There are all kinds of happy families. Research has shown that quality of life for older people, both their mental and physical health, depends heavily on how well they get along with their adult children. And researchers have found that these relationships are much LESS happy in the US!

In order to identify the social policies that might influence these relationships, sociologist Merril Silverstein looked at 6 developed countries with a range of welfare regimes and various family cultures: England, Germany, Israel, Norway, Spain and the US. The team found that while affection and conflict exist simultaneously in all these countries, but there are significant differences in how the generations interact with each other.

In the United States, “disharmonious” relationships (defined as the presence of strong negative emotions without strong positive emotions) were more than twice as likely than anywhere else studied. Silverstein says, “Given that family life has its basis in the tension between the desire for autonomy and the need for interdependence, it is not surprising that intergenerational relations–throughout the family life cycle–are among the most ambivalent of social relationships.”

Parents in the US and Israel are far more likely than parents in England and Germany to have negative feelings toward their adult children. However, negative emotions in Israel accompanied strong positive emotions more often than elsewhere, indicating both emotional intensity and ambivalence. In contrast to this, while German parents are unlikely to have negative feelings towards their adult children, they lack positive feelings as well, indicating overall detachment.

One thing we activist US parents come down hard on is adolescent binge drinking. Besides car wrecks, there are long term effects: Binge-drinking teenagers may be putting themselves at risk for future osteoporosis and bone fractures.

A new study has found that a large consumption of alcohol leads to long-lasting disruptions in hundreds of genes involved in bone formation in rats. Researcher John Callaci says, “Lifestyle-related damage done to the skeleton during young adulthood may have repercussions lasting decades.” He cautions that data from animals don’t directly translate to people, “but the findings certainly suggest that this could be a problem with humans.”

Binge drinking is defined as a woman having at least 4 drinks or a man having at least 5 drinks on one occasion. Heavy binge drinkers can consume 10 to 15 drinks. Binge drinking typically begins around age 13 and peaks between 18 and 22, before gradually decreasing. 36% of youths ages 18 to 20 report at least one binge-drinking episode every month.

In one of the most disturbing findings, researchers found that the gene disruption was long-lasting: Even after 30 days of sobriety, the genes still were being expressed differently (,Thirty days in a rat’s lifespan is roughly equivalent to about three years in a human lifespan). Callaci says, “If we understand the mechanism of bone loss, eventually we will be able to figure out how to fix it.” Of course, the best way to prevent alcohol-induced bone loss is to drink moderately or not at all, “but when prevention doesn’t work, we need other strategies to limit the damage.”

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