Our Stressful Children, Talking About Sex, Etc.

If you can’t guess the answer to this question, buy yourself a dunce cap: What’s the top cause of stress among parents? The answer, of course, is “children.” In a survey of parents by AOL and Roper Public Affairs, 42 percent of respondents cited their kids as a leading source of stress—putting that factor ahead of “saving for the future” (40 percent), “having enough money to live on” (37 percent) and “the amount needed to get done each day” (36 percent). Slightly fewer parents pointed to “getting enough sleep or being able to relax” (35 percent) and “the state of the world” (34 percent).

Score one for the power of words. Much media attention was paid last week to a study showing that teens who watch TV shows with sexual content were more likely to become sexually active themselves. It’s not surprising that sexual imagery would have this effect. But in its abstract of the article that reported the research, the journal Pediatrics noted a broader finding: “Exposure to TV that included only talk about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to TV that depicted sexual behavior.” It’s curiously reassuring to learn that today’s teens, who’ve grown up in the image-drenched era of music videos, have not been wholly desensitized to the significance of language.

How do fathers balance the competing demands of work and family? It’s tempting to suggest they do so by using work to escape from their clamorous kids. In a Spike TV poll published in Time, 60 percent of fathers said they spend 41-59 hours per week at work, vs. 49 percent of men who don’t have children. Of course, there are respectable explanations for this disparity—for instance, the fact that fathers must earn money to support their kids. When asked about their favorite leisure pursuits, “hanging out with family” got the most votes (20 percent), putting it ahead of “playing sports/exercising” (11 percent), “watching TV” (11 percent), “hanging out with friends” (9 percent), “working around the house” (9 percent), “watching sports events” (3 percent) and “playing golf” (2 percent).

A man fleeing from a two-legged baked potato as it pursues him down the street? Or cornered by a slice of pizza and a bagel? Yes, the specter of carbohydrates stalks the nation. Whatever it has or hasn’t done for Americans’ health, the rise of carbophobia has yielded some amusing ads. In this one, we’re told that the fellow who’s terrified of carbohydrates wouldn’t need to be if he followed a proper exercise regimen. And, happily, that’s just what he could get at a 24 Hour Fitness center. Publicis & Hal Riney of San Francisco created the commercial for the fitness chain.