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U.S. News Archive
December 21 - December 28, 2001



This page contains news for the period December 21, 2001 through December 28, 2001.  

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Friday, December 28, 2001

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Study shows that single mom's hostile parenting style can affect children's development

A story released today by Reuters Health reports that children living with single mothers are at greater risk for social, academic and psychiatric problems than their peers who live in two-parent families. According to Canadian researchers, factors such as family income, a mother's depression or a hostile parenting style--not single status by itself--accounts for at least part of this risk.

"The results suggest that children from single-mother families develop difficulties for the same reasons as children from two-parent families," said Dr. Ellen L. Lipman from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

High levels of stress associated with low family income can also undermine attempts to provide supportive and consistent parenting. Likewise, depressed mothers may be emotionally unavailable to their children, which can lead to low self-esteem and social problems. These problems, which can occur in any family, are more likely to occur in single-mother families, the researchers explain.

The researchers reviewed information on more than 9,000 children aged 6 to 11 who took part in a national youth survey in Canada. Children living with single mothers were found to be at greater risk of developing a number of problems than their peers living with two parents, including low math scores and psychiatric difficulties.

Higher household income decreased the risk of social and psychiatric problems, however, and was associated with higher math scores. A higher level of maternal education was also linked with higher math scores and fewer psychiatric problems while maternal depression and, in particular, hostile parenting were closely tied to the risk of developing social and psychiatric problems.

In Canada, about 20% of children live in a single-parent family and mothers make up 83% of single parents.


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Parents living with partners

A story published today by the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that today's families have a new challenge: How to react when mom or dad decides to live with a "good friend" without benefit of marriage.

"The research suggests that 2.5 percent of people over 60 are cohabitating," says Ohio State University assistant professor and gerontologist Christine Price. "That might not sound like much, but it was zero percent in 1960. The numbers are definitely on the rise."

Dr. Price suspects that the estimates are too low because many seniors don't like to admit they are living together.

"There's still a stigma, especially when it comes to seniors," says Dr. Price. "A lot just don't want the family to know."

The comfort level families feel regarding a parent's cohabitation varies markedly, but discomfort isn't uncommon. When older adults move in together, it invariably brings up issues of sexuality — something a lot of people just aren't comfortable discussing, especially when it comes to parents and older adults in general. Families also might wonder how they should explain the relationship to younger grandchildren.

Dr. Price gives these tips for families who aren't sure how to deal with this situation:

• Respect that your parents are individuals with rights to experience intimacy and companionship.

• Ask parents how they would like you to introduce their new partners. Ask the new partners what they would like you to call them.

• Don't criticize or judge the behavior of your parent in front of the grandchildren. "That could really have a negative effect on the grandparent-grandchild relationship," Dr. Price says.

"You don't necessarily have to advocate cohabitation as a lifestyle, but accept the situation and come to terms with it," she says. "It's time to see mom or dad as people, not just as parents."


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More unmarried couples are choosing to live together

A story published today by the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that in Wisconsin, the number of households with unmarried partners grew 70 percent between 1990 and 2000, a growth rate eclipsed by most counties in Northeastern Wisconsin. In fact, the number of households with unmarried partners doubled in Kewaunee County. Brown County had an 83 percent increase.

While living together before marriage has become more socially accepted in recent years, some local couples still are uncomfortable letting the world know about their living arrangements.

"With some of these people who didn’t want to participate in some surveys, it’s likely that their parents may know they are living with someone, but (their parents) might not be thrilled about it," said Regan Gurung, assistant professor in human development and psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"The parents may think the fewer people that know the better," Gurung said. "It’s not something that they want everyone to know about."

Attitudes against unmarried couples who live together are likely to exist in smaller communities like Green Bay where family and religious values run deep, Gurung said.

"In Green Bay, an issue like this cuts clear into family and religious values, particularly with the dominant faith of Catholicism, which stresses that living together before marriage is wrong," he said.

Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist and author from California who has studied relationships and marriage for 30 years, said about 11 million unmarried couples nationwide are living together.

That number has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1970, Warren said.

According to a recent report by Rutgers University’s National Marriage Project, 62 percent of women and men ages 20-29 surveyed believe that living with someone before marriage is a good way of avoiding divorce.

Released in July, the report also shows that 43 percent of respondents said they would marry someone only if he or she agreed to live together first, so they could find out if they could really get along.

With a national divorce rate fluctuating between 45 percent and 50 percent, more young adults are choosing to live together instead of making the lifelong commitment of marriage.

"It’s a trial marriage without the legal and emotional ramifications," said Arlie J. Albrecht, a certified independent clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist for Family Services in Green Bay. "Some couples want to know whether or not the relationship will work, while some couples have fear that it might not work out."

In addition to living together before marriage, many couples are waiting until they are older to get married.

According to the Rutgers report, the median ages for the first marriage went from 20 for females and 23 for males in 1960 to 25 and 27 respectively in recent years.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

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Wisconsin’s single parent household increasing

A story published today by the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that the 2000 Census shows that nearly one-fourth of Wisconsin children are now living with a single parent, compared to 19 percent in 1990, and the growth of such nontraditional households is outstripping the rate at which two-parent households are forming.

In Northeastern Wisconsin, 20 percent of children now live in single-parent homes, compared to 15 percent a decade ago.

Among 14 Northeastern Wisconsin counties, the percentage of children in single-parent households ranged from a low of 14 percent in Kewaunee and Calumet counties, to highs of 21 percent in Brown and Winnebago counties.

Once somewhat isolated from the nation’’s slow shift away from the past-ideal of the nuclear family, single-parent and other less-traditional family structures are now increasingly common in Northeastern Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, the number of married couples with children was nearly unchanged between 1990 and 2000, hovering near 493,000 families. But families with children, including single parents, increased 6 percent in the decade.

In Northeastern Wisconsin, the growth of families with children also outpaced the growth of married couple families with children. And in some counties, the number of married couple families actually declined, while the tally of all family units increased.

"In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, when you said family, everyone had a single idea in mind," said Tom Rinkoski, director of family services for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay’s Family Life Department. "Now, the family unit as we have known it — whether nuclear or multi-generational — is no longer held up as the cornerstone of society as it once was."


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Single moms account for 2 in 3 births in several U.S. cities

A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that in eight of America's 40 largest cities, unmarried women in their twenties give birth to more than 3 out of every 5 children - roughly twice the national average. And it's happening in poor urban areas already struggling with other social and economic problems. These older women, recent census figures show, account for two-thirds of out-of-wedlock births.

The attention is long overdue. Out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed in the past half-century. In 1940, only 3.8 percent of American women were not married when they gave birth. By 1994, that rate had climbed to 32.6 percent. Since then, the rate has hovered around 33 percent, although it remains alarmingly high in some cities, according to census data released last month.

In Baltimore, more than 3 out of 4 residents who gave birth there in the past 12 months were unmarried, according to census estimates. That was tops among America's 40 largest cities and three times the rate of Austin, Texas, and San Francisco, which ranked near the bottom of the list.

Income and education levels probably explain much of the difference, experts suggest. For example, Baltimore ranks among the 10 large cities with the lowest median household incomes and the smallest share of residents with college degrees, according to census estimates. Austin and San Francisco rank near the top in both categories.

Baltimore also has one of the highest proportions of African-American residents. Historically, unmarried black women have given birth at much higher rates than unmarried whites, demographers point out. While that rate has fallen dramatically since 1970 - and risen even more dramatically for whites - African-American women are still twice as likely to give birth out of wedlock than are their white counterparts, according to a study last year for the National Center for Health Statistics.

In all, 7 of the top 10 cities for out-of-wedlock births also rank in the 10 cities with the highest percentages of black residents, according to census data.

Poor job prospects among black men may partially explain the higher out-of-wedlock births among African-American women, observers say.

"People feel very strongly that a man needs to be able to support a family if he's going to get married," says Christine Bachrach, chief of the demographic and behavioral sciences branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, Md. "Marriage in many of these urban poor areas is really not seen as an option."

Experts are divided over whether programs should urge abstinence alone or also discuss contraception and abortion.

Still, some policies aimed at teenagers do seem to have worked. Births to girls 15 to 19 have fallen by one-fifth since 1991. Experts point to several factors, including teens' more conservative attitudes, fear of sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception. Studies also credit the growth of public and private efforts to prevent teen pregnancy. For example, between 1997 and 1999, more than twice as many states had begun media campaigns to combat out-of-wedlock births, according to research by Child Trends.

But few states or cities have focused on women in their twenties. One entity trying to address the 20-somethings is Hamilton County, Tenn., which includes Chattanooga.

Four years into its comprehensive family and marriage-strengthening program, the First Things First initiative has helped reduce divorce filings by 20 percent and out-of-wedlock pregnancies by 16 percent.


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Woman shortage: myth or reality?

A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that for both men and women, the formula for finding and keeping a mate has become, in recent years, a topic of fascination in books, movies, and the media - even more than usual, as the number of single Americans has grown. But all the analysis - such as using gender ratios to predict marriage possibilities - is starting to make some guys rethink their own dating lives and how single men are portrayed in the media.

"There just seems to be this surge of coverage.... If you're single, it can mess with you," says Jeff Martinez, a 30-something professional in Aurora, Colo. "I think the singles reading these stories - myself included - might be inclined to jump in as soon as they can, believing they'll be alone unless they connect immediately."

But professionals who study or counsel single people are giving heed to the report, trying to present the single man's side of things and help flesh out the statistics.

Predicting ratios of single men and women is complicated, say researchers, and includes marriage rates and environmental factors as well as raw numbers. It's difficult to predict what will happen with gender ratios in the future, but for now, they say, men shouldn't worry.

"There are still plenty of women for the men at the young end of the baby-boom generation," says Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, codirector of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The pool of single, college-educated women, in particular, "isn't shrinking," she says. "It's getting larger each year, albeit at a slower rate than 10 years ago."

A November poll of 5,000 single women by the online dating service Match.com found that 30 percent of women said a firefighter was "the most eligible and desirable date," followed by a teacher at 24 percent, and a CEO at 21 percent.

News that chivalrous men are all the rage is not such a bad thing, say some men.

For the average guy, "it can give them some encouragement.... Even in small ways, guys have been dissuaded from being gallant to women," says Marc Kusinitz, co-author of the book "Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate."

He says there are ways to reconcile women's seemingly conflicting priorities.

"I don't think being macho excludes being chivalrous, especially if there is going to be a shortage of marriageable women." Under such conditions, he adds, men will figure it out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

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Utah lawmaker targets state’s role on sex-ed material

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a Utah state senator who successfully championed more local choice in sex education is planning another bill that would end the state Textbook Commission's role in reviewing material for such classes.

Utah's 40 school districts should have total say in what's being taught to their students, said state Sen. Bill Wright, R-Elberta.

"We want people involved," Wright said. "Give them something to do besides bring punch and cookies." His proposal would strengthen Wright's SB75 allowing any school district to choose its own sex-education curriculum.

Utah law requires schools to teach abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage. Also, educators may not teach the intricacies of sexual activity and must get written parental consent before mentioning any aspect of contraception.

Wright said some districts think the state-approved, abstinence-based curriculum doesn't go far enough in discouraging premarital sex.

He would prefer a curriculum that not only is abstinence-based but is abstinence-only.

Vicky Dahn, curriculum director in the state Office of Education, said state education officials have no prejudice against curricula that teach abstinence only —— they just have difficulty finding a good one.


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Many female centenarians have never married

A story published today by the New York Times reports that Dr. Thomas T. Perls, a geriatrician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is conducting a nationwide study of centernarians.

Like so many of the hundreds of centenarians Dr. Perls has interviewed in the last six years, Miss Mary Lavigne left him and his associate, Dr. Margery Hutter Silver, a neuropsychologist who is also at Beth Israel and Harvard, shaking their heads over her clear thinking, her near-perfect health and her alert sense of humor.

Even Miss Lavigne's denunciation of marriage sounded familiar. About 14 percent of the women Dr. Perls has studied have stayed single for their 100 years. Could that be because unmarried women lead relatively unstressful lives? Maybe, Dr. Perls said. "Or maybe the fact that they are able to live independently means that they are able to manage stress better than the average person," he said.

In contrast, the centenarian men in the study group are all married, or have been. But there are more than five times as many women as men.

In nine years, Dr. Perls and his research staff have collected health data on some 1,500 centenarians. And the work has led him to a series of discoveries about the very old. They are healthier than anyone ever thought they were, first of all. They avoid the most devastating diseases of old age until the last few years of their lives. And almost all of them seem to be exceptionally good at managing stress and getting along with people.

Even those unmarried women are never alone. "They're full of good humor and gregarious," Dr. Perls said. "They're basically very happy, optimistic people. You look at a person like Mary Lavigne and you see she has people taking her to lunch, people looking after her, because she's so nice."

Most notably, Dr. Perls and his colleagues have recently found, centenarians seem to carry a small handful of genes that enable them to live to 100 or better.

The researchers hope that Centagenetix, the Boston-based company they founded, will home in on that gene before next summer. Ultimately, the company hopes to identify a number of longevity genes, figure out how they work and create drugs that mimic their actions.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

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Ministry focuses on singles in the community

A story published today by the Oklahoman reports that the Life community church sitting in the shadow of the big cross off Interstate 35, in Oklahoma, offers a sense of community for single people who feel left out in their own ministries that mainly focus on people wearing wedding bands.

Nearly 600 who attend Day 3, a weekly devotional service led by preacher David Edwards. Many of them hope to be married someday or, in some cases, married again.

Day 3 gives them a sense of community they may not find in their churches.

"There's a kind of looseness to it," said Aron Johnson of Church of the Harvest. But it's not a replacement for Sunday services. "I think of it more as a supplement. You know that you can come here and most of the people are single."

Singles comprise a growing segment of the population. The proportion of households consisting of one person living alone increased from 17 percent in 1970 to 26 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"The postponement of marriage has led to a substantial increase in the proportion of young, never-married adults," said Jason Fields, author of "America's Families and Living Arrangements: March 2000."

Using census data, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma estimates that college-age and single adults will soon comprise 50 percent of the population. David Nobles, singles pastor for Village Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said the makeup of most churches he's seen doesn't reflect that statistic.

"The largest unreached people group in America is single adults," he said. "The church that says, 'We don't want to reach out to singles,' is the church that's ready to close its doors."

When ministers at Life Church created Day 3, which began in early October, they wanted a service with a different feel than traditional church, singles pastor Larry Conant said.

"(Our) No. 1 priority is to reach singles, churched and unchurched," he said. "We wanted to provide a singles ministry, a rallying place for singles, where everyone in the city would come."

To keep it from looking like a ministry run by one church, the pastors brought in David Edwards to be the speaker.

He speaks weekly at a singles ministry in Memphis, Tenn., on Mondays and flies Tuesdays to Oklahoma City for Day 3. His presentations have plenty of anecdotes about the pitfalls and small triumphs of single life.

They also include detailed analysis of Scripture.

Presentation is almost as important as content in successful singles ministries, Edwards said. For Gen-X'ers and members of a post-modern culture, "how things look is just as important as what's being said," he said. The level of "flash" at Day 3 may make longtime ministers bristle, but Edwards said it plays an important role in getting singles in the door to hear a spiritual message.

Once they're in the door, they've got the option to join other singles ministries. An information table inside the lobby of Life Church advertises singles groups at Crossings Community Church, Village Baptist and others. Fliers advertise Christian lunch meetings for singles and a citywide New Year's Eve party at Life Church's West Campus on NW 178.

Roxane Collier is a member of Life Church and an usher at Day 3. Being part of a church that reaches out to singles has helped her realize the benefits of her stage in life.

"There's an advantage to being single," she said. "You can take time to talk to God. The distractions aren't as many."


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Web sites tailored for religious singles

A story published today by the New York Times reports that two summers ago Kimberly Elster was an eligible nursing student, fresh from a broken engagement and clicking on bachelors' personals ads on a singles web site.

But the site she entered in was no ordinary singles web site. Instead, Ms. Elster had turned in her search to one of the variety of web sites, claiming tens of thousands of members, that are tailored for religious singles.

Elster, a born-again Christian found love by clicking on christiansingleweb.com. "I was looking for my spiritual soul mate, who would enjoy going to church rather than feel I was dragging him along."

For religious singles, online personals at such specialty sites narrow the playing field. "You can avoid that awkward moment when the person you meet at a bar says, `You really keep kosher?' or `I can't believe you really read the Bible every day,' " said Amy Laura Hall, who teaches at Duke Divinity School.

At AdamMeetEve.com, where Christian singles use handles like BlessedBabe and PrayerPrincess, God is dubbed "the best Matchmaker of all."

If he is, he gets help from Dan Magnuson, the site's Web master, in Cupertino, Calif. Mr. Magnuson said the site had led to 1,200 marriages since 1999. The fee for one month is $18, for six months $65.

Faith also guides David Brodie, a chiropractor from Suffern, N.Y., who surfs Jdate.com, for Jewish singles.

"An Orthodox Jewish marriage is not just two people, it's three: man, woman and God," Mr. Brodie said. "All three form the relationship."

At ChristianCafe.com, "we think of our site as a haven in cyberspace," said Sam Moorcroft, chief executive of the site, which, though based in Toronto, has mostly American members.

But trying to build a relationship solely on the basis of religion has its pitfalls, whether or not it is pursued with help from the Internet, said Neil Clark Warren, who has worked as a psychologist and dean at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and co-founded a singles site, eharmony.com.

"Some highly committed Christians think that if they pray, God will bring them the right marriage partner," Mr. Warren said. "What I say is, pray to God, passionately, for the right marriage partner, then think carefully about the qualities that you need to have in a great marriage."

He said his research suggested that people who focused exclusively on spirituality wound up divorced at least as often as those who had never considered it.

Friday, December 21, 2001

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Book author questions the necessity of marriage

An article written by Jeannie Marshall for the Nationalpost.com talks about book author, Jaclyn Geller and her view on the necessity of marriage. The full text of the article can be viewed by clicking on the link below.



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California single sailing groups settle dispute

A story published today by the Argonaut reports that a split between two Southern California single sailing clubs that wound up in Superior Court was settled.

The quarrel over group assets came after a Single Mariners of Marina del Rey former commodore, Yvonne Johnson, left the group to form her own singles sailing club — the California Single Sailors — taking the first group's membership data, Web site and other club assets along with her.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins denied a Single Mariners request for a preliminary injunction prompting the group to move for dismissal of the case.

The California Single Sailors will retain ownership of a disputed Web site and group membership records as a result of the judge's ruling against a preliminary injunction. The case is also now being dropped.

"The judge did not believe any wrongful handling of assets occurred," Johnson said.

Allen Nadir, a member and private attorney for the Single Mariners group, says the Single Mariners decided to drop the case because the conflict had already been somewhat resolved.

"California Single Sailors turned over most or all of the records that they had taken from Single Mariners during the intermission between the first and second court dates," Nadir said. "So we were able to get pretty much what we wanted and the dispute was resolved amicably."

"We could have continued on, but it would have served no purpose to continue endless litigation," Nadir said.

Both Nadir and Johnson say they agree that the two groups are prepared to co-exist and continue peacefully with their operations.


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