Posted tagged ‘Social Trends’

Dirty Little Secrets

April 6, 2009

 

This one’s for the moms.

 

Just caught Oprah’s segment on the dirty little secrets of motherhood – what nobody tells you, what moms don’t like about parenting, and what they do to cope. Moms talked about everything from barely getting a chance to shower to making full meals for their kids from snacks found in the car, to experiencing the trauma of buying their first minivan.  One of the speakers likened motherhood to a secret society whose details no one tells you because otherwise you wouldn’t join. Motherhood, they agreed, is overwhelming and 24/7 – no rest here for the weary.

 

Mothers admitted that they are hard on themselves, often because they are insecure about the choices they make. Despite the tremendous amount of advice on parenting offered by magazines and on the Internet, moms often feel totally on their own.

 

Said one, “I completely believed that I was the only woman in the history of time who did not have the maternal gene, and I thought I was completely alone.”

 

Said another, “I didn’t feel I had permission to talk about how hard motherhood really was.”

 

The conclusion of the show: Moms need to be honest and support each other.

 

Moms, agree/disagree? What has been your own experience? What did you not know? What would you tell other moms-to-be? 

Pink Slip (Baby) Blues

March 30, 2009

While the economy is slamming everyone without discrimination, there is one category of laid-off employee who may feel the pain more than others – the mother-to-be. While some women may view losing their jobs at this stage as a “blessing in disguise” – the unexpected opportunity to spend more time with their new baby – the last thing others want is to find themselves unemployed just as they are about to face major additional expenses in the form of hospital bills and a new mouth to feed – especially if their former company doesn’t allow them to carry over health insurance. If they’re single moms or if their spouses or significant others have also lost their positions, the scenario is even more dire.

 

Yesterday’s New York Times noted that there are no laws against dismissing a pregnant woman or a woman on maternity leave – as long as she is not being let go because she is pregnant or a new mom. Yet some laid-off women maintain that while “the economy” was cited as the reason for their departure, their pregnancy may have contributed.

 

For more, see “When the Stork Carries a Pink Slip.

 

Employers, have you had to let a pregnant staff member go? What issues did you face?

 

Moms – have any of you lost your job while pregnant? Did you feel there was any discrimination involved? Has your pregnancy made it more difficult to find another position?

Are You a Momshell?

March 25, 2009

Gone are the days when moms felt at home in spit-up-stained sweat pants.  Today it’s all about being a “momshell”—the new term for the growing post-natal herd of hot mamas.

 “It’s tough to pin down the exact origins of momshell, which began turning up on blogs, Facebook and Twitter with more frequency last fall,” according to last week’s Associated Press article. “The term and ‘yummy mummy,’ its equivalent in the UK and Australia, are meant as compliments, nods to moms who find time to take care of themselves while caring for their kids.”

“Now moms are expected to be gorgeous on top of everything else? It’s too much,” says Elayne Rapping, a professor of American Studies at the University at Buffalo, who specializes in media and pop culture. Not that long ago, just juggling work and family was difficult enough; now real moms need to look like the expensively maintained celebrity versions.

How do momshells do it?

“I’m not saying put yourself on top of the ‘to do’ list,” says Jessica Denay, mom, author of “The Hot Moms Handbook,” and founder of  the Hot Moms Club, which began as a small group of mom friends eight years ago and has now expanded to an Internet-based social network of  110,000-plus. “I’m saying put yourself on the list.”

This trend presents marketers with an opportunity to reach out to moms with products and services to help them look and feel their best. What have you done to help them achieve that? Moms, what would make you feel like a momshell—or do you already?

 

More Babies, Fewer Husbands

March 23, 2009

A record 4.3 million new babies were born in 2007, more than at any other time in history — including the post World War II Baby Boom, according to data released last week by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That year also produced a record number of births to unwed mothers–nearly 40 percent.

More than three-quarters of those unmarried mothers were over age 20, a change compared to previous decades. In 1975, teenage mothers made up more than half of all nonmarital births.

For more details, visit this USA Today story.

Marketers, what products or services can you offer to help all those moms who are now raising kids on their own? Moms, what would you like companies to do to help make your lives a little easier?

Children and Climate Change

March 18, 2009

 

We are in the midst of organizing 40,000 children at Goddard Schools nationwide in support of World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour 2009.  A global call to action on climate change, Earth Hour takes place on Saturday, March 28th at 8:30 p.m., when hundreds of millions of people around the world will turn off their lights for one hour in a vote for action on the climate crisis.

 

So you can imagine the recent blog post from Wired.com Math Meets Meteorology: New TV Show for Kids on Climate Change sparked our interest. PBS Kids Go is set to debut an animated series that will teach children about climate issues. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) just launched a website, www.EarthHourKids.org, which provides content to schools and children. This site features lesson-plans, games and songs that children can download.  Goddard has also developed tips parents can use to teach kids about the environment (email me @ sa@childsplaypr.com for a copy).

 

As parents, are you teaching your children about climate change? As marketers, how are you helping parents convey the message?

Doddering Daddies

March 12, 2009

Do older fathers mean dumber kids?

According to a study released Monday, children of older fathers scored lower than those of younger fathers on I.Q. tests and a range of other cognitive measures. These results support growing evidence suggesting significant downfalls to delaying fatherhood.

While this was the first study to demonstrate that children of older fathers do not perform well on cognitive tests at young ages (8 months, 4 years and 7 years old), other research has identified higher rates of schizophrenia and autism among the offspring of men in their mid-to-late 40s or older when they had children.

The new study, published in PLoS Medicine, reanalyzed data from the federally sponsored Collaborative Perinatal Project, which gathered information from 50,000-plus pregnant women from 1959-1965. Fathers in the study were ages 14 to 66, while mothers were 12 to 48. Regardless of their mothers’ age, children whose fathers were 50 years old had lower scores on all tests except those assessing physical coordination, compared to children whose fathers were age 20. The older the fathers, the more likely the children were to have lower scores.

Will the May-December romance now go the way of, say, Bernie Madoff’s investments? How ironic that, through the ages, it’s been women who have agonized over having children “too late” in life. The same study also showed that children of older mothers typically performed better on cognitive tests, suggesting they may benefit from “the more nurturing home environments associated with the generally higher income and education levels of older mothers.”

For more on the study, see the New York Times article, “Older Fathers Linked to Lower I.Q. Scores.”  

Designer Babies

February 14, 2009

 

Is the era of the custom-made kid upon us?

 

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, a Los Angeles fertility clinic claims it is on the verge of enabling parents-to-be not only to select the sex of their child but also to choose traits such as eye color, hair color and complexion.

 

The capability, according to the clinic, is based on a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. The procedure has been in place since the 1990s to allow parents to avoid passing on life-threatening diseases to their children. The process: A 3-day old embryo is tested for a particular genetic disease and only embryos without that disease are implanted in a mother’s womb. The same technique may now be able to screen embryos for other physical traits – i.e., for cosmetic characteristics rather than medical concerns.

 

A recent New York University School of Medicine survey of nearly 1,000 people who sought genetic counseling found that a majority supported prenatal genetic testing for the elimination of certain serious diseases.  However, about 10% said they would want genetic testing for athletic ability, another 10% for improved height, and nearly 13% for superior intelligence.

 

Aryan Nation, here we come. I can’t decide whether I’m watching the History Channel or the Sci-Fi network.

 

Is choosing a child’s physical characteristics unethical – or is it merely the natural next step in a land where beauty (and cosmetic surgery) rules?

Daddy Dearest

February 9, 2009

 

Last week’s post talked about dads who don’t do their fair share of parenting. All that may change – may have to change — as more fathers find themselves at home because they’ve lost their jobs. With the January unemployment rate for men hitting 7.6%, couples not only have to deal with the psychological stress of a lay off, but may also have to reinvent the parenting paradigm.  A potential seismic shift awaits as a family’s tradition clashes with new needs and expectations.

Will men get as involved in parenting as mothers historically have, and, if so, how will dads feel about their new role — and how will moms react to giving up control? Are there certain components of parenting that dads will gladly adopt while ignoring others?  Will the family dynamic be altered forever? And, from a business perspective, will companies who have always targeted moms now include dads in their marketing?

What do you foresee happening as the employment crisis deepens?

Delinquent Dads

February 2, 2009

 

So much for the revolution. When it comes to dads sharing the parenting role with moms, according to a new study, the man in the family is just not pulling his weight. The result: supremely ticked off mothers.

 

That’s the conclusion of a survey of 1,000 moms by Parenting magazine, with results appearing late last week on parenting.com.

According to the article, “We love our husbands — but we’re mad that we spend more mental energy on the details of parenting. We’re mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs. We’re mad that these guys, who can manage businesses or keep track of thousands of pieces of sports trivia, can be clueless when it comes to what our kids are eating and what supplies they need for school. And more than anything else, we’re mad that they get more time to themselves than we do.”

Some specifics:

•46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more. About half describe their anger as intense but passing; 1 in 10 say it’s “deep and long-lasting.”

•44% are annoyed that fathers often don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids.

•40% are peeved that their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.

•40% are mad that Dad can’t multitask.

•33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility and are less concerned than moms are about their children’s basic needs, like nutrition and clothing.

•Nearly one third of moms complain that parenthood has changed their lives more than their husbands’.

•31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores — in fact, they generate more.

The more kids moms have, the more intense their negative feelings.

Moms responding to the survey express annoyance that dads repeatedly forget to do simple or essential tasks — like keeping an eye on the kids while mom cooks or remembering to put the children’s mittens on. They resent that dads don’t help get the kids off to school in the morning, or that they leave their own dirty dishes in the sink even though the dishwasher is empty. To many moms, dads seem incapable of multitasking, while moms regularly handle several different projects at once. Moms dislike constantly being the ones responsible for all the daily details of family life, from making sure to buy fresh vegetables for the kids to getting the car repaired.  And most of all, they hate that dad seems able to find time for himself. The lack of time off is a major issue, especially for  moms with the most anger. Over 60 percent of the moms who get mad weekly — and almost three-quarters of those who are angry every day — feel this way.

For more details on the study, visit www.parenting.com.

Bringing Up Baby (at Work)

January 26, 2009

 

A recent New York Times article talked about a Manhattan mom who became pregnant while she was launching her own company, decided she would bring her baby to the office with her daily, and set up an on-premises playroom – exactly what I did 20 years ago when pregnant with my son, Evan. Reaction varied then as I’m sure it does now. To this day I remember one client – male – who came for a meeting and looked aghast upon learning that baby and babysitter alike were part of it (it was a small office). There were the many other clients who never knew their conference calls were being conducted while my little one was nursing. Evan came to work with me every day until he began to walk – and I realized he’d be better off running around the playground with other kids than shuttling from one desk to the next.

 

The Times article noted how more companies are allowing employees to bring their babies to work, and discussed the pros and cons. It pointed out that a child’s needs – and noise – could be highly distracting to his/her parent and other employees alike, and suggested that with baby underfoot it was impossible for parents to be completely devoted to either the child or the job. Experts suggest that companies that do allow parents to regularly bring children to the office establish specific written policies – e.g., the age or stage (crawling, walking) at which children are permitted in the space, and designated areas for changing diapers.

 

What do you think about a bring-your-baby-to-work policy – especially if you’re in the business of making baby/children’s products? What guidelines would be fair to both employer and employees – the parent and her co-workers alike?