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December 26, 2013

This Week In The Civil War

This series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws primarily from wartime dispatches credited to The Associated Press or other accounts distributed through the AP and other historical sources.

As troops on both sides begin to enter winter camps, fighting has subsided with the onset of cold weather this month 150 years ago in the Civil War.

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 27, 1863, that the U.S. steamer Massachusetts arrived from the Carolinas at Union-held Fort Monroe off the Virginia coast with more than 200 federal military personnel recently discharged from duty. The ship also was carrying dozens of sick and 16 rebel prisoners taken from the captured rebel steamer Chatham off the Carolinas. AP also reported that the ship was bringing northward examples of some of the obstructions removed from Charleston Harbor in South Carolina that Confederates were using to defend the area.

The obstructions were to be taken to Navy officials in Washington for examination. AP added federal warships were continuing a blockade of Charleston with ``little firing’’ between Confederate land batteries and federal warships anchored in nearby waters.

New Survey Reveals US Dads Very Involved In Child Rearing

By LINDSEY TANNER

AP Medical Writer

Chicago (AP) The detached dad, turning up his nose at diapering and too busy to bathe, dress and play with his kids, is mostly a myth, a big government survey suggests. Most American fathers say they are heavily involved in hands-on parenting, the researchers found.

The nationally representative survey shows fathers’ involvement has increased slightly since the government first asked in 2002, coinciding with research since then that bolsters the benefits of hands-on fathering.

The results are encouraging and important ``because others have found the more involved dads are, the better the outcomes for their children,’’ said researcher Jo Jones of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. She co-authored the report released Friday.

More academic success, fewer behavior problems and healthier eating habits are just some of the ways fathers’ involvement has been linked with children’s well-being.

``Times have changed,’’ said Robert Loftus, 34, of Yonkers, N.Y. He quit a six-figure sales job a year ago to care for his two young children while his wife works full time. ``We’re trying to rethink our priorities and family seems to be the No. 1 priority whereas in the past maybe people were more focused on career.’’

The results build on volumes of research showing changes in vvthe American family since the baby boom years and before, when women were mostly stay-at-home moms and dads were the major breadwinners. As those roles shifted, so did the view that moms are the only nurturers.

University of Chicago sociologist Jennifer Bellamy, who also studies fathering, said some old stereotypes persist, ``that dads are sort of the co-pilots in their families,’’ absent or less involved than moms.

But she said the survey confirms that fathers ``are quite involved in a variety of different and important ways.’’

The study involved nearly 4,000 fathers aged 15 to 44 who were interviewed in person between 2006 and 2010. One caveat: They self-reported their involvement, without input from their partners or others. Most men were married or living with a partner.

Key findings among fathers living with children younger than 5:

_9 in 10 bathed, diapered, helped them use the toilet or get dressed at least several times weekly.

_Even higher numbers played with them and ate meals with them that often.

_Almost 2 out of 3 read to them at least several times weekly.

Among dads living with kids aged 5-18:

_More than 9 out of 10 ate meals with them at least several times weekly and talked with them about what happened during the kids’ day that often.

_Almost 2 out of 3 helped with homework several times weekly.

_About half took their kids to or from activities that often.

Overall, almost 90 percent of dads said they thought they were doing at least a good job of fathering.

The researchers noted that during the study years, 45 percent of U.S. men, 28 million, aged 15 to 44 had a biological child. About the same number had a biological, adopted or non-related child living with them or an adopted or biological child living elsewhere.

Survey questions were based on whether dads were living with their biological or unrelated kids, or apart.

Most lived with their kids. Not surprisingly, men who didn’t were less involved with parenting activities. Even so, several times weekly, at least 1 in 5 still managed to help bathe, diaper, dress, eat or play with their kids. Fathers of older children were generally less involved than those with kids younger than 5 but that’s at least partly due to the changing nature of parenting as children mature.

The survey suggests black fathers may be more involved than whites or Hispanics with some activities, including homework, but Jones downplayed racial differences and said some were not statistically significant.

Men with at least some college education were generally more involved with their kids than less educated fathers.

The CDC did a similar survey in 2002 that showed slightly less father involvement. Previous CDC surveys relied only on mothers’ responses about family life so aren’t comparable.

A national parenting survey by University of Maryland researchers found that in 2000, married U.S. fathers spent about two hours weekly interacting with their kids aged 18 and younger, more than double the time spent in 1965.

Dr. David Hill, a Wilmington, N.C., pediatrician and author of ``Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro,’’ said the survey echoes what he’s seen among his patients’ fathers. Increasingly, fathers rather than mothers take their kids to the doctor, he said. Some ``are anxious about changing a diaper,’’ he said, but the study offers reassuring evidence ``that everybody’s doing this.’’

Men weren’t asked about employment, or whether they were stay-at-home dads, who still are rare though their ranks have increased. Census numbers show almost 190,000 nationwide last year versus 93,000 in 2000. Those numbers only include men whose wives have been employed for at least one year

Loftus, the New York stay-at-home dad, said he feels lucky to be able to be such a hands-on father.
``I’m doing the most important job in the world,’’ he said.

Dolphin Center Offers Course In Marine Mammal Care

By Suzette Laboy

Associated Press

Grassy Key, FL (AP) Molly, a bottlenose dolphin in her early 50s, can’t see very well and requires special care. The staff at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys is teaching her to respond to verbal and touch-related signals before she loses her sight completely.

Molly isn’t the only one learning from these sessions, which also include the first five students in the center’s College of Marine Mammal Professions. The 36-week program that yields an Associate of Science Degree in Marine Mammal Behavior, Care and Training is the only one in the U.S. that teaches hands-on training and care of marine mammals, according to the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association.

The care of marine mammals is a growing but competitive field. In particular, geriatric marine mammal care is a field that is becoming more important these days as Molly and other animals in human care are living longer than their counterparts in the wild, said Kirsten Donald, the center’s education director.

Karen

“We provide the same kind of care as with aging humans,” Donald said.

The center’s degree is an expansion on its week-long dolphin lab program that started in 1985. The college’s first students, all women, will graduate in May and the college is looking to expand by offering other degrees in marine mammal professions. The program costs $20,310, including tuition and fees.

Most marine animal caregivers learn through internships, acquiring such skills as how to prepare an animal’s meal. The research center’s program teaches advanced skills such as how to calculate a diet based on the animal’s age, health status or the season. Students learn how to create a diet for a nursing or pregnant mammal, Donald said.

The center has two nursing baby dolphins.

“You already have an edge in the fact that we went through and got to see a baby dolphin being born right in front of you,” Donald told her students in a small classroom at the facility. “Talk about great education right there.”

There are about 40 aquariums or theme parks in the U.S. that are potential employers of students who learn how to work with marine mammals, according to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The organization also has 26 international member institutions in Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Europe and elsewhere.

The jobs are highly coveted, explained Ken Ramirez, the former president of the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association.

“For any position you have 100 applications. You have to do everything you can to get your resume to stand out and part of that is practical, hands-on experience as well as the education. And that’s something unique that the program can offer,” he said of the coursework at the center in the Florida Keys.

Molly

Samantha Sorbello, a recent graduate, said getting the hands-on education was difficult for her while in school because there were not a lot of places to get an internship while studying.

“When I saw this, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is perfect.’ I can get the hands-on experience. I’m going to be learning a whole lot and I don’t have to worry about trying to fit it in with different things at the same time,” said Sorbello, who’s from Rhodes Island.

The center also teaches the students how to care for animals with special medical needs, such as Molly and Karen, a 27-year-old California sea lion who is blind. Karen has to use her sensitive whiskers to feel her way around her habitat.

On a recent day, trainer Kelly Jayne Rodriguez called out instructions as the sea lion swam closer to the dock.

“So you guys can see as I call her, she listens to my voice. Dock,” she said as Karen shuffled her way onto the wooden dock. “She uses the whiskers to find the dock.”

As Karen made her way to the center of the outdoor classroom, Karen said: “I’m still talking to her so she knows where I’m at. She follows my voice.”

At this session, the students were learning how to give Karen eye drops.

“Eyes,” Rodriguez says loudly as Karen’s whiskers pluck up. The word “eyes” tells Karen to have her eyes open so Rodriguez can pour the drops in.

“Good girl,” she said, reinforcing the good work with a fish treat.

Back at the dolphin area, the students were learning how to transfer hand signals into a touch or vocal signal while Molly still has some sight.

“So I’m going to say the world ‘Dive!,’” Rodriguez said loudly, giving her the hand signal, a circular hand motion‚ as she says the word. “I’m pairing the two. She’ll learn that that dive sounds means for me to jump.”

Rodriguez then blew the whistle to call her back. But Molly kept putting on a show for the students by jumping in and out of the water. “And with age, selective hearing comes into play, too.”

 

 


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