Scribit Veritas

Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Chores

choresWe have always insisted on our children doing chores and marking a chart to show accountability. While my three boys were all teenagers, they had gotten very lax in their duties and no amount of lecturing was having any effect. So my husband called a family council. He handed each family member a spreadsheet.

“I have given you a copy of our monthly budget. I have listed the cost of the mortgage, insurance, utilities, phone, food, and other miscellaneous household supplies. I have divided it by the number of people living in the house. As you can see, the cost for each person is $300. That would be about $75 a week. You pay for your share by doing chores and helping out around the house. I am looking at the chore chart, and I can see that you three boys have not marked off any chores for this week. You now owe me $75. Go get it.”

There was total silence. Not one of them had that kind of money lying around. My husband continued. “Okay, you obviously don’t have the money. So now you can’t live in the house. You will pack what clothes you need and move into the back yard. You can use any of the camping supplies in the shed, as well as the ice chest. You can use the house for showering (or the pool), and the bathroom in the garage. You are responsible for your own food. You may only come into the house to do your chores.”

As a mom, I panicked. These were my babies! But all three of them were Eagle Scouts and were very capable of camping, cooking, and taking care of themselves. In fact, my youngest son was smiling and laughing and saying that this would be fun! And they moved into the backyard. They pooled the money they did have and walked to the store to buy some basic supplies – milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, hot dogs, and some chips and cookies. I was kind enough to give them some ice for the ice chest. That night they roasted hot dogs in our fire pit and decided that this wouldn’t be too bad.

It is amazing how much we don’t appreciate technology. Camping in the back yard meant the only lights they had to use were a lantern and flashlights. My boys learned the first day that they had better do their homework while they could see by the light of the sun. Chores could be done later, when it was dark. There was no television to watch. No video games to play. No computer or internet. This was before the days of cell phones, so, no texting, games, or youTube. It was too cold to swim and there was nothing to do. The sun set at about 6 pm and they were in their sleeping bags by 8. Guess who had all the chores done that week, and every week after?

Here are some ideas suggested by Jacqueline Curtis in Money Crashers to teach your child a good work ethic:

  • Treat school like a job. The teacher is the boss, there are rules to follow and responsibilities to complete. There are consequences when you fail.
  • Put work on the schedule. Don’t just have them pitch in to help.
  • Work together. They learn teamwork, and you can keep them on track and teach them as they work.
  • Don’t use bribes. Children then learn to work for the wrong reason. Instead of learning to do laundry so they will have clean clothes, they do it for the reward they have been promised.
  • Allow consequences. As hard as it is to watch your child suffer, negative consequences will help your child learn what happens when they don’t complete their responsibilities.
  • Model the behavior. If you have a solid work ethic and a positive attitude about work, your children will probably copy your example.

http://www.moneycrashers.com/teaching-kids-responsibility-work-ethic/

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Resilience

resilienceDue to inclement weather, the flight had been cancelled. Everywhere in the waiting area of the airport were heard the sounds of many complaints. Some people were frustrated, some resigned, and some were very angry. Off in one corner sat a mother and her two young children, tired, hungry, and a little frightened at the thought of having to sleep in the airport on the floor, or walking through the snowy night to find accommodations. But this mother put her arms around her children and gathered them close. She smiled and whispered to them excitedly, “This is what they call an adventure!”

As parents, we can teach our children to be resilient. According to Lyle J. Burrup (2013) of LDS Family Services:

How well children respond to setbacks depends largely on how well their parents helped them develop the attitudes and the skills of resilience. As children become resilient, they…see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning.

They believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they can do rather than on what is outside their control.

As we raise our children, we should set the example of tackling setbacks and viewing them with a positive attitude, and maybe even with some humor and fun. After all, don’t most of the best stories you like to tell begin with something that went wrong? “Remember when we accidentally set fire to the garage…” “Wasn’t that hilarious when the steering wheel came off while you were driving…” “Let me tell you about when I got chased by a bear…”

As that young mother said, “This is what they call an adventure!”

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/03/raising-resilient-children?lang=eng

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Protect Your Children!

parental advisoryI was having a discussion with 3 amazing women last week when the topic of pornography came up. One woman said that she heard that the numbers for addictions to pornography are at an all time high, but that it isn’t just for boys anymore. The number of girls has now come up to equal the number of boys. I don’t know if that is true or not; I do know that viewing pornography is harmful. Click here for scientific information regarding some of the harms of viewing pornography.

Our discussion moved on to how we can help the youth today battle this demon. It isn’t a matter of if they become exposed anymore. It is just a matter of when, how and what they do about it when it happens.

So…parents, teachers, coaches, and all other adults that have youth in their life: Talk with your loved ones about the dangers of pornography. Teach them about what to do WHEN they are exposed. Turn it off. Walk away. Tell someone. Don’t assume it will never happen to them. It will if it hasn’t already.

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On Papal visits and other such things

papal visitThere were many pictures, articles and memes on social media regarding the visit of Pope Francis to the United States this past September that caught my eye.  Some were very creative and insightful, if tongue-in-cheek, like the meme with the pontiff speaking to Congress labeled “Pope Francis visits the Sick”.  Touché’.  Perhaps the most captivating image from last month was one that could have applied to any historical or otherwise important moment in the lives of, well, all of us.  It was a photograph of a crowded city corner with a mob of people apparently trying to get a glimpse of the pontiff.  The picture shows no less than 15 people – from older teens to the middle-aged – with phones outstretched in hopes of capturing a souvenir photo.  All of them are looking up to see if their phone is at the right angle or looking down into the screen to be sure they have captured the perfect shot.  All, that is, but one of them.  In the center of the image is an elderly, silver-haired woman, leaning over the barricade and gazing lovingly at the object of her affection as she smiles from ear to ear.  She has no phone or camera in hand.  What she certainly has, however, is something that most of the crowd around her only wish they had: a memory of the moment.

I have written in my blog before about this techno generation we live in with its ever-present screens and anticipated immediacy. We have the ability to take a video, download it to Facebook and transmit it to our relatives across the globe in a matter of seconds.  What we are not able to do however, science fiction notwithstanding, is go back in time to actually enjoy the moment. Mind you, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.  Though not as prolific as others, my wife and I have taken many pictures and videos over the years.  They are fun to look back on and make for great TBT (throw-back Thursday) fodder.  Still, if we are going to be honest with ourselves we must admit that there are times when we are more interested in “capturing” the moment than actually being in it.  Being present to each other and soaking up every moment of history as we actually live it; now THAT is a message worth remembering.  

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Because I Said So

becauseisaidsoBeing a parent can be a tough job. I remember my mother saying, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…” I never really understood that until I had a child of my own. At times I feel like all I do is nag my children. I always promised myself that I wouldn’t be the parent who becomes a tyrant and makes their children do things without explanation. But when I’ve had a long hard day and my child wants to know why they have to do their chores, all I want to say is, “Because I said so! Because I’m the parent!”

In studying about different parenting styles, we learn that the best and most effective parents have reasonable expectations of their children, have set rules and structure, impose consequences that are clearly defined and explained, and keep open lines of communication with their children. Your children should be able to ask why and get an answer that makes sense to them. Children are really quite intelligent creatures and will comply with most rules when they understand why it is a rule, why there will be consequences, and what those consequences will be. Many parents involve their children in the creation of the rules, which gives them a feeling of ownership and autonomy. Then they aren’t Dad and Mom’s rules, but they become their own rules or the household rules.

But is it ever okay to just say, “Because I said so”? I believe it is. When I make a request and my child asks why, I will explain. If I make the request a second time, and they now become argumentative or obnoxious (I am sure your child is a perfect angel, always!), then I feel justified to insist on obedience without any more explanation. Of course, I need to avoid raising my voice. I can quietly, but firmly, insist on obedience. There have been occasions when a situation was very sensitive and I could not give an explanation, either because it involved breaking a trust, or it was beyond the comprehension of my child. And there have been times when I simply did not have the time to explain – I needed immediate action. A friend once shared that she taught her children, “Obedience first, explanations later.” If your child is in danger, you sometimes need them to do something simply because you said so.

Here’s a website you might want to check out that identifies different parenting styles. This might give you some great ideas on how you can improve your parenting skills:

https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2013/12/types-of-parenting-styles-and-how-to-identify-yours/

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Memories

Amanda quoteWhat kind of things do we remember from our childhood? For me, they are the times that brought joy and the moments that taught me more about myself and others. These are the moments from my childhood that I will always remember. Great memories include spending time with those you love and doing something that makes everyone happy. Sometimes the memories are created from something you planned and sometimes it is a spontaneous event. As an adult reflecting on childhood, most often the things we remember are the seemingly small, even insignificant moments that ended up making a big and unexpected impression on us. Having that knowledge as an adult becomes invaluable as you bring children into this world. Has the thought ever run through your mind, “What do I want my children to remember about their childhood?”

Some of my great childhood memories:  talking or discussions with parents (not arguing), going somewhere with my family to have an adventure of some kind, and/or just spending time together doing something positive and even fun!

Now you’re the parent! What are you doing to create those memories for your own children? My suggestion is to talk and discuss rather than argue. Instead of staying in your corner of the house, mingle with those in your family by physically being in the same room. Spend less time doing activities of little value and spend more time together adding value to your adventures.

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White is Black

white is blackA woman walks into the psychiatrist’s office.  “I don’t know, doc,” she says, “I guess the problem is I’m just not sure who I am.”  “Hmmm”, says the eager physician, “do you feel like a man trapped inside a woman’s body? “No”, replies the confused woman, “I imagine my son might have said that, however…until he was born, that is.”  Get it?

There is no shortage of confused people in this world.  That’s sad enough as it is.  What’s worse is the fact that we are living in a time and society where such confusion is actually enabled and encouraged by the very people who are supposed to know better; the “experts”.  Think you’re Napoleon Bonaparte? You need counseling.  Convinced your left arm is an alien sent to destroy you?  Take this medication to alleviate your delusion.  Tell people you’re actually a woman despite the genitalia God gave you, ala Bruce Jenner?  Well…when do you want your surgery?  It’s the HATERS out there (read: people with common sense) who need an attitude adjustment, say the PC police.   

Think I’m kidding?  Just a few months ago, I read in a major pediatric medical publication that, unbeknownst to me, I have been guilty of at least one sin thousands of times over the past twenty years.  The crime?:  “assigning” babies a sex.  That’s right, though every high school freshman who has taken biology can tell you that – in all but extremely rare cases – a male has XY chromosomes and a readily apparent sex organ the reality is even our sex is up for grabs, it seems. It’s the same mentality that resulted in what used to be called Gender Identity Disorder now being labeled the kinder and gentler Gender Dysphoria.  The problem, they say, is with how the person (and society) handles the situation, not with the fact that they cannot recognize the sex that they are.  Putting a dress on or rearranging your anatomy, however, does not change your sex, regardless of what Dr. Drew says.  The medical community, unfortunately, refuses to help such people.  That’s sad.

Common sense used to be just a rare commodity; now it’s darn near criminal.  How did we get here?  Where does it end?  I would say it will all come unraveling once someone makes a REALLY outrageous claim.  You know, like trying to convince everyone that they are a race or ethnicity other than what they are.  “No way!”, you object.  “That’s crossing the line”, you say.  I mean, Chico Marx played a hilarious Italian but when he wasn’t in front of an audience or camera I doubt he seriously thought he was anything other than an extremely talented New York Jew of German/French ancestry.  Then along comes Rachel Dolezal – a white woman working with the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, a woman of pure Scandinavian/European lineage –  who “identifies as black”.  Does that make her a minority?  Will her children qualify for scholarships set aside for black Americans?  As crazy as all of this sounds it was hilarious to watch all the politically correct pundits tripping over themselves to avoid saying what everyone was thinking: She’s nuts!  Not so, say the experts.  The problem, it seems, is ours, not hers.

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Raising Children of Character in a Toxic Culture

Character-Building-for-Kids

Welcome, Dr. Thomas Lickona! Dr. Lickona recently joined as a “Friend of the College”. He is a developmental psychologist and professor of education at the State University of New York at Cortland, where he directs the Center for the Fourth and Fifth Rs (Respect and Responsibility). A past president of the Association for Moral Education, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Character Education Partnership and speaks around the world to teachers, parents, religious educators, and other groups concerned about the character development of young people. Here is a recent article of his regarding the importance of parents and family connectedness:

In theory, the character education movement has always recognized what Principle 10 of the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education affirms: Parents are the first and most important character educators of their children.

If we take that principle seriously, we’ll do everything possible to honor the importance of parents and support them in their vital role.   We need to tell parents, again and again, how important they are in their children’s lives.

Schools should share with families what the research shows. For example, the National Study of Adolescent Health found that “family connectedness,” a feeling of closeness to parents, was the most important factor in keeping teens from engaging in anti-social or high-risk behaviors such as juvenile delinquency, violence, substance abuse, and sexual activity. Regarding sexual behavior, the study found that teens who believed that their mother disapproved of their engaging in sex were more likely to delay sexual involvement.

We should also share stories that bring the research to life. Permit me to share one from my own experience as a father.

When our younger son Matthew was a sixth-grader, he got pressure—notes from girls such as “I’ll do anything for you and I mean anything!”—the likes of which his older brother had never experienced.   He told us that many of his classmates had started to “go with” girls. On the way home from school, they were playing “Truth or Dare” in the pine trees. The “dare” to a boy was sometimes to go to the center of the circle and French-kiss a particular girl. Later he told me that several of these boys had announced to their male peers that they planned to have sex with their girlfriends when they got into seventh grade. “What did you say when they said that?” I asked.

“That you’re not supposed to do that until you’re married,” he said. I was relieved to know he had absorbed our family values. Matthew is now grown and married and the sexual pressures on even elementary school children have only intensified.

When I shared my son’s story with a parent group in a small village in rural central New York, a mother recounted her daughter’s recent experience: “Last year, when Kelly was in third grade, a boy kept sending her notes: ‘I love you, let’s have sex.’”

Disturbed by these notes, Kelly showed them to her mother. Her mother then showed them to the teacher, who forbade the boy—who was from a classroom across the hall—to go near Kelly for the rest of the school year.

But this year, Kelly says, in fourth grade, many boys are sending such notes to many girls—and the girls are pleased to get them. And beyond sending notes, many young people are “sexting.”

Kelly’s mother said, “I’ve asked other mothers if they are aware of the sexual note-passing. I haven’t found one who is. The conversation usually ends with the other mother saying, ‘We don’t talk to our child about sex, and she (or he) doesn’t talk to us about it either.’”

What conclusions can we draw from these stories?

The parents of Kelly’s schoolmates were unaware of the sexual note-passing in third grade, just as I’m sure the parents of Matthew’s classmates were unaware that their sons were talking about having sex in seventh grade. These children, it seems fair to say, were getting their sexual moral values from a highly sexualized, media-driven popular culture—television, movies, entertainment stars, the Internet, and the like.

How can we help parents respond?

Parents can work to

  • develop a close relationship with their children from an early age,
  • monitor what’s happening in their children’s lives,
  • reduce their exposure to negative media influences,
  • help them make appropriate moral judgments about what they experience outside the home.

Parents need to be especially vigilant about the dangers posed by a debased sexual environment that is the legacy of the sexual revolution. Although teen sexual intercourse, births, and abortions have all declined since the early 90s, the most recent federal Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds that about half of high-school age youth become sexually involved. Parents, in addition to repeatedly communicating their own moral and religious beliefs about sexual morality, can give their children a good book that encourages wise sexual decision-making. One that I regularly recommend to parents and teens, Sean Covey’s The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make, includes an excellent chapter on dating, romance, and sex. Many parents and young people say they’ve also found helpful my article, “10 Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement” (on our Center’s website, www.cortland.edu/character under “Character-Based Sex Education”).

Strengthening overall parent-child communication is also important. Our Center offers tools parents can use to increase meaningful communication with their children on a daily basis (“What was the best part and the hardest part of your day?” “What’s a way you helped someone today, or that someone helped you?”, “What is a problem you’re having that somebody in the family might be able to help you with?”, etc.). For more than 30 family conversation starters, see page 8 of the 2013 issue of our excellence & ethicspublication, available on website under “Newsletter Archives.”

How can educators respond?

Character educators can do more to help parents in this crucial area. One elementary school principal sends home a list of TV shows that are developmentally appropriate and wholesome for children and a list of other shows that aren’t (and why). KidsinMind.com and screenit.com are helpful parent guides to appropriate movies. A good resource for helping schools and parents communicate better is the Harvard series: http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/helping-parents-communicate-better-with-schools

If schools don’t join forces with parents in protecting and fortifying our children against the toxic influences of the culture, we’re throwing our kids to the wolves.

Tom Lickona, Ph.D. is author of Raising Good Children, Character Matters, and, with his wife Judy, Sex, Love, and You: Making the Right Decision (for teens). He directs SUNY Cortland’s Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (www.cortland.edu/character) and serves as an advisor to the president of character.org. To register for his Oct. 15 Forum pre-conference workshop, “Raising Children of Character: 10 Things Schools and Parents Can Do,” click on Register Today!”

http://info.character.org/blog/raising-children-of-character-in-a-toxic-culture

Posted by Thomas Lickona on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 @ 08:09 AM

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Using Closeness to Dissolve Conflicts


conflictMarried couples argue. Differences in parenting styles, disagreement about finances, and many other areas in life can be sources of conflict. What if the conflict really wasn’t even about those things at all though? What if the real conflict was that you, as husband and wife, were not close enough in your relationship? Clinical psychologist, Tim Cavell, suggested that couples ask and consider the following questions and statement when a disagreement occurs:

“Can we be together, respect each other, laugh together and love each other?”

“Do you really hear me and know that I feel so scared or hurt or sad?”
“I feel so far away from you right now and I don’t want that.”

If you answered “no” to either of those questions or are able to identify with the last statement, then your relationship will likely benefit from a more positive closeness. Clinical psychologist, Wendy Walsh, suggests hugging for at least 10 seconds. This promotes the release of oxytocin that will help physically, and emotionally, create a closeness. She also suggests sleeping closer together physically, even skin-to-skin.

Walsh goes on to suggest that another way to stay close as a couple is to put the technological devices down when spending time together. This reminded me of an experience I had just recently! My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We saw a younger couple being seated in a booth close to us. The first thing they both did after being seated was get their phones out of their pockets. For the next 15-20 minutes, the two barely said a word to each other. Instead, they spent that time on their phones, sitting on separate benches, without even so much of a glance in each other’s direction. What have relationships come to!?!? Are we so reliant/addicted with technology that we can’t even have an hour away to spend some quality time with our significant other? In an effort to save more marriages, I ask you this: What will you do to better your relationship and create a closeness that could, in turn, dissolve other differences and conflicts?

To read more about this topic, click here to the article that Walsh and Cavell are quoted in with their observations and suggestions.

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Kindness Could Save Your Marriage

kind loveI ran across this article and immediately knew it was worth sharing! Marriage is hard. Everybody knows it. It seems like fewer people are willing to stick it out anymore. Divorce rates are getting higher while the rate of people getting married in the first place is going down. If there was a secret that could help save your marriage, would you want to hear it? According to this article, the secret is simply being kind and generous to your spouse. Really? Could it be that simple?

The truth of the matter is that being kind and generous is something that we are encouraged to do no matter what. But if you went out of your way to show that effort and generosity to your spouse, what do you think the results would be? In my experience, it is hard to fight with someone who is being kind to you. Just the simple act of being kinder could dissolve more fights, prevent arguments from happening in the first place, and really help improve the quality of the relationship.

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