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.

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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…

View original post 1,453 more words

College Savings

If you are happy to trust financial information without second-guessing, then you will not enjoy this post.   Personally, I can’t trust anything without significant evaluation.

I recently tried to plan a way of investing in my nephews future, but I do not assume that they will all go to college.  So I want an option that does not require college enrollment to access the money.  Basically, no plan takes away the money because the kid doesn’t go to college.  However, there are fees or penalties for withdrawing money for other purposes.

Surprisingly, Roth IRA’s are listed as an option for savings.  Money used for education can be withdrawn without the typical penalties if the money is withdrawn before the minimum age.  But the child has to be old enough to have a job to enroll in this plan.   I like the fact that this plan encourages the kids to keep the money in the IRA account if they don’t use the money for college; so that the money grows even more over time.

With each savings option, there are concerns over fees, impact on financial aid for the kids, and tax issues.  I found this comparison table very helpful for making my decision.  According to this financially savey engineer, it may be more profitable to rely on tax credits instead of tax savings.  Also, not all 529 plans are good plans, some have better investment options than others. Tips to know about 529 plans:

  • You can change the investment options for the plan once per year
  • You can chance the beneficiary for the plan once per year
  • Check the list of qualified expenses the plan $ can be used for
  • When you withdraw money from the plan, if it’s paid directly to the student instead of the institution, there may be a penalty to the student on their Financial Aid Application for the following year
  • Read the fineprint for any plan before enrolling

I’m not knowledgeable enough to help you decide, but here are a few resources:

The Fight against Bullying

Raise your hand if you have been bullied at some point in your life.  If you can read this, I expect you are raising your hand.  It doesn’t matter what age, gender, skin color, native language, etc.  It’s a natural reaction when we are not taught to behave otherwise.  Typically bullying is a reaction to stress (www.bullying.org).  And who is not stressed at some point in their life?

The number of groups and news reports about bullying gives me hope that we will soon have the tools to stop the bullying behavior.   Dateline even did an episode secretly watching kids to see if they will participate in bullying.  Ways people are stopping Bullying behavior:

What if your child is the bully?

Thanks to RaisingAwareness for your post and reminding me to complete this post.

Watch Out – Stop Eating Microwave Popcorn!

So someone ingeniously figured out how to make popcorn more dangerous and charge more money for it. And most people foolishly bought Microwave Popcorn, including myself.

There are potentially/confirmed dangerous chemicals in the butter for microwave popcorn. Half the corns doesn’t pop, or gets burned while trying to pop a decent amount in the bag. Trust me, the only thing worse than stinking up the office with popcorn smell, is stinking up the office with burned popcorn smell; which for some reason clings to my hair and clothes to remind me of the awful decision to make a quick snack. And thats all the single serving bags are good for, i can’t get a serving of edible popcorn from it. I’m not a big fan of too much butter or salt either.

Now that I have a gas stove again, I’m back to popping corn in a pot with a little bit of oil, over medium heat. Kids are fascinated by this alternative popcorn production. But I could also get an air popper and save money and my health that way too.

Philanthrophy and Kids Education

is the solution to all problems.  The more we educate future generations, they will have the tools and resources to change the world. Unfortunately the funding for education if often targeted when municipal budget cuts are needed.

International Programs

  • The SOLD Project provides education scholarships for Thai children, resulting in reduced prostitution in Thailand.  Thanks to Heather and Michael Colletto for their post on this program.
  • buildOn after school kids program in the U.S. raises money and supplies to build schools in developing countries.
  • Youth Action International is a program that organizes youth in industrialized nations to provide economic empowerment for war-affected youth in Africa.
  • An independent film shown on PBS stations Children of Haiti tells the story of undereducated children in Haiti, before the earthquake.  Assistance to Haiti must be coordinated and focused on solving the problems of a corrupt and unorganized government, described by the U.N. official in a Frontline episode Battle for Haiti.  The University of Pennsylvania is also blogging about addressing the most critical problems in Haiti on their blog about High Impact Philanthropy.
  • Kids for Peace has programs in the US to promote cross-cultural experiences and environmental projects.
  • Help children learn to read in Kenya.
  • One Laptop per Child distributes laptops to kids around the world.

U.S. Based Programs

All I Ever Need to Know – I Learned in Kindergarten

Now there is more evidence for this popular catechism.  On this Podcast from NPR, we hear some powerful evidence for the benefits of attending Preschool and the surprising statistics for kids who did attend preschool.  Apparently the evidence from this study of 123 kids has been supported by additional studies around the country.

For example, people who attended preschool earned an average of 30% more from their jobs.  Girls were 50% more likely to have a savings account.  The practical point of the story is that our brains are wired a certain way and we have a narrow window of opportunity to learn certain skills, after that there is a much smaller chance that we’ll learn those skills.  So we should be proactive in teaching future generations these skills.

Many crutial learning skills are developed even before presechool, especially language skills.  Some research shows that language gaps in place by the age of 4 are difficult to eliminate.

For more details on the book “All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Do we worry TOO much?

I definitely worry too much.  Something in my brain makes me feel personally responsible for everything and want to work towards a solution.  Sometimes this is helpful and sometimes this causes undue stress over something I cannot control.

But it’s funny how often everything just works out.  In the end, looking back and as Steve Jobs would say in his Stamford commencement speech “connecting the dots” and seeing how events we felt were disruptive to our life resulted in a positive outcome.

I think of people who have children with a disability in this way.   Like my brother Matt, who has always wanted children and always wanted the typical family life.  When his first born was diagnosed with a sensory disorder that is in the autism family, and even though he was studying to be a nurse he would not accept the doctors diagnosis  and remained in denial for about a year.  This shattered my brother’s dream for a typical family with sons he could play sports with and do cool things with.  In the past year and a half, special schooling and training has helped my nephew develop language skills so that he is nearly on par with his age-group, and we have watched him face his fears as he walks across those bouncy bridges on the playground saying “Just one step at a time.”  As it turns out, I think my nephew is the perfect son for my brother.  He gets excited about any sports team my brother loves, he says the funniest things that my brother teaches him, and just before his 4th Birthday he rode is first roller coaster and is super excited about going to Disneyland.  It turns out the disability provided cherished characteristics.  I imagine this nephew will always love his parents unconditionally, which is the essential part of Matt’s desire to be a parent.

My second brother Andy also has an amazing son who seems well suited to my brother’s personality.  This nephew is not afraid of anything and loves playing outdoors and doing boy things.  They go fishing, go to the Monster Truck show, love motorbikes and like my brother is super smart.  I’m sure these characteristics will have their challenges, if not now then certainly in the teenager years.  But it’s the best combination I can imagine for Andy.

It’s hard for me to rest assured that “everything will work out.”  Watching the events in Syria, Iran, China, Sudan, Somalia etc.  makes me wonder if this idea that “everything will work out” may not be universal.