Some parents need to “parent up”

Like any decent post, this diatribe will likely resonate with some parents and anger others.  I feel compelled to point out that a whole new generation of “push-over” parents are raising a new generation of brats with an over-the-top sense of entitlement.  There seems to be an emerging trend of parents who want to be friends with their kids.  I want to have a good relationship with my kids, but one has to draw the line at some point.

Parents know that parenting can often be a real drag.  Continually displining your kids and setting boundaries can be exhausting and unpleasant.  But, as discussed in other posts, I think kids need and want boundaries no matter how much they protest.  Obviously, parents have to pick battles selectively.  However, what happens when parents don’t pick battles at all?

Obnoxious brats.

kid-yelling-at-mom-e1311649360391 shutterstock_103529144__1376054441_74.134.205.46 zzsnotty1

 

This becomes an issue for other parents because 1) it can rub off on your own kids if they spend enough time with these darlings, and 2) it makes social situations with multiple families unpleasant and awkward.  Who wants to listen to another parent’s kid argue, berate, or entirely ignore that parent?

We need to find a happy middle ground between Dr. Spock (the pediatrician, not the  pointy-eared guy) and our own parents’ old-school tough parenting.

 

Can Kids Be Self-Sufficient These Days?!?

We justify doing a LOT for our kids during the school year.  After all, they have more homework than we ever had.  Kids also participate in a wide range of time-sucking activities.

But, we are in the dog days of summer now.  I find myself questioning whether my ‘tween and ‘teen could manage on their own for a couple of days.  I fear the house would be littered with half-eaten and rotting food.  I can’t imagine the milk being put back in the fridge.

To highlight my concerns, we recently asked our kids to clean their shared bathroom.  We keep the door closed because the view is too similar to a restroom in Grand Central Station.

To our surprise, there were no less than eight empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the bath tub.  At least ten depleted toilet paper rolls littered the floor.  Two empty tubes of toothpaste were stuck to the sink.

I’m continually asked for lunch options when the answer is in the fridge.  They can’t seem to be able to find anything in the kitchen or their rooms.  My kids also ask me what to wear in the morning.  They both have iPhones and have the same weather app I use.

The effort to look for anything themselves is too taxing.  These are the same kids that will spend furtive hours searching for game apps or popular YouTube videos.

to do list

I believe the answer to fostering some semblance of self-sufficiency with kids begins with refusal.  Refusal to help look for food, clothing, and misplaced items in ALL circumstances.  This means, at times, they will be late for camp or a playdate.  They will plead with tears of frustration in their eyes.

Life’s most valuable lessons are learned by making mistakes and facing the consequences.  The drama factor alone can propel any parent to just do it themselves.  It’s tempting to go with the path of least resistance in many situations when our children (feign) helplessness.

I have to continually remind myself of the quote, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

 

 

 

Play-date? Anyone? Gotta get my kids out of the house… #parenting #mrmom #summer

The inevitable summer doldrums are setting in.  Kids look forward to summer with much anticipation, only to realize how boring life can be outside of the carefully structured school-year.

After all, kids get to see their friends, play at the park, and eat lunch together during school.  Now, friends are at summer camps, on vacation, or at their parent’s beach houses.  That is, the lucky ones…

How does a parent keep their children entertained, especially when they themselves are busy throughout the day?

Nowadays, it seems that kids will not spontaneously wander around the neighborhood looking for a pick-up game or for other equally bored kids to play with.  In fact, the entertainment default seems to be powering up the Xbox or going off to a remote corner of the house with an iPad or iPhone in hand.

We have some relief now that our kids’ summer camps are starting at the end of the month.  Whatever your situation, here are some ideas I’ve put into play during the limbo..

  • Make a schedule for each day: I like starting the day out with homework and some light chores.  If they knock that part out, then they’re free for the rest of the day.  This is particularly helpful when trying to keep kids on top of their summer homework.
  • Set a fixed routine for the start of the day and bedtime: Kids have a way of pushing the envelope at bedtime and sleeping in as late as possible.  They can do that in college…
  • Arrange play-dates days or weeks in advance: If you can put up with screaming kids running around your house, nothing beats the doldrums like have some pals over.
  • Sleep-overs: Same as above.  But, sleep-overs come a major downside – late nights for both adults and kids, and cranky kids the next day.  So, I keep these to a minimum – say, once or twice a week.  And, I usually make it an award for doing the bigger chores/projects.
  • Big chores/projects: Kids can never be too young to learn some hard work and responsibility.  The chores have to be age-appropriate, of course.  Since the concept of what is age appropriate varies and can be a subject of intense debate, I would recommend both mom & dad are on board with the projects (I had to learn this the hard way…).  Some examples – shredding stacks of bills/bank statements, basic landscaping, throwing out 25 unused items cluttering the basement or their bedrooms, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Ice Cream breaks: I try to do this pretty much as often as possible, particularly when the kids complete a respectable amount of chores and/or homework on a given day.
  • Day-trips: When the week is getting painfully monotonous, a day trip to the beach, hiking trail, movies, or the dreaded theme park can provide a welcome reprieve from incessant complaining.  If such trips are put on the schedule at the beginning of the week, you are providing an incentive to get kids cracking on the homework and chores earlier in the week.

This is all basic and obvious stuff.  But, somehow putting it all on paper as a schedule seems to have struck a positive chord with my kids.  Without some kind of structure, I think  kids morph into malcontent blobs.

bored kid

 

 

Doll-faced girls teetering in 8-inch wedges; watch out!!

After attending a couple of  high school graduations this Spring, I’ve now had time to reflect on the popular style sported by many girls.  And, I have to ask the question – what were their parents thinking?

I’m sure we all remember the crushing angst of high school and the burning desire to ‘fit in.’  Fashions change over the year.  Girls will always want to wear an obscene amount of make-up.  I saw girls with enough mascara to even make Ozzy Osbourne feel out-done.

But, the most alarming fashion item this year, aside from the preponderance of skin tight dresses barely covering little bottoms, were the ‘platform wedges.’

wedges

These things don’t look like they were designed for walking.  I was on the edge of my seat as I watched girls precariously strutting up to the podium to receive their diplomas.  An apt analogy would be watching NASCAR – you don’t want to see a horrible wreck, but it seems as if one is always on the verge of happening.

So it goes for the teenager with little to no practice walking in high heels.  Yet, it seemed some girls were really trying to out-do each other with the height of their wedges.  I was reminded of the band KISS strutting out in crazy platform boots from outer space.

As parents, we just want our kids to be happy.  We want them to fit in.  Maybe, by the time they’re ready to graduate from high school, we’re just sick and tired of trying to talk sense into them.  Of course, falling flat on your face during a graduation ceremony would be much more traumatic than wearing flats to your graduation and after-parties.

Yes, as I guy, I had it easy – and still do.  Dress shoes with a blazer and khakis is the perennial favorite (thank goodness!).  But, I have a daughter.  As such, I have a vested interest in spotting fashion trends.

However, there were plenty of confident, self-assured and height-challenged girls wearing flats or something with heels 2 inches or less.  They looked lovely – in many ways much more so than the girls trying to be fashionable.  It gave me hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try this…”If you don’t do your chores, than I don’t make your lunch for school, sweetie.”

thumbnail of children doing chores-thumb-200x200-72896Kid’s are wonderful, and we love them.  However, kids can be self-centered monsters.  This is actually normal.  It’s just where their minds are developmentally.

Keeping the attitude in check AND getting kids to do what they’re told are two entirely different matters, however.  As parents, it’s amazing how much we do for our kids on a daily basis.  And, most of our efforts go unnoticed or can be taken for granted.  That’s just how things work, and we’re o.k. with it because we love our children.

But, when the clutter in the bedroom gets to be knee-high, the dishes aren’t put away after meals, and you start finding dirty socks in every corner of the house, it’s time to get serious…

Try harmless retaliation through delgation of certain tasks.  For example, tell your kids they have to get up early and make their own lunch for school.  Remind your children why you are withholding this service:

You help me, and I’ll help you…

So, your kid wants or needs new sneakers?  But, they haven’t taken out the garbage or cleaned their room in over a week?  Make a list of neglected chores that require attention, and the sneaker shopping will happen when the list is completed.

I’m amazed at how much time I’ve spent asking my children to perform certain basic tasks (repeatedly).  The time and energy spent making sure these tasks get done inevitably drives me to complete them myself.

We have so many weapons in our arsenal; play dates, transportation, lunch preparation, etc.  Why not simply use this as leverage?

“You need to wear a helmet!”…”but none of the other kids do,” says my son. What the what?!

skateboarder

This is Shaun White, by the way.  He gets paid to be a lunatic, and even HE wears a helmet.

All of the tween/teen boys in the neighborhood are officially skateboard lemmings.  They ride their boards everywhere.  They try do out-do each other with fancy tricks.  One kid wears homemade gloves with steel spikes so he can make sparks as he cruises.

Leave it to the moms to introduce some safety into the equation.  All of the moms made a pact to enforce helmet-wearing while skateboarding.  Moms acting together are a powerful force and not to be trifled with…

When my wife informed my son he had to wear a helmet, he quickly replied that none of his friends did.  Of course, she was armed with several examples of (a few) kids in our neighborhood who actually wear helmets.

His reply, “You’ve always told me not to do what other kids are doing.”  Priceless…

And, yes, he is now wearing a helmet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOOs8MaR1YM

Anybody know a good rehab center for child iPhone addiciton?!

In any elevator or line at Starbucks, almost every adult is in the smartphone prayer position; head tilted down, elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, reverently holding their smartphone talisman.

people-using-their-smartphones

We were out to dinner as a family Saturday night, and the young couple sitting next to us spent the majority of their dining experience on their iPhones.  I was turning to my wife to attempt a witty comment, when I noticed my own kids were bent over their iPhones and iTouch, madly swiping away with manic concentration.

That’s when it hit me – my kids were i-Addicts…We all know of the epidemic, and we are complacently allowing our children to get hooked.

Children using smartphones

drI thought my solution to the problem was straight-forward.  I put a basket on the kitchen counter and told the kids that, from now on, all devices go in the basket.   I told my kids they need permission from a parent to take a device out of the basket.

An onslaught of tears, outright insubordination, and claims of unconstitutional parenting ensued.  A family meeting (intervention) did not help the situation.  Their reaction is likely not dissimilar from taking drugs away from an addict…almost.

I looked up a couple of articles that deal with smart phone addiction.  Interestingly, I also exhibit many signs of an smart phone addict.  I guess the first step in solving the problem is leading by example.

In a follow-up post, the symptoms of an iPhone, Crackberry, or Android addict will be summarized.  Just watch where you’re driving…my posts aren’t that important.

drive text

 

 

 

The decandent, chinese-food eating wonder twins are back…

Moms and dads, do not try this at home…please…
chinese food kidsA previous post about poor eating habits we pass along to our children showed the wonder twins relaxing in between courses, if you recall…

fat kids 4 This has been a public service announcement brought to you by your local Chinese food restaurant.

“All of the other kids in my class have an iPhone…And, lots have iPads, too.”

The importance of routine

As the crazy schedule of the holidays come to an end, we are ready to back to “normal.” Chances are your kids have been up late at night and cranky during the day.

Many people will complain that their kids are unruly and do not want to go to bed on time. Their bedtime “routine” involves telling their kids to go to bed. It then escalates into screaming at their kids to go to bed to threatening their kids with punishment if they do not go to bed.

The entire “go to bed” issue can be avoided if the parents simply set a bedtime routine. Milk and cookies. A bedtime story and being tucked in. Every night. The children know what to expect and actually end up looking forward to bedtime. This gives children an added sense of security, something that they really need in their lives.

We adults need to ease back into our routines as well. The return to work and school will bring back harmony to our lives, no matter how reluctant we are to go back.

The Top 5 Reasons Why we keep having drooling infants that crap on themselves, and do it again…

#5…They’re cute.

#4…They give purpose and meaning to life.

#3…When you and your spouse are out on the town because you have a babysitter, you really appreciate that dinner-and-a-movie night so much more!!

#2…We want to share our moments (good and bad) with those most special and dear to uys…And, it’s hard to top your own kids in that department.

And, the #1 reason (as cited my palliative nurse Bonnie Ware in her book “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”**),

#1…We don’t want to end up wishing we had spent more time with our kids when we get old. Depressing, but also uplifting (in a way) .

Sadly, Steve Jobs said the same thing. Also, Steve said one of the main reasons he commissioned his biography for now-adult children; so that they could to get to ‘know’ him better…:((

Just another reason why you should leave your fast-paced, lucrative career to hang with the kids!!

**Bonnie’s book was kind of cool; will share an expert in another post…

 

Who knew washing dishes and folding laundering could be so therapeutic??

Just kidding…I just tossed a heap of clothes (clean) in my kids’ bedroom, and I haven’t seen the bottom of our kitchen sink for 4 days now. I think there’s something swimming around with the dirty dishes.

Hey, all of you caregivers without the means to keep domestic help to do all this stuff: how do you keep your sanity???

I’ve heard answers ranging from pinot noir to a six-pack of pabst blue ribbon. I figure there’s got to be some other outlet besides imbibing.

thebigeasy

Yikes! A segment on the “Today Show” really hit close to home…

Yes, I’m ashamed to say I was watching the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hora the other day. But, there was a really good segment about the rampant sense of entitlement our kids have today.  Check it out…

Stop the Entitlement Train

The Today Show segment, “Stop The Entitlement Train,” raised lot’s of issues, but the main point is that many parents try to promote too much praise for what can be very small achievements. Of course we strive to help our kid’s develop good self-esteem and confidence. However, when parents do this artificially, the result is over-confidence, unrealistic expectations, and, in some cases, a ‘sense’ of entitlement.

beuller

In essence, some kids may not know how to fail. Challenges and failures are crucial life experiences that teach persistence and courage to try again.

This dovetails with my prior post about chores. In my opinion, to help our children be well-rounded and have the tools to be successful in life, we may have to give a nudge to push a little harder and step back and let our kids try to succeed on their own, install a bit of responsibility and self-reliance along the way.