Women Can Make Up to 21 New Friends Through Having Children

The Friendship Report, commissioned by leading Child Trust Fund provider in the UK, The Children’s Mutual, reveals that if mums attended every parental group, from ante-natal class to primary school, they would make an average 21 new friends along the way. Taking a child to primary school was the most likely route to friendship, with mums making on average five new friends at the school gates.  A third of mums (31 per cent) say that meeting people through primary school produces the best friends, who are also the most supportive and helpful. With research suggesting that a network of good friends helps you live longer in older age, it’s good news all round for mums.

Psychological research shows that one of the most important characteristics of friends is that they are similar to one another: we like people who are like us.  As our priorities change, so does our criteria for what makes a good friend and one of the most dramatic changes that occurs in many people’s lives is becoming a parent. These changing interests lead to a not necessarily conscious desire to form friendships with people who are similar to the ‘new you’ – parents with children of similar age.

If the mum’s pre-children friends are not parents, then it is possible that they will share very little in common with their new post-children friends. People frequently keep different friends separate and even present subtly different identities to the different friendship groups as much as they can; many parents enjoy going out from time to time with old friends and NOT talking about the children.

Other key findings from The Friendship Report:

  • The majority of mums (70 per cent) say that the friendships they make through children tend to be more supportive and more likely to offer help and advice than their other friendships.
  • A third (31 per cent) cherish the friends they’ve made as a result of being a mum above all others, saying friends made through children become stronger friendships than any others they make in their lifetime.
  • Most mums (72 per cent) say friends made through children are easier to socialise with because both sets of parents can bring their children along.
  • Making friends through children has lead to other activities for many mums, including going shopping together (54 per cent); shared babysitting (36 per cent); and exercising (30 percent).
  • Partners don’t take make nearly as many friends because of their children – if they were to attend all the possible parental groups with the mum, they would only make six new friends – about a third the number made by mums.

Parents want complete sex education

The vast majority of parents support comprehensive sex education programs starting in primary school, and rate topics such as birth control and communicating about sex above discussions about abstinence, a university researcher has found.

“The vast majority of parents want sex education to cover issues such as birth control methods and safer sex, and sex as part of a loving relationship (98 per cent and 97 per cent respectively),” said Allison Macbeth from the University of Sydney.

“In contrast, when asked to rate the importance of abstinence as a topic, just three in ten parents (32 per cent) said it was ‘very or extremely important’,” said Ms Macbeth, who is researching parents’ attitudes to sex education as part of a Masters in Sexual Health.

“A small but vocal minority of parents give the impression through the media that the majority of parents want abstinence-only education for their children. But my research shows parents who support abstinence-only education are a minority. In fact, 15 per cent of parents think the topic of abstinence should be banned outright from sex education classes.”

“The majority of parents support a comprehensive sex education curriculum beginning in primary school, before their children are sexually active, so they can make their own decisions about their sexual health, including the choice to be sexually active,” she said.

The study’s key findings

One-hundred and seventeen (117) parents across Australia, with children of any age, completed an online questionnaire. Key findings are below.

  • The majority of parents support sex education in schools (97.4%) and a shared responsibility for this education between parents and schools (95.7%).
  • When asked what year sex education should start, the most common answer was year 5 (23.9%), with 82.9% of parents wanting it introduced by year 6.
  • The majority of parents are not satisfied (64.8%) with the sex education their children receive in school and most (80.9%) are interested in becoming involved in their children’s school sex education programs.
  • When asked what topics they wanted included in school sex education programs, the vast percentage wanted all 27 listed topics included. Topics to note are that 100% wanted puberty, correct names for genitals, and dealing with peer pressure to be sexually active included. In addition to common topics such as menstruation, wet dreams, STIs, and reproduction and birth, the vast percentage of parents also thought the following slightly more controversial topics should be included in school sex education programs:

99.1%: teenage pregnancy and parenting
98.3%: birth control methods and safer sex practices
96.6%: how to communicate about sex
96.6%: sex as a part of a loving relationship
96.6%: sexual decision-making in dating relationships
92.3%: masturbation
91.5%: building equal romantic relationships
91.5%: sexual behaviour
91.5%: attraction, love, and intimacy
83.8%.sexual pleasure and orgasm

Ms Macbeth said that with Australian young people having the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the western world and ever increasing rates of STIs, it is clear that sex education in schools needs to be improved.

She said young people report that they want to learn about the emotional, relational, and psychological aspects of sex in school programs, but are not getting this information. Instead, the typical sex education class includes discussion on condom use, STIs, and biology. There are comprehensive sex education curriculums in place across Australia, but most parents are not satisfied with these programs.”

“It is essential that parents supportive of sex education get involved. It is this majority that needs to get active so that the minority of abstinence-only advocates do not gain control of school sex education programs, thus further reducing young people’s decision making abilities regarding their sexual health by limiting the information they are exposed to,” said Ms Macbeth.

Victims of domestic violence live with the fear children will be removed

It’s important for their own safety that women do continue to report domestic violence, without the baseless fear that their children will be taken from them as a result, the NSW Department of Community Services said on Friday.

Acting Executive Director, Operations Support Helen Freeland, said it was inappropriate to comment on the individual cases of two women, both before the court, who attended the public forum of the Wood Special Commission.

“What I can say is that children are never removed simply because a woman reports domestic violence,” Ms Freeland said.

“In fact, DoCS regularly supports women to leave a domestic violence situation so they can provide a safe and loving home for their children. Children are placed in care only if they cannot live safely with their parent or carer, and it is dangerous and simplistic to suggest otherwise.”

Ms Freeland added that “The NSW child protection system is full of checks and balances to prevent children being removed from their parents unnecessarily. DoCS looks at many aspects of a family situation and if it believes a child’s safety is at risk, makes a recommendation to the Children’s Court. The Children’s Court hears DoCS evidence, but they also hear evidence from the parents. The Court then weighs up that evidence and makes the final decision on what would be the best for the child.”

“I would urge any woman living with domestic violence to contact the Domestic Violence Line on 1 800 656 463 – they can do so anonymously, and still receive help. It would be tragic if women were discouraged from reporting domestic violence to police, support agencies or DoCS, and as a result put both their lives and their children’s lives at risk,” Ms Freeland said.

The Bub Hub: an internet success story

Brad and Hilary Lauder launched the Bub Hub in 2002 when the Internet was still a new addition in most Australian homes.  Over the years the couple has seen an explosion in the number of parenting sites launched on the Internet, including some fierce competition provided by large media corporations in Australia.  But the Lauders have refused to sacrifice their honesty and integrity in the process of growing their website to the point where the Bub Hub consistently ranks as the number one parenting site in Australia. 

The couple were inspired to start up a website shortly after the birth of their first child in March 2001.  Today there are hundreds of parenting sites in Australia, but six years ago there were no resources on the Internet for new parents like the Lauders.  So after some meticulous research conducted by physics graduate Hilary and Brad, the couple decided to create an online resource which would be available for new and expecting parents around the clock.

The Bub Hub was launched in March 2002 and featured a Directory of products and services available throughout Queensland.  Initial feedback convinced the Lauders to expand the site to include listings of businesses, organisations and groups from around Australia.  Today, the Bub Hub Directory is still the most comprehensive listing of products and services available to parents in this part of the world.  Although listings in the directory are free, every submission is still human-verified to maintain the integrity of this most trusted resource.

Another popular feature of the website are the support forums.  An immediate hit with mothers, the Bub Hub forums has membership exceeding 28,000 and a small army of dedicated moderators from around Australia.

In the past six years, the Bub Hub has expanded to include: tip sheets; articles; event calendars; eNewsletters; parent product reviews; free reward charts, the Jobs & Career portal; and more.  Co-founder and marketing director, Brad Lauder says they are always looking at ways to improve the site and expand on existing resources for parents.

It is perhaps this ability to adapt to the changing face of Australia and the needs of their target audience, which has made the Lauders such a success on the world wide web.  However, this is no overnight success story.

Co-founder and head of marketing and sales, Brad Lauder said, “It did take time.  Once we launched in Qld the feedback was very positive but the revenue was not, it was not until our national launch on Australia Day 2003 that we became confident of our ability to keep the site going long term.”

In the early days of the site, Brad and Hilary were offered large sums of money by the manufacturers of baby formula for advertising space on the Bub Hub.  But the couple refused to compromise their principles, choosing instead to abide by the World Health Organisation Code and not sell advertising space to milk formula producers.

Maintaining their integrity may have cost them some much needed advertising revenue intially, but Brad and Hilary have no regrets.  With site traffic that currently stands at 200,000+ unique site visitors (Nielson’s NetRatings, March 2008) and a staggering 55,000,000 hits per month, the website has attracted big name advertisers, including Coles, Tommee Tippee, Big W, Bonds, Heinz, and Huggies.

Brad Lauder says promotion is a crucial factor in the success of any new business.  “We distributed flyers to all the  maternity hospitals and we have established a presence at the major baby and parenting trade show, the Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo.”

“Some people have had a lot of success with Google Adwords.  It doesn’t work for us because our website uses such broad search terms.  But if your site relates to something very specific, I recommend Google’s adwords,” he said.

If you have ever tried to earn a reasonable income on the Internet, you’ll know how difficult it can be, especially in an atmosphere of increasing competition on the world wide web.  In the face of such competition, the Lauders have managed to hold on to their place as the number one parenting site in the country by doing what they do best, listening to their target audience and meeting the needs of Australian parents.

Family friendly jobs portal for parents

Australia’s leading parenting website, the Bub Hub has launched another online first in Australia with a Jobs & Career portal specifically designed to meet the needs of parents.

The Bub Hub has partnered with Part Time Online, Just Be! and Mums in Business to provide an unparalleled resource for family-friendly jobs and work from home parents.

With near full employment, talented parents are needed in the workplace to help continue Australia’s economic growth and help reduce the skills shortage.

“Many employers now see job sharing as a valid means of employment and parents are the logical, valuable people to fill this gap,” says Brad Lauder, co-founder of The Bub Hub.

The Jobs & Careers portal on the Bub Hub lists current job vacancies from around Australia. The job listings and job search facilities on the site are sourced from family-friendly employment agencies, Just Be! and Part Time Online.

Just Be! lists employers who are genuinely committed to working with women, and mothers in particular, and they understand their needs and know it is important to offer things like child care and flexible work hours to attract and retain talented women.

Part Time Online offers Australia’s leading selection of part time, job share, flexible, contract and casual positions. With rapid growth in this area, parents can now find the position that meets their needs from employers who are committed to them. Part Time Online has a job share community that you can become part of as well as a range of tools and case studies to help you in your journey.

The Jobs & Careers portal also has a section for mums and dads looking to set up a small business.

“If you have a good idea for a business you need advice and support and we are always happy to facilitate this process for parents,” said Brad Lauder in a recent telephone interview with Australian Women Online.

To give mums access to as much relevant information as possible, The Bub Hub has partnered with Mums in Business, a website that focuses on business mums and provides the tools, information and advice they need to start, run and develop a successful business.

“In our experience there have been so many small businesses that have been set up, but then haven’t worked because the people involved didn’t plan effectively. That’s why we felt it necessary to add business resources for parents,” Brad Lauder said.

Another useful feature of the Jobs & Careers portal is the Helpful Services for Working Parents section. This section of the portal lists information and contact details for:

  • home-based business opportunities
  • careers and business services
  • childcare, nannies and babysitters
  • home help
  • grocery delivery services
  • meal preparation and meal delivery services
  • and more

The portal also includes articles and tips sheets for mums returning to the workforce after child rearing.

With the launch of a Jobs & Careers portal specifically aimed at meeting the needs of parents, the Bub Hub has proved yet again, why they are the number one parenting website in Australia.

Although the website is a profitable business, after speaking to Brad Lauder, I have no doubt the Lauder’s passion and commitment to meeting the needs of Australian parents is genuine and I look forward to seeing what’s next for the Bub Hub.

Warning against using cough and cold treatments on children under two

Cough and cold medicines formulated for children under 2 are being pulled from pharmacy shelves in the United Kingdom amid fears of accidental overdose. 

Responding to guidance issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), that cough and cold treatments should not be used for infants and children under 2 years of age, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has called on pharmacists to review how such products are stored and sold.

RPSGB’s Director of Practice & Quality Improvement, David Pruce, says:

“It is good practice to restrict the use of over the counter products for the treatment of cough and cold symptoms in children under 2 years of age. In view of the MHRA’s new guidance, the RPSGB recommends that its members review how products marketed for the treatment of coughs and colds in children are stored and sold. Pharmacists are experts in medicines and are well placed in the heart of communities to offer advice to members of the public who may have concerns about safe treatments for children.”

The following medicines are suitable for children under 2 years old who have uncomplicated coughs and colds: –

  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain and lower temperature
  • Simple non-pharmacological cough mixtures for the treatment of coughs (for example paediatric simple linctus or those containing glycerol or honey and lemon)
  • Vapour rubs and inhalant decongestants which can be applied to children’s clothing to provide relief of stuffy or blocked nose for children and infants over 3 months.
  • Saline (Sodium Chloride 0.9%) nose drops can be helpful particularly in infants who are having difficulty feeding.

If these remedies do not relieve symptoms, please consult your doctor for advice.

DNA (UK)

Every child needs a hero

In an initiative to help raise money for local Australian primary schools and support children devastated by the impact of abuse, neglect and family violence, the Australian Childhood Foundation has invited more than 5000 schools to participate in its Childhood Hero Dress-up Day, which will be held on Friday 13th June 2008.

Students who wish to dress up as their childhood hero will be asked to donate $2.00 to their school. Fifty per cent of the funds raised will be retained by the school and 50 per cent will be donated to the Australian Childhood Foundation. The school that raises the most money will win a Fujifilm FinePix S5700 camera.

The Australian Childhood Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that delivers a range of services to help put a stop to child abuse. Childhood Hero Dress-up Day gives children an opportunity to acknowledge the heroes in their lives. A childhood hero could be a sporting identity, family member, community member such as a policeman, fireman, or a super hero.

According to the Australian Childhood Foundation’s CEO, Dr Joe Tucci, the Foundation’s schools program is a critical component of its annual Childhood Hero Appeal.

“Each year we are strongly supported by Australian schools,” explains Dr Tucci.

“Schools are a critical avenue of getting information to teachers, parents, children and their local communities. Childhood Hero Dress Up Day gives us all an opportunity to celebrate the fun, innocence and importance of childhood, while at the same time raise much needed funds for schools and the Foundation.”

Schools are also encouraged to incorporate the theme of Childhood Hero into the curriculum including Show and Tell, Art and Writing and Expression.

“We believe every child needs a hero to make them feel special, loved and cared for,” says Dr Tucci. “Our annual Childhood Hero Appeal and schools program help raise awareness of the importance of heroes and mentors in children’s lives, particularly those who need heroes the most: children traumatised by abuse, family violence and neglect.”

Child abuse is Australia’s most critical community problem. Last year, there were 309 517 new reports of child abuse and neglect received across Australia. That equates to one report every two minutes. More infants under the age of 12 months were found to have been abused or neglected than children in any other age group. Last year, there were more children living away from their family for their own protection than ever before. The number of children in care has more than doubled in the past decade – increasing from 13 979 in 1996 to 28 441 in 2007.

All money raised from Childhood Hero Dress Up Day will go towards: Counselling children who are victims of abuse; educational programs for professionals and parents; and researching the effects of child abuse in the community.

For schools interested in participating in Childhood Hero Dress Up Day, a registration site has been established at the website.

Calculate university costs online

Parents and students can now determine the estimated costs of University based on their career choices and living options thanks to the Australian Scholarships Groups’ unique new online University Costs Calculator.

The online University Costs Calculator is the second calculator ASG has developed and it supports ASG’s Secondary Schooling Costs Calculator.  The new University Costs Calculator takes all the hard work out of estimating the future university costs for students because it supplies all the necessary information about university course costs by profiling 77 career paths (based on HECS subject categories) and living options, including living at home with parents, living in university halls of residence, living independently, or boarding through a program such as Homestay.

The Calculator represents the full spectrum of costs, including textbooks, equipment and course supplies; computer and internet access; accommodation (including establishment costs for accommodation); groceries and food; utilities; public transport; entertainment; and ancillary costs such as phone calls, and medical expenses.

The calculator’s simple online interface allows parents or students to select a state or national average, key in the birth or university start date details, then select a career path and living option to determine the current and future cost of attending university.  The University Costs Calculator then presents the estimated total costs parents and students can expect to pay for gaining a university education on a year-by-year and total basis. The calculator presents information for individual and subsequent students in one simple screen.

No personal information is collected from parents or students using the calculator so it can be used with confidence to fully explore cost and affordability issues.

“The Calculator is simple to use and freely available. If users want to keep a record of the information, they simply print out the results or email the results to themselves. The Calculator is a really useful tool for every family and student concerned about planning for further education,” said ASG’s General Manager of Communities, Mr Warwick James.

Formed more than 30 years ago from a co-operative of parents, ASG is a not-for-profit
friendly society specialising in children’s education benefits programs.

AAP

Young Australians more likely to consume fibre optics than fibre-rich foods

Australian teenagers are ‘uptight’, ‘up and down’ and ‘out to the wrong lunch’, according to new research that exposes a massive shortfall in the consumption of foods required to prevent constipation, avoid peaks and troughs in energy levels and reduce the risk of long-term health complications.

Released today, the Dietary Fibre in Children Survey reveals only four per cent of teenagers eat the recommended dietary fibre intake for their age, while only 17 per cent of children 12 years or younger consume the required amount of fibre.

Commissioned by the Fibre for Life Advisory Group (FLAG) the study of mothers with children up to 17 years of age found that 50 per cent of teenagers consume less than 10 grams of fibre per day – a shortfall of 50-65 per cent of their recommended intake.

According to Dr David Topping, CSIRO human nutrition researcher, “Many young people seem to be missing out on significant health benefits. A lack of adequate dietary fibre would make them less regular, have variable blood sugar levels and miss out on a sustained energy source – not to mention cause them to miss out on the long-term benefits of fibre for bowel health.”

“Parents need to understand that a diet high in fibre helps to smooth out the spikes and falls in blood sugar levels which occur in the hours following meals. Equally important is the sustained supply of energy provided by dietary fibre,” he said.

Given the importance of concentration and energy during schooling, the benefits of total dietary fibre intake, and a particular form of fibre known as resistant starch, cannot be overlooked.

“The survey reported that the diet of teenagers does not differ markedly from that of pre-school and primary school aged children – which is a concern for all kids. Young people need to moderate their intake of refined foods so that they benefit from a greater intake of dietary fibre – including resistant starch.”

Professor Paul Nestel from the Baker Heart Research Institute noted that while mothers recognised the need to increase dietary fibre intake, the majority had difficulty naming sources of fibre-rich foods or identifying foods contained resistant starch – a form of fibre that has demonstrated considerable health benefits.

Resistant starch is found in a number of foods, such as particular high-fibre white breads, breakfast cereals, pulses (e.g. baked beans), bananas and potato, pasta and rice that has been cooked and allowed to cool. It is acknowledged by the National Health and Medical Research Council as a valuable dietary component for good health.

Professor Nestel believes the findings of the Dietary Fibre in Children Survey indicate a dietary pattern in children that may lead to longer-term health complications.

“If the diet of young people does not improve, specifically through increased consumption of fibre, we may see issues with excess weight gain and other metabolic complications in the years ahead, since problems that arise in childhood carry over into adult life.” he said.

“Resistant starch has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and recent studies indicate it may promote a feeling of fullness – which may reduce the risk of weight gain. Parents should encourage a pattern of eating that promotes a variety of fibre rich foods at a young age.”

Dietitian Shane Landon claims fibre-rich foods are all too often left off the ‘grocery shopping list’ by parents.

“While around 50 per cent of Australian mothers understand that fibre helps keep their children regular, the majority have a limited understanding of the other health benefits of fibre, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers, or the foods that contain this important substance,” he said.

“The survey actually found that as many as one in four mums incorrectly believes fish  and red meat are good sources of fibre.”

Mr Landon said the good news was that three-in-four mums would like their children to  eat more food that is rich in fibre.

“Clearly more needs to be done to educate both parents and children on the short and long-term benefits of fibre and the range of foods that represent good sources of fibre – especially resistant starch.”

The Fibre for Life Advisory Group recommends that Australians concerned about their dietary fibre intake consult a general practitioner, dietitian or other qualified health professional.

AAP

Cooking with cranberries – recipes for the school holidays

With the school holidays upon us, a great idea to keep your children occupied is to enlist their help in baking some tasty sweets. Try one of these delicious, cranberry inspired recipe ideas to fill your home with the aroma of freshly baked goods and treat the family. Some are special indulgences such as the cranberry cupcakes, whereas the cranberry, pecan and maple muffins are perfect as an everyday healthy snack.

Cranberries are not only versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet, but they are also jam packed with antioxidants, which is important for you and the kids as it helps prevent cold and flu nasties in the upcoming winter months.

VANILLA CRANBERRY WAFFLES

250g sugar
250g flour
250g cream cheese
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
250g butter at room temperature
100g dried cranberries

In a bowl mix together the sugar and flour. Add cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and butter and mix it with a hand mixer to smooth dough. Add cranberries and fold them in with a spoon.

Preheat a waffle iron. Pour dough with a scoop into the rear part of the waffle iron, close the cap and bake for a couple of minutes.

Serve the waffles with whipped cream and sprinkled with icing sugar. Makes 16 waffles.

CRANBERRY CUP CAKES

1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 Tbsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
125g butter
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups SR flour, sifted
½ cup milk
pinch salt

Icing:
1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp butter

Place cranberries, caster sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes over a moderate heat until berries ‘burst’ and are softened. Crush berries using the back of a spoon until a thick puree emerges. Cool. Remove 2 tablespoons and push through a sieve. Set aside for icing.

Preheat oven to 180deg C and line a large muffin tray or two small muffin trays with patty cases. Cream butter and caster sugar until pale. Add beaten eggs and cooled cranberry mixture. Stir in sifted flour, salt and milk. Spoon mixture into paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden (12-15 minutes if using smaller muffin size).

Cool on a wire rack Icing: Place butter, reserved strained cranberry puree in a bowl. Beat in icing sugar gradually until thick and smooth. Use to decorate cup cakes.

DAIRY FREE, LOW FAT, CRANBERRY PECAN & MAPLE MUFFINS

2 apples peeled and finely chopped
2 ripe bananas
100g dried or frozen cranberries
50g pitted dates, chopped
125ml maple syrup
3 Tbsp pecan nuts, finely chopped
310g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350oF/ Gas 4).

Mix together all the ingredients by hand until well combined. Add 375ml of water and fold together. The mixture should not be too wet; if it is, add a little more flour.

Lightly spray a 12 holes muffin tin with oil and spoon the mixture into the tin. Bake for about 25 minutes. Makes 12

Source: Cranberry Media Bureau

Health Benefits of Cranberries:
Cranberries contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are believed to be helpful in preventing urinary tract infections, and recent research suggests this same function may be useful in blocking the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers and certain oral bacteria that can lead to gum disease.