Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pants On The Ground

Who can avoid all the recent news headlines…”Kids killing kids….kids killing parents….teen domestic violence…gang attacks in broad daylight.” With news like this, one can honestly begin to question whether there’s something in the water.

Just today I spent time with a 5th grader who was brought to me (unwillingly) by an Assistant Principal. Although dressed in the school’s mandatory uniform, his pants were a good two sizes too big, and hung a bit lower than necessary. But that pales in comparison to the fact that his short sleeves exposed his self-made tattoos. “The God in Me,” “Get At Her,” and a picture of a sword were some of the things he had drawn with a black sharpie. In addition, there was the acronym “YMC” scrawled in the middle of various symbols. I couldn’t confirm whether it is an actual gang, or for what it stood…but I can only assume. I dug deeper into this student’s background to learn that he comes for an upper middle class upbringing, with educated parents. However, his behavior at school leaves a lot to be desired. To put it bluntly…he’s a wanna’ be thug, and although handsome, his behaviors make him less than adorable!

It’s not easy working with kids like him, and it sometimes seems that the more you try…the harder they push you away. But you know what frustrates me even more?...When people give up on kids like him. You know the ones I’m talking about… the fowl mouth having, eye rolling, teeth sucking, class cutting, weed smoking, fight provoking, droopy pants wearing, and sometimes gun toting kids. Why? Because I have learned over the years that underneath the hard and often thuggish exterior is typically an emotionally wounded child.  Just because they are on a wrong path does not mean that they have to stay on that road.  Sometimes all it takes is for someone to care enough to mentor them.



My good friend, Jovan Roseboro is an example of how a child can go from one side of the law to the other! As an adolescent, Jovan struggled with many of the same issues that we have read in the headlines. Although innately intelligent, with a gift for written expression, Jovan began selling drugs. Luckily, Jovan was able to avoid becoming a statstic. He's now a motivational speaker, accomplished writer, business owner, and mentor to  many at risk youths. In fact he is on a mission to impact the lives of children whose life path mirror his. 

Jovan recently channeled his personal experiences and created  a tool for parents, educators, and agencies to use to reach the kids that are hardest to reach…like my self-tatting student. It's called the Playing Your Cards Program, and it has already received considerable accolades from many prestigious professionals around the country.  I was honored when Jovan asked me to create a therapeutic curriculum to go along with the motivational system.:)

There are so many ways to make an impact with kids.  It could be that you forge meaningful relationships with kids in your neighborhood, or with your children's friends.  Whether you are a Jovan Roseboro who actively goes out each day and speaks to crowds of people about ways to remedy some of the social problems we see, or if you are someone who has a few hours a month to spend mentoring kids....we can all do something.  Let's all just stop talking about it and BE ABOUT IT.  This generation deserves it!

Happy Parenting....AND MENTORING;),

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Enter To Win!!!!!

                                                                 


Hey Moms and Dads,

Do you want a free home makeover? Well, you're in luck!!!!!

Today, Pier 1 and momlogic announced the "Cut the Crap Giveaway" -- where one lucky mom will win a $1,500 home makeover!


Read more: http://www.momlogic.com/2010/03/cut_the_crap_pier_1_giveaway.php

Good Luck!!!!!!!!
An open and honest blog about what matter most....children and families!!!
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Unfaithful Spouse

Who can escape all the headlines about America’s beloved princess and her tattoo covered mate. Yes, I’m talking about Sandra Bullock and her husband Jesse James. I resisted talking about Tiger and his messiness, and I was doing well with avoiding blogging about the current wave of celebrity infidelities. But then I decided to use the Hollywood headlines to guide a discussion:)

Okay…so here’s the background…Sandy won an Academy Award for her role in the movie “The Blind Side.” A couple days later…there were pictures in the media of a Nazi band wearing (sigh), tattooed brunette named Michelle “Bombshell” McGee who reportedly had been having an affair with Jesse while Sandra was off filming movies. In a storyline reminiscent of the Tiger Woods saga, in the weeks that followed there were additional allegations of infidelities with other women as well. Now that we’re all caught up…let’s talk about the only part of the story that interests me…the Jesse’s children.


What must they be thinking and feeling when they hear of their father’s alleged escapades on E News! and in tabloid magazines?  According to research, whatever their age, children whose parents have been unfaithful often react with intense feelings of anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, sadness, and confusion. They might act out, regress, or withdraw. They may feel pressured to win back the love of the cheating parent or to become the caretaker of the betrayed parent.

According to various statistics, roughly 65% of all marriages fail due to infidelity. WOW! This surely means that there are a large number of children who are faced with these emotions on a regular basis. Renowned family therapist, Ana Nogales, has researched this issue extensively. In her book, Parents who Cheat: How Children and Adults Are Affected When Their Parents Are Unfaithful, she shared the long lasting ramifications of parental infidelity:

            • Eighty percent report that their attitude toward love and
               relationships was affected by their  
               parent’s infidelity.

            • About the same percentage say they now feel that people regularly
              lie.

            • More than half of respondents are afraid of being betrayed by a
              partner, and more than two-
              thirds say they have a hard time trusting others.

So whether you are a celebrity like Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Jon Gosselin, Kobe Bryant, LeAnn Rimes, Meg Ryan, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or an everyday person like you and me…infidelity affects the entire family unit. Both parents should try to cooperate with each other and act in their child’s best interest. This can be really hard because of the resentment and betrayal that the spouse that was cheated on feels. Here are some tips:

• Listen to children’s concerns, and try to minimize disruption in their lives.

• DO NOT ask children to take sides, carry messages, or become your confidant.

• If affair leads to divorce…Give children permission to love and enjoy the relationship with your
  former spouse and his or her family. Try to find positive things to say about them (really...really 
  try).

So that's the advice.  But I want to hear from you about whether or not you would be able to forgive an act of infidelity.  Is monogamy an ideal that is unattainable?  Sound off my fellow Pundits:)

Happy Parenting,
An honest and realistic blog about what matters most...children and families!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hello G, I just read your blog about the girls and low self-esteem. I have a question that I'm struggling with. My daughter (14) has a boyfriend. She says she isn't sexually active but I can't be sure. Is it bad to have her start taking birthcontrol?

Hello,

Thank you for reaching out to me, and also for reading my Blog. This is a really complex question because there are so many layers to it. First, I would recommend that you begin by having a heart-to-heart with your daughter. Although not all kids her age are sexually active, most are exposed to significant peer pressure to engage in sexual acts. She may not feel comfortable talking with you. However, having an open line of communication is key. Of course, being unbiased is difficult. However, the better you are at this...the more your child will open up about what they are thinking, feeling...and doing. Once you know the truth, you can than make informed decisions. Naturally, the choice to have her take birth control is a personal one. In order to help you determine whether this is right for you: Make a pro and con list to determine whether you can or cannot live with the consequences of either decision.

Again, regardless of your decision, it is clear that the time is more than right to have clear and open conversations with your daughter about sex. Remember...a parent's intuition is very poignant! If you feel that there is cause for concern...there is most likely cause for concern.

Happy Parenting,
G

Have a Parenting Question? Ask G!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Girls: Low Self-Esteem And Boys

Never one to shy away from controversial issues, I wanted to speak about a pervasive issue occurring in our nation: Low self-esteem and young girls. This article is fueled by a risqué conversation that I had with two students this week. Both girls, beautiful and intelligent, came to the office because they were ready to fight….over a boy.

You could cut the tension in the room with a spoon as both girls glared at each other. The School Counselor and I proceeded to mediate the conflict by addressing a note that one of the girls had presented to us. Buried in the page long note was the following quote…

“…She’s telling people that she had 3 babies by [her boyfriend], and that the only reason she’s going out with [him] is because she wants to give him head…”

Sigh…Did I forget to mention that these students are in the 5th grade?

One of the girls kept repeating “She’s just jealous because I’m going with [him]!” After the third time, I had definitely had enough. “You seem awfully proud of this,” I said. “Why is that so important to you that you feel the need to stress it over and over again?” Caught off guard, she looked down and shrugged. But I could tell that I had struck a nerve.

Why is it that at such a young age, girls are already associating their self-worth with whether or not they are liked by boys? I refuse to believe that this is an innate trait fueled by estrogen or progesterone. It’s clearly a learned behavior. But, from where?

According to national research of girls in the United States, fourth grade is the peak year for girls' self-esteem. Reportedly, nine-year-old girls feel great about themselves. However, by fifth grade things appear to change drastically. According to Anita Gurian of the New York University Child Study Center, girls' self-esteem plummets just before Middle School. "Starting in the pre-teen years, there is a shift in focus; the body becomes an all consuming passion and barometer of worth."

A 2007 task force report by the American Psychological Association concluded that girls start viewing their worth as associated with sex appeal at a very young age. They become passive, self-conscious, image-obsessed, and depressed. Reportedly, age ten is when girls start trying to look like the models they see in ads.

Despite the statistics and the various research studies, I believe that it is possible to change the trend. However, in order to help our girls, we must first look hard at ourselves. Let’s be honest for a sec…how many of us find our self-worth in what others think of us...specifically men? Do we believe that we are beautiful...or do we need to hear it from someone else?  Are we ok with being alone...or do we need to be in a relationship?  You get where I'm going! 

Take a minute or two and complete this confidential online assessment for insight about how strong your self-esteem is.  As they state on the website, the quiz is designed to evaluate your general level of self-esteem and determine whether you need to work on your self-image.



Remember…what you think of yourself more than likely mirrors your daughter’s thoughts as well.

Happy Parenting,

...An honest and realistic blog about things that matter most...families and children!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Admit...I Lost My Child For 90 Seconds

It was the longest minute and a half of my life!  I was distracted by a short phone call on my cell, and averted my eyes for what seemed like a millisecond.  Yet when I looked up he was gone! I called out his name countless times across the playground.  However, I did not hear the sound of his adorable voice responding back "Yes, Mommy!"  I frantically searched for his striped blue and white shirt in the crowd of children.  Luckily, I ultimately found him playing with a four-year-old "friend" by the slides, but only after I aged two decades and grew a few grey hairs.  

Although  my torment lasted only a few seconds, I know that for many parents the ending is not as happy.  Can you imagine for just one second how you would feel if your child was missing, and there was nothing that you could do to protect them from harm?  No parent should ever have to experience this. Yet an alarming number of children are abducted each day. Statistics indicate that every 40 seconds a child goes missing.  With such startling evidence of an epidemic, I believe it is important to help parents by sharing several tips about how they can prevent such a tragedy from happening to their family. The following are some things to keep in mind:

Don't let your child wear clothing with his or her name on it. Children are less likely to fear someone who knows their name. The reality is that although we typically tell our children not to talk to strangers, children do not have a true grasp of who can or cannot be trusted. In fact, young children often believe that anyone who knows their name is a “friend.”

Never leave your child alone in a public place, even in a locked car. Accompany a young child to the bathroom in a public place even if they insist that they can go by themselves. Moreover, instruct them to never play in or around public restrooms, as pedophiles often linger in these areas.

Accompany your child on door-to-door activities like Halloween and school fundraising campaigns.

Keep track of your children's Internet activity. Share email accounts and passwords. Make sure you know what sites they visit, and if they meet anyone suspicious while online. If possible, only allow computers to be in common areas such as a den or kitchen. This will make it easier to monitor internet usage.

Avoid having service people come to the home if your children are there alone. Remember, these individuals are considered strangers!

Establish a "code word" or phrase with your children. For example, tell them that they are only allowed to go with a person who knows this secret word or phrase if they were to pick them up from school. This will allow your child to know that this is a trusted person.

Establish safe houses where your child can go if in trouble. A safe house can be the home of a trusted friend or some other trusted individual in the neighborhood who agrees to let children make emergency calls.

Teach them that the police are their friends and that they can rely on them if they are in trouble. Make sure they know to dial 911 or 0 if they need assistance.

These are just a few simple ways that parents can help to protect their children. The key is to make sure that as parents, we vigilantly supervise our children because it only takes a second for misfortune to happen. If you have not already done so, make sure to visit http://www.familywatchdog.us/ to see what pedophiles are living in your community.  Make sure to look at the site frequently because it is updated regularly.  You definitely need to know who in your community preys on your children!  

Happy...and Safe Parenting

...An honest and realistic blog about what matters most...families and children!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Son's First Crush

As the rest of the world seems obsessed about the Tiger Woods melodrama, I am not. Instead, I have been more preoccupied with a matter that is far more personal… My son’s apparent first crush. There! I said it!

It all started last year when Justin noticed her on the playground. Apparently all the then second grade boys thought she was “pretty.” “What is so pretty about her, Justin?” I asked while trying to mask my horror. “Her eyes,” he replied with a coy smile. Uugggghhhh! All I could think was Why me? Why now? Well, this year pretty-eyes ended up being in Justin’s class. I couldn’t wait for the first day of school so that I could get a good look at her…and her eyes. (I have to admit…she is a cute little thing with doe-ish shaped eyes.)

He hates it when I bring up her name…so I try to to do so at least once a week (LOL). When he feels brave, he will actually utter her name. For instance, just this past Christmas he asked me for two dollars to buy “Holiday-grams.” One was for his teacher…and the other one was for me. NOT! It was for none other than pretty-eyes. Uuuuggghhhh! I remember the days when his biggest joy was to make his mommy a Christmas gift…sigh.

I am racking my brain trying to figure out ways to delay the onset of the interest in the other sex. But it seems that whatever tactic I use simply backfires. There have been a lot of reports lately that children are experiencing the effects of early onset puberty. I personally believe that it is just learned behavior from peers. Also factored in is the not-so-subtle messages from radio, tv, movies, and society.

Regardless of the reason why, I can finally admit out loud that my baby boy has a cr….cr…….cr….crush. I am simply not ready for this stuff. But, I guess I have to get ready for the inevitable…someday a doe-eyed girl will try to take my place as the center of Justin’s world. Heifers! Just kidding….okay not really. I will definitely learn to accept this. But...for right now I am hoping that doe-eyes’ dad will be offered a job in Alaska or Tanzania. What? A mom can hope:)

Happy Parenting,

www.theparentingpundit.com

An open and honest blog about the things that matter the most....families and children!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

WANT TO BE ON TV?

Hey Moms! Want to be on tv? Check out this casting opportunity that was recently posted…

**************************************************************************************************************
Meredith Video Studios is casting first time moms and first time expectant moms! Are you about to embark on that wildly beautiful journey called parenthood? Do you want to be a part of a community of first-time expectants and new moms who are looking for helpful tips, encouragement, and a few good laughs?

We are looking for fun, savvy, and upbeat women to share and document their preparation for baby and their first months of motherhood with other first time expectants and recently new parents.

Selected participants will be given a small handheld camcorder to record and upload video footage on a weekly basis. Your video submissions will be part of a special yearlong webisode series to be featured throughout broadband and on a nationally syndicated lifestyle television show. Some participants may also receive products for baby, courtesy of the program’s sponsor.

Profile:
We are looking for a diverse group of women of all ethnicities and from all parts of the country in their mid-20s to mid-30s. -You must be either a new first time mom who has given birth or adopted a newborn within the past two months, or a woman expecting her very first baby.

Submissions: If you are interested in participating, please send…
1) Your name (and your baby’s name if you are a new mom)
2) City/Town and State
3) A photo of yourself (and a photo of your baby if you are a new mom)
4) Your age
5) Your baby’s birth date or due date
6) A brief bio or write-up about yourself

We also ask that you finish the following sentence. “Having my first baby is/was/has been…”

To be considered, please email castingnewmoms@gmail.com with the above information as soon as possible. We will accept submissions through March 15, 2010.

*Feel free to post this information on your blog or share with friends and family members via Facebook and Twitter! If you have any questions for us, please feel free to shoot us an email at:   beyondpr@gmail.com!

***********************************************************************************

Good Luck!!!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kiddie Condoms In The Toy Department

Soooo….Don’t know if you’ve heard, but a Swiss manufacturer has started selling condoms designed for tweens. A study, conducted on behalf of the Federal Commission for Children and Youth, interviewed 1,480 people aged 10 to 20. It showed more 12 to 14-year-olds were having sex, in comparison with the 1990s. As a result, the Hotshot condom began being sold. Swiss family planning groups pushed for the smaller condoms on the theory that teens would be more likely to wear condoms that fit comfortably.

According to information published by the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half (46%) of all 15–19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once. They also state that 13% of girls and 15 % of boys admit to engaging in sex before turning 15. So, although the kiddie condoms are only being sold in Switzerland right now, I would assume that it is only a matter of time before they make their way to the states.

This, of course, brings up the age old debate…..abstinence vs. sex ed. Said differently, is marketing a kiddie/pubescent condom smart, or does it just encourage sexual activities? No doubt, kids nowadays are exposed to a lot of sexual imagery. Television shows, movies, and songs all seem give the same message….sex, sex, sex…and more sex. Despite this not-so-subtle brainwashing, we preach abstinence. Am I the only one that sees the irony in this?

I believe that children should not have sex. They are simply not emotionally mature enough to handle something so complex and sacred. Nonetheless, the statistics show that instead of jump roping, playing hide-n-seek, and riding bikes, a sizeable number of kids are having intercourse.

So what do you think? Do you think marketing condoms to 12 year olds keep them safe, or just gives them the green light to have sex?


...An honest and realistic blog for parents about issues that matter most…children and families!

Friday, March 5, 2010

From Bullying To Suicide…Jaheem’s Story


Is your child a victim of bullying?  Please read my recent post and pass it on to anyone you know that might benefit.

This post was written for the Time's Up Blog (http://www.timesupblog.blogspot.com/) which is a collection of bloggers who are champions for victims of crime. The purpose of the blog is to bring awareness to the injustices to victims, and to search out solutions with an SOS to those in the capacity to make changes happen.


There is a serious and prevalent issue occurring with children in schools. It is something that greatly affects children’s self-esteem and self-worth, and can also sometimes lead to clinical depression and suicide. It is called bullying. In fact, the American Justice Department says that each month 1 out of every 4 kids will be abused by another youth. In addition, another 8% of students miss 1 day of class per month for fear of bullies, while 43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school.

So what exactly is bullying, you might ask? Perhaps you envision a mean, stocky child who takes lunch money away from a meek classmate. Or, perhaps you recall the teasing that has occurred for years on the playground. Bullying can involve a variety of behaviors, but all involve an antagonistic person or a group of people who repeatedly try to harm someone who is vulnerable. It often times involves physical violence, threatening, making repeatedly demeaning comments, intimidation, and stealing. However, bullying can also be less direct, as bullies may chose to make life difficult for children by encouraging others to isolate them, or by starting humiliating and demeaning rumors. In fact, most experts report that the majority of bullying is actually verbal and nonphysical.

Recently, many stories have been reported about children who have committed suicide as a result of bullying. In Atlanta, GA, news about Jaheem Herrara has garnered a lot of attention. As reported by CNN…

“Eleven-year-old Jaheem Herrera woke up on April 16 [2009] acting strangely. He wasn't hungry and he didn't want to go to school. But the outgoing fifth grader packed his bag and went to school at Dunaire Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia.

He came home much happier than when he left in the morning, smiling as he handed his mother, Masika Bermudez, a glowing report card full of A's and B's. She gave him a high-five and he went upstairs to his room as she prepared dinner.

A little later, when his younger sister called him to come down to eat, Jaheem didn't answer. So mother and daughter climbed the stairs to Jaheem's room and opened the door. Jaheem was hanging by his belt in the closet.”

His mother, Masika Bermudez, has emphatically stated that the bullying that her son endured caused him to take his life. Reportedly, Jaheem had been physically assaulted and teased by his classmates. According to news reports, Bermudez thinks her son felt like nobody wanted to help him, and that nobody stood up for him when he pleaded for help.  It should be noted that, to date, none of these claims have been legally substantiated. 

However, I want to stress that both parents and educators can help to make a difference by simply being aware that bullying is real.. Minimizing such situations communicates to children that it is tolerable. Instead, listen attentively to what your child/student is saying to you.  If they report that someone is making them feel threatened, assure them that it is not their fault and that it is wrong. However, please note that children often do not report bullying to parents and teachers because they may fear retaliation, are ashamed, or may simple want to fit in with their peer group. Adults should take notice of any behavioral changes such as depressed mood, changes in appetite, a decline in grades, a lack of desire to participate in social activities that they once enjoyed, or talking about suicide. These are all signs that a child is in distress. Please do not simply assume it to be normal childlike growing pains. Instead, show support, and most importantly, intervene to ensure that the bullying ends.

Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)


Happy Parenting,

...An honest and realistic blog for parents about issues that matter most…children and families!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Fear Of Autism

Happy Exceptional Children’s Week everyone! This week, many school systems around the country are attempting to educate the public about children with disabilities, as well as trying to garner support for special education. Much of the work that I do involves identifying reasons for why children may not be performing as well as might be expected. I always feel privileged to help families unlock underlying issues. However, this is a double edged sword because for many parents, coming to terms with the fact that their child has a disability is very difficult.
On learning that their child may have a disability, many often parents react in similar ways. One of the first reactions is that of denial -- "This cannot be happening to me, to my child, to our family.” Anger, is another emotion that I’ve witnessed. Sometimes it is directed at me…the one who first indicates that their child may have an underlying condition. I believe that much of this is fueled by fear. Fear of the unknown…Will my child be okay? Can they learn? Are they normal? What quality of life will my child have? Is there something wrong with me?

One of the childhood diagnoses that has been widely talked about is autism. It is defined by the Autism Society Of America (ASA) as: "a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life, and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities." There is a lot of debate regarding what causes autism. We have heard the debate played out in the news… Is autism genetic….or the result of medical intervention or the environment?  Researchers continue to attempt to figure this out. However, reportedly the rate is 1 in 110 births, and is (reportedly) the fastest growing developmental disability.

In honor of Exceptional Children’s Week, I would like to remind parents that a disability does not have to be limiting. Did you know that many people…many who you might idolize…are very famous and successful? For example, Daryl Hannah, the actress best known for her roles in Splash, Blade Runner and Kill Bill was reportedly diagnosed as a child as being ”borderline autistic.” Also, Satoshi Tajiri, who created of PokeMon, is also reportedly autistic.

Early intervention is key! So if you if you suspect that your child’s development is not progressing as expected, or if you are seeing a regression in skills….please seek the guidance of a professional. Oftentimes you will be reassured that nothing is out of the norm. However, for a smaller percentage of parents, School Psychologists…Pediatricians…and Developmental Specialists may provide the needed recommendations that could make a considerable difference.

For more information about autism, please visit the Autism Society!

Happy Parenting.

...An honest and realistic blog for parents about issues that matter most…children and families!