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9 Statistics-Backed Ways American Parents Are Getting It Right

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Moms and dads the world over all worry about their kids, wondering if they’ll grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted humans. But unlike parents in other countries, American parents seem to take a regular bashing about what we’re doing wrong.


To further fan the flames of our insecurity, just scan the ever-burgeoning parenting section in a local bookstore for hundreds of titles on how to “do” every aspect of parenting better, from potty training to Ivy League preparation. Our bundle of joy turns us into a bundle of nerves as we constantly strive to raise the bar on our own parenting skills. As Washington Post journalist Brigid Shulte points out on NPR’s Tell Me More, we’re an achievement culture, always wanting to be our best and pushing our kids to be their best.

The persistent portrayal of how American parents raise their kids shows that we’re (apparently) a society of helicopter parents who hyper-focus on enrichment, but who, according to Tiger Mom Amy Chua, seem perfectly content letting our kids turn out badly. We feel the push-pull of simultaneously being over-involved and over-scheduled, yet not driving our kids hard enough to achieve perfection.

Besides being maligned and feeling insecure, we’re also perplexed, as new parenting styles pop up every year, sometimes contradicting our own approach and making us second-guess our parenting skills. In the end, many American parents feel dazed, confused, and filled with self-doubt, wondering if we’re doing it all wrong.

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“We’re so very afraid of getting it wrong that we overdo it to try to get it right,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University, in an essay published in the 2016 edition of “The Parents League Review.”

But, are American parents really that bad? Do we truly suck at raising our own kids?

No, and we need to stop thinking that we’re doing everything wrong.

Fortunately, more than 50 percent of parents with children younger than 18 think they do a very good job raising their kids, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,807 U.S. parents.  The findings also show that parents (whether married or single) care a lot about how others view their parenting skills. Roughly nine out of ten married or cohabiting parents (93 percent) say it matters a lot that their spouse or partner sees them as a good parent. And parents still want to impress their own parents, as 72 percent of those with a living parent want their own parents to think they’re doing a good job raising their kids.

“It’s time to put an end to the everything-you-do-is-wrong school of parent criticism, which puts us all in an impossible bind,” writes Perri Klass, M.D., Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University, in a New York Times blog.

Shulte echoes that sentiment in her NPR interview, saying that “it doesn’t do anybody any good…  it just fosters an element of competition among parents that is really not very helpful for anybody and probably the least helpful for the child.”

Our best bet? We need to ignore the guilt-inducing finger-pointing and keep in mind there’s no one “right way” to raise kids. Instead of focusing on parenting trends, societal pressures, media-driven values, and mommy wars, we need to focus more on praise, support and acknowledgement of all the good we are doing.

What, specifically, are American parents doing right?

1 | More moms breastfeed.

Research continues to demonstrate that breastfeeding provides many substantial physical and mental health benefits to both infants and mothers. Increasingly, mothers in the U.S. are heeding the message, according to Child Trends, the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization focused on improving the lives of children, youth, and their families.

Between 2000 and 2011, the U.S. saw a growing proportion of infants who were breastfed, with the biggest increase (70 percent) of infants still being breastfed at 12 months (from 16 to 27 percent). Overall, more than three-quarters of infants were breastfed for at least some duration, an increase of 12 percent (from 71 to 79 percent).

2 | Parents protect their kids and their community through vaccinations.

According to a 2015 study in “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” vaccination rates among children ages 19-35 months for 2014 remained high. Over 90 percent of children received vaccinations for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR); polio; hepatitis B; and varicella.

3 | Families still eat dinner together.

A 2013 Gallup poll of U.S. families shows that, despite our busy lifestyle, the majority of U.S. families still eat dinner together. Among adults with children younger than 18, more than 50 percent eat dinner together at home at least six nights a week. 

4 | Parents spend more time on educational activities than previous generations.

We read to our kids, ask them questions, play math games, and teach life skills. Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds devote increasing amounts of time to stretching kids’ minds compared to our parents or grandparents, says the Institute for Family Studies. Although parents with higher levels of education are more likely to devote time to educationally enriching activities than less educated parents, in general, we’re all doing better than we did just a few decades ago.

5 | Parents set a good example of civic involvement.

According to 2014 statistics from the Corporation for National and Community Service, 32.7 percent of parents volunteer, donating 2.3 billion hours of service in activities such as fundraising, tutoring, mentoring, coaching, and collecting/distributing food. And 2013 data shows that 96.1 percent frequently talk with neighbors, 44.5 percent of parents participate in groups and/or organizations, and 89.8 percent of parents engage in “informal volunteering” (such as helping out neighbors).

6 | Teens get high marks for giving back.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teenagers (16 to 19 years old) continue to have a relatively high volunteer rate, at 26.4 percent, compared to 20- to 24-year-olds (18.4 percent), and 25 to 34 years (22.3 percent).

7 | Substance use among teens is declining.

Recent findings from NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse shows a decrease in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and many illicit drugs over the last five years among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders – many to their lowest levels since this survey’s inception.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Adolescent Health reports similar findings, citing that tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years. And a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that, from 2002 to 2013, the rate of underage drinking decreased 6.1 percent.

8 | Teen pregnancies and sexual activity are declining.

According to 2014 findings by the Guttmacher Institute, the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate reached its lowest point in more than 30 years, down 51 percent from its peak in 1990. And a 2015 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that teen sexual activity dropped dramatically over the past 25 years. In 2011–2013, 44 percent of female teenagers and 47 percent of male teenagers aged 15–19 had experienced sexual intercourse, declining significantly (by 14 percent for females and 22 percent for males) since 1988.

9 | High school graduation rates reach record high.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the U.S. high school graduation rate has steadily increased for the past four consecutive years, rising to an all-time high in the 2013-14 school year, with 82 percent of teens graduating.

While American parents are doing a good job at parenting, we need to take into account that there’s more at play than a general attitude toward parenting. We can’t discount the various political differences that figure into the parenting equation – those that often set parents up for success. For example, many non-U.S. governments often foot the bill for benefits that Americans need to pay for out of pocket – like childcare – so it’s no wonder other parents around the world sometimes appear to fare better.

“Don’t beat yourself up for failing to achieve perfect work-life balance,” writes Pamela Druckerman in The New York Times. An American journalist and the author of “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” Druckerman points out in the article that “the French have national paid maternity leave, subsidized nannies, excellent state day care and free universal preschool, and yet they blame the government for not helping parents enough. We Americans have none of the above, yet we blame ourselves.”

What can we learn from – and teach – other cultures?

Despite our different approaches, we can still learn a lot of lessons from the way parents in other countries raise their kids.

“We like the idea of children who can speak their own mind, give their own opinions and be their own person. This is a part of being independent,” says Christine Gross-Loh, mother of four and author of “Parenting Without Borders,” in an ABC News interview. “But there’s a whole other piece I think we’ve been neglecting, and that’s the idea of self-reliance and self-responsibility and those are the sorts of traits that I see being fostered in other countries that are not fostered as well by many parents here in the United States.”

Gross-Loh, who traveled the world to research parenting through a global lens, culls the world’s “best practices” for raising kids, including insights from China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the United States.

“I absolutely think American parents are doing a lot of things right,” says Gross-Loh. “I’ve been struck by how much effort we put into raising tolerant and caring kids who have a sense of the world as diverse and multicultural. We read them books that show diverse characters, we talk to them about race and gender and bias and justice. This sets us apart from other countries I’m familiar with where there is more homogeneity and less urgency in putting these issues on the table.

The bottom line is this: There is no one right way to be a good mom or dad, but we can all learn from each other. So relax, American parents. You’re doing just fine.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

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

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After quite a wait (he was born last week) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have finally revealed their baby boy's name and it isn't what the internet was expecting.

While Kim had previously hinted at the name Robert, after her late father and her brother, the couple went with a name that makes sense given Kanye's new Sunday Services.

Baby number four for the Kardashian-Wests is called Psalm West, his mom announced via Instagram.

Psalm is the fourth child for Kim and Kanye, who are already raising 5-year-old North, 3-year-old Saint and 1-year-old Chicago.

Welcome to the family Psalm!

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Back in the day, when I saw my mom sporting a fanny pack, I cringed. I was a tween, and my mom was utterly embarrassing with her nylon belt bag. Flash forward a couple of decades and as I juggle four kids at a playground while my tote keeps slipping off my shoulder, I find myself thinking, "Maybe, just maybe, my mom was onto something."

And I'm not the only one. That's right friends, fanny packs are BACK. Why? Well, for celebs and fashion-types, it's because everything that was once old must always be reincarnated.

But for us mamas, there is one simple resounding answer: The bag is incredibly convenient. It allows us to have our hands free—to, ya know, change a diaper or put a bandage on a knee—and it also forces us to pare down the litany of items we'll throw into our purses before we head out the door. Like, those ten extra snacks or a juice box or a coloring book — the items that result in your purse suddenly weighing 50 pounds.

Oh, and this just in: You can also sling a fanny pack around your body, now. We've got options!

Is it the ultimate mom bag? Listen, we're not going to say it is. But we're also not going to say it's not. Catch our drift? And if you see yourself in a mirror while sporting your new belt bag, we dare you not to start singing, "I'm too sexy for… my fanny pack."

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Shop our favorite patterns and styles below, some of which start as low as 6 bucks.

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack, $85.00

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

This just in: We all need more neoprene in our lives! We're loving the yellow lace design detail, and the fact that this one has a key clip and card holder inside, too.

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Pam & Gela Leopard Print Belt Bag, $105.00

Pam & Gela Leopard Print Belt Bag

We're just going to say it: One can never have too much leopard in their closet. This one will definitely spice up your daily jeans and t-shirt outfit.

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Herschel Supply Co. Fifteen Belt Bag, $30.00

Herschel Supply Co. Fifteen Belt Bag

Durable? Check. Fun colors? Check. Cute Herschel logo badge on the front? Check.

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Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 1L, $38.00

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 1L


Yes, you need a sporty fanny pack, too. This one is perfect when you're heading to Saturday morning yoga.

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Sun Squad Cooler Fanny Pack, $6.00

Sun Squad Fanny Pack Cooler Grapefruit

A insulated fanny pack that keeps snacks cool? Amen!

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State Crosby Fanny Pack, $42.00

State Crosby Fanny Pack

Proof that fanny packs can be uber-hip (and sleek!) at the same time.

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No Boundaries Fanny Pack, $5.97

No Boundaries Fanny Pack

This sweet-pea pattern screams, "Spring!" and at this price, we might buy two.

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Lola Los Angeles Moonbeam Belt Bag, $28.00

Lola Los Angeles Moonbeam

We're loving the nylon fabric and cool Lola badge on this one, which also comes in black, red and maroon.

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Tee Shirt and Jeans Janie Fanny Pack, $11.99

Tee Shirt and Jeans Janie Fanny Pack

This one had us at pompoms. Oh, and that price. Sold!

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MZ Wallace Metro Belt Bag, $145.00

MZ Wallace Metro Belt Bag

Moms everywhere love MZ Wallace for their crazy parenting-friendly totes, and turns out they make an equally utilitarian belt bag in a variety of fun hues and patterns.

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Gucci Ophidia Small Suede Belt Bag, $1,390.00

What's that? You only wear designer bags? Fear not, they've adapted to the fanny pack trend (except they refer to the style as a "belt bag,") and this Gucci stunner will transition seamlessly from the park to date night.

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Clare V. Perforated Leather Fanny Pack, $299.00

Clare V. Perforated Leather Fanny Pack

The epitome of cool-girl bag brands, Clare V. has brought its chic aesthetic to the fanny pack category, and we couldn't be happier about that. We adore the perforated leather of this bag, as well as the high-contrast zipper.

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Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack, $17.00

Jansport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack

If we're going to go the fanny pack route, we might as well go the whole way, right? Right. And nothing screams "90s!" like a Jansport bag. The good news is they haven't raised their prices too much in the past two decades.

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Nike Benassi Just Do It Fanny Pack Slide Sandal, $50.00

Nike Benassi Just Do It Fanny Pack Slide Sandal

Okay, okay, this isn't a true fanny pack per se. It's better! It's actually two amazing '90s trends packed into one perfect product. We give you... the fanny pack slide!

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Mornings can be so rough making sure everyone has what they need for the day and managing to get out the door on time. A recent survey by Indeed found that 60% of new moms say managing a morning routine is a significant challenge, and another new survey reveals just why that is.

The survey, by snack brand Nutri-Grain, suggests that all the various tasks and child herding parents take on when getting the family out the door in the morning adds up to basically an extra workday every week!

Many parents will tell you that it can take a couple of hours to get out of the house each morning person, and as the survey found, most of us need to remind the kids "at least twice in the morning to get dressed, brush their teeth, or put on their shoes."

According to Nutri-Grain, by the end of the school year, the average parent will have asked their children to hurry up almost 540 times across the weekday mornings.

We totally get it. It's hard to wait on little ones when we have a very grown-up schedule to get on with, but maybe the world needs to realize that kids just aren't made to be fast.

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As Rachel Macy Stafford, the author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, writes, having a child who wants to enjoy and marvel at the world while mama is trying to rush through it is hard.

"Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, 'We don't have time for this.' Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: 'Hurry up.'" she explains.

We're always telling our kids to hurry up, but maybe, maybe, we should be telling ourselves—and society—to slow down.

That's what Stafford did. She took "hurry up" out of her vocabulary and in doing so made that extra workday worth of time into quality time with her daughter, instead of crunch time. She worked on her patience, and let her daughter marvel at the world or slow down when she had to.

"To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young."

It's great advice, but unless we mamas can get the wider world on board, it's hard to put into practice. When the school bus comes at 7:30 am and you've gotta be at the office at 8 am, when the emails start coming before you're out of bed or your pay gets docked if you punch in five minutes late, it is hard to slow down.

So to those who are making the schedules the rest of us have to live by, to the employers and the school boards and the wider culture, we ask: Can we slow down?

Indeed's survey suggests that the majority of moms would benefit from a more flexible start time at work and the CDC suggests that starting school later would help students.

Mornings are tough for parents, but they don't have to be as hard as they are.

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If you've ever shopped at Vineyard Vines you know two things. One, it's simply adorable. Like, the stuff that Nantucket dreams are made of. Stripes, checks, plaids and pinstripes in soft pastel hues for the entire family. Even the dog.

And second, you know that in order to achieve such a crisp, cool East Coast vibe that will look oh-so-perfect in your professionally-shot family photo you'll have to pay. Nope, that wee whale logo is not cheap, folks. How much are we talking? In the range of $50 for a boys button-down shirt or $70 for a girls madras dress (to be fair, it does have flutter sleeves and holy cannoli it might just be worth the price tag!). The good news is that we can verify the quality is top notch—my two sons regularly receive my nephews' hand me downs and even after being worn by four boys, they're still in top-notch condition.

Needless to say, for those of us with a penchant for prep on a tighter clothing budget, the news of Target's Vineyard Vines collaboration was music to our ears. We've actually tried the product and we're drooling... over the styles, the quality and the prices! Comprised of more than 300 pieces, the collection is priced from $2 to $120, with most of it costing below $35.

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Let's say it together, friends: Yassss!

Check out our favorite pieces for the whole family below.

Vineyard Vines for Target Women's Sleeveless Ruffle Tie Waisted Midi V-Neck Dress

Price: $35

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Vineyard Vines for Target Baby Ruffle School of Whales Sleeveless Bodysuit

Vineyard Vines for Target Baby Ruffle School of Whales Sleeveless Bodysuit

Price: $12

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Vineyard Vines for Target  Boys' Short Sleeve Polo Shirt

Vineyard Vines for Target  Boys' Short Sleeve Polo Shirt

Price: $16

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Vineyard Vines for Target Men's Striped Swim Trunks

Vineyard Vines for Target Men's Striped Swim Trunks

Price: $25

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Vineyard Vines for Target Girls' Striped Scoop Neck Romper

Vineyard Vines for Target Girls' Striped Scoop Neck Romper

Price: $20

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Vineyard Vines for Target Toddler Boys' 1/4 Zip Pullover Sweatshirt

Vineyard Vines for Target Toddler Boys' 1/4 Zip Pullover Sweatshirt

Price: $16

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Vineyard Vines for Target Women's Blue One-Piece Swimsuit

Vineyard Vines for Target Women's Blue One-Piece Swimsuit

Price:$35

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Vineyard Vines for Target Women's Women's Gingham Long Sleeve Shirtdress

Vineyard Vines for Target Women's Women's Gingham Long Sleeve Shirtdress

Price: $35

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Vineyard Vines for Target Throw Blankets & Pillows

Vineyard Vines for Target Throw Blankets & Pillows

Price: $25-$30

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Vineyard Vines for Target Pet Accessories

Vineyard Vines for Target Pet Accessories

Price: $6-$11

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