Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Teen Drivers

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli – British politician (1804 – 1881)

I’ve noticed considerable attention and concern over teen drivers recently. While visiting various government websites, they recite accident statistics, which causes us to gloss over and not pay attention to the real message.

Instead of citing statistics, try citing rules. Interestingly, the laws that make the most sense were put in place as a result of the accident statistics related to teen drivers. In the words of the great Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be king.” Parents get to be king. Parents get to cite rules over and above the government rules. And no one has to gloss over with while reading statistics.

Feel free to visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports and print out Teen Safe Driving Contract. There are two versions; one is a PDF, and the other is an editable version so you can personalize it.

Be sure to talk to your children about this important topic. Clearly this is an area where you don’t want to become a statistic.

Capitalizing on teachable moments

Monday, March 17th, 2008

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A good reputation is more valuable than money.
– Publilius Syrus 100 BC Maxims

In the midst of our incredibly busy days, parents search for something called quality time. But time is time, and each week we are given exactly 10,080 minutes; no more, no less. Time is the great equalizer – it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have.

How we spend that time is what matters. Interestingly, we often spend time in things we can document, quantify or measure, such as activities like sports, school, chores, and work. But what matters more are the things you can’t measure, such as the impact of teachable moments. We need to look at those opportunities as gifts and capitalize on them.

Thank you Former Governor Spitzer. Thank you for giving us the opportunity the explain to our children the difference between little and big mistakes. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to ask our children a simple but very important question,

“What do you think your reputation is worth?”

Since we are surrounded by popular culture, what used to be considered infamous is now immediately considered famous. We are in the parenting fight of our lives and need to find opportunities to reinforce our values despite the world’s perceptions of values imploding around us.

The young woman in the Spitzer case stands to make millions from the publicity. Again, discuss with your children what her reputation is really worth? A new show called Moment of Truth offers large money prizes for true answers. Unless you’ve lead a Mother Teresa-like existence, I would suggest not trading your reputation and family embarrassment for dollars.

Despite your best attempts, you can’t be around your children all the time, so the next best thing is to make sure they are thinking before they act. No doubt they will make mistakes, but have discussions that reinforce the values you want to instill so you can at least minimize that possibility. I know you think children sometimes don’t listen, but they do. After all, if we didn’t listen, how could you explain that when we grow up we all sound just like our mothers or fathers.

As you end your discussion, put this seed in your child’s head;

“Before you do something – think, would you be proud or embarrassed for us to learn about it?”

That will tell them all they need to know.

Limiting Marketing to Kids

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

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A few years ago I asked my nephew what he wanted for Christmas. He didn’t know. I asked him if he watched Saturday morning cartoons, because I remember when my kids were little that’s where they saw the toys they might like.

He told me there were no toy commercials, only food commercials. He was right. And the commercials bombarding our children promoted foods and beverages that were high in fat, sugar and salt.

Finally, consumer organizations world-wide will pitch a proposal to limit the amount of food marketing to kids. The group is calling for a ban of radio or television advertising of these foods between the hours of 6am and 9pm, and a ban on marketing the same kinds of unhealthy foods on social networks and other new media. Additionally, they are calling on a ban of promotion through toys and gifts and the use of celebrities and cartoon characters.

If you would like to hear about the new reality parents face, and actionable ideas, visit Parental Wisdom® and listen to our Park Bench® broadcast entitled Feeding Our Children to Death.

Just a Blip on the Screen

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

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I’m always talking to parents, and inevitably there are frustrations that come with the territory. One mom was frustrated about toilet training, another about a child not helping around the house, while another was tired of the constant mess.

As our children get older, we see a bright future, and they may decide that our vision is not theirs. Parents want college for their kids, because as one dad told me, “The only thing more expensive than a college education is not having one.”

And then our children may decide it is not for them. They would rather backpack across Europe, play the guitar or learn a trade. Major disappointment and embarrassment for parents.

No different than the frustrations of the parents of younger children, just a later time. But if you’re really smart, you’ll understand that it is just a blip on the screen. The important thing is the relationship you have with your child.

We don’t remember days, we remember memories. Make sure the ones you’re building are not filled with hostility

Barack on Parents

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

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I’ll give you an ‘Amen’ Senator. Yes, there are some simple things parents need to do before any government or education programs can be successful.

So simple in fact, one would wonder why we’re not doing them now. He suggests simple things:
• “When that child comes home you’ve got the TV set on. You don’t check the homework… So turn off the TV set, put the video game away, buy a little desk or put that kid at the kitchen table.”
• The Illinois senator also urged parents to teach healthy lifestyles. “Make them go to bed at a reasonable time, keep them off the streets, give them some breakfast, come on,” he said. “Can I get an amen here?”
• He also admonished parents to take responsibility for their children when they make mistakes at school. “Since I’m on a roll here,” he said, “if your child misbehaves in school, don’t cuss out the teacher. You know I’m right about that.”
His response sent the crowd into frenzied applause. “All right, all right, everybody settle down. We’re having too much fun here,” he said.

Can it be that simple? Actually, yes.

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.

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.

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?

The front porch in communities

Friday, December 14th, 2007

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In the book, Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors the authors Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world.

They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected. These feelings often impede their ability to move forward. The authors aim to help empower people make the daunting transition from victims to victors. Come On, People! is always engaging, and loaded with heart-piercing stories of the problems facing many communities.

The issues the authors bring to light in this book are not exaggerated. But the problems to a much lesser degree are not limited to this community. Children simply exist and do not reach their potential in even the most affluent communities. The deciding factor seems of how successful a child turns out seems to revolve around how much the family and community care about the child. By success, I don’t mean to limit the discussion to grades or future earnings, but contentment and self-esteem to believe they can do anything they set their minds to.

If we want to improve the success of today’s youth we can take the approach of bringing back front porches; literally and figuratively. It’s a metaphor for people to watch out for their community and to know that each of us is known and accountable for our actions.

It does take a village to raise a child.