Parents against smartphones

boogie boarding in Laguna
My daughter and friends boogie boarding before any had smart phones.

Fifty-three percent of American children have a smartphone of their own by age 11, according to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media. By the time they’re 16, 89 percent of kids have one. An earlier report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teenagers felt addicted to their smartphones and that 59 percent of their parents thought that was the case. All of this has coincided with a startling increase in mental health challenges among adolescents, which some psychologists believe might be tied to the adverse effects of social media use.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/05/09/parents-kids-smartphones/

That quote came from an article in the Washington Post called “Meet the parents who refuse to give their kids smartphones” by Ellen McCarthy.

It was an interesting read to see how the children felt about not being allowed to have a smartphone. In some instances they were the only person in their school without one. The parents gave them a phone that didn’t have internet access but they could use to text and call. One child was so embarrassed with that type of phone, they never got it out at school.

One mother who refused to let her children have smartphones was a psychiatrist who treats high school and college students. She said her patients were on their smartphones nine hours a day or more — more than they sleep.

I agree with WHY the parents didn’t want their kids to have smartphones, but I’m not sure in today’s world if I could do it. My kids had childhoods without cell phones. My son didn’t get his iphone until high school graduation. My daughter got hers earlier and there was a lot of bullying going on. Also, I remember this thing on Instagram my daughter showed me where young girls were posting pictures of their thigh “gaps.” It was a body image competition that probably boosted anorexia.

By the end of eighth grade, Annalise Stacey was the only one in her class without a smartphone. And her mom’s spiels about how bad the devices are for kids’ brains didn’t make that much easier.

If her friends decided to hang out after school or on a weekend, they would make plans via group text. When she went to sleepovers, she often ended up watching other girls scroll on their phones. Annalise, who is now 15, sometimes didn’t know what her classmates were talking about because gossip had been exchanged over text or social media.

“I was frustrated just because I’m more of a shy person, so I felt like I was definitely getting left out of things and I didn’t really know how to get included.”

What are your thoughts? Would you be a parent against smartphones, even if your child felt left out? At what age did your kids get smartphones?

What to do about obnoxious sports parents

diving off the blocks
My daughter diving during at a swim meet where the swimmers were selected from So Cal teams.

As a swim parent, I saw my share of obnoxious swim parents. And I had my own moments of not being able to contain myself — although not to the point of punching a ref out — or yelling at a coach.

I saw so many parents taking over their kids’ sports, coaching from the stands, and yelling at their children when they had a less than awesome swim, that I wrote weekly articles with sports parenting tips. You can read them on SwimSwam Parent Tips on my blog or on SwimSwam HERE.

We hear about “those” parents in the news. Their videos of violence on the field or gym go viral.

I saw an article today that had the perfect solution. Duct tape.

Here’s an excerpt from the NY Post’s “The solution to obnoxious sports parents? Duct tape” by  Kyle Smith:

Last July, a woman on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte bit a flight attendant, then tried to open a door to the plane while screaming. Crisis was averted when she was duct-taped to her seat

An excellent start! Now let’s get out the duct tape for sports parents, who need to sit down, shut up and remember that Pee Wee football is not the Super Bowl. In Mississippi this month, an umpire presiding over a ballgame played by 12-year-olds was punched in the face and given a black eye by a woman wearing a Mother of the Year shirt who had been thrown out of the stands for cursing. “It gets harder and harder to staff these tournaments because no one wants to listen to the verbal abuse and run the risk of what happened to me happening to them,” the umpire, Kristie More, told WLBT

Like other forms of bad behavior (deaths in car crashes are way up), hyper-reactive-sports-parenting seems to have spiked during the pandemic, when tempers have been running as hot as Bidenflation. Even before that, anyone who was thinking about helping out the kids by signing up to be an umpire or a referee would have been smart to buy a Kevlar jacket and make sure his insurance was paid up. “There has been a huge drop off in the number of available referees and officials in youth sports due to the obnoxious behavior of parents,” Rick Wolff host of WFAN radio’s “The Sports Edge” told The Washington Post in 2020

https://nypost.com/2022/04/23/the-solution-to-obnoxious-sports-parents-duct-tape/

I highly suggest you read the article. It’s funny, but highlights what’s wrong with public discourse in today’s world.

What’s the most obnoxious thing you’ve seen parents do? What solutions do you have? Do you think things have gotten worse since the COVID shutdowns?

Why do 50% of freshman fail college?

I remembered a post I wrote years ago after reading LA’s post called “Do We Owe Kids College?” There’s an interesting discussion in the comments about whether or not parents are obligated to pay for their kids college or not.

The post I remembered is below. The stats are shocking of how many kids fail. I wonder if it’s gotten worse since I wrote this?

Why Do Kids Fail College?

I wonder why so many kids fail college? I was shocked to read a statistic from ACT that 50% of freshman students do not return for their second year. Then, 30% of those remaining, do not graduate within five years!

Why? What can we do to better prepare our kids for college? There is so much pressure on our kids to get into great schools.You’d think with the great expense, and all their work to get in, it would be a breeze once they are there. But, it’s not.

Swimmers on a recruit trip to Utah.
My daughter and friend on a recruit trip where they were allowed on the football field during a game.

Here’s my list of why I think kids fail their freshman year:

ONE

Too many kids go to college. I do not think everyone should go. When I was in high school the majority of students did not continue their education past high school. They were able to get jobs, support themselves and their families without a college education. Today, a college degree has become the norm and standard. There are many kids who would be better served to work for a few years, and then decide if they want to go to college. By having everyone go, and not everyone is equipped to go, some kids are set up for failure.


TWO

High school doesn’t prepare kids for college. The work is often spoon-fed by teachers in little lumps of daily assignments and reading. Having a syllabus with a couple dates on it and no day-to-day requirements is more what college is like. It takes discipline, motivation and self-determination to not procrastinate, but to work and study in advance of deadlines.

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A gorgeous location. UCSB.

THREE

We do too much. As helicopter, hovering parents, we are afraid to let our kids fail. We don’t let our kids learn from their mistakes. They need to have more chores, part-time jobs or something to do besides homework. Some of the crazy, heavy AP schedules don’t allow for real life experiences. Plus, some parents cater to their kids’ every needs—even to the point of helping them complete projects or assignments. My conversation with four-time Olympian and former University of Texas head coach Jill Sterkel included some great advice that you can read on SwimSwam here. She believes in letting kids work out their problems in a less high-stakes environment. We need to give them room to do this.

FOUR

Millennials mature later, according to Kari Ellingson, Vice President at the University of Utah. I attended a talk by her at orientation with my daughter. I wrote more about her talk here. According to Ellingson, “It used to be people matured around 19, 20, 21. Today it’s 26, 27 or 28.” It’s no wonder they can’t handle the many demands of laundry, getting their own food, studying, etc. Maybe our kids are not mature enough to handle the responsibilities of college at age 18?

My kids not wanting me to take their pic on the UCSB campus.
My kids not wanting me to take their pic on the UCSB campus.

What can we do to help our kids be prepared for success in college? What do you think are the reasons why so many kids fail in college? I’d love to get your feedback.

Day one of mom and grand-dog duties

Waffles at the ER vet
Waffles the pug not feeling so good.

I made it to the Bay Area to help my daughter who has COVID. I’ve been wondering how much help I can be, since I can’t be with her? If I can’t do much, I’m looking forward to quiet time alone writing.

So far, it turns out — more time than I thought.

I didn’t arrive until evening to my airbnb which is .2 miles from her apartment. The problem is she’s on quarantine and can’t leave her apartment. I’m not sure what the protocol is these days, but I can guarantee she hasn’t hit it yet.

She texted me a list of groceries. I asked if I could go to the Berkeley Bowl to get the items on her list. It’s one of my favorite places to go to when I visit the kids. This running errands will be a treat if it includes the Berkeley Bowl! I blogged about it HERE.

I picked up clam chowder and a salad for my own dinner and a few groceries for my airbnb mini-fridge along with her list. When I dropped off her groceries at her doorstep, we waved at each other through her window.

I walked back to the airbnb and sat to savor the Berkeley Bowl clam chowder. It’s so delicious. I called my son and we were talking about plans for tomorrow’s dinner. He may be recovering from foot surgery, but he doesn’t have COVID. We can be together in person.

That’s when I got a call from daughter asking me to take Waffles the pug to the ER. He’s been having issues with his tummy. I wrote about it HERE a few days ago. Waffles has been throwing up and hasn’t recovered from chicken bones. The animal ER won’t let my daughter with COVID inside.

I sat for more than two hours with Waffles in the waiting room. My daughter texted me the recent details since I was traveling from Arizona and not totally up to date. We — the vet, the vet’s assistant and my daughter on the phone — decided not to hospitalize Waffles last night, but to bring him back in the morning if he doesn’t improve.

I’m wondering what tomorrow’s role as mom and dog grandma will bring? What’s driving me crazy is to be so close to my daughter, but not being able to give her a hug.

Have you traveled to help your kids away from home? How have you helped? How have you helped family members with COVID?

You never know what tomorrow brings

Yesterday it started snowing! The prediction was 100% rain, not snow.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in the dark. I’ve decided to write a post for tomorrow, while my laptop still has juice. I’m using my iphone as a hotspot so I’ll be able to post this.

You never know what tomorrow will bring, so I decided to jump on this while I have the chance.

My daughter asked me to come up and take care of her. She’s in quarantine with COVID and there’s nobody to help her with daily things like laundry, groceries, going to Target, etc. I booked a ticket for tomorrow and she found me an airbnb down the street from her. My son, who lives close by, isn’t cleared to drive and isn’t walking post foot surgery.

She said she’s not going to infect me. She’ll ask me to run an errand and I’ll leave it on her doorstep. I can do her laundry at my son’s house or a laundromat (she doesn’t have a washer and dryer.) And I can walk Waffles.

I wanted my daughter to stay with our friends in Santa Barbara for another day to make sure both she and Waffles were up for the drive. I’m glad she ignored my advice and left on Tuesday because by Wednesday a winter storm hit closing roads and freeways. She could have been stuck.

So off I went to my PO Box and to the store to pick up a few last minute things for my trip. I opened the garage door and discovered it was snowing. It started snowing harder and coming at me sideways. I wasn’t sure I wanted to drive to the Post Office or store. But then I thought, you never know what tomorrow will bring. I better do it now. I’ll be leaving town tomorrow.

While at the store, my husband called and said the power went out at our house. I told him I’d check with the power company when I got home. As I drove down the street to our neighborhood, I wondered if the clicker to the gate would work?

Fortunately, someone manually opened the gates to our neighborhood and I drove on through and parked the car in our driveway. It stopped snowing and raining altogether thankfully as I brought in my groceries and mail.

Now I’ll use my iphone as a light in my closet to pack for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m learning to not procrastinate or find excuses.

Are you prepared if the power goes out? Are you prepared to handle the unexpected like a freak snow or a last minute trip to help your child?

Boomers: Don’t call your child’s boss!

Brother and sister
My kids who are now in the workforce. No, I don’t call their offices.

I was looking back to March 2020 on my blog, right when we were getting worried about COVID. I found this blog post I wrote back then and thought it was a strange enough topic to post again:

This is an actual memo that went out to a company this week. I am not making this up. My daughter sent this to me and said “You boomers are wildin’!” She was shown this by one of her coworkers who said it was sent to one of his family members at work.

It has come to my attention that we have had over 10 calls from parents about various subjects as it relates to their kids.

You are adults now and your job is YOUR responsibility. If you have a concern or need more information about the Coronavirus, 401k, Benefits or anything else that relates to work you need to communicate with your manager. If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager then please talk with HR.

I DO NOT want to hear again that someone’s parent called in HR or anyone else at our company for that matter to ask a question. You need to step up and be the responsible one as this is your job and you are an adult.

If your parent calls in that will be your final day.

Isn’t that something? Who are these parents? I would never, ever call my children’s HR or workplace. Of course we all want to know how our children’s companies are handling the coronavirus but I rely on my kids to let me know. For example, my son’s company has everyone working remotely.

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What are your thoughts about a company having to issue a memo like this? Have you or do you know anyone that would call the company their child works for?

What makes you happy?

brother and sister on a rock by the sea
Laguna Beach picture of my kids from around 2001.

My husband asked me to sit and watch a webinar with him yesterday. It was CE credits for him, but he thought I’d find the subject interesting. Begrudgingly, I sat with him. Surprisingly, there were a few tidbits that I found helpful.

The topic was about what makes people happy in retirement. Number one was not being stressed about money. At a certain point, when you aren’t worrying about outliving your money, more money doesn’t improve happiness. Good health is another key item.

I was surprised that friendships were near the top of the list. When people leave the workplace, they often give up their daily social interactions. I thought about this because it’s something I’m dealing with now. Since the pandemic and moving to Arizona, I don’t have the day-to-day interactions with people that I had before. Of course, I lived in California for three decades in the same house, so I had it wired. I had the swim team, women’s club, my kids’ school parents, etc. I stayed in touch with people I worked with years before and we still got together. I knew the postman, the grocery clerk and countless other people.

Moving to a new state and neighborhood, we were lucky to discover friends from Palm Springs who moved a mile away from our new home. It’s refreshing to get a last minute call and be invited over for football or dinner. And we reciprocate.

My husband had one of his closest friends two miles down the road. They were friends from their 20s and we got together every week or two since we moved. But my husband’s friend died suddenly in November from an illnesses that was not COVID. Watching the webinar, my husband muttered a few words about missing his friend.

I haven’t thought much about needing friends or a social life. I’m pretty content to sit at home and watch the birds. Sit outside and read. I didn’t really view myself as a people person. This webinar made me think about the years ahead.

It’s hard to make new friends when you’re older, not in a work environment and in a new state. The webinar convinced me to join book club, which I’ve never done before. I had gotten an invitation earlier that day. It was a sign that yes, I’d better give it a try.

Here is what I found really fascinating about the webinar: most people facing retirement think living close to their children will make them happy. In reality it doesn’t bump the needle like friendships do. It’s not even close.

What do you think will make you happy in retirement? Why do you think living close to your children doesn’t make retirees as happy as social friends?