Sunday, May 11, 2014

The science of Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  I'm kicking off this scientific celebration of the occasion with a video from Discovery News.

When Are Moms Most Likely to Make Babies?

Sexual habits vary throughout the world, and the times of the year that women give birth seem to shed some light on when babies are conceived. Is there a pattern to when women are more likely to get pregnant? Tara and Trace discuss some interesting habits among couples to try to get to the bottom of this question.
Follow over the jump for two articles from Vox.

First, 6 remarkable facts about the science of motherhood
by Joseph Stromberg
May 10, 2014
Mother's Day is nearly here.

Sure, the holiday has kinda drifted from an idealized celebration of the mother-child bond to a corporate-driven occasion for mass consumption, but that shouldn't overshadow how important moms fundamentally are.

Science has told us all sorts of fascinating things about the uniquely intimate link between mother and child at the biological level. Here's a rundown of some of the most remarkable discoveries we've made so far.
Next, Why daughters fight with their mothers
A Georgetown linguist explains
by Eleanor Barkhorn
May 9, 2014
Why are these relationships so difficult? Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, analyzed hours' worth of conversations between mothers and daughters for her book You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation. She discovered a central tension in the mother-daughter relationship: mothers want to protect their daughters, so they offer advice that they think will make their daughters' lives easier. Daughters, on the other hand, want approval from their mothers, so they interpret this advice as criticism, as proof that they're imperfect.

"Because you're so close, there's more opportunity to get on one another's nerves."

"Here's the person you most want to think you're perfect. Because her opinion matters so much," Tannen says. "So if she thinks you're doing things wrong then you must be fatally flawed. And underneath we all worry that we're fatally flawed."

These conflicting desires — the mother's desire to protect vs. the daughter's desire for approval — set the stage for painful misunderstandings and arguments. The well-meaning mother gives advice; the approval-seeking daughter takes offense and tells her mother to leave her alone; the mother throws up her hands and says she feels like she can't say anything that won't upset her daughter.
If you read Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Mother's Day) on Daily Kos, all of this should look familiar.  Of course it does; I'm an environmentalist, I recycle.

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