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Pew Research Center

Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Overlap This Year; Also Mixed Religious Households Are Hard

kwanzaa cookies

kwanzaa cookies

Happy Hanukkah!

The first day of the Jewish Festival of Lights started yesterday, December 22. It’s one of the few times that Christmas and Hanukkah will be celebrated the time time. Now if you consider the fact that Christmas technically is 12 days, and Kwanzaa starts on December 26, this year three of the most commonly celebrated holidays during this season will overlap.

Now if you are parents to a mixed religious household or came from one, you know how amazing this could be.

The scholarship and surveys of inter-religious households are scarce however, in  2008, the Pew Research Center found that over one-quarter of people lived in religiously-mixed households.

For certain, over the next 11 years, that number has grown exponentially, probably.

Also, PBS pointed out that most interfaith families usually decide to pick one religion and stick with it; but it also has quotes from families who embrace both.

What happens when a Jew marries a Muslim because in the Jewish faith, the children are supposed to take the religion of the mother and in Islam, the children are to practice dad’s religion?

As a person who grew up with a Catholic mother and a Muslim father, I have experienced this type of inter-religioug home upbringing and have the opinion that interfaith marriages are even harder than interracial ones. [You can fight me on that]

In my dad’s religion, the children are supposed to practice Islam but up until I was about 5 years old, he didn’t actively practice but when my sister was born and after our Islamic “Naming Ceremony”, my mom decided that she didn’t want to raise religion-less kids so she took us kids to church. For 12+ years, I was a Christian until I turned 17 and my dad found Allah once again and started taking us to Arabic school, and a cultural program in the Washington, DC area.

What a shock!

At that age of advanced adolescence, my Faith set as a Christian had already set in and I would question the scribes and the teacher’s interpretation of the Qua-ran, which I found conflicted from the Holy Book.  That turned me off and confused me so much so that I looked forward to going off to college the next year so I could practice NO RELIGION and be Agnostic!

It was liberating at first but then it got depressing as I started questioning life, the afterlife, if it existed.

My First Christmas shirts are plentiful for baby but you rarely see My First Chanukah onesies or clothing and that’s why I was digging this Israeli-made Baby’s First Chanukah Organic Body Suit as part of Wild Dill’s Hebrew Baby Collection.

It was very lonely and scary.

I started to study afterlife experiences, and studied Faiths of the world, and eventually met and married my current husband who is a Catholic and I fell back into my original religion.

I do not believe my experience is rare. I think children in mixed religion homes suffer. If you want to do it, go at it but know it’s going to be a challenge.

Writer Hannah Werthern wrote about her concern in a Parents.com piece:

It is tempting to me to invite Santa and Hanukkah Harry to our house every December, but I worry that my kids will get confused. Will they think everyone celebrates a mishmash of holidays? I will say it was truly surprising for me to see the number of books on celebrating both holidays — someone even made a “Hanukkah and Christmas: Picture Books Featuring Interfaith Celebrations” Pinterest board! (Wait, is everyone already celebrating a mishmash of holidays without me?) I also worry that the meaning behind each holiday will get lost along the way. Hanukkah is actually not that big of a deal to my family, so I’m OK with Santa stealing the show a little bit. but I’m not going to be happy when the Easter Bunny comes knocking at the door during Passover Seder. For every family, the holidays work a bit differently. I guess we’re just going to have some growing pains.

I can appreciate her concern.

Let’s continue this conversation @Bellyitch on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Or @JayJayGhatt on Twitter and Insta

Report: Millennials Struggle to Find Affordable Childcare

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Millennials are the first generation in modern history to have higher poverty rates and lower incomes than their two preceding generations, two major impediments to buying a home, raising a family, and pursuing more appealing career options.

Yet those two economic challenges are exacerbated by the rising costs of child care. “Quality, affordable child care is critical for all families, including millennials often just beginning their families and careers,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America.

Key findings of the report include:

  • In 17 states and D.C., it takes at least 50 percent of millennial’s income to pay for infant child care in a center;
  • Millennial parents with two children (one infant and one 4-year-old) need to allocate at least 45 percent of their income to pay for center-based child care;
  • The government standard for affordable child care fees set by the Department of Health and Human Services is less than 7 percent of family income, yet across all states, the average cost of center-based infant child care exceeds 25 percent of the average median income for millennials—with Massachusetts, the highest at 68 percent.

Pew Research Center defines millennials as youth and young adults born between 1980 and 1997. Many of these young adults are in the midst of planning their families or are already raising children. These young parents juggle various demands in order to provide the best future for themselves and their families.

Millennial parents typically fall into two groups: those who are new graduates just beginning to start a family, and those who are returning to school, or hoping to return to school, to acquire a higher education after having a child or children. Both groups are struggling to afford and access quality child care.

“Our analysis shows child care is simply not affordable for millennial parents,” said Dionne Dobbins, Ph.D., Senior Research Director at Child Care Aware® of America. “Those with young children and those looking to start a family have to account for the expenses of maintaining a home, a child’s needs, and education related costs.”

Data reveals roughly 40 percent of student parents take on full-time work, and approximately half are unmarried—highlighting a population with a high demand schedule and lack of additional support for child care within the household. These parents also fit more into a single day than others; in fact, it has been estimated low-income young parents work the after- midnight shift at a rate three to four times higher than their non-parent counterparts, one illustration of the need for nontraditional hours for child care services that is often unavailable and result in parents relying on informal markets which can be dangerous.

millennials

Solving the deepening problem is not only an issue of concern for millennials, it is crucial for our economy. A Forbes article covering a Standard & Poor’s report states with millennials not purchasing homes, the U.S. could be missing out on $49 billion a year through 2019. In addition, if student loan defaults increase, the economy could be at risk since the federal government provides more than 85 percent of these loans.

As the debate on the President’s new budget begins on Capitol Hill, it is imperative that child care’s irreplaceable role in the American dream be recognized and supported. We propose:

  • Increasing significant federal investments in child care assistance for eligible children and increasing quality improvement efforts. We recommend an increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 by $700 million in the FY 2018 budget. This ensures that CCDBG can be effectively implemented and families do not lose child care assistance.
  • Expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to help all families cover the rising cost of child care.
  • Increasing funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, a U.S. Department of Education discretionary/competitive grant to qualifying institutions of higher education for low-income parents pursuing postsecondary education, despite granting nearly $15 million to 85 institutions in 2015.
  • Providing paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and expand FMLA to cover all workers. Unfortunately, current law only stipulates unpaid leave for those who work in companies of 50 of more employees.

“As we see more young parents look to pursue a higher education as well as new graduates trying to start families, the need for child care is paramount,” Dr. Fraga said. “Child Care Aware® of America is committed to the mission of advancing a child care system that effectively serves all children and families. In working toward our vision, where every family has access to high-quality affordable child care, it is important to evaluate the issues facing our newest generation of families.”

Explore information on the millennial generation and how the changing economic environment impacts parents’ ability to afford child care at usa.childcareaware.org/millennial-map. The full Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2016 report is available for download here.

Finally! Single Parent Emojis are Here

Well it is about time! Bustle reports:

According to the Apple Newsroom press site, the iOS 10 emoji updates will add new family options, which include single-parent families. You can choose a family with just a mom or just a dad, and have multiple options with the number of children. The newest batch of emoji families will still only come in the standard yellow option.

The choice to feature a single-parent emoji is especially important in terms of representation. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, less than half of kids in the U.S. have a “traditional family,” and at least 34 percent of children live in a household with an unmarried parent. The study also clarified that in most of these cases, the unmarried parent also does not have a partner.

I’ve been avoiding updating to the newest operating system but now I know about this, I might actually update tonight! Good job Unicode!

The Research that Shows How Low-Income Kids Fare Better than Richer Ones

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The New York Times took a stab at analyzing the new PEW Research Center report about parenting in America which highlighted the growing opportunity and parenting gap when it comes to access to activities and how that impacts children’s likelihood for success.

Its piece titled “Class Differences in Child Rearing are On the Rise ”  includes an interview with author and University of Pennsylvania sociologist Annette Lareau whose note-worthy research points out the not-so-good things about over-scheduled children from middle class and affluent homes with highly-educated parents.

“Higher-income children are more likely to declare boredom and expect their parents to solve their problems,” Lareau said, adding during a segment on Michael Smerconish‘s radio show on SiriusXM this morning that these children are entitled, demanding, whine a lot and essentially experience what Lareau called “learned helplessness.”

Working-class children are happier, more independent, whine less and are closer with family member, said Lareau, whose groundbreaking research on the topic was published in her book “Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life.”

It reminded me what a monk at my children’s old Catholic school once shared with our parent teachers association meeting about the differences he experienced when working with richer children versus ones from working-class homes.

At recess, he said, the kids from low-income homes would run off and grab balls, play hopscotch, engage in a game of tag and independently divide up into groups to play. They’d only return at the end of recess.

He said in schools where the children were often over scheduled and regularly attend organized planned play dates, when they were told to go play, many stood around waiting for instructions on how the play time will be organized. They were used to being closely monitored and supervised.

My husband and I certainly can relate. Lareau describes our kids behaviors and attitude, at times, to a tee.

We often have to force our children to go outside the house and play,  to go meet up with neighborhood friends to shoot some hoops at the local playground or to ride their bike and explore outdoors.

I remember growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Washington, DC  hanging with friends and playing outdoors until the street lights came on, which was the universal sign that it was time to come in.

So  it is true, “middle-class and higher-income parents see their children as projects in need of careful cultivation…and teach children to question authority figures and navigate elite institutions” which gives their children “the skills to navigate bureaucracies and succeed in schools and workplaces.”

However, there is something to be said about having street smarts, common sense and know-how of being resourceful, working with what you have and developing a sense of independence early in life.

In manufactured towns and communities where homes sit on 1/4 to 2 acre lots, neighbors are far from each other.  Consequently, their children can’t easily just run over to their friends’ home down the street, or interact with other kids from across the river and thereby, pick up some much needed grit, which is beneficial as well for developing coping skills.

Integration is beneficial to children from both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, it turns out.

“People used to live near people of different income levels; neighborhoods are now more segregated by income,” writer Claire Caine Miller wrote in her NYT article.

“Children were not always raised so differently,” noted Sean F. Reardon, a professor in of poverty and equality in education, also in that NYT piece.

Reardon’s research also indicates that the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is 30 percent to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than those born 25 years earlier.

That is a shame. It’s true all walks of life need each other more, now more than ever.

What are your thoughts?