Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

When Should My Kid Have a Cell Phone?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

An air mattress in the shape of a mobile phone

Chris Brogan, posting over on Dad-o-Matic (my favorite new parenting blog) has a terrific post today on kids and cell phones:

Saw this post by Julie Bonner, where she talks about her daughter getting a cell phone before the age of 11. Now, some of you just raised an eyebrow. You’re wondering if that’s a bit early for a ten year old to own a cell phone. I’m going to say that it’s not, from my perspective. With current requirements on scheduling, freedom, and even safety, giving a child a cell phone seems to be moving towards being the norm.

Brogan goes on to share some great tips about what type of plan to buy, parental controls, rules for cell-phone use and a lot more. Good stuff. Check it out here.

Death by Pecking (Or Fudge Ripple, Whichever Comes First)

Monday, July 14th, 2008

You’ve seen the t-shirts that say “Raising Children is Like Being
Pecked To Death by Chickens,” right? Well, raising a teenager, I’m
learning, can be like being pecked to death by a very large,
hormone-filled rooster.

I’m off to the grocery store to escape the coop. (And because we’re out of food, but that’s beside the point.)

Yes, folks, I’m living proof that one can spend 12 years writing about parenting, child psychology, education, kids’ health, yada, yada, yada — and still be driven insane by one 12-year-old boy.

OK, frozen-food department, here I come. Better lock up the chocolate ice cream.

Innocence Lost

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

"Don't say anything."

My husband placed his hand on my arm as the trio sat down right in front of us in the movie theater at our local mall: a couple and a little girl, about 6, who seemed focused on her popcorn. But the R-rated movie we were watching soon grabbed her full attention.

I bit my tongue, but my insides squirmed as she flinched at scenes that were tough even for adults to watch: a whacked-out teenage girl in a filthy motel room, selling her body for drugs. A man digging his own grave, at gunpoint, before being shot in the head.

When the girl finally fell asleep, I thought of my own son, who still calls out to me in the night when he’s awakened by bad dreams.

What hideous dreams will that little girl be having? And after this night, what could possibly be “too much” for her? Why trouble yourself with holding the line on innocence at all, when your 6-year-old has just been shown how to freebase cocaine?

And these days, it starts much younger than 6. In fact, the sex-and-violence train starts steaming down the track as early as 3 or 4. When my son, Matthew, was in preschool, a 4-year-old boy in his class liked to sing Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” (“I like big butts and I can not lie…”), declaring it his “favorite MTV video.” In kindergarten, several of Matthew’s classmates talked of playing blood-and-guts video games. And in a recent report, ACNielsen listed “Desperate Housewives” as the most-watched television show for 9- to 12-year-olds.

When exposure to sexually explicit material starts so young, what does it take to entertain a teenager? Singer Naomi Judd found out the hard way. A few years ago, Judd was accused of assaulting a male stripper at a Brentwood, Tennessee restaurant, the local paper, The Tennessean, reported. She was upset at seeing the man straddling a teenage girl, police said. Judd reportedly said she placed her hand on the man’s shoulder to tell him to stop, and he lost his balance and fell.

Silly Naomi. Turns out the stripper had been hired by the girl’s parents as a present for her 18th birthday.

While experts certainly fret about youngsters’ exposure to sex, the disturbing increase in school shootings has focused their attention on violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with three other prestigious medical groups, has declared that “viewing violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children” and can cause “emotional desensitization toward violence in real life.”

Less than a week after seeing that R-rated movie, I witnessed this desensitization myself. A murder had taken place in the parking lot of that same upscale mall. A young man allegedly stabbed a 66-year-old woman during a robbery, at lunchtime, in front of several stunned shoppers. The T.V. news showed the woman’s sunglasses and one high-heeled shoe lying on the ground, surrounded by blood and yellow police tape.

A few days later, I spoke to a teenager who works at the mall.

“You must be pretty upset by that woman’s murder,” I said.

“Well, I know this will sound bad,” she replied. “But it’s not like I knew her personally or anything.”

How have our children become so numb to violence that the blood of a fellow human being, staining the asphalt just steps from where she works, can leave so little impression on a 16-year-old girl?

True, most kids don’t wind up in jail. Don’t shoot their classmates. Don’t become pregnant at 12 because of something they saw at the local megaplex back when they still believed in the tooth fairy. But when parents allow a preschooler to memorize lines such as “Watchin’ these bimbos walkin’ like ho’s,” there’s something wrong. When parents care more about catching a popular new movie than about protecting their first-grader from graphic violence, we’ve lost our way. When a 16-year-old is so jaded that the new shipment of Prada handbags gets her heart pumping more than the news of a woman’s stabbing ever could, we’ve reached an all-time low.

Maybe I should have risked embarrassment and stood up for that little girl in the theater before she had to watch a man get shot in the head at point-blank range. Maybe every parent in that room should have said something or done something. But we didn’t.

After all, it’s not like we knew her personally or anything.

You Create The Climate In Your Home

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I stumbled across this quote the other day and it both intimidated me a little bit and also inspired me. It’s a great reminder of how much a parent’s mood and attitude have on the entire family. I think I’ll stick it on my bulletin board as a reminder.

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive
element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my
daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make
life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument
of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all
situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is
escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people
as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of

— Goethe

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.


When Life Feels Fragile

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

It has been a week filled with the kind of news that makes you realize that anything can happen to any of us, or to those we love, at any time.

°    This morning I read in the paper that the father of a boy my son, Matt, went to preschool with died yesterday in a tragic accident.

°   A 7th grade boy from Matt’s middle school is in the pediatric-intensive-care ward at the hospital after being hit by a car while riding his bike home from the beach.

°    A 6th-grade girl from our church fell at home, hit her head on the family’s piano and had to have neurosurgery.


Paintball? No Thanks

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Well, I stuck my foot in it this time. As if parenting doesn’t automatically present enough challenges on its own, I managed to create one this week.

On Sunday, we took Matthew and a friend to see an independent-league baseball game. Big fun. A beautiful afternoon. Hot dogs. Lots of silly games, like musical chairs, on the field between innings. Good family stuff.

We’ve been going to these baseball games for a couple of years now, and I started to wonder, "How do they pick the kids to participate in the silly games?" So I asked a staff person about it and before I knew it, Matt and his friend were signed up to play "Dizzy Bat" on the field between the 8th and 9th innings.


Parenting Teens Just Got (a Little Bit) Easier

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Our son is only starting sixth grade in the fall, but Randy and I already are getting a preview of the teen years that lie ahead. And we know we’ll have plenty of challenges and decisions to deal with.

Parenting a teen these days calls for a cool head — and solid information. The Parenting Teens Resource Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing news, resources and journal articles that are helpful for parents of teens. (Disclosure: I have contributed writing to this site. But I spend more time there as a parent than as a writer. There’s just so much helpful info available.)

Also, through the organization’s online Parent Forum, parents can talk to each other and ask questions of parenting experts and teens themselves.

Because, let’s face it, none of us has all the answers. Do you know what the latest “gateway” drug is? Is your teenager too old
for the pediatrician’s office? Could your student athlete be tempted to use steroids? In addition to information on drugs and alcohol abuse, the site covers gambling, internet/video game use, teen weight issues, sports and sports injuries, bullying, dating, single parenting, gender issues, teaching life skills and much more. Check it out.