teens and the Morning-After Pill
The rate of teen pregnancies has been a growing epidemic for a number of years. Television programs like Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant and other shows, do little more than glorify and promote this behavior. Sex education classes are being taught to children at increasingly younger ages. Now, Federal Judge Edward Korman lifted the age restriction for the “morning-after” pill.
Judge Korman made his decision public by stating parents have no legal say whether or not their daughters should use hormonal pills to avoid pregnancy, no matter how old they are.
He goes on to say the drug is perfectly safe for any female within child-bearing age. He claims the ban was initially put in place for political reasons, which held no regard for scientific guidelines.
However, Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, said she did base her decision on science. When the FDA petitioned to make the pill widely available, Ms. Sebelius halted the move. This was grounded by the fact that the drug hadn’t been properly tested on girls as young as 11 years old.
Scientists, including those in the FDA and AMA have been pushing for unlimited access for years. They believe the restrictions keep teens from using safer methods to prevent pregnancy. Without the pill, the young may resort to unsafe drugs or even abortion.
On the other side, conservative groups feel that lifting the restrictions may be given without consent. Subsequently, this will allow teens to bypass required doctor visits for their prescriptions. By not needing to visit their doctor, conservatives believe sexually transmitted diseases will go undetected and in turn, untreated.
Responsible parents hope to delay their children’s sexual activity until they are properly mature. Most feel having this information is not an intrusion on the child’s privacy. Parents believe they should know how their daughters are coping as they begin the transition into adulthood.
Most parents think lifting the restrictions undermines their authority. Parents worry about losing control over that which they feel is an important development in their teen’s lives. Lifting the ban adds to those feelings.
The FDA and the Health Department
The judge determined the FDA holds obligations to promote safe drugs. In this, there’s no difference between aspirin and contraceptives. Judge Korman also added that the FDA should hold no bearing on the “behaviors that cause people to take these drugs.”
New York’s health department distributes the morning-after pill to women between the ages of 14 and 40. With this program, parents are able to opt out of the distribution. However, unless someone else overturns Korman’s decision, parents will be less able to raise their children responsibly.
According to Judge Korman, “Underage children shouldn’t be engaging in conduct that necessitates the use of such drugs.” While this is a widely accepted thought, actions speak louder than words. The only answer is to be a responsible parent. Take notice of your teen’s activities, and make sure you have open communication channels.
We often talk about adoption as if it were a single entity, done the same way by everyone every time. The truth is that adoption can take many different forms. Not only that, the type of adoption that occurs often has a number of other implications, including resources available to the adoptive parents, length of time for approval and more.
According to the Adoption Institute, there are a number of different ways that adoptions can be classified:
- Foster care adoption. This is an adoption that occurs when a child, who is in the care of the state, can’t be reunified with the birth parents. Foster parents will, in some cases, choose to adopt children in this situation. This can occur with relatives who have been caring for the child in a kinship foster are arrangement or with other parents that only know the child via the foster arrangement. Federal mandates have helped to increase foster care adoption in the past several years.
- Private agency adoptions. These occur through an adoption agency that isn’t run by the state. In this scenario, the state places children via an agency (usually non-profit, but some are for-profit) that finds adoptive parents.
- Independent adoption. Independent adoption occurs when a child is place directly with adopting parents via an attorney or some other legal facilitator.
- International adoption. In some cases, people choose to adopt from countries outside of their own. These often happen via international adoption agencies. The adoptions are usually finalized in the country of adoption, though for some countries they finalize domestically.
- Transracial adoption. This is an adoption when a child is place with an adoptive family of a different race or ethnicity. This can occur with both domestic and international adoptions, of course. It’s considered a separate category because of the many social challenges that can exist, both within our culture and within the cultural differences between adopted child and adoptive parents.
So, what about you? Have you adopted, or looked into adoption? What kind of adoption are you considering, and why is that type appealing to you?
Having a baby is a life-changing decision. It places a lot of stress on potential parents. Additional stress can occur when friends and family start pressing the issue.
Parents want to pass their legacy down through the generations. In addition, many parents simply love being grandparents. That’s why they place so much pressure on you to have your own children. This is especially true if you’re an only child.
With parents of multiple children, other problems arise. As your begin to have their own kids, you may grow apart. Over time, your interests change. You see their loved ones less frequently and holidays can become awkward as you try to get to know one another again.
Pressure to have kids isn’t normally meant to be malicious. When this pressure comes from peers, it’s often simple curiosity. As far as For acquaintances, asking if you are going to have kids can sometimes be a way of becoming better acquainted.
Handling the Question
“When are you going to have a baby?” Your response depends on whether or not having a child is even an option. For couples who don’t have a choice due to infertility, the answer can be an emotional one.
Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to handle it.
- Have a set of prepared responses. These can be crucial to diffusing a potentially volatile situation. Examples include, “we’re waiting until we finish college,” or “I want to be able to stay home with my children, so it’s going to be a while before we can afford to do that.” In some cases, the response might even be, “We’ve talked about it, but we’re just not ready.
- Be straightforward. If prepared responses don’t work it’s best to let the questioner understand this is a personal decision. Make it clear that you’re not comfortable with the conversation, and in many cases the questioner will simply back down.
- Stand firm. Don’t let others influence a decision that is solely yours. Make it clear to friends, family and everyone else that it’s something you and your partner will decide, quite apart from their opinions on the matter.
Don’t let others pressure you into a decision you’re not ready to make, or judge you for the decisions you have made.