Justin Bieber punched a paparazzi; Chris Brown and Drake’s nightclub brawl resulted in innocent bystanders getting injured; Miley Cyrus is engaged but pictures of her close "friendships” with other males keep popping up; Lindsay Lohan crashed a car and paramedics were called to her room when it was thought that she was unconscious.
What’s next? Will One Direction go in the wrong direction or perhaps get lost? What kind of messages are modeling when the fact that a very pregnant Snooki has put away her platforms and opted for flats so that she won’t topple over is considered big celebrity news? I mean does anyone actually care about her footwear fancies? They must or it wouldn’t be making such big news on the top celeb websites.
What are we telling our teens (our future leaders) when we emphasize the foolish frenzies and faux pas of pop culture’s elite?
Gone are Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda. Sure Liz Taylor always seemed to be in the headlines, but would news of a fifth (or sixth) marriage or a wanton affair really make big news these days? Such hype pales in comparison to secret celebrity sex tapes, which seem to go viral in an instant. Would our knowledge and understanding of these "Hollywood Heroes" be different if the instant gratification of the Internet had detailed their every move and misstep? Perhaps. However, maybe it was the clothes they donned or mood of the times that things seemed less provocative then and less shocking and seedy.
One doesn’t even need to flash back that far to notice the stark differences. Remember the days of David Cassidy devotion, or the heyday of boy bands such as 'N Sync and New Kids on the Block? Back then Madonna’s concert costumes made big news. In retrospect, Madonna’s frocks now seem less shocking in comparison to Lady Gaga’s see-thru sheaths. How many times has she been cited for indecent exposure? Freedom and creativity are important, but please, put on some clothes.
Perhaps all the instant gratification of getting the news and the gossip in real time has changed our role as parents. To try and keep up with all the information seems at times impossible. And while teen idols of today may be sassier, sexier, and more seductive than role models of yore, in reality, as parents we represent the most important role models in our teen’s lives. They turn to us for their values and understanding about the world around them. Our job is to provide support and understanding through caring and communication.
Most importantly, we must practice what we preach. They are always watching and learning from us. In the end, it doesn’t matter if a pregnant Snooki opts for flats over wedges, or whether Miley Cyrus even makes it to the alter. When we model the right road for our teens they are sure to take the best path with a few bumps in the road of course for good measure. Can you remember some of the detours off the path you took when you were their age? I know I can.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blogs at Talking Teenage.
Now for the good news in the youth part of Ottawa-based MediaSmarts’s report “Talking to Youth and Parents about Life Online." (I previously highlighted the parents' section.) Well, mostly good news. It sounds as if “Internet safety education” has made the youngest among the 11-to-17-year-olds that MediaSmarts talked with pretty paranoid: “From (11- and 12-year-olds') perspective, the Internet is a very dangerous place. They told us that sharing any information put them at risk of being kidnapped, assaulted by a stranger, and stalked.” (This misinformation is called education?)
And how sad, because – even though “they demonstrated strong resilience when it came to dealing with both offensive content and unwanted conversations with strangers … clicked out of offensive sites, (and) knew not to talk to strangers” – they had been taught all this was necessary because “people were not trustworthy,” they told MediaSmarts.
So here’s a mere sampler of the good news MediaSmarts turned up in a series of 12 in-depth conversations with 66 young people:
- General state of their safety: They showed “strong resilience about dealing with ‘creeps’” and “almost universally limit online interactions” to people they know offline. “Chat rooms were universally seen as dangerous.”
- Friendship expressed online (intelligently): Young people have “a clearly defined set of rules about what friends post – and do not post – about friends. Personal attacks were generally forbidden and a sign that a friendship was at an end…. Pictures were highly regulated by all of our participants…. An unrealistic number of online ‘friends’ was seen as inauthentic and a sign of desperation [Note that a protective social norm is developing here.]…. ‘Spam statuses’ were an indicator that someone was seeking an inappropriate amount of attention and was therefore not a desirable friend."
- They see the need to disconnect, too: “Although a few of our participants told us that losing access to the online world, even for a week, would be catastrophic, many of them talked about the need to retreat in order to re‐establish a sense of privacy.” (So many adult "pundits" seem so proud of having thought of this – books have been written about it, even.)
- Cyberbullying, resilience and good strategies: Youth find online meanness easier to deal with than the offline kind, MediaSmarts found. That’s because the visibility of online interaction “leaves a digital trail … [and] lets them challenge bullies publicly and hold them to account.” They “demonstrated a strong resiliency when it came to cyberbullying” and “clear strategies: first, ignore it and de‐friend or block the person (typically a very successful strategy); if it continues, then confront the bully face‐to‐face because it is easier to call someone to account in person; and if that does not work or you are not comfortable talking to the person directly, call in your parents and they will help you resolve the conflict.”
- Big caveat about school intervention, though: “Almost all … were disdainful of school anti‐bullying programs; they felt that, in general, teachers and principals did not understand the kinds of problems they might face and only made things worse when they intervened."
- Surveillance nation (more noteworthy than good news): Young people feel “the Internet is now a fully monitored space where parents, teachers and corporations keep them under constant surveillance,” so they see “parental monitoring” as “the price of admission” for being able to use connected devices. But, unsurprisingly, they’re forgiving too: “In spite of their frustration with parental monitoring, almost all our participants felt their parents were acting out of good intentions,” MediaSmarts found.
- About parental monitoring: “The teenagers who did share the details of their lives with their parents were the ones who were not routinely monitored. Trust in this case was mutual,” indicating that “monitoring alone may work against open family dialogue.”
Practices by age levels
- Tweens’ interest in exploration and pranks: “The Internet was particularly useful when [11- and 12-year-olds] wanted to learn more about things they would encounter in the future, like places they were going to visit on family vacations, high school and jobs. This kind of exploration provided them with a safe way to ‘rehearse’ things and become more comfortable with teenage and adult roles.” They’re also into “‘pranks and ‘trolls,’ where someone would fool you and misdirect you to the wrong site on purpose.” While this may be seen as a risk, it also teaches critical thinking: “Pranks helped them learn how not to be fooled.”
- Early teens (13- and 14-year-olds): MediaSmarts noted how much this age group “enjoyed online humour and sites that allowed them to post anecdotes and read silly things that other people had done. They enjoyed laughing at and laughing with others who did things that were foolish or silly, and found comfort in the fact they were not the only ones who were likely to do something 'stupid.'” Some engaged in social action, but “the main uses of networked technologies were for connecting with friends and self‐expression.” While 11- and 12-year-olds found social networking “boring,” 13- and 14-year-olds find social media use an “important way to communicate their feelings, so they could better understand themselves and their social interactions” – though feeling under constant surveillance by adults, as all the age levels did, “made it difficult for them to express themselves for fear of reprisal.”
- Older teens use social media “to talk to friends, organize events and gatherings, follow celebrity gossip … access YouTube videos to learn how to do things like dance" … "keep in touch with friends,” and access “the outside world.” Because they feel so closely monitored by the adults in their lives, “anonymous online self‐expression [such as blogging under a pseudonym] … played an important role in helping older teens make sense of the social world and their place in it.” (It may also help explain why Twitter use by this age group is now growing fast).
So note the confidence in young people this conclusion from MediaSmarts shows: “In spite of widespread concerns on the part of adults, the young people we spoke with were aware of online risks, largely self‐regulated their own behaviours to avoid and manage those risks, and consistently demonstrated resiliency and competence in their responses to those risks.”
Based on this research and so many other inputs, isn’t it time to shift the focus of “Internet safety education” from avoidance to literacy – the digital, media, and social literacy that supports their current efforts to turn digital media into tools for effective work, play, communication, and activism in social digital-media environments (as well as offline ones, of course)?
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier blogs at NetFamilyNews.
“We’re beyond excited,” Today Entertainment quotes Bill as saying.
Which got us thinking... how many parents find out the sex of their baby before it is born?
This is a hotly contested topic, of course. And as with pretty much everything about pregnancy, childbirth, and the “right” way to welcome new life into this world, people seem to feel perfectly entitled to offer their opinion about what others should do.
(Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the mass scrutiny of the pregnant Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi's footwear. The when-will-she-stop-wearing-platforms debate has raged for months now.)
A quick Google search on the “should you find out the gender of your baby” question reveals scores of forums, chat groups and blog posts with impassioned “do” and “don’t” missives.
The reasons against range from “when else will you ever have this big a surprise?” to “don’t let yourself be biased by gender.” The pro camp tends to say that the birth is a big enough surprise as it is, thanks, and that some extra planning info is much appreciated. Besides, it’s easier to pick names, refer to the child as something other than “it,” and start laying down the law to excited grandparents about Disney Princesses and Power Rangers when you know the sex.
And as it turns out, people in the United States are divided about this question. It’s not just the crazy World Wide Web. In 2007, a Gallup Panel poll found that 51 percent of Americans say they would wait until the baby is born to find out the sex, while 47 percent said they would want to know before hand. (The rest had no opinion.)
The preference shifted within some groups. More than 6 in 10 Americans 18 to 34 years old, for instance, said they would like to find out ahead of time, as did the majority of parents with young children. Meanwhile, older Americans, Americans who frequently attend religious services and Catholics were more likely to wait.
The Rancics, then, are in pretty wide company. (And our opinion here at Modern Parenthood, for the record, is that people should do whatever they want with this one.)
Baby boy Rancic is due at the end of the summer; given the way celebrity news works, we’ll sure hear more about the little mister before then.
Nothing like the power of the press, and a few photographs of coronation chicken.
This week, British primary school student Martha Payne, whose uber-popular blog “NeverSeconds” documents her tasty (and not-so-tasty) school meals, was thrust into the international news spotlight when her local government ordered her to cease and desist her pesky photographing.
Yes, the Council of Argyll and Bute decided that the 9-year-old was a threat to school staff wellbeing. The school meals crew, it said, was often in tears from the international attention to offerings such as “vegetable soup and sausages with roast potatoes,” which Payne rates by a 1 to 10 “Food-o-meter” scale, as well as by “mouthfuls,” “price,” “health,” and “pieces of hair.” (This particular item had one of the latter, under a cucumber.)
“Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs,” the Council said in a statement.
(A statement, I must add, that has received criticism in the British press not only for its censoring inclinations, but for the misuse of “refute.” Gotta love the Brits.)
Now, for folks on this side of the Atlantic (or those who have just blocked out school mealtime memories), Payne started her NeverSeconds blog earlier this spring, using her dad’s camera to shoot pics of the meals served at her primary school in western Scotland.
The first entries show sad little portions of mass produced pizza, scatterings of corn kernels and lone croquettes. (“The pizza in the first pic was alright but I’d have enjoyed more than 1 croquet,” Payne wrote. “I’m a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette ... The good thing about this blog is Dad understands why I am hungry when I get home.”)
She signed the posts VEG, noting that her dad said she should call herself “Veritas Ex Gusto,” or “truth from tasting” in Latin.
“But who knows Latin?” she asked. “You can call me Veg.”
Within weeks, millions were following the 9-year-old’s culinary adventures. She started raising money through a Justgiving page for Mary’s Meals, a Scottish organization that provides school meals to children in the developing world, and collected thousands of pounds. Students around the world started sending her photos of their school lunches. Scottish celebrity chef Nick Nairn took interest in her work, and joined Payne for a cooking demo.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the meals started to improve.
But eventually, the Argyll and Bute Council had enough. (It was apparently a newspaper photo of Payne with Nairn, under the headline “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies,” that was the last straw for local government.) Payne’s photographs, it said, only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils. The blog was spreading “misinformation.” Catering staff were in tears from the negative publicity. They told Payne’s school that officials there needed to ban the 9-year-old from taking any more photos.
Yesterday, Payne posted this message on NeverSeconds, under the heading “Goodbye.”
“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos.”
And that, it seemed, would be that.
But then comes the power of social media. And the old fashioned press.
“This is craziness!!” wrote one commenter.
“This is horrible,” wrote another.
Others started change.org petitions to bring back the blog. Someone submitted her story to TechDirt, an internet site that addresses issues of online censorship by businesses and government. Still others questioned whether the censorship was a violation of human rights. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver tweeted his encouragement, and asked his millions of followers to retweet their support. British newspapers also got into the action, with minute by minute coverage and columnists penning their disbelief.
By this afternoon UK time, the Council had changed its position. According to the BBC, Scotland’s education secretary, Mike Russell, wrote to the council’s chief executive and called for the “daft” ban to be overturned.
Meanwhile, the pledges to Mary Meals through Payne’s site skyrocketed to £16,000.
And Payne, it appears, has been given the green light to continue her photo documentation.
So bring on the mac n' cheese. We'll be watching.
My father could hold a conversation with anyone. Some of my favorite recollections are of him doing just that. His print, radio, and television journalism career took him to myriad places and stories in 40 years of reporting. He earned a living starting conversations with unlikely people, in unlikely places.
In Chicago he won an award for covering ward politics. He traveled to the southern states at the height of the civil rights movement, and then years later to Ulster at the height of The Troubles. He had plenty of conversations with famous newsmakers, and with the man in the street and the common people behind the news. He put an intimate, familiar face on the big, seemingly remote stories of several reporting eras. [Editor's note: The author's father, Robert Colby Nelson, was a long-time correspondent and editor for The Christian Science Monitor.]
Through his art of conversation, his readers found the heart of a shared humanity. Dad could talk with white men, black men; Protestants, Catholics; the mighty and the downtrodden; rich and poor. Strangers became friends; the untrusting, trusting.
On any given casual outing, dad struck up conversation. He loved to talk with the London cabbies during our years in England, learning about The Knowledge of London driving routes, and the day’s politics or most recent trade union action.
But two particular conversations stand out to me: one of the earliest I remember from my youth, and one I know of only through a photograph.
Dad hated fishing. But when I was about nine, he took me fishing not far from his boyhood home in Buffalo. I think he felt a certain duty to indulge my interest, and so we set off with an old rod, hooks, and worms, to sit beside a creek. The fish weren’t biting, but the thin slate rocks on the creek bed were worthy of a few hours spent skipping stones while watching the bobber.
The more powerful memory is of dad’s conversation with the unemployed steelworker sitting on the bank nearby, also watching his bobber in the current.
The gist of their conversation never made any sense to me. But I see it now as my earliest recollection of dad’s professional voice.
I can remember the tone of the men talking, the feeling of the heavy summer air, and a certain slant of light filtering through the trees above. And as with many of dad’s subsequent conversations, I remember the earnest quality of the transaction. Dad was curious about the stranger’s story. The steelworker found someone who took a genuine interest in his lot, and he opened up. There was a bridge, and strangeness couldn’t persist.
It’s not that the journalist in my father was always seeking the story potential in anyone he met, but that he simply saw the truth in everyone’s story and wanted to hear it. There was always the possibility of arriving at the point where one could say, “I know you. I see you.” Familiarity.
The photo I cherish comes from the 1980s during one of dad’s trips to Russia. He was no doubt fulfilling a longstanding dream of interviewing poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Dad studied Russian in high school and college, then got a master's degree in Soviet studies, preparing himself for the big story of his era: the cold war, and Soviet-American relations.
In a later phase of his career, he was a journalist attached to the Kettering Foundation’s Dartmouth Conferences, and made numerous trips to Russia as a member of high-level discussions and exchanges. I love his photos of visits to St. Petersburg, the Hermitage, and his tales of life in the waning years of the Soviet Union.
But this photo is different. It’s a small story. The two men must be at a dacha. There is spring foliage. Dad stands beside Yevtushenko. The poet is holding an apple and obviously in mid-sentence. He is expounding. Dad has obviously set his camera on a tripod and used the self-timer, then dashed into the frame. He directs his gaze straight into the lens. His expression suggests he is thinking, “How cool is this. I’m standing next to Yevtushenko.”
He is mid-conversation – with the poet, with himself, with the audience for the photo… with me. And I know the tone of voice that characterized the afternoon of questions and answers, the sharing between the American journalist and the Russian poet, as their stories became real to one another. To dad, journalism itself was a conversation, and the big story could be as present in the tale of the steelworker as in the expounding of the great poet.
There is, of course, a third conversation to relate, and it’s ongoing: my own, with my father, in each opportunity to hear someone’s story. I too ask the cabbies, with immense curiosity, where they’re from. Thanks for the conversations, dad.
When it comes to selecting great gifts for kids, it’s important to gift experiences, not just toys. After all, studies show that experiences make people happier than objects do: Objects break, become outdated, or pale in comparison to superior items, and the thrill of ownership fades quickly. But experiences are personal, and the memories of positive personal experiences never lose their luster.
If you still have Father’s Day shopping to do, applying this principle to dad’s gift could prove very satisfying. If the gift is an experience that father and child can share together, the whole family can benefit. The key to making sure the experience is a good gift is keeping the recipient’s interests in mind while doing so.
For example, if the father is a sports fan, a child might give his or her father tickets to a sports game and promise to go with him. Plans for a father-child outing could also work with tickets to a concert, a museum, an art exhibit, or another destination that suits the father’s interests and the child’s age.
Gifts meant to be experienced together at home can make a great choice, as well. For example, tools are a perennially popular Father’s Day gift. Consider supplies for a project that the father and child can create together – gardening or carpentry or technology oriented. (For techie dads, the books in the "Geek Dad" series are full of amazing ideas.) The project could be as small as a birdhouse or much more complicated, depending on dad’s skills and the child’s age.
Another possibility: Seek out a toy that’s meant for both adults and children, around which family memories can be created. For example, toys like Geomags are fun for adults and kids alike – and they can be used collaboratively. The strategy game Rush Hour is also fun for all ages. If dad likes strategy games or puzzles, it could be a nice choice.
Consider gifts that bring dads and daughters closer together
Sometimes, it can be difficult for dads and daughters to develop shared interests. All of the gifts above could be given by boys or girls, but some girls and dads might hesitate when it comes to sharing experiences like carpentry, which are traditionally coded as masculine.
An experience-oriented gift that helps a daughter learn more about her dad’s interests and hobbies, despite gender stereotypes that they’re “not for girls," is another way to give a gift that benefits the whole family. Diversifying the daughter’s interests with dad’s support could benefit her in the long run: studies show that when fathers support their daughters by engaging with them in non-stereotypical ways, the daughters are significantly more likely to consider studying and working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, which many find satisfying and lucrative.
Is your daughter unsure about joining her dad in his hobbies? The children’s book "Super Tool Lula" may offer her some great inspiration. The book’s heroine, Lula, enjoys helping her father with carpentry projects using tools from her very own tool belt, and after reading the book, girls often ask for their own tool belts. Taking a page from Lula‘s book, daddy-daughter tools might make a great, creative Father’s Day gift.
The importance of kids’ involvement in gifting
No matter what route is taken when helping a child give a parent a gift, the results of other studies bear mentioning: spending money on others makes us happier than does spending money on ourselves. So, if it’s possible for a child to willingly contribute some of his or her own money towards dad’s Father’s Day gift – whatever that gift may be – he or she will learn that giving to others really is its own reward.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Rebecca Hains blogs at rebeccahains.wordpress.com.
Thankfully, the youth part of “Talking to Youth and Parents about Life Online” had a whole lot of good news in it because my heart sank when I read this first paragraph on parents’ views in this recent study from Canada’s premier digital and media literacy organization:
“The parents we spoke with were beleaguered by fear of danger and exhausted from the burden of constant vigilance. Although the exact nature of that danger is poorly defined, many parents told us that surveillance is now equated with good parenting, and that the days of trusting their children and providing them with space to explore the world and make mistakes are long gone.”
I asked MediaSmarts’s co-director Jane Talimm about that finding, and she emailed me that “this was consistent with almost all of the parents in our focus groups – we were actually surprised at the intensity of emotion many expressed in this regard – and as we know, this runs counter to the mutual trust, confidence and communication between parents and their kids that is so essential to helping them develop the skills they need for digital life.”
This is where Internet-safety messaging – amplified by the news media – has gotten us. Parents not only feeling beleaguered, fearful, and exhausted but, worse, feeling they can’t trust their children. Can the net result of that somehow increase our children’s safety?
Is it as clear to you as it is to me that we need to turn this Internet-safety ship around? Our children deserve better – for one thing, more respect.
Prominent sociologists Karen Fingerman and Frank Furstenberg made several related points in a recent New York Times article, saying:
- Parents and kids are closer than ever
- We’ve largely closed the generation gap so widely lamented 40 years ago
- “We could be celebrating the strong bonds between today’s young people and their parents rather than lamenting the foibles of the next generation” and
- “Technological and economic developments have contributed to this shift.”
Tech developments have contributed to what keeps kids safer than anything: the self-respect and resilience that come from love, communication, and respect.
So we’ve moved from one kind of gap to another: the gap between reality – how our children are living their lives from day to day, including what’s reflected and expressed of them in social media – and more than 15 years of exaggerated claims and misrepresentations of Internet risk.
How to bridge this new gap?
Two simple things for starters: Listen to our own kids more and look at the data. For example, just go to p. 6 of MediaSmarts’s executive summary about “What Young People Get Out of Networked Technologies.” Take scary commentaries and news reports we hear to our kids, analyze them together, and test the claims against our kids’ own practices and privacy settings. Fold those claims into the conversation and listen to our kids’ responses. If negative experiences emerge, develop strategies together for dealing with them – that calm, loving support from their parents is powerful.
I truly believe we’ll not only find comfort and mutual respect in the process, we’ll feel a whole lot less reason to be scared, beleaguered and distrustful.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Anne Collier blogs at NetFamilyNews.
Teri: What is up?
Lauren: Nothing. It’s day 3.
Teri: Day 3, the natives have started to get restless?
Me: That was actually Day 2.
Teri: Day 3, the natives have organized.
Me: Day 2, the natives were made to clean. Day 3, we went to Barnes and Noble. Having just returned, 2 of the 3 are fighting. BTW, why does Barnes and Noble have a toy section? It’s a BOOK STORE. Do they hate parents?
Teri: The chief is scared.
Me: Out of my mind.
Three days down, 74 to go.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lauren Parker-Gill blogs at Spill the Beans.
Mothers often attack each other and debate the right and wrong ways to parent in national parenting blogs, which often only use mom or mother in their titles. As a mother, I confess to writing Mommy-centric essays on occasion. But with Father’s Day approaching, I wanted to do something dad-centric: Write a thank you to my husband, the father of our four-year-old son.
It’s time to remember dads a little more as we continue this never-ending national discussion about how to raise our children. My husband is not a perfect dad just like I’m not a perfect mother. But he deserves more thank yous than I could possibly list. Here are my top 10:
1. Thank you, dear husband, for taking such an active role in our son’s upbringing from even before he was born. You cared as much as I about making the nursery a warm, earthy place. You helped give it a sense of both of us. You hung up that old drawing of a gooney bird that you had as a child. You refinished my old rocking chair.
2. Thank you for spending that first year of parenthood at my side. Laid off shortly before our son Simon was born, you thought of focusing on getting a job immediately. You instead chose to spend the first year at home with our child and figure out what type of job would make you happiest. At first, I worried about finances and about us getting in each others' way as stay-at-home parents. But over time, we developed a solid partnership as new parents. We gave each other parenting breaks. We sometimes went together and other times took turns going with Simon to weekday music classes for parents and children. Sometimes, you were the only dad at a local drop-in play center, and you took it in stride. That year was a gift for both me and Simon.
3. Thank you for already showing our son the importance of higher education. As you neared 50, you returned to college and earned an MBA, graduating when Simon was 3. Simon may not remember being at your graduation celebration or seeing you study at our dining room table, but someday, he will ask about those photos of you in cap and gown.
4. Thank you for naturally passing along your hobbies. Because of you, Simon already loves traipsing through the woods, watching birds, weeding, and planting.
5. Thank you for helping to teach our son what it means to be a Jew. You know more Hebrew than I, and introduce our son to the language in subtle ways, like counting to 10 in Hebrew when you play Hide ‘n Seek. You embrace our attempts to mark Shabbat almost every Friday with blessings over the candles and bread. You sing out, and now Simon sings with us.
6. Thank you for participating in every aspect of early parenting. You were an equal partner in potty training. Together, we agreed to take our cues from Simon rather than use stickers, candies or other incentives. It wasn’t easy, but being on the same page as parents helped.
7. Thank you for introducing Simon to books I never would have, books like The Phantom Tollbooth.
8. Thank you for never being the sort of dad who thinks many things are just Mom’s job.
9. Thank you for the tiny acts, like setting the cereal bowls out for us before you head to work. Simon knows you do that. He knows that every morning you think of him.
10. Thank you, my husband of few words, for saying exactly what our son needs to hear each night before he falls asleep. “I love you.”
By example, you show our son how to be a wonderful father and person. This thank you list will only grow as Simon gets older. You are a huge influence in our son’s life day in and day out. I cannot thank you enough. Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Linda Wertheimer blogs at Jewish Muse.
Lest you think the days of the United States being a melting pot are over, check out this statistic from the Foundation For Child Development: Of all children in the US, one in four are growing up in an immigrant family.
That means that 18.4 million kids have at least one parent who was born out of the country. And that, the Foundation for Child Development says in a report released this week, comes along with some troubling statistical findings on these children’s health care, financial security and education, as compared to children of US-born parents.
Although their parents are just as likely to have a job as US.-born parents, according to the report, 30 percent of children in immigrant families live below the federal poverty line. (Nineteen percent of children with US-born parents have a similar financial situation.) A quarter of children in immigrant families do not graduate from high school, compared with 18 percent of children with US-born parents, and only 7 percent of children who are dual language learners become proficient at reading English by the end of third grade.
Meanwhile, children in immigrant families (nine out of ten of whom are American citizens) are twice as likely not to be covered by health insurance than children of US.-born parents.
“Somewhere along the line, the system is failing them,” Ruby Takanishi, president of the Foundation for Child Development, said in a statement.
One “paradox” in the report, as researchers put it, came in the health category. They found that children of immigrant parents actually scored higher in some health categories than did children of US parents – they were less likely to have low birth weight, for instance, and more likely to have sustained physical activity as kids.
The obesity rates of children in immigrant families, however, have caught up to their US counterparts.
There’s a lot more in the report, including some recommendations for improving early education, revamping dual learning programs (which teach non-native English speakers in two languages at once), and making sure immigrants have more awareness of federal programs to provide health insurance to needy kids.
“Healthy, well-educated children are critical to a strong, secure and prosperous nation, because the children of today are the ones who will be joining the labor force, starting their own families, and entering the voting booths for the first time during the coming decades,” said Donald Hernandez, an author of the report, in a statement. “By not investing in these children we not only undermine our future as a country, but also diminish their opportunities to become productive members of their communities.”