Monday, July 27, 2015

Dear Facebook friends: Is blue poop normal?

There is a moment in most modern parents' lives, when you will find that your parenting instincts fail you. It's not a happy moment and you certainly aren't ready for it, but there it is.

And most parents (around 75%), when faced with the unanswerable quandaries that children create, will turn to their social media friends for help and advice.

In another time, we would have called our parents, or reached out to friends one-on-one, but because we are all so connected, it makes sense to just pose the query of the day on our social media group and hope someone has been there and done that and holds the answer.

I can see the appeal: There is something really comforting about knowing there is help whenever you need it and that you probably aren't experiencing a new issue. 

But there is a dark side, as well. What if you notice that you are the only person who is posting questions or has parenting problems because everyone else is only posting the best and brightest projections of their lives (Allison chose broccoli over chocolate today!)

Or what if the question is a little too embarrassing, and you find that you really don't want to ask your friends if blue poop is normal in toddlers.

(Sidebar: It's fine. Just lay off drinks with too much food dye.)

Like most things in life, it just comes down to personal preference: If you take comfort from asking for help, then ask. If you find yourself making unpleasant comparisons about your life and everyone else's...then you should probably just call your Mom.

What's the last parenting question you asked your social media group for help with? Share in the comments.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Planning to outlast your partner

The other day I heard a comedian say that a successful marriage is when one partner gets to watch the other partner die first. Yes, that is pretty morbid, but it is also true: Marriage vows even state "til death do us part."
And most of the time, it is the wife who is still around at the end of the marriage - but why is that?

Most of us have read the statistics somewhere: Married men live longer than unmarried men (because they have a partner to take care of them), but overall, women tend to outlive men. 

Interestingly, as science has discovered (thanks, science!), women's longevity over men is a relatively new development. It turns out that up until the 19th century, men and women had similar life expectancies. Researchers started zeroing in on deaths after that time frame for people between the ages of 40 and 90 (to account for war and focus instead on chronic diseases); they found that cardiovascular disease and smoking were the main causes of men dying before women. Men are two to three times more likely to die in their 50s and 60s than their female counterparts.

Researchers also found that the shift to diets with a higher concentration of fats may cause more damage to male arteries than female arteries (or that women tend not to incorporate that food into their diets as much and are able to keep their arteries cleaner).

If all this is true, then it is preventable. So with a willing partner to make some changes, maybe women can help their men live a little longer.

Who is the healthier person in your marriage? Share in the comments.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The going rate for the tooth fairy

I made the mistake of Googling the phrase "tooth fairy rates" the other day and I was frightened. Depending on the area of the country, some children are receiving anywhere from $5 - $13 per tooth.

These are teeth, right? They aren't little nuggets of gold.

Parents leaving the big bucks cite everything from peer pressure to inflation to justify leaving the exorbitant amount of money on behalf of the fairy. Those happen to be the same reasons why parents are giving children way more allowance money - an average of $35 per week for school-aged children - than they received as children.

I'm all for giving children money and allowances and teaching them about financial responsibility, but I think there is a balance that needs to be maintained.

In my view, yes, give children an allowance and also give them opportunities to earn extra cash. But also make them save up for what they want. Don't feel pressured by what your kid's friend gets every week.

And as for the tooth fairy, I may have to go another route. I like the idea of giving out Sacagawea dollars, silver dollars or two dollar bills out much more than the thought of forking over large amounts of cash. 

What does the tooth fairy leave in exchange for those precious baby teeth in your household? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Can your marriage stand on one leg?

I am a flamingo. I am standing perfectly still in flamingo pose with one foot firmly rooted to the ground and the other balanced away from my body. I breathe in. I breathe out. I am calm and pleased by my ability to stay so centered.

I used to thank all those yoga classes for my sense of balance, but maybe it comes from my great marriage.
In one of the more bizarre studies I've read, there is new research to suggest that the ability to balance on one leg may be a good indicator of the stability of your intimate relationship. In several tests around the field of embodied cognition (the interconnection between our emotions and our physiology), researchers scanned brain activities while participants read varying emotional messages while holding hot or cold packs.

I've read that last bit of science before - people who drink warm beverages in the morning (coffee, tea) are more likely to have warm feelings to others in the mornings, as opposed to people who drink cold beverages. And some people are just mean in the mornings no matter what they are drinking.

But this study took things one step further and had half a couple stand on one leg while answering questions about their relationship, and then they had to write a short message to their partners. The other person that got to stand on two feet had warmer messages to their loved ones than those who had to keep balanced while answering questions. But those with really strong relationships had warm messages no matter how they were standing - the instability of their stances didn't translate into any instabilities in their relationship.

So, there you have it: For a happy relationship, keep both feet on the ground.

What keeps your marriage happy? Tell me in the comments.