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U.S. News Archive
September 07 - September 13, 2001



This page contains news for the period September 07, 2001 through September 13, 2001.  

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Thursday, September 13, 2001

Struggling to balance work and family

A story published today by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that there are huge numbers of Americans attempting to keep up with the work-life juggling act. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Hedrick Smith, who is making a PBS documentary entitled "Juggling Work and Family," roughly two-thirds of married couples with children work full time, as do 75 percent of single parents.

"We still organize work as if we had a nation of housewives," says Joan Williams, a law professor and co-director of American University's Gender Work and Family Project.

"We still define the ideal worker as someone who works full time, full force, for 40 years, as someone who takes no time out for family life. This way of defining the ideal worker, however, clashes with our ideal for family life."

"So it's a structural problem -- a clash of two ideals. One has to change, and I suspect most of us would agree on which one that is," Williams says.

Of the most engaging segments of the PBS documentary, Smith  focuses on Michael Lancaster, who works full time, often 18 hours a day, as an operating room technician in New York City. Lancaster, is a single father with custody of three daughters, two in college and one in preschool.

Despite his long hours at work, the high cost of living in New York City means he lives "from check to check." Lancaster worries about being forced to take a second job, a move he believes would particularly strain the close bond he has with his 4-year-old daughter.

So far, Lancaster has been able to avoid moonlighting because he receives a child-care subsidy from his union, Local 1199. The subsidy comes from a child care fund underwritten by the hospitals for which union members work. It's one of the innovative work-life programs highlighted by Smith in the show.

The documentary also spotlights the way employers are trying to help their workers cope with their hectic schedules. Marriott International established a national hotline to help workers find child-care, nursing homes for aging parents, housing and other life needs in their own communities.

Donna Klein, Marriott vice president of diversity and workplace effectiveness, said the hotline has helped employees while helping Marriott reduce turnover among its hourly staff, something that is good for the bottom line.

Now, Marriott and a dozen other large corporations are pushing even further. They have just established a new group called "Corporate Voices" to lobby government and the private sector for solutions to the work-life imbalance.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Matrimonial lawyers to address the America's families in annual meeting

A story released today by the PR Newswire reports that Dr. Panos Zavos, a fertility expert who has announced his intention to clone human beings, will be a featured speaker on changes and trends in the American family at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, on November 8 to 11 in Chicago.

The meeting will also focus on:

-- How the American family is evolving into the 21st century, based on data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which has studied changes in the American family for the past three decades;

-- Rights of children and step-parents;

-- Gay parenting and custody;

-- Bio-ethics;

-- Trends in marriage since 1950; and

-- The politics of sex.

"The American family is no longer the nuclear biological unit painted by Norman Rockwell. It is far more diverse -- with single parents, step-parents and gay parents. It is important for those who practice family law to understand these trends and their implications," said Charles C. Shainberg, a partner with Shainberg & Viola in Philadelphia and the Academy's president.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has as members more than 1,600 lawyers who are considered to be the experts in the field of matrimonial law, including divorce, prenuptial agreements, legal separation, annulment, custody, property valuation and division, support and the rights of unmarried cohabitors.

The purpose of the Academy is to promote the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the cause of matrimonial law.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Single dads redefining fatherhood

A story published today by the Digital Missourian reports that although television and books may be slow in showing it, the picture of the American family is changing. Their numbers are not nearly as high as single moms, but the increase in single father households in America and in Boone County, Missouri has been dramatic. Experts believe the numbers will continue to increase as fathers take more active roles in taking care of their children.

Single dads now head 1,685 households in Boone County, up 67 percent from 1990, according to the 2000 Census. Nationally, there are 2.2 million single fathers, up 62 percent from 1990.

The numbers themselves contain a sense of optimism that times are changing for society’’s involved, caregiver dad.

"I think that’s really cool," said Michael Kateman, a Columbia single father of two boys. "Why shouldn’t men take on that role?"

Single father Turner Bond, a Columbia resident believes more men would take on that role if it weren’t for a lack of confidence.

"To be a caretaking parent as opposed to a providing parent, I think you need to develop those relationship skills," he said. "I think most men have a lot of innate ability. I think they just don’t know it."

Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People, said he has seen a whirlwind of changes relating to single fatherhood since he started his organization in the mid-1970s.

For one, more mothers are choosing careers over home life. In that scenario, fathers are on equal ground in terms of balancing their home life with their professional life.

And more fathers are staying home with the kids.

"Men now view themselves as a nurturer as well as a breadwinner," Coleman said. "As a result, more men are fighting for custody."

The numbers may not tell the whole story. Single dads aren’t often going it alone, at least according to MU Family Studies and Human Development professor Marilyn Coleman.

Six years ago, Coleman founded the court-mandated Focus on Kids program in Boone County. All divorcees with children under 18 have to go through her class before entering into single parenthood.

Coleman believes only 5 percent of the single fathers counted by the census in Boone County, are primary caregivers. The strong majority, she said, are sharing custody, living with an unmarried partner or living with relatives.

And then there are the media messages. Bond has issue with breakfast cereals like Kix — "kid tested, mother approved." And clothing: infants like to be held on the left side, the same side men’s shirt pockets are. Women’s shirt pockets are on the right side, so babies’ feet and hands don’t get caught.

The influences are small, but they add up, and single dads say they take a toll.

When Kateman was a stay-at-home dad, looking after his 1- and 3-year-old sons, he noticed that the diapers, cleaning products and groceries he used every day were always being advertised by women.

Then, last month, Kateman saw a commercial with a father taking his children to the grocery store. To the average viewer, it probably meant nothing. But to dads like Kateman, it was a small victory.

Educational materials that reflect the changing face of  American families

A story released today by Business Wire reports that throughout the country, single or divorced moms and dads, gay and lesbian parents and adoptive, foster and multiracial families along with an array of education experts are pushing schools to adopt educational materials that reflect and support all children and all families.

One educational video that has attracted widespread support is "That's A Family!," an award-winning film made for children in grades K-8. "That's A Family!" takes a tour from a child's point of view through a diverse range of family structures. The children who star in the film come from families that include single parent, multiracial, divorced, guardian, adoptive, and gay and lesbian headed households.

"’That's A Family!' reflects what the 2000 census has shown -- the changing American family," says the film's Academy-award winning director Debra Chasnoff. "For all children to feel safe and accepted at school, teachers can't only talk about Ozzie and Harriet and their two kids. They need to use materials that show and support the broad range of family types that children return to at the end of each school day."

The 2000 Census and other statistics indicate that:

-- Single parents account for 27.3% of family households with children under 18.

-- About 6% of all children are living in households with one or both of their grandparents.

-- More than half of Americans today have been, are, or will be in one or more stepfamily situations.

-- In 2000, gay and lesbian families totalled 601,209. These families lived in 99.3% of all counties in the U.S.

-- More than 100,000 children are adopted each year.

-- It is estimated that nearly 550,000 children are in foster care.

Since its release last June, "That's A Family!" has generated widespread support from myriad national children's, family, education, and civil rights organizations, including the Child Welfare League of America, the National Education Association, and the YWCA.

"It is delightful to see that someone is able to give a realistic portrayal of the changing face of the American family," said Evelyn K. Moore, president of the National Black Child Development Institute. "With the honesty and sincerity of children's voices, 'That's A Family!' shows how we are all different, but that the true definition of a family is one in which there is love."

Religious congregations, social workers, counselors and other family service organizations are also using "That's A Family!."

"In virtually every community throughout the country, teachers are wrestling with the challenging question of how to ensure that every child in their classroom feels included in conversations that take place about family relationships," said the film's Executive Producer Helen S. Cohen. "The 2000 Census has shown us that family diversity is a reality that can't be ignored, especially in our schools. We want every teacher and service provider to know that now there is a great resource to help facilitate those discussions."

Sunday, September 9, 2001

More and more single women are buying homes

A story published today by the Detroit News reports that in Metro Detroit, more than 145,000 women are single home buyers. In Oakland County, female households has jumped 6.8 percent from 51,400 households in 1985 to 82,300 in 1999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the National Association of Realtors, around 31.7 percent of all home buyers in 1999 were single, unmarried women.

Experts say that the surge in female home buyers shows a breaking of what could be considered one of the final glass ceilings -- financial equivalency -- and exerting themselves in the marketplace with one of the most basic measures of wealth: a home.

"This really shows women stepping into the limelight," said Kurt Metzger, a demographer with Wayne State University. "They've been moving into the educational stream more and more, but now you're seeing this financial independence. Home ownership is really a symbol of women's independence. And I can just see that that's going to continue and continue."

Women home buyers were unheard of when Dennis Nabor, owner of Red Carpet Kiem Macomb in Shelby Township, started in the real estate business 19 years ago.

Now, he said, approximately 10 to 15 percent of his agency's business comes from female home buyers.

"It's not uncommon at all," Nabor said. "It's happening more and more as women become more independent and the pay becomes more equitable."

Saturday, September 8, 2001

Stereotyping Singles

A story released today by Reuters reports that according to new research study, single people were judged to be less interesting, happy, attractive and fun-loving than married people, but more self-centered,envious and shy.

"It's clear that people hold these perceptions, but it's not really talked about," says Wendy Morris, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "As is true of any group stereotypes, you can't assume all single people are shy, self-centered and envious - and there are plenty of married people who are unhappy."

On the bright side, single people were perceived as more independent and career-oriented. But Morris says that single folks are often taken advantage of in the workplace as a result.

"Singles are expected to do more work--but married people are getting the promotions."

Friday, September 7, 2001

Single parent adoption on the rise

A story published today by About.com reports that according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 33% of children adoption from Foster Care are made by single parents, and the numbers are steadily increasing. The majority of these single parents are women who are more likely to adopt an older child than an infant.

Single parent adoption has become more prevalent because of a number of factors. One-parent households are on the rise and becoming more the norm due to divorce and unmarried mothers. This gives adoption agencies a more open minded approach toward single parent adoptions. Also, the issue of personal finances and single income families has become less important since adoption subsidies have become available nationwide.

There are a variety of resources available to determine whether you are ready to begin the process:

Lee Varon, author of Adopting on Your Own, has put together this questionnaire to find out if Single Parent Adoption is Right for You. It has some thought provoking questions that show you what sort of mentality you need to have to approach this life-altering event.

Lois Gilman, author of The Adoption Resource Book, suggests that you (1) make contact with adoptive families and parent groups, (2) obtain general information from social service agencies and learn any details about specific adoption programs, and (3) read!!!

Housing fund urged to assist low income single parents

A story published today by the Kansas City Star reports that Mid America Assistance Coalition is calling for the creation of a national housing trust fund  that would help alleviate housing shortages for poor people.

"A person in Kansas City earning minimum wage would have to work 89 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom house," said Bonnie Rosen-Cowherd, homeless case-management program coordinator of MAAC. "That's not fair. Single parents can't work 89 hours a week."

The federal fund would provide low-interest loans and grants to affordable housing developers, the activist group said at a news

A report released this year by the Center for Community Change, a national nonprofit agency that assists poor people, found that a $5 billion national housing trust fund would generate 184,300 construction jobs and pay about $4.9 billion in wages.

The center's analysis in "Home Sweet Home: Why America Needs a National Housing Trust Fund" assumes 25 percent of a $5 billion investment would help construct single-family homes, 65 percent would help build multifamily dwellings, and 10 percent would pay for maintenance and repairs.


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