Archive for October, 2007

The Kids Are Always Watching

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The families of two 5th-graders involved in a pushing incident are called in for a counseling session after words between families were exchanged. After the counseling session ended, an argument and altercation outside the school followed. When it was over, the father of one of the boys was dead.

How do our children learn? What do our children learn? They learn from us, their first and most important teachers. They learn how to behave, how to resolve arguments without violence, and they learn that sometimes they are wrong.

Scenario

Two best friends try out for the high school varsity cheering squad. Tracy makes it; Allie doesn’t. They walk home together in silence. Allie walks in her house, tosses down her book bag, and tells her mom, “I can’t believe she didn’t say a word to me. I can’t believe she didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t make it!’” At the same time, Tracy arrives home in tears. “I can’t believe she didn’t congratulate me,” she tells her mother.

A parent has a tremendous opportunity to help her child, and at the risk of hyperbole, even get us closer to world peace, by pointing out to her child the other person’s point of view. What if the same scenario played a little differently?

What if Allie’s mom replied, “Honey, maybe Tracy was struggling with feeling good about making the squad and feeling guilty that you didn’t. It’s very possible that she simply didn’t know what to say.”

Tracy’s mom could have replied, “Tracy, put yourself in her shoes for a moment. Allie was really disappointed that she didn’t make it. Give her a day to deal with that.”

The world looks very different when you hear the same scenario from the other person’s perspective.

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
-Mother Teresa

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The Grass Isn’t Greener – Even in Scotland

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Known as one of the world’s best golf courses, one would believe that St. Andrews in Scotland is an indication that the grass is truly greener. That may be true in the literal sense, but not figuratively.

If you’re worried about parenting, then you should know that parents in Scotland feel undermined, under-valued and un-supported. Scotland’s parents are feeling the pressure to be perfect more than ever before and parents of teenagers are looking for help they say just isn’t there. That’s the findings from a new report which was launched today (16) by leading children’s charity CHILDREN 1ST during National Parenting Week.

The bottom line is the same arguments noted in the report are heard here in the U.S. I applaud UNICEF ambassador Kaye Adams comment that it is no longer ‘us and them’ – we need to work together to help parents, especially parents with teens.

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So You Want to Save the World?

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One of the most beautiful compensations of this life is that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a story you may have heard about David & Goliath. In case you’re unfamiliar, the story is set in biblical times where a giant one eyed-giant Cyclops named Goliath terrorizes a small town. All the warriors in the town tried to fight him and were quickly defeated. A young boy named David, armed only with a slingshot, volunteered to fight the giant. The townspeople looked at the brave young boy and said, “Look at the size of the giant and look at you, how could you possibly win?” David had a very different point of view. He said, “Yes, look at him. How could I possibly miss?”

That story is a myth. A myth by definition is an invented story, idea, or concept. But in reality mythical situations happen all the time. A single person can make a significant difference. What a wonderful lesson for our children, and a great time to discuss it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 is Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others – a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate in this USA Today sponsored event.

The good news is that our kids want to help. Toddlers, according to Psychology researcher Felix Warneken proved the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age with a simple experiment. 61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world suggests a survey of 1,800 young people. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are “the most socially conscious consumers to date.”

What great news. Need an idea?

Here are two:

The Idea Generator

The Future of Life Organzation

Talk about family fun!

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What Target® can teach us about being good parents

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You see their striking television commercials and slick print ads. You know where their stores are located, and what they sell. So why does Target® need to continue advertising?

Simple, because they want to constantly remind you they are there. Advertising is repeating the message; sometimes in a varying number of ways. The more you hear it, the more likely you are to believe.

That is the lesson we need to learn as parents. It isn’t enough that you told them once to clean up their room, or their toys, or eat their vegetables, or be respectful, or to stay away from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Much like an advertising message, your children have to hear it repeatedly.

Why else would household names, like Coke®, Pepsi®, and Disney® spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising? Surely their brand position is solid. They want to be kept top of mind.

Don’t we want the same thing? We’re battling popular culture for our children’s attention, and let’s face it – the interests of popular culture don’t exactly match our interests as parents.

Make sure you repeat the message you want your children to hear. Visit Parental Wisdom Free Reports to find ways to communication with children and teens.

No one has made this point better (or funnier) than

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Trust Me – You’re Doing a Great Job at Parenting

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There are days when you go to sleep at night questioning some of the decisions you made as a parent. You hope that the bad decisions won’t have a long term affect on your children.

The good news is since you care enough to worry about it; you’re probably on the right track.

Compare that to Michele Cossey, 46, was arrested last Friday on charges of illegally buying her home-schooled son, Dillon, a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope. Michele’s son Dillon was being bullied, and planning an attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School [PA]. Buying him the weapons was her way to help.

Dillon tried to recruit Lewis Bennett III, who went right to his parents who went to the police who searched the boy’s bedroom and found the 9 mm rifle, about 30 air-powered guns modeled to look like higher-powered weapons, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado and violence-filled notebooks, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said.

Good police work, but great parenting. Naturally I mean the Bennett’s not the Cossey’s.

Rest assured when you have one of those days when you are questioning your parenting skills, you are probably doing just fine.

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Trust, but verify

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The front page of today’s USA Today reads High schools using breathalyzers to fight teen drinking. The article discusses the increase in high school orders for breathalyzers which are up 120% in each of the past four years, according to Keith Nothacker, president of KHN Solutions, which sells the machines. Another company, AK Solutions USA, a New Jersey importer of the devices adds that orders go up before prom.

Increased sales come as lawmakers and educators are cracking down on youth drinking with hotlines, awareness classes, tougher penalties for adults who give teens alcohol and more college classes on Fridays to reduce “Thirsty Thursday” partying.

This all makes sense to reduce underage drinking. So who would be opposed? Naturally the American Civil Liberties Union with the concern that schools might violate rights if they test without “reasonable suspicion, and the students themselves who claim that their rights may be violated and they feel the school doesn’t trust them.

So why the picture at the top of this blog of former President Ronald Regan?

Simple – the topic of trust and teens is a divisive issue. Teens want to be completely trusted, but some adults feel teens should not be trusted at all. Both, at times, may be right. I found myself waffling back and forth on this topic until I read a comment by Ronald Regan. When responding to national security issues, Regan commented,

“Trust, but verify.”

At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, I must say that feels just about right.

Think of teens as toddlers on steroids (hopefully not literally); their brains are still being wired. They aren’t capable of making certain choices and need to know and hear from us that they can’t do certain things. If we agree with them, or even if we remain silent, that is taken as a yes when they need to hear a very loud no.

You wouldn’t feel safe moving into a house where the wiring wasn’t complete. Jay Giedd, Chief of Brain Imaging for the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Health Institute of Mental Health, who with Michael Bradley co-authored Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!, concluded that the main area of the brain still developing during the teen years controls organization and decisions such as whether to walk home from school or go for a ride with beer-drinking buddies. Our brains are still being wired till we’re about 24. Is it a coincidence you have to be 25 to rent a car? Sounds like Hertz and Avis were the only ones paying attention on wiring day.

If we compare a teenager’s brain to a new home being built, you can’t get a Certificate of Occupancy until the wiring is complete and inspected. Then it would be safe enough to move in. It’s our job to keep driving the bus until the wiring is complete. According to David Walsh, a clinical psychologist and author of Why Do They Act That Way?, teenagers need and look for curfews, limits, and family rules.

We can provide the walls our kids need. Breathalizers aren’t a bad thing.

Comments (1)

The Sandwich Kid

I have a sign hanging up at home. It says ‘No Whining’ and has a red circle around it, with a red line through it. I first drew that sign when my kids were little and whining, as young children often do. I remember thinking one day how ineffective a means of communication whining was and that I didn’t want to add any more whiners to an ever growing population.

That is especially true when it comes to me. Anytime I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I realize that there is always someone that has a more difficult time, and none more than parents and families of children struggling with an illness or a disability.

I was surprised to learn that over 650 million people in the world suffer from disabilities, from mild to severe. If you think about how many siblings and family members that would affect, the number is staggering.

Take a look at this brief clip of The Sandwich Kid– a film about special needs families. I guarantee you won’t whine again about the struggles you face. Thanks Judy Winter for sharing this ten minute promo.

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