Archive for Family Friendly America

Paying our dues to be part of the village


A story in the news this week horrified parents. It brings a few thoughts come to mind:
• How this happened
• What caused it to be uncovered
• And, as members of the ‘village’ what we can do to prevent it

An 11-year-old girl is abducted on her way to school 18 years ago, as her step-father looked on unable to deter the kidnappers. During that period, she gives birth to two daughters fathered by her captor. She is released due to the follow through of alert security guards at the University of California at Berkeley when her captor displayed suspicious behavior while visiting the campus to distribute religious material.

With new school supplies, clothes, sneakers and backpacks, families across the country are excited about the start of a new school year. At the same time, we have to question the safety of our children; specifically as it relates to walking to school. Communities trying to combat childhood obesity encourage families to allow their children to walk to school, but this story could cause major setbacks in this endeavor.

If a safe, community focused approach is taken, we can keep our kids safe, and allow them the freedom and enjoyment of walking to school. Visit International Walk to School in the USA to learn how.

Keeping all of our children safe
There is a belief that a society is judged by something called the “burning building theory.” Here’s how it works. If your child was in a burning building, no doubt you would rush in to save him. But, a society is judged by the willingness of its community members to rush in to save someone else’s child. That is where the concept of the village comes in.

If the village has any chance of working, we need to recognize we’re all in this together. A candle provides a good example of how this works. When used to light another candle, the first candle doesn’t lose its light; in fact, it intensifies. So if each one of us can take care of our own family, and do just a little bit more, we can move the village concept from a wonderful idea to reality.

Experted from Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals® by Tina Nocera

If the security guards were not observant, or did not follow through on their suspicions, Jaycee Dugard would still be a captive.

Although most situations aren’t quite this serious, there are times where we question whether or not we should say something. Here is a recent question posed by a Parental Wisdom® member that illustrates that point.

I was looking out my window this morning, and noticed a father walking quite a distance ahead of his little girl who appeared to be about 2 years old. It was easy for a car to turn into a driveway and since the little girl was so small the car wouldn’t see her and she could have been hit, or the little girl could have run into the street. My concern is, should I have said something to him? We are all cautious of correcting other parents’ behavior, but what if something could have happened to that little girl and I didn’t point it out to the father? In light of a recent tragic crash involving a mom who apparently was driving intoxicated, I am taking the concept of accident avoidance more seriously. Your advice?

To see answers from our expert advisors, click here

What do you think? Comment below.


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Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
-Ancient Proverb

Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

Mud pies anyone?

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Mom on Strike


As I read the article about the arrest of Melissa G. Dean, 33, Florida mother of 4 children ages 17, 16, 14 and 13 for leaving her children home alone, it quickly dawned on me that she was a child herself when she became a mother.

Even for those of us who waited until we felt ‘ready’ to have children, whatever ready means, I can’t imagine how challenging it is not only to be a teenage mother, but to be a teenage mother repeatedly.

Parents, please create a village for yourselves as a means of support. This job of parenting is too hard to do alone. We all need people to rely on and count on. For all of the daily parenting questions that arise, where you need to be your child’s advocate and not break any confidence, you can reach out to Parental Wisdom.

As Plato said, be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

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Too Many Toys


The KISS principle (which stands for Keep It Simple, stupid) relates to just about every area of our life. Not surprisingly it begins when our children are little.

Visit the home of any family with little kids and you see toys, toys, and more toys. The overabundance of toys makes each toy less special, less noticed and less valued. I have often found that putting toys away for a while and rotating them offered a better chance for the kids to appreciate them more.

But, as often happens the problem that many of us experienced, was resolved a mom.

Lori Pope launched Baby Plays, a web-based company that rents toys, think of it as a Netflix for toys.

Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. Families willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.

Baby Plays’ inventory includes popular toys by brands such as VTech, LeapFrog and Playskool as well as more obscure European manufacturers. Pope keeps at least seven of each kind of toy in stock so she can fulfill almost every request. She plans to double her inventory over the next two months.

Pope mainly stocks sturdy, easy-to-clean toys with few parts or parts that are easily replaced. She searches Web sites and catalogs for popular toys that are appropriate for small children and meet all European and American safety standards.

Guess the kids would really look forward to a visit from the UPS driver!

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The Grass Isn’t Greener – Even in Scotland


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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But Mommy and Daddy Still Love You!


Of the thousands of oxymorons, one of my very favorites didn’t make the top 20 list. Here is the list of the top 20 as defined by Oxymoron List (link here):

1. Microsoft Works
2. Healthy Tan
3. Jumbo Shrimp
4. Work Party
5. Dodge Ram
6. Virtual Reality
7. Tax Return
8. Working vacation
9. Head Butt
10. Pretty Ugly
11. Peace Force
12. Tight Slacks
13. Plastic Glasses
14. Taped Live
15. Same Difference
16. Living Dead
17. Silent Scream
18. Personal Computer
19. Alone Together
20. Government Organization

The one I feel is missing – Amicable Divorce.

It must be the most amazing coincidence, but every time I speak with someone involved in this situation, they are the wronged party. A recent discussion began innocently enough, “How was your weekend?” I asked. The separated dad went on for an hour about how his soon-to-be ex-wife was destroying their kids’ lives, while he sat alone at home miserably knowing he could do a better job raising them.

The bottom line is that most likely, they are both destroying their kids’ lives. Enter stage left; increasingly more divorced couples are enlisting the help of professional parent coordinators to resolve parenting disputes.

Although the service can be expensive (anywhere from $50 to $350 per hour) it still makes more sense than calling a lawyer each time you squabble over the cost of sneakers or dance classes. You would be paying a lawyer, but using the new ‘parent coordinators’ may help teach a lesson in better communication along the way.

A good example is where a parent coordinator will suggest a line of communication such as email, and critique any emails that become sarcastic. The downside is that although they may be valuable, some parents may not like another person’s unsolicited input on how to raise their children, and an outsider involved in decision making.

The biggest benefit may be the parent coordinator’s ability to diffuse emotion, and let’s face it – these situations are wrought with emotion.

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What Would You Do?


I received the following email.

Begin copy

Today was a first for me… My daughter (5) and I pulled into a local store.

The spot I wanted to pull into was empty except for a woman who had her car door open and was loading groceries with her two small children still outside the car in the empty spot. Instead of hurrying the mom and scaring the children, I drove around to a spot further away.

My daughter thought I was parking and took her car seat belt off. I parked and took her out kissing and hugging her and went on my way. To my surprise, when I got back to my car there was a note from the young mother on my windshield with a paper from your website.

It said it was a stupid ticket and that she gave it to me for not having my daughter in a car restraining seat, and went further to say if I loved her I would keep her safe.

At first I was offended that she did not say it to me rather than leave it behind on my car. If she did she would know not only do I have car seats for my kids I made my older daughter who is now 10 and 5’2” sit in a booster seat until she was 9 to be safe. PA law is 8 years old or 4′ and although my daughter surpassed those marks she still sat in the seat. I also have been part of car seat safety checks two years in a row at a local dealership in my area.

My younger daughter took her belt off today because 1) she now can and
2) because I stopped to park. I did reiterate that she should not take her belt off until the car is off.

I don’t agree with the woman who did this. She mentioned she was a nurse and that she saw kids in terrible ways. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that maybe something shook her world and she is out there living with that.

I hope your website does not advocate people to be quick to judge, to run away with a hurtful note left behind.

– Mom from Pennsylvania

End copy

I was really moved by this mom’s email and told her that at Parental Wisdom, we really try NOT to judge, and recognize there are misunderstandings (like this one) and mistakes because parents are often doing a number of things at once.

Yes, the Stupid Ticket is one of the Free Reports on the Parental Wisdom website. But stupidity is something that people do repeatedly and not ever learn a lesson. For that reason, we also have a Safety Ticket which is a reminder of the things you already know; and presents a much kinder, gentler approach.

Back to the parent that left the note – I do understand why she didn’t talk to the parent directly. Parents could be defensive at the very least, and violent at the worst. The dilemma – what should parents do if they see a situation that raises child safety concerns?

I reached out to Robert A. Brasky of the Lake Zurich Police Department in Illinois is an expert on Traffic Safety to learn what parents can do if a child is potentially in danger. The example I used was a time I spotted a three-year-old was left alone in a running car. His response, “Call the police and give them the information. Do not approach the parents.” Safe and sound advice.

Robert also shared the alarming statistic that approximately 95% of child car seats are improperly installed. To make sure you aren’t one of them, visit to learn what you can do, and to find locations where your child’s carseat can be checked for proper installation.

But let’s talk about you for a moment…

How would you respond to a situation where a child could be in danger?
How would you respond to someone correcting you about your own child’s safety?

Please leave a comment and let us know.

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