Friday, July 26, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: Beats Constipation

DAD: What are you doing in my room?

THE FAVORITE SON: Eating an apple.

DAD: (Pause.) I guess that's all right.

THE FAVORITE SON: Yep. Beats having constipation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Marriage and Divorce: A Baker's Dozen Mind Boggling Facts and Stats

1. 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce. 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.[i]

Photo Credit:

2. In 2009, from the eastern United States to the western, 46,291 couples married in New Jersey, while 23,978 divorced; in my home state of Missouri, 39,797 married and 23,299 divorced; and Washington State performed 40,357 marriage ceremonies and certified 26,251 divorces. In all, approximately 2.1 million couples were married during 2009, while states certified about 1.1 million divorces.[ii]

3. Marriage rate: 6.8 per 1,000 total population; the Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population (44 reporting States and D.C.)[iii]

4. The average marriage now lasts just over 11 years.[iv]

5. The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.[v]

Photo Credit: Mirror UK

6. Only 45% of African American households contain a married couple, compared to 80% for Whites, and 70% among Hispanics.[vi]

7. People are getting married later in life. The median age of those married for the first time is currently 28.3 for men and 25.8 for women. Compare this to the numbers from 1960, when the median age was 23 for men and 20 for women.[vii]

8. Of first marriages that end in divorce, many end in the first 3 to 5 years.[viii]

9. Living together prior to getting married can increase the chance of getting divorced by as much as 40 percent.[ix]

10. Asian-Americans have the highest percentage of marriage (65 % versus 61% for whites) and the lowest percentage of divorce (4% versus 10.5% for whites).[x]

11. If your parents are happily married, your risk of divorce decreases by 14 percent.[xi]

12. Both men and women have higher life expectancies when married than those who are single or divorced.[xii]

Photo Credit: Chris Cornell News

13. The United States has the highest incidence of divorce in the free world.[xiii]

[i] 32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.” McKinley Irvin.  October 30, 2012.
[ii] “Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for 2009.” National Vital Statistics Reports,
Volume 58, Number 25. August 27, 2010.
[iii] “Marriage and Divorce.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[iv] “11 YEARS: LENGTH OF THE AVERAGE MARRIAGE.” Accessed June 4, 2013.
[v] “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.” McKinley Irvin. October 30, 2012.
[vi] “Marriage and Divorce Statistics by Culture: African Americans and Black Community.” National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[vii] “Why Marriage Matters: Facts And Figures.” For Your Marriage. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[viii] “Facts About Marital Distress and Divorce.” Stanley, Scott M., Markman, Howard, J. Smart Marriages. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[ix] “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.” McKinley Irvin. October 30, 2012.
[x] “Marriage and Divorce Statistics by Culture: Asian and Pacific Islanders.” National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[xi] 32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.” McKinley Irvin. October 30, 2012.
[xii] “Why Marriage Matters: Facts And Figures.” For Your Marriage. Accessed June 4, 2013.
[xiii] “YOU ARE NOT ALONE: Some Interesting Facts & Figures About Marriage & Divorce.” Greenwich Patch. December 27, 2013.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Single Father's Book Club: UN-REMARRIED WIDOW

When I started to read Artis Henderson’s Un-Remarried Widow, I’d assumed I was reading a work of fiction. Intrigued by the title, I’d grabbed the galley at the Book Expo of American (BEA) a few weeks back almost as an afterthought. There wasn’t much information to preview, but the title somehow drew me in. As I continued with the interesting and easy to read narrative, I was awestruck by the too-real-to-be-fiction account of five year old A.J., her flight with her father in his single-engine Piper Cub, the plane’s mechanical failure during flight, and the crash landing. A.J. survived, but the aftermath for A.J. and for her mother was daunting.

As the pages continued to turn, the author later referred to the main character no longer as A.J., but as Artis. It was then that I realized Un-Remarried Widow wasn’t fiction or autobiographical fiction, but a memoir. (Actually, the book’s title is, in fact, Un-Remarried Widow: A Memoir, but in my defense, the words, “a memoir,” are written very, very small.)

Anyway, the phrase, un-remarried widow (URW) is a military designation for the wives of soldiers who are killed in action. Un-Remarried Widow is Artis Henderson’s heartbreaking tale of her romance with a Miles, a pilot just like dear old dad, Miles’s deployment to the Middle East, his death, and Artis’s life after the loss. It’s a pretty powerful story.

Artis Henderson
While Henderson’s writing contributes to the ease by which the pages turn, her story is the attraction. Henderson begins in 2004 before she met Miles as she speaks to "Psychic Suzanna" in Tallahassee, Florida. As psychics are (apparently) apt to do, Suzanna predicts with astonishing accuracy the unlikely path that Artis’s will take. From there, Henderson takes the reader on a journey through time. She travels back to her father’s death two decades earlier in the Piper Cub crash and back to the first decade of the of the millennium when Artis and Miles marry, Miles is deployed to the Middle East and is killed when the Apache helicopter he piloted crashes during a sand storm. Throughout, Henderson skillfully examines the ironies and parallels that occur in life, the devastating void left by the death of a loved one, and the ways that those who remain behind learn to cope.

While this is The Single Father’s Guide Blog, my instinct to pick up a copy of Un-Remarried Widow at BEA was a good one. The military aspect of the story appeals to men, while the romantic side will interest female readers. Particularly helpful for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one is Henderson’s description of coming to terms with Miles’s death and the decisions she made to create for herself a happy, fulfilled, and productive life.

Un-Remarried Widow ends as it began, with Henderson speaking to a psychic about her future. Just as she did when her life as a young adult was filled with promise and hope, she is once again at a starting point in her life. Henderson’s a little older and she’s a little wiser. She still holds her love for Miles with her, but she is once again encouraged by the prospect a new beginning.

Un-Remarried Widow will be available in stores in January 2014. I’ll be more than a little surprised if this not the choice for more than one high-profile book club and on several bestseller lists. PRE-ORDER Un-Remarried Widow: A Memoir HERE!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Favorite Son Saga: Brought to You by the Letter "B"

This installment of The Favorite Son Saga is an oldie, but a goodie.

More a policy than a rule in our family is my belief that we use the actual name of whatever it may be that we're discussing. For example, if my son wanted to know what it was I was using to turn the soil in the garden, I would tell him, "I'm using a shovel." Or, after I boiled pasta for dinner and my daughter wondered what it was I used to drain the water, I'd answer, "That's a colander." At the very least, I reason, using the correct words for things improves vocabulary. I also reason it would discourage potentially embarrassing uses of slang.

My policy also extends to anatomy. At a very early age, all of my children knew where to find their uvulas were, mostly because I like to say, uvula. Considering TFS and I share the same gender, he has known for a long time that the thing that hangs between his legs is called a "penis."

By now, readers of The Favorite Son Saga know that TSF is the curious sort. Shortly after he started kindergarten, he asked me if girls have penises. There is a great deal about the fairer gender that I don't yet understand, but one thing about which I'm certain is that girls don't have penises. I explained that girls have a vagina. Neither of us made any big production of the new word and he accepted this new bit of information in stride.

Later that week, as it happened, I had a previously scheduled conference with TFS's teacher, Sue Bonetti, who is a quality and an experienced teacher. I'd already had established a good relationship with Sue years earlier when she taught The Second Beautiful Daughter's kindergarten class. So, at this meeting I sensed that Sue had something difficult to discuss with me.

"So, how is (TFS) doing?" I asked Sue as I sat down.

"Really good. He's a fun kid, but there's something I think we need to discuss first," Sue cautioned.

"Okay," I answered warily.

Sue began, "As you know, we just started the alphabet. We're learning on the letter B. I had all of the kids on the rug and asked the class if one could tell me a word that started with a B. (TFS's) hand shot straight up and I called on him. He said, 'I know a word that starts with B. Buh-gina!"

I couldn't help but laugh, but I could clearly see that Sue was concerned. I wondered if Sue had imagined that our dinner table talk revolved around a discussion of genitalia. When I explained my "Call-It-By-Name" policy, she was greatly relieved.

So much for discouraging potentially embarrassing uses of slang.