Invest in Girls for Long-term ROI

PDF - The Girl Declaration - #GirlDeclarationToday is International Day of the Girl Child and I’m working from home with a sick girl of my own. Luckily, she’s only dealing with seasonal allergies, not recovering from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). And she’ll only miss one day of school, rather than being taken completely out of school at her ripe old age of eleven to be a child bride.

Sound extreme? It’s not in many places around the world.

Globally, it is estimated that between 100 and 140 million girls and women have experienced some form of FGM, and that every year about three million girls, most younger than 12, are at risk of undergoing this dangerous procedure.

A CNN story today reports that in Pakistan, almost one-fourth of the country’s girls find themselves in unions or marriages by age 18. And, India has more child brides than any other country in the world, with 47 percent of all of the country’s more than 600 million girls married before their 18th birthday.

So what? So, moving beyond the emotional element of such statistics, think of the economic impact.

In India, adolescent pregnancy results in nearly $10 billion in lost potential income, according to statistics from The Girl Effect. In Uganda, 85 percent of girls leave school early, resulting in $10 billion in lost potential earnings. By delaying child marriage and early birth for one million girls, Bangladesh could potentially add $69 billion to the national income over these girls’ lifetimes.

Yet, girls were left out when the UN was drafting their Millennium Development Goals that are meant to form a blueprint to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. So today, girls from Egypt, Burkina Faso and Nepal presented the Girl Declaration to the UN.

If I’d been at my office today, I’m proud to say I would have seen a screening of the film “Girl Rising” compliments of Dell’s support. To help “Pay it Forward” they are encouraging employees to contribute to girl-related causes during the month of October. By leveraging the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network of 10,000 women around the world, and employees like me, Dell hopes to track support for 1 million females by the end of 2015.

What can you do? Even though this day is almost over, you can keep the momentum going. You can sign in support of the Girl Declaration. You can host your own screening of “Girl Rising.” Or, here are 11 other ideas for action.

Improving girls’ health and education helps us all because they will play a crucial role in solving the world’s problems.

Do something.

Good News from Pew Research on Teen Social Media Use

No time to give this a proper read and digest, but since my last post was about keeping our kids safe online, I wanted to quickly pass along some optimistic survey results released today.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project announced the findings of their “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy research.” It notes that while teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past, they take an array of steps to restrict and prune their profiles.

A few good news items include:

  • 19% post content they later regret sharing (could be much worse)
  • 20% share their cell phone number (I thought it would be higher)
  • 16% automatically include location in their posts (good to know they’re aware)
  • 61% have decided not to post something because it might reflect badly on them in the future

According to Pew, the typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends. The larger a teen’s network, the more likely they are to have a wider variety of friends and share more personal information. This image shows how those with 1-150 friends share, but you can click on it to be taken to the interactive version and compare the difference with larger friend networks.

Teens on Facebook: What They Share with Friends - Chart by Pew Research

They’ve also got a site to let you build an interactive profile to explore what teens post and prune on their own profiles.

One of the things that caught my eye there was the finding that teens whose parents have higher levels of education and income are more likely than teens whose parents have lower levels of education and income to share videos of themselves on social media – a finding Pew thought may be influenced by the tech assets of the family.

An Associated Press writer‘s attention was caught by how the results showed teens moving increasingly to Twitter to avoid their parents and the ‘‘oversharing’’ that they see on Facebook. And, Huffington Post declared “The Facebook generation is fed up with Facebook.”

But, Pew researcher Mary Madden told USAToday  that in focus groups, conducted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, “we repeatedly heard kids saying that they knew their parents were watching.” As a parent, I’m glad to hear that. To me it is encouraging to know that more parents are getting involved and watching what they’re kids are doing. It’s not about being Big Brother, but about being a parent.

Helping Your Kids Be Smart Online

“Have you used Snapchat before?”

“Just once when we were sending a photo from [friend]’s phone. You know what Snapchat is?!?”

That last sentence was said a bit incredulously by my daughter and that filled me with both pride (yeah, I’m a cool mom who knows this stuff) and worry (after all our previous conversations about online safety she still thinks she knows things I don’t).

What had prompted this conversation was the fact that she was looking over my shoulder when I tweeted a link to a story about how someone has figured out how to recover Snapchat photos.

“On May 8, researchers at Decipher Forensics, a company in Orem, Utah, announced that they have figured out how to retrieve the supposedly self-destructing photos from the popular now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t photo-sharing app Snapchat. And will do so for a fee,” Businessweek reported.

Yes, I knew about Snapchat, but I had hoped that she didn’t. I try hard to keep up with new technology and not be quite as clueless as the parents in this video:

The company that makes that monitoring software also has an ebook titled “15 Digital Safety Rules Every Household Should Follow” that could be helpful for parents who, like myself, believe that talking early and often about online safety is more powerful than a big brother app.

I may hesitate on the “don’t friend anyone you don’t know in real life” rule, because if I’d followed it myself I’d have missed out on meeting some pretty cool people. But, there are some good nuggets of advice like:

  • They should not put anything up that they wouldn’t say to someone in person or would be embarrassed to have their school principal read,
  • They need to be aware that the possibility exists that the person on the other end of the profile isn’t really what he or she claims,
  • If you wouldn’t show the photo to Nana, don’t send it in a text, private chat or post it to social media, and
  • Never post, put in an online profile, or share with someone you don’t know in real life the following things: full name, address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, school name and location, or names of siblings.

On that last one, let me take a sidebar and speak to parents directly. You need to remember these tips when you post yourself. When you comment on your friends’ Facebook posts with things like “Johnny looks so handsome” or “Way to go [enter name of kid’s school] chess club” you are doing what you don’t want your own kids to do. Your friend might not have given out their child’s name or school, but you just shared it for them.

So, how did I leave off the conversation with my girl? With yet another admonition to never, ever, ever take photos of herself or let someone else take photos of her without all her clothes. If I say it enough, I’ll believe it will never happen…

Oh the Drama That is Girl Scout Cookie Time

National Girl Scout Cookie Day - February 8, 2012I don’t know why I’m feeling compelled today to defend something that I’m not unhappy to hear my daughter doesn’t want to do next year, but here I am about to do it.

A blog post came across my radar today about a Girl Scout, who after participating in a tweetchat to promote a website she’d created to raise funds to donate cookies to U.S. military troops, was told she couldn’t collect those donations through PayPal.

Using language like “@GirlScouts Crush [my emphasis] a Girl’s Social Good” and describing the Girl Scouts has having “utter ignorance to social media,” the post weaves a tale of overinvolved parents, jealousy, double-standards and backstabbing that could fit easily into a TV drama series.

Now, as I stated in my own comment on that post – one of more than 80 comments so far – I’m not going to say the whole Girl Scout cookie sales process is perfect. I’ve joked to friends that the mafia could probably learn a thing or two from Girl Scouts when it comes to controlling territory as tightly as booth locations and staffing are managed. And, there’s been drama aplenty in our own little troop when parents take it too much upon themselves to help their daughters succeed.

But, I feel compelled to come to the organization’s defense regarding their knowledge of social media. And, to point out that there are two different issues at play in this situation: online payments and competitive parents.  The first might be changing for the better and the second appears to be changing for the worse.

According to a Seattle Times story, while there have always been hard-to-please parents, some experts say parental micromanagement has gone mainstream: “Overinvolved parents and overscheduled children are the recommended ways to raise children these days,” said Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, co-author of ‘The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap.’ “And it’s really not to anyone’s good.”

“Some parents have a terrible fear that they won’t turn out to be good parents so they overcompensate by trying too hard. Some might be filling their own need to be as perfect in parenting as they are in other areas of their lives. These parents often find themselves competing with other parents out of a fear that their children will be less advanced than their peers, or even left behind, socially or academically,” said Dr. Alexandra Barzvi, Clinical Director of the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Institute at the NYU Child Study Center.

This type of competition can drive parents to get into fist fights at sporting events or to go overboard trying to make sure their daughter is the top cookie seller. This type of behavior is actively discouraged by the Girl Scout organization, though. When I witnessed it first-hand, I didn’t blame the Scouts, I blamed the parent.

Now the other issue involved in the story of the girl who couldn’t use PayPal is leveraging social media and new technologies. The blog author said “I for one will not support an organization that sells a product using methods that are so clearly out of date that it is in no way preparing their children members for the realities of the world today.”

I believe this statement itself is not made with a full picture of what Girl Scouts is doing to leverage technology, and more specifically, social media. You can find the Girl Scouts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr and their own blog. Just today my local Council sent out a link through Facebook to new cover photo images that moms like me could add to their Facebook profiles to let our friends know we can connect them to a “cookie professional.”

Yes, there’s room for improvement because these were targeted primarily at moms while there are cookie dads out there, too; but, maybe some involved dads will point this out to them and they’ll add more. People may wonder if that conflicts with discouraging parents from selling and whether that illustrates that they aren’t encouraging the girls themselves to use social media. Well… if they’re under 13 years of age they’re not supposed to have a Facebook profile per the site’s Terms of Service. The reality is a much smaller percentage of girls stay in Girl Scouts as teenagers. And, there is one image that they could use because it doesn’t mention being a mom.

But, back to the blogger’s contention that Girl Scouts methods of selling are out-of-date because they don’t allow for individual girls to set up PayPal accounts to accept funds. While online payments are not currently allowed (and we’re all told this up front), Girl Scouts are now making credit card transactions possible through the use of smartphone technology. Some Councils are using Sage and seeing great results, while ours has leveraged North American Bancard to provide me with a “swiper” we can use whenever someone doesn’t have cash, or just prefers the convenience.

I don’t have all the inside information into why online payments aren’t currently allowed, but I can think of a couple of things to be considered before the organization goes there.

One is the fact that approximately 70 percent of cookie proceeds stay in the local Girl Scout council and with individual troops to provide a portion of the resources needed to support Girl Scouting in that area. The balance goes to the baker to pay for the cookies. Girl Scout councils do not provide any portion of their cookie revenue to Girl Scouts of the USA. While, yes, my daughter can sell cookies to my family in another state, if she were to open an online shop, it takes the out-of-region selling to a whole new level.

Another consideration is the girls’ own safety. Girl Scouts going online and potentially giving out personally identifying information such as full names, location, school name, troop number, etc., goes against the basics of online safety for kids. Something awareness of was trying to be increased by yesterday’s Safer Internet Day.

I sure hope the 11-year-old participating in that tweetchat had read Girl Scouts Tips for Girls for Social Media before going online, and perhaps had taken their Online Etiquette quiz, and signed the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge. And, hopefully her parents read Girl Scouts Tips for Parents for Social Media before letting her open a Twitter account – something that is also against Twitter’s Terms of Service.

And, if you want any more proof that Girl Scouts embrace social media and other modern marketing methods, just see what The New York Times’ Diner’s Journal shared about National Cookie Day activity in The Big Apple.

So, while one blog writer and a few of his commenters will be boycotting Girl Scouts and their cookie selling, I hope others will not follow suit. Not because my daughter wants to win an iPad for selling 1,000 cookies, or whatever; but, rather so she will continue to build her business skills and her troop will be able to enjoy an educational – and, yes, fun – overnight camp-out at Sea World.

Please download the Official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app (iOS or Android) and support your local “cookie professional’ this Friday on National Girl Scout Cookie Day and every other day!

Get To Know Generation Edge

Effective communication is always about understanding your audience. In an attempt to do that, somewhere around the early 1900s we Americans began naming groups of people based on when they were born.

For example, I’m a part of what was termed Generation X. We’re known for being individualistic, flexible and tech savvy; and, according to Kristine Simpson on the blog Running a PR life communicators “shouldn’t try and fit the GenXers in a box and assume they all want the same thing.”

After my generation came The Millenials – well-documented by the Pew Research Center – who are often called entitled, selfish, impulsive and highly indulged.

And now, The Sound Research may have won what USA Today called a “frantic race to name the next generation of American consumers” with their new video about Generation Edge:

Ian Pierpoint, global president of The Sound Research told Marketing Daily:

“Where Millennials were idealistic, Gen Edge is realistic. Things are going to have to be more grounded and more realistic. It’s going to be much harder for brands to appear to align with social causes while not really doing that much. Where Millennials were willing to talk the talk, these guys are walking the walk a bit more.”

As those of us in America prepare to celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday with family, it might be a good time to do a little field research of our own. Observe your relatives born after 1995 and see if you think The Sound Research have nailed their generation.

And, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Women, Work and Family = The Enjoli Woman Venn Diagram

Warning: Anyone reading this that was born after 1980 might not understand the humor.

I saw all the uproar over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent Atlantic Monthly cover story “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” but mostly avoided reading much of it. It’s not a new topic (I touched on it back in 2008  in the first month I started this blog) and I wasn’t sure I had the energy for the debate. However, this week I went back and pulled up the original to take a look with new eyes.

What prompted me to do this was the email from my summer sitter saying she was heading off to college earlier than planned. This coming just a week after my husband had his second surgery in two months. While the two weeks notice came with an alternate plan, so myself and the other moms who share the sitter weren’t left in the lurch with another month before school starts, it did prompt me to reassess my family’s needs.

So, after several days of reading – hey, it’s more than an article, it’s like a freaking dissertation and all moms know how hard it is to find a large chunk of free, uninterrupted time to just read – I finally finished it today.

It’s definitely not as inflammatory as I thought it would be by the headline and the level of noise it created. Many parts had me shaking my head YES, rather than shaking it in sadness.

But rather than go through it point-by-point or try to give you the Cliff Notes, what hit me as I mulled it over in the shower this morning was a more humorous take.

Anyone familiar with project management, software development or graphic design will have encountered by now the famous Project Management Triangle – which tells us that while we may all want something done good, fast and cheap, we can really only get two out of three.

So today I bring you the Enjoli Woman Venn Diagram – ta da!Women-Can’t-Have-It-All_Enjoli-Woman-Venn-Diagram

I was about the same age my daughter is now when that commercial came out and it definitely influenced my ideas about what I should be when I grew up. Was I sold a bill of goods?

Maybe. But, I don’t think we just give up. Instead we all need to adjust. This statement from Anne-Marie Slaughter’s story put it well, I think:

“If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal.”

That doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen in a generation or two. But, I still hold out hope that my daughter’s generation might realize it.

Under 13? No Tumblr for You!

Retro KidsBack in November, I asked in a post “Would You Encourage Your Child Break the Law?”  It was a look at statistics about the number of parents who had set up Facebook accounts for their children under the age of 13, which is against their terms of service. My stance then, and now, is that the rule is 13, so not until she’s 13.

However, I’ve apparently unknowingly broken my own rule.

This past January, I helped her set up a Tumblr blog, for a number of reasons.  First, I thought it might encourage her to write more since she’s got a natural inclination to express herself through the written word (example from her at age 6 when upset she didn’t get her way and later same day), but thinks the writing assignments at school are boring. Second, her current career ambition is to be a fashion designer, or to “take over that lady’s spot on ‘What Not to Wear’ when she gets too old,” and Tumblr is a bit of a fashion industry darling. In early 2011, their founder and CEO David Karp told Mashable that approximately 180 of the top 1,000 Tumblr blogs were fashion-related.

But, the blog didn’t take off with her. We both found the Tumblr web interface to be a bit clunky. And the web app won’t work on the hand-me-down, non-activated 3G iPhone she has. She only made one post of her own after we initially set it up. So, neither of us had logged in for quite a while.

A recent discussion at work about our corporate use of Tumblr and where we should or shouldn’t go with that prompted me to revisit it, however, and I was greeted with a new terms of service (TOS) to accept.

Normally, I’m as guilty as the next person of not bothering to read before I accept the terms (what are our choices, right? accept or stop use?) and I know I’m not alone. According to Jeff Sauro, founding principal of quantitative research firm Measuring Usability, no more than 8 percent of users typically read terms of service agreements in full before accepting them, the ZoneAlarm blog tells us.  And, LifeHacker has “How to Quickly Read a Terms of Service” tips.

But, for some reason something made me stop and look at this one and that’s when I found out my daughter’s unused tumblelog would be against the rules now if actually used. New language added after we created her blog says:

No individual under the age of thirteen (13) may use the Services or provide any information to Tumblr or otherwise through the Services (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number, or email address). You otherwise may only use the Services if you can form a binding contract with Tumblr and are not legally prohibited from using the Services.
You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We’re serious: it’s a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation, even if you’re 12.9 years old. If you’re younger than 13, don’t use Tumblr. Ask your parents for an Xbox or try books.

I must say, I do like the use of humor to make these dry, necessary documentations at least a little more interesting. There are a few other “hidden gems” in this one that more active users of the site noticed back when these terms were updated in March.  Gizmodo called them “the only likable terms of service we’ve ever seen.”

The age limitation seems a bit extreme at first when thinking of Tumblr as just a blogging platform, but as Mary Kay Hoal, founder of Yoursphere.com, points out “the fact of the matter is, Tumblr, like many websites, blog platforms and social networks, does not have the content filters or oversight in place to ensure a healthy experience for your child.”  And Persephone Magazine tells a tale of one mother shocked by the images of porn she found on her teenage daughter’s Tumblr dashboard.

So, I guess I need to find somewhere else to go if she does decide to pick back up the idea of a blog. I see platforms for teachers to use in the classroom like Kidblog.org or monitored blog sites like Kidzworld.com, but it’s full of ads.

Anyone out there have good suggestions for where the not-too-childish-but-still-somewhat-protected-pre-teen set can blog?

 Image via Creative Commons by Anne Harding

Hobos Didn’t Eat My Pet Duck, but The Bloggess’ Book Did Bring Back Memories

Let me start right off by saying there is no way I ever want to enter into a pissing match with Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess about who had the harder childhood.

Mine could never compete with the therapy-inducing “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel.” And for that, I’m thankful.

But, as I started reading her book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened last week, the chapter titled “My Childhood: David Copperfield Meets Guns & Ammo Magazine” did bring on my own set of flashbacks that I felt compelled to share, since, you know, it worked out for a book deal for The Bloggess and you just never know…

Early in my childhood we did get our water from a well. Not the kind Jack & Jill went to, but also not one with radon like Jenny’s family. And also, we moved up to “city water” not too many years later, so that doesn’t really count, other than just to say, I understand what “beige” water is like.

I, too, grew up with furniture dedicated to the storage of guns aka the gun cabinet. Ours was not just a free-standing cabinet, though, ours was built into the custom home my parents designed and we moved into when I was four. Not only did we have a built-in gun cabinent in the house, it was given a place of prominence in our living room – right behind the television. It did also include a bow and arrows, although my father did not use his as often as Jenny’s dad did.
Senior Banquet

I do know what it means to clean a deer, although standing in one is not something I had the misfortune to do. (read her book to find out more about that one) Luckily, the only wildlife I remember my father cleaning in our backyard was fish that were hung from the frame of an old swing set.

While my father was not a taxidermist like Jenny’s, he did do his part to keep them in business. In that same living room/main family room of the house with the gun cabinet, the walls were adorned with (from left to right in the picture here taken before my Senior Banquet) deer, javelina, antelope and bass. (not pictured – a turkey, too) I never really thought it unusual until friends visited from college. Didn’t everyone have stuffed animal heads on their wall? Oh, and did you catch that I called it Senior Banquet, not Prom? That’s because proms have dancing and we couldn’t have dancing. Seriously. I lived Footloose.

I, too, went to gather the chicken eggs once and found a snake. Well, no. That’s not really true. It turned out just to be an old biddy that wasn’t too happy I was sticking my hand up over my head into a box I couldn’t see in and into her business. Because I’d been warned enough that snakes could possibly be in the coop at my grandmother’s house in Arkansas, my childhood mind equated the squawk of the hen to the hiss of a snake and eggs went flying as I ran screaming into the house. My brothers must not have been around or I’m sure I’d still be hearing about it from them (along with the periodic torment I still receive over a Scooby Doo-induced nightmare).

And finally, hobos didn’t eat my pet duck, but I did eat the cow that I bottle-fed as a calf. I know that sounds harsh (and The Bloggess’ PETA friends will probably now come find me), but he had it coming. Oh sure, they start out all cute and sweet and you feel sorry for the poor little orphaned baby. Then, before you know it, the yearling is nearly as tall as you, weighs much more and thinks that butting you upside the barn wall is fun play. When you try to run away, the game becomes chase and when you look back to see how close he is on your heels you turn around just in time to see nothing but green as your face slams into the side of a John Deere combine. As you roll under the barbed wire fence to safety and notice the blood dripping from your nose, a steak dinner starts sounding pretty good.

I’m still reading the book, and laughing out loud, so there’s no telling what else might pop up that I feel compelled to share. Since the book I finished just prior to this one was “Fat is the New 30,” you’re forewarned that my Deep South roots may just start showing more than they have on this blog before.

What about you? Have any down-home stories to top these?

Would You Encourage Your Child Break the Law?

On first look, the headline of this post may seem like a black & white answer, but it’s really a loaded question according to some of the latest research released by social media scholar, youth researcher & advocate danah boyd.
Unintended consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

The recent release of  “Unintended consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act‘” by boyd, Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz and John Palfrey generated a lot of interest.

The blog All Facebook said that doing so was maybe “not as bad as parents buying beer for their kids under age 21 or cigarettes for those under 18,” but all three do require parents displaying a lack of respect for rules to the children they expect to follow their rules.

One commenter on that blog asked “how else are they going to stay in touch with their friends in this digital age?” Several others felt it was OK if they were actively monitoring their child’s site and had the account password (as if that couldn’t be changed when the kid decided to lock mom out).

But another raised a great point: “While I know that it seems safe to have a child on facebook and parents say they are monitoring their childs FB …I don’t know how many are ACTUALLY doing it. Or how many know how to effectively protect their child on facebook.”

This one, however, is the comment I think gets back to how grey the answer is to the seemingly black & white question I posed: “I have never thought about if i would break similar age rules in other areas. In almost every other area i would never even think about breaking the rules. Interesting why it’s ok with me with facebook… ”

So what rule is being broken? Well, there are really a couple of them. First is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mentioned in the research. This Act became effective back in April 2000 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
It basically says that if a website has visitors under 13 and collects any information from them it must use “reasonable procedures” to ensure they are getting permission from the child’s parent. These procedures may include:

  • obtaining a signed form from the parent via postal mail or facsimile;
  • accepting and verifying a credit card number;
  • taking calls from parents on a toll-free telephone number staffed by trained personnel;
  • email accompanied by digital signature;
  • email accompanied by a PIN or password obtained through one of the verification methods above.

All of those, however, require a certain amount of administration and personnel to manage that many social media outlets do not have or want to hire to make sure all the kids under 13 have parental permission. That’s why sites like Facebook simply say they don’t allow anyone under 13 on them.

And that is the second rule being deliberately broken by 68 percent of those surveyed in the research that reported their child joined Facebook before the age of 13.

It’s worth noting that this research was supported by Microsoft Research. This gives Digital Democracy the feeling that “this study is an industry-funded attack against the current FTC proceedings that will ensure that children cannot be targeted via mobile and location data services or be the victims of companies engaged in behavioral targeting.”

But, whether you are for or against COPPA, the fact that half (55%) of parents of 12-year-olds reported their child has a Facebook account, most (82%) knew when their child signed up, and most (76%) also assisted their 12-year old in creating the account should make you stop and ponder.

My own nine-year-old girl has friends who already have Facebook pages, so I’ve faced the request join those numbers. My stance is that the rule is 13, so not until she’s 13. Not to cast any stones at others, but simply because I want to set an example for her to follow rules.

Even though that’s my current position, we’ve still already had frequent talks about what she should or shouldn’t share online. Those who remember when the two of us were touring kids virtual worlds will know why. Although many protections are in place and as much as I try to monitor (like many parents of young Facebookers), I know I can’t always be there, so talking early and often is my plan.

What’s your plan for preparing your kids for online interactions? All suggestions welcome!

How is a parent ever to get it right?

Report Card with FI’ll skip to the end of this one and tell you what I think – we won’t.

Parents will never get child-rearing “right.”

This coming from the woman who when explaining through my teens and twenties that I had no intention of having children would use the axe murderer example as one reason. Whenever some serial killer is caught and examined, who’s always to blame? The parents. Most often the mother.

So, rather than risk creating a monster, my thought was that I just wouldn’t even try. (I had other reasons for not planning to have kids, too, that I won’t dive into today; but as anyone knows me knows, I learned to never say never.)

Are people’s murderous acts really caused by the parents, though? Not entirely. I’ll admit there are probably some people out there who royally screw up in the act of parenting, but even they can’t take full blame. There’s only so much nurture involved. Nature has to play a part. Look at the stories like the one behind “The Blind Side” where good people come out of bad childhoods. And, look at all the twins raised in the same household who are polar opposites of each other.

So, what has me off on this tangent today?  Well, I finally got around to reading an article from the Atlantic titled “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy” that I’ve had open in my browser for weeks it seems.
I like the way the author put it in her opening paragraph when she said:

“But in that space between Joan Crawford and June Cleaver, where most of us fall, it seemed like a lot could go wrong in the kid-raising department.”

So, I plunged into her article looking for what I might be doing wrong that I could fix. And, there were some insights to be gleaned: don’t shelter them too much from pain and disappointment, don’t confuse your own happiness with theirs, try to teach them perseverance and resiliency, and generally don’t protect them from reality.

Sounds easy enough. But oh how fuzzy that line looks to me between building self-esteem and building a narcissist. Should I not let her get in bed with us when she has a nightmare? Do I tell her too often how great she is? Oh my goodness! I think I’ve told her before that she can do anything she sets her mind to do! Arrrgh. Enter stress and worry.

And then, resignation. Yes, I will screw up.

It’s entirely possible that my child could end up in therapy one day in spite of and because of all my best efforts. And, it’s entirely possible that she’ll be a happy (well, mostly, because that reality I shouldn’t shield her from is we’re not always happy) well-adjusted contributing member of society.

Those of you in my “village” can only hope. 🙂

Image via Creative Commons courtesy of amboo who?