Posts Tagged ‘Kathy Sena’

Are Your Kids Sexting?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Terrific piece by Nick K. Mandel, over on the Consumer Reports electronics blog today, on sexting, where cell phone users — usually teens — exchange provocative, sexual photos of themselves using their cell phones' built-in digital camera.

(Disclosure: I work for Consumer Reports as their social media reporter. You can follow me at @CReporter on Twitter. I primarily cover consumer issues there, but that also overlaps with my parenting reporting here. After all, we parents are some of the biggest consumers around!)

Mandel notes that a survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
suggests that one in five teens have "electronically sent, or posted
online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves." A percentage that high means that many parents who think "my kid would never do that" may be surprised to learn the truth.

Check out Mandel's post and the articles below. Then talk with your kids if you think they may be fooling around with sexting. Chances are, they have no idea how serious the consequences can be.

Saying No to Kids in a Yes Culture

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

A terrific writing buddy of mine, Kathy Seal, has an article in Scouting magazine this month that I think is a must-read. (And hey, I'm quoted in it. Bonus!)

Here's an excerpt from "Saying No to Children in a Yes Culture":

One day Jen Singer’s sons, 11-year-old Nicholas and 9-year-old
Christopher, started fighting in the car on the way to their piano
lessons. The boys, both Cub Scouts, knew their Mom would buy them pizza
before the lesson only if they got along. So Singer pulled her car to
the side of the road, turned off the motor, and told them, “No pizza
today, guys.”

“But Mom, but Mom!” the boys cried.

“Sorry boys, that’s it,” she told them. “When you can stop fighting, I’ll start driving again.”

“You have to say no now and then,” Singer explains, “or they’ll grow up thinking everything will go their way. But it won’t.” 

Seal goes on to note that psychologist David Walsh says if parents can learn to
say “no” at appropriate times, they’ll teach their children how to
delay gratification, a key skill for success in school and in life.

Check out this excellent article. And let us know, in comments, how you handle saying no with your kids.

Please Pass Down the Manners!

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

The three children vied for their mother’s attention and sipped from plastic juice bottles as their mom and grandmother unloaded the cart in the Target checkout line ahead of me. Of course, it was just a matter of time until the inevitable happened and someone’s juice hit the floor. No biggie, I thought. I’m a parent. I know how Mom and Grandma feel. Been there, cleaned that up. 

But when the youthful-looking grandmother surveyed the mess, she simply said “pick up your bottle” to the preschooler — and continued on as if there was nothing wrong with leaving a puddle of juice for the rest of us to trudge through. When the little boy started skating through the juice, spreading it further with each glide of his tennis shoes, I thought surely Grandma would realize this was not just a sticky mess but a potential hazard for the shoppers in line behind her.

Watching the boy, Grandma continued putting items on the conveyer belt. Okay, now I was getting cranky.

Thinking I might demonstrate a more-appropriate response, I leaned close to Grandma and said to the check-out clerk, “Excuse me. Do you have a paper towel? There’s juice on the floor, and I’m afraid someone might slip.”

“Sorry, I don’t have anything,” she replied. Okay then. It was clearly time to go straight to the source. I’d simply embarrass the woman into cleaning up the mess. “Ma’am, do you have any wet wipes in your purse; anything like that so we can clean up this juice?” I asked Grandma.

She rooted around in her purse and came up with… a man’s white athletic sock. “OK, that’s a bit odd, but I guess she could use it,” I thought to myself — right before she handed the sock to me.

“Here you go!” she said brightly. “It’s clean.”

I was too stunned to reply. With visions of an unsuspecting elderly shopper breaking a hip at checkstand 9, I knelt down and mopped up the juice with the sock while the woman watched.

By then I was more than a bit cranky, not to mention a bit overdue to receive an embarrassed “Why, thank you!” at least, if Grandma and Grandson weren’t going to do the job themselves.

She said nothing. Not a peep. “You know, you could thank me for wiping up your grandson’s juice,” I finally blurted out, looking her in the eye and holding up the juice-filled sock.

“Oh, just drop that anywhere,” she said, pointing toward the sock. “That’s disgusting.” And with that, the five of them were on their way, leaving me to find a trash can for the drippy sock.

Yes, it certainly was disgusting. But unfortunately, it’s becoming less and less surprising. Life’s little niceties, like holding the door open for the person behind us, saying please and thank you and even just having basic respect for those we encounter every day, seem to be disappearing faster than we can say “It’s all about me.”

Grocery clerks will be the first to tell you how much common courtesy has vanished. Ask them how it feels to ring up $100 worth of groceries for a shopper who continues a cell-phone conversation, hands over a grocery-store club card, runs the debit card through the machine and then leaves without ever making eye contact, much less saying “thanks.”

It’s easy to encounter the “it’s all about me” folks on the road, too. As our once-wide-enough residential streets become virtual one-way passages, narrowed by parked SUVs on both sides, there’s often room for only one vehicle at a time to go by. When I pull my car to the side of the road to let someone else pass, is it too much to ask for a friendly “thank you” wave or a smile? When someone responds with that simple gesture, it brightens the rest of my day. I’m guessing it perks up their day, too. But if it happens one time out of eight, it’s a good day. Most folks just drive on by as if to say “Of course, you should pull over for me.”

Not long ago, our local parks-and-rec department offered an “Etiquette and Social Skills” class for kids ages 7 to 12. Parents ponied up 70 bucks per kid for two 3-hour classes so that someone else would teach their children why manners are important, how to behave in a restaurant and how to be polite.

The trouble is, such a class may teach a kid the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork, but it can’t create a thoughtful child. It can’t instill basic kindness or the desire to consider others’ feelings. That’s a parent’s job, and it takes years. And you can be sure our children are checking out our moves, noting how we behave.

At first I was incredulous that the mother of that preschooler, who continued to unloaded her cart and watch while the “juice incident” took place, didn’t step in to show her young son the right thing to do. But then I realized the sad truth: Her mother had never taught her the importance of common courtesy. And now Grandma and Mom were passing on that same lack of concern for others to a third generation.

Our children want so much to be like us. So they watch closely how we treat cashiers and waiters and crossing guards and fellow shoppers and fellow drivers and all the other people whose paths we cross each day. They also see whom and what we ignore — the people and things that don’t make a blip on our radar screen as we go about our business.

It doesn’t take a fancy etiquette class to teach our kids how to treat others with kindness. Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to clean up a little spilled juice.

Fox Sports: Not Exactly a Parent’s Best Friend

Monday, October 1st, 2007

I couldn’t believe it. But on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. I was watching the UCLA vs Oregon State game on Saturday with my husband and son, and Fox was doing its usual promotion of its violent shows during the commercials.

Nothing new there. Randy and I have been irritated for years over the fact that it’s impossible to watch a sporting event on Fox without being subjected to commercials that are totally inappropriate — and even nightmare-inducing — for young kids.

When Matthew was younger, we’d rush to switch channels during commercials. Now that we have TiVo, we rush to fast forward through them. Matt is 11 now, and probably won’t get nightmares from the commercials. But still, why fill his head (and mine!) with this junk?

Saturday, however, took the cake. As if the ads weren’t bad enough, Fox chose to do a promo showing one of its sports announcers spray painting the TV screen, tagging style. Nice. With all those impressionable kids watching the football game? Great example to set, Fox.

With much of what this network does, we can just say no. But families should be able to enjoy a football game on TV without Fox showing inappropriate ads — or promoting gang activity by making tagging look glamorous.


These Kids Jam!

Friday, September 28th, 2007

I’d like to introduce you to three talented, terrific kids (and likely future entrepreneurs): Chase Shepherd (11), John Parducci (10) and Conor Range (10), all fifth graders at Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, California.

They weren’t tough to spot. In fact, they could be heard for several blocks as they played their music during rush hour on a local street corner today — complete with a hand-made sign — and collected donations to benefit their school. The three gave credit to their music teacher, Ms. Amy Johnson, for inspiring them.

How much did they raise? After the first half hour, the take was "$10 — plus one lady gave us a Euro."

I felt inspired to feature them on Parent Talk because it was just so darned refreshing to see kids outside, making music, raising funds for a good cause and having  great time — without a TV or a video game in sight. Way to go, guys. (And you sounded good, too.)

Ms. Johnson, thanks for inspiring these kids and many others. Conor, John and Chase, thanks for making this mom’s day.

Pass the Kleenex — and a Little Ketchup

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

It’s hard for me to believe that my son, Matt, starts middle school tomorrow. Because, honestly, didn’t I just walk down that same path — yesterday?

I remember going on a weekend youth-group retreat in seventh grade and having such a major crush (are there any other kind?) on a kid named Dan that that weekend became a scrapbook page in my brain. (Dan was right up there with The Monkees in my book, if that tells you anything.)

I remember the girls giggling at lunch in the big camp dining hall while the boys turned their squares of Jello salad upside down and wiggled them — and the Jello never left the plate.

I remember deciding I simply must try ketchup on my scrambled eggs at breakfast because that’s the way "Dan the Man" liked his eggs. And I remember dancing to Blood Sweat and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” at the big Saturday-night dance — and then actually slow dancing with Dan (shriek!) while he sang The Temptations’ "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" in my ear. Yes, Dan, you were quite the Romeo.

A few months later, of course, Romeo decided he was nuts for another girl (an eighth grader…) and, as he was standing outside the youth-group building, hemming and hawing about how to share this bit of news, he suddenly discovered he had other pressing business and ran off, yelling "I have to pee!"


Bring on the Garlic Cheese Bombs!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I have to admit, summertime isn’t the most laid-back time of year for me. For a mom who also works from a home office, the school bell — not the first day of summer — signals my time to breathe again.

Right now, I’m caught up in a whirlwind of activity: taking my son, Matthew, to play dates, baseball games and junior-lifeguard classes while trying to stay on top of  writing assignments. A two-day-old pile of clean laundry sits in a basket on the bedroom floor, getting thoroughly wrinkled. My email is piling up. And the house is looking a little scary.

But today, none of that matters, because it’s “Sandwich Day” at junior-lifeguard class. Sandwich Day is a much-revered tradition in our town. Every kid brings a few sandwiches, cut into small servings for sharing, to class. Then the voting begins. The rules:


If I’ve Said it Once, I’ve Said It A Thousand Times…

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I want to invite Anita Renfroe out for coffee — or better yet, a moms’ night out. I was having one of those can’t-sleep nights recently and I wandered into my home office to check e-mail. A mom friend had sent me the link to a video performance by Renfroe, a musical comedian, that completely cracked me up.

I had never heard of her before, but I’ll be on the lookout now. In this performance, she ticks off everything we moms say in 24 hours — condensed to less than 2
minutes and sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture. I was laughing out loud, sitting there in my jammies, in the office at 1 a.m.

It’s worth a look. I just hope you’re not, like me, watching it in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep!

P.S. Love that pink leather jacket, too.


Walking For a Cure

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Yesterday my husband, Randy, my son, Matthew, and I joined a team of wonderful (and fun!) folks, the "Lifesavers," and walked in the "Relay for Life"
to benefit the American Cancer Society. What a terrific way to spend the day as a family — and to help kids learn the value of helping others.

Thanks to the generous folks who sponsored us in the Relay,
our family raised $580 for cancer research. And the Lifesavers raised a
whopping $28,000!

If you’d like to grab the kids and join a Relay team in your area, or start a
team of your own, it’s easy to do through the website.

Here’s how it works: