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New York to parents: Choose your job — or your kids

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

By Karol Markowicz | June 29, 2020 | 7:50pm 

Children and parents on first day of school in NYC in 2018.
Children and parents on first day of school in NYC in 2018.David McGlynn

Can Gov. Andrew Cuomo take a break from his televised pretend-victory lap, put his head together with Mayor Bill de Blasio and figure out how to open schools across the state full-time in September?

We hear a lot about “privilege” and how we have to “check” ours. But there is no one more privileged than rich politicians — with grown children and an insane amount of power to decide who can and can’t work — planning some cockamamie part-time school opening for the fall.

Recently, the city Department of Education sent a “Return-to-School Survey” to parents, asking them to rank the safety precautions they would like schools to take. The key question: “If we need to begin school next year mixing both in-person learning at school and learning at home in order to follow health and safety guidelines, please rank the scheduling options presented below from most preferred (1) to least preferred (3).”

The answer’s options included alternating weeks of in-school and online learning, sending kids to school on certain days of the week and full online-only. No full-time in-person ­option was provided.

How exactly are parents supposed to work full-time while their kids are in school part-time? Who is bringing them to and from school, only on certain days, and who is with them the rest of the time? “Let the nanny do it,” goes the unspoken diktat. If you don’t have a nanny, or other child-care help, well, that’s your problem.

Schools are realizing they wouldn’t even have enough space to implement the half-online, half-in-person plan.

As Selim Algar reported for The Post this month, a principal at PS 107 in Brooklyn has already sounded the alarm that, given the size of her school, current social-distancing protocols would force her to divide her student body into three sections, with each cohort attending in-person every third week.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza confirmed that reality and added: “I think it’s going to require all of us to be very flexible.” How reassuring.

Parents whose jobs are restarting wonder how in the world they can be that flexible. In effect, officials are forcing them to choose between their jobs and livelihoods and any hope of learning and developmental progress for their kids.

The worst part: The state and city are insisting on this — even as death and hospitalization rates continue to fall in New York, and even as we know that children are at minuscule risk from COVID-19; the death rate for those who do get it is likewise minuscule.

There are other dangers in the world that threaten children far more grievously, yet we don’t keep them locked inside. Which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics last week released a statement “strongly” urging that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

But what about the adults who work at the school, goes the counterargument. Don’t they matter? Children are not very “effective spreaders” of the disease, according to scientists. Besides, won’t adults still eventually be exposed to 100 percent of the kids as well as each other under the 50/50 plan?

This summer is already a disaster for many parents. Many day camps around the city didn’t open. The reopen directive from Cuomo either came too late for them to open for the summer, or they found the strict guidelines too onerous.

nursery room interior view

The governor’s arbitrary decisions with regard to other businesses are radiating uncertainty and chaos. Last week, he announced that many businesses in Phase Four won’t be able to open after all. Inexplicably, malls, movie theaters and gyms are being denied the opportunity to prove they can open safely. The fear among parents is that schools, also in Phase Four, will share that same fate.

New York isn’t the only place living with COVID-19. Connecticut and Massachusetts schools have announced that they’re ­reopening fully in the fall. Denmark, Israel, Austria, Norway, Australia and New Zealand have all reopened schools. Britain’s government announced last week that it will open schools and scrap any plans for the kids to socially distance.

We should be sane and follow their lead. Instead, we’re stuck with a governor who likes to play emergency executive on TV — and seems to have gotten the wrong idea about our state’s nickname. The Empire State doesn’t, in fact, have an elected emperor.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

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Survey Says Latino Parents Fear Police Violence/Encuesta Dice Que Los Padres Latinos Temen La Violencia Policial

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

By Katherine Lewin| 4 hours ago

Hundreds of Hispanic and Latino families in New Mexico have used the video of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers as an opportunity to talk to their children about racism, according to data from a survey by the research firm Latino Decisions.

The same survey found that 77% of parents worry their children might experience excessive force by law enforcement at some point in their lives and 89% of caregivers and parents agree that they can feel pain and frustration of Black communities because they have had the same experiences of excessive force with law enforcement.

At a virtual news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Gabriel Sanchez, a researcher at Latino Decisions and associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, said the survey shows “optimism” that future generations will look at tragic experiences like the death of George Floyd and “make sure they don’t have to deal with it as they age into adulthood.”

“The survey reveals that Hispanic families in New Mexico have a strong connection to the underlying issues driving this movement toward racial equality and the dismantling of structural racism,” reads an analysis of the survey. “New Mexico has a deep history with police brutality that culminated recently in the Department of Justice requiring the City of Albuquerque to reform the police force in the state’s largest city, following a report that found a majority of police-involved shootings they investigated were unconstitutional.”

The complete survey, commissioned by Partnership for Community Action, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, NM Voices for Children, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, Comunidades de Fe en Acción (CAFé) and Abriendo Puertas, interviewed 480 Latino parents, including 165 immigrant parents and caregivers of children, between June 4 and 12.

It is the most comprehensive study of the Latino population about COVID-19 in New Mexico, Sanchez said.

The main takeaways from the respondents show that Hispanic families were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 50% of Hispanic families having $1,000 or less for emergencies and 38% have used nearly all of their savings.

The group of nonprofits came together in March after the start of the pandemic in order to narrow the information gap between the government and Spanish speakers as well as come up with policy recommendations to present to local, state and federal governments, according to Javier Martinez, executive director of the Partnership for Community Alliance.

For now, that looks like the groups working with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s staff, specifically with the Human and Health Services Department, to find ways to make sure that immigrant families can access support through the state, including financially.

A group of about 50 local leaders from around the state also signed a letter sent to New Mexico senators and representatives in Congress on Tuesday morning asking them to fight for “inclusion of immigrant workers and families in future COVID-19 relief packages.”

Encuesta Dice Que Los Padres Latinos Temen La Violencia Policial

By Katherine Lewin| 4 hours ago

Cientos de familias hispanas y latinas han utilizado el video de la muerte de George Floyd a manos de los agentes de policía como una oportunidad para hablar con sus hijos sobre el racismo, según datos de una encuesta realizada por la firma de investigación Latino Decisions.

La misma encuesta encontró que el 77% de los padres temen que sus hijos puedan experimentar fuerza excesiva por parte de la policía en algún momento de sus vidas y el 89% de cuidadores y padres están de acuerdo en que pueden sentir dolor y frustración en las comunidades negras porque han tenido las mismas experiencias. de fuerza excesiva con la policía.

En una conferencia virtual de prensa el martes por la tarde, Gabriel Sánchez, investigador de Latino Decisions y profesor asociado de ciencias políticas en la Universidad de Nuevo México, dijo que la encuesta muestra “optimismo” de que las generaciones futuras verán experiencias trágicas como la muerte de George Floyd y “se aseguren de que no tengan que lidiar con eso a medida que se transiciona a la vejez”.

“La encuesta revela que las familias hispanas en Nuevo México tienen una fuerte conexión con los problemas subyacentes que impulsan este movimiento hacia la igualdad racial y el desmantelamiento del racismo estructural”, se lee en un análisis de la encuesta.

“Nuevo México tiene una historia profunda con brutalidad policial que culminó recientemente en el Departamento de Justicia que exigió a la Ciudad de Albuquerque reformar la fuerza policial en la ciudad más grande del estado, luego de un informe que encontró que la mayoría de los tiroteos investigados en los que se involucró la policía eran inconstitucionales . “

La encuesta completa, comisionada por Partnership for Community Action, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, NM Voces para Niños, El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos, Comunidades de Fe en Acción (CAFé) y Abriendo Puertas, entrevistó a 480 padres latinos, incluidos 165 padres inmigrantes y cuidadores de niños entre el 4 y el 12 de junio.

“Es el estudio más completo de la población latina sobre COVID-19 en Nuevo México”, dijo Sánchez.

Las principales conclusiones de los encuestados muestran que las familias hispanas se vieron muy afectadas por la pandemia de COVID-19, con casi el 50% de las familias hispanas con $ 1,000 o menos para emergencias y el 38% han utilizado casi todos sus ahorros.

Los grupos de organizaciones sin fines de lucro se reunieron en marzo después del inicio de la pandemia para reducir la brecha de información entre el gobierno y los hispanohablantes, así como para formular recomendaciones de políticas para presentar a los gobiernos locales, estatales y federales, según Javier Martínez, director ejecutivo de la Alianza para la Alianza Comunitaria.

Por ahora, se parece a los grupos que trabajan con el personal de la Gobernadora Michelle Lujan Grisham, específicamente con el Departamento de Servicios Humanos y de Salud, para encontrar formas de asegurarse de que las familias inmigrantes puedan acceder al apoyo a través del estado, incluso financieramente.

Un grupo de unos 50 líderes locales del estado también firmó una carta enviada a los senadores y representantes de Nuevo México en el Congreso el martes por la mañana pidiéndoles que luchen por “la inclusión de los trabajadores inmigrantes y sus familias en los futuros paquetes de ayuda de COVID-19”.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

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School’s Out. Parental Burnout Isn’t Going Away

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

The majority of parents “have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”

Credit…Kati Szilagyi
Jessica Grose

By Jessica Grose | June 23, 2020 Updated 1:16 p.m. ET

Here in New York, there are three days left in the school year. While my family limps toward the finish line — the children are taking their Zoom classes flopped on the couch, and my husband and I are exhausted by the daily meltdowns over “realistic fiction writing” and Popsicle-stick boats that won’t float — we are even more overwhelmed by what’s to come: A summer without regular professional child care or camp to occupy our 7- and 3-year-olds, while we continue to work full time.

My husband and I moved in with my parents in May, so we would have some kind of child care support. But after a month of part-time babysitting, my parents, who are in their 70s, are starting to burn out, too. While I know that we’re lucky and privileged to still have jobs, and to have healthy parents with space for us in their home, I try not to think more than a week ahead. Otherwise, I ruminate on the distinct possibility that we will continue remote learning in the fall, and then begin to despair at how unsustainable our arrangement is for the long run.

My colleague Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece about how parents were burning out in April.

person walking holding brown leather bag

Now it’s June. And the stress and exhaustion are not going away. Finding summer child-care coverage has always been difficult and expensive, making it out of reach for many families. But this summer, that juggle feels impossible.

As states open up and more and more parents are called back to work, many are finding that their day care centers are still closed and may be at risk of never reopening. Even when child care is available, many parents are anxious about sending their children back into an environment where they are potentially at risk of contracting coronavirus. Millions of parents are losing their jobs either temporarily or permanently. Lower-income, black and Hispanic parents have been disproportionally affected by job loss, and they are anxious about meeting their children’s basic needs.

A survey called “Stress in the Time of Covid-19,” conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association from April 24 to May 4, found that 46 percent of parents with children under 18 said their stress level was high, compared with 28 percent of adults without children.

The A.P.A. did a second survey from May 21 to June 3 that found while 69 percent of parents were looking forward to the school year being over, 60 percent said they were struggling to keep their children busy, and 60 percent said they “they have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”

nursery room interior view

At some point, we are going to have to actually talk about childcare. Just you know – folks are still working from home with their kids and it’s still impossible.

Robin G. Nelson, an associate professor of anthropology at Santa Clara University and the mom of an 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, is burned out both personally and professionally.

“The days are packed and incredibly monotonous, and I am not productive,” she said. Her husband is also a professor, and she has child care help two days a week from her mother-in-law. Their schedules are fairly flexible — in general, he watches the kids in the morning while she works, then they swap after lunch. But it leaves them with a truncated work day in a house with two noisy kids, and the stressors accrue over time.

When the pandemic began, Dr. Nelson was not concerned about its impact on her own children’s mental health, but as it drags on, she worries about her 8-year-old especially. “It’s hard keeping him happy, motivated, and OK since school ended,” she said, because he no longer gets to see his friends and teachers (even virtually) on a regular basis.

Dr. Nelson, who I have known for more than a decade, studies child development and child health outcomes. “People are always raised by a network of adults and support systems,” including extended family, teachers, coaches and community members, she said. “That network of adults and caretakers is essential for every kid, everywhere.”

Now that network has become even more frayed for many families since school ended. Dr. Nelson worries that the most vulnerable parents are already suffering from this lack of social support, since many low-income children have not been able to access distance learning, so have not seen their teachers, caregivers and friends since March.

It’s worth noting that “parental burnout” is a distinct psychological phenomenon that is separate from parents feeling generally stressed and exhausted. To get a diagnosis of parental burnout, you need the following four symptoms: You feel so exhausted you can’t get out of bed in the morning, you become emotionally detached from your children, you take no pleasure or joy in parenting, and it is a marked change in behavior for you.

grayscale photo of woman right hand on glass

Dr. Moïra Mikolajczak, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain, surveyed 1,300 French-speaking parents in Belgium about burnout during the pandemic, and said that parents who tended to have more symptoms of burnout were confined with very small children or teenagers, or had children with special needs.

In the United States, black parents are facing additional stressors this summer because of racial discrimination. According to the A.P.A study, 55 percent of black Americans cited discrimination as a source of stress in June, up from 42 percent in May.

Dr. Nelson said that the stress on her as a black mom in the wake of George Floyd’s death has been twofold: She has had to witness her son’s fear for his own safety, and, as an underrepresented minority in her field, she’s also been tasked with doing extra work on behalf of diversity and inclusion efforts professionally.

“It’s always too much, but it feels extra heavy with Covid, because we know black and brown people are dying of Covid,” she said. “If you’re going through a moment where your group is being targeted explicitly in public, and you have any access at all to move the needle, it doesn’t feel responsible to opt out.”

While Dr. Nelson is mindful of her own mental health, “I don’t feel like I’m in the best place to make the change I want to make because I’m already worn thin,” she said.

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, said that the stresses placed on black parents are unique and can feel overwhelming. She advised that all parents, but in particular black parents, can “take a critical eye at the multiple demands being placed on you at the moment. Consider which of those are serving you and your family, and which demands you can step away from.”

grayscale photo of 3 men and 2 women smiling

If your kids are not at camp or day care, all of the experts I spoke to said that having some kind of structure to the day is essential, but that structure doesn’t need to feel confining. Nina Essel, a licensed social worker and parent coach based in New Jersey, said that schedules work best when the whole family has similar expectations.

Essel suggested sitting down together and dividing activities into three categories: Nonnegotiables; things you want to see happen; and things you would like to see happen. Though all families have different priorities, in my house a nonnegotiable is that the kids go outside for at least an hour every day, weather permitting. Something I want to see happen is my kids doing something vaguely academic a couple of times a week. Something I’d like to see happen is that my kids make their own lunches. If you have older kids, you can include them in this decision-making, and break out the sticky notes to write down different activities and rearrange them according to family priorities.

Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that “forcing your brain to think about some of the positives, no matter how small they are,” can help ameliorate burnout. A way to feel more effective is to keep a journal where every night you write down one thing you did well as a parent.

The A.P.A. data suggest that American parents aren’t all miserable, all the time. Eighty-two percent of parents surveyed said they were grateful for the extra time with their kids during the shutdown. Dr. Mikolajczak’s survey of Belgian parents showed that for 30 percent of fathers and 36 percent of mothers stress and exhaustion actually decreased, as parents got to spend more quality time with their children without the pressure of a packed schedule. With pride in her voice, Dr. Nelson described her son doing anthropological digs, clearly finding joy in his explorations. “He’s in the backyard constantly, finding an artifact every day — ‘I think this is bone, this is glass.’”

Dr. Lakshmin said that parents in general, but mothers, especially, should not just consider the risks of the coronavirus, but also the risks to their mental health when it comes to making decisions about finding child care. “When women think about this, we’re so conditioned to put ourselves second and to only think about the risks involved with the virus,” she said. “You really have to actively force yourself to think about, what are the risks for myself from a mental health standpoint? What are the risks to my values?” It’s never an easy calculus.

The camp that Dr. Nelson’s children usually go to is currently open, though she and her husband don’t feel comfortable sending them just yet. They’re waiting to see how the camp handles its first few weeks — whether it is being cleaned rigorously, and whether it is keeping its campers and counselors safe.

“If you send them, you understand you’re putting your family and yourself and the teachers at higher risk,” she said. “Still, I don’t know how we make it through the summer without anything.”

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Paula M Naranjo

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Black Americans homeschool for different reasons than whites

By Mahala Dyer Stewart Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College. | June 1, 2020 8.31am EDT

When Michelle, a white stay-at-home mom, decided to homeschool her 8-year-old daughter, Emily, the decision was driven by what she saw as the lack of individualized attention at school.

“We wound up feeling frustrated that the school wasn’t following the child,” Michelle, a former communications specialist, explained of the decision by she and her husband, a software engineer, to homeschool their daughter.

She described her daughter as “exceptionally gifted” and said after repeated attempts to get her daughter’s school to provide advanced coursework, “it just felt like so much energy that I might as well do this thing myself.”

Michelle’s decision to homeschool stands in stark contrast to that of Lynette, a black mother who told me her son, Trevor, was 7 when he started having a hard time in school.

“I don’t want to say that it was bullying but that’s what it kind of ended up being and it wasn’t from students,” Lynette explained. “It was from teachers.”

“He’s 7 but he looks like he’s 10,” Lynette continued. “And they kind of acted like they were afraid of him. He’s never acted out violently but they made it sound like he was going to.”

Like Michelle, Lynette grew tired of making visits to her child’s school, but for a different reason.

“I just didn’t want to have to keep going to the principal’s office,” Lynette recalled during an interview at a cafe in the suburbs of a Northeastern city. “I’m like ‘you’re really targeting my kid for no reason because he’s the second biggest kid in the school.’”

Motives differ

The sharp contrast between Michelle and Lynette’s reason for homeschooling their children is common.

As a sociologist who has interviewed dozens of homeschooling parents, I’ve found that whereas most white parents homeschool to make sure their children get an education more tailored to their needs and talents, most black parents homeschool to remove their children from what they see as a racially hostile environment.

Now that schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families of all racial, ethnic and class backgrounds have been forced to spend more time educating their children at home, or at least making sure their children do whatever work the school has assigned.

It is unclear as to whether schools will reopen in the fall. It is also unclear how homeschooling – or at least the ability to oversee at-home learning – will be impacted by the pandemic. Based on existing research and data, I don’t see why reasons that parents previously decided to homeschool – whether they are black or white – will change or disappear. However, concerns about sending their children back to school amid the pandemic could become an additional reason.

Black students disciplined more

There is no shortage of research to support the view that America’s public schools treat black students more harshly than their white peers.

For example, a study by sociologists Edward Morris and Brea Perry found black boys are twice as likely as white boys to receive disciplinary action such as office referral, detention, suspension or expulsion. The same study found black girls are three times as likely as white girls to be disciplined for less serious and arguably more ambiguous behavior, such as disruptive behavior, dress code violations or disobedience.

The middle-class black mothers I interviewed say that despite their college education, salaries and advocacy on behalf of their children, they were unable to protect their children from the racial hostilities at school. The black families I spoke with told me they chose to homeschool only after they tried in vain to address discriminatory discipline practices at their children’s schools.

Money matters

Though the reasons why families chose to homeschool varies by race, I and other researchers have found that homeschooling is more common among two-parent households where one parent is the breadwinner and the other – most often the mother – educates the children. Homeschooling parents are also most often college-educated. One 2013 study found that among the 54 black homeschooling families interviewed, 42 of the families had one parent with at least a college degree, while many (19) also had graduate degrees.

If the ability to work from home makes it possible to homeschool, although incredibly challenging, data also suggest that homeschooling is more likely among families with higher incomes. That’s because the ability to work from home is largely tied to income. Federal labor data show that in 2017 and 2018, 61.5% of workers in the top income quartile could work from home. For workers in the second highest quartile, 37.3% could work from home. But for those in third and fourth highest income quartiles, only 20.1% and 9.1%, respectively, could work from home.

If reducing the risk of exposing their children to COVID-19 becomes a reason to homeschool this fall, these data would suggest that more well-to-do families are in a better position to see that their children are educated at home. By contrast, low-wage workers are less likely to easily exercise this choice. Some scholars speculate that this will lead to more well-off families deciding to continue their children’s learning at-home as a way to avoid virus exposure.

Future growth?

The percentage of U.S. children who are homeschooled rather than attending public and private schools was rising before the pandemicBetween 1999 and 2016, the percentage of the school age population who were homeschooled doubled from 1.7% to 3.3%, or close to 1.7 million students.

Black homeschoolers account for roughly 8% of this population, up from an estimated 4% in 2007. The 8% in 2016 represents 132,000 black homeschooling kids, according to the NCES data.

In 2017, black kids made up 15% of public school students, or 7.7 million kids of the roughly 50.7 million public school kids that year.

2019 federal report shows parents homeschool for a variety of reasons. Just 16% of homeschool families report moral or religious instruction as the primary reason for homeschooling, while 34% report their primary reason is concern with school environment. This report does not document how reasons vary by race. Yet my study would suggest that black parents, like Lynette, may be dissatisfied with school environment in very different ways than white parents, like Michelle.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

Alia E. Dastagir USA TODAY | Published 8:45 a.m. ET May 31, 2020

Should we tell the children? How?

Those are among the many questions parents are asking after the recent deaths of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Many white parents wonder whether to talk with their kids at all, while parents of color swallow their  grief and fear to have “the talk” once again.

These deaths are part of a more complex story, one some parents have been telling for generations, and others have long felt they’ve had the luxury to ignore. But experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have, and they underscore that there are developmentally appropriate ways to talk to children of all ages about racism and police brutality.

“Silence will not protect you or them,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. “Avoiding the topic is not a solution.”

Racism persists, experts say, because many parents avoid difficult conversations.

A child holds an American Flag as protestors march through the streets on May 29, 2020, in St Louis, Missouri.

“One of the most important things to remember is that you may not have all the answers and that is OK,” said Erlanger Turner, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies mental health among racial communities. 

USA TODAY spoke with Tatum and Turner about how to talk with children about racial violence:

Why is it important to talk with children about what happened to George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality or racism in the news?

Beverly Daniel Tatum: Even young children may see or hear about highly publicized incidents like the George Floyd case – perhaps overhearing the TV or the radio –  and may ask questions. Or if parents are upset by the news, the child may perceive the parent’s distress and ask why mom or dad is upset. In either case, an age-appropriate explanation is better than silence. Older children with Internet access may see online images on their own. Initiating an age-appropriate conversation can give children a helpful frame for understanding difficult realities. If parents are silent, children will draw their own often faulty conclusions about what is happening and why.

Erlanger Turner: Many adults are hurt and angered by these events and their children may notice changes in their mood. It is helpful to have a healthy conversation around what happened and also talk about ways to cope when you witness social injustice. 

Does COVID-19 warrant avoiding these conversations, given many children are already struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty? 

BDT: No. Not talking about upsetting events only fuels fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Being able to talk about something with a supportive adult can reduce fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Parents may avoid the conversation because they don’t know what to say, but it is a mistake to think that their silence is helpful.Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.

ET: I don’t think that anxiety and fear about COVID-19 should stop a parent from talking about police brutality. This issue has been increasing in concern over the last few years as the number of black and brown people killed by police continue to rise. I think if you do talk with your child don’t leave them in a high state of worry. Make sure to end the conversation by engaging in a pleasant activity after the difficult discussion so they won’t stay worried or afraid. 

How do parents start these conversations and how does that change depending on the age of their children?

ET: I think the first place to start a conversation around racism and police brutality is with honesty. Take ownership of your feelings and be comfortable sharing those feelings with your child. Then you can begin to allow them to share what they may already know about racial differences. I think that it is always good to allow children to share their opinion and understanding before you offer information.

For younger children conversations about racism should be limited to basic facts about how people are treated differently due to the color of their skin but also acknowledge that not everyone treats people differently based on race. For older teens, parents can consider exposure to news or social media posts as discussion points about this issue. 

BDT: Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the reality of racism, or unfairness, with messages about the possibility of change, and the community of allies who are working together to make things better.

If a child of color asks if a police officer is going to kill them, what do you say?

BDT: The answer will depend on the age of the child.  If it is a young child, a parent can be reassuring.  “No, honey, you don’t have to worry about that. Police officers don’t want to hurt you.”

In response to an older child, it can be reassuring to say something like: “I know that it is scary to think that something like that might happen, and I really don’t want you to worry about anything like that. I know that most police officers want to help people, and most police officers never fire their guns. But sometimes they do get nervous and make mistakes. So it is important for you to know what to do if a police officer ever stops you…”

Black parents often refer to this as “the talk” they have to have with their adolescent sons to increase the odds they will survive an encounter with a police officer if and when they are stopped.

ET: That is a tough question. Depending on the age of the child, they may have some awareness of youth that have been killed by police. Obviously you don’t want to respond in a way that is going to make children be more fearful for their safety. In my opinion, I think that you should let children know that most police officers work to protect them and their community. 

people in blue shirts and white hat standing on street during daytime

If a child says they are afraid or angry, what do you say?

BDT: Acknowledge the child’s feelings. The parent may have similar feelings. “I know it’s upsetting to hear about and see these things happening. It upsets me too when bad things like this happen. Racism is very unfair. But it makes me feel better to know there are lots of people who want to change things.” Being able to offer specific examples of community change agents would be useful. Being able to talk about what family members are doing to speak up against unfairness is especially useful. Actions always speak louder than words.

ET: If a child tells you that they are angry, that is appropriate. Don’t force them to hide their emotional expression. However, be sure to help them identify ways to express their anger in a healthy manner which may include journaling or exercising to release the energy from their body. 

If a child is afraid for one of their friends, what do you say?

BDT: “I can see that you are worried about your friend. What do you think we could do that might help him or her?” Depending on the situation, this could be an opportunity to talk about what it means to be an ally, and how to stand in solidarity with another person.

ET: If a child is afraid for one of their friends, talk with them about those emotions. Allow the child to express why they may be afraid and help them identify how they can check on their friend’s safety to ease their anxiety or fear. Part of what increases anxiety is the fear of the unknown. If you have a plan of action it will reduce some of those fears. 

How can parents talk about law enforcement in a way that is honest but also doesn’t discourage children from seeking help from law enforcement when appropriate?

BDT: Most police officers become police officers because they want to help people. And there are times when we would really want a police officer to help us – give some examples – if there’s been a car accident, or if someone took something that belonged to us, etc. But sometimes a police officer does something bad, like today. When that happens, we might start to think that all police officers are like that.  But it’s important to remember that that is not true.

ET: I think that it is very important to talk with the children about law enforcement. For example, you can talk with them about how they protect rules in society such as making sure that people don’t drive too fast so they won’t harm themselves or others. Providing clear examples about the ways that law enforcement helps society will allow the child to better understand. You can also be honest about situations such as police brutality and let children know that some police officers break laws. If you have a trusted officer in your community it may be good to also allow the child to talk with them in person to reduce their fear.  

Should these conversations be different depending on the race of the child?

BDT: Children of color are likely to experience racist encounters as they get older.  They need to be helped to understand their own worth and feel affirmed in their identity as young people of color despite the negative messages they may get from others.  Parents of color want to raise self-confident and empowered children who are not demoralized by other people’s racism. This requires lots of conversation about racism and how to resist it in an ongoing way throughout their children’s lives.

White children are often racially isolated as a consequence of segregated schools and neighborhoods, and consequently limited in their understanding of people different from themselves.  White parents who want to interrupt the cycle of racism must learn to talk to their children about it and model their own anti-racist activity.

ET: According to research, white parents often don’t talk with their children about race or may emphasize “not seeing color.” The concept of colorblindness or “not seeing color” is more harmful than helpful and does not honor an individual’s identity. … For white families, research suggests … conversations should focus on raising anti-racist children and encouraging more friendships with children from others races.

Many of these deaths garner attention because footage of it goes viral. What should we say if our child asks to see it? 

BDT: There are many adults who don’t want to see such footage. I would not show it to a child at all. Once an image is in your head, it is very difficult to get it out. That said, it is reasonable to describe what happened and talk about why it was wrong. It is also likely that children with Internet access can view the footage without an adult’s permission or assistance. Talking about it after the fact will help children process their feelings.

ET: You should not show your children these videos as it may increase the likelihood of them experiencing symptoms of trauma or having nightmares. What we know from research on witnessing disasters is that individuals may be at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder even through indirect exposure to these events. 

What do we say if, in the course of this conversation, a child says something racist?

BDT: Inquire about it with curiosity, not judgment. “I’m wondering why you said that…”  After hearing more about what the child is thinking, you can offer correction by providing new information. “You know, a lot of people might think that is true, but I don’t because….” 

ET: I think the first thing to do is to not get defensive. You want to foster open communication with your child. However, I think you should explore why they have that opinion, where did they learn it from, and tell them why what they said was wrong. It might be helpful for you as a parent to think about ways that you may have unconsciously expressed racist attitudes. 

How can parents explain the uprisings in a way that doesn’t condone violence but also doesn’t minimize the sense of injustice fueling them?

BDT: Children understand the concept of unfairness as well as the experience of frustration. Years and years of unfairness – racism – results in intense anger and frustration. The conversation can then be about what we must do to fix the continuing unfairness.

ET: I think it is important for parents to be honest. Share your hurt, anger, or disappointment with your child. You should also talk about different ways to protest social injustice such as calling your local politicians office or even visit their office to talk with them about policy change to reduce injustice. 

Resources for parents

Another Georgetown Parent Pleads Guilty To Fraud In College Admissions Scandal

Natalie Delgadillo | MAY 27, 3:06 PM

The federal government is recommending a 10-month prison sentence for the parent as well as a year of probation and a $40,000 fine.

Another Georgetown parent has pleaded guilty in the nationwide college admissions scandal that was unveiled last year and sent shockwaves through the country.

But unlike other parents involved in the case, 61-year-old Pennsylvanian Robert Repella wasn’t part of the wide-ranging scheme helmed by Rick Singer, the admitted mastermind of the fraud operation that helped wealthy and well-connected parents get their children into selective U.S. colleges. Instead, federal prosecutors said Tuesday, Repella engineered a bribe directly, paying Georgetown’s then-tennis coach Gordon Ernst $50,000 to recruit his daughter to the school’s tennis team.

The government is recommending a 10-month prison sentence for Repella as well as a year of probation and a $40,000 fine. “I sincerely regret and take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine and mine alone,” Repella said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “My family, and most importantly, my daughter, knew nothing about this. A Georgetown University review determined that the academic and athletic qualifications my daughter submitted in her application were factual and truthful and she remains a student in good standing at Georgetown.”

Ernst, the tennis coach, is also a defendant in the case, but he’s pleaded not guilty. Ernst allegedly accepted bribes to help at least 12 students earn admission to Georgetown as tennis recruits, even though some of them didn’t play the sport competitively. The university has said it didn’t know that Ernst was doing anything illegal; however, administrators fired him in 2018 after an internal investigation “discovered irregularities in the athletic credentials of students who were being recruited to play tennis.” (Georgetown still gave Ernst a recommendation for his next job.)

Last May, Georgetown dismissed two students whose parents were allegedly involved in the scheme. The father of one of those students, Stephen Semprevivo, also pleaded guilty in the case, as did a California woman named Karen Littlefair, and parents Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez.

Prosecutors charged a different Georgetown parent in the case just last week. Also last week, American actress Lori Laughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer—two of the most famous defendants in the investigation—pleaded guilty in the matter after maintaining their innocence for more than a year. Officials nicknamed the investigation “Varsity Blues.”

Poll reveals half of parents unconvinced that school is safe for their children’s return

Michael Savage | Sun 24 May 2020 02.41 EDT

Teachers’ union leader warns situation ‘untenable’ as health officials say track and trace system has been left too late

An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester.
 An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Parents are divided over the prospect of sending their children back to school, a new poll has revealed, as parent groups warned that mixed messages and poor communication had caused widespread anxiety about returning.

With school leaders still grappling with the practicalities of reopening primary schools for some year groups in just a week’s time in England, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents feel anxious about the prospects of returning.

Primary schools have been instructed to prepare to bring back reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as their early years provision. However, councils of all political colours have suggested they will not follow the advice, while Welsh and Scottish schools will wait to reopen.

There are now also concerns that the return of pupils has become such a chaotic issue that it could worsen the attainment gap between affluent and poor areas and families. Some teaching unions have suggested the families of vulnerable children have been more reluctant to see them return to school. David Laws, the former education minister who now oversees the Education Policy Institute, said that a widening divide was a “significant risk”

John Jolly, chief executive of the parent group Parentkind, said there was confusion about the reopening of schools. “Parents are looking for certainty,” he said. “Some want the certainty of saying schools are safe and we’re going back. Some want the certainty of keeping children out of school until there is a vaccine, which may reflect families with underlying conditions. Then you have other parents that want a clear timeline.

“Parents are not convinced about messages around schools being safe. They are not sure about that message from the government, or that the evidence for that is being communicated. There is a lot of uncertainty about the message being communicated by schools locally.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned the situation on the ground was now “chaotic and increasingly untenable”. “Not only are school leaders having to think about how to reopen schools, but how they convince parents that their children should go back, and organise the school site. Then they don’t know how many staff they will have. Schools are vital for society. But they have to be safe.”Advertisement

However, professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said schools should be allowed to reopen. “Covid-19 generally barely affects children and young people and actually we’ve shown that they are about half as susceptible,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “There is no doubt in my mind for children themselves, the balances are clearly in favour of going back to school.” He said the risks to family and the community could be managed with an effective track and trace system and a phased return.

While a working track and trace system is seen as necessary for rules around schools and other parts of the lockdown to be loosened, several local government sources warned that councils were now facing a race against time. There have been complaints that local public health officials have been sidelined during the pandemic, despite their expertise. They are now being drafted in as part of several pilots of the track and trace system, but insiders warn they now face huge time pressures.

Professor Donna Hall, head of the New Local Government Network, said: “At the beginning of March, public health directors were quite rapidly cut out of the national pandemic response. They are there for all aspects of public health, working on things like HIV, hepatitis, pandemic flu. Disease control is their job. They are highly skilled … but they’ve been cut out in quite a strange way.

“Other countries have deployed local resilience forums for testing and tracing. A national contact centre is never going to get to the granular detail you need for contact tracing. I’ve been out with the people who do it – they are forensic. You won’t get that through an app. It is people on the ground, observing how a disease spreads. It could be from a petrol pump or a salt shaker. That’s the kind of detail needed.

“They may be piloting things, but we’ve left it really late for that. Not giving local government a big role is foolish and dangerous.”

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Judge demands ICE better explain why it won’t release 350 parents, children

By Nomaan MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

Doctors and others protest conditions that detainees being held by ICE face outside of the Broward Transitional Center, during the COVID-19 crisis, May 1, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)HOUSTON — A federal judge on Friday criticized the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children and families, ordering the government to give the court detailed information about its efforts to quickly release them in the wake of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on Friday ordered the U.S. government to better explain why it hasn’t released some of the approximate 350 parents and children in three family detention centers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has come under fire for allegedly asking parents in custody if they would allow their children to be released without them.

Parents at all three facilities — one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas — were called into short meetings and asked if there were sponsors available to care for their children, lawyers who represent the families reported that late last week. They were then asked to sign a form.

ICE has declined to release the form.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

While some parents reported slightly different details, the lawyers said they broadly believed they were being asked to choose between staying in custody with their children or letting their children leave.

“They were asking mothers to separate from their 1-year-old infants to go to a sponsor that perhaps had never even met or known the child,” said Bridget Cambria, executive director of the group ALDEA, which represents families at the ICE detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration again faced allegations that it is trying to separate immigrant families as part of an overall border crackdown. The separation of immigrant families drew bipartisan condemnation in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on southern border crossings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused advocates of making “misrepresentations” and says it remains in compliance with President Donald Trump’s June 2018 executive order intended to stop family separation. In a statement Thursday, the agency said the form was used as part of a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.

“The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor,” the agency said. “To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles – and their parents – in custody … to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.”

In court papers filed May 15, the government noted more than 170 times that it had refused to release children currently in detention because the “parent does not wish to separate.” It labeled many children as flight risks without providing more specifics.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

On Friday, Gee called on the government and advocates to devise a new process to determine whether families could be released.

Gee oversees a court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which controls how the U.S. is supposed to treat migrant children in its custody.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has imposed an effective ban on the entry of families and children seeking asylum. It has expelled hundreds of children within a few days of their crossing the border with Mexico instead of turning them over to government facilities designed to care for them, as normally required by federal law.

The agency says it releases most families from its detention centers within 20 days, the general limit under the Flores settlement for holding children in a secure facility.

But many families currently in custody have been detained for months, some since last year.

Advocates contend that ICE should release all families from detention especially as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through immigration detention, with more than 1,100 people contracting COVID-19 and a positive test rate of about 50%. At ICE’s largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas, the detainees include a child with epilepsy, a 1-year-old with breathing problems, and several children with heart murmurs, according to Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal group Proyecto Dilley.

ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.

The Trump administration is also currently appealing Gee’s order last year stopping it from terminating the Flores agreement.

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Divorcing and Becoming a Contented Single Parent: 6 Stages

From marital discord to satisfying single parenting: 274 life stories

Posted May 23, 2020 | Belle DePaulo, Ph.D.

What is it like to go from being a married parent sharing a home to a divorced single parent who is working and caring for the kids and who is the only adult in the household? To find out, University of Antwerp researchers Dries Van Gasse and Dimitri Mortelmans, with the help of trained students, interviewed 274 Belgian single parents, in person.

Each person’s experience was unique, yet a set of commonalities emerged, too. Getting divorced and becoming a single parent was a process, which typically unfolded in six stages. Van Gasse and Mortelmans described their findings in “Reorganizing the single-parent family system: Exploring the process perspective on divorce,” first published online in March 2020 in Family Relations.

All 274 single parents worked at least part time and had at least one child younger than 18 who lived with them at least half the time. All stayed single rather than repartnering. Most were single mothers, though 19% were single fathers. The single parents ranged in age from 25 to 63. Their divorce had occurred between 1 and 25 years previously.

The 6 Phases of Divorcing and Becoming a Contented Single Parent

In Belgium, divorce has become more commonplace in the past three decades, following important legal reforms. Because of successful economic redistribution, single parents there have low rates of poverty. Nonetheless, dual-earner couples are the norm, and “families in which one parent has responsibility for both the income and the family duties still have difficulties in attaining the same standard of living as other families.”

Phase 1: Initial Contentment and Decline

The process of divorcing begins when happily-ever-after doesn’t seem so happy anymore. Contentment with the marriage begins to erode, and tensions rise.

Those who are judgmental about divorce like to claim that people don’t take divorce seriously enough. Van Gasse and Mortlemans found that none of the 274 people in their research fit that description. Most struggled with the process and took some time to decide to dissolve the marriage.

A 40-year-old woman who had been single for two years said:

“When I thought about being in this situation for another 20 years, I became totally depressed…On the other hand, …you don’t decide such things in a hurry. For me, it took six years…”

The transition to single parenting begins when a definitive decision is made to end the marriage.

Phase 2: Drive Toward Transition

Even if the marital relationship had been a troubled one for a very long time, the initial transition to single parenting can be jolting. The intensity of emotions during the early phase after the split depends on many factors, including the reasons for the divorce, the way the ex-partners relate to each other, the reactions of the children, and the support they all have in their new lives.

Also important is the way the decision to divorce was made. On one end of the spectrum are unilateral decisions that are kept secret until the moment they are sprung, as, for example, when one partner slips away with their worldly goods, leaving the other to return from work to a half-empty house and a spouse who has vanished. On the other end are the decisions that are discussed openly and at length, often in therapy. Most processes fall somewhere in between. Unsurprisingly, the more open and mutual processes tend to be followed by less painful transitions.

Phase 3: The Hazy Period

In the next phase, the authors note, “people live in a haze, liberated from old routines but also short on money and time and uncertain how they will survive as single parents… they must find new ways to organize parental roles, simple household routines, finances, and their work life.” Many look to parents or other relatives or friends for help.

The hazy period can feel overwhelming. Many of the interviewees had difficulty remembering that stage.

Phase 4: Temporary Reorganization of Family Life

After a while, emotions are not so intense anymore, and single parents focus more on the practical issues involved in reorganizing their lives. Some look to create or strengthen ties with a broader network of support, and others strive for more independence and self-sufficiency.

A 34-year old who wanted more closeness said:

“…returning to my birthplace was like anchoring my ship in a safe haven. I know family and friends here will always be there for me, and they are with me every day of the week.”

For a 46-year-old man who had been single for 11 years, the process of divorce was a journey toward independence:

“When the kids were young, my mother was here every day, picking them up from school, doing homework… I started to feel uncomfortable about it, and we had a talk. It turned out we had the same feeling. It was time for me to regain independence…”

Phase 5: Sustainable Reorganization of Work and Care

The early attempts at reorganizing life often turn out to be temporary. In the next stage, single parents figure out more sustainable ways of dealing with the many challenges of earning a living, caring for their children, and maintaining a household. They get more adept at managing their time and their finances. Some find new work or new ways of getting help with chores. They “set up a new system of daily routines that makes it possible to regain further control over their lives.”

Phase 6: New Period of Contentment: Reorganization and Acceptance

Although some single parents continue to struggle with the changes in their lives, they tend to see their current difficulties as less problematic than their former relationship with their spouse. Other single parents “once again have a sense of what they are capable of achieving…They are content with how their lives have turned out.”

The 46-year-old single father whose mother helped him initially said:

“I can make ends meet and don’t overextend myself… the children have landed on their feet… they are nice guys who can stand up for themselves and are doing great.”

A 52-year-old who had been single for eight years said:

“I became unbelievably rich with life, that is, human richness, openness, the warmth, the social life with children, family, friends. That is something that is much more valuable for me now. I give less value to how things look: Your image and material values are less important.”

A 46-year-old woman who had been single for 11 years told the interviewer:

“My image of single-parent families has changed after my divorce… A world opened up for me… I stopped searching for a new partner… I was happy being a single parent.”

The Big Picture: Challenges, But Also Resilience

If you were to think about divorce as something that happens at one point in time, and then focus on that one discrete event, it might seem like an overwhelmingly negative experience. And for many of the adults who go through it, that early phase really can be a true life crisis.

In people’s real lives, though, getting divorced and becoming a single parent is a process with multiple stages. The initial phases can be deeply unsettling for many people, but over time, many single parents create satisfying new lives for themselves and their children. Their story is not one of devastation, but of resilience.

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