Blog Posts by Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor, Yahoo! Shine

  • Are Chinese parents really the best parents?

    Her daughters were never allowed to go to sleepovers, have playdates, or be in a school play. Watching TV was not permitted. Neither was playing video games, choosing their own extracurricular activities, getting any grade lower than an A, or playing any instrument other than violin or piano. But they both grew up to be musical prodigies who excelled academically and so, in an excerpt from her new book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Yale Law professor Amy Chua declares her "Chinese mother" parenting skills superior to those of lax, touchy-feely "Western parents" and describes the methods that led to her success.

    After a quick disclaimer to address stereotyping (she says she uses the terms "Chinese mother" and "Western parents" loosely and acknowledges that parenting styles aren't exclusive to a particular location), she launches into the ways in which Chinese and Western parents differ. For the most part, the Western parents don't make out so well.

    "What Chinese parents

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  • I love my kids, but opting out of the workforce wasn't an option

    Whether you went back to work full-time after your kids were born, chose to drop to part-time status, or opted out of the workforce entirely, Katy Read's essay at Salon.com-"Regrets of a Stay-at-Home Mom"-touches a chord.

    "I became a mother during a moment in history when women faced unprecedented career opportunities yet were expected to maintain a level of interaction with their children that would have made my own mother's eyes roll practically out of their sockets," Read writes. "I was a busy reporter and naive new mom, two jobs that I was led to believe could not, for all practical purposes, be performed adequately and simultaneously. Oh, and while one was commendable, the other was morally imperative."

    That, I'm guessing, is where most readers take a side, even though the essay doesn't go on to condemn either choice, per se. Instead, if offers a look at the serious, practical side of what is presented by many as a rosy option. The choice to stay home isn't so much about career

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  • Wakefield's vaccine-autism link based on falsified data

    Dr. Andrew Wakefield / Photo by Getty ImagesDr. Andrew Wakefield / Photo by Getty ImagesAn investigation and articles published this week in the British Medical Journal make it clear once and for all that the research on which Dr. Andrew Wakefield based his controversial vaccine-autism link was not only faulty, but fraudulent.

    Wakefield's 1998 study, published in medical journal The Lancet (which officially retracted the study about a year ago), didn't actually claim that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine caused autism, though clearly said that Wakefield and his colleagues thought a link was possible. The work was riddled with red flags: The study involved just 12 children, Wakefield-a gastroenterologist-was neither ethically cleared nor qualified to perform invasive tests (like spinal taps) on his subjects, he paid children at his son's birthday party to provide blood samples, and he failed to disclose that "he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR," according to a BBC report.

    Nevertheless,

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  • The truth about toning shoes, and other fitness gear that doesn't work

    People are always looking for the quick fix. Pills that will bust belly fat overnight. Exercise machines that will give you fab abs in no time. Flip-flops that can help you get fit faster. Special sneakers that sculpt your butt and help you get in shape.



    Sound too good to be true? It usually is. And when it comes to trendy, pricy toning shoes-which have rounded or unstable soles that are supposed to help the wearer burn more calories by increasing "muscle activation"-studies show that while exercise does plenty to boost calorie consumption and tone your bod, the shoes don't really make a difference.



    Last year, a research team from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, sponsored by the American Council of Exercise, tested different types of specialty shoes, including ones that promised to tone your leg muscles and burn calories. The bottom line? "There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or

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  • 5 things Brett Favre should know about sexual harassment

    Just weeks after being fined $50,000 for not cooperating with an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against him by a New York Jets sideline reporter, recently retired Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is being sued for allegedly sexually harassing two other women.

    In a lawsuit filed Jan. 4 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Christina Scavo and Shannon O'Toole, both former massage therapists for the New York Jets, are suing Favre, the New York Jets in general, and Lisa Ripi, the woman who hires massage therapists for the Jets. Scavo and O'Toole claim that they lost their jobs with the Jets after complaining about sexually suggestive text messages sent to them by Favre in 2008.

    According to the lawsuit, Favre allegedly texted Scavo: "Brett here you and crissy want to get together im all alone" and "Kinda lonely tonight I guess I have bad intentions." Scavo told her husband about the texts; he confronted Favre and asked him to apologize but,

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  • 34 hours of TV a week? What are people watching?

    Americans spent more time in front of the TV than ever before in 2010-an average of 34 hours per person per week, up about 1 percent for the year, according to data from the Nielsen Company.

    What on earth are we watching?

    Not the news. In spite of a massive oil spill, the ongoing wars, crazy political candidates, and a heated midterm election, all three major cable news networks-Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN-showed a decline in viewership. Instead, people tuned in to reality TV shows and sports and took strolls down memory lane: Eight of the 10 highest-rated telecasts of 2010 were football games, the ratings company found, and the most popular new show was CBS's "Hawaii Five-O," a revival of a 40-year-old cop drama with a super-catchy theme song.

    With shrinking household budgets and rising entertainment costs, it's no wonder that people are spending more time in front of the TV and less time (and money) at the movies; if you've shelled out beaucoup bucks for a fancy HDTV, why not

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  • The best news for women in 2010

    In this news-filled year, several stories stood out for us at Shine because of the potentially positive impact they had on women. Here are a few of the highlights:

    • Nursing mothers have the law on their side. When the Affordable Care Act passed in March, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law went into effect, requiring employers to provide nursing mothers with time and privacy in which to express breast milk for their babies. "Many women who want to continue breastfeeding their children simply can't because they do not have the necessary accommodations to do it," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a statement. "What the department is seeking to do is to develop guidance for employers that will assist them in complying with this new law and that will support women who choose to continue nursing once they return to work." Baby steps, but still, they're steps in the right direction for many women.
    • Elena Kagan ushered in a new era. The first female dean of Harvard Law
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  • 10 products to avoid in 2011

    It's the end of the year-time to reflect on our hits and misses. Consumers Union, publisher of ShopSmart, did this with more than 3,000 products and services for their January 2011 issue, to see how the items held up in lab settings and in real life. This year's list of 54 winners and 22 losers has

  • Common sense workplace safety tips for the holidays

    The countdown to Christmas has reached the single digits, which means that plenty of people are slipping out of the office at lunch to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. If you're among them, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

    • Lock up the goodies. Keep your purchases in your (locked) car, (locked) office, or (locked) desk so that they don't "walk off" without you-especially if you work in a building which the public can enter. Bonus: If you keep your shopping bags in your trunk, you won't have to lug them into and out of the office.
    • Don't leave your purse unattended. Running to the ladies' room for just a minute? Take your purse with you, or lock it up in your desk or office. Same goes for your iPad, smartphone, and any other tempting (and easy to grab) gadgets. Is your purse too large to lug around? Consider leaving it locked up in your desk, but bringing your wallet and keys along.
    • Set your screensaver. If you're going out at lunch, keep sensitive
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  • What would you do if you weren't afraid of anything?

    She's not afraid of snakes or spiders. Haunted houses and makes-your-blood-run-cold horror flicks have no effect. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but she's not afraid of fear, either. A rare genetic disease has wiped out her amygdala-the fear center of her brain-and nothing, not even being held up at knife-point, scares her anymore.

    University of Iowa researcher Justin Feinstein and his team studied the 44-year-old mother of three, whom they refer to simply as "SM" in a study published this week in the journal Current Biology.

    "To provoke fear in SM, we exposed her to live snakes and spiders, took her on a tour of a haunted house, and showed her emotionally evocative films. On no occasion did SM exhibit fear, and she never endorsed feeling more than minimal levels of fear," the researchers wrote. They also asked her to rate her sense of fear in questionnaires and evaluated traumatic incidents in her past, and still, "SM repeatedly

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