About Those New Year’s Resolutions…

 

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How can I be a better parent to these two this year?

January is a great time to think about how we can be better—whether it’s nutrition, working out, cleaning closets, quitting bad habits, or getting more work done. It’s also an ideal time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. I try to set realistic goals for the New Year and not something too huge or unrealistic. It amazes me how the time flies by and stuff I was sure to get done by summer managed to get by me—again!

I ran into a slew of parenting tips to start the New Year. If you browse through daily newspapers and blogs, all sorts of parents will tell you how to be a better parent in 2018. In The Herald-Tribune from Florida, two moms with nine kids between them, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman, wrote “PARENTING: The goal of the elementary years is independence.” Although their article focuses on the elementary years, it’s something I can still work on with my kids. They are in transition points in their life, becoming adults. Independence is something they crave, yet they still want to be pampered and taken care of by mom and dad. Here’s some of the advice from Jenni and Jody:

 

“Most people embrace the idea of goal setting just before the new year, especially when it comes to personal, professional and financial growth. But how about setting goals for our children’s growth?

If you have an elementary aged child, this is the perfect time to set some goals for your child’s independence.

For starters, the elementary years are the training ground for learning to take care of themselves and their things. It’s the season when they develop habits of brushing their teeth, washing their hands, making their beds and keeping their space clean and organized.

Life is busy and often it’s easier to pick up the toys or do the dishes ourselves. But if we start the new year with the goal of helping our kids become independent, it can prevent us from doing things for our children that they should be learning to do for themselves.

This means taking the time to carefully teach them these skills and then coach them along as they become more and more proficient. In the end, it will save time as we nurture and cultivate independent kids who can take care of themselves and contribute to the household.

The elementary years are also the time to begin teaching our kids to become academically independent, to take responsibility for their education. It starts by giving them systems and tools that will help them become more mature students.

For example, we can create a checklist for our kids and then help them end each day by cleaning out their backpacks, making sure they have everything they need for the next day and writing down questions to ask their teachers about things they didn’t understand in their homework.

We can also set goals during the elementary years to help our kids learn to advocate for themselves. Of course we always want our children to know they are supported and that, in their homes, they are part of a family (a community) that operates as a team, where everyone is loyal to one another and committed to each other’s success. But that doesn’t mean that we fight our kids’ battles for them. No, our job is to help our kids become independent and learn to effectively stand up for themselves.”

I read “8 resolutions for better parenting in the New Year” By David G. Allan on CNN’s website. He had some good practical advice that starts with being in the moment. I get admonished by my daughter for not paying attention. It’s usually because of my iPhone. I confess that I get busy looking at texts or emails. My son will text me while I’m with my daughter, and she’ll say “I’m here with you now!” A good goal for me in 2018 is to put my phone down! It reminds me of a video by “Smog and Fog” called “Put Your Phone Down.” 

Here are the first three tips out of eight from Allan:

“If you’re looking to improve your parenting, you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s an essential area of course correction, up there with weight loss, better eating and better spending, arguably more essential.

What’s beautiful about parenting resolutions is that your kids benefit too, and likely your spouse and any potential future grandkids. You get a lot of bang for your resolution buck.
As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters in categories we all probably need to give more attention in the coming year.

Being there
There’s a lot of talk, many articles and a long shelf of books on mindful parenting. But it all boils down to this: When you’re with your kids, give them full, curious and happy attention.

Be more laissez-faire about some things
You may be burdening yourself with milestones and cultural expectations that really don’t matter if you pause to think about them. Here are some developmental achievements you don’t really need to waste time, energy and anxiety pushing. Rest assured these will almost always work themselves out in due time.

Don’t drive under the influence of your phone
Here comes your PSA: More than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016, according to National Safety Council estimates. Many roadway fatalities involve drunken driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts (so don’t do any of those things, clearly), but increasingly, accidents are being caused by people texting or talking while driving.

DWD: Driving While Distracted
Fifty-one percent of teens reported seeing their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving, according to a Common Sense Media poll last year. And when you repeatedly model a behavior in front of your kids, that’s called teaching.”

 

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Me and my son in San Francisco.

What are your goals for the New Year? Did you make a list of New Year’s Resolutions?

 

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Why are kids taking longer to grow up?

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Senior prom–the kids got together in person.

Several articles published today are referencing a study by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge. She studied millions of kids to come up with the fact that millennials are taking longer to grow up than in previous generations. Twenge doesn’t make a judgment on whether that’s good or bad, she just states it as a fact.

In a talk I attended a few years ago for my daughter’s college, in one of the sessions led by an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Psychologist Kari Ellingson said the same thing. She said when we were young, kids matured into adults at age 19, 20 and 21. Today, those numbers are delayed to 26, 27 and 28.

In an article from the New York Times, called “The curse of the helicopter parent” Twenge and her study are cited:

New York – Parents may still marvel at how fast their children grow up, but a new study finds that US teenagers are maturing more slowly than past generations.

In some ways, the trend appears positive: high school children today are less likely to be drinking or having sex compared with their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s.

But they are also less likely to go on dates, have a part-time job or drive – traditional milestones along the path to adulthood.

So is that slower development “good” or “bad”? It may depend on how you look at it, the researchers say.

The findings, published online in the journal Child Development this week, are based on surveys done between 1976 and 2016.

Together, they involved more than 8 million US children in the 13-19 age group.

Over those years, the study found, teenagers gradually became less likely to try “adult” activities – including drinking, having sex, working, driving, dating and simply going out (with or without their parents).

By the 2010s, only 55% of high school seniors had ever worked for pay – versus roughly three-quarters of their counterparts in the late 1970s to the 1990s.

Similarly, only 63% had ever been on a date. That compared with 81% to 87% of high school seniors in the 1970s through 1990s.

In the San Diego Tribune, contact reporter Bradley J. Fikes wrote: “Teens are growing up more slowly — and they seem OK with it.”

Mid- to -late teens are delaying the classic milestones of adulthood, namely working, going out without their parents, driving, dating, having sex, and drinking alcohol, according to four decades of surveys reviewed for the study, led by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge.

Today’s 18-year-olds exhibit similar milestone behaviors as did 15-year-olds in the late 1970s, Twenge said. Moreover, they’re mostly doing this voluntarily — parents aren’t imposing this delayed independence.

The spread of smartphones, which allow teens to socialize from the safety of their homes, is part of the explanation, said Twenge. The author of “Generation Me,” she has released a new book on the generation born after 1995 called “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

When I look back on my teenage years compared to my kids, we had a whole lot more freedom. We were out all the time and our parents didn’t seem to care where we were. In fact, my parents were enjoying weekends on our boat or at the cabin and would leave my brother and me alone when we were teens. The same was true for a lot of my friends’ parents, as well. They didn’t keep track of us on a minute by minute basis. They also didn’t track us on “find my iPhone.” There weren’t any cell phones to call home and they just said to be home by a certain time.

I wonder how much influence our technology has today over our kids not growing up so fast? They aren’t getting together with friends to interact in person. They can do that from the comfort of their own bedrooms. Plus, they have all the entertainment they can consume, right on their iPhones. We helicopter parents keep a close eye on our kids and we know where they are at all times. By contrast, our parents told us to get outside and not come back until dinner. Between us and iPhones, our kids aren’t getting real-world experiences.

Everyone I knew growing up had some sort of part-time job in high school–even if it was working for their family’s business. I worked in my dad’s dental office and my brother bagged groceries at the local Safeway. Today, I know of very few kids with part-time jobs. My own son worked several jobs, but he was one of the few. He was an assistant lifeguard, then a coach for our team. He tutored in math and was paid to maintain a website. Very few of my kids’ friends had jobs after school. Teens today must not need to earn money because we are providing for all their needs and wants.

On the bright side, it’s good our kids aren’t running around at night unsupervised, drinking and having sex as teens. Also, they actually like hanging out with their parents!

What are your thoughts about why kids are not growing up as fast as we did?

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Hanging out together this summer.

Here’s a recent story I wrote that included psychologist Jean M. Twenge.

At What Age Should Children Get iPhones?

 

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This is what our kitchen phone looked like.

When I was young, we had a party line. It was a black telephone attached to the kitchen wall in our tiny house on Emerson Street in Snohomish, Washington. When you picked up the receiver to make a call, someone might be on the phone in another house, so you’d have to wait for the line to be clear before you could dial out.

Sometimes you could hear someone breathing lightly while you were talking. There were some nosy neighbors who listened in on calls, which was really bad manners. Trust me, my mom never did that and wouldn’t allow us to eavesdrop, either.

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This is a view from outside my hometown.

Long distance was a big deal. I’d hear my mom say, “You’re calling long distance?” when a family member or friend would call from across the state. Those calls would be super short. You wouldn’t waste a minute of that expensive time.

The idea of a cell phone that was a personal computer, camera, game center and internet was unthinkable back then. Oh, that’s right. We didn’t know what personal computers were. There was no internet. No digital cameras, either.

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An early car phone.

My kids didn’t grow up with cell phones and I’m glad. They missed out on the era of smartphones owned by young kids by just a few years. Their first phones were given to them before they went to Swim Camp at USC. They must have been 11 and 14 at the time and they were so excited to get their little pre-paid flip phones. We were at a meet at FAST the day we took them to camp and gave them the phones. My son used up his minutes texting to all his friends who owned phones before him. The silly thing is that he was texting to kids who were at the meet! And of course, the phone was meant to be used in case of emergency to reach mom and dad.

That’s what bugs me about phones. Kids would rather text each other than talk face to face. I’ve watched kids sitting under the tent at meets, looking down at their phones and not playing cards or games together. They are communicating with each other but through their devices. It’s just weird, don’t you think?

I wonder what impact it will have on the kids who are growing up with smartphones as young as first and second grades? Will it impede their ability to communicate in person? Is it changing how their brains work? I can’t wait for the studies to come out years from now about the generation raised with their phones attached like an extra appendage.

It reminds me of a Dean Koontz novel I read years ago where people were physically melding into their computers. Their fingers would melt into the keyboard and become permanently attached and cords would hook up to their bodies. I think the novel was called MIDNIGHT.

 

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My kids and teammates hanging out together at a meet–before iPhones.

There are a few good reasons to give your young children smartphones. But, I think there are more reasons against kids under 13 or 14 getting one. I heard a physician in Colorado has proposed a law banning children from having smartphones under age 13. But, how would you enforce that? I think it should be a parent’s decision and not up to the government.

 

Here are a few links to articles that discuss the pros and cons of kids and smartphones:

From the New York Times July 20, 2016:

“Common Sense Media polled 1,240 parents and children and found 50 percent of the children admitted that they were addicted to their smartphones. It also found that 66 percent of parents felt their children used mobile devices too much, and 52 percent of children agreed. About 36 percent of parents said they argued with their children daily about device use.”

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hand a Smartphone to Your Children

When Should You Get Your Kid A Phone
When did you give your children a smartphone? What are your thoughts about children and phones?

Is There Something Apple Isn’t Telling Us?

One of our earlier Macs.

One of our earlier Macs.

I never realized how much I depended on my iPhone, until it went down!  It’s almost like missing a good friend. I’ve written about my relationship with technology in a blog post here.

My son called to tell me he finally got new tires. After a nice talk, I put the phone down and next time I picked it up I discovered a white screen with the Apple logo. (Which reminds me of a funny video called, “Put Your Phone Down!” — by Smog and Fog, the Whole Foods and Yoga Girl guy.)

Not good. I got the phone in March, so I knew it was still under warranty. I backed it up when it acted skittish a few weeks ago. I wasn’t panicked because I knew I wasn’t losing anything irreplaceable.

This looks like the very first Mac I owned.

This looks like the very first Mac I owned.

The only thing I was truly suffering from was inconvenience.  I got online and tried a bunch of technical fixes from Apple Support like updating and restoring. Repeatedly. Nothing worked. I drove to AT&T where I bought it to see if they could do anything. Nope.

I had no choice but to go to Apple and visit the Genius Bar. The only problem was the next available appointment was five days away! I went ahead and made the appointment. What other choice did I have?

During the next days, I checked myself every time I reached for my phone. I posted on FB that I was phone-less in the off chance someone needed to reach me. I still have a home phone, email, etc. My morning walks were without my iHeart radio. I couldn’t take photos of the beauty during my morning walks, nor post to insta. I couldn’t tweet. What on earth was a person to do?

What we used before computers.

What we used before computers.

I decided not to wait for my appointment. Instead I drove to Palm Desert, which is 30 miles away, to the Apple store before it opened this morning. Was I shocked to see 50 people standing in line on the sidewalk!

“Oh, great,” I thought. “I pick the day they release the iPhone 6s to get my phone looked at!”

But, no, standing in line, feeling the camaraderie that happens when you’re waiting with strangers, I discovered that the new iPhone won’t be in stores for about a week. People I talked with had the same white screen with the Apple logo on their iPhone 6. This cannot be good. What the heck is going on? Is there something that Apple isn’t telling us? Is it the upgrade to iOS 9? 

When my hour and 45 minute wait was over and I got a coveted stool at the Genius bar, my “appointment genius” couldn’t answer my questions.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

“It could be because of anything,” he said. “No, it’s not an upgrade glitch.”

Hmmmm. I glanced up and down the Genius bar at all the frozen phones. Interesting.

The best thing I can say about this adventure is this: the customer service at Apple is amazing. I walked away with a new phone, feeling thankful to have my friend, iPhone 6, back in my daily life.

Has anyone else had their iPhone freeze this week?

I wonder if the world as we know it would come to a halt, if there was a truly huge Apple glitch? What does that say about how dependent we are on technology and electronics?

It's back!

It’s back!