Grandparent Closeness

Grandparent Closeness

Here’s some work that underscores the importance of the grandparent/grandchild relationship. A study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry finds teens who form close, loving relationships with a grandparent have fewer behavioral and emotional problems than less-attached teens. The benefits to the young people were even greater when they were also close to the parent who was the grandparent’s child. The study, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, surveyed 1,400 teens, age 12 to 18 about hyperactivity, emotional symptoms such as excessive worrying, social skills, and fighting and bullying. They also rated their relationships to grandparents and parents. For those with average emotional closeness to their parents, contact with their closest grandparent was linked with reduced adjustment difficulties. For teens who had very close parental relationships, the closest grandparent played an even stronger role in reducing those problems. Most of the grandparents identified as closest to teens were maternal grandmothers aged 70 or...
Phone As Good As Hugs

Phone As Good As Hugs

Here’s good news for mothers: if your daughter is stressed out or upset, a kind word can be almost as good as a hug if you’re too far away for physical contact. According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, for young girls, talking on the phone with their mothers reduces a key stress hormone and also releases oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical that is believed to play a key role in forming bonds. The researchers asked girls aged 7 to 12, to give a speech or do math problems in front of an audience, a surefire way to make them nervous. Afterward, roughly one-third of the girls were reunited with their mothers, who hugged and soothed them for 15 minutes. Another third spoke to their mothers on the phone for 15 minutes. The remaining group just watched a movie. The cortisol levels of the girls who were soothed by their mothers—either in person or on the phone—started dropping immediately afterwards, and returned to normal after about a half-hour. By contrast, cortisol levels in the other group continued to rise after the test and remained higher than normal throughout the experiment. Similarly, oxytocin levels rose sharply in the girls who interacted with their moms, and remained elevated for more than an hour after the test. The girls who didn’t have contact with their mothers showed no increase in oxytocin levels at all. Bottom line: comfort from a parent is a very good thing whichever way it’s...
Second Chance Romance

Second Chance Romance

Have you ever dreamed of getting back together with a former romantic partner who should have been perfect for you? Despite romantic depictions of that scenario, a study from Kansas State University finds this is unlikely to make you happy. When couples who break up and get back together – it’s called a cyclical relationship. Researchers analyzed information that cyclical and noncyclical couples provided and found that rekindling a romantic relationship was associated with problems. They say cyclical couples are generally more impulsive about major decisions, like moving in together, buying a pet or even having a child. As a result, they tend to be less satisfied with their partner, have worse communication, lower self-esteem, and are less certain about their future together. The study also found that members of cyclical couples who got married began their marriages with lower satisfaction and higher levels of conflict. And they were more likely to have a trial separation within the first three years of marriage. The bottom line they say: it’s a clear message to couples who have broken up: “Don’t get back...
Single for the Holidays

Single for the Holidays

If you are single, divorced, widowed, or recently separated, the holidays can be a difficult time. Here are 5 tips to having a happy holiday from psychologist and happiness expert Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo. Be with friends — old or new. Social support is a proven buffer to depression. So spend time with people you like. If all of your friends are with their families, make new ones.  Look for people who are also alone and you might like to get to know better. Volunteer. Reaching out to help others boosts your happiness in so many ways. Not only will you no longer be alone, but you will also feel great about helping other people. Volunteering boosts self-confidence and helps us appreciate what we have in our lives, rather than focusing on what we do not have. Pick a Project. This may be a great time for that item on your to-do list that has been staring at you for a while: cleaning out a closet, organizing your photos, rearranging your bedroom. Travel. Go somewhere — anywhere. Take a “you” inventory. So often we go though life as if on automatic pilot. Take this opportunity to really figure out your strengths and your goals.  Research shows that making conscious decisions to spend your time applying your values and strengths promotes greater happiness and health. Happy...
Teens and Part-Time Work

Teens and Part-Time Work

It’s a choice facing many families this year. Should you allow your teenager to work part-time during the school year? : About 65 per cent of high-school students who can work part-time do, according to a Statistics Canada study which shows Canadian kids work more during the school week than teens in nine other European and North American countries. Some say work gives teens much needed maturity in the work force, helps build a work ethic and improves organizational skills, as well as providing spending money. Others say it distracts students from their real job – learning and getting good grades. A researcher at Concordia University compared work and grade-point averages among high school students over a number of years. He concluded that working part-time hurts grades. The more a hours a teen works, the greater the harm to grades. He also found the younger a teen, the greater the detrimental impact. But other research out of Australia shows that part-time work benefits most students – as long as teens don’t work more than 12 hours a...

Hangry fighting Spouses

We already know that being hungry can make us grouchy and irritable. There’s even a word for it : hangry. But now a study that used voodoo dolls confirms that it can provoke fights between husbands and wives. The underlying reason is low blood sugar – researchers say we need glucose for self-control. The study in  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences followed 107 married couples for three weeks. Each night, they measured their levels of the blood sugar glucose and asked each participant to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse. That indicated levels of aggressive feelings. The researchers found that the lower the blood sugar levels, the more pins were pushed into the doll. In fact, people with the lowest scores pushed in twice as many pins as those with the highest blood sugar levels. And  the spouses were usually not angry at each other. About 70 percent of the time, people didn’t put any pins in the doll, So should you stave off those hunger pangs with a candy bar? The researchers said that might be a good idea if you’re about to discuss something touchy, but that fruits and vegetables are a better long-term strategy for keeping blood sugar levels...