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May 15, 2017

This week’s family-related news included thoughts on the art of teaching, a look at how our schools are failing Black and Hispanic students, reasons why co-habitation, rather than marriage, has gained popularity among the older set, concern over the lack of interest in the medical community about “matrescence,” an exposé concerning the disparate impact of living in assisted housing on black children, a new app that matches new moms with one another, a deep dive into the concept and realities of “open marriage,” good news that bullying is down — now we just have to spread the word, a video and interview concerning the realities behind forced marriage of young teens, and finally, musings on “grandparenthood.”

How Schools Can Help Students Develop A Greater Sense Of Purpose Sydney Chaffee, WBUR, May 2, 2017 There is no such thing as the perfect student, classroom or teacher…Instead, we must embrace the messiness inherent in teaching and learning…The art of teaching derives from teachers’ ability to work through messiness and see beauty in what many others perceive as imperfection.

The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools Elizabeth A. Harris and Ford Fessenden, The New York Times, May 5, 2017 The high school admissions process was supposed to give every student a real chance to attend a good school. Fourteen years into the system, Black and Hispanic students are just as isolated in segregated high schools as they are in elementary schools — a situation that school choice was supposed to ease. There are not enough good choices for everyone, so every year thousands of children, including some very good students, end up in mediocre high schools, or worse.

More Older Couples Are ‘Shacking Up’ Paula Span, The New York Times, May 8, 2017 So-called gray divorce has roughly doubled among those 50-plus since the 1990s. The number of people over 50 who cohabit with an unmarried partner jumped 75 percent from 2007 to 2016…the highest increase in any age group. “Our life is good together, so why disturb it? I just don’t see the importance of that piece of paper.”

The Birth of a Mother Alexandra Sacks, MD, The New York Times, May 8, 2017 The process of becoming a mother, which anthropologists call “matrescence,” has been largely unexplored in the medical community. Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out. But a woman’s story, in addition to how her psychology impacts her parenting, is important to examine, too.

Location A Bigger Influence Than Race for Children in Public Housing Gene Demby, NPR, May 9, 2017 Despite achieving equality and access to quality public housing, because of historical and structural forces, black families are more likely to live in central cities,… — that is, places with more concentrated poverty and the problems that come with it.” The researchers said that the study’s findings were concerning given the number of children involved: In 2011, there were about 1.9 million households with children living in assisted housing across the country, and nearly half of children who lived in assisted housing in the United States were black.”

An App for Mothers Who Missed Out on Tinder Sophia Kercher, The New York Times, May 10, 2017 The women matched on Peanut, an app designed for like-minded mothers to connect. Similar to Tinder, Peanut users log in with their Facebook accounts, and a geolocation tool allows them to connect with mothers nearby. The free app uses an algorithm to match mothers with similar interests — and experiences, whether it’s having a child with special needs or being a single mother.”

Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? Susan Dominus, The New York Times, May 11, 2017 Divorce, or not marrying in the first place, might seem like a more logical response to a desire for openness. But even as marriage rates have declined in this country, the institution has retained a seductive status for Americans. And yet open marriages — and to a lesser degree open but nonmarital committed relationships — are still considered taboo.

School Bullying is Down. Why Don’t Students Believe It? Anya Kamenetz, NPR, May 11, 2017 Every state now has laws against school bullying… According to a big new study in the journal Pediatrics, bullying is down. However, there is an apparent paradox within a Maryland survey. When asked in 2005 whether bullying was a problem at their school, half said yes. Ten years later, the answer was almost the same: 48 percent. “Our perception of how common something is, is very important,” she said, but raising awareness about positive social norms can itself be a lever for improvement. So spread the word: students are treating each other more kindly.”

A Heartbreaking Look at a Couple Forced to Marry as Young Teens Diane Cole, NPR, May 13, 2017 An interview with Stephanie Sinclair, her photos and videos of the travails of child brides around the world. The challenges these families face are very layered and nuanced. It’s not just the immediate consequences of young teen marriage, but lifelong consequences that the next generation has to face, particularly the girls.

Grandbabies: The Great Reward for Aging Lesley Stahl, The New York Times, May 13, 2017 There are more than 27,000 new grandparents in the United States every week… they are spending more money on their grandchildren. They are also getting a great reward: “Holding your baby’s baby is life-affirming… Grandparent love is unfettered and pure.”

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