Good piece from ModernMom on school and birthday cutoffs. With our youngest boys, who are fall birthdays, we held them back. It has worked for us as they’ve gotten older because our boys have had time to mature, both behaviorally and emotionally, so that they’re at least on par with the other kids in the class. We made our decision in kindergarten, but it can be done later, preferably in elementary school at least a year or more before the next transition to middle school. As a teacher, I’ve also seen benefits for the students I have taught in high school who were held back. It’s a matter of months, particularly for boys, but it makes a difference, especially in adolescence. It may not work for everyone, but it does for us. What are your thoughts? What worked for you?
What do you think? Give me an example of when you pulled back on the over-parenting. How did it work out for you?
I’ll start. My middle son almost never has shoes and socks on before getting in the car in the morning. Yesterday, after a number of run-ins with him about getting out of the house, I told him tomorrow was a new day. This morning, he pushed a bunch of my buttons (eating slowly, forgetting his water bottle, etc.), but he had this shoes on before leaving the house.
Trust me, this is one minor example of something that worked, but it’s a struggle for me to find the balance between being conscientious and helicopter. I want to take pride in guiding my kids, yet I want them to do stuff on their own and feel proud of it. There are lots of articles (including a good one from Time in 2009) and books on this topic, so let’s get our own conversation going.
For more about my own struggle with over-parenting vs. conscientious parenting, see Subtext.
Dr. Michele Borba, an educator and parenting expert who tirelessly writes and speaks about ways to guide children, pointed out the following infographic. It’s called “29 Ways to Raise Creative Students,” and it’s a marvelous tool to remind us all of the simple and unexpected tips not only for our kids, but for ourselves. While I have tried to instill many of these suggestions in my sons, showing them this graphic gives them a visual means — and better yet, someone else’s recommendations since they often tune me out — to be motivated toward creativity.
In seemingly everything I read, see, and hear, including great TED talks, the working world wants its people to think creatively, to come up with solutions that are out of the box. Because education can often become obsessed with teaching to tests and hitting benchmarks, we parents should supplement our children’s learning with incentives to be innovative thinkers who are willing to fail in order to experiment.
While the only point that doesn’t apply to kids is the “Drink Coffee,” a few of my favorite tips on this infographic are “Quit Beating Yourself Up,” “Practice, Practice, Practice,” and “Stop Trying to Be Someone Else’s Perfect.” These ideas and more encourage our children to make an effort to think and follow through on their creative thoughts. We, as parents, need to follow through by applauding theses efforts and motivating them to keep it going.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
My sister and I used to sit in the way back of our parents’ Ford station wagon. Like a lot of kids did, I felt like I was on an amusement park ride, going backwards. Of course, there were those times when it was embarrassing as hell facing the driver of the car behind us, so it was good that our parents traded the wagon in before I hit adolescence.
Duncan, the 14-year-old boy at the center of the coming of age film The Way, Way Back, doesn’t have it as easy as I did. He’s sitting in the last row of a station wagon at an age when he’s trying to mature while most of the grown-ups around him act like impulsive children. Played with slow-growing confidence by Liam James, Duncan is much like I was as an adolescent — awkward but feeling older in my head than my appearance. In this truly wonderful comedy-drama, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who won an Oscar for writing, with Alexander Payne, the screenplay for The Descendants), Duncan learns to make the most of a summer vacation in which his mom (Toni Collette) is dating a conflicted jerk (Steve Carell), and Duncan is worrying about a possible romance (with the character gracefully portrayed by AnnaSophia Robb) as well as concern about when he will next see his father. The kid really needs someone to take him under his wing to show him how to enjoy life in a world in which all the adults are unhappy. Cue Owen, the man-child who hires Duncan at the local water park and helps Duncan find self-worth and age-appropriate fun. Sam Rockwell is so freakin’ good as Owen, it seems high time that this dude get his Oscar nomination since he consistently colors his characters with texture and wit.
I highly recommend this film as one parents should see with their children, age 13 on up. It raises issues of family, love, and maturity in a way that isn’t heavy-handed but very honest. I saw The Way, Way Back with my wife and my way-back partner, my sister, and her husband. We all experienced it with laughs and tears and the feeling that it depicted a universal experience worth sharing with our older children.
I like breasts, I really do. Despite the (excuse the pun) titillation they provide, I value their original purpose for providing sustenance for babies. This is why, even though it takes me a moment to adjust, I have no problem with public breastfeeding. There should never be any shame in this, especially because there is no shame in a woman, who is physically able to do so, feeding the best food she can give to her child. Here’s one woman, poet Hollie McNish, who weighs in on the public breastfeeding debate with her reaction to those who would relegate a woman to bathroom stalls to nourish a baby.
Author/marriage and family therapist/researcher Michael Gurian has written a number of books with the word “wonder” in the title. This is partly because he has an endless curiosity about the complexities of human beings and living in the modern world. In particular, he, along with his colleagues at the Gurian Institute, has reached into the intricacies of science as it relates to gender and produced such bestselling books as The Wonder of Boys, The Wonder of Girls, Boys and Girls Learn Differently, and Leadership and the Sexes. These guides have helped countless parents and educators understand children and help them navigate growing up.
With his newest book, The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty, Michael Gurian trains his considerable research and analytical skills on people who have already grown up, yet continue to develop in ways often over-looked by society. Especially because we are fortunate enough to be able to live longer, Gurian’s book takes on greater significance as he addresses such topics as community building, stress reduction, illness, sexual intimacy, and death. What makes the author so effective, here, is his constructive, positive approach and down-to-earth tone on the topic of aging. This is the kind of book worth reading for anyone, even before hitting 50, who wants to better comprehend his/her own changing life in order to live it with less fear and more fullness.
It’s Mother’s Day, so one reason I recommend viewing this anti-bullying video by the stunningly brilliant poet Shane Koyczan is for a line: “The definition of ‘beauty’ begins with the word ‘Mom.'” But you have to see the animated version of Koyczan’s poem “To This Day” because you need to hear and see and feel the context of what it’s like to be bullied, yet grow up to be so strong. Please trust me when I say that, even if you totally get that bullying is a problem and are making efforts to protect your kids and those of others, this video offers perspective so exquisitely presented that you will have at least a few minutes of feeling transformed. Shane Koyczan also has a Web site worth visiting to hear/see more of his powerful work.
My three sons can barely do anything together at home without it involving a headlock. While they have been surprisingly good about creating greeting cards and artwork, this year, I can imagine them creating a Mother’s Day video like this, if they had to collaborate on it.
As we all try to work through the details of the senseless attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, it’s vital that we remind ourselves that we must be strong for our children, keep the youngest ones out of earshot and eyesight of the media frenzy, and to try to answer the inevitable questions from older children with cautiousness but also assuredness that we will keep them safe. If you wish, read a few more suggestions on how to talk to your kids during this difficult time.
I’m in the midst of teaching a novel called The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, to an amazingly insightful group of 11th grade students. We have been learning together that, despite the book’s raw depiction of the inhumanity surrounding a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world, these lead characters show remarkable sturdiness and faith in one another. The boy, it seems, has faith that there are still good people out there, even in the most bleak circumstances.
We are all on some kind of road, filled with crimes of terror, yes, but also acts of incredible love and kindness. Our kids require us to remember this.
News yesterday that movie critic Roger Ebert died struck me because of how much he played a role in my own appreciation of film. Few people, if any, loved watching movies more than Ebert and he shared his passion for them with a huge — and devoted audience of readers and viewers. Ebert was an accessible and excellent analyst, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his written criticism. Although I sometimes disagreed with him on whether something was a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” I always learned something from his reviews and his arguments with the late great Gene Siskel. During his battle with cancer, which took away so much away from him, including his voice, Ebert never lost his sense of personal grace and continued to watch and write about motion pictures. As a dad who takes pride in sharing my love of movies with my children, a high-school film teacher, and lifelong film lover, I have drawn on Ebert’s recommendations so many times that he will forever be a part of my perspective on the art form. Rest in peace, Roger Ebert, and enjoy your seat in heaven’s movie theater.