Entries in Family (15)


Obstacle Courses, Charades Are 'Secrets of Happy Families'

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Could the secret to a happy family be sweating it out with your three kids while a former special ops Marine barks orders? Or is it playing a goofy game of charades? Or is it Kyle Richards, a star of Bravo's reality TV series Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, playing barefoot backyard basketball with her four daughters?

According to best-selling author Bruce Feiler, your family bliss can be found in all three.

Feiler spent years searching for the secret elixir of happy families, often using his own wife and twin girls as guinea pigs.

"I was frustrated," he said. "I felt like, as a parent, we were just stuck. We were lost. The shrinks, the self-help gurus, the family experts, those ideas were really stale."

Instead, Feiler turned to hundreds of examples of non-parenting wisdom from a variety of sources -- from bankers to Green Berets -- for his new book, The Secrets of Happy Families, out in stores Tuesday, to bring families closer together. Some advice was quite surprising: try moving the furniture, ditch date night and let the kids pick their own punishments.

"Frankly, it turns out that our girls are little Stalins," Feiler said. "We actually constantly have to dial them back. They are usually much harsher than we are."

For advice on allowances, Feiler spoke with Warren Buffett's banker, who said not to tie allowances to chores. For games, he went to the folks at the online gaming giant Zynga, the makers of Farmville and other similar spinoffs, who told him that failure can be motivation to do better. For conflict resolution, he went to the Harvard Negotiation Project and the set of ABC's TV series Modern Family.

"All families have conflict," Feiler said. "It's the families that cope with the conflict best that are the best able to function successfully. Laughter, silliness, games can be a great antidote to the conflict."

Speaking of conflict, how is it possible that the star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a show that thrives on screaming matches and backstabbing, could be the head of a tranquil family? Richards said her family life is "very real."

"The moms at school who know me as showing up in my pajamas and slippers know how real it is," she said. "I'm a mom and a wife, that's what I do, number one, that's my number one job."

It's a job she takes seriously, raising daughters Farrah, Alexia, Sophia and Portia with her husband, Mauricio Umansky. Turns out the Umanskys instinctively live by several of the happiness secrets that Feiler uncovered for his book.

"Having four kids is not -- especially as they get older -- is not easy to get them, all four, at the same time to sit down to dinner," Richards said. "We have to fight for that all the time, but it's worth it."

But those hard-fought moments create memories -- a stitch in the tapestry of the larger family history, which is something Feiler also talks about in his book: The more your kids know about their family's legacy, the more resilient they are because it gives them a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. In the Umansky family, for example, Mauricio told his daughters he was born in Mexico and his father was Russian.

"I lost both my parents, so it's really important for me to talk about them a lot with our daughters," Richards added.

In another chapter, Feiler writes that successful institutions have mission statements and wacky family traditions can also breed happiness. And when researchers asked 1,000 kids "if they could have one wish about their parents," many of the kids said they wanted their parents to be less tired and less stressed.

"The week we introduced the morning checklist into our family, we pre-cut parental screaming in half," Feiler said. "So if the standard here is parental stress, our stress went in half."

And to maximize team spirit among family members, Feiler said the Green Berets believe in pushing everyone's physical limits in pursuit of a common goal.

That's where the kids of ABC's Juju Chang come in. Tune into Nightline at 12:35 a.m. ET TUESDAY NIGHT to watch ABC's Juju and her family put some of Feiler's The Secrets of Happy Families to the test.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


How to Cope When Family TV Time Turns Awkward

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You've probably been there before. Curled up on the couch with the family, TV glowing, a general good time being had by all.

Then, without warning, someone on the screen starts taking off their clothes. There's a string of dirty jokes. A kissing scene goes from G to R-rated at a nauseating speed. You want to crawl under the couch, flip a channel -- anything than to watch the material with the people who who you gave birth to -- or who birthed you. 

It's something especially likely to happen during the holidays, when relatives of all ages congregate in front of the TV.

Communication is one good thing that can come out of all the awkwardness during TV watching, according to Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

"If the relationships are pretty good, there's open communication, and people feel pretty confident with one another, know that the awkward feeling is going to pass, and joke it off or chat it off," she said.

It also helps to do your research, as one New Jersey dad -- who did not want to be identified, found out when he took his then 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son to see Borat, the gleefully offensive Sacha Baron Cohen film that he thought was "just a funny movie."

"The biggest laugh in the theater was when I hustled them out while a rather large penis was on the screen," the dad said. "My son thought it was hilarious. My daughter was in full cringe mode."

P.Y., a 26-year-old Detroit native, found herself in the reverse situation when she took her mom to see the foul-mouthed teddy bear flick Ted "not realizing how crude the jokes were."

"She looked at me during certain parts of the movie to see if I had a reaction," said P.Y., who asked to be identified only by her initials. "I remember this specifically when Ted was at the cashier and he squirted lotion on his face -- super awkward. I just kept saying out loud, 'OMG.'"

P.Y.'s mom called the movie "very inappropriate." The viewer said of her mom, "I couldn't look her in the face for several hours after."

So: do you research and figure out what you can laugh off. If you're spending the holidays with extended family and friends, you might want to ask them to do the same.

"If you happen to be the parent with stricter rules and everyone's watching Wedding Crashers and you're not comfortable with your 8-year-old watching that, you need to say, 'If the family chooses to do this, then we're going to go in another room," Kaslow said. "It will mean compromise, it will mean negotiation."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dental Care Has Decayed for Low Income Families

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Good dental care is increasingly becoming an unaffordable luxury for many Americans.

Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 33 percent of people surveyed skipped dental care or dental checkups because they couldn't afford them. A 2003 report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that 108 million Americans had no dental insurance -- nearly 2.5 times the number for those who have no health insurance. And more than half of dental procedures are now paid for out of pocket.

As a result, many patients are now waiting until their dental problems are dire and their options become even more limited. Nancy Greenwalt, a dentist who runs several Smile Healthy dental clinics for low income patients in Illinois, said she's seeing an increasing number of patients who avoid the dentist for as long as possible, usually because they have no money to pay for services.

"A preventative checkup might cost a hundred dollars but once you find yourself in an emergency situation, it gets a lot more expensive than that -- and you may put your health at risk," she said.

Frank Catalanotto, the chair of the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science at the University of Florida, said patients who don't wind up using an uncredentialed dentist or can't find a low-cost clinic often seek help at hospital emergency rooms, where they are given pain medication and antibiotics but rarely treatment. They're usually told to go find a dentist. When they don't, Catalanotto said, they wind up back in the emergency room.

In Florida alone, there are 115,000 hospital ER visits for dental problems each year, according to the latest Pew research report on dentistry in America. Pew says taxpayers foot the $88 million dollar bill for these visits.

Even when a patient seeks care from a licensed dentist, their oral health is often too far gone for simple preventative dentistry to deal with. Greenwalt said that her clinics she's seeing an increasing number of patients -- some of them children as young as three -- who have so many rotten teeth that she admits them to the hospital and operates under general anesthesia in order to treat them. Once again, the taxpayer often picks up the bill.

A more sensible, less costly approach, said Catalanotto, would be to "increase oral literacy" by better educating consumers on the basics of oral hygiene. That way they could take more responsibility for their dental health.

He also said that in order to avoid dental tragedies, dentists will have to advocate that some of their work go to dental hygienists and other mid-level providers (analogous to physician's assistants) to deliver services to under-served and low-income communities. In most states, this is currently against the law.

Another solution may be to bring at least some of the illegal underground dental network into the fold. One of Catalanotto's University of Florida programs prepares foreign dentists to pass licensing exams so they can practice legally -- and safely.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Are We There Yet?’ Survey Reveals How Often Kids Ask

Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) --  “Are we there yet?” It’s the age-old question asked by kids on family vacations everywhere. And while it can seem like children ask it hundreds of times during the course of a family vacation, it’s actually far fewer, according to a new survey.

The question is asked an average of nine times on a seven-day family vacation, according to Cambria Suites, a hotel chain. For parents of kids six and younger, however, you can expect to be asked the dreaded question 13 times.

The survey revealed a few other family vacation tidbits. While most respondents (65 percent) view their family vacation experiences as positive, for instance, parents come home exhausted. One in four reported needing a vacation after returning from their vacation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Negative Family Relationships Could Be Affecting Your Sleep Patterns, Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having trouble sleeping? A new study says sleepless nights could be attributed to social situations or family complications.

The study, led by Jennifer Ailshire, PhD, from the University of Southern California and Sarah A. Burgard, PhD, MD, from the University of Michigan, sought to determine what role social or family circumstances had on sleep cycles using the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, according to Medical Daily.
Not too surprisingly, they discovered that those who were more in contact with family were reported to have more trouble sleeping, especially if they were have a negative altercation with said family member. Not getting the emotional support needed from family could also affect sleep patterns.
Corinne Reczek, PhD, from the University of Cincinnati, says that relationships with young children and spouses particularly mold sleep patterns because of the demands of those relationships, Medical Daily reports.
Healthy sleep patterns benefit the body. A lack of sleep could increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Over 50 million Americans suffer from sleep problems, according to Medical Daily. Understanding the problems with your family could help reduce problems with sleeping.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It turns out the kiss of death for marriages might be more like a poke.

A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word "Facebook," according to Divorce Online. And more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Divorce lawyer Marian Rosen, who practices in Houston, said she's increasingly seen social media cited in divorce proceedings and child custody battles.

"We've had instances where they pull up Facebook in the course of a deposition," Rosen told ABC News, adding that in addition to proving infidelity, she's seen cases in which children's profiles are cited as evidence to suggest bad parenting. "Once it's out there for the world, it's very difficult … to erase from the past. There are going to be trails that can be followed."

Three years ago, 20 percent of divorce filings contained the word "Facebook." By 2011, it had risen to 33 percent, according to AAML. Despite the increase, the top Facebook mentions were the same: inappropriate messages to "friends" of the opposite sex, and cruel posts or comments between separated spouses. Sometimes, Facebook friends would tattle to one partner in a relationship about bad behavior by the other.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hell Hath No Fury Like…Ex-Wives?

Michael Bezjian/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Reality TV star Brandi Glanville admits she wanted to “kill” singer LeAnn Rimes, who ran off and married Glanville’s ex-husband, Eddie Cibrian, and now acts as stepmother to Glanville’s children.

“I thought I was going to physically hurt her,” said Glanville, in an interview with Radar Online, after Rimes turned up at soccer games to see Glanville’s boys, Mason, 8, and Jake, 5, play.

“I remember walking up to soccer practice and there she was with my baby in her lap,” said Glanville, one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  “My blood was boiling, and I thought I was going to kill her. I really thought I was going to physically hurt her....She was sitting in my soccer chair, under my tent. She’s got my kid on her lap, and she’s with my husband, and that was that little moment of total irrational fury.”

In a culture in which half of all marriages end in divorce, stepchildren and half-siblings and the interplay of emotions between wives can wreak havoc on a mother’s feelings, said Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist and relationship expert at Teachers College at Columbia University.

“It’s really a normal feeling, but the obviously normal response is not to say it,” said Kuriansky. “But the feeling is common -- anger, resentment, the sense of betrayal, and to have to deal with the emotions on your own.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” she said. “You want to get rid of the woman who sabotaged you.”

Glanville was married to Eddie Cibrian for eight years before he had an affair with Rimes while filming the Lifetime movie Northern Lights in 2009. First there were denials, but then came the incriminating photos. The two soon divorced their respective spouses and married each other in 2011. Rimes had been married to Dean Sheremet.

“This is what movies and TV shows are made of,” said Kuriansky.

Real-life jealousy does, indeed, make for great fictional drama. On the latest episode of AMC’s Mad Men, wife No. 1 Betty Draper stirs up trouble with wife No. 2 Megan Draper after her three children spend a weekend at Don Draper’s lush Manhattan apartment.

Betty, who is unhappily married and has ballooned up from her model figure, spies lean and sexy Megan in a state of undress while picking up her children.  Back at home, Sally asks for help on a family tree project and Betty reveals that Don had a third wife. “Ask Megan about it,” she tells Sally, cryptically.

Confused and feeling betrayed by not knowing the truth and feeling as if she’s been used as a weapon by her mother, Sally lashes out at all her parents for keeping secrets.

Both the real housewife Glanville and the fictional character Betty Draper see the new, beautiful family unit replacing the crumbling old one.

“The family looks so happy with the good-looking husband and the children in tow,” said Kuriansky. “That would press anyone’s button.”

But, she warns, parents should take care not to suck their children into the angry vortex.

“And it’s not just mommies, but daddies, too,” Kuriansky said. “Any parent who sees another treating their children as their own would act the same way. It’s territorial and anthropological.”

“It’s normal to have the mama bear feeling,” said Kuriansky. “Anyone who gets near, you want to kill, especially if the [step-mother] is really close....But it’s always the children who suffer, because they are torn. Be careful not to use them as weapons. In a healthy environment, the parents work it out.”

As for Don and Betty Draper, tune in next week to see how their rivalries get resolved -- or escalated.

But for Glanville, she admits that she is no longer so upset with Rimes.

“We’re never going to be best friends,” she told Radar Online. “But she’s good to my kids. They love her, and that’s all I could ask for. If they didn’t like her, I’d be in court right now, fighting. It’s not about me -- it’s about them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Where Is the Love? Many Hug Pets More than Relatives

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dog owners are certainly fond of their pets, and a new survey reveals some actually hug their pooches more than their relatives and best friends.

A survey commissioned by Beneful Baked Delights found 68 percent of dog owners admitted they hug their four-legged friends more often than certain people in their lives.

Thirty percent of the dog owners surveyed say they hug their dogs more than their relatives, and 26 percent say they hug their dogs more than their best friends.  One in ten women who own dogs admit they hug their pooch more than their spouse of significant other.

Additional findings from the survey of dog owners:

  • 56 percent of dog owners say hugging their dogs makes them smile.
  • 55 percent say it makes them happier.
  • Almost 40 percent of dog owners say hugging their dog makes them forget about the stress in their life.
  • More than 60 percent of dog owners surveyed say when they hug their dog, it returns their affection.

The survey involved 482 U.S. dog owners.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Polyamory on Rise Among Divorce-Disgusted Americans

Hemera/Thinkstock(TOPANGA, Calif.) -- Jaiya Ma has a rich life -- a successful career as a sexologist, a healthy 2-year-old and two men who have sex with her. And soon, there may be another woman who will become part of this unconventional, but loving, polyamorous family.

For the last 10 years, Ma, 34, has lived with Jon Hanauer. But five years ago, she met Ian Ferguson at a dance class and fell in love.

Now, all three live together with Eamon, her son with Ferguson, at their home in Topanga, Calif.

Hanauer, 49, urged Ma to find a new lover after their relationship stalled and she fell hard for furniture designer Ferguson, who is 44. A year later, she was pregnant with his child.

Both men helped deliver Eamon in a birthing tub -- an experience Ma described as "orgasmic."

The triad lives with open communication and an even more open marriage. Both men have had affairs with other women and Ferguson has now asked to bring another woman into the family.

"Jealousy comes up," Ma admits. "But we are all fairly harmonious. We are lucky that we are all have the tools and mechanisms to deal with jealousy and communication and never play the blame game."

Polyamory -- or "many loves" -- is not common, but the practice is growing, say advocates, especially among younger Americans who have grown up with a high divorce rate.

Polyamorists believe that people have the right to form their own complex relationships with multiple partners. The most vocal want the right to marry -- as a cluster.

One of the largest advocacy groups Loving More, based in Loveland, Colo., publishes a magazine and holds conventions and retreats for the like-minded. Founded in 1985, the organization has more than 45,000 in its active database.

Just recently, Mo'Nique, an Oscar-winning American actress, discussed her open marriage with ABC's Barbara Walters.

She said polyamory is not just an excuse to have "hook up and have casual sex."

Ma and Hanauer met in 2000 during tantric yoga classes in Cincinatti, Ohio, and fell in love taking a teacher training course.

They had had open marriage, but after one hurtful relationship, Hanauer retreated emotionally, but encouraged Ma to find another lover. In 2007, she met Ferguson at a dance class and the attraction was immediate.

Divorced, Ferguson had just discovered polyamory, and after a year he showed an interest in a sexual relationship with Ma. While still discussing having children -- Hanauer was not sure he was ready -- Ma got pregnant with Ferguson's baby.

All three moved to a larger home, which Ferguson helped pay for, and together they took birth classes for a home delivery. All three sat in the birthing pool during labor.

Meanwhile, Ma's son Eamon is doing well with this unconventional setting.

"Within our family it's great," she said about three parents raising a child. "Oh, my god, it works well. It's amazing to watch."

So far, there isn't much research on how the children of polyamorous families fare, but Elisabeth Sheff, a sociologist at Georgia State University, is conducting the first large study of these children. Her work reveals that they can thrive, if their families are stable and loving.

Ma said that she does worry about society will judge her son as he gets old enough to start school. "We live in a culture that doesn't support that," she said. "And we are not anti-monogamy."

"It's a concern," said Ma. "I think often that there are so many different families today. The modern family has stepdad and gay dads and two mommies. What is family and how do we explain that to children?"

Luckily, she said, their family lives in the Los Angeles area where "there are many different kinds of families."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Yawns More Contagious Between Loved Ones

Medioimages/Photodisc(PISA, Italy) -- Yawns are more contagious between family members and friends than strangers, a new study found.

Researchers from the University of Pisa in Italy observed 109 men and women of various nationalities for up to two hours at a time in their natural settings. Each time a subject yawned, the yawns triggered in those around them were recorded.

“Our results demonstrate that yawn contagion is primarily driven by the emotional closeness between individuals and not by other variables, such as gender and nationality,” Ivan Norscia and Elisabetta Palagi reported Wednesday in the journal Public Library of Science One.

Yawns were most contagious between kin and life partners, followed by friends and then acquaintances, according to the study.

Little is known about the phenomenon known as yawn contagion. A yawn can signal fatigue, stress or boredom. And Norscia and Palagi suspect that, like a smile, a yawn is a form of empathy.

Similarly, smiles are stronger and more sustained when inspired by loved ones, according to a 2009 study of mothers and their infants.

Seeing someone yawn activates a complex network of brain regions involved in movement, sensation and emotion, according to Norscia and Palagi.

“Thus, the neural regions linked to the emotional sphere of positive affect may be over-stimulated in subjects viewing the yawn of someone they care about,” they wrote. “Such over-stimulation may ultimately lead to a potentiated yawning response.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio