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Women in Science

Written by Jitka Fořtíková, Educational Specialist at Lipa

Women have always been a part of the scientific world, but their careers weren’t regarded as positively as the careers of men. Even now, there are many scientific fields where women are underrepresented, even though the number of women and men in the population is balanced. There are multiple reasons for this.

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Women have always been and still are firmly tied to taking care of family and children. When they become mothers, they naturally develop a strong bond with their child so that they will take care of it in the first year of its life. Because of this, women in the past usually didn’t pursue the binding career life; this was expected from the father, whose role was to financially support the family.

The 19th century brought changes in understanding the role of women in society. Women began to appear more in public life, receiving more respect than in the past. The 21st century is even more closely connected to women’s emancipation, not only in science but also in politics, culture, and sports. Career is not a “bad word” anymore in connection with women. New types of family environments have appeared, where the family is being taken care of by the man. There are also families created on the basis of registered partnerships, where the parents are two men or two women. Nowadays, career self-realization is an important part of both men’s and women’s lives.

But there is still a significant gap between the number of men and women in the field of Natural Sciences, and fewer women hold management positions in big corporations. Various studies have shown that women in managerial positions receive lower salaries than men in the same positions. One of the many examples of this is a Harvard University study published in 1993, which states that the salaries of women in science and engineering with a doctoral degree are 20% lower than those of men. And there are many studies with similar statements.  

 

What can we do about it?

A part of the answer lies in social stereotypes. It’s generally presumed that girls are more inclined to study teaching, foreign languages, and social care, and boys are supposed to excel in maths, technical subjects, IT, and craftsmanship. One way to change the current situation would be to not encourage these social stereotypes in our children, but to let them choose their own path independently. We should adopt the same approach when we choose extracurricular activities for our children: for example, if your son likes dance, you shouldn’t steer him towards football instead, but let him learn dance.

Just as men are successful teachers, women are successful in the fields of molecular chemistry or interplanetary research. But they are not given enough attention. When we feel discouraged, we should remember Marie Curie Sklodowska, the first woman to win the Nobel prize for physics and chemistry for her outstanding results in radiation research. It’s these positive examples of successful female scientists that can encourage girls and women to become more interested in male-dominated fields.

At the moment, students’ interest in technical subjects is gradually decreasing, so it’s more important than ever to motivate all young people to pursue science, mathematics, and other careers of the future.

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Divorce: Dos and Don’ts When It Comes to Kids

Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning

Divorce is a very difficult emotional issue and a huge psychological stress—both for parents and for children. Moreover, the child hasn’t developed any defence mechanisms to process emotionally difficult situations or changes yet. Much depends on how the parents themselves behave during and after the divorce. From then on, children have to learn to cope with the situation. Here are some basic tips that we as parents should avoid as well as some other practical advice that should be taken into account to help our children adjust to the new reality.

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What behaviors to avoid:

 

Treating children like therapists

It’s not helpful or healthy to use your children as listening devices for your traumatic experiences concerning the divorce. Complain to your friends or professionals, not to your kids. For them, the divorce is already a traumatic and emotionally stressful experience. Sharing all of the unpleasant details and individual causes of it, which are often supplemented by spicy details that a child’s ear is not ready to hear, is too much for them. Children cannot help us—adults’ problems and our emotional experience are tremendous burdens that a child cannot carry and handle.

Distancing children from divorce

The other extreme is to completely isolate the children from all of the action around a divorce. Children can feel out in the cold or they may feel that their parents make decisions about their lives without them. Often they imagine unrealistic reasons why their parents are getting divorced and may even blame themselves. Even if the cause of the divorce is unpleasant, it’s not worth concealing absolutely everything from the children, but rather keep them informed with brief and honest details.

Denigration of the other parent

Slander and cursing of one parent by the other may have a negative impact on the child’s relationship with both parents, leading to a loss of confidence and having an impact on the child’s self-esteem. No matter how good or bad the other parent is, the child is always half of the one and half of the other. If we speak badly about one of the parents, we aren’t just speaking badly about our partner, but also about part of the child; we reject part of them and as a result reduce their self-esteem, which may be negatively reflected in their development.

Banning children from talking about the other parent

Children need to talk about their lives. Naturally they need to talk about their parents, the one they do not live with, how they are, what’s new, and what they experienced when they met. Do not repel the child from talking; try to avoid sarcastic comments and a devaluation of the other side. Divorce is not the problem of the child, but of the parents. The child has a right to be with both parents; they should thus suffer the least.

Avoiding family events

There are times when even after a divorce parents may meet. It is usually occasions and celebrations where you are invited by friends or later on opportunities that relate directly to your child (graduation, wedding). Try to attend. For a child of any age it is a very rewarding experience when they see their parents communicating with each other decently despite the fact that they have divorced. However, the situation where the child has to choose whether to invite one or the other parent to a birthday party or other celebration is challenging, frustrating, and often associated with feelings of guilt towards one or the other parent.

Preventing or reproaching a meeting with the other parent

Banning contact or reproaching the child for spending more time with the other parent can cause a lot of confusion and guilt in a child. It is completely unacceptable to blame the child or emphasise that one will feel alone when the kid leaves to visit the other parent—it is a kind of emotional abuse. The child should still feel that he or she has both parents. The parents’ problem should not be the child’s problem.

Using the child as a mediator

In situations when parents are no longer able to communicate together properly, the situation can appear that the child is used as an intermediary through which one parent announces various unpleasant things to the other parent. It is always a better option to try to communicate directly, if the situation requires it. In the case that it really does not work, then you need to use a third neutral person such as a lawyer or mediator, but never a child.

 

 

What to do instead:

 

Be honest to the child, do not lie to them about a divorce or its circumstances.

Reassure the child that you still both love them and that you will take care of them together.

Tell the child about the changes that will happen. Tell them what will stay the same as well.

Be available when kids want to talk about their concerns and feelings, but do not force them to confide in you when they don’t feel like it.

Let the child talk about their experiences and feelings which they are having with the other parent, and even though it might not be pleasant for you, keep from saying any negative comments.

Never criticise the other parent in front of the child.

Remember that a child has a right to regular contact and privacy in a relationship with the other parent.

Do not question and do not send messages through the child.

If that is too much for you, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Although the divorce rate is quite high and has become a common phenomenon nowadays, it is still an emotionally painful event and even though you should be careful around your kids, you still deserve to get help for yourself and be heard by a professional.

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How to Raise Confident and Happy Kids

Written by Payal Malhotra, Lipa Consul for India

“With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama 

Health, happiness and success are things every parent wants for their kids—the underlying tactic in achieving all this is self-confidence. We’re not born with a certain amount of confidence. Like any other skill, you can improve and develop it over time. Trying new things and challenging yourself helps us achieve great things, which in turn boosts our self-confidence. Check out the following tips for giving your kids confidence they can take on the world with.

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Coach instead of doing

Sometimes it’s difficult to step aside and let our kids complete a task by themselves, especially when it seems to be taking forever. Think of tasks like a game—your child is the player, and you are the coach. Show them how to do something or explain the strategy with words – with this little help, kids have a better chance of succeeding when trying something new. When they succeed (no matter how small their success), their confidence increases and they are motivated to try new things on their own.

 

Be encouraging

A little encouragement can go a long way. Imagine trying to tie your shoes with a adult standing by tapping their toes and looking at their watch in irritation—that wouldn’t make you feel encouraged to continue trying. You’d just ask for your parents to do it for you. In the same way, we should offer hints of encouragement to motivate kids to keep trying. Repeat the adage ‘practise makes perfect’ and ‘if at first you don’t succeed…’. They’ll have a positive effect on your child’s internal motivation so they will continue to build skills.

 

Focus on efforts and not end result

We can get stuck on looking at results rather than the process itself. But with our kids, we should revel in the process of learning and practising—if they don’t accomplish something they went for, talk to them about how they prepared and practised for it, and talk about anything you would do differently. Always end on a positive note, such as ‘That was a good try. It’s okay to fail, but maybe you want to try again.’ Praise their work ethic (as long as they had one) and only criticize their actions, not their character. Say, ‘I think if you want to achieve this, you’ll need to spend more time practising instead of playing video games’ instead of ‘You failed because you were kind of lazy.’

 

Offer unstructured playtime

Not every activity needs to have a purpose. Let your kids to simply play as they want and with what they want, without any interference from your side. This doesn’t mean playing on digital devices—unstructured playtime should allow kids to explore their abilities and try something new. Experts suggest that this type of play is connected to better academic results, because it’s hugely beneficial for creativity and imagination.

 

 

Set some base rules

Finding the right balance between freedom and boundaries can help your kids understand structure and how to set smaller goals to achieve something bigger, such as saving small change to buy that toy they want later. Set some rules that your kids can follow. No matter what they are, explain the logic behind the rules you decide to set. By doing this, you’ll create a closer relationship with your kids based on mutual respect and understanding as you help them develop into more confident kids.

 

Have you heard the old proverb about giving our kids roots and wings? Unconditional love is the roots. Confidence is the wings. Young people who have both live a happier life.

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Christmas around the World

Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa

We all know our own Christmas traditions, but have you ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrates? What customs and traditions are they connected with and what are they actually celebrating? Join us on a small excursion around the world to better understand this holiday of peace, family, and love.

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Czech Republic

At Christmas, people in Czechia decorate their homes with mistletoe, various conifers, and an Advent wreath with four candles. On every Advent Sunday, one candle is lit. People bake traditional Christmas sweets full of vanilla and cinnamon, and a day before Christmas Eve they bake a sweet bread with raisins called vánočka (Vánoce means Christmas in Czech). Christmas Day is actually celebrated on the 24th of December, when people usually eat fish soup with vegetables and fried carp with potato salad. After dinner, adults and children unwrap gifts brought by the Baby Jesus (Jezisek). Baby Jesus is often portrayed as a baby or a little boy. Families spend time together, sing Christmas carols and at midnight, many go for a midnight mass to a church.

 

Italy

In Italy, gifts are brought by Babbo Natale (similar to Santa Claus) or Gesú Bambino (Baby Jesus). In some parts of Northern Italy, gifts are brought by Saint Lucy. For dinner, Italians often feast on lamb or turkey, and for dessert, figs and dates with various fillings, and the sweet bread panettone. But there are many regional differences. Christmas celebrations often culminate on the night before the 6th of January, when fires are lit in many town squares across Italy. People walk the streets, children go caroling and receive small gifts and treats from their parents. On the 6th of January, an old but kind witch, Befana, flies from house to house and brings gifts to children through the chimney.

 

Russia

According to the orthodox calendar, Christmas in Russia is celebrated on the 6th and 7th of January. But now they are celebrated hardly anywhere; after the ban on Christmas was imposed in 1918, many traditions and customs were forgotten. Nowadays most Russians celebrate the New Year with yolka (spruce) and gifts from Ded Moroz. The celebrations are often majestic and apart from Ded Moroz, Snegurka (Snow White), children’s favourite fairy-tale princess, can also be seen paying a visit to the Christmas tree. At Christmas Eve dinner, people eat vegetarian dishes and fish. A favourite meal is vareniky, a yeast pastry with various fillings.

 

Mexico

In the Christian world, Mexican Christmas celebrations are among the most boisterous and cheerful. Christmas in Mexico begins between the 16th and the 24th of December. During this time, “posadas” are performed, when people form processions in the streets and perform the scene of how Joseph and a pregnant Mary were looking for a shelter on their way to Bethlehem. The streets are full of colorful stalls with toys and other treats, such as fish and birds made of pumpkins and other characters made of straw or clay, which can be filled with sweets. Christmas trees can also be seen in Mexico, but much more common is a “piñata”, a huge clay jug for water decorated with a paper collar and feathers, and filled with sweets or gifts. On Christmas day, people often go for a midnight mass and the festive dinner takes place late in the evening. All families get together and eat what everyone likes. The aim of the celebrations is to be together, have fun, and visit as many people in the community as possible.

Every region and country has its traditions and customs, without which Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas. Although these customs are often very different, the celebrations of the Nativity of Jesus have the same purpose everywhere – to be together with our loved ones, to share a pleasant atmosphere, and to symbolically celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

 

Recommended articles:

How to Be Kind to Each Other (Not Only) at Christmas

What Do Kids Really Need for Christmas?

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Who’s Excited for Christmas?

Written by Iva Jelínková, Educational Specialist at Lipa

The last month of the year is here: December. When it runs out, we step over a threshold, change the digits in the year and make plans for new beginnings. Among other resolutions, we decide that next December, we won’t let things get so hectic and out of hand. Easier said than done, right?

There are so many things we grown-ups need to do before Christmas, but we shouldn’t forget that for children, December is a time of great excitement. It’s a time of soft candlelight, mysterious smells, and happy secrets. Some children get excited about the sweets and goodies that start appearing around the house, some about watching all those Christmas-time classics on television, and all children can’t wait to get their hands on presents. There’s so much to look forward to when you’re a kid, and time suddenly moves dreadfully slowly. We were thinking it might come in handy if we give you a few activities to enjoy as a family to speed up the days left until Christmas.

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1. Let’s put on a story

Have you ever created a puppet theater with your kids? Pick a fairy-tale you love watching or reading together. If you’re worried about using actual puppets, rest assured that you don’t need to go full pro. Puppet theater is actually more fun if you use socks, scarves, or plush toys instead. It’s also easy to draw the characters you need on a piece of paper and glue them to a stick. Voila! If you need a stage, use a couple of chairs and a blanket or bedsheet for the backdrop. Have the kids perform a show for the adults and then vice versa. Don’t forget to invite grandma, grandpa, brother, sister, dolls from the dollhouse and your dog and cat. The audience will be cracking up and it won’t even matter if your fairy-tale ends up a bit unexpectedly!

 

2. Christmas letters

In December, we often send Christmas-themed emails with glittery pictures, or we exchange e-cards with New Year’s wishes in verse. But imagine finding a postcard in your mailbox – one that you know someone put some work into. Try going back to that more intimate tradition of sending paper letters this year. Cut a piece of thick paper in approximately postcard format, put a few address lines on one side and leave the other blank as a canvas for your little artist. Anyone from the family will be happy to receive an original, hand-drawn or hand-painted Christmas card that is truly irreplaceable.

 

3. Caroling, caroling now we go

A lot of families live far apart and end up missing each other the most during the holidays. Luckily, we have modern technologies to help us see and talk to everyone we want. But have you tried singing to each other while video chatting? When you contact your family and the video pops up, surprise them by belting out your kids’ favorite Christmas carol. You can put on an authentic performance and dress in costumes, or even play musical instruments. Guaranteed to end up in happy giggles.

 

4. Advent calendar as you (don’t) know it

To make the wait until Christmas day a bit more exciting, try making an advent calendar for your kids – with one window or little drawer for every day between the beginning of December and Christmas day. Kids love finding a little surprise each morning, like tiny chocolates, nuts, small presents, or even simple tasks or quests. Put up a line with pegs, and hang socks and gloves on it. Then put little cards and notes inside that give activity ideas like drawing a pretty Christmas tree, creating a decoration, or reading something in a book about Christmas traditions. You can also reverse the roles and have kids make up little tasks for the rest of the family. Or they can be topics for discussion, which the family shares over meals.

No matter how old we are, we all like to have fun at Christmastime. As a pleasant bonus, the days remaining until Christmas fly by more quickly. You might even find yourself sharing some of your children’s impatient excitement, because it’s contagious. Let’s make December a happy time, not just hectic. Christmas is just around the corner…

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