Too Much “Entitlement”, How to get your kids to do more

It’s funny how we have been living in families for so many thousands of years, but the modern family is so new that we don’t really understand the dynamics of it.  Our relationships to our partners is new where love as the basis for marriage came around less than 100 years ago.   Our relationships to children is dramatically different, with social influences and online access to information there are many outside influences that we may not agree with.

We are in the age of privilege where entitlement is a common complaint of the upcoming generation.  Kids these days hardly hear the word no, and rarely have to wait to get the toys they want.  It boggles my mind because it seems like we are making the parenting job so much more difficult.

o-TAKE-YOUR-KIDS-TO-WORK-DAY-facebookI agree with child labor laws to prevent us from working our children, but now we also seem to limit their contributions around the house.  As kids help less and less around the house, parents now have to work more to fill in that deficit.  And now that the kids are bored, without a sense of purpose, we have to create positive activities and parents rush around to get their kids to soccer practice on Monday night, Scouts meetings on Tuesday, the Math Tutor on Wednesday, a soccer fundraiser on Thursday, and Joey’s house on Friday night.

Jennifer Senior captured my thoughts exactly in her Ted Talk.  I suggest listening to the excerpt on the TED Radio Hour which interweaves an interview with Jennifer between the TED presentation.  She gets to this point: we have limited our goal of parenting to “Making them Happy.”  Now we all can debate the success of this goal for ourselves, and everyone we know.  But my question is how do we get back to wanting to teach our children “to function as an adult.” I see it in my nephews, and people all around us.  They are not learning to how to make a plan, solve problems themselves, manage finances, challenge advertising claims which may be deceiving.

Well Bruce Feiler’s Ted Talk addresses this issue and proposes a solution.  A way to get your kids to do more that helps out the family, and teaches them responsibility to be successful in life.

Well I might be biased, growing up as the oldest of 5 kids I had the responsibility burden when there were problems in the family.  Some people pity my childhood of cleaning, cooking and laundry for the whole family starting at age 9, but I wouldn’t trade my situation now.  No debt, paid for school, motivated and confident enough to pursue what I think is right for me.  People want to think that they are raising good people, and that is enough.  Well all my siblings are good people because of our family values, so yes that is important.  But one sibling did not get the responsibility role and now struggles to provide for himself and his family.  His work ethic is just a bit different and my parents still support him in various ways.

I think we need to give kids more responsibility, teach them how to get through it, and be supportive as they learn, but continue adding increased responsibility.  We see so many outreach programs for kids that have positive effects, many of them are successful due to the opportunity for responsibility given to young people.  This is the best time for them to learn, we should not rob them of that opportunity.

When you buy an iPhone, where does the money go?

Where people expect the money goes

Where people expect the money goes

Where the money actually goes

Where the money actually goes

I find this pretty surprising myself.  For the 5 minute explanation from Robert Reich, see this video on Upworthy.com. It’s funny that he talks about the economy and the decrease of unions being linked to income inequality.  Today I saw another video explanation, also by Robert Reich, on the rising gap in the U.S. economy, talking about the number of unions rising after WWI.  It’s part of a series of videos called Inequality for All.  Another in the series talks to some people working at an energy plant, and really brings home the question about corporate profits and what is the value of the work people do.  Productivity has been increasing and stress is so high.  I support the recent discussion to raise minimum wage.  It’s not a simple answer, and it may not fix the problems as John Green explains here.   Personally, I can’t believe Walmart can use the catch phrase “Save Money, Live Better” in their ads, as it turns out, we pay $6,000 or more per Walmart Employees due to their low wages.  The government is busy chasing their own tail in elections, they will never fix the problem, because corporations have no incentive.  But someone out there has the answer, and collectively we have the ability to make things better.  That’s why I have increased my spending at stores offering a decent wage and benefits to their employees.  If it means I have to eat out less to save money, that is fine.  If it means I buy more second hand, no problem.  We have more than any other country in the world, we will not suffer. Personally I love the work Mike Rowe (former Dirty Jobs TV show host) is doing.  His promotion of skilled labor is idea for getting people into decent jobs, and improving the situation in the US.  It’s time we stop doing crappy work because we’re being treated like crap.  Personally, when I go on a construction site, I want to see the work being done well.  Check out his website Profoundly Disconnected.

One last tidbit, how does this relate to health care costs in the US.  Yep, saw a John Green video on that today too.  Because we don’t have bargaining power with the providers of medical devices and medications… sounds a lot like the problem of not having bargaining power for salaries due to the lack of unions.  I wonder…

Online Tax Software

I personally have used H&R Block and TaxAct before.  They both seemed fine.  H&R Block is a bit more expensive this year.  So how do I decide?

This online article comparison was EXTREMELY helpful.  Given the 10/10 rating for TaxAct on Thoroughness, I’ll put up with a little difficulty in use.  The good thing about filing now, is the return is processed quickly.  Happy tax  season everyone.

Oh yeah, and if you wonder why Social Security taxes went up so much, it’s because the Bush cuts expired.

We should have ONE day without shopping

Good old New England, it’s illegal for many store to open Thanksgiving Day in 3 of our states! People have three other days to shop, we don’t need Thursday. For the chains that open elsewhere on T-day, I’m boycotting them for the rest of the year.

BAD LIST:
Open in Morning: Best Buy, Kmart, Lord & Taylor
Not open til evening: Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, JC Penny, Kohls, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Sears, Office Depot, Office Max, Michaels

GOOD LIST:
Pier One, Nordstorm’s, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Ross Stores, Lowe’s, Von Maur and Cabela’s, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Radio Shack

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/thanksgiving-shopping-ban_n_4346023.html

Un-Photoshopped Photos

Yay!!!!!!  Verily magazine has promised not to retouch photos before printing.  Some celebs out there have expressed outrage when their images are modified to show an unrealistic portrayal of the bodies and features (scroll down this article to see the extent that Photoshopping changes how the clothes fit on women).  Men are also changed, and scroll that page down to see the before and after of a photo ad of Britney Spears.  This collection gives are non-modified images of some celebrities.  Check out the step by step process of making a model in this video.

Two photos of Kelly Clarkson taken about the same time frame, yes, that's Kelly.

Two photos of Kelly Clarkson taken about the same time frame, yes, that’s Kelly.

This view of people, men and women, has an effect on our self perception and how we define the level of normal to which we compares ourselves, and may increase violence against women.  Even the most conscientious person can be affected by viewing so many unrealistic pictures.

Sure, make-up and lighting can still do a lot.  But look at the extent of Photoshopping in this documentary video, and how easy it is to change the image with the click of a button.  “How does it feel to try to keep up with the impossible?”  It makes us feel out of control…

One girl has convinced Seventeen Magazine to stop doctoring photos for their magazine.  Next they’re petitioning Teen Vogue, click here to sign the petition.

What I learned Today …

This lessons spans a few days.  A couple weeks ago I heard this story about the rise of urban bee keepers.   This increase is a good thing for bees and agriculture, but the uncoordinated effort of keeping bees in urban areas where there may not be enough food for them is also problematic.  So before you decide to get your own colony, you want to find out how many other colonies are in the area.

thIf you have been completely sheltered around 2006 or so, then it could be possible that you don’t know about the decline of bees.  Researchers still aren’t completely sure on what is going on, but there does seem to be a link with pesticide use, and pollution.

Then today, I heard a TED Talk about the importance of bees and the cause of their recent decline.  I knew bees were important, but I didn’t know that 1/3 of food in the U.S. is grown with the help of bee pollinators.   This talk gives a simple way to help bees.  Plant more flowers!  This will give more food for the colonies to thrive and bee keepers can keep their colonies.  And it will make our neighborhoods more attractive too.  Who wants to mow the grass, and

Almonds rely solely on bees to product their nuts, many other fruits and vegetables.  Maybe you can live without brussels spouts, but personally I don’t want to give up my watermelon, avocados, or kiwifruit.  Oh yeah, don’t forget about delicious honey!  It’s an essential ingredient in your favorite breakfast cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios.  It’s not just our food that relies on bees.  Next time you’re eating meat or dairy, that hay or alfalfa to feed the animal was grown with bee pollinators.  Now we listen to Noah Wilson’s TED Talk and he explains his research on how to make bees healthier.

You know what else helps our crops grow?  I can’t even bring myself to write the name of this byproduct of natural decomposition.  Let me just say, the millions of gallons of this byproduct was shipped from NYC to Colorado because it was so helpful on the farm.  But now, it’s cheaper to add it to a landfill.  I think it’s safe to say, you make a little everyday yourself.  It’s the same idea as this description of how whales complete the circle of life and produce the nutrient that their own food needs to thrive.

On the Verge of Revolution…

This is not about Syria, or Egypt, or the European Union, or any other countries experiencing unrest due to political and economic issues.  I expect this revolution is occurring in the United States of America (U.S.).  And I think the upcoming Millennial Generation (a.k.a. Generation Y) will provide the innovation needed for this revolution to prosper.

Unfortunately, the fractionated nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests (OWS), prevented the protests from initiating real change.  OWS’s general complaint is that a small group of the population (the 1%) controls and benefits from the current capitalistic social model.   Before we get into the details of this problem, let’s go back to the Millennials.   Full disclosure: although I am at the cusp of the divide between generations X and Y, I consider myself part of gen X based on the characteristic descriptions and the typical  calendar cut-offs.

Although each generation complains about the group that follows, stereotyping the group based on their phase of life instead of their unique traits.  We all develop and grow with life experience, and so looking at the generations that follows, it’s natural to view the less experienced generation as self-centered.  But when you really look at the Millennial generation, they are already doing profound things.  The second TED Talk featured in this NPR program describes how young people are having a significant impact and are already getting involved with important issues.  It appears the supposed narcissistic generation which only does something for instant gratification, is having to deal with some pretty tough circumstances and is using their confidence to do work beyond themselves.   I see significant social benefits to the Millennial Generation.

The expanding economic gap between the 1% and the 99% is blamed for just about every problem we can think of in the US.  From low wage jobs, to the increasing cost of everything.  I say this is a consequences of capitalism (RSA Video); capitalism incentivizes people to do more for less, improve efficiency, to cheat and manipulate for profits.   The priority to succeed financially has gone awry, and in the process our value on money has defined our self worth.  Generation Y is trying to determine how to reward doing the right thing, helping others, treating your employees well, building stronger and better communities.  We know the answer, but the current economics and definitions of success have yet to incentivize the social good we now value.

doing-good-for-businessBusiness is slow to change, but some companies are finding new models to motivate their staff and still improve profits.  Going green has been good for business lately; as is developing sustainability, providing human rights to factory workers, etc.  Right now you can find out the business practices for some companies and products, check out the Good Guide website or phone app.  Eventually, doing the right thing will have a higher priority than profits benefiting the 1%.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the next business model.

Additional Content Relevant to this Discussion

Giving stuff Away for Free

Life Is Too Short

I love TED Talks, there are so many inspiring, inquisitive, and informational talks to watch.  From Steve Jobs to Stephen Hawking.  NPR has a radio program where they feature a few of talks that have similar subjects.  It’s super fascinating to me, to get a coordinated presentation of talks.  And it’s FREE, at least it’s no additional charge beyond what you already pay for your internet streaming/downloading device.

This week’s show is about giving things away for free.  It’s funny because today we want everything for free.  And we want it quick, and 100% accurate.  But it takes time and money to get the right answer, to produce the radio/TV program etc., and to make it available to the public.

free-stuffIt’s also funny to me that we don’t want to pay people too much for services, we’ll drive 5 miles away to save $3 at the store, or to have…

View original post 200 more words

New Federal law on Sunscreen

This article summarizes the science behind the new law, here are some highlights:

  • zinc-oxide-on-nose_thumbSunscreen marketing cannot say waterproof or sweat-proof – I wonder why they could say that before if it wasn’t true.
  • “Broad Spectrum” is allowed for products shown to prevent sunburn (from UVA rays) and skin cancer/aging (UVB rays).
  • If it’s not effective against both kinds of rays, the label must say that it only prevents against sunburn and it does not protect against skin cancer/aging.

There are a lot of questions about sunscreens.  Which ingredients are more harmful than helpful?  Are the best products available in the US?  Are spray on sunscreens okay to use?  I don’t know these answers, and I don’t know the best source for information on these either.   The Environmental Working Group, rated 4 star on Charity Navigator, has some tips on these topics.

You might also check your favorite sunscreen product rating on Good Guide to see how environmentally friendly it is.