How far would you go to ensure your kids participate in all of the after-school activities their little hearts desire? Run up a little credit card debt? What about borrowing money from family or opening a home equity line of credit to pay for ballet and horseback riding lessons? In an attempt to give their kids every opportunity in life, many parents are practically contorting themselves, driving all over town from one lesson to the next and spending a small fortune on enrichment activities. But, some experts say it might not be money well spent. Psychologists have said that the emotional toll of the organizing and transporting depletes parents' resources, often making them stressed and more short-tempered with their kids as a result. Economists are also cautioning parents against the over-scheduled life for kids, saying that not only is it bad for your bank account, but it may not even benefit your kid in the long-run.
Neutrality: Great for Switzerland, not-so-great for homosexuality policies in school districts? A Minnesota school district has been sued over its policy requiring schools to remain "neutral"on issues of homosexuality. The lawsuit, which has been filed on behalf of a number of students who were harassed for either being gay or for being perceived as gay, claims that the district's response to the bullying was "grossly inadequate," and that some kids were advised to "lay low" and "stay out of people's way." LGBT advocates say that the district's neutrality stance enables the bullying and prevents teachers from defending gay rights. This isn't the first time the district's been criticized for its handling of gay issues -- last fall, the district came under fire after a number of teens committed suicide, which many have linked to gay bullying.
He shoots, he scores! But, he may not win the prize money. Nick Smith won a raffle contest at a hockey game recently, giving him the chance to try and make a tricky shot, for the chance to win a cool $50,000. Amazingly, he made the shot. Except, it wasn't actually Nick, it was his twin brother Nate who made the impressive shot. Turns out, Nick was outside when his name was called, and Nate took his brother's place. This honest family fessed up to the switcheroo and now the insurance company is debating whether or not to award the money. We're sure he'll get the cash, after all, insurance companies have such great reputations for paying up whenever called upon to do so... right?
Families who have adopted children internationally often celebrate a "gotcha day," which commemorates the day the proud parents brought their new child home. However, there have been significantly fewer "gotcha days" celebrated recently, as international adoptions by Americans have dropped by more than 52 percent in recent years -- from a high of 22,991 in 2004 to 11,058 last year. While some see the decline as a crisis for children worldwide, others say that a transition is long overdue and that loose adoption regulations in many countries have led to corruption. Several countries, including Vietnam, Nepal and Guatemala, have recently shut down their adoption programs because of fraud and corruption problems.
Not being invited to a party sucks for adults, but for kids, it's even harder to take. Parents, wanting to smooth the way for their kids, often wonder how to handle such situations. Some advise trying to determine whether or not the slight was intentional or accidental. If it was intentional, ideas for taking the pain out of the sting include a family movie night where the sad, little one gets to pick the flick, or hosting a slumber party of their own. Then, there are others who say the message to kids should simply be, get over it.
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. She is currently developing an alarm clock that will start an IV coffee drip 10 minutes prior to wake-up time. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at http://18years2life.blogspot.com/.