Social Media is “S & M”

woman-929838_1920Twitter; Instagram; Snapchat; Facebook…  these are the new ways to forge relationships, “Like” it, or not.

I find people’s behaviors on social media very interesting.  It’s like of like being drunk: it’s an altered state.  People post things to their “Friends” and make comments they would NEVER do in “real” life.  It begs the question- do people’s real hidden sides come out on the internet, or is there something essentially nefarious about screen interactions?

I’ve seen people who are normally very decorous give raunchy memes the “thumbs up.”  Closeted bigots post anti-fill-in-the-blank comments.  People go on rants about other people and things get shared, amplified and eventually feelings get hurt and real-life friends or relatives get blocked or “un-friended.”

It’s no coincidence to me that social media has “S” and “M” as its initials.  There’s a certain sadistic pleasure some people get from updating a status that will irk others.  And I can’t tell you how many times I read or hear about people’s feelings getting hurt because they were excluded from whatever online group membership they belong… yet they continue to engage in the drama, as if they get some sort or masochistic rush.

In that sense, I don’t see adults being any more mature than their teenage counterparts.

Kids learn what they see.  What kinds of real messages about relationships are you sending by the ones you post online?

Make it the #153Promise to model Sensitivity and Moderation with your social media.

“A Long Line of… Xs and Ys?” Hereditary Vs Genetic

Poker, Playing, King, Ace, Game, Gambling, Card, HeartsIt takes a lot of introspection and a lot of ego-busting, but take a good, realistic, look at your kids.  What are they like?  Polite?  Kind?  Social?  Withdrawn?  Unruly?  Nasty?  Patient?  Short-tempered?  Flexible?  Anxious?

How did they get that way?  Most likely, it was from you.  Either from Nature (biologically) or Nurture (environmentally).  Sometimes, that line between the genes and the surroundings can get very perforated.

Many behaviors are hereditary… but that doesn’t mean it’s DNA related.  Let me explain…

First off, I must put a disclaimer: I am not a scientist.  But that does not mean what I am about to say is untrue.  In fact, I may be a very good person to be talking about the topic, since I can discuss it in very simple terms and not get too technical.  And if there are any scientists out there reading this post, by all means, back me up!

Some traits people have are genetic- passed down in DNA from the biological parents.  Babies are born that way.  Eye color, general body size, certain diseases or conditions like Downs Syndrome or cystic fibrosis… all these conditions are present at birth and are out of the person’s control.  A child adopted into a different family will not change the fate of these characteristics.

Then, there are certain traits that are fostered into a child: a good work ethic, cleanliness, organization skills… they can be taught.  Any skills that can be learned are usually not present at birth.  Granted, I am oversimplifying here.  But let’s use something like the model for a healthy relationship as an example.

People will tend to pick a potential partner for themselves that is a lot like the dynamics they witnessed growing up because that was the model shown to them.  Even though it may not be a good example, people become attracted to it because it feels like home.  I’ve mentioned before that my parents had a dysfunctional relationship.  As a result, I picked very bad people to get involved with up until I was about 36 (the magical number of years where a child has now spent just as much time away from their familial influence).

So if you identify patterns in your life that are not necessarily medically linked to your parents, look at the patterns in THEIR lives… then your grandparents’ lives…  Chances are, something was passed down from generation to generation that was not genetic, yet you inherited those traits.

College is another good example.  If your parents went to college, chances are, you will too.  And if you came from working class people, you most likely will go into the trade or family business or your parents.

But  there is no gene to my knowledge for picking a career or relationship.

Now that you can recognize that distinction, I think it’s important not to give too much credit to the gene pool.  Yes, you do get what you get by the roll of the Xs and Ys…  However, its crucial to admit that a lot of who we are is due to our environment.

True, science may have found certain genes LINKED to obesity or alcoholism.  However, look at the lifestyles the parents lead.  Parents who buy healthy food and model an active lifestyle usually do not have overweight kids.  I may have a gene linked to alcohol abuse, but if my parents never drank, that switch may never get turned on…  Conversely, I may have the intellectual potential to have a very high IQ, but if my parents never read to me or deprived me of stimulation at an early age, I will never fully reach my potential.

(I probably just stepped in it… right. about. now.)

My point is to be very careful how you view the mentality of “A chip off the old block” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  If it’s out of pride, then by all means, take credit that you’ve got a “Mini Me.”

But if you are under the illusion that your child is destined to suffer the same fate as you, make the 153Promise to challenge that view.  Is your child bad at math because of some genetic aversion to numbers, or did they pick it up because they asked you for help and you said, “I’ve never been good at it, either.”

Is your child fated to be anxious because you were diagnosed with a genetic disorder, or is it that they learned from you that the world is scary because you are anxious… and so was your mother or father…  Or maybe you yell at them a lot, so they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop… Or both.

Make the 153Promise to see what “long line of” whatever your family comes from, and examine WHY you think that is.  If in doubt, ask your family doctor and if they don’t know, ask them for the name of a geneticist to learn whether or not you can change your child’s pattern of behaviors.

Give your children every opportunity to succeed, regardless of their chromosomes.

You may not be able to control the cards they were dealt, but you can help them play their hand to the best of their advantage.  And if you were never taught those skills, seek out someone who knows better than you.  Go or your child’s guidance counselor or pediatrician for support.

What “Long Line” do you want your children to come from???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cell Phone Angst… and Challenge

How old are your children?  When did they get — or do you plan to get them — cell phones?  Why?  Smartphone, Woman, Girl, Iphone, Apple Inc, Touch

I ask because I fail to see cell phones improving the quality of life in tweens and teens.  Rather, I only see anxiety and a giant paradox regarding cell phone communication: the more kids use their phones, the less connected they feel to the people with whom they are supposed to be communicating.

I’m going to put my Teacher Hat on for this post and speak from the perspective of the educator.  Here is what I am seeing during the school day:

  1. Texting each other the first and last few minutes of class.  About what, I can only guess, as I cannot legally go into their devices… (But YOU can… if you dare.)
  2. Taking “selfies” and/or “Snapchatting/Vining,” then obsessively checking to see how many “likes” they are getting.
  3. Increased requests to leave the class to “go to the bathroom” or “get a drink.”  Presumably to use their phones so they don’t get in trouble during class.  I can’t tell them no, but they are losing instruction time, as their trips are longer than necessary to sneak in a few more texts.
  4. More requests to text parents because they “forgot” something.  This irony is that the more they rely on texting parents, the less they need to communicate with their families BEFORE  and AFTER the school day is in session.
  5. Notifying me that they need to go to the office to pick up something… presumably because they just got a text saying their item from #4 was just dropped off.

(On my own time, I even saw a post on a Moms’ FB group asking what other mothers would do if they saw test answers on their kid’s phone!)

You may ask why I don’t just have a policy… I. DO.  So does the district.  But if/when I go to enforce it, I have been subject to major tantrums.  And this is not just from the students.  I have been accused of “stealing” property when I confiscate the cell phone, enforcing the policy, and then returning the phone at the end of the day.  I have been called a “train wreck” and was told that I “need mental help.”  There have been threats on my job and my life.  I have been the victim of theft to retaliate against me.  All because I have asked that phones are out of my classroom.  I have a thick skin, and administration supports me, so I just handle it like the strong human I am.  But what concerns me more are how the STUDENTS are actually suffering.

Some students are so dependent upon their phones that asking them to part with them for the 40 minutes I have them for class is almost impossible for them.  So I implore all parents…  Please do not contribute to the angst.  I am only asking for two things:

  1. Tell your kids that you do not want them using them during classes and if you get a report from their teacher that they were seen out, you will suspend them from their phone for a day… then week… then moth… then cancelled.
  2. Tell them that you will no longer be available to them DURING the school day. (Or if that’s not doable, at least only during their or your lunch for a one-time contact point to send or receive a communication.)  That means you’ll have to do a better job of planning rides, and they will not be able to have you run them forgotten items.
Portrait, Face, Pale, Expressive, Eyes, Nose, MouthBlame the teachers.  Blame your boss/job.  Or even tell them you are making the 153Promise to them that you want them to spend the school day concentrating on… school and not on social drama.  Explain to them that the more you rely on the cell phones, the more anxiety it actually causes because it’s no longer a communication device- it’s an enabling device that’s preventing them from developing good habits of planning, self-reliance, and security/trust among family members.
So I’m throwing out another challenge: enact the two rules above.  Just like the Bus Challenge, I am going to suggest that the more either you or your child balks at the “Phone Challenge,” the more you may need to add it to your lives.  I’d love to know who does it and how it goes!
Kisses!  XxXx

The Golden Rule of Parenting… Bring an Umbrella!

I got my first dissenting comment on Saturday!  Someone disagreed with my perspective that the more a kids protests about something, the more we may need to have them do it… specifically with regards to my “Bus Challenge” post.

Umbrella, Rain, Colors, Woman

The opposing viewpoint was that we should parent from the perspective of the child… Would *I* want to stand in the rain and wait for a bus full of screaming kids to come?  Who wouldn’t prefer a cozy, personal ride to school???  I totally understand that perspective.  However, I do not think that empathizing with our children should be the basis for our parenting.

The Golden Rule, Treat others how we would want to be treated may work for equals, but I think it’s a mistake to make our parenting decisions using this mentality.  Yes, we do want to keep in mind our children’s feelings when choosing our words or even some of our actions, but just because a child does or doesn’t want to do something doesn’t mean that we should cater to those wishes.  That, to me, is a recipe for raising an entitled little person… which will then become an entitled big person, aka, Jerk.

I propose that sometimes, your 153Promise can be saying “NO” to your child or pushing him or her to confront difficult situations, knowing you’ll be there to support them… instead of preventing those learning opportunities altogether.

Rather, I think the Golden Rule of Parenting should be, Parent the Child Today for the Generation of Tomorrow.  After all, they will be the ones to run the country when we are in rocking chairs.  Do we want a bunch of coddled, spoiled, unbending adults who never learned how to negotiate tough times, improvise another alternative, or work hard to get something for delayed gratification?

My position is: Sometimes, saying NO for NO’s sake is good.

Check out what pediatrician Dr. Leonard Sax has to say regarding the topic.

I welcome differences of opinion and I thank the writer of the Saturday, January 9th comment.  It challenges and inspires me to continue to refine my 153Promise mission.

Rather than trying to prevent rain from falling, make the 153Promise to either dry them off when they get wet… or teach them to bring an umbrella.

Kisses!  XxXx

 

Hop on the Bus Challenge

Diversity, Happy, People, Young, SmileDo you let your children ride the bus???

I’m going to sound like the ‘uphill both ways’ generation, but when I was my children and students’ ages, I DID take the bus.  Sometimes, I had to lug a giant bass clarinet or bassoon case for a good ten minute walk to the bus stop.  It built character. 

The ONLY time I got a ride to school was for a broken leg in 7th grade because navigating the crutches on those giant steps was just too much for me.

I remember being in junior high and having to take the shuttle bus to the high school in order to get a ride home on the activities bus.  Let me tell you, being a 12 year old riding with a senior football player was scary!  But it built character.

Back then, it was a more hands-off approach to parenting.  You trusted the school to do your job when you gave them your kids.  Part of that meant riding the bus to school.

When did that stop happening?

There are cameras on the bus now.  Kids have cell phones that can record things, if stuff hits the fan… so why is that busses — that are paid with local tax dollars — are half empty, and the drop off line gets longer and longer?

If it’s to protect/shelter your children from certain stuff, I can understand that mentality, but I am going to suggest that it’s slightly misguided.  Things that happen on the bus to NOT magically disappear in the school.  Plus, it’s under surveillance, so it’s actually a pretty safe environment.

And IF something goes down on the bus, it’s an opportunity to talk about it with your child.  Therefore, to NOT let them ride the bus is actually PREVENTING them with real-life learning experiences.

My daughter rides the bus every day she is at our house. (She lives at her dad’s half the time.)  Sometimes we talk about the kids who ride with her and how to deal with it.  If I didn’t allow her that experience, I’d be robbing her of that opportunity to learn those skills.

After all, it’s NOT going to get any easier out in the “Real World;” why not practice now?

Just a few months ago, we were watching a movie together.  It was a more “adult,” though appropriate, film.  A few “ripe” words were tossed into the air.  I looked over at her and apologized and asked her if she’d like to stop the movie.

“It’s nothing I haven’t already heard on the bus,” she said, wiser than her then 9 old self.

So we talked about words and language and how it is a reflection of your character… How the people in the movie were depicted and the associations with those words are also associated with the people using them.  It was a good chat.  That never would have happened if I was a “drop-off parent.”

In conclusion, I am going to throw out a “Bus Challenge” to you: if you do not currently allow your kids to take the bus, give them the heads up TONIGHT that next week, they are going to take the bus!  Make the 153Promise to love your child by giving them the opportunity to face a situation, talk about it with you, learn a lesson, and develop as a person.  Chances are, the more they protest, the more they need to do it…

It builds character.

 

First Monday of 2016!

My school district is back to the classroom today.

Now that I’m officially into the swing of things for the new year of 2016, I’m going to begin my 153Promise list of the different ways to give your 153 Kisses-a-Day in the form of some positive parenting choices to foster good emotional and mental health.

Race, Children, Competition, SpeedIf your kids went back to school today, what was the scene?  Was it calm and relaxed, or was there a bunch of yelling, scrambling and stress?  What did they eat for breakfast?  DID they eat breakfast?  What’s on the schedule for after school?  When did they go to bed last night, and what time to they plan to go to bed tonight?  What’s for dinner?  Is there a plan to all sit down together, or is it catch as catch can?

As you go through (or went through, depending upon when you read this), your day today, think about the above questions and be mindful of all the decisions you make as a family that contributes to the overall atmosphere of your home life.

Make the 153 Promise every day to contribute to a peaceful household.

The first step to making these positive choices is to recognize when you are doing things that are NOT getting you the desired reactions you desire.

Make today’s 153 Promise to evaluate the climate of your family.

Tomorrow, I will begin to make posts about what you can do on a daily basis to bring some calm to the daily routines so your family can begin to enjoy more peaceful family moments.

Kisses! XxXx

New Year; New Tradition?

I woke up with this idea for my New Year’s Day post…

My grandparents are 89 and 97.  After than many years on Earth, you amass a lot of great stories.  One of my favorites is what I like to call “The Bean Bowl.”

archaeology.JPGMy grandparents are pretty amazing people.  Grandpop was an organic research chemist and Grammy met him when she was a lab assistant.  They both got into archeology and amassed quite a collection.  As a result, their basement was practically a museum.  Seriously.  When they went into a nursing home a few years ago, they donated about 80% of their collection to the Pennsylvania state museum in Harrisburg.

Among the arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts was this one glass fishbowl.  It contained about two inches’ worth of pink spotted beans in the bottom.  When I was a kid, I asked him what it was all about.  “I’ll tell you when you are older,” he said.

Once I had made him a great-grandfather, I asked him again about the bowl of beans.  I guess he figured I could handle the story he was about to tell:

When I married your grandmother, a bunch of my scientist buddies at the lab had a bachelor party for me.  Towards the end of the night, they gave me a present.  When I opened it up, it was this fish bowl and a bag of dried beans.

They explained to me that I should put it on my night stand and after your grandmother and I got married, I was to put a bean in the bowl every time we had marital ‘relations’ until the end of our honeymoon phase (two years).

For the rest of our marriage, I was to then take a bean OUT of the bowl for the same reason.

My colleagues warned me that for the rest of my life, I would never be able to empty the bowl… And that’s how they prepared me for matrimony!

We both laughed.

I then went to my grandmother and asked her if she knew the significance of the Bean Bowl.  She shook her head.  I asked my grandpop if I could tell her and he said okay.  I retold the story (mainly to make sure I got it right) and at the punch line, she just laughed and pinched him on the arm.

It’s one of the more special memories I have with them.  Partly because it was just the three of us, partly because it’s such a clever gift and partly because it was a rite of passage that I could be in that circle.

Why am I telling “The Bean Bowl” story on New Year’s Day?  Because as off-color as the anecdote may be, it’s really about keeping tabs on a situation- a physical representation of the status of things.

Kidney Beans, Beans, Dry, Legumes, Pulses, Bowl

 

So I’m thinking of stealing the Bean Bowl and adapting it to our family.  We can put a bean into the bowl for every good thing our children do- chores; being sweet to each other; helping others.  And we’d take a bean out for the infractions- forgetting to do homework; stretching the truth; a messy room…

I’m inviting you to make the Bean Bowl a part of your 153Promise in your household.  It can serve as a light-hearted reminder to make good choices as a family.  You might even put a line on the side as a goal and a reward is enjoyed by all once your family gets enough beans.

It’s certainly more versatile than a swear jar, and it’s a lot easier to keep track of than a fancy chart.  Plus, there’s the added benefit of it being one communal bowl.

And imagine the look on their faces when you explain to them the origin of “The Bean Bowl” when they are old enough.

Just remember that the originators are Benny and Doris.

-Kisses!  XxXx

“Take It Back!”

I had an mini epiphany when I was at my friend’s family watching them opening up Christmas presents.  One of the gifts was a pair of boots that appeared to be a little too small.

“I can always take them back to the store to see if they come in the larger size,” she said.

Gift, Packaging, Loop, Christmas

That’s when it hit me- I wish it were that easy with our words.  Or can it be?

How many times do you hear one kid yell to another, “You take that back,” as if someone’s insults were a pair of boots that didn’t fit.  But unlike ill-fitting footwear, our words’ impact cannot be undone by sending them back to the originator.  It’s not that simple… or can it be?  Maybe kids are more enlightened than they get credit for.

We can make the 153Promise by selecting our words carefully so only loving supportive phrases come from our mouths.  That alone is a great start.  But we are human, and there are times where we will fall short and we’ll say things that just don’t fit.Figure, Sad, Crying, Sadness, Upset

You can still keep true to your 153Promise when you slip and say something hurtful.  You can allow yourself to “Take Them Back” when you realize that you spoke out of anger or insensitivity.

If your kidding around went too far, you can say, “I take it back… I was only joking.  I was trying to be funny, but I can see that it wasn’t kind.  I’m sorry.”

Or if you had a bad day and your nerves are fried and you lash out at your son or daughter, you can say, “I take it back… I didn’t really mean to hurt your feelings with what I said.  It’s just that I am really in a bad mood from something else.  You don’t deserve that treatment from me.  I’m sorry.”

Crying, Children, Cry, Autumn

As long as most of your behavior is certain way, I’d say the 10% rule works.  If 9/10 comments you make are positive, then the 10% you make that are falling short, a heartfelt “I take it back” can work.  But if you have to take back half of what you say, then the apology loses their effectiveness… as do the positive comments you actually mean.

So make your 153Promise by making sure your words fit for the occasion.  And on the rare occasion they don’t, make the 153Promise to Take It Back.

Kisses.  XxXx

 

Congratulations, All New Fiances… Now What???

A colleague of mine came into school yesterday with some new bling.  She and her boyfriend have been dating for seven years and they’ve been discussing marriage; even to the point of looking at houses.  So she knew “The Day” was coming… just not when.

As it turns out, he was being stealthy, planning something before the holidays.  Nice.  She was truly surprised and she showed me the great photos- complete with rose petals and the backdrop of Central Park.

I told her that she would be the inspiration for my post today, since I figure that a lot of proposals would be happening this holiday week.

I know it’s tempting to rush out and get wedding planning books, bride magazines, and begin calling around to find just the right venue.  However, I am going to strongly suggest the FIRST item you buy is this great book:

Cover art

There’s also a workbook that comes along with it you can buy.  It’s well written — intelligent but digestible — and if you like his stuff, he’s got many more books about marriage, parenting, and emotional intelligence.

Because while the trappings of a wedding can be very seductive, once all the cake has been eaten and people finally take your “Save the Date” postcard magnet off the fridge, you’re left with this person you married.

The topic of how to raise children may not be the first thing couples talk about when deciding whether or not to tie the knot, but it’s important to keep in mind why your are making this commitment… presumably to have a family and create a stable environment for your children.

So to all those people who’ve popped or been popped to… Congratulations!

Now make the 153Promise to each other and your future family by digging a solid foundation to the life you are seeking to build.

 

Love Triangles… or squares, or pentagons, or… Teaching That Supplies are UNlimited!

My son just turned three and a half years old yesterday.  I can’t say enough about the guy.  He’s bright, got a sunny disposition and a laugh that could melt the Antarctic.  Every day, I thank God for my precious gift.

I love watching him develop and learn new skills as he figures out the world and his place in it.  It’s the coolest thing when something is there today that wasn’t there yesterday.  And that new concept is… jealousy.

My son and I were hanging out in the kitchen yesterday morning.  My husband comes down the stairs into the living room.  He says good morning, and I go over to give him a hug and kiss.  Our usually happy-go-lucky son hops down off the stool and says, “No, Baba, (that’s Turkish for Daddy), that’s MY Mommish!” (That’s our son’s Turklish pet name for me.)

I instantly said to my boy, “Oh, sweetie, there’s enough love for everybody!”  We then made a counting game of me kissing my son ten times, and then I kissed my husband ten times.  And so on until we ended in a three-way hug.

I totally can see why my son was upset.  We are constantly teaching him to share… because most times, the set item has a finite supply and anything he takes means that someone else will have to do without.  It is totally understandable to apply the same logic to kisses: if I give ten kisses to my husband, that leaves ten fewer for my son, right???

So we had to show our son that there will never be an end to kisses.  They are not like toys at the YMCA playground or animal crackers at snack time.  It’s not a game to compete for the limited supply.

Now, can you imagine if I shamed him by reprimanding his behavior?  That he shouldn’t WANT my love?  If I had pushed him away to keep hugging my husband, that would have taught my son that my love IS a thing to compete for and covet.   No child should be made to feel guilty for wanting their parents’ love.  It would have caused him anxiety and rightfully so.   Love should never be contest.

So next time one of your children is competing for your attention (which is really your affection), explain to them that the best way to give everybody what they want is to all pile together and get it done!

Feeling pulled in different directions?  If everybody folds the laundry together, then there’s more time freed up to work on homework, together, at the same table.

It’s just like architecture: the more (tri)angles there are, the stronger the structure.  So the more people sharing the love, the more triangles can be formed, thereby strengthening the love!

So make the 153Promise to show the regenerating power of your love!  Supplies unlimited: Act Now!

-Kisses!  XxXx