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March 31, 2023 Global Roundup

Family related news included a focus on the role of fathers and grandfathers in today’s family; and how China’s one-child policy has had a ripple effect on the rate of marriage. Also trending is one author’s view that marriage should be considered serious play rather than hard work; and a matrimonial lawyer spotlights the distinction between narcissism as a personality trait and a mental condition and how it affects child custody cases.

Patricia Fersch, Forbes, February 22, 2023

Experts agree there are different levels of narcissism, which can be viewed as on a spectrum from less to more severe narcissism. You can negotiate child custody with a spouse or co-parent when narcissism is a personality trait. However, when the narcissism is more than a personality trait but a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), it is a mental health condition. When narcissism is a mental health condition, it is not possible to effectively negotiate with them. It is difficult to litigate with them over child custody as well.

Paula Span, Photographs by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, The New York Times, March 3, 2023

Without cultural norms to guide them, some men are forging a new grandparenting path. Cultural and demographic trends, including better health and longer lives, mean that grandfathers can take more active roles. And there’s some evidence that American fathers spend considerably more time caring for children than their predecessors did: an average of eight hours a week in 2016, compared with just 2.5 hours in 1965, according to the Pew Research Center. As contemporary dads become grandpas, caring for kids may feel satisfying and familiar.

Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, March 13, 2023

A substantial share of fathers who took on more domestic work during lockdowns have kept it up, new data shows, and rearranged their work lives to do so. “The expectations of father involvement have increased in the last generation, across all social classes but especially for those most marginalized,” said Timothy Black, an author of “It’s a Setup: Fathering From the Social and Economic Margins” and a professor of sociology at Case Western Reserve. “Many of these fathers have embraced these messages.” These arrangements are still a rarity in the American workplace. Many employers still require long, inflexible hours and penalize workers for prioritizing family life.

Nina Li Coomes, The Atlantic, March 24, 2023

Yes, love requires some labor. But that shouldn’t define the relationship, according to the author. In the 1800s, marriage in the U.S. was driven more by familial duty than by individual choice. But marriage soon became more motivated by love, which meant divorce became more feasible from the lack of it. As for the author, she abandoned the idea of work in marriage. Instead, she began thinking of the primary action of she and her husband’s marriage as serious play.

In China, Marriage Rates are Down and ‘Bride Prices’ are Up Nicole Hong and Zixu Wang, The New York Times, March 26, 2023 China’s one-child policy has led to too few women. Grooms are now paying more money for wives, in a tradition that has faced growing resistance. In China, “as with most state policies regarding marriage, women are the central target,” said Gonçalo Santos, an anthropology professor who studies rural China at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal. “It’s a paternalistic appeal to women to maintain social order and harmony, to fulfill their roles as wives and mothers.”

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