Teaching Children to be Good People – A chat with Annie Fox

teachingKidsHiResCoverI had the opportunity to have a chat a while back with with Annie Fox, an educator, novelist, radio host and  allround bright light in the world of parenting, about her book Teaching Children to be Good People.

Being the curmudgeon I am, I just had to take the opportunity to ask a few Eeyoresque questions about whether it is even possible in today’s world to teach kids anything, never mind how to be a good person. I mean really, is there any hope for our future or are kids today just a lost cause?…

In classic Annie Fox fashion, she manages to throw a wrench into the works and gives me some hope that raising our kids to be “Good People” might still be possible.

I’ll start off with an easy one… When you say a good person what are we talking about?

Well, “we” may not be talking about the same thing at all, Keith, but when I use the term “good person” I’m talking about someone who’s actively compassionate. It’s not enough to care about other people. Caring is good, of course and it’s a start, but if caring stops with feelings and thoughts but never moves into action then it isn’t all that helpful, is it? For me, a good person is one who consciously looks for opportunities to be helpful, to do good in the world and then, when s/he finds an opportunity, s/he takes action.

Do you think your definition might just be a misty water memory of days gone by? I mean, people can easily come up with the answer we all want to hear, like when you crowd-sourced the definition for your book but do people really believe in what they are saying? 

I wasn’t giving out chocolate bars for the “right” answers, so, yeah, I believe the folks who responded to my query “What’s your definition of a good person?” really believe what they wrote. At least that’s the impression I got from their very thoughtful answers. Whether they actually live their lives that way, I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that there is a tremendous amount of “good work” being done in the world by millions of people involved in all kinds of humanitarian aid distribution, relief efforts, education, medical outreaches, etc. I’m willing to bet there are more people involved in global, regional, community-based and individual good works now then ever before in the history of the world. And we need those good people more than ever because of the scope and frequency of the challenges so many people face.

Perhaps I should reframe that last question. Do you think people may know what a good person is but because of external pressures the world places on us, being that person has become impossible whether it be in whole or in part?

I’m not talking about some level of “goodness” that rivals Mother Theresa or The Dalai Lama. I’m just talking about being kind and helpful. Whether you’re in a high-pressured life situation (professionally or personally) shouldn’t impact your ability to notice what’s going on with the people around you and respond in a way that is helpful. If we are “too busy” to notice how the folks we live and work with are doing, then we’re dangerously busy and we’re losing far more than we’re gaining by pursuing that path. I mean, really, at the end of the day (at the end of your life) you’re probably more likely to measure your “success” as a person in terms of the quality of the relationships you’ve maintained. Healthy relationships (the only kind worth having) depend on an ability to tune into the needs of others with compassion and understanding, to communicate (talk and listen) effectively, and to manage your emotions responsibly.

In your book, you talk about how communication between parents and children is important in creating or raising a good person. In my opinion, this is a relatively new thing. When I was a kid, talking about how you felt, what you thought… Was not done. You were measured by your actions in the community not the tune that you sang. This suggests to me that teaching your kids how to be “Good people” is more than just talk and feelings… Thoughts?

As I said before, it’s not enough to be a “nice” person… you also need to do good in relation to others. I assume the parents who are drawn to the title of my book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People, don’t need convincing that raising kids of good character is good idea. They’re already onboard. They just want to know how to do it. Yes, it’s true, I write a lot about effective communication between parents and kids. Part of the transmission of good character is done through modeling  Parent behaves in a friendly, respectful manner toward spouse, child, neighbour  waiter, cashier, etc. and son or daughter takes in many lessons just from observing. But character isn’t transmitted by osmosis alone. That’s where communication comes in. The book offers the reader lots of tips about improving parent-child communication. (An especially challenging art form when the kids reach middle school and beyond!) I include a recurring section called Conversations That Count, where there’s a topic and some suggested open-ended questions that (hopefully) will result in a meaningful dialogue between parent and child where both are teaching and learning from each other. Too many of us tend to limit our conversations to the “Is your homework done yet?” variety. That’s not a conversation! Our kids are growing and changing as they hyper-warp toward young adulthood. If we want to stay connected with the people they are becoming (so we can continue to influence them) we need to talk less and listen more. We also need to be the kind of parent who is easy to talk to. The book helps a lot with that.

You mention “not being good enough” a couple times in your book and this lends itself to the question of whether or not you feel that we (as a society) have begun to define “good person” by more narcissistic measures such as image and success?

The short answer is: yes. Sadly so. I’ve been on the receiving end of email from tweens and teens since 1997. A full 30% of the email I get expresses, in one way or another, feelings of personal dissatisfaction. Kids frequently express feelings of not being:  thin enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, athletic enough, rich enough, popular enough, cool enough or hot enough. Basically, they’re saying “I’m not good enough.” Their putdowns are a form of self-bullying. It has become such a habit with many kids that when I point it out, typically, they’re very surprised. When I ask, “If a friend put himself or herself down in the way you put yourself down, what would you say?” And they usually answer, “I’d tell my friend that they’re cool and they shouldn’t think those negative things about themselves!” Which of course, is exactly the kind of support a real friend gives. What I attempt to do, with tweens and teens, is to teach them to be their own best friend. When they have figured out that treating themselves with respect is something they deserve then they are much more likely to treat others with respect and to stand up and help a child who is being treated badly by others. In the book I make parents aware of the social pressure their kids are dealing with (online and off) so that parents can empathize and not (ever) add to the put-downs that come at their kid from peers and from their own inner dialogue. Parents have tremendous influence on the way their kids feel about how well they “measure up.” I want parents to use that influence only in positive ways.

I have a challenge for you! In three bullets, no more than 5 words each, list three things that parents can do to reclaim the traditional definition of “good person” for their family and instill that in their children.

  • Be respectful to your kids
  • Open your heart and mind
  • Cook and eat meals together

 

Thanks for stopping by Annie! Finally someone to class this joint up!

Titanium Dioxide On Your Donut… MMMM Good?

kids-donutsDid you know your child’s favourite donut might be covered with Titanium Dioxide? Ok… Perhaps “covered” is a wee bit alarmist but TiO2 HAS been found in the sugar covering donuts.

I wasn’t aware of this until 4 days ago.

The same stuff used in paints, vinyl compounds, enamels, plastics, specialty papers, inks, and other household items is now present in our foods, all for the purpose of… Get this! To improve the color of the food item and make it look more appetizing. It leaves me fumbling with a couple of questions.

  • How did we get to the point in our society, where food producers need to put something with the molecular formula TiO2, in our food just to make it look palatable?
  • How twisted has our food chain become, that food producers seem to be able to use a mineral compound not found in any natural food item and not have to tell us?

After a little digging, I discovered that TiO2 is apparently used in more than just Donuts, things like Skim milk, breakfast cereals, fruit, sorbet, cheese…. The list is long, disconcerting and I hadn’t a clue. I am once again gobsmacked at the lack of transparency our industrial Food Producers operate under. It only leaves me to imagine the discussion around the board room table when coming to the decision to use TiO2 in a food product.

“Ah what the hell, lets toss this stuff in, sell a few million units and see what happens. What’s the worst that can happen? A few dozen people drop dead from it and by the time they figure out why, our legal team will fabricate an elaborate defence that can fend off any class action suit. Were all good! Giddy up!”

What I also discovered in my little 4 day investigation, is that Titanium Dioxide is actually FDA approved for both food and cosmetics and has been used for years in products such as sunscreen.

Titanium Dioxide is used to impart a whiteness to color cosmetics and personal care products that are applied to the skin (including the eye area), nails, lips, and it helps to increase the opacity, and reduce the transparency of a product formula. Titanium Dioxide also absorbs, reflects, or scatters light (including ultraviolet radiation in light)

[1]

I actually knew that TiO2 was approved for sunscreen and have been merrily slapping the stuff on for years. What I wasn’t aware of is that I have been dining on the odd Titanium Tainted Tidbit for probably as long.

The kicker in all this however, is that the kind of TiO2 being found in our food and cosmetics as of late, comes in the form of a NanoParticle. Although TiO2 has been approved for human use, the NanoParticle version of TiO2HASN’T been fully tested and HASN’T “really” been approved by the FDA. Yet Nano Particles of TiO2 are showing up in our cosmetics and foods.

If you dig around for a bit, it doesn’t take long to discover that Nano Particles of TiO2 are not something you would find coming out of grandma’s kitchen.

The use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in various industrial applications (eg, production of paper, plastics, cosmetics, and paints) has been expanding thereby increasing the occupational and other environmental exposure of these nanoparticles to humans and other species. However, the health effects of exposure to TiO2 nanoparticles have not been systematically assessed

[2]

What studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have found about TiO2, is that in industrial applications, it qualifies as a Class B Carcinogen. These results have promted Health Canada to place it on its WHMIS list of carcinogens commonly found in the workplace.

Representatives from Health Canada (National Office of WHMIS) recently consulted with the Quebec CSST and CCOHS (the two main agencies providing WHMIS classifications to the public) regarding the implications of the IARC decision to the WHMIS classification of titanium dioxide. It was agreed that titanium dioxide does now meet the criteria for WHMIS D2A (carcinogen) based on the information released by IARC to date, and that it is not necessary to wait for release of the full monograph.

[3]

Did you see that!? “it is not necessary to wait for release of the full monograph…”

If Health Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is classifying TiO2, as a hazerdous workplace material, without full test results having been released… and this was in 2006! I am thinking it probably shouldn’t be in the food we are eating in 2013!

The obvious question here is, why are we allowing a substance that is considered to be a Class B carcinogen, to be present in our food supply? It baffles the mind!

Do you happen to remember when Red Dye #2 was banned due to Russin cancer study in 1971? Neither do I actually, but it was. Red M&M’s weren’t produced for a decade because of concerns about red food dye. Shockingly, all these years later, food companies have either failed to learn anything from Red Dye #2 or they just don’t care about their customers.

What is even more distressing is that there doesn’t seem to be any rules that say, food companies MUST declare their use of NanoParticles in their products. What this means is that in order to hold food producers accountable, consumers have to go looking for those particles themselves.

Fortunately there are organizations like As You Sow. They are currently on the hunt for NanoParticles of TiO2 in PopTarts – Trident Gum and… M&M’s! Yes M&M’s… You would think the makers of M&M’s would have figured this all out with the other food colouring incident 40 years ago but I guess not.

 

Further Information

Layout 1If you would like more information on the use of Titanium Dioxide in Food, check out As You Sow or Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Foods

 

 

 

 

The video below also gives you a great overview of what As You Sow has discovered, along with further plans to investigate the presence of Titanium Dioxide in other common foods many of us ingest daily.

 

 

[1] Titanium Dioxide Information:  http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/HBI/21

[2] Exposure to titanium dioxide and other metallic oxide nanoparticles induces cytotoxicity on human neural cells and fibroblasts James C K Lai, Maria B Lai, Sirisha Jandhyam, Vikas V Dukhande, Alok Bhushan, Christopher K Daniels, Solomon W Leung,          Int J Nanomedicine. 2008 December; 3(4): 533–545.  PMCID: PMC2636591

[3] Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety: Titanium Dioxide Classified as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans

 

Do you want the Coach talk or the Dad talk?

Courtesy of Design With Vinyl

I admit it, I am a horrible father but that is OK, at least my kids are always told the truth. Not that what I said was all that horrible but by today’s parenting standards, I should probably be reported to social services.

This story begins the other weekend when my daughter and her team were playing in the first Cup Game of the year. It was the first of 4 games played through the season to determine which teams will play in the league championships in April.

To date the girls had been batting 500 alternating between playing brilliantly or abysmally depending on the weekend but it is understandable. It is a new team, none of the girls knew or have played with each other before September so they needed some time to get get things together. The main thing is that they are having fun and and I have been really enjoying watching them play.

For this cup game, the coach wanted the brilliant team to show up so he stressed lots of rest, a good breakfast pre game and wanted  all hands on the pitch 45 minutes early for warm up so he could get them wound up for the game.

It was a chilly morning and things were slow to warm up but all our girls were there bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go. As our opponents began to show up, I began to worry. Our team is filled with light and welter weights so we tend to get trampled by the bigger teams and these girls were  BIG. They could also put the ball on net from well beyond the 18 yard box which us unusual for U13′s

At opening kick off we were all over them. We may be small but we were fast and had them running with our speed and crisp accurate passing. In the first 10 minutes our opponents didn’t even get over half. We sent several shots wide, one off the post and one shot actually broke the plane of the goal line but not all the way across the line. It was almost a perfect opening 10 but then it happened. Our defence was pressing too far up and they cleared one deep and sent one of their speedy strikers in to hammer one home.

After that our girls began to bumble about the field like they were heavily medicated. Running completely stopped and unless the ball came directly to them they wouldn’t make any effort to play it. It was like someone flipped a switch. We spent the rest of the game playing just bad enough to lose. We put one more ball off the post with seconds left but ended up losing 1 – nil.

By games end, I was admittedly beside myself but I kept my mouth shut at the time. Partly because I don’t like psycho soccer parents and didn’t wish to be one myself but more importantly, my wife would have killed me if I said anything within earshot of the other parents. After the game, the majority of parents immediately ran over to the girls and began serving up false platitudes about their play, trying to mitigate their child’s disappointment and prop up their fragile self esteem.

I however stood back and waited for my child to finish the post game rituals and then we walked back to the car. Once we got in the car I and started to drive away I asked the question. “Do you want the Coach talk or the Dad talk?” It was actually a trick question because she would have gotten the coach talk regardless.

Wisely she chose the coach talk and I opened with, “That had to be the most appalling display of effort I have seen in more than 20 years” then I went on to “There is a reason why I stopped coaching kids sports and that was a perfect example why” With barely a breath between sentences I jumped to “The only reason you lost that game was because you guys were too lazy to put in the effort it would take to win and that is unacceptable by any measure” I finished up with If you had played the entire game like you did in the first 10 minutes and still lost, then I would be proud of your effort and give you credit for trying but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”  With that I was done, all without raising my voice but the point was driven home.

Now I am sure many will read this and recoil in horror but it was the truth and for me to tell my twelveteen daughter that they played wonderfully would be a lie and serve no purpose other than teach my child that putting in a half ass’ed effort is good enough. I am a firm believer that sporting skills are life skills and if you can’t make the effort on the field, chances are you won’t make much of an effort in life either. This was not just a soccer game, it was a life lesson.

True to form, the following week the girls walked on the field and handedly beat  a better team then the one they lost to in the Cup game. All the while the parents were going on about how hard they played in that cup game and it was just so sad that they lost… yada – yada – yada. When they looked to me for my contribution, I couldn’t help but say “I am not sure what game you were watching but other than the first 10 minutes, I thought they played brutal”. What was funny was that a couple of the fathers who were quietly avoiding the conversation, jumped in once I opened that can of worms and said “Yah! you know you are right!” At that point the conversation quickly changed focus back to the game the girls were currently playing but it brings up a couple burning questions.

At what point did telling your child the truth about their performance become verboten and what good comes from telling your child they did GREAT! when they didn’t? It seems ridiculous to me that we live in a world where adults think children are incapable of coping with the truth about who they are and what they are doing. Of course ripping a strip off of them for their performance is inappropriate but so is outright lying to them.

I say enough with the mollycoddling already. Kids can handle the truth but then again, perhaps its the parents who can’t?

 

Commitment & The Kid – Part 3

Well it is happening, my eldest daughter is turning into a teenager. She is on the back end of twelveteen and already she is thoroughly entrenched in the wing-nut behaviour that marks the early adolescent years. Although I have been working with teens for going on twenty years, I am not sure there is anything that can prepare you for when you own child goes off the deep end.

Actually, I am being a bit unkind. She is still a great kid but holy smokes there are days when the word “wacko” is the only word that can describe her. There are other days however, when she amazes me with her ability to go above and beyond the call of duty, without any sign of that crazy pre teen smouldering within.

The other weekend was one of those times when she stacked together just over 72 hrs of astonishing focus, determination and commitment to what she had to do. Based on what I had been witnessing, I couldn’t help but wonder how she managed to do everything she did, without so much as a peep of discontent, distraction or adolescent driven mania.

I personally thought it was quite incredible and worthy of note and therefore the subject of this blog post was born.

Before I go any further let me outline what her wild weekend looked like so you can appreciate what she accomplished.

Thursday

    • Regular School Day
    • 2 hrs of homework after school
    • Early to bed in preparation of a soccer tournament on Friday.

Friday

    • Up earlier then she is for a regular school day
    • On the soccer pitch for 7:45 for warm up
    • Played 4 soccer games between 8:30 am to 4:00pm
    • Home for 5 pm, ate dinner, cleaned up and completed math homework

Saturday

    • Up at 8:30
    • Refereeing soccer at 9:30 am
    • Home cleaned up and off to a friends house to work on project
    • 5 hrs of project work for school
    • Picked her up from friends house and off to fundraiser
    • Attended a fundraising event in the evening from 6 – 9pm

Sunday

    • Up at 7:45 am, on the soccer pitch for for 8:45 for warm up.
    • Regular Soccer Game start at 9:30am and she played entire game.
    • Got called up to play for a gold select team that was in injury trouble
    • Second Soccer started at 2:30 pm again on the field from beginning to end
    • Home to get cleaned up and have a bite to eat.
    • Off to do 5 more hours of project work home by 10pm

Monday

    • Into school early to finish up some loose ends for project.

After watching this all unfold, I started to realize a couple things abut my emerging teen.

  • Yes she can be wingy at times BUT she has some amazing focus and sticktoitiveness within.
  • Her ability to amaze us with her achievement, could not be accomplished without having a parents that facilitate it.

In two previous posts, I spoke of “teaching kids” about commitment but it became crystal clear to me on that crazy weekend that parents don’t teach kids about commitment so much as they create a world that enables their children to be committed to what they have to do. Commitment isn’t just a simple act of intent, it is a lifestyle.

What this looks like is different for every family but here are 6 simple lifestyle choices our family live by, which makes it possible for our children to pull off the amazing things they do.

  • Standard set of expectations for school, family and friends.
  • Create a daily routine which everyone in the family can live within.
  • Outright refuse to allow activities such as hanging out at the mall
  • Restrict access to time sucking activities such as gaming or television.
  • Encourage participation in organized sport but no more than one per season.
  • Once committed to an activity, there is no quitting before the scheduled end of the season.

This is by no means a perfect six point plan to raising the perfect child. I am sure my wife and I are currently screwing something up so badly that both daughters will require years of intensive therapy to recover but hey, no one is perfect. What I do know, is that each and every exceptional child I have ever encountered in my 18 years of teaching, had a lifestyle which enabled them to be successful. More often than not there are parents in the background orchestrating it all but I have even come across some phenomenal kids who had to do it all themselves.

As for my own children, who knows what’s to come. I fully expect that there will be some rough patches between now and when I throw them out on their ear to fend for themselves. What I do know is that commitment isn’t something I can teach them,it is a lifestyle I can provide for them.

Raise your child with a lifestyle that promotes personal commitment, chances are you will get yourself a pretty cool adult by the time the smoke clears.

Remembrance Day – Families Changed

David Rispin

Every year for the Rispin family Remembrance Day is significant. We are a one of many Canadian families which got the boots laid to them in the First an Second World wars. I have always appreciated the significance of my family’s contribution to Canada’s role in these wars but never so much as I do now, since my father passing in January 16, 2010.

He was a quiet man, never did he speak of the war of which he was a part, other than the most outlandish and far fetched stories one had ever heard but must be true. He bottled whatever he saw or felt about that war deep inside and never shared what he had really seen or endured during his 4 years sailing on the HCSM Hallowell in the North Atlantic. I am not even sure my mother knows everything he went through or what he saw as he was a tight lipped man. He was a silent in his remembrance and as a result my siblings and I are left to piece together what little he told us with what little we found in his personal belongings after he passed.

Although I have always done a little personal remembrance day shpiel since I have been a teacher, these past two remembrance days I have taken upon myself to share with my classes a very personal narrative. I go through what sacrifices that not only individuals from my family made but what these sacrifices meant to my family. I try to make the kids understand that Remembrance Day isn’t just about some long forgotten soldier but about how many long standing Canadian families will never be the same because of these wars. I try to make them realize that my family along with innumerable others, were irreversibly changed because of these wars.

I tell them about my Grandfather who died when my father was only 3 because of blood poisoning from a gunshot wound to his arm during the first world war. I tell them how my uncle was killed during a bombing raid over Düsseldorf Germany and that no one from our family has yet to visit his burial site. I tell them about George W. Silk and George W. Silk who were killed by the same shell in the same trench during the battle of the Somme in 1916. I even read to my class the 95 year old hand written letter by which my great great grandmother was informed of the death of both her husband and eldest son.

I tell them that a great masonry family who had a hand in building many of the turn of the century buildings in Vancouver and Edmonton, was decimated because of these two wars and that the skyline of both these cities may have been very different had these two wars never happened. I hesitate at times to tell these stories because I don’t want to bend history or overstate what some might consider insignificant but these stories are significant. It is the narrative of what brought us to this very day and a story all Canadians need to hear and appreciate.

It is incumbent upon those of us who are are descendants of those who navigated these wars and managed to maintain a bloodline, to share the significance of these wars.

My family is but one of many who gave selflessly to the dominion of Canada and we need to recognize that Remembrance Day isn’t simply about some long forgotten soldier. It is about long standing Canadian families that would be significantly different had it not been for these wars.

On this remembrance day, let us not just remember the ones who sacrificed their lives in wars both distant and recent but those who stand among us and sacrificed family members so we can be the Canadians we are today.

What Is Traditional Parenting

As my readership increases, I have been questioned on a number of occasions about what my definition of Old School Parenting was and it struck me that there is a number of misconceptions out there about what it means to be an Old School Parent.

When people see the title Old School Parenting they seem to immediately envision a cantankerous old bastard that yells and screams at the wife and kids every other day and lays a whooping on them once a month whether they need it or not. In these conversations the terms loveless, cold, uncaring, ruthless, demeaning along with a host of other negative adjectives seem to make their way into the discussion but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Old School Parenting or Traditional Parenting has always been about raising a child to become a functional adult who can contribute positively to their family and ultimately, society. It is a philosophy that feels that all a child really needs is healthy food, clean water, reliable shelter, quality education, access to medical attention and of course love from their family.

Modern Parenting on the other hand, focuses on nurturing a child so they feel confident in their individuality and their special place in this world. It is a philosophy that stops at nothing to provide everything the child should need or want so they can achieve this elevated sense of self.

Where the negative image of Old School Parenting comes in, is that it is difficult to parent in this manner. Traditional Parents say NO! a lot and cause their children to cry. Sometimes Traditional Parents get annoyed and yes even angry with their children. Traditional Parents don’t tolerate toddler tantrums, give into teenage demands or care what others kids are doing. Traditional Parents are not afraid of hurting their child’s feelings and they believe that good self esteem comes from learning to respect others

In contrast, Modern Parenting is relatively conflict free because everything is an immediate yes or at worst, a weakly negotiated maybe which ultimately becomes yes. Modern Parents don’t like conflict because they feel it might bruise their child’s fragile self esteem and hamper their progeny’s assention to status of demigod. Admittedly, it is a wonderful way to parent but it isn’t very realistic nor does it prepare your child for the real world.

Where the two philosophies collide, is in the notion of ones place in this world. Old School Parenting sees a child as precious part of a whole, irreplaceable but never better or more deserving than anyone else within the family and ultimately society. On the other hand, Modern Parenting sees the child as a unique individual, deserving of special attention, recognition and ultimately a special place in this world regardless of cost to others.

Old School Parenting is about family, it is about community and it is about personal responsibility to both. Old School Parenting believes that it does not do a child any good to place them upon a pedestal which is not of their own creation and that self esteem is earned not delivered on a silver platter.

More Thoughts On Traditional Parenting

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Staggering Stupidity

Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun Sept 1st, 2011

It is staggering how stupid some people can be but apparently it is not an isolated human condition. It seems to run in families, a trait handed down from parent to child.

Two cases in point, occurred near my home this past week, one involving 13 young drivers (all 20 years or younger) and the other involving two teens 17 years of age. In both cases these fine upstanding young people were caught speeding on city streets, reaching speeds in excess of 200 Kilometers or 125 miles per hour.

Their reckless disregard for the safety of others was simply appalling by any measure, yet these young drivers seemed to feel their fast and furious behavior was no big deal. One of the young people involved in the first incident, was even quoted saying “We were just going for something to eat” as if they were driving Miss Daisy to Sunday brunch

It is simply mind boggling how disconnected these kids seem to be from the gravity of their inexcusable behavior. Sure if they were doing this on a closed circuit race track and happened to kill themselves, I could accept their cavalier attitudes but they weren’t. They were on public roads where people should have the right to drive without risk of getting run down by over testosteroned morons.

Without question, what these kids did was amazingly stupid but what about the other part of the equation? What about the parents of said stupid kids?

I would assume that a young person of 20 or less hasn’t the legal means to buy any of the vehicles involved in either of these incidents. The collective value of all 15 vehicles involved was in excess of 2.5 million dollars. In the mix were three Lamborghini’s a Ferrari, two Maserati’s an Aston Martin, Audi A8, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes and a list of other luxury cars that is almost as impressive. In addition to the massive price tags these cars carry, to insure some of these cars for young drivers (in my neck of the woods) is estimated to be as much as twenty thousand dollars for the year.

It begs the question, why in gods name would a parent give their child access to one of these cars? It is beyond words. I don’t care how wealthy somebody is, a kid does not need or deserve one of these vehicles. What could these parents have been thinking or has materialism in today’s world really gone this far?

What ever happened to your first car being a piece of crap you and your dad found in someones back yard buried under a mess of brambles and scrap wood? Back in the day when I asked for a car, all I got was a kick in the ass with a frozen boot and told never to ask again. I cannot imagine taking my 16 year old to the local Lamborghini dealer and saying “Pick one!”

The final obscenity is that these kids will hardly get a slap on the wrist. A fine, some driving prohibition and they will be back on the road before you know it. It is unlikely they will have learned any moral or practical lessons of any kind. They will not be repentant and will continue to risk the lives of others with their reckless behavior. The parents, well… Lord only knows what bonehead parenting maneuver they will make next but chances are it will be an epic fail.

In Parenting Oldschool’s opinion, what should be done is that all cars should be impounded and taken to the wreckers where the young drivers in question and their parents are forced to watch as their luxury automobiles are reduced to scrap. Alternate to that, all cars should be impounded and sold at auction. All proceeds would be given to the food bank or a variety of homeless shelters in the Vancouver area and then perhaps some good can come of these two incidents and some lessons learned.

Related Post: What a Riot – Youth off the rails

Hold the Phone: Should You Buy Your Kid a Cell?

This is a guest post by Derek Dasher about cell phones for kids. Although not quite in Old School Parenting style, this post on cell phones for kids still holds true to Parenting Old School’s overall theme. Please enjoy

There are several unchangeable truths in the world: the sun will rise tomorrow morning, the sky will always be blue, gas will always be too expensive, and your kids will always bug you about getting them a cell phone at the beginning of a new school year.  School is now in session and if it hasn’t happened already, the day is quickly approaching that your child is going to ask you to get them a cell phone.  Kids hate being left out of the group and, in their minds, this is bound to happen if they don’t have a cell phone like all their friends and classmates.  As technology becomes more widely available, letting your child have a cell phone might not actually be the worst thing in the world.  Let’s take a look at the argument from both sides.

Why you should buy your kid a cell phone

The most obvious reason why you should buy your kid a cell phone is because it allows you to have instant and easy communication with them.  No longer will you have to sit at home on a Friday night wondering where they wandered off to.  A simple call or text to their cell phone is all you’ll need to keep track of them (assuming that they answer).  Having a cell phone will also allow your child to contact you in case of an emergency situation.

Most parents are legitimately concerned about the type of content their child will have access to with their very own cell phone.  This is especially a concern with smartphones that offer easy access to the internet and a variety of applications (many of which cost money to download).  Parents can rest assured, however, because the major cell phone service providers in the United States provide parents with ways to limit what their children have access to on their phones.  Parents can put filters on certain types of content and applications so that inappropriate content is not available.  Usage controls, meanwhile, allow parents to regulate the amount of calls and text messages that can be used.  Location monitoring controls are also available to allow parents to know their child’s location which can be very useful in emergency situations.  It is important for parents to discuss which specific options are available with their cell phone service provider so that they can find a plan that will work best for them.

Why you shouldn’t buy your kid a cell phone

Does your child really need a cell phone?  Considering that billions of people have made it through their childhood without a cell phone, the answer is ‘probably not.’  One of the biggest concerns for parents when their kid asks for a cell phone is the price.  While a phone itself may not be too expensive (usually ranging from $0 to $200+), the monthly charge can be quite high, especially if you add on access to data and text messaging (which your son or daughter will almost definitely want).  It may be useful to discuss the price issue with your child beforehand so that they realize what a huge expense a cell phone is.  If they still insist on having one, consider having them help pay for it with money from a part-time job or by doing chores and helping around the house.

A parent’s communication with their child is absolutely critical, especially as the child reaches school age and is away from their parents for long periods everyday.  A parent’s ability to communicate with their child is already hindered by TV, videogames, the internet, and other sources. Adding a cell phone on top of all that may further serve to cause a shortage of useful and necessary communication between you and your children.  It is also worth noting that having access to their own cell phone, may lead a child to having unsavory communication with their friends or complete strangers (sharing inappropriate texts, photos, videos, etc.)

Parents have the final say

At the end of the day, you are the one that ultimately decides whether or not to buy your child a cell phone.  Before making your decision, it may be helpful to consider your child’s maturity/responsibility level, why they need the phone, and how much it will cost you.  As cell phone technology continues to improve and become more useful, the age that kids start wanting a cell phone is bound to become lower and lower.  Your kids’ friends will start getting their own phones which will put you in a situation where you have to make a decision regarding your own kids.  There are no clear cut answers as to when or if you should buy your kid their own phone. Rather, the decision should be carefully considered on a child-by-child basis.
This article was written by Derek Dasher who is a frequent contributor at Your Local Security, provider of ADT monitored security systems for families.

Parenting – Our greatest contribution

I was driving home today after dropping off my youngest daughter at soccer camp. I was using my wife’s car so I had turned the station over to JR Country. She hates it when i do that, she is a Top 40 kinda gal so it is an ongoing radio war.

Anyhow, Alan Jackson’s “Small Town Southern Man” was playing when I fired up the old Subaru and drove out of the parking lot. As I pulled into traffic, my favourite line in the whole song rang out and I immediately thought to myself… “Self, what a great blog topic!” So when I got home I started penning this post.

Now before I go any further, I suppose I should explain to those who are country phobic and never listen to gods music, “Small Town Southern Man” is about an old guy who lives his whole life working hard for his family and doing the best he can to be a good person. When his time comes and his days are numbered he is at peace with it because he knows “his greatest contribution. Is the ones you leave behind” the sentiment in this single line is golden.

Just think what the ramifications would be if we all parented with that verse as our mantra? I think we would be living in a much better world. Instead we live in a “what’s in it for me world” that pays lip service to this line but if truth be told, it gets harder and harder to find people who truly live up to its sentiment.

Our media, our financial institutions, our political leaders and yes even some parents, are teaching kids by example, to take first and give back later BUT only if it suits them. To do no good deed, unless someone has done one for you first and of course he or she who dies with the most things wins!

In North America, kids are taught that immortality is found in fame, money and possessions. Making a contribution to this world has become all about taking as much as you can, then turning around and yelling “LOOK AT ME!”

But as Alan Jackson’s song so correctly spells out, a good life is pretty simple… Treat others with kindness and generosity and your greatest contribution WILL be the ones you leave behind.

If you parent with this in mind, you can’t possibly go wrong.

 

More Old School Parenting Wisdom: The Narcissists Among Us

Bang! Bang! My Kids Are Gun Safe

Gun SafetyI had an outstanding time this past week camping with friends. There is nothing quite like being content sitting on a dock, staring out onto the water for hours or gathering about a campfire and staring hypnotically into the flames. What was even better was that the kids were happy with it too. It took about 4 – 5 hours for the “I’m bored” stare to drift from their eyes and get into camping mode but after that… They were off the grid and into the elements.

The other cool thing we got to do, was learn all about gun safety. I know ((~~GASP~~)) but it was a good experience for both parents and kids.

I couldn’t be more pleased, that my children’s first exposure to guns was safe, simple and done in the presence of responsible adults. I feel that hands on experience is a far better way of teaching them about guns then turning them loose on a first person shooter video game or letting them watch some Hollywood gangsta, cappin someone’s ass doin a drive by in a pimped out Escalade. It was simply an excellent opportunity for the kids to learn how guns worked, how to use guns safely and how to be safe in the presence of guns.

Now I didn’t do this myself, fortunately I have a friend York Furstenwald who is a certified firearms instructor and gun safety expert who could make this all happen. I don’t own a gun nor had I fired one in more than 20 years, so I was happy Mr. Furstenwald was willing to do this.

York spent a good deal of time going over 4 vital elements of gun safety or ACTS before the kids even touched the firearms.

4 ACTS of Gun Safety

Assume every firearm is loaded.

Control the barrel direction at all times.

Trigger finger must be kept off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until ready to fire.

See that the firearm secure, unloaded and safe.

Even after our gun safety briefing out of the deck, we walked out to the range and went over the ACTS again as it related to the environment they were in at that very moment. He went over range safety and commands and ensured the kids had a complete understanding of what was expected of them. What I was most amazed about was that the kids were completely absorbed for more than an hour in the blazing sun. By the time York was done talking about gun safety, the kids were at greater risk of getting melanoma then getting hit by a bullet (thank goodness for 60 sunblock). I was more of a problem student then the kids. I just wanted to SHOOT but it was safety first and I had to learn it all, just like the kids.

What liked most about the whole event is that my kids went away from it, with a solid understanding of how guns work, what they can do and how to be safe around them. Even if my kids never pick up another gun for as long as they live, they are now able to identify safe gun use, especially in a situation where they are in the presence of a firearm but are not in control of it.

Finally, one last word for the skeptics in the room. My purpose was not to create my very own mini militia in preparation of some kind of inevitable Armageddon nor do I have any desire to turn my children into mighty hunters. I just wanted the kids to learn about guns and how to use them safely. I don’t even intend to make this sort of thing a regular family activity BUT if they happen to show an interest in competitive shooting or perhaps biathlon, I would be more than happy to facilitate that but for now, I am just happy that we has such a good time with friends out in the bush.

For some video clips of our shooting sessions. Head to Family Gun Safety

Great article on shooting as a civilized activity

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