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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Let It Go…

In Child Development, motherhood, Parenting on July 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Let goNathalie Bowman

Letting go of the Rope of Good Intention and letting love in can be a challenge, but it can be done, and it will be freeing for both the parent and the child! The following are four ways to begin letting go of the rope, and letting love in your family and your relationships with your children.

1. Ask

Simply Ask your child what his/her needs are. Spend some time with her and find out what she really desires. Sometimes we forget to do the most simple things like asking what our child needs. Use the words “What do you need?” and the answers may surprise you.

2. Watch for signs of stress and provide a space where the stress can be managed and released.

Stress shows up in as many different ways as there are children. If you are aware, you will recognize misbehaviors, depression, tantrums, shutting down, hyperactivity, excess sleeping or not sleeping, etc, as signs of stress. Instead of focusing on correcting the behavior at first, find out why they are acting that way. There could be some deep feelings of not belonging, hopelessness, misunderstanding, not having personal value, feeling boxed in, or other feelings of low self-worth that are creating the negative behavior. Let go of your Rope of Good Intention and help them feel more secure in your love and their belonging by focusing less on your desires for them and more on providing a place where they feel safe and loved. If children feel from their parents that they always have to go, go, go, perform a certain way, or be something they are not in order to be loved, it creates stress within, and the child will not feel good enough. Watch for signs of stress and provide a place that the child feels welcomed and loved. This could be done by simply spending more time with them, reading together, playing games, going to the park, for a bike ride, or taking them out for dinner and letting them talk it out with you. Have the intention that the time you spend with your child will open up love and acceptance for both of you as well as releasing stress.

3. Recognize and honor your child’s genius.

Every person on this planet is a genius. We see top level people in music, acting, athletics, business, technology, academics, etc, and recognize them as a genius. Wanting this level of success for our children may not be a bad thing unless we tighten that Rope of Good Intention and make our children go down the “path to success” that we choose for them. Any great coach or mentor knows that it’s best to ask questions and give guidance so their client can tap into their own genius. It doesn’t work to force and pull genius out of a person. This is the same for children. First, recognize that your child has all they need to be a confident, competent adult who will do good in their world. Then love them for the genius that they are. Listen closely to their interests, get into their world, understand what excites them, drives them, and see the greatness in them. Give them opportunities to read, learn, and experience more of what they love. With your intention to support them for who they are, not wanting to “fix” them, you are recognizing their genius. Extend a guiding hand, ask questions, be interested in them.

4. Twice a year, take an inventory of your child’s needs.

Make this a time you look forward to. Go to your favorite place away from home where you will not be interrupted.. Find a place where you can relax and tune in to your inner knowledge. Take a notebook and pen. Write down your child’s name at the top of the page (if you have more than one child, do this for each of them). Ask yourself what do they need? Ask yourself what you want for them. As parents, we are instinctively guided to what our children need, and we have the duty to help them get there. (Next week we will explore how to do this without the Rope of Good Intention). Write all these thoughts and ideas down. As you are writing, you will come up with solutions and ideas to help them along their path for the next 6 months. This is a great time to connect with your higher power and intuition. Organize your thoughts and make a plan for yourself as to how you will guide and help your child for the next 6 months. Then go home and do it!

Step into your powerful, loving role as a parent, and love your children for who they are right now. They will grow into adults who know how to move through challenges successfully, confident in who they are because of the effort you made through the years to love, guide, and direct them-without the pull of the rope. Begin with one step from this list, and you will notice a difference!

 

Do children need to be enrolled in pre-school/pre-K programs in order to be competitive and successful in school?

In Parenting, Schools on May 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm

preschoolersWhile enrollment of children in pre-schools and kindergarten is for the most part optional, “early learning” advocates and the daycare lobbyists continue in their efforts to make preschool mandatory. These folks insist that pre-K programs promote “school readiness” and if you want your child to have the greatest opportunity for success in school– you must start them early! But are they right? While research is on-going, to date there is not much evidence to support an “early-childhood education” position.

There is one program that is often cited as a success story – the Carolina Abecedarian Project – where “at-risk” children were enrolled at age 6 months in a costly all-day, five-day-a-week, 12 months a year – four and a half year program. The benefit to the participants is still the subject of research and the cost of such a program renders it entirely unfeasible.

Darcy Olsen, researcher at Goldwater Institute, has noted that the huge expansion of early childhood education since 1965 did not yield improved outcome for elementary school students. Back in 1965, just five percent of three-year-olds and 14 percent of four-year olds were enrolled in pre-K programs. Today, those figures are 39 percent and 66 percent respectively. Yet according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade scores in reading, science and math have stagnated since the early 1970s and in fact, scores have fallen (even as the nation tripled spending in education). Interestingly, American fourth-graders outperform their peers in countries that do have universal pre-K programs (Italy, France, and Germany).

The existing research on the benefits of early childhood education show that there is only a short-term positive effect for “at-risk” students and there is “fade out” by grade three. Yet there are adverse effects for “mainstream” children.

There is no evidence to warrant the expense or the potential fallout of removing children prematurely from home to be part of a pre-school/ pre-K program.

As Darcy Olsen cautions:

“At heart is the question of in whose hands the responsibility for young children should rest. On that question, plans to entrench the state further into early education cannot be squared with a free society that cherishes the primacy of the family over the state.”

Below is a list of studies related to pre-school and pre-K programs:

Pre-kindergarten students are expelled from their programs at rates more than three times as high as those for students attending kindergarten through twelfth-grade classes. Drawing into focus the question: “How early should children be started in school?”Yale University Office of Public Affairs, “Pre-K Students Expelled at More Than Three Times the Rate of K-12 Students,” Yale Medical News (May 2005): 1-2.

On average, the earlier children enter preschool, the slower their pace of social development, while cognitive skills are stronger when children are first enrolled between the ages of two and three. Moderate exposure to preschool helps youngsters develop their cognitive abilities in pre-reading and math. But extended absence from their parents (more than six hours a day) also appears to heighten behavioral problems, such as a lack of cooperation, sharing and engagement in classroom tasks, most notably among kids from more affluent families. Loeb, Susanna, Margaret Bridges, Daphna Bassok, Bruce Fuller and Russell W. Rumbergerd. “How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children’s social and cognitive development.” Economics of Education Review 26, 1 (February 2007): 52-66. http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/11812.html

During kindergarten, whatever advantages daycare or preschool children may enjoy in math and reading become statistically insignificant in tests with and without background controls. During the first grade, the daycare/ preschool children have significantly lower math scores. In both grades, these children scored significantly lower in the “approaches to learning” measure, which measured teacher perception of student attentiveness and persistence, a reversal of what was found in the cross-sectional test. Lisa N. Hickman, “Who Should Care for Our Children? The Effects of Home versus Center Care on Child Cognition and Social Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 27 (May 2006): 652-684.

Any positive effect from early-learning programs disappears by 3rd grade and you are left with aggression and other behavioral problems. Children in U.S. (lower grades) out do children in European Ed system which offers universal pre-K programs. Formal early education at best yields only short-term effects with at-risk students, effects of which “fade out” by grade three, and at worst yields adverse effects with mainstream children.  Darcy Olsen and Jennifer Martin, “Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers, and Policymakers,” Policy Report No. 201, February 8, 2005, Goldwater Institute, Phoenix, Arizona.

Daycare/ preschool children exhibit poorer social skills throughout kindergarten. Such children have worse self-control, have worse interpersonal skills, and externalize problems more than their peers under parental care. The only social measure (internalizing problem behaviors) where these children outperformed their parental-care peers in the first model is now insignificant. Lisa N. Hickman, “Who Should Care for Our Children? The Effects of Home versus Center Care on Child Cognition and Social Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 27 (May 2006): 652-684.

An HHS study 5,000 of three and four years olds enrolled in the “Head Start” program showed that in language skills, literacy, math skills and school performance there was no improvement. Head Start Impact Study, Final Report,U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. January 2010. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/reports/impact_study/hs_impact_study_final.pdf

Parenting: The Effect on Society

In Child Development, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting on November 14, 2013 at 12:24 am

Parenting teensAlexandria Christensen and Kendra Mayo

Parenting is an important part of how society functions. Parents rear the rising generation that will become the political leaders, the work force, and the consumers of tomorrow.

Parents raise children to become successful adults. Laurence Steinberg (2005) states, “Good parenting is parenting that fosters psychological adjustment–elements like honesty, empathy, self-reliance, kindness, cooperation, self-control, and cheerfulness” (p. 4). Parenting isn’t always easy though, in fact it can be rather difficult. Francine Deusch (2001) says, “Parenting is created through the accumulation of decisions and acts that make up parents’ everyday lives.” Mothers and fathers constantly act and make decisions that affect how their children interpret and see the society they live in. Actions of parents affect the future actions of children.

If parents fail in their parenting responsibilities, their children, as adults, have a higher risk of becoming a detriment to society. Patrick F. Fagan (1995) says, “Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.” Stable families create stable adults. Mothers and children with strong affectionate attachment create the best buffer against a life of crime; while fathers’ authority and involvement are also great buffers for their children (Fagan 1995). Both a mother and a father are vital in raising productive, lawful individuals.

father and son fishingFathers’ influence on children

Fathers are not only important in raising lawful adults, but they are important in creating successful ones. Children without fathers in the home often do not receive the financial support they need resulting with children, on average, not doing as well in school as they have a less educational achievement, an increase in the risk of them committing crimes and becoming involved in delinquent behavior, as well as early sexual activity (Dollahite, 2000, p. 67). If parents, particularly fathers, provide financial support and guidance to their children, those children won’t become, on average, drop-outs or delinquents which would be beneficial for the society the child-as-adult end up living in.

Mother and sonMothers’ influence on children

Mothers are important for raising successful children. Mary F. De Luccie (1995) says, Mothers are influential in helping their spouses maintain their parenting role as a father. As mentioned, fathers help children be good members of society; mothers are a part of encouraging that development. Grazyna Kochanska (1997) says, “Attachment researchers pointed out the associations between maternal responsiveness and child compliance, suggesting that the child’s secure attachment is a mediator of that link.” When mothers are more nurturing, children become more compliant or willing and yielding to parental guidance. Nurturing “refers to a number of parenting behaviors including attachment, warmth, support, recognizing the individuality of each child, and attending to children’s needs” (Dollahit, 2000, p. 70). Mothers help to shape the child and raise the child to become a competent adult.

Parenting’s influence on the parents

Parenting not only prepares children to become successful members of society, but helps parents be successful members and discover themselves. In a United Families International article “The Tragedy of ‘Bare Branches,’” they describe common characteristics of “bare branches,” men in China without wives or children:

  •  Belong to predominantly the lowest socioeconomic class
  •  More likely to be underemployed or unemployed
  •  Transient with few ties to the community
  •  Transient males that commit proportionately more violence than non-transient males
  •  Live and socialize with other bare branches, creating distinctive bachelor subcultures
  •  Commit more violence-often under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs
  •  Predisposed to risk taking  (Valerie Hudson, 2004 “Bare Branches”)

Men who are attached to wives and children would have a greater likelihood of contributing to society, rather than causing society to suffer. W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt (2011) states, “57 percent of married mothers and 45 percent of married fathers strongly agree that their life has an ‘important purpose,’ compared to 40 percent of childless wives and 35 percent of childless husbands.” Parenting gives greater purpose and meaning to couples. Researcher Ellen Galinsky is quoted as saying:

Taking care of a small, dependent, growing person is transforming, because . . . it exposes our vulnerabilities as well as our nobility. We lose our sense of self, only to find it and have it change again and again. . . . We figure out how we want to interpret the wider world, and we learn to interact with all those who affect our children. . . . Often our fantasies are laid bare, our dreams are in a constant tug of war with realities. And perhaps we grow. In the end, we have learned more about ourselves, about the cycles of life, and humanity itself (Dollahit, 2000, p. 73).

Married parents may find themselves with past dreams unrealized, but with a changing understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Population DeclineAffect of the lack of children on society

Without children, society struggles. As D. Feder (2012) says, “What is often overlooked is that the children of today are the workers, producers, consumers, innovators, care-givers and taxpayers of tomorrow – those whose payments keep pension plans solvent, who care for patients in the nursing homes, keep the streets safe, safeguard the nation, operate factories and farms and keep lights on all over the world.” If parents don’t live up to their social responsibilities in raising their children than what kind of individuals are caring for the patients in nursing homes and keeping the streets safe?

If couples choose not to even have children than who will fulfill those future jobs? “We live in what can only be called an anti-child culture. Children are seen as a burden, rather than a joy and a blessing. We are told that children are an obstacle to life’s primary goals – pleasure and self-fulfillment” (Feder, 2012). If children aren’t born and cared for by both a mother and father, how will the nation suffer? Feder (2012) says, “Unless the catastrophic trend of declining fertility is halted and reversed, the mighty industrial engine we’ve built over the past two centuries will grind to a halt and slowly rust.” There would be less innovation with less people. There would be fewer political leaders with less individuals. The economy would suffer.

Conclusion

Mothers and fathers are vital to a healthy society. Children without either a mother or a father struggle to become psychological adjusted adults that contribute to the further development of society. Couples without children might be directing their attention to the current society in hopes of making a lasting effect, but children are a sure and effective way of serving the future society and making a difference. Children become the adults that guide and support the society of tomorrow. Let’s not forget them.

Alexandria ChristensenAlexandria Christensen is a student at Brigham Young University–Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies with a minor in English. She is originally from Modesto, CA, but she and her husband are now living in Idaho. 

Kendra Mayo

Kendra Mayo is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in Child Development.  She is originally from Orlando, FL.

Reference

De Luccie, M. F. (1995). Mothers as gatekeepers: A model of maternal mediators of father involvement. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 156(1), 115.

Deutsch, F. M. (2001). Equally shared parenting. Current directions in psychological science, 10(1). Pp. 25-28. doi:http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182685

Dollahite, D. C. (2000). Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family. Salt Lake City, UT: Publishers Printing.

Fagan, P. F. (1995, Mar 17). The real root causes of violent crime: The breakdown of marriage, family, and community. The Heritage Foundation. doi:http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1995/03/bg1026nbsp-the-real-root-causes-of-violent-crime

Feder, D. (2012). The Cultural Roots of Demographic Winter. Retrieved from WPF Dialogue of Civilizations website: http://wpfdc.org/society/1031-the-cultural-roots-of-demographic-winter

Kochanska, G. (1997). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: Implications for early socializataion. Child Development, 68(1), 94. doi: http://web.ebscohost.com.byui.idm.oclc.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=38d60606-583f-43c8-8284-1ecb5d073528%40sessionmgr4&vid=2&hid=21

The tragedy of “bare branches.” United Families International. (2010, Jan 26). doi:http://unitedfamilies.org/default.asp?contentID=374

Steinberg, L. (2004). The ten basic principles of good parenting. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks.

Wilcox, W. B. and Marquardt, E. When baby makes three: How parenthood makes life meaningful and how marriage makes parenthood bearable. The state of our unions: Marriage in America 2011. Charlottesville, VA: The National Marriage Project. pp. 1-59. doi:http://nationalmarriageproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Union_2011.pdf

Lose the Mullet; Get Married!

In Cohabitation, Families, Parenting on October 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

Blair McMillanAnn Bailey

Blair McMillan of Guelph, Canada, has grown a mullet in a bid to return to the year 1986 – the year he was born.  He and his girlfriend, Morgan, have also put away their tablets, smart phones,  computers, DVD players, X-box, coffee machine – anything technology oriented that didn’t exist before 1986 is gone from their home and their lives.  They even use a rotary phone.

Why this intense exercise in “retro?”  McMillan states that he had “a vague sense that gadgets were cheating my children of childhood.”  Their two children, ages 5 and 2, were so engrossed in technology that they preferred playing with gadgets over being outside or spending time with their parents.  That’s when Blair McMillan pulled the plug on technology– literally -and embarked on a year-long project “to get closer and reunite my family.”

Along with dressing the 1986 part, McMillan does banking in person, doesn’t use a GPS, and anyone visiting their home is asked to deposit their “gadgets” in a box upon entry.  Blair and Morgan feel like they are giving their children a great gift – a more simple life and a life focused more on what really matters.  One might look at their “sacrifice” and conclude they are outstanding parents who are willing to go to great lengths to help their children be successful and happy.

It’s an interesting story, but I struggled as I wrote those first paragraphs. I kept wanting to refer to the couple as the “McMillans.”  But that would be inaccurate; the parents of these two well-cared-for boys are not married to one another.  They’re cohabiting – living together.  Here’s the thought that keeps running through my head:  “Why are you working so hard to do right by your children and yet ignoring one of the most crucial things that you could do for them?  Why aren’t you married?!”

“Hey, what’s the big deal,” you might say.  “Clearly they are dedicated to their children and to each other.”

Here are just a few reasons why it’s a big deal: 

  1. When childbirth occurs to cohabiting parents, even if the union remains “stable” for the next five years, the effects on early childhood health are just as deleterious as parental separation or divorce and just as deleterious as if the couple had dissolved their illicit union.

  2. “…cohabitors have rates of separation nearly five times as high as married couples.”

  3. Rates for serious abuse of children are lowest in the intact family, six times higher in stepfamilies, 14 times higher in the always-single-mother family, 20 times higher in cohabiting biological parent families, and 33 times higher when the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend.

  4. Children who live in cohabiting households are less inclined to care about school and homework performance, and their academic performance is poorer than that of children living with their married biological parents.

  5. Regardless of economic and parental resources, the outcomes of adolescent  in cohabiting families (two-biological parent and stepfamily) are worse, on average, than those experienced by adolescents in two-biological-parent married families.

  6. There is a wage premium that accrues to men who marry vs. those who never marry and just cohabit. The wage premium was more than 21 percent for married men, but just 6.5 percent for cohabiting men – relative to never-married and non-cohabiting men.  In this complicated analysis, the researcher controlled for selection effects and differential wage growth.

  7. After five to seven years, 39 percent of all cohabiting couples have broken their relationship, 40 percent have married (although the marriage might not have lasted), and only 21 percent are still cohabiting.

Blair McMillan obviously cares about his “partner” and his children, but rather than working so hard to return to 1986, why not give them something that is going to really have a long-term impact on their lives:

Get married and stay married.

*For more information on cohabitation, go here.

References:

  1. Kammi K. Schmeer, “The Child Health Disadvantage of Parental Cohabitation,” Journal of Marriage and Family 73 [February 2011]: 181–93.
  2. Georgina Binstock and Arland Thornton, “Separations, Reconciliations, and Living Apart in Cohabiting and Marital Unions,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (2003):  432-443.
  3. Patrick Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, “Marriage: The Safest place for Women and Children,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder Report no. 1535, 10 April, 2002. p. 3, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1535.cfm.
  4. Susan L. Brown, “Child Well-being in Cohabiting Families,” in Alan Booth and Ann C. Crouter, eds., Just Living Together: Implications of Cohabitation on Families, Children, and Social Policy (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002), 173-187.  Elizabeth Thomson et al., “Family Structure and Child Well-Being:  Economic Resources vs. Parental Behaviors,” Social Forces 73 (1994): 221-242.
  5. Susan L. Brown, “Family Structure and Child Well-Being:  The Significance of Parental Cohabitation,” Journal of Marriage and Family 66 (2004):  351-367.
  6. Arif Mamun, “Cohabitation Premium in Men’s Earnings:  Testing the Joint Human Capital Hypothesis” Journal of Family and Economic Perspectives (2011) Forthcoming.
  7. Lynne N. Casper and Suzanne M. Bianchi, Continuity and Change in the American Family (Thousand Oaks,: Sage Publications, 2002).

“Parents, You Cannot Afford to be Tired”

In father, motherhood, Parenting on June 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

Mother and daughterKristi Kane

Several years ago, I heard a wise man proclaim to an audience of parents, “Parents, you cannot afford to be tired.” His statement surprised me. I asked myself, “What’s he talking about!?  As a parent, I am almost always tired.”   His statement is true though.  Parents never do or should “clock out.” Once they bring a child into their home, they are that child’s parent, 24/7. They are responsible for that child and his/her welfare until the day they die.

As a girl, I always believed that my Mom and Dad would be my parents until I was 18, and then I wouldn’t need them anymore.  Ironically, I needed them not as much, but more, once I turned 18.  Life became more and more challenging and I would often turn to my parents to vent fear or frustration and to seek out their assurance and advice.  I cultivated a deep and trusting relationship with my parents as a young girl because my parents did everything in their power to cultivate a close and trusting relationship with me.

As a young girl, my Mom willingly let me make the worst kind of messes in her kitchen because I wanted to learn to cook. She recognized that it was important for me to learn how to cook, so she would give me tips on cooking and even help me clean up the kitchen once my “experiments” were over. My mother also taught me the importance of keeping things clean and taught me how to clean.  She even coined the phrase, “A clean home is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.” (To this day, I believe she is 100% correct about that.)

My mother also had what she called “The Star Chart” for my brother and me. If we cleaned our room, or did a special favor (like brushing mom’s hair), or practicing piano for the day, we got a star on our chart. Twenty stars equaled a new game or toy or $10. You wouldn’t believe how many times my brother and I chose a game over the $10.  Monopoly was our favorite. That’s how we spent almost all of our free time – playing games.

Family, HikingMy Dad taught me the importance of family time. Even though he worked long hours, he would always make time for our family. We would go up to the mountains, go fishing, go on a picnic, go to our local theater to see a play, or we would simply take a walk or take a bike ride. When I was 12, when the cattiness of girls really starts coming out, my Mom was there to listen to me cry. My Dad would take me on Daddy/Daughter dates. As the years grew, my relationship with them only strengthened. They were loving, devoted examples to me as a child, and now they are loving and devoted examples to me as an adult.

Now I’m the Parent

With my own children I have realized the importance of quality time that often comes only with large amounts of quantity time. When my children were little, they often accompanied me everywhere I went (even the bathroom), the way little ducklings follow the Mother duck. I would listen to hours of their sweet little prattling as I built puzzles or forts with them. I would listen to their slow, steady rhythmic breathing as they fell asleep during story time, and caress their precious fingers and trace the outline of their faces as I kissed them good night just one more time.

Now that my children are older, our relationship has changed. They stopped wanting to follow me into the bathroom years ago, they don’t want me to read children’s books to them anymore, but they crave the affection and attention that my husband and I give them in different ways. They like to talk to us, and I’m glad they do. That’s the only way we know whether they are happy or sad, and the only way we know what’s going on in their lives. We attend their extracurricular activities, and spend one on one time with them. My hope is that once they hit 18, they’ll realize they still need us.

Be at the “crossroads” in the lives of  your children.   Be there when they are making important decisions in their lives or even not so important decisions.   I love being home when my children walk in the door from school. The look on their faces tells me everything I need to know about their day. I love dinner time, when we catch up on the events of the day. Sometimes not all of us are together at dinner, but we are always together at breakfast, and those are cherished memories that I’m glad we’re still making.

Here is a great quote on “Motherhood.”   But as you read it, think “Fathers,” because it certainly applies to them as well!

 “Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.” – David O. McKay

 

 

The TV Trap

In Child Development, Parenting on June 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

TV, too muchNicole Huckbody & Whitney Trudo

Statistics show that 99 percent of American households have at least one television set in their home, and 66 percent of those homes have three or more television sets.  Statistics go on to show that when four to six year-old children were asked whether they preferred to spend time with a family member or watching TV, over half of the children chose watching TV.

TV Now and Then…

Growing up, free time was considered family time and was spent working side-by-side, playing games, and enjoying talking with one another about the events of everyday life.  Through these interactions and the quality time that was spent together, we were able to build friendships and close bonds with our family members that are still strong to this day.

In contrast, too many children today are spending more time with the television than with those they live with. Oftentimes, the amount of time spent in front of the television is not always determined by the child.   A parent utilizing the TV as a babysitter is all too common.  A TV can be a useful tool, but it shouldn’t take the place of an engaged parent.   When children are spending all this time in front of the television instead of interacting with their parents, they aren’t learning important life lessons and strong family relationships are certainly being sacrificed.

TV and Conflict

Television not only takes away from building relationships, but it also hinders and causes conflict within existing relationships. For example, multiple people may want to use the television at the same time resulting in arguments over what show to watch and the duration of viewing time. Also, the noise levels created by the television can prevent important conversations from taking place, take away from personal quiet, reflection time, and cause distractions from daily activities such as chores and homework[i].

TV and Lack of Communication

Poor communication within the family can lead to “…excessive family conflict, ineffective problem solving…and weak emotional bonds.”

Sitting down as a family to watch television can “bring you together,” but, individually, each family member’s attention is focused away from the family as a group and is centered instead on the television screen. In general, talking is taboo while watching television. If one were to pose a question or make a statement during a show, those around would instantly hush the individual and insist that he or she wait for a commercial break or the end of the movie to speak.

Communication is a vital component of developing and maintaining relationships between family members. When family members are discouraged from speaking at any time, feelings of rejection can result, and future conversations may never take place because of a fear of others not caring to listen or show interest in what someone has to say.

Studies show that family interactions and relations, daily chores, and other social exchanges or events are the most common activities that suffer as a result of excessive media use[ii].

Building Communication in a Family

Researchers have found a strong connection between communication patterns and relationship satisfaction within a family.  Communication within a family can build bonds of trust, unite family members on common goals, and build self-efficacy.  Family members are more likely to forgive one another and show respect to each other when there is open communication patterns within a family.

The following are ways a family can work on building communication:

  • Communicate often: Make and set aside time to spend with your family. Talk over what each family member did during his or her day. Time spent in front of the TV could be swapped for time together around the dinner table.  Don’t waste that time spent traveling in a car or tucking your child into bed; use it to have meaningful conversation.
  • Communicate clearly and directly: It’s crucial to speak clearly in order to avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings. This is especially important when working to resolve conflict.  Using “…indirect and vague communication will not only fail to resolve problems, but will also contribute to a lack of…emotional bonding between family members.”
  • Listen: Communication is a two-way street. When we talk with family members, it is important to listen and seek to understand what the other person is trying to tell us. Listening also shows respect for the other person and makes him or her feel validated and important.
  • Remember who you’re talking with: Not all people communicate in the same way. Children talk and understand differently than teens and adults.  Adjust the way we talk to fit the skills of the person we are talking with.

Make it a priority to find ways to have meaningful conversation and truly communicate with your loved ones. It has to be a priority or it probably won’t happen.

Conclusion

On average, Americans watch more than 4 hours of TV every day. According to that statistic, if one were to look at the life of a 65-year-old, he would have spent around nine years of his life up to that point in front of the TV! Today we live in a society that is full of distractions, don’t add more by allowing the TV to consume large blocks of your time. Television viewing can create conflict, and takes away quality time that could be spent with loved ones.

Urie Bronfenbrenner, a family scientist, once stated, “The family is the most powerful, the most humane, and by far the most economical system known for building competence and character.” As families, let us strive to work together to build these kind of relationships with each other through positive communication and quality time spend together. We need to turn off the TV and cherish the moments we have with those that are around us.


[i] Rosenblatt, P. C., & Cunningham, M. R. (1976). Television watching and family tensions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 38(1), 105-111.

 

[ii] Chory, R. M., & Banfield, S. (2009). Media dependence and relational maintenance in interpersonal relationships. Communication Reports, 22(1), 41-53.

Whitney Trudo and Nicole HuckbodyWhitney Trudo and Trudy Huckbody are both Child Development majors at Brigham Young University Idaho.

 

Do Your Children Belong to the Community?

In Education, Parenting on April 10, 2013 at 9:42 pm

CommunityDiane Robertson

Babies are born needing to belong. Children born to a mother or father who do not want them, neglect them, abuse them, or do not attach to them, often suffer from attachment disorder causing problems throughout their lives. Given this fact, it shouldn’t be surprising that some people feel alarmed when a MSNBC news anchor, Melissa Harris-Perry declared:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children; your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.

So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.

MSNBC, one of the largest corporations in America, has clearly gone along with the idea. The wording is deceitful enough for a lot of people to believe the idea refers solely to education. Even if the reference is just about educational decisions being made solely by the community/government, I would think teachers would be more alarmed rather than on board with the idea. The most frequent complaint heard from educators is that parents aren’t involved enough in their children’s education. Do they really want the community/government to be the sole decision makers in education? Most teachers would tell you that parents matter. They matter a lot. The better students are the ones that have the most support from their parents.

Can the “community” really make ideal individual decisions for children better than the parents can?

Imagine a society in which parents believed their children and the responsibility of raising their children did not belong to them. You should be imagining a community full of individuals with attachment disorder. Children belong to their parents and their families. Children have an innate need to belong to their parents. When attachment and sense of belonging is broken, the children cannot function appropriately in society.

MSNBC should consider the societal affects before promoting an idea that would detach parents from children and children from parents. One-size-fits-all decisions from community/government are not better for the education of children than individual caring decisions made by people who love their children. To educators and other government employees, children are primarily a paycheck. To parents and family children are integral part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It isn’t Because Guys Aren’t Smart

In Child Development, Education, motherhood, Parenting on August 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Ann Bailey

As new college coeds get ready to start school, chances are they’re going to notice that there are fewer men in their classes.  In fact, the discrepancy stands at about 57 percent women to 43 percent men.   Women began to exceed men in college enrollment in the early 1980s and that shows no signs of changing.  So what’s the deal?  Guys not smart enough to get in and then handle the rigor of college?

Researchers are telling us that the discrepancy may not be about lack of intellectual prowess or lack of academic ability, but about the kind of home guys grew up in.  Growing up in a home headed by an unwed mother or divorced mother places boys at a significant disadvantage in academic pursuits and that disadvantage manifests itself at the earliest stages of development.

Economists from the University of Chicago and the National University of Singapore focused their research on “non-cognitive deficiencies” and found a statistically significant relationship between school suspension and the likelihood of graduating from high school, attending college and going on to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Seems that “non-cognitive deficiencies” associated with school suspension are significantly more common among boys than among girls.  Boys were more likely to engage in disruptive and acting-out behaviors such as aggression and delinquency.   Not particularly surprising.

But here’s where the family breakdown component makes itself known.

Family structure is an important correlate of boys’ behavior deficit. Boys that are raised outside of a traditional family (with two biological parents present) fare especially poorly. For example, the gender gap in externalizing problems when the children are in fifth grade is nearly twice as large for children raised by single mothers compared to children raised in traditional families. By eighth grade, the gender gap in school suspension is close to 25 percentage points among children raised by single mothers, while only 10 percentage points among children in intact families. Boys raised by teenage mothers also appear to be much more likely to act out.

Seems boys are much more severely impacted than girls.  “The most robust difference across family structures appears to be with respect to the emotional distance: single mothers appear especially distant from their sons,” states the study.  The researchers acknowledge that married and unmarried mothers alike are closer to daughters than their sons; but they report that the difference between the mother-son emotional gap and mother-daughter emotional gap is decidedly smaller in intact families than it is in broken families.

You combine a young man’s penchant for acting out with the disadvantage that comes into his life when his mother doesn’t marry or is divorced from his father and you have a pretty good recipe for the decline of academic achievement among young men.  The sex ratio imbalance in college isn’t going away anytime soon unless we as a society become concerned about the problem, start focusing on young men and their needs while recognizing that promoting a culture that dismantles the intact family is a bad idea.  Part of me thinks that the radical feminists are going to work really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

(Marianne Bertrand and Jessica Pan, “The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior,National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 17541, October 2011.)

 

 

 

Living Up to the Name of Father

In father, Parenting on June 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Melissa Anderson

If any of you read my introduction piece put out several months ago, you’ll already know a bit of my background.  My father is serving two life sentences for child abuse, sexual abuse and torture.  The crimes he committed were committed on his own children during the course of my childhood.  I won’t go into specifics, but suffice it to say that it takes a whole lot for a man to be convicted of Torture.  I don’t mean to elicit any degree of pity from my readers because there is so much strength and wisdom learned from being raised in a furnace of affliction.  The strongest steel is forged in the hottest flames.  So here I am today, far from broken, but with deeply held convictions and perspectives learned in dire times.

I used to hate Father’s Day.  It was the one day of the year that reminded me that everyone else had a father and I was sorely lacking one.  I went to church and heard stories of magnificent role models who loved and cared for and wanted their daughters.  I felt two things at the same time.  Jealousy that my own father didn’t care for me and this strange tinge of hope in my child heart that someday he would be the man I knew was secreted deep inside of him.

Despite all contrary evidence I knew that my father was a good man.  I knew it.  In fact, one day I found a dead bird on the playground.  I was maybe seven years old. I felt so much pity on the bird, knowing it could never fly again.  I picked it up and took the bird to my father.  I asked my father to pray for the bird.  Pray for the bird and bring it back to life, like Lazarus.  I knew he could.  I knew that if he just asked, the bird would awaken and fly away.  Instead he thrust the bird from my hand, commanding that I wash.  And such was my relationship with my father.  I would come to him and ask the impossible, that he bring himself back to life, that he make himself a good man.  Not even the best man, but a good one.  A man who didn’t hit or punch or humiliate.  A man who didn’t hurt us.  Instead, he thrust it to the dirt.

And still, deep in my child heart, I know that the bird can still fly away.  That somewhere in him is a good man. I have not lost faith in the man my father can be.  Isn’t it amazing the power that a father has?

Luckily, what I was not given by birth, I was given by life.  What my own father could not do, others have done.  I have a very special adopted dad.  He took me under wing and applauded, encouraged and taught me.  He took my children as his own grandchildren, watching their successes and helping to direct them.

Then there’s my husband.  The best of men, taking my little daughters by the hand and treating them with such kindness I know they’ll grow up expecting kindness from a man and accepting nothing less; taking my sons and teaching them to show respect and fidelity so that I’ll never have to worry that my sons grow to love their wives.  My littlest son pointed to my husband’s wedding band and asked what it meant. My husband explained that it means “papa loves mama.” Well that wasn’t enough for my little boy because, of course, he loves mama too.  So he picked up a string and wrapped it around his pinkie announcing proudly that it means “Johnny loves mama.”  And with that piece of string wrapped around his pinkie finger he strutted like a little peacock, proud that he wore his love of his mama around his finger like his daddy.  What worry do I have that this little boy won’t grow up to cherish his very own wedding ring, shared by his very own wife?  And all on account of the example of a good father.

Fathers, you have so much potential to cause great goodness, or great destruction.  Your daughters look to you to see how a woman should be treated. Your sons look to your example for how to raise a family.  You hold the keys of generations.

It seems to me that men in our society are looked down upon. Men are pigs, et al. To be a man means you hate women and think of nothing but sex on a regular basis.  How is it that we won’t accept generalities about women, but we applaud generalities made about men?  I have known multitudes of men in my life and the vast majority are simply good.  Good men.  Men who would never hurt anyone.  Men who give their life’s sweat to feed their children. I have known so many good, upstanding men that I feel personally offended when I hear men being vastly degraded, generalized as stupid, one track minded animals.  That does not describe the men I know.  That does not describe the man willing to take in an adopted daughter and love her like his own.  That does not describe the man holding his wife’s head in his hands while she cries about infertility and miscarriage.  It does not describe the strength, compassion, and stubborn devotion that I have seen in so many men.

I want to say Happy Father’s Day to those men in my listening who love their wives and their children. Happy Father’s Day to the men who make it easier for their wives to bear children.  Happy Father’s Day to the dads who make the walls of the home safe.  Happy Father’s Day to the men who live up to the name of Father.

Melissa Anderson is a lawyer in San Antonio, Texas. She is the mother of seven crazily adorable children and an author of children’s books. In her spare time, Melissa volunteers extensively with Court Appointed Special Advocates educating the community on issues related to child abuse and neglect. 

For more information on Melissa’s story:

From brutal childhood to head of the class

Overcoming Obstacles

“Gulp”

In Danny Quinney, Families, Parenting on June 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Danny Quinny

New York must be a wonderful place to live.  Can you imagine a city with 100% employment, where crime is nonexistent, where every road is beautifully paved, and people just get along?  It MUST be nice.  Why else would the three-term Mayor decide to put soda on his target list?

Oh you read correctly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on large servings of soda and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas and movie theaters.  He proposes limiting drinks to16 ounces.  16 OUNCES!!!  What kind of wuss only drinks 16 ounces?  Seriously, I could down that in one slurp.

Well done, Mayor Bloomberg, well done (clap, clap, clap).  You deserve a standing ovation from my tallest finger.

Why is he proposing something so silly?  He wants to save us all from obesity.

This guy is proof positive you can have all the money in the world and still not be able to buy any class (or a clue).  Bloomberg is the 11th richest person in the US, but he forgot one little thing about the soda drinking ban.  It is NONE OF HIS BUSINESS.  Plus this is the same man who “recently issued a proclamation declaring Friday doughnut day in New York.”  Seriously!!!!

On the one hand I can see his point of view. Take me for instance.  I hate seeing a fat person when I’m working out (which is why I never go to gyms with mirrors).  And I TOTALLY agree that it is tragic when your country has an obesity epidemic and a skinny jean fad.  You see a larger person in skinny jeans and you can almost hear the seams of their pants screaming in pain.  I Get IT.

But how does it make any sense to have parts of the country legalizing weed, with others outlawing soda?  I’ll tell you, I’m starting to believe 99% of people in this world are stupid (luckily I’m in the other 2%).

Not to beat a dead horse here (although it does make a really interesting “thud” sound), won’t people just find other ways of being obese if that is what they choose to do?  Is soda the real problem, or is our lifestyle the problem?  How about sitting in front of a computer all day blogging, or playing “Minecraft?”  Bloomberg isn’t fighting obesity, he is advocating taking away a persons personal right to choose.  That is kind of what government does.  Ayn Rand once said, “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”  And slowly your freedom is stripped away.

According to MSNBC in 2012 there were 40,000 new state laws passed.  40,000!!! And that is only at the state level.

I found this quote by Alexis de Tocqueville from Democracy in America this morning. It literally jumped off my screen and smacked me in the face.

Society will develop a new kind of servitude which covers the surface of society with a network of complicated rules, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate. It does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” 
― Alexis de Tocqueville

So we are all on the same page, I have no problem with educating people about healthy food choices.  List the calories.  But after that “Let Them Eat Cake” and wash it down with whatever size beverages our freedom loving gullets want to splurge on!!

I remember that a seat belt law was passed when I was in high school.  They wouldn’t pull you over for not wearing one, but if you were pulled over for something else you would get nabbed for it too.  I believe it was called a “secondary offence”.  This morning, coming into work, I saw a “Click it or Ticket” billboard AND heard a commercial on the radio about it.  My question is, “Who is paying for the billboards and commercials?”  Are these our tax dollars at work?  As a mature adult (HA HA HA HA), I’m sorry.  I almost got that out without laughing. As an adult, I chose to wear my seat belt.  It makes complete sense to me.  But if I choose not to it does not affect one other driver at all. Not one little bit.  If I wrap my car around a pole and go flying out the window, who is the idiot?  I AM.

It is called “reaping what you sow.”

This may sound silly, but (you Darwin believers will love this), I almost think we should remove the warning labels from everything at let the herd thin itself.

We, supposedly, live in a country where we can choose to take care of ourselves.  It’s called FREEDOM.  Choose to live wisely, or don’t.  If you choose not to, you suffer the consequences.  Why does the government want to take away our basic right to care for ourselves and families the way that works for us?  What’s next, limiting the number of children we can have?

The soda is just a symbol.  You can have my “Super Big Gulp” when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!!!

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