Tag Archives: parenting

10 times you can rip that phone from your kid’s hand

27 Aug

(Something I wrote a while back, while thinking about a story for a parenting site.)

Bothered by the sight of your teen’s cell phone practically hot-glued to his or her hand? Do her eyes rarely meet yours because she is waiting for a text message? Does he always have his hand in the cell phone pocket of his jeans? Do your kids contend they’re listening to you even while their thumbs are bouncing on the keypad at a furious pace?

C’mon, cast aside your sweet memories of how the whining ceased when you bought them that expensive thing. Sure, it’s a relief to know they have it in case of emergency. But we know you’re sick of how they love their phone more than they love you. So, courage, fellow parents. Here are:

10 Times You Can Put Your Foot Down and Tell Them to Put the Phone Down

1. When you are at a sit-down family dinner in a restaurant.
2. When you are discussing their grades with them.
3. When you are visibly distraught over something and need to talk to them, whether the issue directly concerns them or not.
4. When you are upset that they have exceeded their phone minutes.
5. When you are explaining why they are grounded.
6. When they are meeting someone for the first time.
7. When they are driving … yikes! Seriously, put your foot down.
8. When your family is at a funeral.
9. When they are holding something fragile … like a newborn (I really saw this once).
10. When you just can’t stand it anymore. Be the adult — take charge.

(Brought to you by Parents Against Cell Phone Addiction)


Instilling a love of reading, by whatever means

31 Jul

An online teaser for the New York Times Sunday Review section of July 31 got my attention: “Bribe Kids to Read.”

I clicked and it got me to an opinion piece by young-adult author Maile Meloy, in which she weaves a nostalgic tale of being required by her father to read 10 books before she could get a shiny new 10-speed bike. She was 10 at the time, and in the piece she confesses that she doesn’t remember the contents of the books all that well. Still, the goal of 10 books — a goal she met — and the actual books (The Scarlet Letter, Jane Eyre, Tom Sawyer) are quite impressive.

Meloy explains that developing a love of reading was simply an expectation in her family; they didn’t know that it would help lead her to a life as a writer. Here’s a nice sentence:

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I was 10, but I think that having all those books and sentences composting in my brain may have pushed me toward becoming a writer in the long run,” Meloy says.

The teacher in me wants to say to parents, “So how about it? How about bribing your kids to read?” Especially as they begin to outgrow picture books and move into books for middle-school readers and above. If bribery is what it takes, then bribery it should be. It doesn’t mean you’re expecting them to be writers; it just means you’re expecting them to understand the world through excellent writing. It means you’re steering them — through osmosis, if you will — to the art of good writing and storytelling; you are nurturing their critical thinking; you are helping them in so many other ways.

My experience in teaching freshman and sophomore English classes is that way too many kids come in without a good foundation in reading, which makes their required readings in Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Homer and other greats incredibly hard for them at times. Many kids struggle with keeping their eyes on the page, with sorting out the details of plots, and with understanding the nuances of characters.

But I have to say that it’s a fantastic feeling to lead a reluctant reader to a book that he or she loves. I’ve seen high school kids devour young-adult books, and bookstores offer such a fantastic selection, even in these post-Harry Potter days.

So my advice is, don’t assume that your child will learn to love reading just by virtue of being in a classroom. Guarantee that it happens by instituting good reading habits at home. And if you have to, bribe them.

Single Mom By Choice

15 Apr

I was with my mother the other day when I got introduced to her neighbor and the conversation turned to the neighbor’s young son. “I’m a single mom by choice,” she said to me. While I will grant that this was interesting information, it made me wonder why she was so eager, even anxious, to let me know that fact within minutes of meeting me. Was I supposed to gather that she had been freed of an awful husband or partner? Was she letting it be known that she is highly capable of making choices, whatever they are? Was she putting in a good word for sperm donation? Was she celebrating motherhood, in whatever its form? Was I looking hot that day and she was emphasizing the word “single”? In front of my mother? I blush ….

This called for a Google search! And lo and behold, “single mom by choice” is so pervasive on the web that it probably has an acronym and I never knew it: SMBC.

Kind of like DINK (Double Income No Kids). I myself am a LITKM (pronounced LIT-kam), or Lousy Income Two Kids and Married.

The potpourri of websites for SMBC’s includes: singlemothersbychoice.org, choosingsinglemotherhood.com, singlemothers.org, singlemombychoice.com and singlemommyhood.com.

Wow — more power to ya, ladies! Remember TV’s Murphy Brown, as played by Candice Bergen? And the whole Dan Quayle display of ignorance over single motherhood? Wouldn’t Murph be proud ….

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