Monthly Archives: March 2010

Holy Week

It is finally here, Holy Week, beginning yesterday with Palm Sunday and culminating in Easter Vigil service Saturday night, and my confirmation into the Catholic faith.

I attended a half-day retreat on Saturday morning, which ended with our First Reconciliation. To be perfectly honest, after having taken a polygraph for an internship a couple years ago, First Reconcilation is nothing.

It’s been a long process, one that started back in September. But it’s a journey I’m proud to have been on. I look very forward to becoming Catholic Saturday night, to join my wife and son in their faith.

I’m coming into the Catholic Church during another time of turbulence. This time, about Pope Benedict’s role in the possible coverup of priest-sexual abuse. I, in absolutely no way, think that the Pope and the priests involved in this scandal should be able to skirt away from the issue, and I believe that the Pope is accountable to his people. And unfortunately, for many outsiders looking in at the Catholic Church, its followers are sometimes given a bad rap by its leaders. I know that the great majority of both parishioners and priests are appalled by what has happened in the Church as of late and are looking to our leaders for answers.

People have questioned why I’m joining the faith. And really, it’s because of the people I’ve met. The parishioners at my church, the clergy, everyone, is so incredibly nice and genuine. I recently went through the Rite of Election for my diocese just a few weeks ago. There were over 500 people coming into the faith in the Columbus diocese alone. When asked how or why we were joining the faith, 3 people said it was because of things they had read or seen, 2 people said it was because they attended a Catholic service and enjoyed it, and the rest were joining because of someone they knew that was Catholic. In fact, everyone in my RCIA class, some 20 of us, are all joining the faith because we have a Catholic significant other.

But all in all, I’m excited about what this weekend will bring. I thank everyone who supported me during this process, my family, my friends, my local parish, and especially my sponsor, Jack. It’s definitely going to be a change, but one I look very forward to.

Home Inspection Finished

Yesterday was our scheduled home inspection at the house.

I went out and met the inspector around 10 AM and we got started poking and prodding the house. All in all, the home inspection went about as well as one could hope a home inspection would go.

Most of what needs to be done to the house is minor cosmetic stuff. Things like putting sealant on the deck, repainting the railing outside, filling in some cracks on the sidewalk, recaulking the perimeter of the shower, etc.

He did recommend budgeting for a new A/C, because the current unit probably only has a couple years left, but it’s covered by our home warranty, so no need to replace it ASAP. The furnance and water heater are both new, all the appliances are new and functional. Plumbing is sound, no foundation/termite/mold issues.

At the end of the inspection, the inspector was like, “This is a really good house.” So we were pleased. We are moving forth without remedy, so the sellers won’t need to do any work. The mortgage folks ordered our title and appraisal yesterday and sent our file into underwriting so (hopefully), we’re on the home stretch towards closing now!

More updates soon.

House Hunting

Yesterday, we had the chance to meet with our realtor for the first time. We came away very impressed. The agency is a boutique agency with just a few employees, finding business mostly on referrals, rather than a big agency with hundreds of agents and advertising. Needless to say, we are very excited to start the homebuying process.

Last evening, our realtor had already done an MLS search for us matching some homes to our preferences and we were able to send a spreadsheet back indicating which we want to see, with hopes of going out to see them on Monday. We noted that there was one house in particular that we really, really wanted to see.

Well, our realtor contacted us this morning offering to show us our #1 house tomorrow morning! Needless to say we are very excited. If nothing else, it will at the least show it’s not what we’re looking for and we can move on from there. But at best, well, we’re excited.

It’s hard to believe the process is really underway. It’s surely to be a long process with, of course, its setbacks. But that the possibility of homeownership is so close…

Anyways, I thought I should just post this little update with, of course, an update tomorrow after we see the house!

Pre-Approved!

My apologies about totally neglecting the final part of the Pew Research series on millennials, but in a twist of fate, my time has been consumed with another subject.

Homeownership.

Last week, we started seriously debating the prospect of buying a house. We recently received notification from our apartment complex that we need to renew our lease for next year, and in addition, that rent would be rising again. With my wife securing part-time employment recently, it finally put the prospect of buying a house within our reach. So we started looking around and getting things together to see how much we could be pre-approved for. With the combination of the homebuyer tax credit and the Ohio Home Finance Agency’s low mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers, it seemed like now is as good a time as ever.

I spoke with a mortgage specialist at our bank yesterday and gave her the information to be pre-approved. We actually received some bad news right off the bat; that we could not count my wife’s income towards our loan. Since she currently works part-time, they would need either two years of continuous part-time employment, or at the very least, show that she was in school prior to that. But, since she graduated and was pregnant, did not secure employment.

So you heard it right here, the mortgage industry hates babies.

Obviously, dejected, we had them run the pre-approval anyway, just to see what we could get, since we could always just adjust our downpayment accordingly to still afford houses in our price range. We decided then and there that we wanted a house, that we owed this to our son.

I received ‘the call’ about two hours later, and the news was good; very, very good. Not only were were pre-approved, but approved for the amount we asked without having to adjust a downpayment or anything. I could not believe it. Absolutely ecstatic. I got to deliver the news to my family, and we were just so overjoyed.

This next month promises to be a whirlwind, as April 30th is our D-Day to be in contract. We are meeting with our realtor tomorrow afternoon and will hopefully start looking at houses shortly thereafter.

There’s a lot to consider, but we have the areas in which we want to live narrowed down, probably sticking to the west side of Columbus. Obviously school district matters, and there is an abundance of good ones in the Columbus suburbs.

But we’re going to be homeowners, and hopefully really soon. This has been a goal of ours for such a long time and it’s wonderful to see it finally come to fruition.

Millennial Parenting and Religious Behaviors/Weight Update

Today begins a two-parter, and final breakdown, of the Pew Research Center’s survey on millennials. We turn to millennials and religious behaviors and how, ultimately, it will affect millennial parenting.

Religion is perhaps the largest gap between millennials and older generations. Millennials are, by far, less religious at their current age than Boomers and Silent/Greatest generations were.

One in four millennials are unaffiliated with any faith, more than Gen X (20%) and Boomers (13%). Additionally, millennials attend religious services less often and view religion as less important in their lives. But, it is interesting to note that millennials’ views on life after death, miracles, heaven and hell, and God’s existence resemble very much the attitudes of older generations.

68% of millennials consider themselves Christian (43% Protestant and 22% Catholic). That compares to 76% for Gen X, and around 80% for Boomers. But, millennials are really no more likely to be agnostic or atheist than Gen Xers or Boomers. The biggest discrepancy comes from young adults who left their religious upbringing without becoming involved in a new faith.

One-third of millennials say they attend church at least once a week, compared with 41% of those over 30. Those most likely to attend church were Evangelical Protestants (58%) and Historically Black Protestants (59%).

In regards to other religious practices, millennials are less likely to read religious scripture (27% to 36%), meditate on a weekly basis (26% to 43%), and pray every day (48% to 56%). But, these results do not differ much from when Gen X and Boomers were the age of today’s millennials. Data tends to show that daily prayer increases as people get older. In addition, millennials are very much in-line with older generations when it comes to the existence of God, miracles, heaven and hell, and life after death.

I think it’s not hard to show that, well, millennials are less religious right now than their generational counterparts. But, millennials are not less likely to believe in God or a higher power. It rather seems like millennials just tend to do less in practicing religion.

The biggest question surrounding these results is, as millennials grow older, will religious practices increase? Examining the data, it seems like millennials are just as firm in their beliefs as older generations, but less likely to be affiliated with any particular religion.

This is not a recent phenomenon. From my interactions with fellow millennials, we are less likely to approve of “someone or something trying to control our lives”. Religious affiliation tends to be thought of by millennials as that. By and large, it seems as if many millennials prefer to take on a personal relationship with God, rather than using a church or religious organization to help facilitate that. I actually left my original faith (American Baptist), became non-denominational for a while, and am now in the process of joining my wife and son’s faith (Catholicism). Having a kid actually very much changed my views on religiosity. I wanted my son to grow up in a faith, so I started going to church again. And since I wanted my son to be raised Catholic, I also decided to join the church.

It will be interesting to see if similar occurrences take place with millennials, as there is no breakdown right now in religious affiliation between millennials with children and those without.

Churchgoing is very much a trait that is handed down through parenting. That is, if your parents go to church, you probably also go to church, at least for the bulk of your childhood. If millennials do not go to church at the rate at which their predecessors did, it’s less likely our children will attend church as they grow older.

With such a small blip of millennials having children, it’s very hard to tell what is in store for religious affiliation among millennials. Will millennial parents continue/go back to church when they have a child, or will they continue to not go to church? The answer to this question will have a very, very heavy impact on the future of religious affiliation in our country.

Tomorrow, I will break down the final portion of the Pew Research Center’s survey: Religious Beliefs. You’ll definitely want to stay tuned for that one, because it could have a profound impact on how issues in our churches today may change forever.

As an aside, Parker had his weight check today, and grew a full pound this past month, keeping on his percentile curve (finally!). It looks like our little guy is just destined to be a string bean! The pediatrician was very pleased and so are we!

Millennial Parenting and Political Attitudes

Yesterday, I discussed the political party identification and job approval of the President in relation to millennials. Today, the research turns to how millennials view ‘hot topics’ of today’s political environment.

On the whole, millennials pretty much fall in line with other generations on the attitude of businesses, that businesses make fair profits and are not powerful, and millennials are actually more likely to agree that business corporations generally strike a fair balance between making profits and serving the public interest.

Millennials are also less skeptical than older generations about government effectiveness and are more likely to agree that the government should held more needy people even if it means a rising national debt, but even then, support is not strong, and has in fact declined over the past two years.

In national security, millennials are much less likely to support an assertive national security policy, with most millennials not supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are least likely to agree that the best way to ensure peace is through military strength.

As mentioned in the family values section, millennials are also much more likely to support affirmative action, even though a majority does not support. Millennials are also the most likely to agree that ‘it’s all right for blacks and whites to date each other’, with nearly 93% support.

Unfortunately, Pew did not do much research on health-care, social security, or other generational topics, so it’s difficult to see how millennials might affect these issues in the years to come.

Millennials are somewhat stuck in a middle ground right now. They came out of the 2008 election season fervent on an Obama administration and positive attitudes about government. But recently, that tide has turned. However, our views on many political topics have not.

I’m most interested to see how these changes in political identification, but not necessarily political values will affect party politics in this country. As many know, I left the Republican Party around the time of the 2008 election. But as more millennials shift their identification to the GOP, yet haven’t changed their socially liberal views on a number of topics, I have to wonder if the influx of younger millennials into the GOP with socially liberal or libertarian attitudes will change the culture of the Republican Party. Or, will millennials abandon both parties for a change of pace, perhaps a libertarian candidate?

How will this affect parenting? I imagine it won’t be unlike how millennial family values will shape families. If millennials speak about these values in their households, we may very well see attitudes shift significantly as our children grow.

But, both Boomers and Gen X were about the same in identifying as liberal during this time of their lives, and Boomers, at least, tend to be more conservative now. We live in a country where political attitudes change as often as the weather, and it doesn’t appear that millennials are really immune from this. But it will be interesting to see how, if millennials remain solidly liberal on many political issues, this will affect party politics in our country, especially as millennials become a more solid voting block.

Tomorrow begins the final chapter in this series, and will shift the subject to millennials and religion.

Rest in Peace, Layla Grace

From Layla’s twitter:

Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla. 11/26/2007 – 3/9/2010

My heart, my thoughts, and my prayers go out to Layla and her family this afternoon. May their pain be eased and may Layla’s story reach out and touch many, many more, especially in raising awareness for neuroblastoma.

May you rest in peace, sweet little girl.

Millennnial Parenting & Political Party Identification

It’s not unknown that millennials had a big stake in the 2008 presidential election. They overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama (66%), which was the largest disparity between younger and older votes in four decades of modern exit polling.

Millennials also showed up to the polls, creating the smallest turnout gap between younger and older voters since 1972. Leading up to the 2008 election, millennials were solidly in the Democratic Party’s camp, and by the time the election rolled around, 62% of millennials were affiliated Democrats.

Since Obama’s election, that gap has shrunk, with only 54% of millennials identifying as Democrats and 40% as Republicans. As with older voters, Obama’s job approval has also drastically declined, from 73% at the time of the inauguration to 57% now. Perhaps due to Obama’s promised ‘change’ in Washington fledgling a year into his administration. Only 46% of millennials believe that Washington has changed since Obama took office.

Examining the Pew results, millennials have become critical in Obama’s handling of several issues, most notably the war in Afghanistan, with millennials the only age group that disapproved more than approved Obama’s handling of the war.

These results aren’t terribly surprising, even historically. Both the Boomers and Silent Generation, when the age of today’s millennials, leaned Democratic, a phenomenon that is not uncommon in political science; that the populace tends to become more conservative or Republican as they advance in age.

But what, if any, effects will this have on parenting? Millennials are largely the children of Baby Boomers. Yet Millennials are much more Democratic-leaning than their parents. A lot of this could have to do with education, as college campuses tend to be a much more liberal environment, and with millennials attending college at record paces, it would only make sense that spending the most formative years of your life in a liberal atmosphere would, in turn, make you more liberal or Democratic-leaning.

But already, we are starting to see a shift in party identification, showing that millennials are not immune to overall public opinion. Their approval of Obama and identification as Democrat is following a very similar curve to their generational predecessors. For millennials, 2008 was the first time the majority of us were old enough to vote, and Obama, even though his job approval has fallen considerably among millennials, his personal appeal has not. Obama, a younger man, an African-American, with his platform of Hope and Change captured the minds of many a millennial, and what we are seeing now could just be the natural disillusionment that comes with the presidency.

However, much of what the results show for party identification and Obama’s approval among millennials has not affected political values. Tomorrow I will discuss the final results of the Politics & Idealogy section and how those results may change party politics as we know it.

Weekend Update

Having reviewed the survey results by Pew, it would appear that it would be more prudent for me to split up the final two areas of the survey into multiple posts. Tomorrow will begin two days of breaking down Politics, Ideology & Civic Engagement, followed by two days of Religious Beliefs and Behaviors.

Parker actually just got back from West Virginia where he split some time among his grandparents, since we had to work on Saturday. It’s definitely nice to have him back in the house.

We also got Parker’s six-month pictures back from JCPenney and they turned out just perfect. He looks so big in them it’s ridiculous. In fact, here’s a picture of him taken just after birth, comparing him to what he looks like now:

In other news, Parker is definitely getting his first tooth, coming in on the bottom. It was bugging him a lot last week but it appears as if it’s a little less annoying right now. He really likes chewing on things at the moment because I’m sure it gives him a little bit of relief from the tooth cutting through.

He’s definitely crawling everywhere now; he actually crawled over to his toy basket this morning and flipped it over. He’s also accomplished the fine art of going from tummy to sitting up and is starting to pull himself to a stand when possible.

He’s also been talking up a storm. ‘Blahs’ have turned to ‘dahs’ and ‘gahs’ and ‘mahs’ and he’s even trying to carry on conversations with different things in the house. And he’s started trying to call Cookie over to him or at least yell at her when she’s somewhere else in the room, though I’m pretty sure Cookie wants no part of his shrieking.

He has his weight checkup this Thursday and by our rudimentary way of weighing him, he looks to be right where he needs to be this month. He’ll also be getting the second round of his flu vaccine. I guess for the final part of this update, Parker is also switching over to formula. He’ll only need to do it for a couple months but right now seemed to be the best time to make the switch. So far, he’s had any problems making the transition.

The weather seems to finally be turning warm again, which excites us. We badly want to buy a membership to the Columbus Zoo for this year, but want to make sure we’re going to have some solid weather before buying (since it’s a full-year pass). Parker absolutely loves animals, so I’m sure the zoo will give him plenty to look at it.

I suppose that wraps up a short update on the little one. The series on millennial parenting will resume tomorrow.

Millennial Parenting and Family Values

Perhaps one of the most important sections of the survey—one that will likely have a direct effect on the nation’s future social policies—came in the results on millennial views on family values.

On the whole, millennials, simply, are more tolerant than other generations in what the Pew Research Center called ‘nontraditional behaviors related to marriage and parenting’.

Millennials are the only generation to favor the legalization of gay marriage, and tend to fall more in line with Generation Xers than Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation. In regards to trends in marriage, millennials are least likely to believe that gay couples raising children, working mothers, people living together before marriage, and interracial marriages are a ‘bad thing for society’.

In looking for the reasons why millennials trend this way, Pew took a look at millennials growing up. Of the four major generations, Generation Y responded that 62% of their parents were married while growing up, compared to 71% of Gen Xers, 85% of Boomers, and 87% of Silents. A full quarter of millennials grew up with divorced parents, and another 11% said their parents were never married.

In regards to gay marriage, specifically, only 36% of millennials oppose legalization of gay marriage, bringing them a little more in line with Gen Xers, but creating a wide gap between them and their parents (Boomers oppose gay marriage by a ratio of nearly two-to-one).

Much of the gay marriage debate comes down to who we know. Not surprisingly, those who have a close family member or friend who is gay are also more likely to support gay marriage. For those under 30 that have a gay friend or family member, less than a quarter oppose marriage equality. And millennials are also more likely to have a close friend or family member that is gay (54%), compared to 46% of Gen X, 44% of Baby Boomers, and 26% of the Silent Generation.

As with most issues, thoughts on gay marriage split among demographics, with women more supportive than men, Democrats and Independents more supportive than Republicans, etc. (the topic of political activism will come later), but nonetheless, millennials, by and large, see quite a large gap between them and other generations on the topic of family values.

How could these survey results impact millennial parenting?

The topic of single/two-parent households is muddied. On one hand, one could make the argument that divorce/single-parent households is a normal outcome of a marriage or parenting for millennials, and therefore, millennials are more likely to get divorced themselves or never marry their child’s other parent. But one could also say that millennials did not approve of their parents’ divorce/single-parenthood and will try harder to make marriages work and therefore be less likely to divorce.

Millennials, on average, are getting married later than those in other generations. Research has shown that those married at a young age (generally before 25), are more likely to experience a divorce, especially in the first five years of marriage. Perhaps with millennials waiting to get married, marriages will consist of more mature, responsible spouses and therefore a higher rate of successful marriages. Or, perhaps millennials will be less likely to get married and we will see more single-parent households. The data is, well, forthcoming.

The topic of gay marriage is one that I’ve blogged about a few times (here). My wife and I will talk to Parker about this issue; that not only can marriage exist between a man and woman but it should also be allowed to exist between two men or two women. And it would appear that the majority of our millennial counterparts feel the same way.

If you go back to Political Science 101, you will see that values are most often passed to someone through two structures: family and peers. That is, introduction to certain values and very often, opinions on values, will shape to the opinions around. If your parents and friends support gay marriage, you will probably be more likely to.

I know growing up, I wasn’t entirely supportive of gay marriage, mostly because I grew up in an evangelical area of the country where homosexuality was looked down upon or not even talked about. I didn’t know any openly gay people in school, so I really had no reason to even care.

But I came to college, entered a culture where gays could be open, and became friends with them. I explored an environment that had multiple views on major issues (I can’t recall much debate in my hometown over any political issue, really). During this time, I determined that I supported gay marriage, and married someone else that did, too.

To us, marriage is a family value, and that includes same-sex unions. It absolutely is a value we plan to pass to Parker. If you think about it, millennials grew up during a time when same-sex relationships were not widely accepted, but still ended up widely supporting gay marriage when they became older. If millennials can raise their children in environments that are accepting of gays, there is no reason to think we can’t have marriage equality in this country. And with that comes a whole host of secondary benefits, such as more acceptance of gays in our schools and less bullying due to sexual orientation.

Some have made the argument that as people get older, their views on many issues tend to change, so gay marriage may be something millennials widely support now, but may not in 10 years. I doubt it, because while peoples’ views may change on certain subjects, it tends to do more with issues that affect the wallet and less about social subjects. In any case, I hope this is an issue that millennials are preparing to discuss with their children, either way. Even if some millennial parents don’t support same-sex marriage or relationships, I hope at the very least, homosexuality is discussed and children are told not to treat their gay friends and peers any differently because of their orientation.

I may be taking a break for the weekend on blogging due to work and travel commitments, but I plan to post again tomorrow or Monday on the next topic, Politics & Idealogy.