Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Research Raises Questions as to What Truly Makes Parents Happy

In the past, the major focus of parenting has gone to what makes the child happy and what kind of parenting is best for the them. But the last few years have seen a slight shift in this focus, from solely on the happiness of the children to the happiness of the parents as well. This has brought up a lot of curiosity as to what gives adults’ lives true fulfillment and happiness. 

Previously, it has always been thought that having children is what gives people’s lives fulfillment, but recently that has become a topic of debate. The question has become a heavily researched subject, drawing results that conclude there are only small differences between the reported happiness between parents and non parents. These findings raise another question- does true fulfillment derive more from one’s marriage rather than their role as a parent? 

Attempts to answer this question are being made by researchers around the world. A study conducted by Princeton found that 40% of married couples reported being “very happy” while only 23% of unmarried parents reported those same feelings. This could lead us to consider that it is our marital status rather than how many children we have that affects how we feel about our lives. 

Less debated is the observation that the role fathers and mothers play within the household has begun to shift, resulting in a change in the dynamic between spouses as well. In general, today parents spend on average a lot more time with their children then they ever have before. This change is seen especially with fathers, who spend “triple the amount of time with their children than fathers in 1965”. We should also think about how this shift in parenting has affected our satisfaction in our marriage and overall levels of happiness.  

So what does being a parent mean to you? How does it affect the happiness and fulfillment you feel in your life? And how does being a parent play into your happiness as a husband or wife? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What It's Like to be the Parent of an Olympic Athlete

Throughout the training process and the Olympics themselves, the coaches of the competing athletes are recognized for their support and guidance. But what many people do not think about are the athlete’s other kind of coach- their parents. 

From the first moment the aspiring Olympian picked up their skis, skates, or hockey sticks, it was their parents who provided the emotional and physical (not to mention financial!) support- guiding them through the joy of victory and the pain of losses. It was the parents who provided the funds, who drove them around here there and everywhere for competitions, who encouraged them, and who celebrated with them during their wins and suffered with them through the heartache of defeat. And with their parent’s unwavering support, all of those years of injuries, sweat, tears, and smiles led them to their dream this winter- competing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. We have heard many times what it was like for the athletes who competed- but it left me wondering, what was the experience like for their parents? 

Even for the regular audience members, witnessing the victory of an Olympic athlete can be a rush of emotions hard to describe, and for the parent, watching their child achieve their a whole new level. 
dream when they were first hand witnesses of the years of hard work and dedication, well, the emotions felt in that moment reach

This emotion could be seen on the face of Olympian Chris Hoy’s mother, Carol Hoy, as she witnessed her son win his sixth Olympic gold medal, becoming the most successful British Olympian ever. Unable to even watch, the mother covered her eyes and clapped her hands until she heard the roar of the crowd, indicating his victory, when she then abruptly burst into tears of pure joy. 

When interviewed, Cheryl Davis and Jacqui White, moms of the 2014 Sochi Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White, discuss the ups and downs of being a parent to an “lucky” Uggs she owns and wears the same jewelry that she wore during a victory, in hopes to repeat the win. Davis talks about how she brings a pad of paper and a pen to each game and writes down all the skater’s scores. She says it is more of a distraction from the nervousness than a superstition. 
Olympian. Both moms talk about how they have certain rituals and superstitions that have developed throughout the years and years of watching their children’s games. White laughs about how she always wears a pair of

One of the most interesting aspects of their interview was when both moms agreed that they hate the word “sacrifice” being used to describe what got their children to where they are today. While they agree that a tremendous amount of time and money was put into the years of training, to them it was work that they really enjoyed and really loved, so it doesn’t fall in the ‘sacrifice’ label.” 

When asked what it felt like to watch their children compete for the gold this year, the only word the mother could find in response was that it was a feeling that was “indescribable”.

So a huge thank you to all the parents out there who supported our Olympians through all of the crushing defeats and euphoric victories through this year’s Winter Olympics! And an additional thank you to all the parents who pour their time and support into their little athletes that will one day become Olympic hopefuls! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This Story Demonstrates How Even the Smallest Act of Kindness Can Make the Biggest Difference

It is commonly believed by children that if they are not direct participants in the act of bullying, that they are not contributing to the problem. While not being the bullies themselves is a start, it is not helping to put a stop to a long-standing issue. It is so important that kids not only stay away from bullying, but if they see if happening they take a stand and put a stop to it. And one touching story demonstrates this importance, showing that a simple act of kindness can mean so much more to someone than you may think. 

The author of this story begins by talking about walking home from school one day during his freshman year of high school. Just like an other Friday, he was walking home with big plans for the weekend on his mind, when he saw another boy walking home carrying a large stack of books. He found himself thinking that he must be a nerd for carrying all those books home during a weekend, when he saw a group of larger boys running at him. He watched as the older boys ran into him and knocked all the books out of his hands. They then proceeded to trip him and break his glasses before taking off running and laughing. The author recalls how he saw the boy crawling around looking for his glasses with a terrible, heart breaking sadness in his eyes. So he jogged over, picked up his glasses, and helped him gather his books, comforting him by saying, “Those guys are jerks, they should really get lives.” 

With a grateful smile the boy looked at him, relieved, and said “Hey thanks!” After helping him up, he found out the boy’s name was Kyle and he lived near him. He walked Kyle all the way home, carrying his books, and chatting the whole way. At the end of the walk, he invited Kyle to play football with him and his friends that Saturday, and they ended up spending the whole weekend together. 

Over the course of the next four years of high school, he and Kyle became best friends. When it came time for college, Kyle attended Georgetown to study to become a doctor and the author went to Duke on a football scholarship. But the miles between them did not come between their strong friendship. Come graduation day, Kyle was to give the class speech. But the author recalls how, sitting in the audience, he had no idea just how much Kyle’s speech was going to affect him. 

He remembers how Kyle cleared his throat, nervous, and began by saying “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.”

Kyle then went on to explain that all those years ago, that day walking home from school freshman year of high school, he had planned on taking his life that weekend. He talked about how he had brought home all those books so his mom would not have to go through the pain of cleaning out his school locker. He goes on to say how it was a simple act of kindness that saved him that weekend. How one boy had helped him after being bullied and showed him kindness and friendship. 

It was not until that moment that the boy realized the deep importance of what had seemed to him like a small act. It is this story and many others that show us the power our actions can have on others, even things that seem small or natural to us. 

So even if your child is not being bullied or an instigator of the bullying, make sure to explain to them how crucial it is to stand up to bullies and show others kindness, because you never know how your actions can affect others- and in some extreme cases it might just be the thing that saves them. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Most Heartwarming True Love Stories You'll Ever Hear (Part Two)

Although Valentine’s Day is just one day of the year, we like to think love and marriage is something that should be celebrated every day. The number of inspiring and touching love stories that are out there are endless, and thanks to social media it has become easier for people’s stories to be told. So next time you’re feeling down about relationships, instead of turning on the latest romantic comedy, inspire yourself even more by surfing the internet for romance stories that actually happened. Because these stories are so much better than anything that could be made up. 

Take Lady Van Aefferden and Colonel JWC van Gorkum for example. During a time where a form of segregation referred to as “pillarisation” divided Catholics and Protestants and forced them to live in separate societies, the couple went against what was considered acceptable in society and didn’t let their religious beliefs come between their feelings for one another. Van Gorkum was Protestant and van Aeffereden was Catholic, so their marriage was very controversial. But this didn’t stop them from a wonderful and happy 42 years of marriage. Upon van Gorkum’s death he was to be buried in the cemetery for Protestants, somewhere van Aefferden would never be allowed to be reunited with him. But even in death, van Aeffereden made it clear that she would not be separated from her late husband. So instead of being buried in her family tomb, she opted to be buried in a different section of the cemetery, which allowed for the only separation between her and her husband’s grave to be a brick wall. She then added stone hands holding one another across the brick wall from one tomb to the other tomb, ensuring that they would “embrace for eternity”. Today the famous tombstones are referred to as het graf met de handjies, which translates to “grave with little hands”. 

Liu Guojiang showed his love for his wife by carving 6,000 steps by hand into the mountainside near their small hut, since he was worried that she would get injured on the steep trail. He dedicated 57 years to building and maintaining the steps down the side of the Chongqing mountain.

But that was far from the first time he had done something amazing for his wife, Xu Chaoqing. It started from the first time they met, when Guojiang rescued Chaoqing and her daughter from a rushing river they had tumbled into while washing clothes. The attraction was instant and it wasn’t long after he rescued her that they began dating. The village they lived in did not approve of their Today, they are both buried together in the same mountain side where Guojiang dedicated years of time and energy building those steps for his beloved wife.
ten year age difference, so they retreated to the hut in the mountain where they could live out their marriage in peace.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Valentine's Day Collection of the Most Heart Warming True Love Stories You'll Ever Hear (Part One)

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, it seems appropriate to celebrate the powerful stories of love and successful marriages that flood our social networks. That is what Valentine’s Day is all about right? So for anyone who has ever said “that stuff only happens in movies”- well these amazing couples would have to disagree!

The first is of Martyn Compton and Michelle Clifford. In 2006 Lance-Corporal Martyn met Michelle, who was a teacher. Their attraction was instant and it did not take them long after meeting to begin dating. Unfortunately, that next summer Martyn was sent to Afghanistan with his military unit. As difficult as it was, Michelle stayed faithful to him while he was gone. 

Only two months after his deployment, Martyn was caught in a surprise attack during a trip through what was thought to be an abandoned village. After a grenade was thrown at their car, he jumped from the vehicle and managed to put out the flames by rolling in the sand. Despite this miraculous escape, Martyn was not left without life-threatening wounds. He had been shot and severely burned, losing his ears, nose and hair. Survival did not look good and he fell into a coma. He remained unconscious for 3 months, and during all this time Michelle did not leave his side.

Even when doctors told her it was not likely he would wake up, or if he did he would never walk again. But she did not lose hope, singing to him, playing his favorite songs, and telling him stories nearly ever single day. Not only did he wake up, but a year later, after Michelle had stood by him through his extremely challenging recovery, he was able to walk again. They were then married and she became pregnant with twins soon after. Overjoyed, it seemed their luck was taking a turn for the better. Tragedy struck again when the twins were born prematurely and neither survived. Through support and unconditional love, the couple was able to survive yet another tragedy and went on to give birth to another child, a healthy baby boy. 

The second inspiring love story also survived through wartime. Joey Guerrero and Delora Denise Leon were both stationed in Iraq when they fell for one another. At first, Delora was not interested, but Joey stayed persistent, claiming he knew someday she would change her mind. What began as a beautiful friendship turned into so much more over the course of the months they spent overseas. But  asked her to marry him. They are now happily married with two children. 
during a sandstorm when Joey was helping her with her bags, they caught indirect fire and Joey protected her. It was during this moment Delora said she knew that she couldn’t let him go. No long later, Joey dropped to his knees in the sand, held out a ring he had specially ordered, and

For more heart warming and inspiring true love stories, keep a look out for our next set of stories in our part two! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why No One, Even Singles, Should Hate Valentine’s Day

Everyone knows that each year Valentine’s Day can have the tendency to bring out the cynic in some of us. Even those who aren’t single may roll their eyes at the holiday, looking at is as yet another commercialized, overemphasized way to raise your expectations and lower your cash. But this year lets try to get passed all the cheese and focus on the core meaning of Valentine’s Day- which is not a day for making you feel bad about yourself but about appreciating the people around you that you love and care about. For you single people, this appreciation isn’t reserved for a romantic partner, but for your friends and family too. I can remember Valentine’s Days that were spent watching chick flicks and drinking (okay chugging) wine with my closest friends, and those might have been some of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had! It’s all about choosing your perspective and mindset.

For singles this holiday:

If you are one of those people who looks at Valentine’s Day as a reminder of how “alone” you are (we’ve all been there at least once) then I have one thing to say to you- stop being so pessimistic! Not being in a committed relationship of some sort on this one particular day shouldn’t make you feel torturously alone in the world. Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day wasn’t made to hate on the singles! Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all kinds of love, it doesn’t have to be limited to romance. So if you’re single this year, call up your other single friends, plan a dinner date with some movies and a whole lot of wine and carbs and have a good night for yourself. Absolutely no sulking! 

For those in a relationship:

Dislike for this holiday isn’t limited to those who aren’t in a relationship, I’ve heard many couples say that they aren’t fans of the celebrations either. Various reasons include feeling like it puts too much pressure on people, the money spending aspect, and the reluctant but sometimes inevitable raising of expectations or hope that can lead to disappointment. Again, we have all been there before. But this year, try being more open minded. You don’t have to spend tons of money- most people would agree the best presents aren’t the most expensive ones but the ones that a lot of thought was put into. Save cramming a reservation in at a fancy restaurant and make a nice dinner for two at home. And to avoid any disappointments, just communicate with your significant other about how much celebrating you’re wanting or expecting. If you’re a couple who likes to go all out and indulge in the cheesier aspects of the holiday- go for it! If you prefer a simple acknowledgement and maybe a card, that’s fine too! Just make sure you’re vocal about it, remember your partner isn’t a mind reader!

Valentine’s Day is just a fun little holiday, there is no need for it to bring you down! So whether you are single or in a relationship, use this Valentine’s Day to tell the people in your life (parents, siblings, friends, and so on) that you love them and appreciate them. And then tell them every single day after that too! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Houston Tutor Reminds Us of all the Good in the World

One of our favorite subjects to blog about at ONCEkids are people who inspire us. And thanks to the internet, finding and sharing inspirational stories has become easier than ever. I often hear people complain that because of the ability to share news around the world with the click of a button, it makes the negativity and tragedy that goes on shoved in our faces all the time, thus bringing us down. While this may be true to some extent, we have been working to change this idea by helping to share positive stories and instead of focusing on the evil in the world, to focus on all the love and kindness. Cause if there is one thing that you can’t argue it is that “sharing” on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and various blogs has shown us that there are so many real life heroes in every corner of the world who, without the Internet, may have gone unnoticed. 

Take Kenny Thompson for example. This man has been dubbed the “lunch angel” after paying off the overdue lunch accounts of 60 kids at Houston’s Valley Oaks Elementary School. The longtime tutor and mentor was uneasy and upset after learning that many of the children who go to the school are on a reduced lunch meal plan and even then cannot afford the daily meals. Many of them will even skip the lunch line out of shame and embarrassment. It was after hearing this that he took it upon himself to go down to the school and spend $465 dollars to make sure that all the children were getting properly fed each day. He did this in the hope that it would ensure the children had the nutrition and security they needed to make each day at school a happy one. 

He comments on his actions saying, “These are elementary school kids. They don’t need to be worrying about finances. They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling. When I left the building knowing that they were getting fed, they didn’t have that stress- the best money I ever spent.” 

Mr. Thompson’s concern and generosity is admirable, and thanks to social media his touching story has already inspired thousands of readers. 

For other inspirational stories of real-life heroes, but sure to check out our blog page!