One of my delightful daughters-in-law sent a link to this article on the risks of too much media use, not by kids, but by parents!
Kids want and need good attention, for heaven's sake, and online activities do have a seductive if not addictive appeal for adults and children alike. My occasionally less than idyllic childhood, well before the Internet age, includes this unfortunate episode:
Well, well, well, it sounded a little far out, but worth a try. This morning I went to an event at Tufts put on by the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute -- there's a mouthful! -- co-sponsored by the Harvard Catalyst Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Program -- another mouthful! -- and hosted by, among other Tufts entities, the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
The Dean of the College who opened the event was, it turns out, Rob Hollister, from Yellow Springs, Ohio, my home town. I guess we went to high school together, but that was a long time ago. My memories of that time are a bit faded, but fond nevertheless.
What did Parents Forum get from the speed-dating experience? Actually we have a meeting scheduled for next month with one of the community liaisons for the CBPR. Stay tuned for details on this!
'Babies' is in theaters now and I enjoyed seeing it. But it seemed odd that the movie showed so little parent-child interaction. Without much apparent help or support from their parents, four babies from different parts of the world -- Namibia, Mongolia, Japan and the US -- make it through their first year, each one, at the end, triumphantly taking their first steps.
Will there be a movie 'Parents'? That will be more difficult to put together but more instructive, I think.
I would like to see more of the kind of research like that described by Liz Szabo in USA Today May 10. Seth Pollak of the University is Wisconsin-Madison tells us that there are biological effects in children from mothers' soothing, both physical and verbal, even hearing their mothers' voices over the telephone. Pollak's research was on girls and their mothers. I'd like to see research on dads and sons, dads and daughters as well as mothers and sons.
The ‘desperate mom’ who contacted me two days ago did call back. I was able to pass along the telephone number of a wonderful social worker.
But the key piece of the conversation with her was my describing my feelings, how I had experienced intense internal resistance to making positive changes in how I related to my sons. Even more important, I think, was my telling her about how peer support helped me let go of very familiar and very dear (in the sense of hard won and the sense of much loved) negativity and resistance ...and eventually forge new patterns of relating to myself and others.
Parenting isn't rocket science, and babies aren't learning rocket science anyway -- although some them may grow up to be theoretical physicists -- but maybe, just maybe what they learn is even more difficult than all of that.
I think that ** the most important things babies learn is trust. ** They learn that they can trust us to keep them clean, fed, rested, comforted and now and then amused. They learn to trust their instincts and ours to make sense of the world. When, despite our best intentions and good efforts, the world doesn't make sense for them and they get fussy, tearful, fearful or furious, they need to know that they can depend on us to just be there.
That is the hardest of all: being with another person, especially a tiny person who can't tell us what's the matter, when he or she is inconsolable. That is the job, though, and we, as parents, need support ourselves to do the job well.
This one-day meeting at the National Press Club had many encouraging presentations on the business community's recognition of the importance in investment in early care and education. Response to my raising the issue of parenting resources was favorable. Time well spent!
This project, funded by Pew Trusts, MacArthur Foundation and others, is described fully at http://www.partnershipforsuccess.org.
Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that I missed posting this last May. This is a short version, just over three minutes, of a half-hour panel discussion we held at Cambridge Community Television for International Day of Families. See it on YouTube:
The Children's Society study, reported in the Family and Parenting Institute / FPI (UK) bulletin today, was tremendously encouraging to me, although quite troubling in its findings. Basically it says that two children out of each grammar school classroom are unhappy and most of the unhappiness is caused by family conflict. Why do I find this report encouraging? ...because resolving conflicts is at the core of the mission of Parents Forum 'to foster honest, respectful and caring communications in families' and we all want our children to be happy. I hope this report will lead more people to adopt our program!
Vicki Rideout, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Program for the Study of Media and Health (www.wff.org is the place to find all their reports), advises parents to 'stop and take a look at what's happening with your kids,' according to a Boston GLOBE article Thursday Feb.4.
Joan Anderson, author of the article, called the digital world 'a maze of menace and opportunity' and, quoting Rideout again, wrote that guiding parents through it is a 'job more parents should take to heart.'
I would like to know how parents are supposed to do this. How do you do it? Thankfully I am no longer responsible for guiding my sons who are grown and on their own. They are the ones who guide me, more often than not, with media use.
A resource mentioned in the article is a book Kids, Parents and Technolgy by Eitan Schwarz (Northwestern University): Dr. Schwarz urges parents to plan media as you would plan meals, since in either, kids 'will mostly consume junk.' Easier said than done.
Mood swings are the order of the day: One minute I am excited and relieved to have the third edition of our handbook printed and in hand. The next minute I am caught in a wave of fear, doubt and insecurity. But reading your favorable comments, dear readers ...wow... sends that wave packing! Thank you, thank you, thank you. On the upswing, here's my latest tack for marketing, suitable for forwarding:
Could **you** use a simple formula for How To Tell Somebody Something They'd Rather Not Hear? You can find it in Where the Heart Listens, our parenting and lifeskills book now available on Amazon and just in time for Valentine's Day. Get it as a gift to yourself or for a parent you admire. Ask your favorite local bookseller to order it through Ingram or request it at Barnes and Noble. Don't forget, also, to ask your public library to order the book and tell your friends about it.
(I will get the hang of blogging. Slow and steady wins the race.)