Archive for January, 2007

When Peer Pressure Is A Good Thing

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

In a January 18th post to this blog, I wrote about how the most terrifying seat in the world was you in the passenger seat next to your teen driver.

There is another seat even more frightening; where your teen is the passenger in a friend’s car. Your child’s friend may be a good kid, but not a great driver. We have to arm our children to speak up if they feel their friends are driving recklessly and learn as much of cars as they can from sources as the Automotive News Center, so they can use this knowledge to know when the car is failing and more and avoid accidents and other issues. This is where peer pressure is a good thing.

I am not a fan of statistics since I don’t think teens listen to numbers, but I am not writing to your teen; I am writing to you. There is one more interesting statistic, but let’s phrase it in the form of a question. What is the most dangerous time for your teen to drive? Between 3 and 5pm weekdays.

Use this information as a way to start your own conversation with your teen. Watch the Ad Councils video and give your teen a way out of dangerous situation.

Bravo to the Ad Council for starting this terrific campaign which encourages teens to be the spokesperson against reckless driving.

Here are some facts from their site:

• Teens Will Listen
Eight in 10 teens say that if a friend told them their driving behavior made their friend feel uncomfortable, they would listen. (Source: Ad Council)
• Influence on Friends
Nearly 70% of teens say they have a lot or some influence to stop their friends from driving recklessly when they are a passenger. (Source: Ad Council)
• Concerned About Friend’s Driving
Four in 10 teens say that in the past six months they have been in a situation when they felt concerned that a friend’s driving behavior put them at risk as a passenger. (Source: Ad Council)
• Risky Driving Behavior
Three in 10 teens say that in the past six months they have been in a situation when their own driving behavior put them at risk. (Source: Ad Council)
• Issue Importance
Nearly 80% of teens call the issue of youth reckless driving prevention extremely important to them personally. (Source: Ad Council)
• SUV Rollovers
In 2000, SUVs had the highest rollover involvement rate of any vehicle type in fatal crashes – 36%, as compared with 24% for pickups, 19% for vans and 15% for passenger cars. (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation)
• Speeding
Sixty-seven percent of high school drivers say they speed and 27% say that speeding is safe. (Source: SADD/Liberty Mutual study)
• Cell Phones
Sixty-two percent of high school drivers say they talk on a cell phone while driving and 24% say that talking on a cell phone is safe. (Source: SADD/Liberty Mutual study)
• Safety Belts
Sixty-seven percent of high school drivers say they wear their safety belts while driving and 75% say that not wearing a seatbelt is unsafe. (Source: SADD/Liberty Mutual study)
• Afternoon Crashes
Nearly as many 16- and 17-year-old drivers are involved in fatal crashes between 3 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday as on Friday and Saturday nights between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. (Source: AAA)
• Passengers and Crashes
Crash rates increase drastically for 16- and 17-year-old drivers with every additional passenger in the car. (Source: AAA)
• Male Death Rate
In 2002, the motor vehicle death rate for male occupants age 16 to 19 was nearly twice that of their female counterparts. (Source: CDC, 2004)
• One out of Five Teens…
One out of every five licensed 16-year-old drivers will be in a vehicle crash. (Source: IIHS)
• Teen Deaths
In 2003, about 44% of all teen deaths were attributed to vehicle crashes – more than triple the number of teen suicides and more than double the number of teen homicide victims. (Source: NHTSA)
• Teen Passengers
In 2002, 61% of teenage passenger deaths happened when another teen was driving. (Source: IIHS)
• Teen Crashes
Per mile driven, sixteen-year-olds are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as adults. (Source: NHTSA)
• Teen Percentage of Crashes
In 2003, teenagers accounted for 10% of the U.S. population and 13% of motor vehicle crash deaths. (Source: NHTSA)

Waiting on the World to Change

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

I imagine many of us have a vision of a perfect world.

In my vision, everyone would take care of their own families, and then do a little bit more to help someone else. In this perfect world there would be a series of concentric circles where the whole world would be covered by a caring, concerned community.

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

Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York I know a little bit about diversity. The life lessons I learned there could never be duplicated by a corporate diversity training program. Since my children were growing up in a nice little safe New Jersey town, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would be ready for the real world? Will they understand that everyone doesn’t look like them and doesn’t have the same opportunities they do?

The decisive point came a few years ago while attending a local school meeting. A Board of Education election was coming up, and those running for office talked about how we need to be careful that the money earmarked for education be spent in our town and not in the neighboring poor community. That told me all I needed to know. I realized they were asking the wrong question. The right series of questions might have been:

1. Do all children deserve a good education?
2. If a child has a good education does that offer that child a brighter future?
3. Would a brighter future provide greater opportunity and a potentially better life?
4. Is it possible that a child with a bright future and better life will contribute to society, rather than be a drain on society?
5. Will a child with such a future less likely to be led astray and commit a crime? A crime that could affect your child?

When I heard the approach taken by leaders in this nice little community, I realized that my children were going to school with the children of parents who saw nothing wrong with that question. At that point, my husband and I joined the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization for two reasons. One, so our children could better understand that everyone doesn’t have the same opportunities, and secondly, so that in some small way we could help and mentor children who were not living in a nice little safe town.

But something wonderful happened along the way; we met an amazing family, and two children and their mom became part of our family. So although our intention was to give, we ended up getting a lot more than we expected.

Last night ABC aired Diane Sawyer’s program Waiting on the World to Change could only be described as haunting. I would hope that everyone has a chance to view and understand that there are things we can do now to impact the life of a single child. We often wonder how we can change the world; one person can – you can.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Toddler Tantrums on Airtran

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

A three-year-old toddler’s tantrums delayed an AirTran flight from taking off. Although the parents paid for the child’s seat, the child refused to sit, and was hitting her parents. The child wanted to sit in the mother’s lap, but the rules on air line safety are very clear. Children over the age of two are required to have their own seat.

What would the parents have done if they were getting in a car, preparing to drive and the little girl wanted to sit in the mother’s lap? A parent’s job is to keep their child safe, and an airline has the responsibility to keep all passengers’ safe.

Despite the fact that there were two parents and one child, the parents were apparently outnumbered by a three-year-old. Supernanny, Nanny 911 and Dr. Phil must be fighting over the television rights to this one.

Parents, please remember that you are the parent.

The Real Miracle about Babies

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.
Carl Sandburg, US biographer & poet (1878 – 1967)

A friend called today with a tremendous amount of excitement and just a touch of exhaustion in his voice. He was sharing the joyful news that his wife had just given birth to their second son.

We tend to think that babies are a miracle, but the real miracle is that we can find additional love in our hearts for another baby.

As friends and family are starting their own little families, my children prepare to leave the nest and move to college. Everyone has told me that you blink, and all of a sudden your children are grown up. It is so true, and I loved every minute of it – even the rough spots.

I don’t need to look at the thousands of pictures we’ve taken at celebrations, holidays, school and sporting events; they are all clearly etched in my memory. The best times though are the ones that don’t call for a ‘Kodak moment’ but instead, the rather uneventful moments where we sat around the dinner table and laughed about nothing special.

So along with all the unsolicited advice new parents get, here is mine. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are no perfect people, so there are no perfect parents – and our children don’t mind one bit. They are wonderfully resilient and root for us. They look to us for our love and our best intentions. As long as we have the right motivation, and are consciously parenting, we will all do just fine.

To all new parents, enjoy your journey.

To Spank or Not To Spank

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

PW Logo

Did I miss something?

There is a war in Iraq, millions of Americans are without healthcare, and our Educational system needs a complete overhaul, but California legislators are taking on the topic of parenting, making it illegal to spank a child under 3 years of age.

The proposal includes penalties of up to a year in jail and fines of as much as $1000 dollars. Assemblywoman. Sally Lieber (D) Mountain View who proposed the legislation says “Children that are three years old or younger are really sitting ducks in terms of the force, size and speed of an adult who would beat them.”

In my opinion spanking children is a bad idea since the lesson is that bigger guy wins. Children are more likely to be aggressive since they are very good at modeling the behavior demonstrated by their parents.

But where will the legislation of parenting end?

We know that nursing is far more beneficial to an infant than bottle feeding, so should we fine mothers that choose not to nurse? Should we imprison parents that allow bike riding without helmets? Don’t we know that parents who continually discourage their children, and speak harshly destroy their child’s self-esteem; should they too should be fined? Where will we house all these law-breakers?

One of the earliest and sharpest cultural commentators to investigate the twentieth-century American family, Christopher Lasch argues in that as social science “experts” intrude more and more into our lives, the family’s vital role as the moral and social cornerstone of society disintegrates – and, left unchecked, so does our political and personal freedom.

Perhaps it might be a better idea to prevent the mistakes in judgment in the first place. Prevention and education should be prerequisites to legislation.

We could educate parents, explaining the benefits of certain disciplines, and let parents raise their children. After all, our parents are the ones who taught us to parent.

Whether you agree or disagree with this topic may depend on a number of factors including where you live, according to ABC news.

The bottom line is that you are raising your children and should be considered the expert. But as often happens, we deal with situations that we may not know how to respond to. There is help and hope – please visit Parental Wisdom, a patented parenting website free to all parents. There you can anonymously ask your parenting questions and you get to choose which advice from the experts works best for your child.

I would love to hear what you think about this topic. Please leave a comment.

Teen Driving

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Baby on Board
We move from the “Caution – Baby on Board” window decals, quickly graduate to proudly displaying our children’s sports team decals, and onto “Proud Parent of an Honor Student” bumper stickers.

In the blink of an eye, our children take the wheel and we move from driver (actually chauffer) to the passenger seat; the scariest seat on earth when your teen becomes the driver. Even more frightening are the statistics and stories of accidents and fatalities with this age group. Do any of us listen to the incredibly alarming statistics? Certainly not teenagers.

A parent, unlike any other job, has a responsibility to work ourselves out of a job. Our goal is to raise happy, healthy, independent, well-adjusted children that contribute to society. That means that we won’t chauffer them around forever. At some point, they will be taking the wheel. The best thing we can and must do, is to prepare them, and learn more yourself.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety provide an explanation of the graduated licensing system, and a link to your state’s safety state law chart. That includes not only graduated licensese, but also where you state weighs in on booster seat and safety belt laws.

Remember, it isn’t just our teen driver at risk, it is other drivers, children riding bikes, dog walkers, moms with babies in strollers. Teen driving is more than a parent/teen concern, it affects the whole community.

Visit Parental Wisdom and click on Free Reports to see a template of a Safe Driving Contract. There is an editable version and a PDF (print) version. Make it your own, but most importantly, take the time to talk with your child about the rules (your rules) on the road.

Have a safe trip!

Do our children have too much stuff?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

It’s possible to own too much. A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure.
– Lee Segall

An interesting thing happened the year of Michael’s seventh birthday. We didn’t want to exclude any of his friends, so we invited all of them. This was the year the Power Rangers were introduced, and we got every variation imaginable. Rather than appreciating the gifts, Michael was overwhelmed while the gifts were undervalued. They were left on the floor and easily broken.

The following year for his eighth birthday, coincidentally an Olympics year, I suggested to Michael that we have an Olympic theme. But in lieu of birthday gifts, we would suggest that the children coming to the party bring one or two dollars from their banks, and we would donate the money to the Special Olympics. Michael was eating his breakfast cereal, half listening to what I said. When it connected, he said, “Wait a minute – what did you say?” I repeated the idea and added, “Michael, tell us what you would like for your birthday, and Daddy and I will be happy to get it for you.” He couldn’t think of a single thing.

Invitations were sent out explaining our gift idea. Interestingly, as they called to RSVP, some moms were clearly uncomfortable. I suggested they do what made them comfortable, but also asked that they understand my objective. We placed a coffee container on the table decorated with the Special Olympics logo. With what was collected from the can, and with a matching fund from my employer, we sent a check for $200 to the Special Olympics. Michael received a beautiful thank-you letter from the organization, and I didn’t have to clean up any broken toys.

12 Steps to Raising a Delinquent Child

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

While the objective should be to raise a good person, it might be helpful to think about how you do the opposite.

This is a wonderful list put together by the Houston Police Department.

12 steps to raising a delinquent child

The World’s Most Beautiful Baby

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

While I was encouraged by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, perhaps I was naively optimistic that we were finally getting past meaningless contests for superficial beauty.

Alas, two steps forward, one step back. “Live with Regis and Kelly” and Parenting Magazine are searching for “Live’s Beautiful Baby Search 2007.” Five finalists will be featured on “Live with Regis and Kelly” and the winner will be showcased as the cover model on a future issue of Parenting.

Parents need to realize that our children have too much pressure to be perfect in their looks, sports, academics and social standing. Do you want to know who the winner is? Ask any parent or grandparent and they will tell you – their baby. Please tell me you’re not surprised.

Parents, do you want to know how beautiful your baby is?

Just look into his eyes.

Oprah’s Dreamgirls

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

It’s absurd that an incredible act of generosity must be defended, as in the case of the Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls. People are asking why $40 million dollars was spent in Africa, and not on urban schools in America.

Bravo Oprah for making a dramatic and significant change to the lives of 150 young girls who could not possibly have a chance to make anything out of their lives.

If the critics feel so strongly about caring for children in the U.S. here is a way they can help. The Warren Featherbone Foundation has conceived the 401P or Personal Philanthropy Accounts. Much like a 401K which is a pre-tax, employer matched retirement savings program, the 401P is a pre-tax, employer matched method of Democratizing Philanthropy.

Your family gets to choose which non-profit organizations will get your donation. Congress is now considering legislation to amend the tax code to allow the creation of Personal Philanthropy Accounts. Learn more about bill HR 2534 introduced by Congressman Nathan Deal of Georgia, and encourage your elected officials to pass this important legislation.

More importantly, think how beneficial this could be to your family. No longer are foundations, and charitable giving tax deductions limited to the wealthy. Your children can learn how to give to charities, causes and non-profit organizations that you and your family believe in, where ever they are.