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.


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.

Love and Marriage…

first-date-worries-400x300Two really good talks about love and marriage:

Ester Perel gives a summary of her book Mating in Captivity, explains how in love we seek security but in romance we seek adventure.  How do we achieve both in one partner?  This is basically the theme of the story Anna Karenina, who struggles to be faithful to her loving husband or give is to her passionate lover.

Jenna McCarthy talks about some of the universal secrets of successful relationships.


This PBS documentary provides an interesting history of marriage.

Dear parents, you need to control your kids. Sincerely, non-parents

If this story is true, it shows that real life can be even more amazing than fictional stories.

The Matt Walsh Blog

To the fan I lost yesterday:

I don’t owe you an explanation, but I thought I’d offer one anyway. I do this more for your sake than mine. You see, maybe, as you later suggested, I was in a bad mood. Maybe I could have been a bit more polite about it. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it now that I have kids. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing these comments about parents. Maybe I know that my wife has to take the twins with her when she goes grocery shopping sometimes, so she could easily be on the receiving end of your sort of bullying. Maybe I took it personally.

Whatever the case, there I was, walking down the aisles of the grocery store looking for the ingredients for a new chili recipe I wanted to try. I heard the kid screaming from a distance; the whole store heard…

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Stop and Smell the Flowers

Last night, while reading a book for pleasure 🙂 an important life lesson was dropped in my lap.  This morning, a powerful endorsement of that message popped up on a friends Facebook page.  This one is not going to be easy to fix for me, and it’s going to take some serious time for me to learn how to even begin.

“One of the reasons for anxiety and depression in the high attainers is that they’re not having good relationships.  They’re busy making money and attending to themselves and that means that there’s less room in their lives for love and attention and caring and empathy and the things that truly count.” ~Daniel Pink in the book Drive

The Day I stopped saying “Hurry Up” article by Rachel Macy Stafford, although she writes this to her daughters, it can be true for friends, spouse, coworkers, etc.

When to say “I Love You”

Love is a perception, and we all perceive things differently.  And since English uses only 1 word for so many emotions and different kinds of love, to me that makes the meaning of love very fluid.  Since people interpret love in the way that works for them at the moment, what do they actually mean when they say – “I Love You”

bigstockphoto_rose_heart_25472772Generally I think love is a combination of the following, depending on the situation: happiness/pleasure, lust, devotion, care, acceptance, tolerance, respect, admiration, excitement, comfort …

The Future of Education – Happy Teachers Day

Thank you to all of the Teachers around the world, who have the most difficult job and one of the most under-appreciated jobs.happy-teachers-day-wallpapers

There is so much research on education, it’s difficult to think we will ever have the right answer.  And maybe that is the answer, that there isn’t a RIGHT answer.

For one, I don’t believe there is a magic formula to achieve universal learning.  People are so different, with strengths and weaknesses, now evaluated by 24 different characteristics, with at least three different learning styles, etc.  But to know where we are going in education, we have to at least know where we are now.

Right now the education system outlines specific goals for each age group, independent of ability, socioeconomic background, support from home, etc.  We then test students on these limited goals which may evaluate knowledge more than intelligence or understanding.

I’m reading How Children Succeed… by Paul Tough, but you can get a snapshot of the book from this New York Times article.  One underlying idea, briefly mentioned, is not that the school environment is not only a place of instruction.  Rather, it’s a place for therapy, where children are improving the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals.  Okay, this idea is also forming from a TED Talk discussion I just listened to on the TED Radio Hour by NPR.  Specifically the talk by Rita Pierson who shows how human relationships are mechanisms for learning.  That’s why some teachers are better for students to learn from, because they are able to develop such strong relationships with the students.  Although it wasn’t discussed in depth, she gives an example of the relationships which address the child’s individual need which allows the child to achieve more in their education.  I think we all sort of knew this, and we know of many great teachers accomplishing this with their students, such as Mr. Foteah who is also a fantastic blogger.

So we go to school for therapy, to address the issues and behavioral problems that interfere with learning.  Now thinking about the future of learning…

In that same collection of TED Talks from the NPR radio show, listen to the bits by Suguta Mitra.  He did some experiments which show how children can teach themselves difficult material.  Even very poor children who have no idea what a computer is or how to speak English.  If you have heard about the Khan Academy, and if you have ever taken an online course, we can see a shift coming in the education system.  People choose what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it.  Salman Khan talks about how his online courses allow students to prep for classroom lectures in advance and teachers now use class time to help students master the skill.  This will allow students to learn at their own pace, and hopefully as the students identifies their best method of learning, they can become more efficient in the learning process.  So the teachers role as an instructor might be reduced even further.  There will be more time to deal with the “therapy work” for students, to help them stay motivated, and help them develop “character” (discussed in the book How Children Succeed).

Not that this is an easy task.  How does one person identify the specific needs of 120 students, and find positive ways to address each of those issues?   But in a way, it’s part of their task now, along with the instructive tasks.

What if education can be a “learn at your own pace” with the instructor meant to get to know you to help you identify challenges and develop methods of overcoming them.  And to help evaluate your learning achievement.  Is that the system we can expect?

Being Better Parents

I heard this story on the radio show This American Life, and it made me think.  Most parents are trying to give their kids a “better life.”  The dad in the story is maybe an extreme version of a particular behavior that I think all people share.  The main story is a bit crazy to think about, but the underlying story between the dad and the two daughters is interesting and I think enlightening about human nature in general.

The dad had a rough childhood, and we don’t get the full story of what he went through but apparently it involved verbal and physical abuse.  For him, he knew that was not good parenting and he wanted to do better with his own children.  Although he did better than his parents, it was still not good enough to earn the respect of his two daughters and the girls have now cut off contact with him.  Surprisingly, some of the behavior he hated in his own parents, he repeated toward his own family.  It’s hard to know how conscious his re-enactment of the bad behaviors, because during the interview he denies that part of the story.

If the story is true, we can imagine how the dad developed coping mechanisms to distort reality, just to deal with the abuse he suffered as a kid.  In a way, although he knew this behavior was not normal, it was normal to him.  And therefor, the definition of being a good parent was altered to believe that being better than his parents was enough.  I believe, that in a way, his entire parenting process was an attempt to hide the difficulties of his own childhood.  However, having not dealt with his difficult childhood, he wasn’t prepared to be a supportive and non-abusive father.

The same discussion happens in the end of this Radiolab story.  The initial story is wildly unusual.  But it circles around to another difficult childhood and lifelong consequences as a person and a parent.