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In parenting news, 2015 was all about free-range kids, Scandinavian child rearing, and screen-time flamewars. 2016 will be all about the rise of millennial parents, caregiver rights, and the positive influence of technology on kids’ lives.

Like all other types of news, parenting headlines are dominated by trends and fads. Yesterday’s latchkey kids are today’s screen time addicts. Buzzwords like “dad bod” and “tiger mom” come and go.

But these trends aren’t necessarily shallow. They reflect the hopes and fears of our diverse culture.

Based on data from our site, Google Trends, sentiment research, and our experience as news curators, here are ten parenting topics that will dominate headlines and newsfeeds in 2016.

1. Debate About Outdated Family Polices in the US

The United States has the worst family leave policies among developed nations.

These policies push working parents onto a tightrope. Tip one way, neglect your children. Tip the other, fall behind and lose out at work.

In the US, maternity leave is only protected for 12 weeks. And those limited protections don’t apply to many low-income women. That’s partly because the US is the only developed nation without paid maternity leave policies. This despite the fact that 96% of single mothers say paid leave is the workplace reform that would help them the most.

The US also has zero mandated paternity leave. (Again, unlike most developed nations.) There’s ample evidence of positive outcomes for fathers and the family when dads can spend more time with their kids, especially when they’re babies.

Read: Amanda Levinson’s review of “Unfinished Business” 

In 2015, publicity around Anne-Marie Slaughter’s best-selling book “Unfinished Business” put a new focus on caregiver rights. In 2016, expect much a louder debate about how our laws limit working parents and harm families. The presidential election will play a large part in this, but we also see more and more parent-focused media outlets carrying the banner on this story.

2. Automation & Our Kids’ Future Job Market

Here’s a scary statistic: 47 percent of jobs in the United States could be automated within “a decade or two.”

That’s precisely when our kids will enter the workforce and start families of their own.

As noted on the NASDAQ site, “Historically, technology has created more efficiency, productivity and even higher living standards.”

Read: “A World Without Work” from the Atlantic.

But the exponential pace and sophistication of automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, and deep learning mean that we’re entering a new era in job displacement. Both white and blue collar jobs are at risk.

In 2016, many more parents and teachers will comprehend this reality. Expect a lively conversation about how we might prepare kids for a job market in extreme flux.

3. Respect for Kids’ Digital Privacy and Rights

81 percent of Millennials (who make up 90 percent of all new parents) have shared a photo of their kid on social media. But Forbes reports that those same millennial parents are rapidly becoming more concerned about digital privacy. These concerns spike after parenthood.

Read: Protecting Kids Digital Privacy from NPR

For example, when Facebook launched Scrapbook to help parents share photos of their kids, it was rejected as a ploy to create digital identities for kids.

Parents are starting to take their kid’s digital identities seriously. It’s a new responsibility of parenthood.

Read more about digital privacy and safety for kids on Common Sense Media.

4. The Nuances of Screen Time

Parents (and teachers and grandparents and, well, just about everyone) are concerned about the impact of screen time on kids’ healthy development. The topic is usually portrayed in absolute terms, pro or con.

Articles like “Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children” scare and scold parents who let their kids use screens while other articles argue that “Our Kids Aren’t Using Too Much Tech. They’re Not Using Enough.”

The reality is that most parents believe screen time is beneficial in moderation. Parents know that most kids need to use computers and smartphones to play a role in our economy. They also know that too much of anything is bad.

On the internet, extreme opinions get clicks. “Moderation” doesn’t go viral. But in 2016, expect the screen time extremists to fade.

5. The Economic Necessity and Societal Benefit of Encouraging Curiosity in Kids

Curiosity is trending as educators and business leaders advocate for its utility and strategic importance.

Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Curiosity has long been dismissed as a minor soft-skill.

Read “Why Imagination and Curiosity Matter More Than Ever” in the Wall Street Journal.

However, as computers take over information processing, and as we increasingly rely on Google for storing knowledge, the human value of curiosity becomes critical to economic success.

Empathy, imagination, creativity, and innovation are tightly connected to curiosity. They are also signature human traits that (so far) can’t be reduced to computer code.

6. Despite Massive Student Debt, Fewer Doubts About the Value of a Four-Year Degree

One of the biggest issues in education from 2015 will carry over into 2016: student debt.

Millennial parents (90 percent of all new parents) are the ones most saddled with this debt. It’s crushing their ability to save money, invest money, and buy first homes.

Read: Student Debt is Worse Than You Expect in the New York Times.

For years, it’s been trendy to doubt the value of a four-year degree. And it’s true that, for Millennials, the pay gap between college graduates and those with a high school diploma is smaller than for past generations.

However, that same data also shows that the gap is still quite large: Millennials with a college degree earn $17,000 more than those with a high school diploma on average.

In 2016, expect many headlines like “The Rising Cost of not Going to College” as fresh emphasis is placed on the quantifiable benefits of a four-year degree.

Other educational trends for 2016:

7. Everyone Will Understand That New Parents = Millennial Parents

Millennials get a bad rap — depicted as entitled, coddled and narcissistic. They’re also seen as tolerant, civic-minded and entrepreneurial.

Read: 5 Ways Millennials Are Changing Parenting Forever

They’re the biggest generation in US history. They make up the largest share of the American workforce. Millennials are dealing with low incomes and poverty more than previous generations, but they’re still an economic powerhouse.

Advertisers have been intensely focused on Millennial parents for years. That’s because:

  • They account for 90 percent of the 1.5 million new mothers in the US.
  • There are now more than 22 million millennials parents.
  • One in five moms is a millennial.
  • Millennials have 10,000 babies per day

Millennial values will shape the following generation, just as boomers shaped Generation X.

In 2016, there will be a lively national conversation about what, exactly, that means. There are some hints. For example, Millennial parents share parenting more equally through the traditional division of work and home responsibilities persists (Read “Millennial Moms Still Run Households.”) And 50 percent of Millennials purposefully purchase gender-neutral toys.

In 2015, Time ran a feature called Help! My Parents Are Millennials (paywall). Expect many more stories about how Millennials are raising their kids and how that might shape the future of America.

8. Minimalism as a Family Lifestyle Choice

Driven by some of the trends mentioned above, the wider cultural interest in minimalism will resonate as a lifestyle choice for families.

A minimalist family lifestyle has less clutter, fewer possessions, more shared family experiences, a lighter schedule, and is guided by a less-is-more parenting approach.

Kids fashion will even be affected by this trend, as companies like Primary grow rapidly by offering simple, unbranded essentials at reasonable prices.

We’ve seen this trend grow over the past year on this site, as some of our most popular articles were about the Marie Kondo method and Minimalism: A Key to Mental Health as a New Parent.

9. A Return to Tactile Experiences

As the novelty of our digital devices wears off, parents and kids are finding novelty and joy in real goods. Print books (especially used books) board games and arty coloring books were super popular in 2015. This will only accelerate in 2016.

The popularity of app, internet and AI-enabled toys like BB-8 and Osmo represent a version of this trend (even though the creepy Hello Barbie doll was hacked).

10. Decline of Team Sports – Especially Baseball and Football

Almost all team sports for kids are losing popularity. Not only will this continue in 2016, but a widespread conversation will ignite on the matter.

Read “Why Is Baseball Losing Children” in the Wall Street Journal.

However, expect an uptick in team sports participation in another few years, as millennial parents bring back the tradition. (Just like they brought back PBR.)


“Designer Babies” 

There are about 30 people in the world today who came from a genetically engineered embryo. Researchers in China have modified the DNA of human embryos. Quartz reports that gene therapy is making genetically engineered humans acceptable. In the UK, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Agency (HFEA) determined that modifying human mitochondrial genes in humans embryos were both safe and sometimes desirable for fighting disease.

In 2016, more people will become aware of the reality of gene therapy. Genetic enhancements to humans are still some time away — but they are on the horizon. Your kids might choose your grandchildren’s eye color, skin tone, and more.

Read more: Engineering the Perfect Baby from MIT Technology Review

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99


2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98


3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99


4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25


5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99


6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95


7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com


8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79


9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99


10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99


11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95


12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19


13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99


This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For most breastfeeding mothers, being away from your baby means lugging a breast pump with you to work or through airport security and painstakingly packing up your milk to bring or send back to your baby. But a mother who made headlines this week can't take her milk to her baby because she doesn't know when she will see her again.

Maria Domingo-Garcia is among the hundreds of workers picked up by ICE at food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7. When she left for work that day she said goodbye to her husband and three children, including the 4-month-old daughter she was nursing. All three children are U.S. citizens, CNN reports.

Mom's lawyers say she was not able to nurse or pump since being detained 

Earlier this week, when Domingo-Garcia had been separated from her daughter for 12 days, her lawyers told media that she was in a lot of pain as she had not been able to breastfeed or pump for nearly two weeks.

Not being able to drain one's breasts can lead to engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. Both engorgement and mastitis are painful, and mastitis can even be deadly if mothers cannot get medical help.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that a nurse has examined Domingo-Garcia and that she's not producing milk. Her lawyers say they were not present for or aware of this examination, and one of them, Ybarra Maldonado, suggests that the stress Domingo-Garcia is under may have impacted her ability to lactate.

"If during a test she didn't produce milk, perhaps it's because she's been detained for 12 days and going through a horrible situation," Maldonado told CNN.

Indeed, it is possible for a mother to stop lactating if she is separated from her baby for as long as Domingo-Garcia has been. Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, says that "the process by which lactation ceases varies so much. It depends on many variables including how long and how frequently a woman was breastfeeding or pumping, how slow or fast she stopped, her emotional state, and simply her individual anatomy. It is 100% possible that Domingo-Garcia had been lactating prior to being taken by ICE."

While attorneys and ICE officials continue to debate whether or not this mother was lactating, her husband continues to try to bottle feed their daughter, an American citizen who is now going without her mother and without breastmilk.

The children are being hurt

One in four children in America has immigrant parents, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. What's more, 75% of those children (including Domingo-Garcia's) have parents who have been in the US for more than 10 years. Like Domingo-Garcia's kids, 91% of the children of immigrants are citizens. But only 61% of the parents in these families can say the same.

That means there are more than 7 million kids in the US (most of whom are American) who have non-citizen parents and are extremely vulnerable to the same kind of trauma Domingo-Garcia's children are going through. And to call it trauma isn't speculation—it's science. We know that separating children from their parents does long term damage to kids.

"The effect is catastrophic," Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School told the Washington Post last year. "There's so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this."

That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stands against the detention of immigrant children, who may soon be detained indefinitely if a plan announced Wednesday proceeds. The AAP also warns against separating children from their parents or primary caregiver unless that person is abusing the child.

"It is the position of the AAP that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained, nor should they be separated from a parent, unless a competent family court makes that determination. In every decision about children, government decision-makers should prioritize the best interests of the child," the APP noted in its 2017 policy statement Detention of Immigrant Children.

Domingo-Garcia's children are not being detained, but they are being hurt by their mother's detention and child advocates say far too many children know their pain.

​When mom or dad is taken

Domingo-Garcia was far from the only immigrant parents working in Mississippi food processing plants the day of the ICE raid that changed her family's life. There were so many more parents who didn't come home that day. The day that also happened to be the first day of school in Scott County.

School superintendent Tony McGee told The Clarion Ledger his staff were working hard to help the children who were displaced or impacted by the ICE raids, and he acknowledged that the situation will impact students' academic abilities. "We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are."

Indeed, research links parental incarceration with children developing attention deficit disorders, developmental and speech delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

And yet, in some ways, parental incarceration may be better for children than parental detention, which is what Domingo-Garcia's experience is defined as. Incarceration is something that follows a conviction and is a long-term thing. Kids whose parents are convicted of a crime and sent to prison often know where mom or dad is and may even get to maintain a relationship with them.

Detention, on the other hand, is a temporary, more slippery state. The children of those in ICE facilities don't know when or if they are coming home or if they will be deported.

There are other ways in which having a parent incarcerated in prison is different than having one detained in an ICE facility. In some American prisons, moms are permitted to nurse their babies. If Domingo-Garcia had gone to prison in New Mexico she would have the right to breastfeed and the right to pump milk for her baby. But she went to work in Mississippi instead.

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If you're about to be a parent, whether it's for the first time or not, then you've probably thought about all the changes in your life that are coming—especially in the area of finances. Having a baby alters your financial picture. If you take maternity or paternity leave, those changes can be even more pronounced.

If you have student loans in repayment, you may find it difficult to make monthly loan payment with a new baby, and you might be wondering how to make it work.

So how do you handle student loan payments while on maternity leave?

Here are the options available to student loan borrowers:

Family leave deferment

If you have a federal student loan, you can ask for a parental leave/working mother deferment, which offers you time without payments. Becoming a new mother isn't cause for an automatic deferment, like a job loss or serious illness, and so you'll have to work with your servicer directly to request this type of deferment. Navient, one of the largest federal loan servicers, offers information about this deferment on their website.

To be eligible, you'll need to either be pregnant or have a baby less than six months old. You must prove this via a birth certificate or doctor's statement confirming your pregnancy.

In addition, you cannot be working full-time or attending school during the deferment period. If you're hoping to ask for a deferment without taking the time off work, you'll find your request denied. The maximum length of a deferment is six months.


A forbearance allows you to either make a smaller payment or postpone payments completely. Like the deferment, you'll need to contact your servicer and request it. If it's approved, you can take some time off of your student loans while you're off work. Just be aware that even during forbearance, interest continues to accrue, which means your total balance will increase during that time.

Income-based repayment plan

If you'd prefer to keep making payments but just need the amount reduced, you can apply for a new income-based repayment plan. The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan caps your monthly payment at 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. And since it's also based upon the size of your family, it will account for the fact that your family size has changed, and your discretionary income has decreased. To apply, contact your loan servicer.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) plan

Another option is the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which allows you to pay 10% of your income, but only up to the payment amount you would have paid on the standard plan. Because the income and family size are reassessed each year, this plan is great for growing families. It allows you to get a temporary reprieve with lower payments. Then, as you further your career and increase your income, your payment gets back on schedule. Your servicer can help get you set up with the PAYE plan. Your spouse's income is only counted if you file taxes as married jointly.

Revised pay as you earn (REPAYE) plan

Under the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, you'll pay the same 10% of your income, with annual reassessment of your situation. You won't, however, get a break from counting your spouse's income. With REPAYE, all income counts regardless of how you file your taxes. The good news is that anything left on your balance will be forgiven after 20 years. Talk to your servicer to see if it's a good fit.

Income contingent-repayment (ICR) plan

The Income Contingent-Repayment (ICR) plan is either 20% of your discretionary income, or what you'd pay on a fixed repayment for 12 years, whichever is less. Just as in the other options, you must update your income and family size each year even if nothing changed. In addition, you may have to pay taxes on any amount that is forgiven because the government considers it income. It does, however, work on subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and even consolidation loans, and can be applied for with your servicer.

Budgeting for a baby

There's no way around it—having a baby brings a lot of new expenses. From the things you'll need to buy before the baby comes, to the amount of diapers, bottles and other things your child will need in their first year, you'll need to figure out how much that will cost and how to correctly budget for it. Babycenter.com has a calculator that can help you break down what your child will cost in a given year. You can divide that number by 12 to understand the monthly costs.

Then, you'll want to identify where you can cut back, if possible, to continue meeting your monthly student loan obligations. For some, that might mean eating out less and bypassing the afternoon latte. For others, it'll require a full restructuring of the budget, especially if you plan to take maternity leave that's not fully paid. Since most maternity leaves are unpaid, you'll need to consider expenses, monthly bills, or other obligations that normally comes out of your paycheck and add those to the budget for the time that you're home.

After you get a handle on what your finances will look like and you have a functional budget, don't wait for your child to arrive before trying to live on that budget. In fact, the sooner you start cutting back, the better. That way, you can get a head start on saving, and you'll also be able to adjust any facets of your budget that prove unworkable.

The bottom line

Having a baby is a joyful experience. But caring for a newborn brings enough stress without the anxiety of how you'll pay student loans while you're on maternity or paternity leave. The best time to plan for your new family member is long before you bring them home. Take the time to talk to your servicer, make a budget and prepare your finances for your baby.

Originally posted on lendedu.

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Learn + Play

Michael Bublé knows how to make music that makes us feel all the feels, and his viral lyric video for his song "Forever Now" proves it.

If you've got kids heading back to school, watch this at your own risk and with some tissues handy, mama.

Michael Bublé - Forever Now [Official Lyric Video] youtu.be

The video is a simple animation of a child's room as it transforms over time from a nursery to the packed-up bedroom of a young adult leaving the nest. We held it together until it got to this part: "It wasn't so long ago, we walked together and you held my hand. and now you're getting too big to want to."

The video reminds us of the classic children's book Love You Forever, and that the babies in our arms today will one day be in someone else's arms.

Right now, when our days are filled with bottle washing and shoe getting and making sure that no one falls asleep in their car seat the days sometimes feel so long, but Bublé's telling us something that we sometimes forget: One day we will be looking back and wondering why these long days went by so fast.

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It would be easy to look at one of Tori Roloff's (of Little People, Big World) stunning maternity photos and think everything is going perfectly for the soon-to-be mother of two, who is expecting a baby girl with her husband Zach. But Tori is keeping it real: Though the photos may show her in a pretty dress, cradling her baby bump against a stunning backdrop, Tori isn't loving every second of her pregnancy. And you know what? That's okay.

The pregnancy is so rough, Tori initially didn't even want to commemorate it with photos (though we bet she's glad she did upon seeing the finished product!).

"I'm not one of those women who loves being pregnant," Tori writes alongside one maternity photo, which she posted to Instagram. "In fact there's not a lot of times I do love being pregnant. Don't get me wrong. I thank God for this amazing gift every single day and I know how blessed I am but it definitely hasn't made me feel my best."

But let's make one thing clear: Just because Tori is clearly finding parts of pregnancy unpleasant, that doesn't mean she isn't immensely grateful for the chance to carry her baby.

"This photo truly embodies what I LOVE about pregnancy. My growing bump is a symbol of a healthy girlsie [sic]. It's a reminder that I'm in a position that many women dream of and trust me—I do not take it for granted," she adds.

One Instagram user sums up our feelings on this post pretty perfectly. "Pregnancy is so hard and I think some people assume that if you don't love it, you're ungrateful. I think you can recognize the difficulties of pregnancy and still be grateful for it — they're not mutually exclusive. This photograph is stunning and you are glowing. Embrace your feelings, no matter what they are. You're valid in them! Sending you big love," she writes in the post's comments.

Our take? Pregnancy is not easy...at all! Morning sickness, exhaustion, back pain, hip pain, belly pain...let's just say expectant mamas can be in a lot of discomfort and voicing that discomfort is totally acceptable.

Yes, pregnancy is an amazing blessing (and one that not every woman gets to or wants to experience), but not enjoying every single second of it doesn't take away from the gratitude an expectant mom feels. So to Tori (and all the other uncomfortable preggos out there), here's what we'll say: Don't beat yourself up for not loving pregnancy. It doesn't mean you love your baby — or the privilege of carrying them—any less.

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