Should we give allowance to kids?

I am writing not to offer advice this time but more in a seeking capacity, so anyone who has insight and can offer some feedback on allowance giving, please do.
I have teenagers, and I struggle with whether to give the allowance or not.
I have always been against:

  1. Paying for grades, I think it’s my kid’s responsibility to do their work and bring in good grades, and I don’t think they should be paid for this, am I wrong?
  2. Paying for chores, I think they need to contribute to the home as members of our community, and again don’t feel I should need to pay for doing what they need to do.
  3. So with me being against these things, how do I encourage and develop money management skills if they are not working? What are my options here?
    I have thought about giving them a weekly allowance as a matter of course, then deducting as behavior and grades fluctuate. Is this a good strategy? What do you guys do?

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Bad marriages and the kids

I have heard many people say regardless of how bad marriages are couples should stay in it for the kids as they need and deserve to be in a two parents household. Frankly, I disagree. being in a miserable household where the two parents are fighting all the time or are simply not affectionate doesn’t model what marriages is for the kids, let alone what a good marriage should look like, and it’s important for kids to see this.
If for whatever reason the marriage no longer works and both people are miserable, in my opinion it’s best for the children to have two happy, sane and loving parents living apart than two bad behaving adults living together. Again by separating, we are modeling how conflicts can be resolved in a mutually agreed up manner.
My marriage disintegrated and was dysfunctional for years, when I finally ended it, one of my children asked, “what took you so long.”
I was surprised that this question was asked. Children are observant, they are living the marriage just as we are, and if we are miserable, chances are they are too.
Adults need to realize when a marriage is over, accept that it is over, separate and be mature adults about the process. A marriage is a contract and partnership between two people, and just as some contracts and partnerships should be dissolved so should some marriages.
Don’t get me wrong, parents should do all they can to rehabilitate their marriages, however when all attempts have failed, it can mean it’s time to pull the plug, and that can be best for all including the children.

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It’s ok for a child to be disappointed

True story…..a friend of mine came over with her kids to my house for a play date. One of her kids had pink eye, but she did not want to disappoint her, so she took her over anyway, risking passing the bacteria on to my kids.
As if that was not bad enough, they wanted to go to the swimming pool, and she intended to have child hide her condition from the lifeguard and others by keeping her goggles, on. Ok, that’s where I drew the line! I had to explain that it was ok for the child to be disappointed…and she was! she cried :-(.

I explained to the mom and child how selfish it would be to pass the infection on to an entire community to satisfy one person. They now understand that they were being as selfish as the person who might have knowingly passed the sickness by coming to school. After our conversation, I think the child was more understanding than the mother. The mother then asked if they can now go to the swimming pool, but go to the movies instead just so that the child would not be disappointed. My response was that it’s ok, if that’s what all the kids wanted to do.

I really want to emphasize that it’s ok for your kids to be disappointed at times, we can’t shield them from all natural consequences and rob them of the growth and learning experiences that they will need to deal with real life.

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Working mom and the challenging teenager

What do you do if you are a working mom raising a challenging teenager who is heavily influenced by his peers, the culture and ignore many of your values? I have one of those, and boy is he a lot of work! He has been keeping me busy and away from my blog 🙂
Here are some of the steps I take. They might be controversial to some new age parents, but might appeal to others, read on.

What are some challenges?

  1. Monitoring his activities. Lately my teenager had gotten involved in what’s called the sneaker game, he used his money to buy “cool” sneakers, wore them for bragging rights, then tried to put them back on the market. This was a shocker as it’s a dangerous activity, plus it’s totally against my value system.
    On the buying side, I refuse to accept that a teenager should spend $200 for a pair of sneakers, I don’t care if the money was saved from grandma, birthdays, or earned. On the selling side, I think the kids who buys these sneakers for status are being exploited, and I won’t allow my kid to be a part of that even if he makes a profit. Who knows where this activity could have lead, and what dangerous people he could have gotten involved with if I had not been vigilant.
  2. Monitoring his text. Some of you might disagree with me here, but it’s my personal opinion that until they start paying for the phone, and the bill, or reach 18yrs of age, I reserve the right to monitor what is sent or received. We have had many fruitful and valuable conversations around some the texts that are exchanged. Some of these texts were hints that lead me to the ongoing shoe buying/selling activity.
  3. Monitoring his friends. I try to meet all my teenager’s friends and their parents. These are not always folks who would normally be in my social circle, but I have to make the effort if I want to know what his environmental influences are outside the home.
  4. Having meaningful conversations. I don’t like monosyllabic answers, and I don’t allow him to get away with just “ok”, “hmhm” or “good”, I always like to probe for more. I can tell when he’s have a bad day and just don’t want to talk right then, in those cases, I will let him have his own space, but since every day can’t be bad, I do expect to have conversations, and we do. When riding in the car, just the two of us I don’t accept the headphones on, I actually consider that to be quite rude. I ask for them to be off and encourage conversation, you’d be surprised how soon the annoyance goes away and we connect with each other.
  5. Monitoring the grades. Have you heard, “mom everyone failed, so a C is actually good.” Well, no it’s not! I am very involved in my kids’ school, but not in school work, I expect my children to be self motivated and driven so I step in only as needed, so this makes the grades monitoring a bit hard, as on one hand I am trying to encourage independence, but on the other, I don’t want the grades to slip, so I do jump in and offer help or suggestions if I think it’s needed. I have heard, “mom I have this under control.” In that case, I just move on and give an expected date to see improvement, if there is none, we move on to consequences.

These are only some of my challenges, I will continue soon….reply if you’d like and share your challenges.

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Sick Kid

Do you have a kid who is more needy than the others? It feels like that one takes more out of you? sicker, whinier, and in general harder to manage.

I have one of those, and one of the hardest thing to determine; is he truly sick and can’t go to school, or is he just faking it?
I have a general philosophy, if you have no fever, and does not show visible signs of dying, then you must go to school. This guy has always find ways to get around that rule 🙂 He can make himself show visible signs of dying. I will allow him to sit out school, and I am told as soon as I leave home to head out to work, he’s fine, up and watching television. Of course, when I call home, he’s groaning and whining.

I will have him for another 4 years before he’s gone off to college, until then, we will keep playing the game of sick or no no sick.

 
How about yours?

 

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Are You A Breastfeeding Mom Enough?

Are you mom enough?  What makes you mom enough, is it how long you breastfeed, is it how much time you spend doing for your kids instead of teaching them to do for themselves?

We women have been called many names, helicopter moms, soccer moms, and hockey moms.    It seems as though we are always been defined in the media by what and how much we do for the kids and their activities.  All these names are annoying, but none of these names have annoyed me as much as the Newsweek cover I saw today with the question, “Are you mom enough.”  Are they now trying to define us by how long we breastfeed our kids?

Today, when I saw the Time magazine cover of a woman breastfeeding an older child,  I was quite appalled.  I was not appalled because of the breastfeeding act itself, I just wondered why a mother would subject her son to such public scrutiny for her own financial gain.  I have no doubt in my mind that this is what it’s all about, as I have learned that her blog site got so much hits the server that hosted her site went down.   Let me give some famous examples of two kids who did nothing themselves and yet made the news and are still followed around today:

1. Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean.  She was a baby when he died, but even today, she is known by all and followed by the tabloids

2. The baby on the cover of “Nevermind” album.  I think there was a write up on him last year when he turned 20 years old.  He did nothing to merit such attention except being born.  He is forever labeled the Nirvana baby.

Can you imagine what that boy will be called, the “breastfeeding baby”?  Will we be following stories of the breastfeeding baby as he turn 20?  Were his mom, Time magazine and the photographer oblivious to the possible impacts in his future, and totally ignore this for financial gain?  as I have stated earlier, I think so.

 

Breastfeeding is certainly good for babies, not only do they get the necessary antibodies to protect them in the early stages of development, it provides a bonding experience for both mother and child.  How long show we breastfeed?  It is my opinion that this is a personal decision.  The mother or family decides based on family circumstances, such as the mother’s job, health concerns.  There is no hard and fast rule.  Different cultures also have different standards and mores regarding the topic.

All my three kids were breastfed.  The first went for 1 year, the second 9 months, and the third only 4 months.  Notice that it tapered off as our family grew.  One of the biggest factors with the third guys was that my job at the time did not have a convenient pumping room, so the milk dried up before we were finished, plus he did not want to continue as long as the others, so it also depends on the child as in this case.   In the case of the woman on the magazine cover, I have learned that the boy is 4 years old.  That is fine if she wants to breastfeed that one, it’s her prerogative.   I am just disgusted with the use of the child so publicly and distastefully to make a point.  She could have concealed his identity by putting a blanket over his head the way we do when we breastfeed in public.

 

Being a working mom in this work certainly makes us mom enough, we don’t need to feel any further guilt about breastfeeding.  We get up in the morning and make breakfast, put the kids on the bus or drive them to school, we go to work for 8 to 10 hours, go to after school activities, volunteer in school, and cook, clean and the rest.

The people who writes articles for these large magazines seems so out of touch at times at the real issues and real problems of real mothers and women.  We are mom enough, and it has nothing to do with breastfeeding!

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The Agony of Summer

As a working mom, one of my most dreaded time of the year is Summer.  The school year is ending and the big question is what to do with the kids? Keeping them at home is one option, however, my phone would not stop ringing at work, I might as well be home as I will be playing referee over the phone all day and coming up with ideas daily to keep them out of trouble in the neighborhood.   The other option is summer camps, and this is the best one for me; although expensive, it works best as I know where they are, and I don’t have to worry about them being bored and doing something they are not supposed to.  Summer is the one time of the year when I regret not being a teacher!  They get to spend summers with their kids, oh, such luxury!

So , as the school year winds down, I start to look for Summer camps starting in March, believe it or not, the really good ones get filled up even before then, I usually end up on the waiting list of some.   I try to do a mix of educational and sports camps.   This year we are doing football, basketball, swimming, a sleep away christian camp, Spanish, and rock band.   It cost a whole lot to do these camps, but the alternative of the kids running around with nothing to do could end up costing a lot more, so I justify the cost with this rationale and move on.

Another summer wish I have is that the kids had grandparents that they could go and spend the summers with on a farm, that would be so nice.  As a matter of fact, that would be a really nice summer camp idea, someone could start a farm, and kids come and work it for the summer for minimum pay!  Of course the government would be getting them for child labor, but I am telling you, it would not be a bad idea.  I think the thirteen year olds should be able to start working, but they are viewed as minors and are not allowed.

Summer should not and does not have to be a time of misery for you, make sure you schedule some vacation time during this time.  I do take two weeks off from work and spend it with the kids doing fun activities.  This is usually the highlight of their and my summer.  So as we roll into another Summer, I look forward to the two weeks, and groan in misery about the other eight…..how about you?

Do you like summers as a working mom?  Does the three months give you a headache just thinking about it?  Share your thoughts.

 

 

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Dealing With A Stepchild

It is a known fact that divorces in America is about 50% and that of second marriages is even higher. One of the factors affecting second marriages is the kids that are taken in the marriage from either previous marriage. In some places, there is a saying, “Once you have accepted the cow, you must take the calf.” This is true of the relationship with the spouse and his or her child. It is a recipe for disaster when one goes into such relationship thinking that they will love the spouse, but choose to have an adversarial relationship with the child or child’s other parent. Let’s look at some of the common issues.

Relationship with the Ex-Spouse

If you are reading this, and you have contributed to the breaking up of the marriage, then this section will not be of much since there might be constant bitterness between you and the ex-spouse, otherwise, there should not be reason for animosity, and all parties should work to create harmony the sake of the children in the middle.
After meeting and dating the divorced or single parent with a child, I am assuming that you made a conscious decision to move forward with the relationship. In doing so, you must have known that there has to be and will some interaction between your now spouse and other parent. Parents’ collaboration on issues regarding their child is healthy and should be encouraged; don’t try to prevent that from happening due to any form of jealousy. You should also try to have a relationship with the ex-spouse. If the relationship is amicable enough that all three or probably four parents can meet and discuss joint parenting and shared responsibilities, that is the best scenario, however in the absence of such arrangement, a best effort attempt should be made to have reasonable discourse with the other parent. You don’t have to be buddies with the ex, but having a pleasant relationship wherein you are able to discuss issues regarding the child should be developed, and is beneficial to all involved. It is also wise never to ask the ex-spouse about the demise of the relationship or try to compare notes, if you need information on what occurred in that relationship, ask your spouse. In my opinion ask only for relevant information, as it concerns the well-being of the child. You might find yourself in a situation wherein the divorce was very bitter, and through no fault of your own, the ex-spouse has decided that there will be no relationship with you. That is ok. Your job is to be a good adult person to the child involved. Try never to get involved in any bickering between the ex-spouses, and try to keep the child away from such arguments as best as you can. In addition, don’t add any fire to the already burning flames, remember you might never be in a position to hear the other side, and yes, there are two sides. Relationships are complicated as we all know, but we must try to make them work for the sake of the children. Always!

Child Support and Your Support

If your spouse pays child support, don’t try to prevent him or her from meeting that obligation, again, you knew going in that this was something that has to be taken care of. Once you have a family together, there may be some financial hardships with two families, if that’s the case, then there is legal recourse in the system to make adjustments, but the child should never be dragged into this process, or be made to feel as if he or she is a financial burden. All this should be handled without the child’s knowledge and hopefully without you being pulled into the process as well. Your attitude and encouragement will go a long way here. Typically what I have heard is that most exes had no problem paying their child support until they met a new person. Don’t be that negative influence. Taking care of a child involves emotional as well and financial support.

Important Life Events

If you spouse has to go to school events for his or her child in town, out of town or state, encourage that involvement, and be a part of it as much as you can, but know when to take a step back and let two be a company instead of three. There will be instances when you will need to step aside and let the relationship between the spouse and child develop, give them some space to make that happen. I usually advise friends who are jealous of the parent-child relationship to let go, don’t try to prevent a bond from developing between child and parent, you would want this for your child. You will not have less husband or wife because he or she loves their child; you will have a better spouse and relationship all around.

Discipline and Your Role – Just My Opinion

I have heard many experts say that the step parent should not be involved in the disciplining of the stepchild; this should be left solely up to the biological parent. I disagree. If there are children in the marriage, they should all be treated equally, this includes discipline. Why should the family have two sets of rules, and two modes of operation? That premise alone gives too much power to the stepchild, and will possibly alienate the step parent, relegating them to the sidelines. Discipline should be carried out as usual with love and caring as you would any child, it should not be carried out in anger or be abusive. The fact that the child is the stepchild should not be mentioned at all as any disciplinary action is being executed. In my experience, a child knows that he or she is loved when the right discipline is applied and boundaries are set.
In my case, I recall an instance when my step daughter was 5 years old, and she did something to put herself in danger. I swatted her on the bottom, after she went home her mom called and was angry asking why did I swat her daughter. I explained to her that every child in my care will be given love and discipline, both go hand in hand, and she cannot ask me to do one without the other. Plus, I asked if she wanted me to treat her child any different than I would treat mine, and her answer was no. So that was that, and we never had that discussion again. There are times however when you must consult the other parent, especially if your values are different. You don’t want to tell the child something that is not supported by the other parent, so know your boundaries, and defer to the other parents when necessary. Case in point, when my step daughter was turning 21 years old, she called my husband and told him that she was going to go out and drink some alcohol to celebrate, he freaked out and asked me to call her and tell her not to drink ever as this was dangerous and could ruin her future (by the way he drinks). This was not what I thought, so I told him no, I would not call her; this was for him and her mom to handle. Personally, I would prefer a young person not to drink, but if they choose to do so, it must be done responsibly, they should not be driving to put themselves or anyone else at risk, and it must be done in moderation. In this case, my personal opinion differed from his, and might have been different from her mom’s, so it was not my place to interfere. Know when you need to offer an opinion and when you don’t.

The Blended Family

Once you have started a family of your own with your spouse, it’s very crucial to not treat the stepchild as if he or she is a separate entity, they are a part of your family, even if not a resident one. Yes, there will be some differences if they live with the custodial parent and visits, but the difference should not be in the quality of the relationship, just an occasional physical location. If it’s possible for you to do, have a space in your home, so that when he or she visits, there will be a feeling of ownership and belonging in the home. If that is not possible, and space is being shared with your child, the room should be viewed as “our” room, and not “my” room by the resident child. You can and must promote this attitude in your home between your child and half sibling. The stepchild should be included in family photos, and all family trips if possible. Don’t try to do anything to make this child feel as if he or she is not a part of your home, there is nothing to be gained here.

My Experience

As a stepmother, I met my stepchild when she was four, and she is now 21 years old. I consider myself a parent to her just as her mom is, and feel lucky to have been a part of her life. I have always told her that I am not her mom, and don’t want to be, she already has one. However, when she is with me, I am the responsible adult and she must abide by my rules. I will give my opinion when asked; however, I try to leave most life changing and financial decisions such as choice of college between her, her dad and her mom to discuss. You have to know when to step in and when to step back. I do have a cordial relationship with her mom as I am not the one who caused the end of their marriage, actually that happened 3 years prior to me meeting my husband. I have always encouraged my husband to be a part of his daughter’s life. When she visits, he has to go to the movies with her, without me or my children, unless she requests our presence. There are times of course for family activity, but fostering his relationship with her is important especially since she resides with her mom. In addition, I have never tried preventing or try to get in the way of his paying his child support either, this is his obligation, and must be met. He has also been encouraged as much as he is capable to go to her important events such as graduation, etc. All in all, I would say, I have had a pleasant experience. It does not have to be unpleasant for you as long as you are pleasant.
In this end, the step child should have two homes, “my homes” and two families, “my families.” This is your task, to foster this feeling! Go be a great step parent.

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Sharing Personal Information With The Kids —- How Much Is Too Much?

In teaching our kids how to live, and to help them gain some perspective, we sometimes end up sharing our past experiences.  Because of this desire to be honest and not hypocritical, do we end up sharing too much information?  How much is too much, and should we feel guilty or hypocritical for telling them not to do things that we might have done ourselves?

First, let me begin with the sharing experiences aspect.  I think we can share as much as it relates to the particular situation on hand, there is no need to delve into the gory details of our past experiences or into subject matters that are not age appropriate while doing so.  Here is a common scenario….a 13 year old asking if you had sex before marriage after you told her not to.  I think you can be honest in the matter and tell the truth whatever it is.  If the answer is yes, you can then explain the negatives consequences of that action, and explain that for those reasons you just outlined, you are discouraging the same to protect her from the hurt and pain that you might have experienced.  Your painful experience or experiences this has caused in your life can be used to further drive home your point.  On the other hand, if the answer was no, you can then explain why you went this route, and what the benefits were of doing so, and why it’s beneficial for her to wait as well.

In the latter case, I don’t think you need to delve into or share the excruciating detail of any past relationships.  You only need to be sharing information as it is relevant to the exact question.  The situation is similar to a 4 year old asking where babies come from, we don’t bog them down with a detailed discussion of biology, we answer only the question asked with a general answer such as, “A baby comes from a mommy and daddy when they love each other.”   This was a simple example of course, but I am just trying to illustrate that we need to share only necessary information, making it brief and to the point.  The amount of personal information and experiences shared will of course increase as the kid grows, but in all cases, only share what is relevant.

The same is true for conversations regarding smoking or drug use.  If you are a parent who had indulged at some point in your life, and your kids want to experiment, I think you can be open with sharing information when explaining why they should not by giving your negative experiences, ensuring that at no point in the conversation you glorify the behavior.  If your kids are not moving in that direction nor are asking drug usage questions as it relates to you, I see no purpose in sharing such information about your past experiences.  In my opinion, such experiences are only worth sharing if they serve the greater good to be a teaching tool by presenting the information in a more real and relational way.  If it’s just information being presented for information’s sake, to open up unnecessarily or to even seem cool to your kids, then I think it can be left alone.  Of course, at some point you will and absolutely should be discussing drugs and sex with your kids, however, what I am talking about here are the demerits of the unnecessary sharing of some personal experiences and information when a generic answer would suffice.

Let’s address the hypocritical or guilty feelings when telling our kids not to do things that we probably did ourselves.  Personally, I don’t feel any guilt at all when telling my kids to do the rights things, regardless of my past experiences.  If I myself had made a mistake in the past, I tell them just that.  I made some terrible judgments, and then let them know that it’s my job to protect them from the pain that could possibly come to them if they make the same mistake or mistakes.  Why should we feel guilt or hypocrisy in the attempt to protect our kids from harm, or possible pain, and or hurt?

In the end, you have your own value system, and will do what is right for your kids and family.  Keep in mind that some kids may be more mature than others and can handle amounts of information differently, so you will need to make the determination on how much information to give to each kid, if you choose the path of full disclosure.  Just remember, kids are not miniature adults, so let’s be careful about how much we share and when.

 

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Grandparents – How Important Are They?

I have always wished that my kids grandparents were close by, the fact that I have moved away from home, and don’t see my parents very often.  I sometimes wonder if I did my did a dis-service by moving away from my parents.  How important are grandparents in our kids life?

Grandparents give children and society a sense of continuity, I thinks kids need to develop respect and empathy for all ages and stages of life.  Not only do they develop respect for elderly individuals, they get to see how we care for our parents.  This will provide a model for them on how to care for us as we age.

As parents and primary caregivers of our kids, we are always teaching, disciplining and coaching.  Grandparents provides a reprieve for both us and our kids.  The kids can be around the grandparents and be spoiled for a while, and we can relax and possibly rejuvenate our relationship knowing that the kids are with the grandparents, who hopefully share our values.

Grandparents benefit from being around the kids as well.  I have seen that kids enhance their life; the grandparents’ can participate in youthful activities, and not be stuck in activities for retired people only.

If you have parents who want to be involved in the grand children’s lives, and can be close enough to participate, this relationship should be encouraged.

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Vacation Time — No more Hotels

Vacations can be stressful; the planning, packing, traveling, and keeping the kids together.  One of the biggest decision of the vacation is where to stay, choosing the right place to stay can make your vacation much easier and less stressful.

Making the decision to choose a hotel or private home is largely dependent on the number of people traveling and your desire for privacy.  We were staying in hotels until my family grew from 4 to 6, now it’s just too expensive to rent an hotel suite, and a rooms are too small, so we rent vacation homes, typically from sites such as VRBO.com or Homeaway.com.  I have found these to be much more convenient and cost effective now that my family has grown and the kids are older and bigger.  Some of the advantages of staying in a home rather than a hotel are:

  1. You don’t have to worry about the kids disturbing the neighbors in the next room
  2. Having a stove and refrigerator is convenient, and significantly reduces the cost of eating out
  3. Having more space is also a plus, as everyone can have a bedroom if you choose a place with the right space
  4. Entertainment is provided as the homes typically have foosball and pool tables, games such as Wii and Xbox and cable television.

Currently we are in Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains and are staying in a Chalet with 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.  We have chosen to share with another family, each of us paying $750.00 for 4 days.  This definitely beats the price of staying in a hotel.

Next time you decide to vacation with your family, take a look at this option, it will definitely make your life a lot easier!

 

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When Should Kids Be Allowed To Go Dating?

This topic is one that will elicit different answers depending on the background, educational levels and age of the parents.   Most opinions regarding whether or not, or when to date is largely influenced by the cultural backgrounds of the parents.  In the western world parents are usually more likely to be open to the idea of dating than the parents from the eastern world. My views are primarily influenced by my strict upbringing and my spiritual convictions.

I view dating as a precursor to marriage, this is how one gets to interact on a closer level with a potential mate.  If this is the intent, I think dating is a necessary part of socialization, a young man gets a chance to practice the things that they have learned about how to treat girls, and on the other hand girls have an opportunity to figure out what types of guys they would want to marry based on how they are treated their dates.   It seems however that dating and its definition have been changed today, and is not used for the purpose for which it was intended.  I spoke to my 13 year old son about who he would date and why, throughout the conversation he emphasized that young people these days don’t date with the intent to marry, they just date for fun, and not necessarily with marriage in sight.  I was disappointed to hear that; why would one date someone you would not think of marrying, that does not make sense to me.  I hope he was just telling that to me to see my reaction.

What age should you as a parent allow dating, and how far do you allow your kids to go, plus what qualifies as “dating”?  This is one of the toughest question for parents today, especially since kids are wanting to have experiences earlier and earlier.  I have seen kids in my neighborhood going to movies together as a couple at 13 years old.  Is this too young?  I think it is.  I think interaction between the sexes at this age should be done in a group, there is less opportunity for inappropriate behavior to occur in such setting.   The parents who allow their kids to go out together at this early age risk the possibility of their kids engaging in activities for which they are not emotionally and physically ready.  Maybe they have forgotten how as teenagers their harmones were raging.  In my opinion, 16 years old is the age that dating can be allowed, but still with lots of guidance and restrictions.   Even though they are allowed to date, late nights out and being alone for extended periods is dangerous and should be discouraged.  I am afraid of these years, I am definitely not looking forward to it, I have 3 years to prepare, and I hope I will be prepared enough to deal with all the issues that may arise.

Whatever the age you think is ok, make sure you communicate this, plus your values and expectations to your kids.  Don’t wait to address situations as they occur, then it is too late.  Keep the line of communications open always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Texting Stunting Our Kids’ Communication Skills?

One of my pet peeve is someone coming up to me and just saying “Hey” as a way of greeting.  I find it to be very annoying and almost offensive, why not just add my name to the end of that?  Yesterday, I was one Facebook, and a young niece jumped on and and the only word she typed was, “Hey”.  Needless to say, she received a scolding and a lesson on communication and how it can be done in a respectful manner and in a way that considers your audience’s age and stature.  Have you ever listened to kids greeting each other, it is just like that, “hey”.  I sometimes how could we have progressed this far, yet we are regressing by grunting at each other.

 

The art of communication

As humans, we communicate everyday, to do this effectively we must develop the proper skills.  In order for us to develop good communication skills, we must interact verbally with each other.  Relationships are made and are broken largely based on the effectiveness of the communication between the individuals involved.  We must convey our thoughts concisely and in a manner that the listener can understand and appreciate.  In order to do this, we must practice listening and speaking.   Our kids are not doing this are they mostly reading via text, thus they have no idea how to carry on a normal conversation when face to face.  In communicating via texting, they are missing out on the nuances and importance of tone, facial expressions and body language and how these can impact the message that they are sending when interacting directly with people.  If we want our kids to develop communication skills, we  find ways to encourage direct conversations, and if necessary put limits on their texting.

 

Why they Like Texting

Texting is easy for kids to do as they can hide behind the phone and be brave, they can say what they want, pretend to be who they are not without the reality of facing the person they are communicating with.  After reading some of my son’s not so pleasant texts, I have asked if he would have said the same thing had he been in front of the individual, or even on the phone talking, and the answer at all times was no.

 

Enabling Good Communications Skills

In order for kids to learn communication skills, we have to communicate with them.  In order to do so, we must start by modeling good behaviors ourselves.   Find ways to communicate outside of Facebook and Twitter yourself, let your children hear and see you having direct meaningful conversations with others.  There are lesson to be taught here, not to mention vocabulary building.

Talk to them early on when they are small, encourage open lines of communication, don’t just ask how was their day, and stop there after they say good.   Go deeper, and find out what actually went on in the classroom, hearing how he or she responded to different situations.

While driving in the car, take the opportunity at times to talk about current events.  Don’t allow everyone to be texting away while you chat on the phone yourself

Present your kids with opportunities to have conversations with adults.  This can be done by inviting friends over, having family gatherings, etc.  The kids typically go off, however, before they do get them to engage with the adults for some time.

Demand respectful and appropriate communication from your kids, don’t let them get away with the grunt of greeting you with “Hey” and what’s up! Encourage them to use words that strengthens their vocabulary, along with addressing the person based on who they are.  They should be taught that communication changes based on the audience.  They cannot expect to greet the president or their teacher the way they would a friend.

Have them call friends sometimes instead of text.

 

Final Thoughts

These strategies above are not difficult to implement, and they must be if we are not content to raise a nation of grunters.  Let’s teach proper communication skills, and not text ourselves back into the dark ages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Eat Leftover Food From The Kids’ Plates!

Yesterday while cleaning up after dinner, I realized that I was cleaning all my kids plates; eating the left overs.  I was thinking that I cannot left such good meal be wasted, then I caught myself in the middle of another mouthful, and thought, If it does not get wasted, what’s the alternative…..throw it in the garbage can…..which is what???? MY STOMACH!!!

I had to reassess my position on saving food, and the world.  As much as I would like to send all the leftover food to starving kids, they won’t let me because of  fear of contamination, and of course lawsuits.  So bottom line, I can’t save leftovers for the world, and my stomach cannot be the garbage can, so I threw the rest out, into the “real” garbage can.

That whole point reminds me of an incident on one of my vacations. We were staying at a hotel, and about 9:30 pm food was brought out to the tables, and lots of it.  About 10:30pm, a gentleman came, pulled the tablecloths with all the food on it into the garbage.  I was flabbergasted…..we are talking about a lot of food in a poor country.  I asked the waitress why all the food was not collected and given to the homeless and she explained that they can’t due to the policy  of the hotel. Workers were not even allowed to take it home to their hungry kids, talk about waste!  Anyway, back to me and us.  Guys try not to over cook, so that you are not tempted to save the leftovers with your stomach.

Do yourself and your family a favor, for health and well being, don’t eat the left overs. When your kids are finished, you should be too.

PS:  Please save the good leftovers for another day’s meal.  I mean don’t eat the left overs from the plates 🙂

 

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Outsmarting Kids On The SmartPhone

So you have bought your kid a smartphone and it’s driving you crazy…even though you have some protective services on when the use WIFI, you totally lose control.  How do you regain some sanity and make sure they are protected?  Here are a few things you can do. [Read more…]