Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Dumbing Down America – Part II

Sunday, June 8th, 2008


You might read this wondering when part 1 happened, so let me fill you in.

Part 1 happened around 1900, when we moved to the Industrial Age. Prior to that, people were farmers and craftsman, completely responsible for production of their own products, meeting with their patrons and getting unfiltered feedback. This gave them complete control and pride in their work.

Then came the factories where the wealthy few decided that it was far more important that people knew only a tiny portion of work in assembly lines as a way to expedite production. They basically wanted us to be robotic – almost dumb so things could be done exactly as they wanted. In order for that to happen, the employee was born, and in the wake of the employee, the manager would soon to follow – just to make sure the employee was performing as expected.

Jump to over 100 years later and we are desperately trying to give people incentives to care about their work. It’s simple: show them the bigger picture and have them understand how their work affects the people they work with before and after the widget hits them on the production line. Ooops! I’m too late for this, we no longer do any manufacturing in the U.S.

So why am I writing about this in a so called parenting blog? Simply because the next wave of dumbing down America is upon us. It’s called product licensing and it’s robbing our kids of any creativity they have. Look at their clothes, shoes, books, anything! Try to find a plain t-shirt, sneakers, coloring books, backpacks, or note pads. Try to get the attention of an adolescent (in fairness, that is tough anytime) but the electronic gadgets rob us of any possibility of having a discussion with them, let alone for them to have anytime to think or dream.

The next wave of dumbing down America will rob our children of the next generation of creative thinkers. That is unless we have the courage not to succumb to the pressure of the next kids show.

Think about it.

Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.

Mandatory Parenting Classes? Who’s Teaching?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

If Rockland County Legislator Jacques Michel, D-Spring Valley has his way, before couples can walk down the aisle they will be required to take parenting classes.

Three questions comes to my mind
1. Who’s teaching?
2. If we truly believe that every individual is unique, then we have an unlimited number of unique possiblilies. How can we possibly predict on the right way to parent considering that each person was parented differently?
3. Why assume that all people planning for marriage even want children? In a perfect world, people wouldn’t have children because it would be the next logical phase in their lives, or because they got tired of people asking them when they were planning to start a family.

The best reason to have children is because you really want children and have clearly thought through the decision.

The beginning is the most important part of any work. – Plato

But how do you think through something as unique as the experience of parenting? It begins with knowing yourself. This short list of questions may be helpful to review before you decide to have children.

10 Things to Consider Before You Have Children…

1. Would you want to have you as a parent?
2. Have there been times when you could have been more generous?
3. Do you treat the people that matter in your life as well as you should?
4. Is your relationship with your spouse strong enought to withstand the stress of children?
5. What sacrifices are you willing to make to be able to afford children?
6. What family traditions will you carry on, and what new traditions will you both create together?
7. What is your idea of quality family time?
8. How will you decide how to share family holidays?
9. Do you believe it is your job as a parent to tell a child what to think or how to think?
10. Is there something about your spouse that makes you look forward to becoming a parent, or is there something that has you concerned?

Exerpted from Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals®: Contemporary Advice for Parents by Tina Nocera

Birthday party gifts – keeping expenses down

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

kids-birthday-party.png

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

kid-sick.png

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.