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Should Parents Be Held Responsible for Kids’ Schoolwork?

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

From 1989 to 2012 I homeschooled non-stop. I spent hours everyday working with my kids, teaching them, giving them experiences, introduce them to unique ideas, and facilitating their learning. I loved it.

When I was divorced I had to go work. For me it was the first time in three decades that my life did not revolve around my family 100 percent. I tried very hard to continue homeschooling but I just couldn’t — not with four kids in grades three through ten.

I finally gave up and put them in a very small charter school. I love it because it is very personal, the classes are small, and they are all at the same school. Their teachers work with them over and above what they have to. For the most part they are dedicated, child oriented, and do almost as good of a job as I could have when I was not working.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately, like this one in Dallas News, that talk about how parents should be more involved in their children’s education. I don’t disagree, totally. I do have some frustration with that mentality though.

You see, like many of us, I work now. I don’t work at a 9 to 5 job and I don’t have a lot of free time. When I am with my kids, those very precious moments, I do not want to be doing school with them. If I had time to do that then I would have continued to homeschool.

Yes, parents need to be aware of  what’s going in school and they need to make sure their kids are being respectful and doing their work. I am just not convinced that I need to put in the extra time when they are in school eight hours a day. I am sure that sounds horrible but it is honest.

What are your thoughts?

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Putting an End to Endless Negotiation

Posted on Aug 29, 2014 by 1 Comment

I do not remember negotiating with my parents. I do remember being told what to do and knowing I had two choices. I could do it without a spanking or I could choose to have a spanking first.

Being a very intelligent child, and valuing the skin and nerve endings on my backside, I generally chose the former. My children?

Not so much.

I swear to you any one of my eight kids could have become a lawyer and I have a couple that could teach lawyers a thing or two about closing arguments and negotiations. Sometimes I am negotiated to the point of exhaustion.

Parenting is different now than it used to be — kids are different. Although my kids do negotiate more than I even even fantasized about they also talk to me more, confide in me more, and share more with me than I did with my parents.

That’s a good thing. And, truth be told, I don’t mind negotiating on certain things. Sometimes they have a good reason for wanting to do something that I don’t immediately understand.

The trick is that they have to learn, and I have to learn to let them know, when the negotiations have gone too far. At that point I think there should be a one time warning followed by reasonable consequences.

Kids are smart. It shouldn’t take more than once or twice for them to figure out where your line is. As always, consistency is key. Don’t allow them to harangue you past your point of no return one time and then stop them mid-sentence the next.

What is your stance on parent-child negotiation?

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Does It Matter If Your Child Is Choosing e-Books Over Books?

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 by No Comments

Technology has created a lot of new concerns right along with the benefits it holds. There are things that parents didn’t have to concern themselves with even fifteen years ago that are now really important consideration.

eBooks for example, have you ever wondered if it was better for your child to read an e-book or a hard-copy book — or if it even mattered?

Well, my mentality has pretty much always been that as long as they are reading, I am happy, but a little research has made me rethink my stance.

A report by the UK’s Literacy Trust analyzes kids’ reading habits in great detail. It was interesting to me that the kids who read e-books tended to read below level more than kids who read hard-copy.

They collected data from children all the way up through their teens and found that those who read hard-copy materials were the least likely to be below level than those who read e-books, although the e-book readers did better over all than the kids who just read blogs and text messages.

I am much more likely to read an e-book than a hard-copy book at this point in my life. Although I have had a lifelong love of reading, it is easier for me to pick up my iPhone or iPad and use the Kindle app when I have a few spare moments.

My Bible, devotionals, fiction, work related materials, and several cookbooks are all available to me whenever I want. I always thought the same would be true for my kids.

Now I am rethinking that and encouraging them, especially my younger readers, to pick up hard-copies at home and e-books when they have some spare time elsewhere. What are your thoughts?

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When Can My Kid Do Their Own Laundry?

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 by No Comments

I have had a theory that a child can start learning to help with laundry as soon as they can help separate colors and begin doing their own when they can put stuff in the machine. For my kids, the magic number has always been age eight.

When you have a lot of kids and spend long hours homeschooling it seems reasonable that your kids would learn to do something like laundry pretty early on. It is a good thing because there have been times that the only reason the had clean laundry was that they did it themselves. In fact, now there are times when the only reason I have laundry is because my kids do it for me!

Tips for Teaching Kids to Do Laundry

  • Start them early helping to sort colors, fold easy things like socks, and collecting dirty laundry.
  • Have them switch the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.
  • Let them add the detergent while you watch.
  • Have them help with the folding.

If you have them do small things right alongside you then they learn little by little.  As they get older they can be trusted to do more of their own laundry with less supervision from you.

It may sound silly but not doing their laundry has been a big weight off of me. If they can’t find socks or their favorite jeans shrink, it’s all on them — and that’s a very, very good feeling. The more kids can do for themselves the easier it is on them when they’re older.

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Don’t Even Consider Using Your Retirement for Your Kids’ Needs

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by 1 Comment

According to experts you should not even consider using any of your retirement for your kids’ college, or anything else. While we want to help our kids and make their lives better, all too often Mom and Dad are putting a negative strain on their own finances by doing so — at a time when we should be sprinting for the career finish line and padding our retirement funds with all we can.

Apparently nearly two-thirds of middle aged (and older) parents are helping to support their adult children in some way.

For most of us it is the economy. It’s more and more  difficult for young adults to find even part time jobs. There’s less funding for college, and it’s increasingly difficult to get a loan. A child’s divorce, loss of job, or other events swallow up our savings. Parents are stepping in to do what they always do — play a little fix it for the kids.

Helping adult children is not a terrible thing but the consequences can be serious if it isn’t handled correctly. It can be easy to begin something that turns into a monkey on your back without any good way of cutting it off. There are often no papers drawn up, agreements made, or boundaries set.

Can you say unrealistic? I knew you could.

What’s happening is that we are creating financially irresponsible adults who will need to be taken care of their whole lives. Like wild animal babies that have been raised by humans our kids simply don’t know how to survive in the wild. They become even more dependent on their parents than they were as children and eventually they expect to be taken care of and don’t understand the term, I can’t afford this anymore.

Parents, being parents, feel trapped by the monster they’ve created. They can’t just cut their child off and hope he makes it, can they?

The best scenario is that it never gets started. Parents should step in only when absolutely necessary and only for a set amount of time with agreed upon boundaries. Handing your kid money for groceries once in awhile is completely different than paying their rent for six months.

If you’ve allowed a situation to go on for too long the only thing you can do is to step in and put an end to it. You will have to watch you child struggle for awhile and it may be quite painful but eventually he’ll figure it out and learn to stand on his own two feet.

Using money that should be going into your retirement or, worse yet, using your retirement funds to provide for an adult family member is financial suicide. Just remember that when your retirement is gone the child you support now is the one who will have to be supporting you.

Scary isn’t it?

source : Kiplinger

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Revisit the Local Library

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

Technology has made many things that used to take time much faster. For example, you can go to the grocery store, buy a new dress, and make bank deposits all from your bedroom. You can fill your life with all of your favorite books, buying them and even borrowing them from the Internet.

It’s wonderful but there are things that we miss now because of it. It’s time to think about revisiting your local library.

The library has something that you won’t be able to download. It gives your kids relationships with books.

I have so many really good memories of time spent at the library when I was a child. I’d browse the aisles looking for just the right book. To this day the scent of old books is just relaxing to me.

My kids have many happy memories of time spent at the library either looking for books, for storytime, crafts, or whatever. They did reading club activities several summers in a row which earned them everything from their pictures in the paper to free pizza.

My youngest daughter has several books on my iPad. She takes it to bed with her and reads which makes me happy. Since she has been around I have had less time for trips to the library and I am afraid that she is going to miss out on those memories that I think are so important. Taking an hour or two and visiting the library can help your child learn about books in a way that downloading an eBook can’t.

Do you spend time at the library?

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Head Lice Happen

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

One of my favorite movies is I Don’t Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker playing a mom who battles with the perfectionist gene. I identify so closely with her that I could watch the movie every single day.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when she is on an important business trip and gets a call from the school that her child has lice.

We have only dealt with that once and it was a very long time ago. It still makes me feel crawly to think about it. We did get a letter home from the school last year letting us know that one of the students had been sent home with lice so I have been compulsively itching my head and checking the kids every ten minutes or so. No matter who you are, or how clean you are, head lice happen.

There are plenty of articles on how to deal with them. I don’t know about you but I am more interested in preventing them! Here are some things to talk to your child about that may keep those nasty critters away.

Obviously don’t share:

  • Brushes
  • Combs
  • Barrettes
  • Headbands
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Helmets
  • Ear buds and ear phones
  • Helmets
  • Ear muffs

It’s also good to teach your child to avoid head to head contact, as when they are looking at a book or computer website with a friend and their heads are in close proximity. Keeping your daughter’s long hair in a braid or pony tail may be helpful, too. Preventing lice is easier than getting rid of them, for sure!

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State Fairs Provide Family Time and Learning

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by No Comments

The Texas State fair is something that we, as a family, look forward to every year. The tickets and the parking are outrageous but there is so much to see and do (and eat) that it is worth it.

My husband likes the vendors areas where there are all kinds of things for sale that you might not ever see if it wasn’t for the fair. I like the wine and beer tastings that are hosted by the local wineries and breweries. I also love the quilts, horses, and food.

OK, I love all of it.

The kids like the Midway, the food, and getting the day off school — so it really is a win-win deal.

State fairs are a tradition that, for me anyway, reconnects me with the basics of life. There’s just something wholesome about looking at rows of canned vegetables, you know? It’s something that our country has grown past, a sort of simplicity that most of us long for but rarely find.

Getting outside and walking around, seeing all of the sights, tasting way too much greasy food, and spending time together with the people you love best is something that you just never regret doing.

Last year we went for the food. The Texas State Fair is known for some of the weirdest fried foods on the planet. Things like fried butter, chicken fried bacon, fried Nutella, and fried Koolaid are just a few of the things that will have you popping Alka-Seltzer for the rest of the night.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you should never give up a chance to spend time with your family. Maybe it won’t be the state fair but make sure that you take time to build both memories and traditions, OK?

It’s what makes life rich.

image: Marye Audet

Where Have All the Adults Gone?

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

Have you noticed that the gulf between children and adults seems to be getting smaller and smaller? It’s more and more difficult to look at someone and say, “Yep, there goes and adult!”

Parents used to have certain activities that they did that were totally different than what kids did. Parents paid bills, grocery shopped, went to work, and watched the evening news when they got home from work. Sometimes on the weekends they played board games with the family or had some mysterious event called a date night.

Dads came home from work and changed from suits and ties into chino pants and button shirts. Now-a-days you’d call it dress casual. Back then it was called clothing.

Parents had their own world and kids had their own world. Once in a while the two worlds collided and it was called either the weekend or vacation. The idea of being a grownup was exciting, mysterious, and intriguing – kids couldn’t wait.

I don’t know how it was in your era but that’s how it was in mine.

It’s more difficult to see the differences now. I see parents sitting at restaurants texting and playing games on their phones. I do it myself – no judgment from me. More than one adult in my family got Pokémon themed items for Christmas last year because they just gotta catch them all.

Adults have more free time than ever before and they do things that used to be associated with childhood like just hanging out with friends, playing the xBox, or walking around the mall.

It’s just so weird to me. Again, I do these things so I am not judging. I am just wondering when we made that decision to move to Never-Never Land and just never grow up.

I wear similar clothing to my daughters. I can’t imagine my mom wearing the same kind of clothes as me when I was a teen but here I am, sitting in the foyer at church while my kids are at youth. I’m wearing gray Uggs, gray skinnies, and a black tweed sweater. There is nothing that screams “I’m a MOM” about this outfit.

I have a large reach on social media and I spend time on Facebook. I have been known to type things like, OMG and WTF. I do draw the line at calling an outfit totes presh.

And I am glad about that.

Adults are important. They lead the world, they keep the rest of humankind safe, and they make rational decisions. Maybe playing Pokemon doesn’t keep you from making those decisions but I wonder if it keeps us from being taken seriously by our kids.

Adults didn’t used to worry whether or not they were cool. They worried about the bills being paid, whether or not they could afford a nicer car, and … you know… adult stuff.

I find that I have more in common with my kids than my parents did with me. We talk about things that I never would have talked about with my mom. I think that’s good in many ways. The other side of that coin is that I wonder if they are as secure as I was. After all, if your parents aren’t any more mature than you are, who’s going to catch you?

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