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Archive for the 'Motherhood' Category

‘Coraline’ and the distant parent

August
5

Watching “Coraline” on DVD this past weekend, I cringed and even paused the movie to turn to my husband and say: “I hope that’s not how the Pumpkin sees me.” If you’ve watched the movie, you are familiar with the scene in the beginning when Coraline fails to wrest her mother’s attention from her computer screen. (Warning: If you haven’t seen <a href=”http://coraline.com/” target=”_blank”>”Coraline,”</a> stop reading now and go rent it. It was wonderful.)

I was speaking mostly in jest, of course. I’ve never shooed away the Pumpkin so harshly, but I have to admit that there are times when she knows that I’m working on the computer and can’t play with her. Given the amount of indulgence and love my daughter gets in general, I’m not worried about her. But Coraline does make you think about children who aren’t so cosseted and whose parents really do tell them they are too busy to make time for them much of the time.

The evil witch who preys on Coraline’s vulnerability isn’t just a fairy tale creation. There are those who prey on young children by offering them the love and companionship they are missing at home. Just as the “other mother” offers Coraline the homecooked meals and cozy surrounding she craves in hopes of stealing the child away, pedophiles and other criminals can weasel their way into youngsters’ hearts by exploiting their need for love. Children are vulnerable when their parents are absent or uninvolved. Even if they don’t encounter a witch who wants to steal their souls and replace their eyes with buttons, they will encounter peers with dubious morals who might offer the approval they aren’t getting at home.

While cast as a fairy tale (that would earn an R rating if it were a live-action picture)‚ “Coraline” teaches its younger audience about the dangers of believing in something that’s too good to be true. And it provides a reminder to the parents watching that if you aren’t there for your child, someone else (someone scary) might be.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 2:36 am |
| | Comments Off on ‘Coraline’ and the distant parent

Our blended family vacation

July
13

There’s always a unique kind of dynamic with these situations — in our case two parents, each with their own child. That’s our blended family.

Last week we all hauled ourselves upstate and settled into a lakeside cabin, and I came away with some observations.


The interesting dynamic is how a blended family operates in these situations. We did all of the family activities you would expect: Canoeing, swimming, toasting marshmallows, taking a hike to a waterfall, etc.

But, in the end, there’s always a bit of a division that happens at the end of the day. That’s not to say it’s in a bad way, necessarily. But, ultimately, I gravitate toward my son and my girlfriend towards hers. The inescapable fact is that I am ultimately responsible for my son and she for hers, much as we do generally function as a family.

Is that bad? As I said, not necessarily.

But it’s certainly a different component that you don’t find in your traditional family. The hope is that, with time, those divisions are minimized. But I suspect they’ll always be there in some capacity.

My question is does this happen in traditonal families also?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Being there

June
27

Tonight was my daughter’s dance recital. This is an event we’ve been looking forward to for nine months. She’s taken lessons nearly every Saturday since mid-September, with a few exceptions for holidays and vacations. It’s been a journey of growth for her and for me. There was even a time early on when there was a question of whether she’d be able to continue with the class because she was so undisciplined her first day the teacher feared she’d be a bad influence on others.

But tonight, she shined. And I don’t have one photo of it or one minute of videotape. This was a choice made by a parent who has 17,000 photos on my Mac, 99 percent of which were taken since the Pumpkin was born four years ago.

Why did I choose not to record this precious memory? Because I wanted to live it. I didn’t want to see the Pumpkin dance through a viewfinder or a 3-inch LCD screen. I didn’t want to be distracted. I wanted to be present in the moment, enjoying every second. And I was. And I did. I cried. I smiled big. I held her father’s hand. I was *there*.

As a parent who watched her daughter blow out her birthday candles two years in a row from behind a camera, I can say that being there — truly there in the moment — beats the recorded memories.

I can only look at the pictures of that fourth birthday moment because I don’t have the images in my head to enjoy.

Tonight, I have something better than pixels. I have the afterglow of the feeling that welled up in me. I can only describe it as bliss.

I’m curious about the choices readers of this blog have made in similar circumstances. Have you, like me, been too willing to experience the milestones from behind the lens? What occasions have prompted you to just put down the camera and live? Or, do you derive such joy from rewatching the event that it’s worth it to be distracted by the filming of it?

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Saturday, June 27th, 2009 at 12:39 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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Becoming the parent you want to be

June
23

Chances are, you have a parenting philosophy even if you’ve never articulated it. You might be against spanking, for instance. (And hopefully.) You might limit TV. You might attend church or temple every week and talk about the lessons afterward. You might have a rule that there is no shouting inside the house.

In conversations with friends and relatives, I’ve come to realize I have a pretty strong sense of what I want my parenting to be. I don’t always meet these aspirations. I can be impatient at times. I have raised my voice rather than reasoned. I have tired of childish games sooner than I would like. In the everyday tumble of life amid work demands and sleep deficits, the gap between our ideals and our realities can widen.

That’s why I had to share with you a wonderful blog post that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2009/06/7-secrets-to-raising-a-happy-child/” target=”_blank”>7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child</a>.” It’s as if writer Sean Platt crept into my head and wrote down my thoughts. I have spoken in favor of all of these guidelines to friends and family at one time or another, though I certainly didn’t express my thoughts as well as this writer. Sean has his own blog, <a href=”http://writerdad.com/” target=”_blank”>Writer Dad</a>, that’s also well worth bookmarking. (He also loves “<a href=”http://writerdad.com/writing/why-lost-is-the-best-television-show-ever/” target=”_blank”>Lost</a>,” which makes him an automatic kindred spirit.)

Here is the short version of Sean’s post, with some of my addenda. (If you want to read the unexpurgated version, just click on the link above.)

“1. Let your child know you are excited to see them when they enter the room. Let them see the light dance inside your eyes when their gaze drifts into yours. Be mindful of their presence by showing them your smile and greeting them warmly. Say their name out loud. Not only do children love to hear the sound of their name, they also long to feel validation from their loved ones.”
(This is such a simple and joyful thing to do that it’s going to be No. 1 on my list as well. I am pretty sure I do this most of time already, but I’ll try to never forget even on days when everything is going wrong.)

“2. Teach your child it’s okay to be bored. As parents, it’s often our instinct to entertain our children each and every waking hour. When we don’t possess the time or energy, it is all too easy to allow the glowing blue babysitter in the living room to do the heavy lifting. But when we rely on television, or any other form of autopilot attention, we succeed only in limiting our child’s development. Children have vivid imaginations that flourish upon nurturing. But without the opportunity to coax their creativity, it will only whither on the vine.”
(I totally agree with this! I often have said that I think boredom is useful. It forces the mind to wander and who knows where that might lead? I am against DVDs in the car and will never give my child a portable gaming device. Let her be a little bored once in a while! Maybe she’ll daydream herself to a magical place that can only be found in the imagination.)

“3. Limit your child’s media. Related, but not limited to number two. Limiting your child’s exposure to media isn’t only a positive move for promoting their creativity, it is an excellent method to broaden their attention span while grooming their ability to stay calm. Your child will have plenty of exposure to more than you want soon enough.”
(Thanks to Tivo, the Pumpkin has no idea that some people just sit down and channel surf. Whenever I allow very limited TV time, we watch a show recorded specially for her.)

“4. Let your child know they are more important than work by giving them eye contact and attention. Your child doesn’t just need you around, they need you present. Play with your child, interact with them, find out what is important to them by asking questions and listening to their answers.”
(This is the hardest one for working parents, isn’t it? It’s so hard sometimes to pull away from the e-mail or phone messages to just stop and sit on the floor and make time.)

“5. Let your child make a few of the rules. You don’t have to make them the boss to let them feel empowered. Often, power struggles with our children are the direct result of them feeling a loss of control.”
(My strategy is negotiation. We have an elaborate system of working out “deals” in our home. I lay out what I expect, she listens and sometimes makes a counteroffer. Then we both agree on the terms and even shake hands. Obviously, I don’t allow her to have a say when safety is at stake, but if we’re talking about trying a new food or reading a book before or after we brush teeth, I think negotiation is fine.)

“6. Teach your child — don’t assume it’s all happening outside the house. Home schooling is every parent’s job.”
(This is an example I received from my husband’s family. His dad used to give the kids regular assignments. The tradition lives on today with my husband’s two sisters and brother. In our house, the Pumpkin knows that she is attending “home school,” where she is learning everything from the names of creatures in the sea to which island in the South Pacific grows cloves. We have a lot of fun. )

“7. Model appropriate behavior. In my opinion, this is the most important item on the list. Children do as they see, not as they’re told. If you want your child to be mindful of others, you must be mindful of others yourself. If you want your child to by happy, you must smile without hesitation. There is no one more influential to your child than you. At least for now.”
(This is without a doubt my weakest link. I lose my temper too often. I let little things get to me at times. I don’t “go with the flow” as much as I’d like. This is definitely an area I have to emphasize myself as I strive to become a better parent.)

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did. The “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/” target=”_blank”>zenhabits, simple productivity</a>” site has other useful links as well, like this one that lays out “<a href=”http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/100-ways-to-have-fun-with-your-kids-for/” target=”_blank”>100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap</a>.” I wonder how my mom would like No. 100: “Prank call their grandparents, using disguised, humorous voices.”

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 2:23 am |
| | 2 Comments »

When is Blended Family Day?

May
13

Here’s a built-in problem in blended families: You never have the whole family together for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

There’s a simple reason for it. Namely, my son will always be with his mom on Mother’s Day (as he was earlier this month) and my girlfriend’s son will be with his dad on Father’s Day. So, we’re inevitably incomplete when celebrating our respective parenting days.

Kinda makes it hard to have the ideal family day.

Or does it?

Bethany Grey, editor at eHow.com, offered a list of suggestions for dads and stepdads to celebrate Father’s Day in a blog titled “How to Celebrate Father’s Day in a Blended Family.” I don’t agree with all of it, but some of Grey’s suggestions make sense, including the idea to shop for Father’s Day cards with the child. It’s a good stepdad experience to share.

Mostly, I like the idea of doing something the day before, something Grey didn’t hit on. This year, we grilled hot dogs and steak the day before Mother’s Day and had a picnic outside. It was fun and we did the family thing. I’m thinking we’ll do the same with my girlfriend’s son the day before Father’s Day next month.

One thing I’ve never wanted to do is give my girlfriend’s son the notion that I’m replacing his dad, at least not that way. This makes for something of a juggling act at times. But that’s a blog for another day.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 10:35 am |
| | 2 Comments »

A dad’s place is…. on a blog

April
23

Leave it to a dad’s blog to make this case, but the Examiner’s fatherhood blog has put out a list of five reasons why dad blogs are worth keeping an eye one. You can read the post here.

(Kathy Gardner/The Journal News)

Obviously, Parents Place is a general parenting blog, with capable dads AND moms in the mix. So, we’re more inclusive and take a wider view of parenting.

But I’ve always felt that there’s a need out here for more of a voice from fathers, whether it’s dads in traditional homes like my co-bloggers Jon and Len, or myself,  a father building a blended family. So it’s reassuring to see a list like this out there, especially with more dads involved in hands-on parenting.

And remember, there’s no shortage of good dad blogs on our blogroll, including Crazy Computer Dad and David Mott’s Dad’s House.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 8:00 am |
| | 3 Comments »

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Why I’m walking in the March for Babies

April
22

Last summer, one of my husband’s college friends, Steve, came to visit with his wife and two children, a little boy a bit older than my daughter and a baby. They stayed with us for a couple of days and we all had a nice time, visiting the Long Island Sound and just relaxing. It was the first time I met his wife, Jennifer, and we hit if off right away. The Pumpkin fell in love with the baby. A few months later, we found out they were expecting a new baby who was due in June. But something went wrong. They’ve spent the last several days in the hospital delivering the baby, who died. We’ve been getting e-mail updates about the experience, including a last e-mail that came at 2 a.m. this morning with details about the keepsake box with a lock of hair and some photos that they brought home instead of a baby.

It’s been hard to get Jennifer and Steve out of my mind. I could easily have ended up with a similar box if it weren’t for the life-saving treatment my daughter received at White Plains Hospital Center.

Four years ago on April 20, I went into the hospital showing symptoms of preeclampsia, a disease that affects about 5 percent of pregnancies and poses risk for both mother and baby. I hadn’t read about preeclampsia before and didn’t really know what the doctors were so concerned about. I had been showing the signs of preeclampsia for a couple of weeks and had even spent a weekend on bedrest, but the doctors didn’t use that word yet. Here’s a clue: If your hands are so swollen that you lose sensation, it’s time to worry. Swollen ankles in pregnancy: Not so much.

My first night I was dazed, suffering from a horrible cold, unable to sleep. Over the next few days, the signs were clear that the doctors expected me to deliver my daughter early, but wanted to wait as long as possible. I was given steroid shots to mature my daughter’s lungs, moved to a private room and ordered to rest on my left side. In retrospect, I think I went into a bit of denial. After my cold cleared up by the weekend, I actually felt really great. It was sunny outside and I didn’t feel like staying in bed. It seemed absurd that I would actually have the baby that early, and so I discounted the idea, especially since I felt so healthy. The swelling had gone down and I didn’t have other classic symptoms, like a headache or pain in my abdomen. (I found out later that these are important symptoms of something going wrong. At the time, I just knew that nurses came into my room every four hours to ask me, “Do you have a headache? Any pain in your abdomen?”)

Every day, I rode a wheelchair down to radiology and got a look at my baby, who was healthy but tiny. Things were going so well that after a week and a half, on May 2, my doctor during rounds that morning even talked about maybe letting me go home on bedrest for a while. That was before he got the results of that morning’s blood draw. (Oh yeah, every morning I gave about five vials. Fun stuff.)

Later that afternoon, I had just showered and was sitting up in bed, making phone calls and relaxing when a phalanx of nurses from labor and delivery strode into my room with a gurney and told me I was coming with them to deliver the baby. This was a shock. My own nurse came in behind them and said the doctor had been trying to reach me, but I had been on the phone. My bloodwork showed that I had developed a complication of preeclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, which basically meant that internal organs like my liver weren’t doing so hot. The baby had to come out, or else we both would be in trouble.

After panicked calls to reach my husband to come as quickly as possible and to my sister-in-law for reassurance, I was prepped for a C-section. That evening, my daughter was born at 26 weeks, five days, gestation. She weighed just 1 pound, 13.4 ounces, or 834 grams. I didn’t even get to see her born because I was so swollen the anesthesiologist couldn’t get a needle into my spine. I had general anesthesia. I didn’t get to see her for more than 24 hours because I was stuck in bed in a haze thanks to a magnesium sulfate drip. I didn’t hold her for almost a week because she was so delicate. I just sat by her incubator, lightly touching her with my hand and talking to her. Her entire hand was the size of the tip of my pinky finger. The first days were so scary that it’s hard to even describe what it was like. The first week of a preemie’s life will determine what happens for the rest of it. And for us, the news was all good. She didn’t need a ventilator, and was breathing with just positive air pressure. No bleeding in the brain. Lots of pee. A feisty attitude. (That hasn’t changed.) I got to hold her for the first time six days after she was born. It happened to be Mother’s Day. Part of me is still in that chair, holding my swaddled baby for the first time, oblivious to everything else. One of the neonatologists walked up to me and started to talk to me about how well she was doing, but I ignored him, repeating over and over, “My baby, my baby.”

Today, she weighs about 33 pounds and is as tall as some 5-year-olds. And when she climbs into my lap for snuggles, the world still disappears and my mind repeats, “My baby, my baby.”

On Sunday, for the fourth year, I will be lacing up my sneakers and heading to White Plains to walk with hundreds of other parents who know exactly how I felt in that first moment I held my daughter. Parents of preemies never take a day or a minute for granted. We know how easily we could have come home with nothing but heartbreak. We are thrilled for the chance to help out the March of Dimes, which is committed to making sure that more babies come home with their parents. I pester my family, friends and coworkers for donations because I know that every dollar raised will go to programs to prevent premature birth and to make sure that the ones who are born early, like my Pumpkin, will live.

While I was writing this, my daughter came over to me to give me a hug and show off the blue ponytail holder her grandmother put in her (long and messy) hair today. I have never cut her hair, which is below her waist. I hadn’t realized until this moment why I haven’t, even though I know that it would be nice to have a lock of the baby blond at the tips before the whole head turns darker. I don’t need a keepsake. I have my baby. I’m marching on Sunday so that other moms can say the same.

May 8, 2005

May 8, 2005

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

Who lays down the law?

April
10

Who wears the pants in a blended family? More to the point, who handles discipline?

According to blended-family blogger Cathy Meyer, the biological parent should discipline their own child or children. The stepparent should, in turn, deal with their own child.

Well, it’s an interesting dilema. I find that in our home my girlfriend and I often defer to the biological parent to dictate terms and punishment for misdeed by the kids. For us, this always entails a verbal reprimand and nothing more. But the tendency of both our children to be a tad more uneasy with the stepparent issuing the reprimand is part of a learning curve that I think takes time – and we’re still working on.

But I have never seen it as a black-and-white issue. We do consult each other regularly and we have gotten comfortable with correcting or issuing mild reprimands to the others’ child. If it’s still a learning process it is more so for our two boys, and they are coming along.

Still, Meyer seems to take a harder line in her blog:

“As a stepparent, you should avoid any decisions about the discipline of your stepchild. This can and does depend on the situation but in most cases, it is best to leave issues of discipline up to the biological parent. Your role as a stepparent is that of mentor and supporter, not parent. This is something many stepparents have a hard time coming to terms with.”

I don’t think it’s that rigid, and I think it is something that has to be overcome for a blended family to eventually succeed. What do you think?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 11:45 am |
| | 4 Comments »

Study: More kids now homeless

March
11

Troubling report his week from The National Center on Family Homelessness, which released a study that found 1 in 50 children in the U.S. were without a home. That’s about 1.5 million kids, according to the study. And the troubling thing is that the figures were compiled in 2005-2006 — before the current economic downturn that has more and more parents without jobs.

(Angela Gaul/The Journal News)

The study ranks New York 38th overall in a national review of states. The Empire state was 39th in child well being, 31st in risk of child homelessness, and 22nd in extent of child homelessness. It also classified New York’s policy and planning on the issue as inadequate.

It’s just a reminder that as more folks end up out of work, there’s a whole generation of kids tagging along.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 at 11:39 am |
| | 2 Comments »

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Study: Kids benefit from grandparents

March
6

Kids are better behaved and have better social skills if a grandparent is involved in their upbringing, according to a recent study in the Journal of Family Psychology, That’s kind of a no-brainer for most of us, but take note of the fact that the study found it’s particularly true in single-parent and divorced families.

(Joe Larese/The Journal News)

Obviously, plenty of children grow up to be marvelous human beings without significant influence from their grandparents. It was largely lacking in my childhood. But, and especially in single-parent homes, what an element of stability that can add to a child who doesn’t have the benefit of both parents in the home, or is struggling emotionally with the adjustment to a step-parent.

That’s a noteworthy footnote to the whole thing. At least it is for me.

 

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, March 6th, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

Census: Fewer families with kids at home

March
4

Interesting stats out from the U.S. Census Bureau. In a nutshell, fewer families have children under 18 living at home. The number dropped to 46 percent last year, down from 57 percent in the ’60s.

The reason, the bureau says, is because of lower fertility rates and the aging of Baby Boomers.

“Decreases in the percentage of families with their own child under 18 at home reflect the aging of the population and changing fertility patterns,” said Rose Kreider, family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau.
“In 2008, not only were baby boomers old enough that most of their children were 18 and over, but they were having fewer kids than their parents, as well.”

Among the factors:

• Increases in longevity: The average numbers of years of life remaining at age 30 increased by about three years, comparing those 30 in 1960 with baby boomers who turned 30 in 1980 . As adults live longer, more married-couple households will be older and either childless or with adult children who live elsewhere.

• Increases in childlessness: The percentage of women 40 to 44 who were childless increased from 10 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2006.

So, society is getting older and having fewer kids at home. Or is there a deeper story behind the stats?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Does rent make the parent?

February
18

Interesting issue tackled by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The paper’s advice column fielded a question from a woman complaining that her boyfriend of three years was allowing his grown daughter to live in his house rent free. It has apparently become enough of an issue that she’s contemplating ending the relationship.

The paper’s answer? Since the girlfriend doesn’t live in the house and doesn’t contribute to the rent, it’s none of her business how the man runs his house.

This is not that far off an issue in single-parent relationships and within blended families, where turf issues — both physical and in terms of parental limits — are typical. What do you think?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
| | 7 Comments »

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My cellular kid

February
13

I got my 11-year-old son a cell phone.

I know, why does an 11-year-old need a cell phone? I actually dwelled on this for a while, understanding that some of his schoolmates have had them for a couple of years. And I wondered why he would need one. The upside was that he would be able to reach out to us in an emergency or if there was a change in plans during afterschool activities or while at a friend’s house for the day. The downside was, well, why does he need it?

So, in the end I got him one, and I figured it was a good exercise in responsibility for him: Manage your  minutes, use it wisely and you’ll be able to keep it. As an aside, I also wanted him to have a way to keep in touch with his cousin, who he is very close with and who he is likely to see less off now that my ex’s mom — their grandmother — passed away at the end of last year. She was the glue that kep those kids in touch. Now they’re able to text and stay in touch regularly.

But I wondered about what it would cost. I have friends whose kids chalked up hundreds of dollars in cell phone bills after first getting one. So I waited for the “report card” — the first cell phone bill since we added him to our calling plan. Well, it came this week, and he’s well within his minutes. Phew.

Still, was it still a good idea? What age should we be hooking up our kids with telecommunication gadgets?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Friday, February 13th, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
| | 12 Comments »

My son’s health care crisis

February
11

It’s a little bit different than the dilema plaguing many families across the nation right now. My son has too much health care coverage. This is the kind of thing you’d only get from layers of blind bureaucracy.

In a nutshell, my son has been on my health plan since my ex and I split up. No problem there. Recently, she added he husband and his son to her health care plan. Somehow, the paperwork was mixed and my son ended up on her plan too. Except we didn’t know right away. Anyway, she finds out and confirms this at her job and we discuss it. She suggests leaving him on her plan and we agree to do so. Obviously, I agree to remove my son from my plan. Seems simple.

Now, this is the kind of arrangement my ex and I have always been able to follow through on amicably. I’ve paid his health care costs for six years, and she figured it seemed fair that, given the inadvertent mess up by her health insurance carrier, we use the opportunity to have her pick up the costs to even things out. Seems fair. I know full well that health care costs are routine issues in custody disputes, and I am grateful that in this instance it has never been an issue.

Well, it wasn’t so simple. My health insurance provider says I had to make the change by Jan. 31, or I have to wait a year. I get it: That’s the rule. But that there’s no flexibility at all seems, well, bureaucratic. Oh, they are sending me an appeal request form, which will be considered and processed after a month of review.

I suppose the upside is that my son won’t be lacking for health care this year. But it strikes me as unfair that there are kids out there with no health coverage and my son is covered under two plans.

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
| | Comments Off on My son’s health care crisis

Our culture and the new clan

January
28

You don’t necessarily set out in life to start a blended family. Some of us simply find ourselves in a place where you’re a candidate for it. You start you first family, have a kid, then things don’t work out and you go through a divorce or a split.

As I’ve blogged before, I’ve been fortunate in my situation because my ex and I do remain friends, and split parenting duties amicably. But there’s always a loss, and that primarily comes in the loss of a sense of family — something kids in divided homes will almost always want to recapture as well.

In our case, my ex and I have been lucky: She’s remarried and I live with my girlfriend and her little boy, so we’re both a part of blended families now. In fact, we’re part of a growing trend that, right or wrong, is reshaping the American family. Census statistics say that 75% of divorced people remarry, and 43% of all marriages constitute a remarriage for at least one partner. Yet, there’s still no guarantees: 60% of remarriages end in legal divorce.

Is it a case of, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try again?” Perhaps. But I think single parents in particular legitimately covet that feeling of family for themselves and their children — a growing number of single parents, in fact. Given all this, I want to put a few questions out there:

• What do you think about the changing family dynamic in America?

• Given the percentage of failed remarriages, do you feel children of single parents are generally better off with a lone parent or in a new, blended family?

• What is your gut reaction when someone tells you they’re a single parent?

Posted by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE



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