Archive for February, 2008

Conversation anyone?

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

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The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has launched a parenting forum to engage parents in conversation about how to raise drug- and alcohol-free children.

Casa has given parents a method of approaching the important conversation of substance abuse prevention. When I have spoken with my own children about local abuse prevention programs, they didn’t think the programs were very effective. The large number of middle and high school students that are abusing drugs and alcohol would prove that point.

The best prevention is home, where good behavior is modeled and bad behavior, as often illustrated by popular culture and young Hollywood, is a great opportunity for a dialog on what not to do. Since we’re often uncertain how and when to start these conversations, Casa offers some great ideas.

The best times to talk are obvious; well before the problem begins.

Mom on Strike

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

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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.

Birthday party gifts – keeping expenses down

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

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As with any kind of change, someone has to start. People who were previously following the crowd will now be happy to line up behind you. The problem is they just can’t be first.

Take the out of control spending on kids birthday gifts. If your child goes to two parties a month, you have to allow for that non-trivial expense in your monthly budget.

What if you stopped spending what is ‘expected’ and started spending what you could afford to spend. Taking it a step further, even if you could afford the $25 spend per gift, don’t do it. These children simply don’t need all these gifts, nor do they even appreciate all these gifts.

Simple is better.

If the child likes to draw, get a blank sketchpad and some pencils or markers.
If they like taking pictures, then get them a book on photography and some nice photo quality paper.
If they to go the movies, then movie tickets with a few bags of candy tied with a ribbon will be just the ticket.

And for your own child’s party, you may want to bravely suggest – no gifts, and instead celebrate with friends.

Remind your child just how lucky he is to have friends.

There’s a reason for everything

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

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An outbreak of the flu is hardly good news, but there is a reason for everything. We find that we can clear our schedules, slow down and cuddle up. Why do we need to wait for the flu or a snowstorm to do something that makes so much sense?

Our generation of parents is so involved in our children’s lives that we have taken on the role of ‘Julie the Cruise Director.’

Let’s take a look at where that has gotten us:

• When they are very little, we register for mommy & me gym classes. Reality check, you can do that at home for no cost at all. Mommy, are you the one that needs the play date here?
• When they are toddlers, we’re registering them for soccer and pee-wee tee ball camps. Reality check again, this costs money and more importantly children actually get less time to play than if the parents played with their kids at the park or in the backyard. Also, the kids aren’t learning how to form their own teams.
• In grade school, we add music and tutoring to the sports schedule which leaves no time for play or family. The mini-van is well stocked with food and beverages as we have no time for dinner. And, by the way, no time for conversation since the mini-van has DVD’s playing in the head rests.
• We check our calendars to find free time for play dates that we’ve selected.
• High school comes around and by this time the kids are burned out by the politics of sports so they’ve stopped playing. Since they never started a game on their own, they don’t know how. Technology has taken the place of making real friends, again something they’ve never had to do.

Back to today’s lesson. Parents – do less and you’ll do more.

Too Many Toys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

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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!

Stars You Can Look Up To

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

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A friend was over for dinner the other night and mentioned a web site, Fafarazzi, that combines two great American pastimes – celebrity watching and fantasy sports. She mentioned that anything celebrity related was evergreen. Sadly, she is correct.

I wish that our kids could look up to real heroes, but unfortunately real people, even if they might have done wonderful things, just don’t sell magazine covers, or hold our interest with late breaking news.

The next best thing might be reading a blog by Deborah Ng, a professional blogger who created Celebrity Role Model Blog where she writes about the good that celebrities do.

Might be a good way to counter the negative influence of Lindsay, Paris and Britney. You won’t need a telescope to watch these stars.

First Rule – Do No Harm

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

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The Hippocratic Oath is an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine. It is widely believed that the oath was written by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the 4th century BC.

You may have heard it begin this way, ‘First, do no harm’.

Parents should have to subscribe to that.

It is difficult enough for us who love our children to be certain they are safe. Why would any parent open their home and put their child at any sort of risk for a reality TV show?

The Baby Borrowers,” a takeoff of a BBC series, appears to leave babies in the care of inexperienced teenage strangers for long periods of time.

If we want to give teenagers a challenging taste of parenting reality, have them spend a Saturday afternoon in a Chuck-E-Cheese.

Parents, remember the Hippocratic Oath.

The Beauty of Balance

Friday, February 1st, 2008

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An article from the Belleville Intelligencer of Ontario Canada describes the concept of balanced parenting. What I love about this article is that any of us can relate to the situations described.

In balanced parenting there are rules, consequences and love. There is not an umpire deciding who did what, which makes sense because you won’t have an umpire following you around in life to rule on fairness. We all know, life isn’t always fair.

The concept of balanced parenting, if done consistently, would help us raise children that accept responsibility and think before he/she acts.

In my book Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals® I wrote that a parent’s job was to raise happy, healthy, independent children that contribute to society.

Can becoming a balanced parent make that goal easy?