Archive for March 2008
I’m working on a story about manners. Specifically, I’m focusing on a class in Spokane designed to teach children proper etiquette.
During the three-day course, kids spend a few hours at the Davenport Hotel learning everything from writing thank you notes and hosting a party to mastering the tools and rules of the dining table.
I was under the impression that many families don’t have the time or just don’t feel the need to teach these specific skills at home. In fact, some might consider these “finishing school” classes to be a bit old-fashioned, that perhaps learning how to be polite and kind doesn’t require a lesson on the art of dining.
What do you think? How do you teach etiquette to your kids at home? Thanks in advance for your help!
Here are some of the suggestions from the author, a man with a house fill of kids yet has discovered a way to streamline his life and “find peace and happiness among the chaos:”
* Don’t schedule too much.
* Have dedicated family times.
* Spend quiet time at home.
* Create traditions.
* Make cooking and cleaning a family thing.
* Focus on doing, not on spending.
What are some of the ways that you’ve simplified your life with kids?
According to this story from Reuters, the cost of raising a child born in 2007 until her or his 18th birthday will exceed what some families might spend on a home.
Middle-class families should expect to spend $269,040, factoring in inflation. That total doesn’t include money for college, by the way.
Since 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been conducting an annual study on child-rearing costs, according to the article. Food accounted for 17 percent of the total cost, while child care and education expenses made up about 12 percent.
According to the story, USDA found that children get more expensive as they get older. Teenagers were the most costly. Also, child-rearing costs are the greatest in the urban West.
What do you spend the most on for your child?
For some families, spring break is a time to scramble to find childcare. For others, it’s a week they spend together — on a trip, perhaps, or at home in search of creative things to do.
What do your children do during spring break? Do you send them to camp? Does the family go on vacation?
If you’re staying home, what activities would you recommend for other families? And if you homeschool, do you take a break as well?
Juggling family responsibilities with a career along with everything else is sometimes akin to that circus trick of spinning plates.
Lots of mothers and fathers are able to do it. But the really lucky ones also get some help.
Every year, Working Mother Magazine publishes a list of the nation’s top 100 family-friendly companies. Last year, some of the companies that made the list included:
* Microsoft, which provides “backup care” when an employee’s child care falls through, if schools are closed or if her or his child is ill;
* Texas Instruments, a company that allows moms to telecommute or work part-time;
* Cisco Systems Inc., which provides on-site child care.
The companies that were included in the list offered a number of perks, including: financial planning services, flex time, job sharing, telecommuting, health care insurance for part-time workers, lactation rooms, even adoption benefits and paid paternity leave.
“Who says women can’t have it all?” asked the editors of Working Mother. “An invigorating career, a fun-filled family life — today’s working moms enjoy both, thanks to smart companies that realize life doesn’t end at the office door.”
Which companies in the Inland Northwest would you nominate for the “family-friendly” list?
On another note, do you think women can really have it all?
My 4-year-old has the case of the gimmies.
I’m not sure how it started, but perhaps in my previous overscheduled, 40-plus-hours-at-work life, I got a little carried away with the presents. Maybe I felt too guilty or I was too tired to discipline. Instead of saying, “No, you can’t have another 99-cent plastic car” each time we passed by a particular aisle at the store, I just ended up giving in.
Regardless of what I did wrong in the past, we’re now here – in a place where he feels deserving of every gift in the world. Sometimes, when we visit his grandparents in Seattle, the first thing he’ll say is, “Where’s my present?”
I don’t want to raise a spoiled brat. Nor do I want to spend all my free time picking up toys and little pieces of plastic scattered in every room of our house.
In my search for answers on how to cure the gimmies, I found some tips from The Center for a New American Dream, an organization designed to help Americans become responsible consumers in order to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and promote social justice.
Here are some suggestions from the center’s “Kids and Commercialism Action Tips” list:
- Get rid of the TV.
- Remove the logos from clothes, theirs and yours. Talk with kids about why you’re doing this. Suggest to kids to design their own, personal logos.
- Parents who resist consumerism for themselves are the ones who teach their children to resist it.
- Teach children to be doers and creators rather than shoppers and buyers.
- Supply them with sidewalk chalk, old cardboard boxes and other makings of creative play.
- Grow your own food. Involve the kids. Teach your child of the connections within the natural world. Experience their beauty together. Talk about where things come from, who made them, what they are made of.
- Teach kids empathy for others. Instead of buying toys, suggest they spend the money bringing some groceries to the local food bank.
My household certainly has some work to do when it comes to reducing the amount of stuff we own, as well teaching our kids about giving instead of receiving.
How about you? Any advice on how to eliminate a case of the gimmies?
Someone shared this ‘internet meme’ with me and I thought it was interesting… so what are 5 things you want your kids to know before they grow up…
Here’s mine (but it’s hard to narrow them down!):
1. Mommy and Daddy love them unconditionally and forever
1a. Mommy is always right.
2. Life is not fair / “Stuff” happens, let’s move on.
3. It’s your mess, you clean it up (covers a lot of things in life!)
3a. flush and put the lid down
4. The world is a beautiful place that we all must help care for
5. It’s ok to be sad or mad or angry but it is not ok to be mean to others (i.e. the golden rule i suppose)
5a. that includes your sister/brother
This recent article about how a growing number of Americans have changed their religious affiliation since childhood got me thinking about the role of faith in how we raise our kids.
Do you think children need a religious/spiritual foundation in order to learn about morality and how to treat others in the world? Is it important that we regularly bring our children to mosque/synagogue/church or some other gathering where people promote respect, kindness and ethical behavior?
And what do you do if you and your spouse come from different denominations or faith backgrounds?
Instead of sitting down and learning the alphabet, my 4-year-old son would rather be outside playing with sticks — pretending to be a knight with a sword, a wizard with a wand or maybe Luke Skywalker with a light saber.
For the longest time, I worried that he would never learn how to write his name or count past 10, that we weren’t strict enough, that he spent too much time playing pretend.
That’s why I felt some relief last month when I heard this report on National Public Radio. “Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” was about the benefits of imaginative play and how it teaches our children how to practice self-control, think creatively and solve problems.
“Self-regulation is a critical skill for kids,” according to the NPR report. “Unfortunately, most kids today spend a lot of time doing three things: watching television, playing video games and taking lessons. None of these activities promote self-regulation.”
The merits of pretend play also have gone by the wayside with the current emphasis on testing and accountability in our schools.
“It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most,” said reporter Alix Spiegel. “All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.”
(The researchers interviewed weren’t too excited about Star Wars, by the way. The ideal imaginative play, they said, shouldn’t be focused on toys and the “commercialization of play.” Until 1955, play was about activity and not about toys, apparently. So much for Luke Skywalker…)
What kinds of activities or games do your kids play? As a kid, do you remember playing pretend?
Not everyone in our household was thrilled when my eldest child was born.
From the moment we brought our newborn into the house, our three cats felt threatened.
In those first few weeks, we just didn’t have the time or energy to brush their fur and pet them as they rubbed up against our legs and demanded attention. They also didn’t appreciate the fact that we were constantly shoo-ing them off the couch, the bed and anywhere we needed to make room for the baby.
In our sleep-deprived state during those early weeks, we ended up ignoring our cats’ hurt feelings … until they exhibited signs of “sibling rivalry.”
Sassy, a female Siamese who was about four at the time, began to spray. I had no idea that spayed female cats could do that. But I caught her several times – marking her territory and leaving the unmistakable pungent odor of kitty pee on the dresser in the baby’s nursery, the curtains and even my son’s stuffed toy lamb.
And just in case I hadn’t noticed already, she decided to spray urine in my closet as well. (For some reason, she didn’t take out her aggression on my husband…)
By the time we brought our second baby home, I was better prepared. All of us have since learned to co-exist, but Sassy still sprays once in a while.
What did you do to ge your pet(s) ready for the baby? What lessons have you and your children learned from your pets?
Where do you go for Easter egg hunts? Do you ever bring your children to the local parks or churches, where they have hunts for large groups of kids?
I’m working on a story about “egg hunt etiquette,” especially when little children are out there picking up eggs along with older kids.
With the occasional competition for goods, what are the unwritten rules of these egg hunts?
How do you make sure that your child (or any child, for that matter) doesn’t come home with hurt feelings?
Thanks so much for your help!
I think I know where the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction stands on this issue. And I believe I can guess what the teachers’ union, the Washington Education Association, thinks.
But it seems we rarely hear from parents, especially those whose kids are getting ready for college.
Are your children better prepared for higher education as a result of the WASL? How has this test improved the quality of education for your child?