Anyone Who’s Ever Driven Away From A Thanksgiving Dinner With Their Tires Squealing Knows This:

Families can be tough. And now there’s statistical proof.
There’s a new book out called “The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why” by Dalton Conley, Director of Social Science Research at New York University. And in his studies, Conley found that a child’s place in the family is a strong predictor of how their life will turn out in the long run. He based his research on data from hundreds of thousands of families. So the next time you’re munching on a drumstick at Thanksgiving dinner, think about a few of these.

  • Those with the worst chance for financial success are middle children and children with skin darker than their siblings.
  • In large families, the struggle for attention from the parents creates identities that stick through adulthood. Kids from large families feel more pressure to stand out either by achieving more or by rebelling and causing trouble.
  • And in families with 3 or more kids, there will often be a drastic difference in the kids’ financial outcome. One sibling tends to be a lot richer than the others.
  • When it comes to divorce, it’s hardest on the eldest child. Especially if the eldest is a daughter, because she’ll often have to take on more housework, take care of younger siblings, and give emotional support to the single parent. That oldest daughter often gets trapped in that sacrifice role and ends up having a harder life than her younger siblings.
  • In families with a stay-at-home mom, brothers are more likely to get college degrees than their sisters. When the mother works outside the home, those differences disappear.

But Conley wants everyone to know that these are statistics, not the rule. So any predicted outcome can be changed.

Living With Unhappy Parents Is Harder On Kids Than Divorce

There’s no doubt that living with two happy parents is the best thing for children, but with the divorce rate over 50%, that’s not always a reality. However – the operative word to keep in mind here is happy. Lisa Strohschein, a professor in the sociology department of the University of Alberta, says that living with unhappy parents is actually harder on kids than divorce! Here are the details, courtesy of Web MD:

  • Strohschein followed thousands of children for four years. They all started out living in two parent households, but about half those marriages ended in divorce.
  • Compared with kids whose parents remained married, the children of divorced parents exhibited more antisocial behavior, such as lying, cheating and bullying. They also were more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
  • The problems these kids had started while they lived with both parents. In fact, their behavior improved after the split.

Strohschein says her research shows it’s living in a dysfunctional household – not divorce – that causes a lot of bad behavior. Psychologist Judith Primavera – who’s published research on children of divorce – agrees. She says that your marital problems don’t need to be of the Jerry Springer variety. In her work, she’s found that troubled couples who don’t fight verbally stress their kids out almost as much as hot-blooded parents. That’s because when people live in the same house but don’t interact like a couple, children have more trouble in school and more difficulty socializing. This might be the most important point: Since children learn how to have adult relationships from their parents, staying in an unhappy marriage for their sake increases your child’s chances of being in a similar situation one day.

Your Healthy Thanksgiving Eating Guide

Before you dig into that Thanksgiving spread this year, take time to think about what’s in front of you. Here’s an eating guide:

First: The bird. If you’re preparing the turkey, don’t buy the “self-basting” kind, which is injected with a solution that’s supposed to help “improve” the flavor and juiciness of the meat. Those turkeys have nearly twice the fat and salt as the old-fashioned kind. And skip the skin altogether – that’s where almost all the fat is.

Next: Cranberry sauce. As long as it doesn’t come in a can, go ahead and load up! Cranberries are high in vitamin C and tannins, the heart-healthy compounds also found in red wine. Just make sure the sauce isn’t loaded with sugar, like the canned kind.

What about stuffing? To make it really healthy, use whole-wheat bread or high-fiber grains like wild rice. And cook it outside the bird, where it won’t get soaked in fatty drippings. If someone else has made the stuffing and they didn’t follow those guidelines – skip it.

And watch out for gravy, which is basically salty, flavored fat.

Finally: Sweet potatoes. One potato has nearly zero fat and only 120 calories – not bad at all. Sweet potatoes also contain an anti-oxidant that fights cancer, and reduces the risk of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Just don’t top yours with a million mini-marshmallows!

Turning Back The Clock Is Good For Your Heart

Daylight Saving Time is ending! And turning back the clock is actually good for your heart! Typically, there are 20% more heart attacks on Mondays, according to the British Medical Journal. It’s a combination of a lack of sleep from the weekend, increased activity, rising blood pressure, and the stress of a starting a work week. But the switch back to Standard Time actually changes that dynamic.

In March, when we “spring forward” and move our clocks ahead one hour, there’s a 5% increase in heart attacks on Monday, and 10% on Tuesday. Researchers figure it’s because we’re already sleep-deprived – and the extra hour of lost sleep pushes those prone to a heart attack over the edge. However, in November when we “fall back” and move our clocks back an hour, there’s actually a 5% drop in heart attacks that week. Again, it’s because a lot of people take advantage of that extra hour and sleep longer. Or do something relaxing, like reading the morning paper until it’s time to get ready.

So, what’s the takeaway on this? It’s simple: Get more sleep! Dr. Lori Mosca, the director of preventive cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital, says getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night improves blood sugar, and reduces your blood pressure, blood clotting, cholesterol, and inflammation of your arteries. All of which reduce your risk for heart disease and heart attack. On the flip side, the disappearance of Daylight Saving Time can make you more tired. Why? Studies show that earlier sunsets, and long, dark evenings make fatigue worse, and can make you feel draggy all day.

The fix: Stop hitting the snooze button and get moving the moment your alarm goes off. Take advantage of the extra morning light by opening your blinds, or taking a walk outside. Sunlight suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, and helps boost your energy and your mood.

How To Fight Off Seasonal Affective Disorder

We recently turned the clocks back an hour and even though sleep experts say that the time change is good news – because we typically get more rest – it can also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder. And it can hit anyone, no matter how healthy you are. The disorder makes you feel tired, have less energy and feel hungrier – and your risk of depression jumps. So, here are a few ways to fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • Load up on light. The idea is to get your mind out of “it’s getting dark outside, time to sleep mode.” So, go outside during your lunch break to get your daylight fix! And as soon as you get home, turn on the lights so your brain doesn’t get lulled into “sleep zone.”

  • Go for a nighttime workout. Studies show that early evening exercise can help keep you energized during the evening. The key? Work out two hours before bed. That way, your brain has time to come off the dopamine exercise high so you’ll actually be able to fall asleep.

  • Don’t sleep late on weekends. Dr. Michael Terman, a psychologist and SAD specialist, says that oversleeping allows your body clock to drift later. And when you’re out of sync with local time, it can make you sluggish and depressed.

  • Use a light-therapy box. This mimics natural outdoor light. Dr. Terman believes that half the population would benefit from 30 minutes of light box therapy every morning. It’ll help increase your energy by mimicking natural sunlight, so a regular lamp won’t do the trick.

Why Do We Love A Good Scare?

Do you love roller coasters, horror movies, and haunted houses? You’ve got a lot of company. The fact is, most people like a good scare. At least, when they know – deep down – that they’re not in any real danger.

Behavioral scientist Dr. David Rudd says that most adults and teens can realistically gauge how dangerous something is, whether it’s a roller coaster, or a zombie in a haunted house. They understand they might have nightmares afterward, but they still feel relatively safe. So, instead of experiencing real fear, they feel excitement instead. That’s also one reason people scream when they’re make-believe scared by a movie, or a Halloween attraction, and then laugh immediately afterward. Because the enjoyment is bubbling right below the surface.

But not everybody enjoys being scared. Some adults and most young children can’t tell whether something is scary-fun, or genuinely scary. It’s because they have less experience gauging how dangerous things are, whether it’s a monster in a movie, or a skeleton on someone’s lawn that screams as they walk by. So, they’re more likely to feel like they’re in real danger.

That’s why kids get scared so much more easily than adults. And why they may not find the scarier-parts of Halloween enjoyable at all.

Give Your Bank Account A Boost

Why is it that so many people choose NOT to save money? It has very little to do with your income and expenses. Researchers at Dartmouth and Harvard Universities studied people with lower incomes who easily outsaved higher-income earners – by an average of $100,000 as well as people with huge incomes who didn’t save a dime.

So what did they learn?

For one, some people simply check out. The researchers say many of us don’t save because it’s easy to spend in our culture, and we’re on autopilot. We don’t think of money management as something we need to do. We’ll schedule things like laundry and movie night, but neglect to sit down and focus on our finances.

Also – we procrastinate. We know that someday we’re going to need money, but our lives are so hectic and things are so expensive, that we keep putting it off until things settle down – which, as we know, never happens. Or we’re convinced that our “million dollar idea” – that business we’re going to start or the novel we’re going to write – is going to take care of our retirement needs. When it comes to money, we have to be more practical than that.

So, ready to give your bank account a boost? Here are a couple of tips:

  • Bank your raise. Mary Hunt is a financial expert and author of Live Your Life For Half the Price, and she says the next time you get a raise, or a bonus, save at least half of it. Let’s say your raise gives you an extra $200 a month. If you save half of that – $100 a month – at 6% interest for 10 years, that money will grow into more than $16,000! You won’t miss it, because you never saw it in the first place.
  • Save the payment. When you pay off something, like a car loan or a credit card, take the amount of money you were paying each month and add it to your savings instead. A $330 monthly payment to yourself over five years turns into more than $23,000! Enough to buy your next car with CASH.

Keep Your Pets Safe This Halloween!

You might encounter a few scaredy-cats this Halloween, but one thing you don’t want to see is a sick or injured pet. That’s why the ASPCA asked us to remind you of these animal safety tips for the spookiest night of the year.

  • Keep an eye on the candy. Chocolate can cause seizures and even be fatal to dogs and cats, and the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause liver failure in dogs. It’s also important to pick up the trash. Ingesting tin foil and candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

  • Pet-proof your decorations. Chewing an electric cord can damage your pet’s mouth – or cause electrocution. Candles may look spooky, but they’re a big injury risk to curious cats and kittens.

  • Leave the costumes for the kids. Liam Crowe is a dog behavioral therapist and co-founder of Bark Busters USA. He says that while you may think those antlers or sunglasses look adorable on Fido – they could drive him crazy. If you decide to put a costume on your pet, have a dress rehearsal to make sure it doesn’t restrict their movement or breathing.

Holidays like Halloween can be overwhelming to pets. You want to make sure yours can’t get to the candy or decorations. If your dog or cat seems nervous or agitated, put them in a quiet place away from trick-or-treaters.

Why Fall Makes Us Happier!

In the fall season, do you tend to feel happier? Here’s what’s going on, according to psychology professor Dr. Jason Brunt from Biola University.

First, your brain is more ALERT in fall than any other time of year! Because where winter is mostly white and snowy – and spring and summer are dominated by green – fall brings a burst of vibrant yellow, orange and red shades in nature. And Dr. Brunt says our brain interprets the visual contrast as something “significant.” Like a loud noise in a quiet room. It wakes us up mentally.

Then, fall foliage can also fight stress! According to the University of Washington, stressed out people who gazed at trees with brightly-colored fall foliage had a significant drop in heart rate and stress hormones. Plus, focusing on the changing colors of the leaves can be an exercise in mindfulness – which relaxes us, too.

And when the temperature drops, we have less anxiety. Hot and humid weather increases our heart rate, breathing rate, and other metabolic reactions. And our brain can interpret that as an anxiety attack. So in fall, we feel calmer.

That’s why Dr. Brunt says, autumn activates our brain in a way that makes us feel happier… calmer… and more connected to nature!

Does Online Dating Lead To A Happier Marriage?

Couples: I have great news if you met your partner online!
First, a new study says you’ll have a happier, longer-lasting relationship, compared to couples who met face to face. And it gets better if you’re married because the same study shows that your marriage is less likely to end in divorce, compared to married couples who first met in person. That’s the surprising conclusion of research from the University of Chicago. They tracked more than 19-thousand married people for almost a decade.

So why are couples who meet “virtually” happier than couples who meet face-to-face? Psychologists say it has to do with the fact that we’re generally more willing to open up and be ‘real’ online. Because even though online daters may lie about their height or weight – they’re online because they want to be in a relationship. So going into it, you already know that the other person is looking for the same thing you are.

Plus, online dating allows you to see someone’s hobbies and interests right off the bat – and even filter out people who don’t have your same views. And that’s key – since having things in common is huge factor in relationship satisfaction.

Also, people who meet online disclose more about themselves in emails, messages and phone calls BEFORE they even start dating. And that “opening up” helps couples bond. But it’s not all bad news for couples who meet each other in person. Because this study found that where you meet can also make a big difference in how happy your relationship turns out to be.

For example: Couples who meet through school, work or church tend to be happier than couples who meet through friends or at bars. Again, it’s because couples who meet through school or church already know they have something in common.