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Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
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Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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Do We Matter?

"Do Parents Matter? Let Us Count the Ways." from Child Trends a non-profit, non-partisan research center.

We all know that peers, the media, early care and education, and schools affect children's development and success. Oftentimes, though, the importance of parents is neglected, or one element of parenting is emphasized to the exclusion of others. How do parents matter?
First is heredity. Scientists and new grandparents alike accept the important role of heredity. Genes have now been confirmed to affect characteristics of children ranging from their eye color and height, to their cognitive abilities and personality. Research hasn't confirmed, though, the notion of a rigid and determined distinction between heredity and environment. Rather, research indicates that genetic dispositions interact continuously with a child's environment to affect his or her development.
Another important role for parents is prenatal care. Proper nutrition, avoiding dangerous substances, rest, and good health and personal care all contribute to a healthy pregnancy. In addition, social support from the father augments the role of economic and health-related influences, and all of these good things are more likely for a planned pregnancy.

Direct parental involvement, or parenting, is another way that parents influence the development of their children. Positive parenting means providing warmth and responsiveness together with firm and consistent, but not harsh, discipline and structure, often called authoritative parenting. Engaging in cognitively stimulating activities such as talking, reading, singing, playing games and going places is sometimes over-emphasized; but these activities are important to educational success. Moreover, parents need to provide age-appropriate supervision and monitoring. In addition to providing positive parenting, parents also need to avoid negative behaviors such as excessively harsh discipline. The specifics of good parenting obviously differ for children of different ages, in different cultural contexts, and in different neighborhoods; but at all ages, warmth and positive involvement, consistent discipline, appropriate structure, and avoiding abuse and neglect contribute to good development.
Parents also need to teach values, norms, and desirable social roles and behavior; but the importance of lectures can be over-estimated. Nevertheless, children do listen to their parents, but they also respond to feelings of warmth and to what they see parents do.
Role modeling, or what parents do, represents a more subtle form of parental influence, but one that is regularly found to affect children's behaviors. Parents who smoke as well as parents who exercise set an example for their children. Parents who attend meetings at school send a message about the importance of education, while parents who eat junk food send a similar message about diet.
In addition, parents affect their children's development by selecting settings, such as their communities, schools and neighborhoods. When children are young, parents can select play groups for their children. Though this becomes more difficult for older children, it is not uncommon for parents to actively seek positive activities and environments for their children, for example, enrolling them in classes or athletic activities during their out-of-school time. Parents also help their children by staying informed about their children’s activities in other settings, for example, communicating regularly with children’s caregivers and teachers.
While others might define or describe these varied influences in different ways, the important point is that parents matter. This is true for mothers and for fathers. It is true prenatally, for preschoolers, for school-age children, and for older teens. And it is true for a variety of influences, ranging from heredity to prenatal caring, to direct interaction, to role modeling, to selecting positive settings for children. Parents matter.

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