Posted November 12, 2014
Use the bounty of Fall produce to introduce your family to new flavours and teach them the difference between a parsnip and a rutabaga. You never know, there just might be a new vegetables in there that they like (who knew my 11 year old daughter liked turnip!). If there are no takers for the brussel sprouts not to worry, you can still add some of these great Fall Foods into the dishes the kids already like with these meal ideas.
So many squashes to choose from: green ones, yellow ones, round ones, long ones and so many different flavours. Try them all. Spaghetti squash is scooped out with a fork after it is cooked and creates spaghetti like strands, hence its name. Butternut and acorn squash are the more traditional orange squash full of beta carotene.
Meals Ideas: Top spaghetti squash with a your favorite spaghetti sauce and you have an alternative to noodle night. Cook, puree and add squash to soups with roasted garlic or this macaroni and cheese recipe - kids will love it!
We go apple picking every Fall but this year I did something a little extra. I purchased 8 different varieties of apples and the whole family did a taste test at the kitchen table of all the apple varieties and guess what? After 9 years of eating Gala apples we all found a new favorite – Honey Crisp!
Meal Ideas: Apples go great with pork in the slow cooker, green apple in your curry and apples and apple sauce are perfect for baking in everything from these Chocolate Zucchini Cookies to this overnight slow cooker oatmeal or use apple chips in these apple cinnamon granola bars.
Versatile and healthier than regular white potatoes, especially when eaten with the skin on, make the sweet potato a valuable addition to your weekly vegetable rotation.
Meal Ideas: Boiled, roasted, mashed, baked whole or as fries, the options are almost endless. Peeled, cooked and pureed sweet potato can be added to soups, stews, sauces and adds great colour and flavour to hummus for dipping.
Such a funky fruit once you peel back the layers and a good source of potassium, fibre and Vitamin C but how do you get at all those seeds? A request to buy a pomegranate from one of the kids, a lesson on how to slice then peel back the skin to form wedges similar to an orange from the internet, and we are now a pomegranate eating family.
Meal Ideas: Pick seeds out of wedges and eat as is or sprinkle on salads, cereal or morning oatmeal for a sweet crunch.
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em but you can’t deny these mini members of the cabbage family are good for you.
Meal Ideas: They can be sliced and eaten raw in a salad or steamed whole as a side dish. If you are not a fan, try slow roasting them in the oven with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a new flavour and give them another try.
Round, small and purple, the turnip is often confused with the rutabaga (or the rutabaga is confused with a turnip) either way, these winter wonders are harsh tasting to some and yummy to others. Experiment and if nothing works they are great pureed and slipped into quiche, casseroles and soups.
Meal Ideas: Turnip can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw but are commonly boiled in water with a potato to remove any bitter taste then enjoyed mashed on their own or with your favorite spices. Can be mixed with mashed carrots for a colourful Autumn dish.
The sweet partner to the turnip and root vegetable family, parsnips have a nutty flavour, are loaded with folate and fibre and look like over grown white carrots.
Meal Ideas: Wash and peel if skin in thick, then chop and cook in soups and casseroles, roast in oven or cut length wise to make yummy parsnip fries.
Dates, or date palms, grow on long strands in palm like trees in hot climates and are harvested in the Fall. This sweet fruit is high in fibre, antioxidants, potassium and iron and is very versatile.
Meal Ideas: Large dates can be stuffed with blue cheese, goat cheese or melon, wrapped in prosciutto and served as an appetizer, eaten as is for a sweet treat or ground with rolled oats to make these no bake, nut free Chocolate Power Balls that even the kids will love.
Thanksgiving and turkey dinners have made the cranberry a staple fruit in the Fall but their good for you nutritional profile suggests we should be eating these more often.
Meal Ideas: Cranberries add a sweet and slightly tart flavour to any baking and dried cranberries are perfect in these instant oatmeal packs for quick breakfast on the go.
Experiment at with these and more Fall foods at the grocery and get the whole family to try something new. You just might find a new favorite for your warm Autumn meals.
Posted November 6, 2014
Feeding kids can be a game of hide and seek or hit and miss. Some foods are an instant hit and easy to get kids to eat while others you have to hide or sneak into a sauce. Teaching kids young about nutrition won't solve the green vegetable debate with your toddler, but it will help them to grow up understanding the importance of eating a variety of foods and being healthy.
Teaching kids about nutrition is an important as teaching them to read and write and having them understanding the benefits of eating well early on will encourage a healthy relationship with food.
As soon as you start introducing solids, talk to your child during meal times about what food they are eating and why it is good for them. Tell them that carrots are orange and good for their eyes, that avocado is yummy and green, that bananas give them energy and pears have lots of fibre. Show them a fun way to keep track of eating fruits and vegetables by challenging them to eat something from all the colours of a rainbow!
When they come with you to the grocery store and reach for the Fruity-O’s cereal explain why you prefer the low sugar, whole grain cereal without the artificial food dyes and offer to buy the Fruity-O’s for making necklaces or to glue onto art projects. It’s important to explain why you are not going to buy 'real' fruit squishers and prefer they have a bowl of real strawberries instead. Read labels, introduce them to ingredient lists and show them the unhealthy side to many packaged foods.
Healthy Food First
Set a rule early on that is it always ‘healthy food first.’ Instead of saying "NO dessert if you don’t finish dinner," tell the kids to have a healthy dinner first, then dessert. When you are out, encourage them to fill up on healthy food choices first before hitting the candy machine, dessert table or snack bar. Say yes to requests for treats, but qualify it with the 'healthy first' rule. It leaves the kids feeling like they are not being denied a treat and parents are still able to enforce the importance of healthy choices.
Teach Food Groups
You don’t have to go into the entire Health Canada food pyramid and serving sizes but a simple fun exercise of cutting out different foods from a grocery store flyer can go a long way to helping kids understand that eating a variety of foods is key. At meal time discuss what is a protein, a grain, dairy, fruit or vegetable and have the kids determine if ityou are eating a balanced meal.
Make It Taste Good
I have 3 normal kids who hate cooked spinach, think zucchini is gross and have vowed to never eat cauliflower for the rest of their lives. I also have 3 kids that eat zucchini, spinach and cauliflower weekly because I make it taste good. I bake oatmeal zucchini cookies they love, make homemade brownies with 6 cups of spinach and add cauliflower to every soup, scrambled egg and
mashed potato I serve. Every meal has fresh vegetables on the side that they do like – carrots, broccoli, peas, corn, beans – and every healthy homemade snack, casserole or soup has the rest of the vegetables they are not so keen on.
Talk about healthy food and food in general at meal time, at the grocery store and when commercials come on TV. Discuss the benefits of real fruit vs. fruit leathers and drinking milk or water instead of soda. Hand your baby pieces of banana to chew on instead of packaged baby foods and remember, it is never too early to teach your kids about healthy food.
Posted October 14, 2014
The temperature drops and so does your families enthusiasm to spend all day outside, but it shouldn't! Fall and Winter provide some of the best oppotunities for having fun outdoors. Invest in warm boots, all weather pants and a flashy hat and get outside together to enjoy some of these fun family adventures.
10 Ideas to Take Your Family Outside
I guarantee there are hidden gems within a 45 minute drive that are just begging to be explored. Water falls, tucked away lakes, rolling hills and trails leading through gorgeous forests. Get out there and enjoy. Google hiking trails around you, check out local ski hills that might be open for Fall rides on the chair lifts, have groomed cross country ski trails or follow that path into the forest near your house just to see where it leads.
A great outdoor experience for the whole family, Geocaching is catching on! The sport of using GSP co-ordinates from your smart phone to find hidden treasures and log books is happening all over the world and right in your own backyard. A simple download of the Geocaching app and you only need to hit one button that says “Find Nearby Geocaches” and you are off. It will lead you by compass and distance markers right to the area where you need to start looking in bushes, under logs and hanging from tree branches for the hidden cache. When you find it there will be a log book to sign and maybe a treasure to take, as long as your replace it with a new treasure for someone else. Check out www.geocaching.com for more information.
So many local farms are getting in on the Corn Maze craze! Some are elaborate with 20 km of intricate design that families can explore and answer skill testing questions as they go. Others are easy fun mazes that kids can run in and out of for hours. Google corn mazes in your area and support local farmers by checking them out.
Bike Path/Toboggan Rides
If the snow hasn't fallen yet, get those bikes and helmets out and strap on the training wheels. Most cities now boast bike paths that are even riding terrain for the newest cyclists in your family. Bike riding on new paths lead to new adventures and if you plan your journey right, you may even end up at an ice cream or hot chocolate shop! If the p[aths are full of snow grab a long toboggan and pull the kids along. When you tire, as the kids to give you a ride!
If you have older kids, why not look for a local horse stable that offers Trail Rides. Many have staff on hand that will walk along side riders as young as 3 and have horses that are gentle with beginner riders. Many are also open all winter long regardless of snow.
How good is your aim? Think outside the fruit farm and look for Conservation areas or Harvest Festivals nearby that offer archery or log cutting.
Visit a Pioneer Village
Wonder what they do at a Pioneer Village? Go check it out. You might just learn how to make sausages or see demonstrations on candle dipping, historic cooking, apple schnitzing, or grain threshing! Who doesn’t want to learn about apple schnitzing?
Go Fly A Kite
The wind that sets those fall leaves free from the trees is excellent for flying a kite at a nearby park or soccer field. And running with that kite will have the kids flushed and giggling all afternoon.
Leaf Jumping/Snowball Wars
No Family Fun is complete without a giant pile of leaves to jump in and mess up or a good old fashion snow throwing game! Get in on the action. Collect leaves and snow from all the neighbours lawns, shape them into a giant pile and then spend the afternoon rolling around in the leaves or playing in the snow with your kids. I promise they will never forget the fun they had watching you.
So much fun to be had outdoors, don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and events in your own community. You may be surprised at how many new Family Traditions you can create outside!
Posted March 15, 2014
by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
It has been a long while since I've had time to blog or had a blog in me, but this morning, while folding laundry I became inspired.
Anyone who truly knows me, even a little, knows I am a rabid perfectionist. Can't help it, it's part horoscope (Virgo) and plain old DNA. A cross I must bear, and I do quite happily.
In short, I like things to look, smell, feel, taste GOOD!
Let me clarify that I am not a lunatic perfectionist, just one who has a high personal bar and thus always tries to reach it and then nudge it upwards, slightly.
Where this ties into laundry and my family is quite simple. I was thinking about how far my perfectionist journey has come in the land of parenting. Teaching our kids how to fold laundry, case and point.
I harken back to my mothers' words when our first was a toddler --- "you have to teach them how to make their bed," she said, "but don't worry about how it's made at the start, just that IT IS made."
But how could I live with an untidily made bed. In the beginning I showed him a few times and wondered why he didn't seem to fully get it. Looking back on it now, it really wasn't all that bad for a four-year-old.
Enter fresh laundry. The day we sat down and explained how to fold it. T-shirts and socks proved to be the stumbling blocks here and years later still tend to be challenges from time to time, but I've learned to let go. It's now how they fold it, it is that they fold it --- the voice in my head said.
This is not to say that quality doesn't matter, quite the contrary. It absolutely does, but so too does positive reinforcement that should eventually lead to improvement over time of a skill or habit in a child.
I have most definitely explained that poorly-folded laundry that enters a drawer will exit that drawer like it has lived inside the mouth of a cow for a few hours or been trampled on by pigs. And yes, those comments are usually met with some form of shoulder-shrugging, low-level eye-rolling or flailing hands up in the air. I long ceased using that example and observed as the amazing happened. They eventually did care, and took care and perhaps heard our words in their little ears while folding --- whatever --- it was and is all good.
So, perfectionism. I feel it is a fairly noble pursuit within reason and with limits. Try to be the best you can be at whatever you attempt. Nothing wrong with that in my view. None of us is perfect, nor has that ever been my motivation. At the same time, there is nothing inherently wrong with pushing one's own personal bar --- as long as it doesn't impede yourself or anyone else in the process.
I do feel that increasingly we live in a society where personal standards are slipping. Excuses abound, rampant laziness, easy outs --- there are plenty of ways to let our standards slide. Like anything else, once they start sliding down that hill --- like a runaway train -- it, they, are hard to stop.
With respect to parenting, I learned to let go of my perfectionist ways when it comes to my children a long time ago. From time to time, it rears its anal head into a situation and I have to check myself.
The bottom line is both our three kids, my husband and myself have grown in our understanding of ourselves, each other and the world.
Who would have ever thought that bed-making and laundry-folding could hold such powerful parenting lessons.
More BLOG entries.
Posted July 22, 2013
by Rachel Thomas, Guest Contributor
I always loved having my kids home from school. I loved spending time with them
and thinking of fun things to do. We live in an area that is pretty much hot
and humid almost all year around so in the summer it is just hotter than usual. We have had to come
up with some pretty creative ways to stay cool because we do not have a built
in swimming pool at our house.
We did purchase an above the ground pool which all the kids had a great time in.
Along with the pool we would play in the sprinkler and play games with water
balloons. The kids used to like to play a form of baseball with the water
balloons, one would pitch and one would bat and both would end up getting wet
if they made a hit! That was the fun of it. Or the water balloon toss where you
toss it back and forth moving farther and farther apart until someone misses
and get soaked or it breaks in their hands. Water guns are another “cool” way
to play with water and have some fun. The bigger the better and the more they
got wet. When it gets hot these are great ways to have a good time. Just make
sure you have a lot of towels on hand; with a warm bath afterwards you should
have children ready to sleep!
Most kids love to camp and this is another great summer activity depending on where
you live of course. In our neck of the woods it is often too hot to camp in the
summer so we usually camp in the spring or fall here. If you live in more
moderate climates that get cool at night or in the evenings then camping is
ideal. Especially if you camp near a lake where you can drop a line and catch a
fish or jump in the cool lake for a swim. Hiking, biking, eating out of doors,
and seeing all kinds of wildlife up close can be a blast for children. It can
be a real treat for kids that are used to the city life but roasting
marshmallows over a campfire or making smores is fun for all.
Taking full on vacations can be fun but for those of us who cannot take long vacations
day trips can be a great time for the whole family. My mom used to babysit my
kids while I worked and would often take the kids on a day trip to places
within an hour or two of home every week. They would visit museums, the zoo,
water falls, lakes, and do things like fish, rock climb, hike, bird watch, pick
wild berries, and on and on. Most of us live within a couple hours of
interesting activities and we do not even know it. There are no mountains per
se in our area but there are several nice hilly locations. My children loved to
go and climb these hills and for younger children it can seem like a mountain
climb and they get a big kick out of it! The zoo in our area has a water
feature that the kids can run through to stay cool along with a manmade lake
with paddle boats and a small train. Browse the internet to find neat things to
do within a couple hours of your home and you will be surprised. Kids even like
going to farmer’s markets, and often they have ranches or farms open to the
public to pet animals, milk a cow, pick your own fruits and vegetables, and
maybe even ride a horse. Take advantage of all the interesting places that are nearby,
you may be surprised at what you are missing by traveling great distances for
vacations when you have all these things to do so close to home!
Another fun activity that we do in our family is to have family bike rides to the park
and we would take along a picnic as well. The kids loved riding bikes as a
family and ending up at the local park to play and eat. If you do not have a
local park then you can find a nice park within driving distance and plan a picnic
meal with your family. This is a wonderful way to spend time as a family. Take
along a football, baseball equipment, Frisbees, or fishing poles if the park
has a lake. There are some really nice parks around the cities and all the
state parks (which there are many) allow you to come in for the day for a small
fee and use their tables, playground equipment, and have access to the lakes as
well. Most of them are covered in trees for plenty of shade and you can take
along chairs and blankets so that you can sit and chat or even lie down for a
nap. We have often camped or spent the day at one of our state campgrounds and
they are all very well maintained and a very safe place for a family gathering.
One summer we camped near a lake where you could rent a fishing boat and we taught
the kids to paddle the boat (which is no easy feat). They had a great time out
in the boat; of course they had on life preservers, and loved fishing from the
boat as well. You can sometimes catch much bigger fish boating into the center
of the lake than you can from the shore. This is a real treat for kids that are
not raised near a body of water. We ended up catching turtles instead of fish
sometimes but it adds excitement when something unexpected shows up on the end
of the line. It is especially exciting for us as parents!
Going to the neighborhood pool or a water park is another fun way to spend a hot
summer’s day. Depending on the rules of the pool or park you can sometimes take
a cooler of drinks and food with you and have a picnic but often they require
you to purchase their food and drinks. We found one that we like that lets us
bring in our own which is way more economical and everyone can get a drink or
eat at their leisure. But usually I have to round my kiddos up and get them to
eat and drink because they are having too much fun to take a break. You have to
be careful to make sure they are hydrated and protected with extra sun screen
from time to time to prevent anyone getting burnt or sick.
We live in an area where there are rivers that they allow you to ride inner tubes
on. It mostly a nice gentle ride and we tie our tubes together so that no one
gets too far away. From time to time you come upon a little waterfall of sorts
that pushes you along faster all depending on the rainfall that we had that
year. You want to be sure if you go somewhere like this that the water is high
enough because you can bottom out as well and it is not a lot of fun to walk
your way down river! The people you rent the tubes from have a place at the end
of the river to turn in your tubes and get a ride back to your cars. The
children loved doing this and it makes for a nice, cool day. You can rent a
tube for your cooler as well and have it floating along besides
Some of these things do depend on what part of the country you live in but in every
part of this great country of ours there are sights to be seen and things to be
experienced if you do a little research. Many times we wait for our vacations
and plan big events to have all our fun in a two week period of time but there
are so many fun activities that you can find to do close to home. You can find
something fun to do every week with your kids if you get creative and do a
little research. You will probably be surprised at all the activities you can
find where you live!
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a
graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She
welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @
Posted May 14, 2013
by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
As we look high and low for consistent signs of spring, our three offspring are well-entrenched in summer sports activities, namely, baseball, softball, soccer and ball hockey. They love it, we love them loving it. It's all good. Mercifully, our boys are on the same soccer and baseball teams and are able to transport themselves when required, so the schedule is very manageable.
What is increasingly unmanageable though is the behaviour that after all these years of participating in, watching my kids play and hearing about my friends' kids experiences is --- parental behaviour. Questionable, largely unethical, disrespectful words, thoughts and actions carried out by (thankfully) a minority of individuals, who are increasingly growing in number, ever so slowly.
You may have met some of them. They stack teams, yell comments, usually don't lift a finger to volunteer as a coach, assistant coach, vociferously question calls, coaching decisions, bend the rules left, right and centre, slyly encourage cheating, winning at all cost, or they run everything and control teams, gavmes, outcomes, standings and the like from their lofty perch. Tons o' fun.
Our family has watched this behaviour at various venues and against a litany of backdrops/arenas/fields for years. We usually don't say anything and watch these people derail themselves. But still, to this day it still amazes me.
When adults display an overt need to WIN vicariously through their children no matter the circumstances, something must be said. They are fashioning children who will likely do the same. Great -- a whole new generation of cheaters awaits.
Note to them: get over yourselves, it is only a game, remember your age, and finally, if you can't do any of these, STAY HOME.
The problem with saying nothing, as I have said to my kids on occasion, is that inaction, inevitably supports this cheating behaviour. By the same token, saying something, anything pits a RATIONAL mind against an IRRATIONAL one. Who do you think will 'win' that debate?
In our family, we joke about it. Not ideal, but you've gotta laugh to keep your sanity.
Fortunately, for whatever reason, my kids have always landed on teams with fair and sane coaches. We tell them to accept whatever team they are on and whomevery their teammates are, even though most other teams feature stacked lineups built for minor sports supremacy. We tend to repeat to them the refrain -- 'you get what you get and you don't get upset'. None of these factors ever seems to bother them. Even the few times they have the option to choose friends/teammates to play with, they elect to choose one with the belief that selecting more than one is not fair to everyone else. I don't know where this all comes from, but we support it wholeheartedly.
Apart from the infantile behaviour of these 'overzealously competitive parents', the people I feel bad for most are their children. They will likey grow up to expect their mom or dad to gallop in on a white horse and rescue them when they don't win in life. Too bad it doesn't work that way. Can you spell depression, anxiety, failure complex?
I also feel bad for those coaches who choose to play by the rules, who don't realize or figure out too late that this type of behaviour is out there. They innocently put together teams, lineups, dedicate their time and effort to volunteering as coaches, etc., only to see their teams lose repeatedly or have their genuine efforts undermined by this 'unfair' element.
As I brace to watch these various dramas unfold, (some have started from day one), I wonder, who are the real children here? Even the smallest of children understand the basic prinicples of right from wrong don't they?
Posted May 9, 2013
by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
Several years ago now, I learned a term within a business setting, taught by a consultant who was brought in to educate us on a bunch of different things. He was good, his message most interesting. I took several things away from it. One of them was one of the 'golden rules' in business, but you could easily argue in life and most certainly in parenting.
Under promise. Over deliver.
Succinct, powerful, logical and rational. And absolutely bang on.
Lately, and perhaps there is a correlation between the nuttiness of life these days, the speed at which we all seem to be moving, whether by choice or necessity, I have experienced a litany of people, situations, circumstances where people are NOT doing what they say they are going to do.
I personally have a 3-strike rule. People get three chances to screw up in my book (weighed by the level of the screw up), before I start to write them off and spend less time, energy or anything else on them.
But when it comes to bigger, more official people in positions of power who are merely paying lip service, saying they will 'get back to you by...', 'call you on this date', 'follow up with you tomorrow at 4pm', etc., etc., and then turn around and DO NOT DO what they say they are going to do, I slowly become irate.
Why commit yourself to such specifics, if you likely have absolutely no intention of fulfilling it? Or if you know you aren't going to be able to fulfill the promise, for goodness sake let that person who is expecting the promise to be delivered --- KNOW ABOUT IT.
Have we become so ignorant as a society, do we lack empathy to such a degree that we need to behave like this?
We are always telling our kids ---- 'do what you say you are going to do'. If that is to clean your room, take out the garbage, whatever. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear, and then under-deliver. That is irritating.
For people who set their personal bars high (which I do), under promising and over-delivering can be a frightful and foreign concept. I have come to learn that is it more a lifeline and a reality check.
It makes far more sense to set a realistic bar, deliver on it, then incrementally lift that bar higher as you move forward.
No different in parenting. Just when you think your kids are not paying attention, they remember what you said in frustration last Saturday when you promised to buy ice cream or a toy or whatever --- when your offspring finally settled down or did their chores, etc.
There is nothing more aggravating than over promising and under delivering. It shows a blatant lack of respect, in my view for everyone involved. It seems to be sport these with people aided and assisted by technology --- hiding behind technology issues, voice mail collapses, dropped calls, and every other excuse in the book to defend themselves for not delivering.
Helping child set and achieve goals, set realistic expectations and achieve them is as important as any lesson we may teach our children in their lives. It certainly is not easy, especially we are are running around town not doing what we say we are going to do.
Posted May 2, 2013
by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
Had the most intriguing chat with a business acquaintance a few days ago. He is not married, and doesn't have children. But at one point the conversation turned to parenting. He brought it up. I listened intently, agreeing and shaking my head in affirmation (inside my head of course), so as not to appear overzealous about what was perplexing this person and why I agreed so completely with his stance.
Whether parents want to admit it or not, and frankly it doesn't really matter what age your child is, the innappropriate content that exists online and the ease of access to it is, in a word, frightening.
Firewalls, restrictive software, YouTube disclaimers, scoldings and warnings only get so far. The question that this gentleman and I (many times especially in recent years) are asking --- why is porn not being policed on the net?
In a world where homemade bombs, terrorist plots, jihadist training, murderous plans and schemes, cyberbulling seem to preoccupy the waking moments of many of us, it seems that butt naked men and women performing unspeakable acts have eluded our attention. It is most definitely time to shed light on this growing concern.
As the parent of two teen boys and a nine-year-old girl, this topic is on my radar. Not because I have had to address it in my household so far (goodness help us if and when that time comes), but because it is part of the reality of parenting in 2013. Period. If you do not come to grips with the p-word, it just may put you in a vice grip and have you flailing helplessly.
Regardless of your opinion on the existence of porn in the world at large, children of any age SHOULD NOT have access to it.
Add that to the idea that children these days seem to know too much from a young age, then add to that the idea that they seem to mature at a rapid rate, throw in the reality that girls seem to mature at a more accelerated rate than boys and you suddenly have a pretty potent mix. Once you throw in unrestricted access to porn on the internet --- CRINGE, we all should cringe.
I don't pretend to know the answer but whatever that answer is has to be quite stern and sweeping in nature. No exceptions.
This is serious stuff. It deserves our undivided attention. Especially because kids, by and large, learn much by modelling behaviour they see.
What is scary is when they feel the need to model behaviour that they likely do NOT understand.
Posted April 25, 2013
by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
The more experiences I accumulate (code for: 'the older I get'!), the more this concept is evidenced to me. The concept? There are primarily two types of people in the world --- those who compete with others and those who compete with themselves. There are many who exhibit bits of both, however, one approach to competition usually dominates in those individuals. Nothing wrong with competition whatsoever, provided it is fair and healthy.
What I have learned is regardless of what competition camp you fall into, one side really does not understand the others' view. I happen to be part of the 'competing with myself group'. Time and again, in every aspect of my life --- especially in parenting --- I have been stunned and amazed by people I have met from the 'competing with others camp' who just don't understand those of us in the 'competing with ourselves/myself' group. What a loss.
I've observed that by and large, the individuals who relish competing with others, end up sowing the seeds for 'keeping up with the Joneses' in their children.
The world we live in is already rife with competition. Most of it unhealthy and unfair. Do we really need to be feeding the beast by raising children from embryo to adult who spend more of their time concerned with what everyone else is doing rather than themselves?
Stop and think about it.
These seeds are sown in the smallest and biggest of ways. Smallish example. Your kid begs you for the latest gadget. You may ask, "why do you need it". He or she presents a litany of arguments but one will definitely be --- "because Bobby or Katie has one". Guilt consumes your brain. Perhaps a little competitive fire fuels that guilt and the next thing you know you trot down to the gadget store to buy your 9-year-old a Blackberry. Ridiculous when you read it, however, it happens all the time.
My husband and I have been that parent. Our approach to the question 'so and so has one' has always been "we don't really care what Bobby or Katie have, you are our child and we are concerned about you." Depending on the age of the offspring, you may have to deal with a minor tantrum, the silent treatment, some kind of rebuttle, but they come back down to earth and resume normal behaviour.
If parents today spent more time worrying about what is going on under their roof and less time worrying about the Joneses' possessions and the Joneses' kids possessions --- you would likely get more parents who would be more present in their own children's lives.
If we celebrate each others' successes rather than use them as a lightning rod for competition, our kids may actually understand the idea that what you have is really not important at the end of the day. What is important is who you are and how each of us treats each other.
Posted April 21, 2013
by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
I am questioning, wondering and in a word, struggling. It is now a week since terror ripped through a running race, paralyzed a city and disturbed the world.
The dead have been buried. The injured recover slowly. The loved ones mourn forever.
The alleged perpetrators have been captured. Neighbourhoods are left reeling try to piece together the events and now the aftermath of the Boston Marathon explosions.
There is so much, so so much that is wrog with what happened last week in Boston, apart of course from the obvious.
Just when I thought the worst was over, I turned the TV on (which I never do at an early hour) last Friday morning, only to see a play-by-play description of a city in lockdown and the police pursuit of two and then one alleged suspect.
I had turned the TV on to check the weather --- which I also never do. However given the erratic winter/spring we've endured, I have no idea what to wear any more.
I understand all the justifications for why tv stations and other media felt compelled to place reporters' in (potential) harms way with sirens, flashing lights and and then eerie quiet behind them. I saw one of my former colleagues, herself a young parent, right in the middle of the madness, and thought to myself -- yikes...brave.
Just because you can justify something, DOES NOT make it right. Goodness knows there are more spinmasters on the planet now than ever who can sell anyone on just about anything, if you give them the chance.
What hit home for me was a discussion that began in the car on Friday evening as I was driving home with five other people from a musical, no less. Among those in the car, were a 13, 11 and 9-year-old. Each had just expressed how much they enjoyed the show we had just seen -- music, dancing, a great story line --- a wonderful evening so far.
Then, the topic turned to Boston. I can't remember how it happened, cause I sure as heck would not be the one to start it.
I listened. I did not say much.
My stomach began to turn as I heard from each of these young people, some of whom belong to me, others who did not, about what they knew about Boston -- the latest. They knew TOO MUCH in my opinion, for their age.
I am a traditionalist, always have been, always will be. Kids of a certain age just DO NOT need to know about terrorism, limbs flying, a teenager being pursued by every level of law enforcement, why an 8-year-old boy was killed and his family decimated by a series of explosions during a running event.
But here I was, listening to what these little people in our van were sharing.
I asked if they had talked about in school much that day. The answer was 'not really'. Still they knew so much. We can all guess from where and why.
I am still not past teaching JKs on up about lockdowns in schools for goodness sake. I better catch up fast.
What concerns me is how children process things. Just when we parents think they are not paying attention, they surprise us with facts, information and knowledge we thought they could not possibly have gained. Guess what, they likely are.
The other thing that bothers me to the core of my being is the excessive, rampant and irresponsible amount of factually incorrect, rumour, innuendo, dead wrong, misleading, speculative reporting and fear-mongering that that Boston Marathon explosions unleashed -- on twitter, within various news organizations and elsewhere.
In their zeal to be the first, increase ratings, provide a public service, share important potentially life-saving information, many media outlets and fledgling twitter reporters made serious errors, many of them. This IS WRONG.
In recent years, I find myself telling my children not to always believe what they read. As these words exit my mouth, I am always surprised I am saying them. What else is one supposed to do though? You cannot believe everything you read or see for that matter. "Take it with a grain of salt", I advise them, "Ask plenty of questions".
In the immediate aftermath of Boston, I read of t at least one person being taken into custody, erroneously. There were likely plenty of other arrests that should never have happened, and that we will never hear about.
The alleged accused are now either dead or detained. Boston will slowly return to 'normal'. The headlines will belong to other stories soon. The damage will remain.
Do we ever really learn from these 'lessons', I wonder?
People, children, teens, adults, do not wake up and become murderers, terrorists, and purveyors of evil. It comes from somewhere.
If we as a society could only spend our time, effort and money focusing on the SYMPTOMS rather than the RESULTS, we may move the dial forward.
Sure, it's easy to train and employ more security and law enforcement officials. In fact, I would love to know the stats on the number of people employed in this field since 2011. Must be off the charts. And we remain obsessed with it.
We should be far more obsessed with building stronger families and stronger communities to hopefully prevent events like these from ever happening.