What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?

Hey Matthew song posterIf I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

Read more about how to help your kids have a bright future

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Real Education

Smiling students after graduationWhen I was a kid, my parents valued education and told my sisters and me that getting a good education was the key to having opportunities in life. My mother was a school teacher, so she could help us with homework throughout most of our school years, and my father, well, he was sorry he never got the chance to get more education, so he just gave us the drive.

But when I grew up and had children of my own, I realized that my path had been laid out for me and that I had pursued education without ever stopping to ask my self why. I may have chosen my fields of study, but the thought of traveling, taking a “gap year” to work or even starting a business had never crossed my mind.

If we look at the history of knowledge, we can see that it was once reserved to special people, such as nobles, religious leaders and professional scholars. Later on, getting a “good education” required no entitlement, only money, and over time, education became more and more accessible to everyday people.

Still, the feeling that education gives you and edge and lifts your social standing remained and was transferred from one generation to the next. Knowledge was power, or so everybody thought.

Read more about education for the real world

My Kid Wants a Tattoo: How to Prevent

clip_image005_thumbLucky me, I have 3 kids who are 23, 16 and 10 years old and they have never asked to get a tattoo. If you also believe your kids will never be able to predict what the future holds for them and would like to reduce the chances they will ask to get a tattoo, here is what I have done and I hope it will give you some ideas.

  1. If you see a beautiful tattoo and you like it, say right in front of your kids that you think it is beautiful. Make sure you separate the beauty from the act of burning the skin. You do not want them to think you are old in your mindset and do not understand anything about beauty.
  2. Let your kids express themselves. If they want to start putting makeup early, let them do it. Noff has had her own makeup kit since the age of 3. She used to go to daycare with her face full of lipstick (even as eye shadow). Makeup can be cleaned with soap, not with a knife.
  3. Allow your kids to enjoy face painting everywhere they go. Learn how to do face painting yourself and do it from time to time. Each time their face is painted, ask them if they would like to have it for the rest of their life. Ignore the answer. You are only planting the question in their head.

Read more about how to stop your teen getting a tattoo

Anorexia: How to stop worrying

Horribly skinny boyAnorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.

Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.

I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.

The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.

Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.

Worry is a feeling of fear from a possible bad future. People go to the future inside their head and imagine something bad, then come back to the present carrying the fear of this possibility. If it seems to you not to be real, it is because it is not. We all do this in some form, but some people have a problem distinguishing between their imaginary future and the present and those people do not just worry. They have what we call an anxiety attack.

Here are 10 tips to address worry or, in its severe form, anxiety, that may be a trigger to choosing not to eat. These are good for anyone, whether they have anorexia or not, and can help you help another person too.

Read more about how to stop worrying and recover from anorexia

Moving Forward

Man humping over an obstacleAs you probably know by now, life does not always work the way you expect it to. As a parent, you also know that your kids do not always do what you expect them to. Sure, it is tough sometimes, but it is the same for everybody. No matter how hard we try, we sometimes face situations we do not like.

The main difference between people who succeed in life and those who do not is what they do next. This is also the difference between parents who raise happy and successful kids and those who do not.

While I was thinking about this topic, I remembered a quote by an American president about taking action. When I looked it up, it turned out to be by Theodore Roosevelt, who is also quoted as saying many other highly appropriate things. I will include these within this post for your enjoyment and your (kids’) benefit.

Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering
– Theodore Roosevelt

Stopping progress

The best way to keep yourself right where you are and place yourself at the mercy of your circumstances, or your kids’ behavior, is to keep finding reasons for not making any progress.

No matter what anyone says to you, what are the chances it will be perfect? None. So you can always respond with, “Oh, no, this doesn’t cover everything”, or words to that effect.

Read more about how to be a happy parent

My Kid Wants a Tattoo: Short-term Thinking

Tattoo of a heart with initialsI love tattoos. As a visual person, I find a lot of beauty in tattoos. I think tattoos are a form of art. I can find many justifications for having a tattoo. Much like most women (and some men) use makeup to make themselves look pretty, I can understand having a tattoo to look pretty. Although today, I will not get any piercing to damage my body, I can still remember that when I was younger, I decided to have a second piercing in one of my ears (my ears had each been pierced once by our neighbor when I was about 7 or 8 years old).

Still, I have to say it scares me to think of my kids getting a tattoo. I imagine their soft skin that I bathed and touched being damaged and it really frightens me to think that people damage their skin to look pretty.

Tattoos are a very sensitive topic. If you ask every person that wants to carve their skin and damage their body beyond repair on their motives, they will always say, “I like it!” or “It’s beautiful”, and I believe them. Some tattoos are amazingly beautiful. What I do not understand is having a beautiful tattoo that you cannot enjoy, because you put them on your neck or on your back and you cannot see them.

The problem with kids wanting a tattoo is that kids cannot imagine the future. They cannot imagine a time when their dazzling tattoo will become a problem. Unlike piercing in your ears, your nose or even your tongue, which you can hide by taking the jewelry out when you go to an interview or a tiny braid in your hair that you can cut off just before your wedding, tattoos are permanent and you cannot just make them disappear.

Read more about how to stop children from getting a tattoo

Good Old Human Spirit

clip_image003[8]Charlie Chaplin was a very funny man. I remember seeing his movies as a kid and thinking he was hilarious. Only much later, I discovered that Charlie Chaplin’s movies were not comedy, but philosophical and very sharp in their social messages.

One of the greatest and most inspiring speeches he gave, in the movie “The Great Dictator”, was about the human spirit. The movie was done in 1940 and it is amazing to see just how relevant it is to what happens in our society today. Over 70 years later, we still have the same challenges.

I am the Queensland State Director of an organization called Together for Humanity that teaches kids about respect and acceptance and how working together can make a huge difference in the world around us. I have been doing this work for 4 years and feel like I am changing the world one school community at a time.

The only problem in this work is that there is a lot to be done and it requires more parents, more educators and more people who care to make an impact quickly and strongly enough. I believe that we all are all responsible for making this world a better place and that we can win by uniting.

Here is Charlie Chaplin’s video with a powerful modern spin. His speech is below the video.

I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspires me.

Watch this video about humanity and the human spirit

Topsy Turvy World (4)

Happy toddler on an ice slideOur world is a weird and wonderful place, but sometimes, we act in weird ways that make it not so wonderful anymore. In many situations, there is a conflict between what is good for us personally and what is good for everybody. In others, the conflict is between what is good for us right now and what will be good in the future. Without considering the implications of our actions, they sometimes make the world just a little bit less pleasant.

Of course, when we do many of these things and lots of other people do them too, the decline accelerates. I often think of my kids and the kind of place I would like them to have when they grow up and it makes me worry.

No Running, No Jumping, No Playing

When Tsoof was 4 years old, his favorite activity was soccer, he loved to play drums and was a very energetic and talkative little boy. We wanted him to be with other kids, so we sent him to a nearby kindergarten that had great facilities and looked really nice.

Over time, we noticed our little boy was becoming sad and agitated, until he said he did not want to go to kindie anymore. When we ask him about it, he said, “They just want me to sit all the time. I can’t run and I can’t jump and I can’t climb anything. And they want me to be quiet all the time. If I sing or shout because I’m happy, they say ‘keep it down’. I heard something outside and I climbed the toy box to see what’s happening and the teacher pulled me down”, he said.

The next time we dropped him off, we went in with him and asked about all these restrictions. His teacher told us there had been some accidents and some children had gotten injured from climbing or bumping into each other while running, so their insurance company had told them they would not pay for these anymore and they should make sure the kids did not do anything dangerous.

“But this is what kids do”, we said, “They run and climb and experiment. It’s good for them”.

“Sorry”, said the teacher, “We can’t afford to lose our cover”.

Read more about our topsy turvy world

Money for Nothing

Poor Farmers in AfricaFrom time to time, we get a knock on the door and someone asks for a donation to charity. The amount of money is up to us and the minimum is typically small. The person is pleasant and often seems like one of the people who would benefit from our donation to this charity.

But to me, this is money for nothing. Sure, research shows that people get a sense of generosity and feel good about themselves when they give money at the door, in the office or secretly in some other way. I still think this is a short-lived feeling that keeps injustice and bad management in our society long term.

I believe that the fundamental ingredient missing from the charity model is self-respect. When a person cannot provide for themselves and relies completely on others for food, shelter and clothing, their sense of identity changes and they begin to see themselves as dependent and incapable of supporting themselves. If this goes on long enough, they end up feeling worthless.

Even if you have never been poor, maybe you have lost your job at some point or your partner has. The feeling of loss of self-worth can be debilitating. When it goes on for long enough and when the loss was big enough (like a top executive being laid off at an age that makes finding another job unlikely), some people even kill themselves. Standing in line for a social security handout is humiliating for anyone used to productive employment.

Money for nothing makes the recipient feel worthless.

Read more about how to promote self-respect with your money

New Year Recipe

Happy new year greeting

2012 is approaching and we would like to wish you a happy new year. There are so many cooking shows on TV and we have decided to write out wishes for you as a recipe for a great and happy new year.

May your next year be very tasty!

  1. Take the twelve months of the year and clean them well from feelings of jealousy, hatred, frustration, stinginess, greed, stubbornness, selfishness, anger and sadness.
  2. Slice each month into three equal parts and make sure you dedicate a third of each day to working, a third to sleeping and resting and the rest to spending time with people you love, having fun, doing good deeds and having joyous memories, happy dreams and wishes.
  3. Add three teaspoons of optimism, a cup of faith, a tablespoon of patience, some tolerance and a pinch of respect for yourself and others.
  4. Soak with lots of love, decorate with good intentions and heaps of attention and serve every day with a good word, a smile and a warm heart.

Bon appetite!

Happy New Year,
Ronit, Gal and Eden
Family Matters