Marriage and the empty nest

A study published in Psychological Science looked at the marriages of mothers over an 18-year period – from their 40’s to their early 60’s. The study suggested that marital satisfaction increased with age, whether the women stayed with the same partners or remarried. The increase was greatest for those who transitioned to an “empty nest” during the period studied. This increase did not seem to be related to the increased amount of time that women had to spend with their partners, but to an increased enjoyment of the time they had together. The authors suggested that these findings support a need for partners to schedule time together before their kids leave home.

You can read more here.

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Worried about your kids’ career plans?

job hunting by Robert S. Donovan

job hunting by Robert S. Donovan

I’ll admit it. I’m worried about the costs of my kids’ education. Tuition fees go up every year, so by the time my 6 year-old gets to college or university, it’s hard to know how far the savings will go! Obviously, I’m hoping that they’ll have some idea about their career path, so they can find a program and stick with it. But I didn’t stick with my original plan, and I know a lot of people who changed programs before finishing their degree. Is there a way to improve the odds that your teenager will choose a post-secondary program leading to a career that he or she will love?

Sibling Aggression: A Training Ground for Anti-Social Behaviour

HELEN MCARDLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYBrothers and sisters learn a lot about relationships from their interactions with each other; on the Family Anatomy podcast, Dr. G and I have described the sibling relationship as a testing ground in which kids develop and practice their social skills. But if kids learn about the social world by interacting with their brothers or sisters, what happens when that relationship is a negative one, characterized by coercion and aggression? That’s exactly the question that was asked by researchers in a study published in the current issue of Developmental Psychology.

The idea that siblings learn about relationships from each other isn’t a new one. Twenty-five years ago, Gerald Patterson and his colleagues developed the concept of deviancy training, which proposed that negative exchanges between siblings provide opportunities for them to learn delinquent behaviour, leading to increases in aggression and other problems as the kids get older. Although the deviancy training theory has received attention in recent years, it’s tough to test; siblings share genes, an environment, and parents as well as interactions. These commonalities make it difficult to tease apart the influence of one factor over another; studies of sibling interactions rarely take into account genetics, and genetic studies seldom focus on the sibling relationship.

Preschool Depression May Continue Into Childhood

ChildCHICAGO – Depression among preschoolers appears to be a continuous, chronic condition rather than a transient developmental stage, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“The validity of major depressive disorder in childhood has been well established, with the disorder now widely recognized and treated in mental health settings,” the authors write as background information in the article. However, previous studies have primarily focused on children age 6 and older. Although a growing body of data suggests that depression does exist among preschoolers, skepticism remains about whether it is clinically meaningful or increases the later risk of psychiatric conditions.

Joan L. Luby, M.D., and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied 306 preschoolers age 3 to 6. Of these, 75 met criteria for major depressive disorder, 79 had anxiety or disruptive disorders but not depression and 146 did not meet criteria for any psychiatric disorder. A comprehensive three- to four-hour laboratory assessment was completed at the beginning of the study. While children completed measures of emotional, cognitive and social development, primary caregivers were interviewed separately about the preschoolers’ psychiatric symptoms and developmental skills. Similar developmental and behavioral assessments were conducted 12 and 24 months later.

“Preschoolers with depression at baseline had the highest likelihood of subsequent depression 12 and/or 24 months later compared with preschoolers with no baseline disorder and with those who had other psychiatric disorders,” the authors write. After controlling for other demographic variables and risk factors, preschoolers with depression at the beginning of the study had a four times greater likelihood of having depression one and two years later than preschoolers without depression.