January 15th, 2014
09:22 AM ET

Are People Without Kids Happier? New Studies Offer Mixed Picture

When it comes to who is happier - parents or child-free people - most of the research up until now has concluded that it is the childless who are more satisfied with their overall lives.

As a married mom of two, I always find myself reacting a bit defensively to that research.

"I'm happy," I say to myself. I may be stressed, sleep-deprived and sorely in need of "me" time, but I am very satisfied with my life. Isn't it possible that I could be just as happy as someone without kids - even if they have more time to sleep and take care of themselves?

According to two new studies, the answer might be yes and no.

A report by Princeton University and Stony Brook University published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencefound "very little difference" between the life satisfaction of parents and people without kids, once other factors - such as income, education, religion and health - were factored out, said Arthur Stone, one of the study 's co-authors.

People with kids living at home tend to have more money and are more highly educated, more religious and in better health, said Stone, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University. "All of those are factors that go along with people having better life evaluations."

Once those factors were statistically removed, the study found no difference in how satisfied the two groups felt about their lives.

Stone said in an interview that similarities in reported happiness among parents and the child-free, especially in developed countries like the United States, can be chalked up to priorities, specifically whether a person chooses to have kids.

"I choose an orange because I like oranges. You choose an apple because you like apples. There's no reason to think that your experiences should be any better than mine," said Stone. "The orange is different than the apples. Having kids is different than not having kids. It doesn't mean that one is ... intrinsically better."

Sarah Maizes, author of the children's book "On My Way to Bed" and a mom of three in Los Angeles, agrees. "It's like asking who's happier - people who like pizza or people who like Chinese?" she said on Facebook. "Now what I'd like to know is who lives longer. ... That you can measure!"

The Princeton-Stony Brook study - which involved an examination of a survey of 1.8 million Americans, including parents between the ages of 34 and 46, conducted by Gallup from 2008 through 2012 - did find one difference between parents and the childless: Parents tend to experience more highs and lows.

"They have higher highs. They have more joy in their lives, but also they have more stress and negative emotions as well," said Stone.

See full story at CNN.com 

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December 17th, 2013
11:37 AM ET

Student Suspended for Sexual Harassment After Hugging Teacher

To Sam McNair, a 17-year-old high school senior in Duluth, Georgia, it was an innocent hug.

"You never know what someone's going through," McNair told CNN affiliate WGCL in Atlanta. "A hug might help."

It didn't in this case because after McNair hugged a teacher, he ended up with a year-long suspension from Duluth High School, putting his college plans in jeopardy.

"He's a senior; he plays football. He was getting ready for lacrosse season, and you are stripping him of the opportunity to even get a full scholarship for athletics for college," April McNair, Sam's mother, told WGCL.

The elder McNair, who says she and her son call themselves huggers, said she was dumbfounded to learn of her son's suspension after hugging a teacher.

Surveillance video captures the hug in question, showing Sam placing his arms around the teacher and giving her a hug. The teacher then pushes him away.

According to a discipline report obtained by WGCL, the teacher said Sam's lips and cheeks touched her neck and that she had warned Sam about hugging in the past.

Asked if he kissed the teacher, Sam told the television reporter he did not. He said he has hugged teachers many times before, including this teacher, and has never been warned.

In a statement, Sloan Roach, a spokesperson for the Gwinnett County Public Schools, told CNN, "Hearing officers consider witness testimony, a review of the known facts, and a student's past disciplinary history - including long-term suspensions that result in alternative school placement - when determining consequences."

"If a parent has concerns about the outcome of a panel, he or she is entitled to appeal the decision to the Gwinnett County Board of Education," Roach added.

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December 11th, 2013
11:16 AM ET

6-Year-Old Suspended for Kissing Girl, Accused of Sexual Harassment

This is another one of those stories that seems absolutely hard to believe.

A 6-year-old boy near Colorado Springs, Colorado, was suspended from school for kissing a girl on the hand. You read that correctly.

"It was during class," first-grader Hunter Yelton said in an interview with CNN affiliate KRDO. "We were doing reading group, and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened."

Not only did Hunter's peck get him suspended from school, but the school accused him of sexual harassment, KRDO reported.

Hunter's mom, Jennifer Saunders, is outraged.

"This is taking it to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a 6-year-old," Saunders told KRDO. Now my son's asking questions, 'What is sex, mommy?'"

She said Hunter had problems at school before, getting suspended for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl on the cheek. The family has been working with him on "class disruptions" by grounding him and giving him "big restrictions," Saunders said.

Robin Gooldy, the superintendent of Cañon City Schools, told KRDO that Hunter's record will remain within the district and that his behavior fits the school policy description of sexual harassment, which includes unwanted touching.

"Our main interest in this is having the behavior stop because the story is not just about the student that was disciplined, it is also about the student receiving the unwanted advances," Gooldy told HLN. "We have to think about both students in the situation."

Saunders said the girl in question was "fine with it" because Hunter and the girl consider themselves "boyfriend and girlfriend." She wants her son's record cleared of anything suggesting sexual harassment.

"Remove it from his record," she told KRDO. "I need to stand up and fight for him. I can't just let that happen because it's not the case. It's not what happened at all."

Hunter for his part said he feels "sorry" for doing something wrong and tries to be good in school.

"But I just have a lot of energy. Six-year-olds, they have a lot of energy," Hunter said.

They sure do, and as a parent of a 6-year-old and a 7-year-old, an innocent peck on the cheek or on the hand seems as natural for kids this age as declarations of who they plan to marry.

They don't know anything about sex or sexual harassment. So how on earth can they be accused of such behavior?

Reaction online to Hunter's story has been swift, with the majority of commenters expressing pure outrage.

"The school probably traumatized the kid for life with that stupid move," wrote Brenda Esselman on the Facebook page for "New Day."

"Poor child, he's (too) young to even know what sexual harassment is," Ortencia Solis also wrote on Facebook.

"Another example of how we are now overreacting to something as simple as a childhood crush," Benny Barboza wrote.

Eric Vetch, also on Facebook, said he kissed a girl when he was 6. His punishment? "I remember writing on the chalkboard 'I will not kiss girls at school,' and it was a private Christian school ... go figure."

On the other side, there are a small number of people voicing some support for the school's actions.

"The kid shouldn't go around kissing someone's child. Because if it was my daughter, the parents and I would be talking. Let's keep it real," Russell M. Walker wrote on Facebook.

We clearly need to hear more from the school and the school's district because this might turn out to be another case where the pressure to follow set school rules gets in the way of common sense.

We saw this recently with two other stories: the Long Island school heavily criticized for banning most ball playing and even requiring supervision of games of tag while the school yard was under construction, and in Boston, where a student who allegedly went to a party to drive a friend home who was drunk was suspended from playing on her school's volleyball team.

What do you think about this latest case of a school taking a controversial stand? Do you think a 6-year-old should be suspended and accused of sexual harassment for kissing a girl on the hand? Let us know in the comments below.

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November 14th, 2013
10:06 AM ET

New Poll: People Prefer Male Bosses Over Female

"My last boss was a woman. All she did was micromanage everyone."

"Every woman boss I've ever had was extremely passive-aggressive in their leadership."

"It (was) much easier being managed by a male because he didn't put up with the pettiness or the gossip."

Sorry, ladies of the working world. Those are comments we received in response to my recent piece about how companies with more women in C-suites and corporate boards do better financially.

But so many commenters said they absolutely preferred working for a man, we knew we had to explore the "why" behind that sentiment.

Then this week, the Gallup organization added some numbers - and fuel - to the debate.

In telephone interviews with a random sample of 2,059 adults, Gallup found that Americans still prefer a male boss over a female, with 41% choosing to work for a man and 23% saying they prefer women supervisors. It's the highest-ever number recorded for women bosses since Gallup has been asking.

See more at CNN.com. 

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