See the rest of TIME’s Top 10 of Everything 2013 lists here
10. Helicopter Parenting Is Selfish
It’s a classic life balance conundrum: children whose parents hover, constantly texting them, friending them on Facebook, and generally being over-involved in their lives, can become depressed and feel incompetent, especially if the helicopter lingers over college after the child leaves. All those check-ins can erode a kid’s confidence and make it hard for him or her to learn resilience, according to research published earlier this year in The Journal of Child and Family Studies.
On the other hand, child-centric parents, who sacrifice their time, money and personal pursuits for their offspring, report having happier and more meaningful lives than those who are less involved, say researchers in the Netherlands. Walk that line, parents!
9. Babies Aren’t Us
For the fifth year in a row, the birth rate declined in the United States. An American woman will give birth to an average of 1.88 children over her lifetime, but it takes 2.1 children per woman on average to replace a generation, according to the CDC’s most recent numbers. The recession and an achingly slow recovery may be depressing the desire to have kids, but that in turn might hurt the economy down the road if there aren’t enough young workers entering the labor pool. One new study out of Australia found that mothers of all levels of education and wealth tend to delay childbirth until they have stable employment. While the decline in births is slowing, the current rate of 63 births per 1,000 women is far lower than it was at the end of the baby boom in 1960 when there were 118 births per 1,000 women. Europe and parts of Asia are also struggling with low birth rates and an aging population.
8. Size Matters in Men, But Not in the Way You Might Expect
Size is important to women when it comes to picking a mate, but it’s more complicated than you might think. Sure, men who are taller tend to have more kids, however,other measurements, like the width of a guy’s shoulders, may matter more. Eighty percent women queried by Australian and Canadian scientists for a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences cited a big shoulder-hip ratio as attractive. The other 20% were divided between height and flaccid penis size. And while we’re on that topic, a new study revealed recently that testicle size plays a role in whether or not a guy is an involved dad, but this is one time less is more: the smaller the family jewels, the better the family man. There’s a law of diminishing returns at work here, the greater the semen output in each ejaculation, the less engaged the dad. Researchers couldn’t say whether the testes size caused the difference or whether the act of becoming a dad caused the testicles to shrink in men who were diverting their attention from mating to fathering.
7. ‘Oversharenting’ Is a Thing And It’s Not Going Away
The debate continues over whether parents post too much about their kids online. And it’s not just the prolific mommy bloggers, some of whom have been accused of revealing potentially damaging things about their children to the world, whether it was the woman who confessed to loving her son more than her daughter or the mom who discussed putting her daughter on a diet. Those writers were roundly slammed by internet pundits and a few parenting authorities for violating their children’s privacy. But they’re not alone in posting about their children’s lives. Sixty-four percent of parents upload images of their childrento social media outlets at least three times a week, unwittingly creating a digital trail for their kids that will be difficult to delete. (And that’s even before they’re old enough to start flooding the web with their own selfies.) Some internet experts like Amy Webb and Steven Leckhart, a correspondent for Wired, have opted out entirely choosing not to post anything about their kids so as not to give them an unwanted digital legacy or make them more vulnerable to identity theft. But on the other side of the virtual fence, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook’s founder, advocates embracing a world where the public and private are merged. “The answer isn’t fewer baby pictures; it’s more baby pictures. It’s not that I should post less; it’s that everyone else should post more.”
6. Actually, Men and Women Pitch In About Equally
Dads do more than ever at home, but there is still a large gender gap when it comes to parenting hours: Mothers spend about twice as much time with their children as fathers do (13.5 hours per week for mothers, compared with 7.3 hours for fathers), according to a June Pew Research report. Even among dual-career couples who are more likely to believe in sharing parenting responsibilities, moms still bear more of the burden, particularly with infant care. Mothers with 9 month olds spent nearly 70 percent of their “free” time on an average workday (when they weren’t working or sleeping) on some kind of child care, compared to less than 50 percent for fathers, according to new research out of Ohio State University. This was true even after breastfeeding and pumping were accounted for. However, when Pew measured the amount of time parents spent contributing to the household either by working or caring for children and doing household chores, the hours per week were pretty equal gender-wise. Men tended to spend more time working while women spent more time on household or children.
5. Kate Middleton Makes the Post-Partum Bump Fashionable, Sort Of
When Kate Middleton walked out of the hospital in July carrying her newborn prince, she wore a fitted maternity dress which showed off, rather than hid her post-partum baby bump. This sartorial decision won her global praise for presenting a more realistic image of a woman’s body after pregnancy–nevermind that she also appeared to be perfectly coiffed and unburdened by the peripheral weight that most pregnant women gain in non-belly areas. And sure enough, only weeks after birth, she was spotted grocery shopping with the flattest of bellies looking exactly like the lean, 5’10” athletic young woman she was before baby George arrived.
4. Mothers Can Influence Their Teen’s Friendships After All
Mothers are notorious for interfering in their teen’s lives, trying to solve disputes, shape friendships and generally offering lots of advice. But it turns out, the things they don’t do might have more of an effect. According to new research, a mother’s friendships with other adults can affect their teenage children’s relationships with their own friends, particularly the negative aspects. The children of women who had a lot of conflict with their adult friends also more likely to report similar verbal antagonism and heated arguments with a close pal. And, moms with high levels of negativity in their friendships were also likelier to have kids who were more anxious and depressed than those with more positive interactions with their friends. Unfortunately, the researchers didn’t find a correlation between better adult relationships and teen behavior.
3. Anti-Bullying Programs Might Be Backfiring
As more complicated and disturbing stories about bullying surface, including tragedies where harassment was implicated in a suicide, like the recent death of a young Florida girl, thousands of anti-bullying programs have sprung up in schools across the country. But are they working? A study published this year in the Journal of Criminology suggests that the children who attended schools with anti-bullying programs were more likely to experience bullying than children who attended schools without such programs. (Researchers looked at 195 schools and 7000 kids). This could be a matter of awareness, with more kids in schools with programs reporting bullying. But the research does raise questions about how to define the problem. After all, most measures of youth behavior show improvements in recent years in rates of smoking, drinking, violence, teen pregnancy, and suicide.Some experts suggest that a focus on reinforcing positive behavior among students while also training staff to address all aggression, not just bullying, may have the best promise for success.
2. C-Suite Mothers Are Not Like Other Mothers
Yahoo! CEO and new mother, Marissa Mayer, was slammed for ending the company’s liberal work from home policy which hurt working moms, some argued. Her decision seemed particularly galling when she had a nursery built next to her officefor her own infant. The episode shifted the “women can’t have it all” debate back to a discussion about whether, actually, some moms can, as long as they’re at an elite enough level. Those are the only women who can demand the kind of work-life balance flexibility that allows execs like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to walk out the door at 5:30pm, should she so choose. Mayer’s reputation as a working mom icon was restored somewhat when she instituted very familyfriendly policiesthat included doubling paid maternity leave for mothers (from eight to 16 weeks), giving dads eight weeks paternity leave and ensuring that Yahoo! parents get a $500 one time gift when they welcome a new child. The Having it All debate will rage on, but everyone can agree that having a little more time for parenting is a good thing.
1. Teen Birth Rates Drop, But So Does Condom Use
The birth rate among teens has fallen to its lowest level in the 73 years the government has been collecting this data, according to the CDC. The rate has been declining for two decades and is now half what it was in 1991. Experts credit more contraception availability and better sex education, but even these gains may not be enough. A 2012 Guttmacher Institute report revealed that while nearly 90% of high schools are teaching students about abstinence and STDs, fewer than 60% are providing lessons about contraception methods, including condoms. The percentage of American students using condomshit its peak at around 60% a decade ago, and has stalled since then, even declining among some demographics. That worries experts who note that half of all STDs occur among young people aged 15-24.