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National Post

Split but together: Divorced couples finding novel ways to live under the same roof for their children’s sake
Monica McGrath and Kent Kirkland are divorced parents of two young children. They live in one house with their children, call themselves friends and borrow sugar from one another.

The Edmonton family gained Canada-wide recognition this month after media attention turned to their family set-up and living arrangements. Part of this attention was due to their custom-built “transporter” house, with two separate sides and a hallway connecting them, but also because they’re doing what many separated couples say they want to do; put the kids first.

“I still consider us a family. We have kids together, we’re still connected,” says Ms. McGrath of her ex-husband. “We need to together raise our kids, no matter what our situation is. This home allows us to do that.”

Their family model is a version of a “bird’s nest” arrangement where children stay in the house, while separated or divorced parents come to them. Some see this as a model that helps minimize disruption for children. It means they don’t have to be uprooted, trekking from one parent’s house to another’s on a regular basis. Although this model is still rare, experts say it has become increasingly common over the last 10 years. (Photo: Walter Tychnowicz for National Post)

Census Canada 2011: Same-sex marriage, childless couples, common-law couples and lone-parent families on the riseThe sanctity of marriage as the bedrock of the Canadian family is steadily eroding as the country’s social fabric evolves, new census data released Wednesday reveals.Instead, although married couples are still the norm – about two thirds of families – their numbers are lagging and only increased by 3.1% between 2006 and 2011.In contrast, the number of common-law couples rose by 13.9% and lone-parent families rose by 8% over the same period.The shift means that common-law couples now account for 16.7% of all families, and lone-parent families now represent 16.3% of the total.Meanwhile, in another trend reflective of the changing social landscape, same-sex couples are increasingly settling down together. Notably, the number of same-sex marriages tripled between 2006 and 2011, the first five-year period during which they could legally tie the knot in Canada.

Census Canada 2011: Same-sex marriage, childless couples, common-law couples and lone-parent families on the rise
The sanctity of marriage as the bedrock of the Canadian family is steadily eroding as the country’s social fabric evolves, new census data released Wednesday reveals.

Instead, although married couples are still the norm – about two thirds of families – their numbers are lagging and only increased by 3.1% between 2006 and 2011.

In contrast, the number of common-law couples rose by 13.9% and lone-parent families rose by 8% over the same period.

The shift means that common-law couples now account for 16.7% of all families, and lone-parent families now represent 16.3% of the total.

Meanwhile, in another trend reflective of the changing social landscape, same-sex couples are increasingly settling down together. Notably, the number of same-sex marriages tripled between 2006 and 2011, the first five-year period during which they could legally tie the knot in Canada.

nparts:

Extremely Bad Advice: Daddy Issue
“I find that the period directly following a major holiday is the best  time to ask yourself, “Do I want more family? Or do I want to gently  claw at my own face while soaking in a tub of vinegar?” While it’s nice  to have some more organ donors in your life, it’s also nice to have less  drama in your life.

nparts:

Extremely Bad Advice: Daddy Issue

“I find that the period directly following a major holiday is the best time to ask yourself, “Do I want more family? Or do I want to gently claw at my own face while soaking in a tub of vinegar?” While it’s nice to have some more organ donors in your life, it’s also nice to have less drama in your life.

‘I would do it again’; court hears horror of alleged honour killingIt’s the Canadian Maple Leaf that flies high over the picturesque locks at Kingston Mills near this historic city, but on the night of June 30, 2009, it might just as well have been the black-red-and-green flag of Afghanistan, with its sacred line proclaiming the greatness of Allah.What happened at the locks that night, Crown prosecutors alleged in Ontario Superior Court Thursday, was a so-called “honour killing,” the culmination of a violent misogynist Afghan culture that had been transplanted holus-bolus years earlier into the heart of central Canada.“May the devil s— on their graves,” Mohammad Shafia told his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 20 days after the bodies of the couple’s three teenage daughters and Mr. Shafia’s first wife were recovered from a car in the water at the locks.Found dead by drowning in a black Nissan Mr. Shafia had bought just eight days earlier – the suggestion implicit that he got it for that very purpose — were Rona Amir Mohammad, the barren wife who had been presented to the children and outsiders both as an “auntie,” and rebellious daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and 13-year-old Geeti.Charged with four counts each of first-degree murder are Mr. Shafia, Ms. Yahya and their oldest son Hamid, who was 18 at the time. All are pleading not guilty.

‘I would do it again’; court hears horror of alleged honour killing
It’s the Canadian Maple Leaf that flies high over the picturesque locks at Kingston Mills near this historic city, but on the night of June 30, 2009, it might just as well have been the black-red-and-green flag of Afghanistan, with its sacred line proclaiming the greatness of Allah.

What happened at the locks that night, Crown prosecutors alleged in Ontario Superior Court Thursday, was a so-called “honour killing,” the culmination of a violent misogynist Afghan culture that had been transplanted holus-bolus years earlier into the heart of central Canada.

“May the devil s— on their graves,” Mohammad Shafia told his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 20 days after the bodies of the couple’s three teenage daughters and Mr. Shafia’s first wife were recovered from a car in the water at the locks.

Found dead by drowning in a black Nissan Mr. Shafia had bought just eight days earlier – the suggestion implicit that he got it for that very purpose — were Rona Amir Mohammad, the barren wife who had been presented to the children and outsiders both as an “auntie,” and rebellious daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and 13-year-old Geeti.

Charged with four counts each of first-degree murder are Mr. Shafia, Ms. Yahya and their oldest son Hamid, who was 18 at the time. All are pleading not guilty.

Only planet: Why one child is often enoughFor about 30 years, social psychologist Susan Newman has been smashing down the stereotypes people lob at only children. They’re spoiled, lonely, bossy — they even talk funny, apparently. In her new book, The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide, Newman reviews more than a century’s worth of research on only children. Speaking by phone from her New Jersey home, Newman says many people don’t realize how consistent the findings are: “We’ve been brainwashed to believe that every child needs a sibling. And the research shows that that’s just not true. Only children turn out just as well, or develop just as well, as other children.” (Illustration by Steve Murray)

Only planet: Why one child is often enough
For about 30 years, social psychologist Susan Newman has been smashing down the stereotypes people lob at only children. They’re spoiled, lonely, bossy — they even talk funny, apparently. In her new book, The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide, Newman reviews more than a century’s worth of research on only children. Speaking by phone from her New Jersey home, Newman says many people don’t realize how consistent the findings are: “We’ve been brainwashed to believe that every child needs a sibling. And the research shows that that’s just not true. Only children turn out just as well, or develop just as well, as other children.” (Illustration by Steve Murray)

Gold runs in their veins: A modern family of prospectorsIt is an awkward moment, and it happens all the time. Jessica Bjorkman will meet a stranger, a new face in town, and if they start talking, and if the conversation winds around to the inevitable career question — ‘‘So, what do you do for a living?’’ — she will sigh, just a little. See, it is complicated.Ms. Bjorkman is not a wild-eyed old man with a grizzled beard yodeling around the great north woods on the back of a donkey. And she does not live in the Yukon. And she has not memorized all the words to Robert Service poem, the Cremation of Sam McGee.So when she tells someone, “I am a prospector,” that someone will invariably shoot her a curious look.“Most everybody is surprised,” Ms. Bjorkman says. “I say we go out looking for rocks that have potential. We are the step before a mine, basically, we are the ones out there, on the ground, looking for something promising.”She is looking for the same thing that the old guy on the donkey was looking for in the Klondike, circa 1898: Gold.The 31-year-old is not alone in her passion for pursuing a lucky strike. She inherited the gold bug from her father, Karl, as did her five younger siblings, all of whom, save for the baby, Karla, who is still in high school, are prospectors and employees of Bjorkman Prospecting, an all-in-the-family northwestern Ontario enterprise that is as rare as the precious metal they seek. Jessica’s mother, Nikki, keeps the books.They are a family that moils for gold.Photo: Independance Pass on the way to Aspen, Colorado: Dad (Karl), Mom (Nikki), Karla, Katarina, Jessica, Bjorn in  2009. (Courtesy Jessica Bjorkman)

Gold runs in their veins: A modern family of prospectors
It is an awkward moment, and it happens all the time. Jessica Bjorkman will meet a stranger, a new face in town, and if they start talking, and if the conversation winds around to the inevitable career question — ‘‘So, what do you do for a living?’’ — she will sigh, just a little. See, it is complicated.

Ms. Bjorkman is not a wild-eyed old man with a grizzled beard yodeling around the great north woods on the back of a donkey. And she does not live in the Yukon. And she has not memorized all the words to Robert Service poem, the Cremation of Sam McGee.

So when she tells someone, “I am a prospector,” that someone will invariably shoot her a curious look.

“Most everybody is surprised,” Ms. Bjorkman says. “I say we go out looking for rocks that have potential. We are the step before a mine, basically, we are the ones out there, on the ground, looking for something promising.”

She is looking for the same thing that the old guy on the donkey was looking for in the Klondike, circa 1898: Gold.

The 31-year-old is not alone in her passion for pursuing a lucky strike. She inherited the gold bug from her father, Karl, as did her five younger siblings, all of whom, save for the baby, Karla, who is still in high school, are prospectors and employees of Bjorkman Prospecting, an all-in-the-family northwestern Ontario enterprise that is as rare as the precious metal they seek. Jessica’s mother, Nikki, keeps the books.

They are a family that moils for gold.

Photo: Independance Pass on the way to Aspen, Colorado: Dad (Karl), Mom (Nikki), Karla, Katarina, Jessica, Bjorn in  2009. (Courtesy Jessica Bjorkman)

170 costumes, 170 days: Dad finds new way to embarrass son Dale Price of American Fork, Utah, has been seeing his 16-year-old son off to school for the past 170 school days in an unusual way: Dale dresses up every morning in a different costume and waves goodbye to his son from the family porch.The dress-up idea started in August 2010, when the son’s bus route started passing by the Price household. Their son, Rain, was embarrassed at first, but according to Dale’s Wave At The Bus blog, Rain has a great sense of humor and, “he did laugh at the waves.”

170 costumes, 170 days: Dad finds new way to embarrass son
Dale Price of American Fork, Utah, has been seeing his 16-year-old son off to school for the past 170 school days in an unusual way: Dale dresses up every morning in a different costume and waves goodbye to his son from the family porch.

The dress-up idea started in August 2010, when the son’s bus route started passing by the Price household. Their son, Rain, was embarrassed at first, but according to Dale’s Wave At The Bus blog, Rain has a great sense of humor and, “he did laugh at the waves.”