Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Mindfulness for Children?

Mindfulness helps children in Rio's favelas cope with life.

What do actress Goldie Hawn, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and Google employees have in common with children in disadvantaged, low-income communities? They are all benefiting from practicing mindfulness, that is, maintaining a nonjudgmental moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. There are meditation-like activities during which you concentrate on your breathing, heartbeat, or other body rhythms to settle down and focus your mind. Mindfulness can also mean being aware of your movements, the world around you, and your interactions with other people – basically, taking notice of what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing as you go about your daily life.  Read More

What the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Means for LGBTQ Youth

With the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the U.S., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth can anticipate more secure family life, now and in the future.

With the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth can anticipate more secure family life, now and in the future. To come of age in an era in which marriage rights are guaranteed represents a major shift for LGBTQ youth, and may have reverberating effects in other areas of their lives.

The recent ruling parallels a shift in public opinion about the rights of LGBTQ people, both on a societal and a more personal scale. Social acceptance matters deeply for LGBTQ youth, as feeling supported is one of the most important factors in predicting positive outcomes for them.

Most LGBTQ youth plan on being in relationships and becoming parents in the future. More than nine in 10 lesbian, and eight in 10 gay male youth expect to be monogamously partnered after age 30, and about nine in 10 of both lesbians and gay male youth report they expect to raise children someday.1 Considering these intentions, this ruling will most likely play an important role in how they plan their future lives.

With the recent remarkable developments in mind, we take a look at the characteristics of LGBTQ youth, some of the challenges that they still face, and some of the resources available to help families and schools support them. Read More

How Teens Benefit from Healthy Relationships with Family and Friends

Hispanic family laughing togetherEvery Sunday, my extended family gathers together for dinner, but one recent family dinner was particularly special because my youngest cousin just graduated high school. As I met my cousin’s girlfriend and other close friends, I offered him some helpful words of advice about relationships, jobs, and college—things I wish I had known at that age.

My conversation reminds me about the importance of relationships with family, friends, and mentors to adolescents’ lives. The relationship skills that boys and girls develop during adolescence can help youth make positive decisions about other aspects of their lives. Knowing how to establish and maintain positive relationships can make a difference as youth make decisions related to romantic relationships, friendships, school, and work. Read More

From Basketball to Fatherhood, Stephen Curry and LeBron James Are MVPs

If you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, you’re no stranger to the Curry family. Riley Curry, two-year-old daughter of Warriors star Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, became an instant celebrity a few weeks ago when she joined a post-game press conference with her famous father. Stephen brought Riley onstage, sat down, and then attended to her needs while simultaneously responding to a room full of reporters. As a researcher who studies early childhood, watching Stephen interact with Riley was the highlight of my day, but quite a bit of controversy was sparked by his decision to bring Riley to “work.” This is not the first time that a professional athlete has been criticized for their parenting. Curry joins a long line of celebrity fathers who are often questioned for their decisions, such as whether to be present for the birth of a child or how long their paternity leave should be.

father's day blog

Modification of photos by Stephen Curry / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

As champions of child development and parental involvement, I think we should celebrate these moments – intimate, once-in-a-lifetime interactions between fathers and their children. LeanIn.org has created a new promotional message with NBA players supporting parenting and families, including a message from LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron, father of three, is actively involved in the LeBron James Family Foundation, engaging with children on a regular basis as they pursue their educational goals. Read More

The Importance of Permanent Connections for Youth in Foster Care

may- basketballFoster care is a complex system designed to provide care and support for children and adolescents when their parents or guardians are not able or willing. Unfortunately, for many of the over 200,000 youth currently in foster care who are over age 14, being in foster care can also mean missing out on what most in America would consider rites of passage for an adolescent, such as school sponsored activities, learning to drive a car, making social connections, and having a part-time or summer job. An additional 23,000 young adults who “aged out” of foster care in 2013 also likely missed out on at least some of these opportunities.  (“Aging out”  means they left foster care because they became too old to continue receiving services, rather than exiting to a permanent, stable home.) This is cause for concern, since these opportunities provide the developmental milestones important for a successful transition to adult life. Read More

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