Articles

The Message We Send to Our Children

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Isn’t it cute that your three-year-old wants to help out around the house? So cute that the toy industry has created toy vacuums, kitchens, etc. Or how about when your toddler daughter puts on your high heels and walks around the house so proud. We all know that when they are little, they are watching every move we make and taking every chance to copy it. Fast forward, when I catch a swear come out of my teenage son’s mouth and reprimand him, I know that it is really also my duty to reprimand myself and recheck whether or not I am using profanity too much.

With the pressures of being a parent: work, sports, activities, household, etc., it is hard to constantly keep ourselves in check, after all, we are human. However, perhaps, we as parents can not only focus on trying to keep ourselves a little more in check for the sake of the future generations, but we should also call out others’ behaviors. If we are able to point out to our kids unacceptable adult behaviors, perhaps they will grow up to respect one another, despite differences or issues they may have with others.

I promised myself a long time ago not to get into discussions with people on religion or politics. I am entitled to my opinion and like to keep it that way; saves a lot of grief and stress and maybe even relationships. However, as annoyed and frustrated and utterly disgusted I have been by our very own President of the United States “tweeting” all the time, never have I been more outraged than now when he decided to retweet himself hitting a golf ball at Hillary Clinton. In a time when our planet is experiencing countless major hurricanes, earthquakes, tropical storms and threat of nuclear war, don’t you think our President should be focusing on those crises? The act of retweeting something violent and inappropriate that someone made up because they have nothing better to do with their time is so utterly immature. This is a 71-year-old man who, unfortunately, somehow, holds one of the most, if not the most, powerful positions in the world. And this is the message he is sending out to our nation and our kids. “Hey, look at my amazing golf swing and, even better, look at it hit Hillary. I win!”

So, where do we draw the line? We can always hope the Russian probe entices impeachment, but until then have to take matters into our own hands. We, as parents, have to take the responsibility to call out the President, and others to our kids. Being an adult doesn’t give the right to make the same mistakes the President is making by bullying, criticizing and degrading others, but to tell our children that this behavior is irresponsible and reckless. We, as humankind, will never move forward with acceptance and respect for others if we are being led by this example and believing it is okay to hurt others and laugh about it.

Our Homeschooling Journey

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Homeschooling today has become a choice amongst many families. Some families have never sent their kids to a formal school setting, while others decided to take their children out of school and provide education at home. Reasons for homeschooling vary from religion to special needs children to being unhappy with the education public schools are providing. Regardless of the reasoning, when making the decision to homeschool, a family needs to consider many factors, including the most important, how will the children obtain their education? This can encompass many questions such as: will one parent stay home to teach, will both parents take turns teaching, will you use a tutor, will you join a homeschool co-op teaching community, will you create your own curriculum or purchase one and what are your state requirements for homeschooling?

The decision to homeschool requires a family to reexamine their lives in every aspect from budget to patience in order to prepare for the homeschooling journey. If one parent stays home, are they giving up their job, therefore lowering the family income? If so, will that affect the family lifestyle in any way? If planning to join a homeschool co-op teaching community, is the teaching parent equipped with a skill or expertise in a subject that can be taught, and if so, can that parent teach well to a group? Does your state require you to register with them and show your lessons and portfolios to the local school board for approval? Does your state offer a tax rebate because you are a homeschooler and pay for expenses or even better, does your state refund some taxes because you don’t attend public school? Homeschool families also have to prepare themselves for the scrutiny they may be put through. Friends, family members and aquaitances will want to know everything from why you chose to homeschool to what content you teach and who you have to answer to in order to prove you are doing a good job. And, be prepared for the big whopper of a question that everyone will ask you: what about socialization? Even though there are infinite articles published on why it is a stereotype that homeschoolers are unsocialized, people are convinced your kids sit home alone and are never exposed to the outside world.

Luckily, we live in the age of technology and there are infinite resources at our fingertips. Families are able to connect with other homeschoolers around the country, use the internet and apps as teaching tools, find teaching resources and find out information such as state laws and homeschooling rights. The more knowledge you have before taking the homeschool journey, the easier your path will be to follow.

 

Financial Responsibility for Kids

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I want, I want, I want. Something we hear from our kids at their birthdays, holiday time or whenever they see a commercial or catalog with new toys. How can we teach our children the value of a dollar? Whether or not you give an allowance, you want to teach them to budget any money they receive. Together you can come up with a plan as to how they will save or spend their money. In our home, we give an allowance of $20 per month per child, dependent upon the fact that they do their chores and maintain their responsibilities within the home. They then have to split that money among three categories, savings, spending and charity. We tend to allow them to choose how they split it, but also provide guidance. As for holiday or birthday money, they automatically put that in their savings. We made this decision on the premise that they receive enough material items during those occasions that the cash should be saved. In order to help the kids understand and actually “see” their money, we have been using a virtual online account called FamZoo. They are able to log in and manage their money, seeing details of each account and also can debit or credit the account. “Let’s check FamZoo” has become a common phrase in our house.

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Our son is a Lego fanatic and is always scoping out the new products in the catalogs and online, but they are expensive. He is now in the habit of making an itemized list of the product he wants and the cost associated with each product. Then we go through the list deciding what is essential to have and what can wait. Finally, we determine whether he is close to a birthday or holiday and can ask for the items as gifts or if he has enough in his spending account and that’s what he wants to spend the money on. We are also open and honest about purchases we make and talk about the expense related so the kids start to get an understanding that these money values will carry through the rest of their lives.

There should also be goals associated with savings now so that they understand in the future how to allocate the savings funds towards emergency savings, educational savings and large purchases like a home. We have also chosen to create a charity account in which the kids can choose what charity to give their money to. We wanted to teach the value of giving to others and involve them in the process since they will be asked on many occasions throughout their lives to give to a charitable cause. Each child is allowed to give to a charity of their choice, whether it is a local charity they know of, or something they have just learned about and touched them. They have felt really good about the charitable choices they have made and some months choose to put the majority of their money in their charity account.

As children transition into adulthood, they will constantly be faced with financial challenges. Teaching children about saving and spending at an early age lays the groundwork for good financial habits and decisions down the road.

Social Awkwardness in Tweens

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Social Awkwardness is prevalent in both children and adults, and can range from being shy to not being able to make friends to isolating oneself. It can stem from feeling insecure and having low self-confidence. If not properly attended to, it can lead to depression and/or anxiety.

Growing up is hard to do, but especially now more than ever. Every child wants to fit in, but life presents a myriad of challenges. Anyone who has ever experienced any kind of Social Awkwardness knows that school can be the hardest place to go. During the tween years, children are trying to find their way. They are developing interests, meaningful friendships and taking on more responsibilities. But what happens when your tween doesn’t feel like they fit in anywhere? When your tween starts a new school or new school year, there is naturally a feeling of anxiety. If your child is feeling especially anxious about friendships for example, you can check in with friends to see who are in the same class and try to get kids together over the summer so that they can reconnect before school starts. You can also sign your child up for an extra-curricular activity that they are interested in. Chances are they will build self-confidence because they are doing something they enjoy and they will meet other kids with the same interests.

Social Awkwardness can present differently in people so it is very important to communicate with your child. Not just in relation to their feelings of Social Awkwardness, but in general. Having open lines of communication will allow your child to know that they can talk to you about anything and also trust you. Everyday on the ride to and from school my children and I talk about a variety of topics. Sometimes something will come up about a school or friendship situation and we all talk through it. It is great to all be together because both children participate and can also learn from the other child’s situation. Also, even though my children are getting older, I still tuck them in at night. It’s amazing the things that they tell me when they are laying in bed. I treasure this time and a lot of valuable lessons have been produced and advice given at bedtime. You can also communicate by trying to role play a difficult situation with them and advise them through it so they can feel more comfortable in that situation. You can talk with them about goals they might have and encourage them to stick to those goals. If you engage in frequent dialogue with your child you will be able to better gauge what they are feeling and why. If your child doesn’t want to open up or needs some space, provide it, but check back in regularly. If they refuse to communicate with you and are isolating themselves, then it might be time to seek professional help.

Peer pressure in tweens is nothing new, but for a socially awkward child, it can be especially hard to cope with now because peer pressure has taken on a new face in the light of social media. I consider myself to be a fairly conservative woman, both in my parenting style as a mom and in my life in general. With my children, I set boundaries, try to be as consistent as possible and discipline fairly. I do not give in to societal pressures of name brands, brand new electronics or high priced cars. I am on constant monitoring by my children, as are all parents, so I try to set good examples. Unfortunately, peer pressure sometimes beats me. An iPhone, iPod, iPad, Kindle or any other device you can imagine has been on the Christmas and birthday lists for years, mainly because my kids’ friends all have their own. My husband and I have not given in and we stress that we own such devices as a family and everyone is welcome to share them. But then we enter the school zone. “Mom, Sarah has her own iPhone 6 and wants me to Face Time her. It’s so unfair I don’t have my own. Everyone is going to make fun of me!” “Jane is on Facebook and wants to friend me, but I am the only one without an account.” As a parent, you have a choice as to what your children are exposed to. If you do allow them to participate in any form of online social interaction or social media, set clear boundaries that you will be monitoring their activity. Obtain their passwords and check their texts. You want to make sure there is no cyber bullying going on or they are not conforming to peer pressure just to fit in.

You know your child the best. If they are presenting with signs of social awkwardness (not making friends, no interest in extra curricular activates, excessive shyness, isolation) you now have some tools that can help. If you do not feel like you are having any success, please reach out to a teacher, social worker, pastor or another adult your child trusts in order to help you help your child. Most importantly, LOVE. Tell and show your child how much you love them and that you are always there for them.