To the White Parents of my Black Son’s Friends ~ Maralee

I’ve been wrestling with talking to you about some things I think you need to know. I’ve wrestled with it because I feel my own sense of shame– shame that I didn’t know or understand these issues before they touched my family. I’ve felt fear that you’ll respond in subtle ways that make it clear you aren’t safe for my child. I’ve been concerned that you won’t believe me and then I’ll feel more angry than if I hadn’t said anything. But my son is getting older and as he transitions from an adorable black boy to a strong black man, I know the assumptions about him will change. And I need your help in keeping him safe.

We talk to our son about safety issues. We talk to him about being respectful of police (and anyone in authority), about keeping his hands where they are visible, about not wearing his hood up over his face or sneaking through the neighbor’s backyard during hide-and-seek or when taking a shortcut home from school. We are doing what we can to find this bizarre balance of helping him be proud of who he is and helping him understand that not everybody is going to see him the way we see him. Some people are going to see him as a “thug” before they ever know his name, his story, his gifts and talents.

But here’s the thing– as much as we can try to protect him and teach him to protect himself, there may come a time when your child will be involved. As the parents of the white friend of my black son, I need you to be talking to your child about racism. I need you to be talking about the assumptions other people might make about my son. I need you to talk to your child about what they would do if they saw injustice happening.

I know that in a white family it is easy to use words like “colorblind” and feel like we’re enlightened and progressive. But if you teach your kids to be colorblind, they may not understand the uniquely dangerous situations my child can find himself in. If you tell your kids racism happened a long time ago and now it’s over and use my family as an example of how whites and blacks and browns can all get along together, you are not doing me any favors. Just because you haven’t seen obvious examples of racism in your own life doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

It is easy to think we live in a colorblind society when you don’t know that two weeks ago I was on the phone with the principal at my son’s school to discuss the racial insults he was regularly receiving from the student sitting next to him. I was thankful for how seriously the school handled that incident and we consider it a huge victory that my son felt safe telling his parents and teacher how he was being teased since many kids don’t. It is easy to think we live in a post racial society when you don’t know that a neighbor of mine called the Child Protective Services hotline to complain about my kids behaving in the exact same ways as the ten other white neighbor children they regularly play with behave (playing in the “street”– we live on a cul-de-sac–, playing in our front yard without shoes, asking for snacks from the neighbor parents- these are the actual complaints that were made). I don’t want to begin to tell you the trauma it is to former foster kids when a social worker shows up at your house to interview them and I’m afraid I haven’t yet forgiven our neighbor for bringing that on our family (although it was quickly determined to be a ridiculous complaint and there was no further action taken). The thing is, I doubt that neighbor even thinks of himself as racist, but the fact that when the white kids of the neighborhood do it it’s “kids being kids”, but when the kids of color are involved it’s got to be addressed by authorities shows the underlying bias of his assumptions. This isn’t “concern”, this is harassment.

So white parents, please talk to your kids about racism. If they see my son being bullied or called racist names, they need to stand with him. They need to understand how threatening that is and not just something to be laughed off. If your child is with my child playing soccer at the park and the police drive by, tell your child to stay. Just stay right there with my son. Be a witness. In that situation, be extra polite, extra respectful. Don’t run and don’t leave my son by himself. If you are with my son, this is not the time to try out any new risky behaviors. Whatever trouble you get into, he will likely not be judged by the same standard you are. Be understanding that he can’t make the same mistakes you can.

White parents, treat my son with respect. Don’t rub his head because you want to know what his hair feels like. Don’t speak black slang to him because you think it would be funny. If you’re thinking about making a joke that you feel might be slightly questionable, just don’t do it. Ever. Your kids are listening and learning from you even in the jokes you tell. Be conscious of what media messages your kids are getting about race. Engage in tough conversations about what you’re hearing in the news. Don’t shy away from this just because you can. He can’t. We can’t.

Be an advocate for this beautiful soul who has eaten at your kitchen table, sat next to your son at church, been at your child’s birthday party. He is not the exception to the rule. He is not protected by my white privilege for the rest of his life. He is not inherently different from any other little black boy and ALL their lives have value and worth and were created by God. I have hope that when white parents start talking about these issues with our white kids, maybe that’s where change starts.

 

http://www.amusingmaralee.com/2015/12/to-the-white-parents-of-my-black-sons-friends/

 

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What White Parents Should Know About Adopting Black Children ~ La Sha

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The biggest lesson I’ve learned since becoming a mother is that love isn’t enough.

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I loved my baby; that was the easy part. That immediate and natural love was enough for me to feel like a successful parent for the better part of the first two years of my son’s life.

It wasn’t until he began to speak well and challenge my authority that I started to realize that good parenting is a complicated recipe of equal parts love (tough and gentle), nurturing, support, protection, understanding, guidance and relatability.

As with any recipe, the ability to improvise is crucial, but an understanding of the process is paramount. So when I read the frequent stories of white celebrities adopting black children, I wonder if they realize that their desire to give a child a loving home will not be enough. I find myself at odds with happiness because a child in need will find a home where minimally, all of their financial and material needs will be met, and the reality that a “better” life for an orphaned black child means so much more than a big house, nice clothes and fancy vacations.

Adoption, regardless of racial dynamics, requires a level of patience, love and empathy, but a white person choosing to adopt a black child must first be willing to confront the passive racist views all white people hold, subconsciously or not. Going in with the mindset that this black child is no different from any other child is a naiveté the adoptive parent cannot afford, and for which the adopted child will pay. The desire to love a black child must be matched by the willingness to learn and accept the unique needs of blackness and black childhood.

“Going in with the mindset that this black child is no different from any other child is a naiveté the adoptive parent cannot afford…”

A white parent adopting a black child must first understand that no matter how much they’d like to believe that race is not real or pretend they don’t see color, that black child is dealing with the very real social ramifications of his race and color. That parent needs to recognize that the needs of that black child are different emotionally, socially, mentally and physically. That parent needs to be committed to the Herculean task of making their home, with all the subconscious subtle hostilities learned through decades of an inevitable socialization of suspicion, a space where that black child feels free from the ever-looming burden of racism.

No, adopting a black child is not an opportunity to prove you’re not racist or be heralded for wanting the undesirable and loving the unlovable. White people who adopt black children don’t deserve reverence and praise for doing the unthinkable. White parents of black children also don’t get to christen themselves black by proxy, carelessly draping themselves in the adornments of soul food, hip hop and braided hairstyles they have been brainwashed to believe encompass the entirety of blackness. And black people most certainly should not be bestowing irreproachability on these people, as if a choice to adopt a black child demonstrates an absolute commitment to being anti-racist and deconstructing white supremacy.

It means understanding and accepting that despite the notion of race as a purely social construct, there are physical differences between us. It means understanding that caring for that black baby’s hair requires educating yourself on what products and methods work best for us. It means knowing that medically, that black baby is more much more likely to have Sickle Cell. It means understanding that moisturizing his skin is much more than cosmetic.

Parenting a black child means you’re willing to take on the administration of an entire school district because they have already decided your child is a problem to be handled from his first day in kindergarten. It means not only that you buy dolls with hair and skin like hers, so she learns to embrace her own beauty, but that you are willing to check or even cut off your family members who refuse to do the work to confront their own racist beliefs. It means not only rolling out the King documentaries and Langston Hughes novels during February, but making sure that child has a library of black literature at his disposal. It means not only standing up for your child when he’s called a racial slur or harassed by cops in the neighborhood, but ensuring that black child plays and socializes with other black children regularly.

White fragility must be abandoned.

White parents must be prepared to take on challenges to their fitness to parent black babies. They must know their ego and bruised feelings will never matter as much as the well-being of that baby. Their determination must be steadfast to ensure that their black child’s relationships with white children do not become models of white supremacy, the black child conditioned to feel honored just because she’s deemed a worthy friend for a white child.

The acknowledgement of a black child’s blackness by white parents is a delicate thing. It must be constant yet never blaring. It must become effortless yet conscious. It must be broached such that the child realizes black is everything he is but not all he is. A white parent of a black child must be skilled at navigating the intricacies of that child’s racial identity such that it becomes as natural as breathing.

“No, adopting a black child is not an opportunity to prove you’re not racist or be heralded for wanting the undesirable and loving the unlovable.”

That acknowledgement, though, must not turn into an assumption of proxy blackness. It must not look like a woman who has adopted black children taking the liberty of freely dropping “nigga.” It must not be mistaken for an insider pass, providing carte blanche to adopt and appropriate black dialect and mannerisms. It must not turn into addressing that child with, “What up, son,” or other stereotypical representations of black vernacular that white people see in movies depicting black people but written by white people who know nothing about black people.

That baby’s blackness cannot be the elephant in the room. 

It should not only show up when you debut your new accessory, an orphaned black baby you rescued from poverty, on the cover of the hottest magazine. It should not be mentioned casually with a one liner about how you adopted this black baby because you fell in love with him and not because of the color of his skin. Black goes with everything, but that doesn’t extend to children.

There’s no manual for raising children. Black children are no different, but black parents raising black children have been black children. White parents of black children have been white children. The disadvantage is nearly insurmountable. The victory is never flawless. And the preparation is never enough.

This post originally appeared on The Kinfolk Kollective.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/la-sha/what-white-parents-adopting-black-children_b_8951402.html

17 Adorable Photos of Dads Doing Just About Anything for Their Daughters ~ Christen Grumstrup

1. This dancing duo 

 

2. So he was little red riding hood 

 

 

3. Twins! 

 

 

4. This trooper: 

 

 

5. This dad who got real creative 

 

He would most likely do anything for her

6. Tea Time, anyone? 

 

 

7. Or this dad who decided to brave a One Direction concert. 

 

Earplugs and all. 

8. Just playing princesses…of course. 

 

 

9. You can paint my nails while I play video games. 

 

 

10. This team… 

 

 

11. that can get through anything 

 

 

12. These two cuties getting their breakfast on. 

 

 

13. This dad who is just going with the flow. 

 

 

14. This guy taking one for the team 

 

 

15. More tea, anyone? 

 

 

16. Besties 

30 questions to ask your kid instead of how was your day ~ Sara Goldstein

When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of “how was your day?” was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) “fine.”

Come on! It’s the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?

The second day, my same question was answered, “well, no one was a jerk.”

That’s good…I guess.

I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it’s uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I’ve compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury’s out until he can organize a foot race.

Questions a kid will answer at the end of a long school day:

  1. What did you eat for lunch?
  2. Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
  3. What games did you play at recess?
  4. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  5. Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  6. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  7. Who made you smile today?
  8. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  9. What new fact did you learn today?
  10. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  11. What challenged you today?
  12. If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  13. What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  14. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  15. If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  16. Did anyone push your buttons today?
  17. Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
  18. What is your teacher’s most important rule?
  19. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  20. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
  21. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  22. If aliens came to school and beamed up 3 kids, who do you wish they would take? Why?
  23. What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
  24. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  25. What rule was the hardest to follow today?
  26. What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
  27. Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
  28. Which area of your school is the most fun?
  29. Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?
  30. Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

 

https://medium.com/synapse/30-questions-to-ask-your-kid-instead-of-how-was-your-day-26be75072f13

The Hug That Ruined My Son’s Birthday Party ~ The Good Men Project

Photo: Kidstock/Getty Images

By Allison B. Carter

He looked crushed, his open arms falling limply by his side. My son simply refused to hug him.

“Go hug him,” intense words (not from me) followed.

But my child was adamant; he did not want to hug his relative.

I stood firmly rooted in place watching the interaction and feeling uncomfortable. Seeing my son required to hug his relative felt wrong.

Much has been said on this topic already, especially in regards to girls, so I know I am not alone. But as a mom to boys, there is a surprising reason why this bothers me.

The popular, worn argument is that if kids are forced to engage in physical contact they don’t want, even if it is friendly and familiar, they are vulnerable to unwanted physical contact in later years. Leading, perhaps, to their rape and molestation.

CNN reporter Katia Hetter wrote in her powerful article from 2012, “Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago.”

Three years later, this issue is still very much on parents’ minds. Recently Everyday Feminism posted an article I have seen many times in my Facebook feed.  Writer James St. James lists seven reasons why children should never be forced to hug anyone. All of these are striving to keep children’s boundaries and their instinctive nature to protect themselves from sexual predators intact.

While the danger is higher for girls, boys are still sexually molested at a rate of 1 in 20. This scares me. This should scare all of us.

But there is a part to this that no one is talking about, one that tickles the back of my mind in the scary sleepless nights.

I don’t want my sons to learn that it is okay to force physical touch.

Let me put it this way: while I don’t my sons to be vulnerable to sexual molestation later in their lives, I don’t want them to sexually molest anyone either.

Clearly, I couldn’t imagine this actually happening. My sons are six and three. They are sweet, innocent, and honest. But I don’t think any mother anticipates a rape allegation made against her son.

During their formative years, my family and I need to model for my sons how to patiently wait for enthusiastic consent before forcing or coercing contact.

This is hard to digest. Sex and physical touch are tough topics to teach on a good day. There are things we don’t say piled on things we can’t say. There are expectations without any written rules.

In addition to how to say “no” to unwanted sexual contact, my sons must learn to wait for enthusiastic consent before they make advances on someone else. I am not teaching them this if I force them to hug someone against their will. It seems, rather, that I am teaching them that consent doesn’t matter if the physical activity is “the right thing to do.” Or, even worse, because it is “expected.”

It may seem like a far stretch from requiring my children to hug their aunts and uncles to raising sexually forceful men.

But young men are under scrutiny. They are being pushed to new standards of responsibility before they engage in sexual activities. Universities are rushing to redefine what rape means. Women who have spent years silenced are finding the burden of proof in the he-said/she-said game slightly lighter.

These newly defined standards are good and, as a woman who attended the University of Virginia and followed the recent rape story closely, I am fully supportive of this change. Yet I think of the impact this will have on my boys.

This American Life had a powerful episode wherein boys at a college fraternity were asking blunt and open questions about what “consent” really means. Posing situations to a trained female professional, the kids were asking for concrete answers as to how this new standard translated to real life situations. They didn’t receive any clarity, though, because what could happen is endless. A man can’t predict everything; he certainly can’t predict another person’s behavior.

My boys may be on a college campus someday, possibly even in a similar fraternity session, confused by the same questions. I actually feel compassion for them. The college boys recorded seemed like good men trying to get answers on a very confusing issue, trying to find a way to ensure they didn’t cross any lines.

“Consent is consent and it should be obvious,” we say. Or we say, “Your answer is to wait for enthusiastic consent.”

But those words seem hollow if we don’t ask these same boys for their consent, enthusiastic or not, during their youth. And yes, that can be as simple as waiting for their enthusiastic consent before they hug the people that love them.

To be clear, I want my boys to hug their relatives. But I want them to do it enthusiastically. I want them to hug because it is a natural extension of their love.

My hope is that this will teach them that waiting for consent is what people who love each other do.

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/the-hug-that-ruined-my-sons-birthday-party-125962401278.html

A Mom Called the Police on My 3-Year-Old Son After a Playground Accident ~ Emily McCombs

I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this. I generally prefer not to write about my son, out of respect for his privacy, and I don’t want to put myself in a legally questionable situation by writing about what happened. But it’s been several days since the incident and I’ve still got a crazy cocktail of rage, panic, and sadness churning inside my chest and I don’t know how else to get it out.

Here’s the short version: A mother called the police after my son and her daughter collided in a playground accident. That really happened. He’s 3.

The longer version is this: I was sitting on a bench, in a spot where I could see the entire circular track the kids scoot and ride their bikes around. When my son didn’t complete his lap in a timely manner, I stood up to look for him and saw him standing with a family including several children. He’s extremely social and often stops to talk and make friends, so I assumed he was just chatting with them.

A minute or so later I heard him yelling “Mommy, Mommy.” I ran over to find two children sobbing hysterically, a little girl and my son.

A woman sitting nearby volunteered, “I saw the whole thing! They ran into each other. They’re both just scared.” I gathered my son into my arms and comforted him, telling him it was OK, that it was an accident.

“I didn’t mean to knock her over,” he sobbed. He then repeatedly tried to apologize to the little girl and her mother, who ignored him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he sputtered over and over.

“Is she OK?” I asked the little girl’s mother. She told me her tooth was wiggly and bleeding. My son was still hysterical, so I picked him up and started to move to another corner to continue calming him down.

The other mother motioned to me not to leave.

“What do you want from me?” I asked her. “It was an accident.”

I didn’t mean it in a sarcastic way at all — I wasn’t sure if she wanted money, or my contact info, or in what way she expected me to help. I was (probably stupidly) prepared to do what she asked for. The last thing I expected was what she said next.

“I called the police.”

“YOU CALLED THE POLICE?” This is the point at which I have been mentally punching this woman for days now.

“Your son hit my daughter,” she said. “I called the police.”

At that moment, my internal Mama Bear rose up to her hind legs and bared her claws. “He’s 3 YEARS OLD. It was an accident,” I snarl/yelled. I have never in my life felt a sense of assertiveness so strong for my own self, but when it came to my kid, I felt an unprecedented sense of agency and strength. I knew I would stand up for my child in absolutely any way needed to protect him.

“She’s crazy,” shouted the witness. “I saw the whole thing. They ran into each other. It was a total accident.”

I asked the witness if she would stay until the police arrived, then scooped up my hysterical 3-year-old and marched to the other end of the playground, where I stewed as he asked questions like “Why did she call the police? Am I going to jail? Is the little girl OK? Is SHE going to jail?”

When the police car rolled up outside the gate of the playground area, I let the woman tell her side of the story before walking over to talk to them.

“It’s my son,” I volunteered. “He’s sitting right there, in the green helmet.”

“Look,” the police officer tried to explain to the other mother, “I can see him crying from here. It was an accident. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”

The mother, who had a shaky command of English, then leaned down to her daughter and asked her to translate to the police that “the mother” (me) hadn’t shown up for 10 or 20 minutes after the accident, which was a complete lie. I’d actually been running my stopwatch as my son went around the track so I know it hadn’t been more than 2-and-a-half minutes since he’d set out.

Again, the police explained that it was an accident and there was nothing they could do about it.

“It’s a park,” said the officer from before.”Kids are running around all over the place here.”

They offered to call an ambulance for the injured little girl, which the mother accepted. I stayed back while they loaded her in and finished their interactions.

From my vantage point I could see another family member or friend who had been with them telling her version of the story to a large crowd that had collected. From her broad “wooshing” hand gestures, I could see that she was intimating that my son was some sort of reckless danger to society on a 3-wheeler scooter. I somehow managed to not stomp over there and ask her to stop regaling the park with stories about my 3-year-old son at least until he had stopped sobbing.

When the family was on their way, I asked the police officers if they needed my information or anything. They said no. “She wanted to press charges,” he told me. I’m not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler.

“I can see the woman over there telling everyone the story…” I began.

“Yeah, he’s a maniac, right?” the police officer said winkingly, before he and his partner headed on their way.

It’s been a few days since this happened, and my son seems to be fine. He got a scare, but he’s back on his scooter and hasn’t mentioned the incident again. He’s always been very conscientious about watching out for pedestrians while on his scooter, but it can’t hurt for him to be even more so. We haven’t yet been back to the area of the park where the collision happened, but I think that’s more because of my fear than his.

Because while he’s fine, I’m not. I’m furious. And I’m scared. My black son just had his first police interaction at age 3.

I have tried to be understanding of the panic the other mother probably felt when her daughter was hurt. My son knocked his teeth back into his gums in a fight with a slide and had to be held down in the ER while he got stitches where he bit through his own tongue. I know how it feels to be scared for your injured child. I feel terrible, as did my son, for the little girl who was hurt.

It’s still hard for me to understand how a fellow mother could call the police on a sobbing 3-year-old. But I want to believe that she simply didn’t know what to do, and called the police out of fear and confusion. I even want to believe that she was trying to lay the groundwork to sue me, that she wanted money. I want to believe those things more than some things I could believe.

I’m glad the police were reasonable and straightened things out. Perhaps in this instance, it was best they were there to handle what was obviously a touchy situation. In this instance. This time.

But to be the mother of a black son is to be scared for them, constantly. Black mothers know this better than me, have known it for a long time. I am not the person to tell that story.

I don’t know if there was a racial component to what happened this time, but I can’t help but flash forward to someday when someone may wrongfully point their finger at my son again, someday when he’s not an adorable 3-year-old, someday when I’m not there to speak for him.

And I think that’s why my guts are still roiling days later, why I am still feeling emotional about an incident that everyone seems to agree was crazy, but over now. That I shouldn’t let it get to me. It got to me. I’m not over it. I wish I was.

But if nothing else, I am glad I felt that Mama Bear rise up inside me. I am glad that I knew, in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would and will always do anything, ANYTHING to protect my son. Because, unfortunately, he lives in a world where he needs a little extra protection.

A Mom Called the Police on My 3-Year-Old Son After a Playground Accident

10 Things Retirees Won’t Tell You ~ Catey Hill

(This article appeared previously on MarketWatch.) 

 

Older retired woman sitting at a table

Thinkstock

Contrary to popular belief, retirement can be a very stressful time. According to a number of studies and surveys, retirees are not all living the dream. Here are 10 things they may neglect to tell you if you ask how things are going:

1. We’re Broke

 
Each day, roughly 10,000 boomers turn 62 — the average age at which people actually retire, according to a recent Gallup poll.
 
But many of these retirees, and ones a few years older, aren’t spending their golden years traipsing around the world. In fact, quite the opposite. According to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account out-of-pocket health-care spending and government benefits like food stamps, in addition to income, roughly 15 percent of people over age 65 — that’s 6.1 million people in all — live in poverty. And nearly half are considered “near poor,” meaning that they live with incomes that are less than twice the poverty threshold.
 
Tomorrow’s retirees aren’t in much better financial shape: Among workers age 55 and older, nearly 60 percent have saved less than $100,000 for retirement, and 24 percent have saved less than $1,000, according to the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute. That’s far less than financial advisers typically recommend: For example, AON Hewitt estimates that Americans will need roughly 11 times their final working salary when they retire, so someone with a $50,000 salary would need $550,000 upon retirement to maintain his or her standard of living.

(MOREWhat Women Fear Most About Retirement)

 
That may help explain why even retirees who have retirement savings say that they rely heavily on Social Security — which pays an average monthly benefit of around $1,290. Indeed, 57 percent of current retirees consider it a major source of income, according to a recent Gallup poll (up from half in 2003); only 33 percent say that pension plans are a major source of retirement income, 24 percent say 401(k)s, 23 percent home equity and 15 percent individual stocks and mutual funds.
 
2. Retirement Is More Stressful Than It Looks
 
Retirement is supposed to be the ultimate in relaxation, with mornings spent leisurely reading the paper over coffee, afternoons hitting the links or chilling on the beach, and evenings at pleasant dinners with your spouse or watching your favorite programs.
 
But for many people, it’s just the opposite. In a study by the American Institute of Stress, out of 43 potentially stressful major life events, retirement was ranked the 10th most stressful, ranking just higher than a major change in the health or behavior of a family member (11th). The death of a spouse, something many people experience in their retirement years, ranks Number One. 
 
Only 39 percent of people who are actually retired say that it is less stressful than life was during the five years before they retired, according to a survey of more than 1,200 people 50 and older by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

(MORESecrets of Successful Retirees)

 
Studies show that money tends to be the number one stressor. In Merrill Lynch’s 2013 Family & Retirement study, “running out of money to live comfortably” was the biggest concern for members of both the Silent Generation (people aged 68-88) and boomers, followed by the worry that they are or will be a burden to their family.
 
It’s also hard for many retirees to give up working. “We get a lot of our happiness from purpose and meaning in our lives — and jobs give us that,” says Chicago psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, the author of Better Than Perfect. She adds that other retirees get stressed out by the lack of structure in their days, and some find change, even if it’s positive change, to be stressful.
 
3. We Spend Too Much Time By Ourselves
 
Roughly one in 10 people aged 65 and older report that they are severely lonely, according to a study published in 2012 in the Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied — a finding that has remained roughly constant in studies for the last few decades. Often, the lack of a career exacerbates loneliness: “We often don’t realize that our careers provide quite a bit of interaction,” says California-based psychologist Traci Lowenthal. “When retirement begins, most of those daily connections are gone.
 
People in their 80s and older tend to experience higher rates of loneliness than do younger people, other research shows, as spouses and friends pass away.

(MOREHow to End the Senior Loneliness Epidemic)

 
Worse yet, loneliness can lead to health problems and premature death. Older adults who report extreme loneliness had a 14 percent greater risk of premature death than those who didn’t, according to studies of more than 2,000 adults age 50 and older by researchers at the University of Chicago.

In a discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting this year, the researchers noted that loneliness can be twice as unhealthy for older people as obesity can, with health consequences that include disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, increases in the stress hormone cortisol, altered gene expression in immune cells, increased depression and lower overall well-being.

 
4. We’re In Denial About Our Health Problems
 
It’s an unfortunate reality of aging: our health declines as we get older. According to the Health and Retirement Study, one of the most comprehensive data sets looking at older Americans, almost half of Americans ages 55 — 64 say they are in good or excellent health, while only about a quarter of those 65 and older say the same. Among the most common ailments facing older adults are hypertension, heart conditions and arthritis, the study found, and roughly one in four people 65 to 74 and nearly one in three people 75 to 84 have two or more major health problems.
 
But even though it seems like common sense to assume that our health will deteriorate as we age, most people approaching retirement don’t believe it.

When asked “All in all, how would you say your health in retirement will be/is as compared to the five years before you retired?,” just 13 percent of pre-retirees said they expected their health would be worse in retirement, while nearly 40 percent of those who have actually retired said it was worse, according to the NPR/RWJF/Harvard study.

 
Justin Sayde, a research manager at the Harvard School of Public Health, says the result is “intriguing” and notes that “in recent decades, health and disability levels have improved in the 60-70 age group,” which may in turn lead pre-retirees to be overly optimistic about what to expect in the long run.
 
Some studies show that compared with those who keep working, retirees have worse health. A 2012 study that followed more than 5,400 men and women 50 and older over a 10-year period found that those who had retired had a 40 percent greater risk of stroke and heart attack than those who kept working — and that this effect was the most pronounced in the first year after retirement. (To be sure, other studies show a health benefit to retirement.)
 
Perhaps just as important, many retirees are having trouble getting the health care they need. According to the NPR/RWJF/Harvard survey, 13 percent of retirees say they have trouble finding quality health care and 13 percent say they had trouble seeing the doctor of their choice.
 
5. Our Health-Care Costs Are Huge
 
While Medicare covers plenty of health-care expenses for people 65 and older, it doesn’t cover everything — a fact that surprises some people, says Ethan Staats, an Atlanta-based financial adviser for Morgan Stanley. 
 
In fact, Medicare doesn’t cover longer term skilled nursing or rehabilitative care, hearing aids, eye exams and most dental care. A couple who retire at 65 need an average of $220,000 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses over the course of their retirement, according to Fidelity Investments — and that doesn’t even count the costs of having to go into a nursing home, which Medicare doesn’t cover under most circumstances. A semiprivate room in a nursing home costs a median of roughly $77,000 a year and living in an assisted living facility costs $42,000 a year, according to 2014 data from Genworth.
 
Given how little most people have saved for retirement, many retirees are likely to struggle to afford the health care they need. And some are already feeling the strain of these expenses. Nearly one in four retirees say they’ve had trouble paying for the medications that they or their spouse needed; 21 percent say they’ve had trouble paying for health insurance premiums, 21 percent for medical bills, 19 percent for long-term care and 18 percent for preventative services, according to the NPR/RWJF/Harvard survey.
 
6. We’re Coming After Your Jobs
 
The percentage of workers 65 and older who are in the labor force has risen from 11.5 percent in 1992 to 18.5 percent in 2012 and is projected to hit 23 percent by 2022, according to Census Bureau data.
 
That’s a trend that’s likely to continue as the population ages. According to a 2013 survey by AARP of 1,500 American workers ages 45 to 74, about 72 percent of older Americans say they plan to work in retirement, with 29 percent of that group saying they plan to work part-time mainly for interest or enjoyment sake, 23 percent for the income it provides and 13 percent so they can start their own business or work for themselves.
 
For some younger workers, this isn’t good news, because many employers prefer older workers. A 2012 survey of more than 500 hiring managers by HR consulting firm Adecco found that companies were about three times as likely to hire a worker 50 and older than they were to hire a millennial (defined as someone born between 1981 and 2000). Among the traits they attributed to older workers were that they were more reliable and more professional.
 
Such findings aside, age discrimination remains alive and well in the workplace. According to a study published in the journal Ageing and Society in 2011, 81 percent of workers 50 and above had encountered at least one instance of discriminatory treatment in the workplace in the previous year; other studies indicate that some hiring managers show preference to younger hires.  
 
7. We Still Get Frisky
 
This may come as a shock to the younger generation, but your grandma and grandpa likely still get it on. While men and women ages 57 to 72 have less sex than their younger counterparts, they’re still having sex. Nearly three in four men and about half of women in the age group report that they are sexually active, having sex an average of about four times a month, according to a study published in 2011 in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.
 
All that frisky behavior sometimes has negative consequences. While rates of sexually transmitted diseases are still much higher among younger than older Americans, the 55-and-over set saw an uptick in infection rates for some sexually transmitted diseases between 2007 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even HIV is becoming a problem for older Americans: 19 percent of the 1.1 million people living with an HIV infection in America are 55 or older, and 5 percent (or 2,500) of the new HIV infections in 2010 were from this age group, according to the CDC.
 
8. We’re Planning to Move In With Our Kids
 
More than 43 million adults in America care for someone 50 or older, according to the National Center on Caregiving. What’s more, the proportion of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years, according to insurer MetLife.
 
While most care recipients live in their own homes (58 percent), one in five lives with their caregiver, usually in a spare room in the home. Wherever the retiree lives, caregiving can be a financial drain on the provider, not only because the care and medications cost them thousands of dollars, but because it can impact their careers over the long-term.

For the average woman 50 or older caring for an aging parent, the amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early or reducing work hours totals $142,693 over the duration of the caregiving; for men, that number is $89,107 — and that doesn’t include their lost Social Security benefits, which in both cases total over $130,000, according to a MetLife survey.

 
Making matters worse, many caregivers take a dual financial hit, as they care both for their parents and their children. According to a 2013 survey from the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of Americans ages 40 — 59 say they have provided financial support both for a parent 65 and older and for a child within the past year; that’s up from 12 percent in 2005.
 
9. That Big Hawaii Trip? It’s More Like a Pipe Dream
 
Nearly six in 10 American retirees say that travel is one of their top two dreams for retirement, according to a 2013 study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. But while they lust after frequent trips to far-flung locales in retirement, the reality is much different for most.

About 59 percent of older workers say they plan to travel more in retirement, according to the NPR/Harvard/RWJF survey. But only 31 percent actually do so. In contrast, 34 percent of retirees say they take fewer trips than they did in the five years before retiring.

 
There are many reasons that retirees can’t just jet off to far-flung locales, including financial constraints. One in four retirees say one of the top things they’d change about their retirement is that they would have saved more for travel, the Transamerica survey revealed.

Lowenthal notes that health issues, especially those that limit mobility or cause aches and pains, may make travel “less comfortable and more trouble than it’s worth,” while others, like incontinence, are embarrassing. She also notes that spending time with grandchildren, another goal for many retirees, often competes for time and money with more ambitious travel plans.

 
10. We’re Scam Magnets
 
Each year, older Americans get bilked out of billions of dollars, thanks, in part, to scammers who take advantage of the elderly’s high rates of dementia and often poor health, which sometimes leave them less able to make smart financial decisions. A study published in 2011 by MetLife estimated that financial abuse costs older Americans at least $2.9 billion each year.
 
Most victims of such fraud are between 80 and 89, live alone and need some kind of health or personal care help from another person, the study found, and women are nearly twice as likely as men to be victims of elder financial abuse. A little over one-third of the cases of fraud were perpetrated by family, friends and neighbors. According to data released in 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission, some of the most common fraud types against people 60 and up were telemarketing scams (17 percent); fake sweepstakes, gifts and prizes (8 percent); and government impostor scams (8 percent).
 
No matter what the scam or who the victim is, one thing is clear: Financial fraud against the elderly can have life-altering, negative consequences.

The MetLife study points out that elder financial abuse “increases rates of depression among elders.” Plus, it makes people feel shame, Lowenthal says: “They feel they ‘should have known better’ or ‘shouldn’t have trusted’ the person who victimized them.” Or as Lombardo put it, becoming a victim of a scam “puts you in the mind-set of ‘I am old, frail and a victim.’” And, in turn, “whatever the label we put on ourselves, we often act as if that is real.”

 

Catey Hill is a freelance personal finance writer, who has written for Next Avenue, The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney, Worth, MarketWatch.com, Forbes.com and others.

http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2015-01/10-things-retirees-wont-tell-you?utm_source=na_socialmedia&utm_medium=na_socialmedia&utm_campaign=na_socialmedia

See why this mom’s honest breast-feeding photo got people riled up ~ Lisa Flam

Elisha Wilson Beach likes to be honest about motherhood, messiness and all.

Her truth-telling ignited an online controversy when she posted a photo of herself doing double-duty: She was seated on the toilet, pants down, and nursing her 11-month-old daughter, Nolan.

Courtesy Michael Beach

While some were appalled at the notion, it was second nature to Wilson Beach, just another part of being a mom.

“Maybe motherhood has blurred my lines,” she told TODAY. “I’ve done it so many times, I just did what I usually do.”

It happened early Saturday morning at home after she put Nolan on the bedroom floor to play while she went to the bathroom. With her 4 1/2-year-old son still asleep, she lingered in the loo and was “just enjoying the quiet moment.” But before long, Nolan found her way in the bathroom, made a mess of the cabinets and reached her mom to nurse.

Silly time! Elisha Wilson Beach goofs around with her 4-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter.Courtesy Elisha Wilson Beach

(Silly time! Elisha Wilson Beach goofs around with her 4-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter.)

Finding humor in her multitasking, Wilson Beach called her husband, actor Mike Beach, to take a photo. “I just said, ‘Hey honey, come take a look of this,'” said Wilson Beach, 35, of Los Angeles. “I thought it was a cute moment to remember. It was funny. I loved it.”

She posted the photo to “just share what motherhood looks like for me,” says Wilson Beach, who nurses on demand. “That’s my daily reality.”

“This is motherhood and it ain’t always pretty. What’s your #momtruth?” she captioned the photo on Instagram. Perhaps knowing what might be in store, she added: “#motherhood #motherhoodaintpretty#tmi #confessionsofamom #ididthat #iamnotsorry.”

As the photo went viral, many praised Wilson Beach and revealed that they too had nursed on the toilet. “Been there done that!” one woman wrote on Wilson Beach’s Instagram page.

 Elisha Wilson Beach with daughter Nolan. She believes in sharing the reality of motherhood... even when it's not so pretty.Courtesy Elisha Wilson Beach

(A more peaceful moment: Elisha Wilson Beach with daughter Nolan. She believes in sharing the reality of motherhood… even when it’s not so pretty.)

Of course, others were not so nice.

“A lot said I was disgusting or had no class and I’m a nasty cow,” Wilson Beach said. Some, she said, questioned why she would nurse in the bathroom when breast-feeding mothers are fighting against having to feed their children in public restrooms.

“There’s a big difference between my personal home bathroom and a public bathroom,” she says, adding that her bathroom is clean and saying she’s “done grosser things” — like catch her child’s vomit in her hands. (Like she said, motherhood ain’t always pretty.)

“Moms do this all the time,” Wilson Beach says. “It’s not that big of a deal. Some people think it’s disgusting. That’s fine for their choices, but a lot of moms do this.”

Actor Mike Beach defended his wife after she was criticized for posting a photo of her breast-feeding their daughter while doing her business (or trying to) on the potty.Courtesy Elisha Wilson Beach

(Actor Mike Beach defended his wife after she was criticized for posting a photo of her breast-feeding their daughter while doing her business (or trying to) on the potty.)

Her husband, who also has four older children from his first marriage, took to his Instagram page to defend his wife. Beach, 51, noted that he’s been a dad for nearly 30 years, and said his kids are all healthy and safe.

Beach, an actor who appeared in “Sons of Anarchy” and recently “The Blacklist,” told TODAY that he respects the feelings of people who thought the photo shouldn’t be publicly shared.

“But those who say Elisha is dirty, looking for her 15 minutes or an unfit mother, clearly know nothing about her,” Beach said by email. “Elisha is an incredible mom and wife! Ask anyone who actually knows her. ANYONE. My kids and I are so very lucky.”

Despite the critical comments, Wilson Beach has no regrets.

“I feel like I gave moms a voice and I feel like I encouraged them to be OK with their messy lives,” Wilson Beach says.

“I see so many moms doubting themselves or feeling judged for what they do, whether they’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, a formula-feeding mom or a breast-feeding mom,” she said. “I want moms to be confident in the choices they’re making and knowing they’re doing the best for their kids.”

Lisa A. Flam, a regular contributor to TODAY.com, is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitterhttp://www.today.com/parents/breast-feeding-mom-sparks-controversy-honest-photo-t17216?cid=par-huffpost-gravity

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