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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    clockBig news for moms this week. A new study says today's young people are "more materialistic" and less likely to work and study hard than any generation of kids before them. Moms! Could we be raising the lazy generation?

    That's what a study published this week in the in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin says. The researchers claim "youth materialism" is at "historically high levels." And just wait till you hear what this could do to the job market.

    The study out of San Diego State University claims that Gen Y or Generation Me, as today's teens are called, have a high desire for "material rewards," but they lack to a "willingness to do the work usually required to earn them."

    It's a blow for moms who are working hard to raise kids who will be upstanding citizens and productive members of society. So is it true?

    Here's what the web has to say about Generation Y:

    In a piece titled the Go-Nowhere Generation, the New York Times contends young people today are just too sedentary:

    According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere.

    And to make matters worse, the New York Times Magazine contends kids are pushing back the "five milestones" that mark the transition to adulthood:

    We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.”

    But according to Karen Foster, a sociologist and a Banting Post-Doctoral fellow at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where she is conducting a study on the concept of productivity in economic and political discourse) you have to look deeper to understand today's young people:

    It turns out that 20- and 30-somethings are looking for more than just a job. They want work that is meaningful and consistent with their socially and environmentally responsible values. They’re disaffected, to be sure, but that disaffection conceals a drive toward more caring, compassionate relationships and away from materialism.

    Michael Greenstone, chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, says you can't blame today's young people for everything because the economy plays a role too:

    Children are not earning as much as their parents, and I think we’re laying the seeds for that to continue into the future

    Do you feel like young people today are lazy? Do you blame their parents?

     

    Image via lett -/\=/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Mad Men Peggy OlsonWhoa, Nelly! Or should I say, Whoa, Peggy? There were big moves being made on tonight's Mad Men, and Peggy Olson couldn't escape the waves crashing into her as the tide rolled in. 

    We've seen bits and pieces of Peggy this season, but her storyline hasn't really taken off. That is until tonight's For Immediate Release episode, which had her penning the press release that gave the episode its title.

    Needless to say, there are SPOILERS ahead!

    That press release announced the creation of a brand new ad agency (yes, another one).

    Good bye Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Goodbye Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough.

    Hello as-yet-to-be-named new agency that will have our old friends working WITH their old rivals ... and Peggy's relatively new bosses. The combination comes on the heels of SCDP losing Jaguar (thanks to Don giving them the heave ho) and Vicks (thanks to Pete running into his father-in-law the Vicks honcho at a brothel).

    Roger managed to snag a meeting at Chevy for SCDP, but when Ted Chaough walks into a Detroit bar and finds Don already drinking, the two quickly determine they're not going to get anywhere as two separate but small agencies. As one behemoth, on the other hand, they can take over the world ... or at least Madison Avenue. 

    Of course combining might be good for their bottom lines, but what about Peggy?

    She just bought an apartment with Abe! She can't afford to leave her job as copy chief with Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough, even if it means following them right on back to the people she just left.

    Not that she'd want to. It seems the more time our Peggy spends with Ted, the more she's falling for her boss. She's even picturing Don's foil when she's making out with Abe.

    She may be shocked to be returning to work with Don Draper rather than against him, but at this point Peggy seems content to follow Ted anywhere. Even if it is back into the lion's den.

    And if reuniting Peggy with Don means we get to see more of her, that's perfectly fine with us. At Don's side is just where Peggy belongs!

    How about you? Are you happy to see Peggy and Don working together again?

     

    Image via Michael Yarish/AMC

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    dearest motherWhen I told people how I spent spring break this year, more than a few cringed. I spent days in my daughter's room. Painting. With my mother-in-law. And the truth is, we had a blast. We talked. We laughed. We sang P!nk at the top of our lungs.

    Ladies, I'm sorry. I know hating your mother-in-law is about as American as singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and eating pizza. Entire sitcom episodes are written about it. Heck, entire movies. According to one study, 36 percent of women hate their mothers-in-law so much they'd prefer visiting the gynecologist.

    But the truth is, I don't.

    I don't hate her.

    In fact, I like my mother-in-law.

    Heck, hold on to your hats, ladies and germs, because I would even say we're friends, and not just of the Facebook variety. Scarier still, I set up her Facebook account for her ... so she could be my friend and keep up on her granddaughter's life via my page!

    She gets to see every time I spill my guts on social media.

    My mother-in-law is not the kind of granny who sticks her nose into parenting decisions, nor is she the mom who has her son on speed dial. My husband and his mother have a good relationship but not one that is inordinately close. She lives a good day's drive away from me. I'm not troubled by her popping in at all hours of the day.

    I'm lucky. I get that. The gods have come together to grant me a rare gem: a mother-in-law who is not demanding and who actually laughs at my jokes.

    I think sometimes I scare her. But she is kind enough not to tell me. Or my husband.

    I appreciate it more than she knows.

    In fact, I appreciate her more than seems to curry favor with other women. I've had to clamp my mouth shut a time or two because our relationship mystifies women who could fill a book with the rants about their meddling mothers-in-law.

    Ladies, I hear you. We all have our crosses to bear, and she's yours.

    But with Mother's Day coming up, can I just offer a view from the mother-in-law loving side of the fence?

    I have come to realize that part of loving my mother-in-law, for me anyway, is in seeing that she is the reason the man I love exists. I don't just mean that physically. She gave birth to him, yes, but she also raised him to be a man with a healthy respect for women who pulls his weight around the house and is one hell of a father.

    He is the man he is today in no small part because of the mother he had growing up.

    Most men are.

    In fact, even though it's popular to hate your mother-in-law, I bet you'd find there are things you really like about your mother-in-law. They attracted you to her son.

    So maybe you don't have the kind of mother-in-law who will do a dance party with you on your vacation. And maybe you don't have a mother-in-law who you can be Facebook friends. Maybe you don't lend your mother-in-law books. Maybe you would prefer she live on another planet.

    But give her a break. You'll want your daughter-in-law to do it for you one day.

    Be honest: do you REALLY hate your mother-in-law or is that just what you feel like you're supposed to say?

     

    Image via AForestFrolic/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    pitbullEver wondered what you would do to protect your child? Would you throw yourself at the mercy of five pit bulls to keep your child safe from harm? That's what Florida mom Brandy Bookamer did this past weekend. The 27-year-old mother was hurt so badly by the attacking dogs that she had to be airlifted to a hospital for medical treatment.

    But she did what she needed to do. Her 6-year-old daughter is fine. Her mom saved her.

    According to reports, Bookamer and her daughter were walking near their home when the five (five!!) pits appeared. Mom yelled to the little girl to run, and she did.

    That left Mom to deal with five vicious dogs, and you can imagine what happened. Her injuries, fortunately, are not life-threatening but were still serious.

    Still, they were worth it. She saved her daughter. That's a mom win right there.

    If there were a parenting handbook, I'm sure that would be right on the front page of rules. If there's danger present, you position yourself to take the brunt of it. Whether that's letting a pack of pit bulls maul you or purposely falling sideways when you've tripped over a toy -- so you hurt yourself and miss the child who was standing there.

    Now let me just stop a second here. Pit bulls have a bad but not necessarily warranted rep, and this story doesn't help it. I've known more than a few to be very sweet, and there are plenty of stories of heroic dogs out there too.

    But when unknown dogs come out of nowhere, this dog owner and lover is still wary ... especially when my daughter is around. High strung dogs tend to be set off easily by small children, with their sudden movements and high-pitched voices.

    Whether we were facing pit bulls or a pack of golden retrievers, I would have done the same thing ... which is exactly what Brandy Bookamer did. I would have told my kid to run, and I would have distracted the dogs until she got to safety. Even if that meant putting my own life in jeopardy.

    Have you put yourself in harm's way to protect your kid? What happened?

     

    Image via jennie_Marie/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    lotteryThe word "accident" always sounds like such a bad thing, doesn't it? Not for a single mom in California! Thuan Le accidentally put too much money into a self-service lottery machine last week. The accident won the mother of four $14 million in the California SuperLotto Plus drawing.

    Could this be a sign? Is this the way to win the lottery?

    By accident?

    Go ahead, laugh, but the proof is in the pudding. This lucky single mom is not the first to get lucky with a happy accident.

    Le apparently meant to put $4 into the machine at a CVS. She usually buys $4 worth of Powerball tickets. Instead she slipped in an extra dollar, and presto, change-o, she's rich! And she's not alone:

    1. Last year Virginia Fike of Virginia thought she was buying a Powerball ticket, but it turns out she bought two. Good thing too, because BOTH tickets had five matching numbers! She became the the first person to win two $1 million Powerball games in one state lottery drawing, taking home $2 million!

    2. Kathy Scruggs asked a clerk for a Mega Millions ticket last fall, but the clerk printed out a MegaMillions and a Powerball ticket. The Georgia woman decided to take them both, and it was the latter that matched all of the winning numbers in a multistate Powerball drawing. Scruggs, who'd just lost a job as a seasonal worker, walked away with $25 million!

    3. Lisa Robinson usually plays the $2 Cash Word game in the Michigan Lottery, but when a clerk gave her a $3 ticket, it turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to her. That $3 ticket was worth $100,000.

    4. Scott Bennett of New Hampshire was another beneficiary of a cashier mistake. He asked for one Tri-State Megabucks ticket and one Lucky for Life ticket but got two Megabucks tickets instead. That second ticket earned the father of three the $2.1 million Megabucks jackpot.

    5. Sometimes the clerks screw up ... sometimes the clerks get lucky. Charanjit Kaur of New York accidentally sold a $10 Megaplier ticket in 2011 to a customer who wanted a $5 Quick Pick. The customer decided he didn't want the more expensive ticket. Little did he know it was a winner. It netted Kaur $1 million!

    6. Naomi Mauller might have screwed up when she entered numbers for a customer's Mega Millions ticket back in 2010, but it was a good thing for her ... and the customer! The Ohio woman bought the faulty ticket, and the customer got a new one. Both ended up winners, netting $250,000 per ticket.

    7. The ticket Pamela Ivey tried to buy would have cost her $5 and netted her $250,000 in a Kentucky Mega Millions drawing. Instead a clerk sold her a $10 multiplier ticket ... which raked in $1 million!

    8. He's kept his name out of the papers, but a Michigan man who pulled a $20 out of his wallet, thinking it was a $10, is set for life. Forced to spend that extra $10, he bought a Cash for Life ticket that earned him $4 million.

    Hmm. Sounds like the way to win the lottery is by not really trying! Could it be as simple as taking advantage of the mistakes?

    Have you had a lottery screw-up? What happened?

     

    Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    skylar marionThe whole discussion of donating kids' organs is hard for parents to have for one very obvious reason: it means facing our kids' mortality. But for the parents of a 15-year-old who died in a hit-and-run car crash in Maryland recently, the choice was obvious. Skylar Marion's parents donated their son's organs ... and his heart ended up in the chest of someone they know, saving the life of one of Skylar's own friends.

    A child died, but a child's life was saved. It's a bittersweet miracle. But the way Skylar's parents are handling it is perhaps the most miraculous bit in all of this.

    Kyle Wilkerson was in heart failure and lying in the University of Maryland Medical Center in need of a transplant when the kid he used to ride bikes with was rushed into the same hospital. The Marions' decision to donate their son's organs sent bits of him to various hospitals, but the heart stayed right there and went to Kyle.

    Said Skylar's dad, Michael:

    The devil took my boy away ... God wanted to spread him around to keep him alive.

    Beautiful way of looking at organ donation, isn't it? It's a way of keeping the people we love alive.

    And yet, can you imagine what it must be like for the Marions? They don't just know that their son's heart is beating in another's boy's chest. They can see that other boy, living and breathing?

    My knee-jerk reaction, as a mom, is that it would be too much. It would wrench open those wounds again and again. I know that for the mother of a high school friend who died tragically when we were young adults, just seeing me -- so clearly linked in her mind to her son -- is enough to make her cry. And I don't carry a piece of her child inside me, at least not in a physical sense (emotionally his suicide is something I will never get over, I carry him in my heart and in my head everywhere I go).

    Kyle Wilkerson's life could be a reminder to the Marions of exactly what they lost.

    Instead, they look at this boy as a reminder of what they had. Their boy's life was cut short by a hit and run driver, but he is still giving to the world.

    Watch Michael Marion and tell us ... what would you have done in the Marions' position?


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  • 05/06/13--10:52: Murphy's Law for New Moms
  • Post by Jeanne Sager

    cute babyMom, you've heard of Murphy, haven't you? I'm sure you've heard of his law anyway ... the one that says "anything that can go wrong will go wrong"? Cynical? Maybe. Or maybe Murphy was a parent.

    Because when it comes to having kids, anything that can go wrong, well ... you get where I'm going with this. Behold the Murphy's law -- or should I say laws? -- of babies:

    1. Your baby will sleep as fire engines scream past your house, sirens blaring. When your bedspring squeaks during sex, he will wake up screaming, "Mooooooooommmmmmyyyyyyy."

    2. You will have a fully dressed baby and be walking out the door five minutes late for work when she blows out her diaper.

    3. If you're in a mall bathroom with a baby with a wet diaper, you will have a full wipes container. If you're in a mall bathroom with a baby with a poopy diaper, you will have exactly one wipe left in the container ... and there won't be any toilet paper left in the stall dispenser.

    4. You can hold his little body as far away from you as possible, but he's still going to get that baby vomit in your purse.

    5. You will be in the bathroom when your daughter takes her first steps (or some other major milestone). It will be the ONE AND ONLY TIME you managed to sneak away to pee alone.

    6. You can sit there waiting for that baby to poop all day, and it won't happen, but as soon as you've changed her into a fresh diaper, she will let loose.

    7. You will spend eight straight hours with a screamy, colicky baby, but the minute your spouse walks in the door, he will grin and gurgle like an angel.

    8. If your pediatrician closes at 6 p.m. on a Friday, your son will spike a high fever at 6:01 p.m. on a Friday.

    9. Your baby will happily spend hours in her bouncy seat. She will start screaming bloody murder the second you step into the shower.

    10. There is exactly one item of choking hazard size on Granny's living room floor that even the vacuum cleaner missed. Your son will find it.

    What is your Murphy's law of parenting moment?

     

    Image via valentinapowers/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Charles GaskinsRemember the quote from Shrek about ogres and onions? Both have layers that make them complex. And so it is with Charles Francis Gaskins, the white supremacist sentenced this week to life in prison for murdering a child molester.

    On the outside layer -- the most superficial there is -- the story sounds almost like a celebration. Neil Hayes was a bad, bad man, and we have one less child molester on the streets! It's tempting to say that this man did a public service!

    But did he? Did he really? Let's move on to the second layer.

    Because Charles Gaskins wasn't a member of law enforcement who killed child molester Neil Hayes during the commission of a crime. Charles Gaskins was an ex-con, a member of the Peckerwoods, a white supremacist group that charges its members with vigilantism. They're to rid the world of child molesters who would sully the Caucasian race, and Gaskins followed his duty, bashing Hayes' head in with a rock, then disposing of his body with the help of his wife.

    He had to hide it because what he did was wrong, no matter how good it felt.

    And how did he have access to this child molester? That's another layer in this sordid tale.

    Turns out Hayes was Gaskins' friend, or he was when the two were in prison, before Gaskins joined the Peckerwoods, before Hayes was released and turned to his old pal for a place to stay, before Gaskins found Hayes' name on the sex offender registry.

    We're not just talking about a murder here, but a murder of someone Gaskins supposedly cared about. If he could do that, what else could he do? Who else would he hurt, with as little care as he showed for his supposed friend?

    At the core of this onion is an uncomfortable but rather simple fact: Charles Gaskins will spend life in prison because he did something grievously wrong, and because he represents a danger to society.

    It's an unpleasant thing to make sense of: child molesters are not people to be celebrated, but that doesn't make their murders moments to celebrate either. We can't parse out who "deserves" to be murdered.

    Agree? Do you think this monster should be headed to prison, or do you feel sympathy for him because of who he killed?

     

    Image via Sacramento Sheriff's Department


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle EvansMaybe it would have been easier to take Jenelle Evans' tears during part one of the finale special of Teen Mom 2 with Dr. Drew if we didn't know that she was recently arrested on heroin charges. As it was, it was a little hard to take her seriously as she turned on the waterworks and pinned the blame for all her drug problems on ex-boyfriend Kieffer Delp.

    These would be her past drug problems, mind you, not anything current. The reunion special was shot back in November, and Jenelle was forced to answer for being stoned on camera. Her confessions were more than a little unsettling.

    Jenelle admitted to the Dr. Drew that she overdosed at least once while visiting Kieffer's family in New Jersey. And even though she insisted she always used clean needles, Jenelle admitted to the TV shrink that she left shooting up to Kieffer. As Dr. Drew pointed out, she had no real idea what he was using or how he was doing it.

    At least, that's her story. Through tears, we heard how much she hated using the hardcore drug, how it landed her in the hospital several times as she was coming down off a high, and how she has absolutely no clue how to shoot up herself.

    Yeah.

    Right.

    I'd like to think that at the time -- way back in November -- Jenelle really thought she was going to clean up her act. She seemed to think she was doing fine at the time. She was even righteously indignant with Dr. Drew that her mom hasn't yet loosened up and allowed her to let Jace stay overnight at her apartment.

    But the charges pending against her now, and the fact that she was served for being behind on her child support for Jace, just a few months after the finale special was shot, make each revelation to Dr. Drew sound more less like the talk of a teen mom who accidentally got pulled into something bad by a crappy boyfriend and more like the excuses of classic drug addict.

    And as long as she's playing the blame game, Jenelle is not going to get better.

    Fortunately things were much better for the other mom featured tonight. Kailyn went off the rails a bit when Dr. Drew forced her to have a sit-down with ex-boyfriend Jo's girlfriend Vee. She stomped off the stage, refusing to make peace with the other woman in her son's life. Ironically, Kail's biggest problem with Vee stems from photos she found of Jo's girlfriend online ... doing drugs.

    But after commercial break, she'd made peace with Dr. Drew at least and returned for a sweet talk with new husband Javi about their plans for the future, plans that focus on trying to provide stability for little Isaac.

    At least one of the girls has her priorities straight.

    What did you think of Jenelle's breakdown? Did it feel honest to you?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Casey AnthonyJust when you thought Casey Anthony had slithered back into the hole from whence she came, the mother of Caylee Anthony is back. And despite some sudden but very loud outrage from Judge Belvin Perry -- the man who presided over her murder trial two years ago -- this week over her walking around a free woman, we may not be getting rid of Casey any time soon.

    It's looking more and more likely that "tot mom," as she was dubbed during her famous trial, could end up selling her story after all. But before Americans get themselves as worked up as Perry did on the Today show, where he admitted he was "shocked" by the "not guilty" verdict in the two-year-old trial, wait until you hear what she stands to gain for the delight of telling the world her side of the story.

    Bupkus.

    That's right, if a judge allows Casey to sell her story -- because that's still being weighed in bankruptcy court this month by federal Judge K. Rodney May -- she won't see a dime. The money would go back to her creditors, which is why May is involved in the first place. He has a month to decide whether a trustee in Casey Anthony's case can sell the commercial rights to her life story to try to offset her debts.

    America, let's do this guy a favor and just tell him it's OK. We understand why he'd say yes. Casey owes about $792,000 to multiple creditors. People have fronted money, and they deserve to get it back.

    At this point, no one is likely to hire Casey Anthony to do much of anything. I wouldn't even want her picking up dog poop in my backyard. So where else is the money going to come from? Her story is all she's got.

    It also bears mentioning that the offers entertained so far are so low, it's embarrassing.

    Lifetime may be already in talks to turn Jodi Arias' life into a TV movie, but there doesn't seem to be the same interest in Casey.

    The talk of making Casey a millionaire is long gone. So far the high bidder is, cough, cough, around $12,000. Another offer came in for just $10,000. Clearly the folks interested are hedging their bets, worried that America will follow through on threats to boycott any story from Casey. There's little chance she'll make so much she'll pay off the creditors AND walk off with some cash.

    So what is there to lose? She sells her story; some of her creditors get their money back ... and America boycotts the book (or movie or WHATEVER it is that comes of it). 

    Do you think Casey should get the go-ahead to sell?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    short skirtDon't think it can get any more bizarre than a junior high school banning girls from wearing skinny jeans lest they "distract" boys? Now a kindergartner has been targeted for distracting other kids with her lascivious clothing choices. The little girl's ruffled skirt -- which she wore with a pair of tights -- was dubbed "too short" by her school district, and her mom was called in to make her change her outfit. 

    Yes, I said kindergarten. And no, this 6-year-old does not live in Saudi Arabia.

    The kindergartner with thighs so distracting they bring the boys to the (play)yard attends Tussahaw Elementary School in McDonough, Georgia, where administrators told her mom that her outfit "was inappropriate and a distraction to other students."

    She's in kindergarten!

    She was wearing a Hello Kitty shirt and a ruffled skirt! With tights!

    Has this world gone mad?

    I'll admit I was already working myself into an outrage before this story even came across my desk.

    My almost-8-year-old came home with a note last week reaffirming her school's dress code. It calls for all students to wear shorts that are at least fingertip-length.

    Which is fine, really. For older kids.

    My daughter, on the other hand, is in the midst of an awkward growth stage. She has long arms and a teeny, weeny waist. A month away from her eighth birthday, she still fits comfortably in size 5 shorts. They're not booty shorts by any means -- and trust me, I wouldn't let her out of the house in something like that -- but technically just about every item of clothing that fits her waist and is comfortable for wearing in the warmer weather is too short for the school's rules.

    We're working with it because we're rule followers, but that doesn't mean I'm not frustrated by the school's failure to recognize that little kids' bodies are distinctly different from their older peers.

    What is inappropriate on an older kid isn't on a younger child because, well, little kids don't have big kid bodies! Kindergartners don't have curves and cleavage.

    And the notion that other people are being "distracted" by a 5-year-old in a skirt with a pair of tights makes me want to vomit. Who are these distracted people, and what are their motives?

    Who, exactly, finds little girls sexy? Because it's not me. And it's not the little kids.

    My daughter's little friends aren't paying much attention to what she's wearing ... they just want to know if she brought her favorite stuffed animal to school today or where she got that rad sheet of stickers. At least, I hope that's what they're thinking?

    Or maybe her knees really are too much for the little boys to handle. She inherited my knees after all ... 

    What do you think of these school dress codes? Are they sexualizing kids too soon?

     

    Image via Action News Jax


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle EvansThey say it takes a village to raise a child. For Jenelle Evans it might take more than that. Her mom, Barbara Evans, clearly has her hands full -- as we could see on the Teen Mom 2 finale recap with Dr. Drew this week. She's trying to parent a daughter with a drug problem and play mom to her grandson at the same time. Good thing the parents of her Teen Mom 2 co-stars aren't afraid to get their hands dirty to help her out. 

    Chelsea Houska's dad, Randy Houska, and Leah Calvert's mom, Dawn Spears, laid down some parental guidance this week for Jenelle on Twitter.

    Randy waded in first right into a Twitter argument between Jenelle and ex-boyfriend Gary Head during last night's reunion special. Gary couldn't believe he'd been left off, and words got heated between him and the reality star. Considering how heated, Randy was practically risking life and limb to get involved, but he did it anyway:

    @PBandJenelley_1 @gary_head Time to block each other and move on kids

    Truer words have not been spoken! No wonder Dawn chimed in to back him up.

    More From The Stir: Jenelle Evans Admits Just How Far She's Gone to Get High

    The two parents got a lot of support on the social media site for wading in. As one user noted:

    if they only had parents like you to raise them this never would have happened

    They've got a point.

    Randy is more or less the darling of the TV show, the menschy dad who is always there to tell Chelsea like it is ... in the nicest way possible. He's that dad we all want; the father who can tell you what you're doing wrong but doesn't bash your head in with criticism. And Dawn isn't too bad herself. She's had to handle a teenage daughter getting pregnant with TWINS, weddings, a divorce, a miscarriage ... and she's always at Leah's side with a gentle word.

    They're the kind of parents you can tell their kids' friends gravitate to. Which is why Barbara Evans should be happy to have them.

    We as parents are responsible for guiding our own kids, but it doesn't hurt to have a few helping hands out there. The village parenting concept only gets more useful as they get older, when they really start to buck our authority. If they aren't listening to us, we should be so lucky to have some other straight talking adult there to back us up.

    Barbara Evans can only do so much to convince Jenelle that she's making bad choices these days; she can't lock her in her room and force her to listen to reason. But the more people who weigh in, the harder it will be for this girl to blame everyone else for her problems.

    How do you feel about other parents helping you parent your own kid? Could it work with Jenelle?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    amanda berryAmericans are struggling to get work done today. We're all captivated by the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight from the Ohio home where they'd been held for nearly a decade since being kidnapped. We're hungry for details of how Amanda escaped, how she managed to get to a phone and make the 911 call that's being played over and over and over again just so we can hear her say the words, "I've been kidnapped for 10 years ... I'm free now."

    The call is short, some are already saying too short. The joy over hearing a girl kidnapped as a teenager enjoy her freedom has been interrupted by the Monday morning quarterbacks already taking the 911 dispatcher to task.

    She's been called out for rushing Amanda off the phone, for not being empathetic enough.

    Are the critics right? Perhaps.

    On the other hand, she's a 911 dispatcher, and they have to develop a thick outer shell or that job will take them down. They hear the worst of the worst on a daily basis, and there are also people who fake it. We now know WHO Amanda Berry is, but the case was 10 years old. What are the chances the girl's name rang a bell for her?

    Can't we just take this 911 call for what it is? A joyful sign that three young women whose families have grieved their loss for far too long are free? That the disappearance of Berry, DeJesus, and Knight has been solved ... and all three are still alive? That Amanda Berry showed extreme courage in gaining the attention of neighbors after Castro left and in making this call to the police?

    No doubt the dispatcher herself is going round and round with herself about how it all went down, that she is the woman who fielded this call of all calls.

    Because this was a mother of a call, a call that changed everything for these women and their families. This call is a good thing, America. It's something to make us feel hope today.

    Listen:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Have you listened to Amanda Berry's 911 call? What were your thoughts?

     

    Image via FBI


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Farrah Abraham Backdoor Teen MomA year ago, Farrah Abraham was the girl angry that Amber Portwood's bad behavior was making her Teen Mom co-stars look guilty by association. Now she's the star of a porn flick titled Backdoor Teen Mom, and Farrah is taking some heat from moms who don't want to be associated with taking your clothes off and having sex for money. Oh the irony!

    First it was Catelynn Lowell making fun of her, ahem, horseplay. Now the latest bit of flack for Farrah comes from Kailyn Lowry, who is cringing at her co-star's deal with Vivid Entertainment.

    Said Kail of Farrah's new flick:

    I wish Farrah's porno title had nothing to do with Teen Mom. -_- Not all of us want to be associated with that.

    Kailyn took a little heat herself for the comment from people who called her a hypocrite for judging others when she asks not to be judged, but she's standing her ground:

    Farrah can make all the sex tapes she wants. Just don't want a show I'm also on to be associated with the title.

    And who can blame her? The porno is all Farrah's doing (well, hers and James Deen's), but the title does reflect poorly on all the girls who are associated with the show.

    More From The Stir: It Takes a Village to Keep 'Teen Mom' Jenelle Evans in Line

    Most of us would prefer not to be lumped in with the likes of Farrah or her new career. Which Farrah, quite frankly, should have thought of. She's been there! As she told The Stir last year when asked about how people view her in relation to her co-stars, especially Amber Portwood:

    I feel that people should look at us separately, and the majority of people do, for who we are, what we've accomplished, what we're doing for our children ... I cannot speak for the other girls' actions, and I like to be separate from that.

    Of course, at the time, Farrah also told The Stir she didn't want to be the center of attention. And we all know that went out the window awhile back. Farrah's actions these days scream, "Look at me."

    Still, Farrah could have at least shown a little respect for the other girls and fought to distinguish her business from Teen Mom.

    Does Kailyn have the right to be mad here? Is Farrah being a hypocrite?

     

    Image via Vivid Entertainment


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    thermometer
    There may be no harder time to be a girl than during high school. Your body's changing, your hormones are all out of whack, and you're trying to figure out just WHO you are. And for girls at one Washington State high school, all that is being done with the added stress of a high school "hotness tournament."

    It's everything the name implies: a tournament that rates teenage girls on their "hotness" factor. And parents in the Issaquah school district should be ashamed of themselves.

    Technically, they don't run the tournament site. Neither does the school, which has been trying to shut it down for the past five years but been unsuccessful because it all happens off-campus.

    The "hotness tournament," which pits the girls of Issaquah High School against each other each May, is run by teenage boys. Teenage boys who could use some lessons on misogyny and basic respect for humanity.

    And for that, I blame the parents.

    With a daughter at home, my instinct is to think of the girls' side in all of this. What are they feeling? How are their parents supporting them?

    But in a case where the girls are the clear victims, the people we really need to be talking about are the boys responsible for this "hotness rating" project. What are they thinking? Who raised them to think this is acceptable? What are their parents doing to stop it?

    I wondered today what I'd be feeling if my son were one of the boys behind the hotness tournament, and my stomach twisted. I'd be angry, but I'd be more embarrassed. I'd feel like a failure as a parent

    These boys are treating the girls in their school not as human beings but as objects to be mocked, to be lined up and judged. Sounds like someone forgot to teach their kids to treat others as they'd like to be treated.

    Who do you blame here? Is it the boys? The parents? The school?

     

    Image via rcbodden/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    ed abarUsually alimony claims are pretty cut and dried. A judge said you have to pay, so you have to pay. But a California mom fighting for the right not to pay her ex-husband spousal support has one heckuva case. Carol Abar divorced EdAbar because he'd been raping her daughter, his stepdaughter, since the girl was just 9 years old.

    Can you blame her for not wanting to send him a check every month? It's like handing him an award for abusing her child.

    The twisted case is working its way through the courts where Ed Abar is asking a judge to force Carol to resume $1,300-a-month alimony payments she was making before he pleaded guilty last year to one count of rape (he was facing additional charges but pleaded down to avoid a harsher sentence). He even wants back support for the time period when he was in jail -- when a judge gave her permission to stop the checks. 

    What will happen is up to a judge, but it's sure to have repercussions for other divorce cases in the state, if not the nation. 

    Should criminal activity in the marriage make spousal support null and void? Should criminals be due money from their spouse simply because she (in this case) earned more during the marriage?

    Traditionally, judges in family court look into claims of domestic abuse in marriages when determining alimony, but that hardly seems like enough. A rape of a child is beyond the pale and clearly impacts her mother.

    In the Abars' case, it's why Carol says she filed for divorce. It took her 16 years to kick him to the curb because Ed Abar threatened the girl that he'd kill her mother and stepbrothers if she told on him, but as soon as Carol found out, she did what any mother would do: she got the sicko out of her house ASAP. How unfair is it that being a good mother is being held against her? That she's being punished when it was he who destroyed her family?

    Cases don't even have to be this heinous. Surely when a spouse turns out to be a crack dealer or something equally illegal and harmful to a family, the responsible spouse who leaves to escape criminal activity should be given a chance to truly break free.

    These cases can't be allowed to happen. Victims shouldn't be re-victimized because the law is inflexible.

    Do you think Carol should have to pay? Where should judges draw the line?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    little girlIf you are feeling down about your lot in life, find the parents of kids younger than yours and sit down for a chat about all the things your kid can do that they are still dreaming about. It's like an instant mood boost. You walk off grinning because, yes, your kid CAN be left in a room with a marble for five minutes and not send you screaming for a paramedic because the choking hazard stage is OVER y'all!

    Forget walking and talking. You won't find those kind of milestones in the baby book, but these are the moments parents live for, the moments that should come with trumpets and fireworks because they are truly worth celebrating:

    1. When They Wipe Their Own Butt. Listen, potty training is fabulous. No more diapers? It hardly gets better. Except it does! Because one day your kid stops calling you to come into the bathroom to wipe their behind. Picture the Hallmark card to celebrate THAT.

    2. When They Can Make Their Own Sandwich. Oh sweet, Nellie, I can't begin to describe the ecstasy of being able to say, "So go make a sandwich" when your kid announces, "I'm hungry." I will only say this: imagine being able to sit on the couch for five whole minutes without having to jump up to get something for your child. Sweet, sweet ecstasy.

    3. When They Learn to Use a Tissue. Instead of making that awful snort, snort, snort noise. Or wiping it on their sleeve. Or coming over to you with a tissue in hand and saying, "Here, hold this while I blow." Can you tell it's allergy season?

    4. When They Can Lick Around the Ice Cream Cone. There's a certain skill to eating an ice cream cone before it melts all over your clothing that one eventually develops, but it seems kids aren't allowed to get there until having uttered the words "Mommmmmy, my ice cream fell off the cone" at least 679 times, give or take one.

    5. When They Unroll Their Socks AND Put Them in the Hamper. This is a two-fer, so you may think you're asking a lot. Actually, you ARE asking a lot. But rumor has it that both can be accomplished, and by real, honest-to-goodness children! I'm still thinking it will take a horde of hygienic fairies to get it done in my house, but I'm holding out hope that we one day reach this stage of childhood development. Maybe she can then teach my husband.

    6. When They Develop Taste in Music. I mean real taste, not "Mommy, can you play 'Call Me Maybe' for the zillionth time again?" One day you will be able to listen to the Stones together. Or maybe even the Ramones. (shivers).

    7. When They Just Move the Carrots Off to the Side of the Plate Quietly. I think we're all picky about something, but at some point in life, you learn that it's better to just eat around the offending item and sneak it to the dog later. We're still in "But I haaaaate carrots" stage, but I refuse to give up hope.

    8. When They Close the Cabinets After Rummaging Through Them. Yes, at some point your kids realize the "just been robbed" look isn't doing anything for your kitchen.

    9. When They Buckle Their Own Seat Belts. My back sighed a long, long, long sigh of relief when it realized that it would no longer have to crawl into the backseat and struggle with the buckle.

    10. When They Shower. Alone. Now go back and read that; I didn't say YOU can shower alone. That won't happen until they've gone off to college. But when they at least learn to wash their own parts, you've got a window of time to do important things such as make their lunch, unroll those furled up socks and throw them in the hamper, close the kitchen cabinets ... now if only they'd learn to close the shower curtain while they bathe ...

    What are the milestones no one tells you about that you REALLY celebrated?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Charles RamseyIt took, what, all of a day for Charles Ramsey to become a household name? The newly minted Internet legend who helped kidnapping victim Amanda Berry make the 911 call heard 'round the world has put a smiling face on a story of unspeakable horrors with his funny TV interviews. Although three women and a child were rescued in Cleveland this week, the stories of their kidnappings are really just the tip of the iceberg for Berry and her fellow captives, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

    I dare say that's what has made Charles Ramsey and his ebullience during TV interviews go viral. He's a hero with a great attitude and a hearty sense of humor.

    And yes, no matter what people want to say, Ramsey is a hero. He's a guy who saw something off and decided not to turn the other way but to put himself out there and help Amanda Berry. By heading next door with another neighbor (Angel Cordero, who has come forward to try to claim his own bit of the spotlight), by offering her a phone to call 911 and staying there until police came, he changed the course of these three women's lives -- for the better.

    More From The Stir: Listen: Amanda Berry's 9-1-1 Call Will Make You Cry for Joy With Her (AUDIO)

    He also unwittingly made himself a public figure, a man who is being both celebrated and (sadly) mocked today, but he hasn't backed down. From his pledge to turn any reward for finding the missing women over to the women themselves to his insistence that he is NOT a hero, Ramsey is a man who deserves all the applause he's getting today.

    Just take a look at some of the quotes that made us grin along with him: 

    From his now famous interview with local station WEWSTV, which has even been auto-tuned:

    1. On recognizing Amanda Berry's name: When she told me, it didn't register ... Until I got to calling 911, and then I'm like, I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry? I thought this girl was dead!

    2. On alleged suspect Ariel Castro: My neighbor ... you got some big testicles to pull this off, bro.

    3. On seeing Amanda: Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.

    4. Again on seeing Amanda: Either she's homeless or she got problems. That's the only reason why she runnin’ to a black man. 

    From Ramsey's interview with Anderson Cooper 360:

    5. On the 911 operators: We're both calling 911. Now she gets through and I get through. She deal with a moron, me, too.

    6. On the cops responding: They got there so fast because I said moron. Because I said hey, Amanda Berry is right in front of me right now. Here's what she got on and I told him white tank top, blue sweatpants, nice tennis shoes, nice ponytail. What else? Oh, right. She's panicking, idiot. Put yourself in her shoes. Like I said, Amanda Berry, that don't ring no damn bells, you being a cop and all?

    7. On how the ordeal has affected him: See, that's why now I'm having trouble sleeping. See, up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was the lack of money. See what I'm saying? So now that that's going on, and I could have done this last year, not this hero stuff, just do the right thing.

    8. On being a hero: Bro, I'm a Christian, an American, and just like you. We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It's just that you got to put that -- being a coward, and I don't want to get in nobody's business. You got to put that away for a minute.

    9. On why he ran to help: You have to have cojones, bro ... That's all what it's about. It's about cojones on this planet.

    10. On the reward: I tell you what you do, give it to them. Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went picked it up, paycheck.

    How can you not love a guy like that? He's got heart, grit, and a sense of humor!

    And now he's gone auto-tune:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    What do you make of the fuss over Charles Ramsey? Is he a hero in your eyes?

     

    Image via WEWSTV/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    jeff BlissEver heard of Jeff Bliss? Mark his name down, stat! The long-haired teen caught giving a lazy teacher a tongue-lashing in the latest video to go viral could end up changing the world some day. Or at least turning the education system on its ear.

    Teachers who are just in it for the paycheck are the lament of parents everywhere. But how often does anyone stand up and do something about them? Jeff Bliss just did. He stood up in his world history class at Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas and gave his educator what-for for not engaging her students. Just watch:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

     

    Folks, can we give this kid a medal? Get him a job working with Arne Duncan?

    In case you couldn't hear everything he said as the angry teacher rudely tried to push Jeff out of the classroom, this was my favorite part:

    I'm telling you what you need to do. You want kids to come into your class, you want them to get excited for this? You gotta come in here, you gotta make them excited. You want a kid to change and start doing better? You gotta touch his frickin' heart. Can't expect a kid to change if all you do is just tell him. You've got to take this job serious. This is the future of this nation. And when you come in here like you did last time and make a statement about, 'Oh this is my paycheck," indeed it is. But this is my country's future, and my education.

    He just hit the nail right on the head.

    As a mom, I've been lucky to encounter only good teachers so far with my daughter, teachers who know how to touch -- to borrow from Jeff -- my kid's "frickin' heart."

    But I remember all too well some of the less engaged educators I encountered as a child, and I dread the day my child ends up in one of those classrooms. Nothing kills a kid's excitement to learn faster than a teacher who can't be bothered to lead her students to drink at the fountain of knowledge.

    Teachers have the opportunity to change the world one kid at a time. They actively pursue a profession that gives them that opportunity, and they sure as heck better take advantage of it ... because kids' lives are depending on them.

    What do you think of Jeff's lecture? Is he right on?

     

    Image via James Smith/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    tigerWhen America got all excited about Amy Chua and her "Tiger Mom" parenting methods, I cringed. Could people actually think belittling their kids, severely restricting their social lives, and a rigorous educational plan could create itty bitty geniuses?

    If you're one of the parents who bought it, be warned: it's not going to work. And now we have the science to prove it.

    A study out of the human development and family sciences department at the University of Texas has revealed that children with parents labeled as "supportive" had the best developmental outcomes. Kids with so called "tiger" parents had "lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as less of a sense of family obligation; it was also associated with more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation."

    Well, well, well ... treating your kids like crap alienates them from you. Who'd have thunk it?

    More From The Stir: 8 Types of Moms: Which One are You?

    If I sound flip, I apologize. I've spent a lot of time trying to disassociate myself from the tiger method in an effort to raise a happy kid.

    The truth is, the study hit perilously close to home. I was raised in a household that would fall closer to tiger than supportive. My parents were not full-on Amy Chua types, but the focus on academic pursuits was heightened. I remember the trauma of coming home with a 78 on my report card ... in art. That I could little control my lack of artistic talent was no matter for a mother who was irate that I'd so badly damaged my high honor roll GPA with such a poor showing in that one class.

    I still put a high value on education. But I put a higher value on raising a happy kid.

    The differences between supportive and tiger parents are many, but I'd wager it all boils down to one thing: our definition of what it means to have a "successful kid."

    I'd love to have a genius rocket scientist kid who wins the Nobel Award one day. But all that wouldn't mean a thing to me if she's miserable.

    This is why my daughter is in second grade this year, a grade I skipped entirely. This is why we don't study her spelling list EVERY night. This is why we downplay the importance of grades and play up the importance of doing your best.

    Most of all, this is why we don't belittle our daughter or limit her life to academic endeavors. She's more than just the number on top of a worksheet.

    I don't care that my kid isn't as advanced as I was at her age (let me be clear, she's still a smarty pants who fell asleep last night with her favorite book of the moment still clutched in her hands ... this is NOT a knock on my kid). I care that she is genuinely happy to wake up in the morning, board a school bus and go off to learn the multiplication tables.

    Am I a perfect parent? Of course not. But I don't expect to have a perfect kid either.

    What do you think about tiger parenting? Do you stress education in your house? 

     

    Image via digitalART2/Flickr

     


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