Monday, October 28, 2013

bossing v partnering [part i] | a small idea from Raising Adults

Nobody likes to be around Bossy people. Bosses know everything; which is way too much. Whatever it is, they know how to do it—better than anyone else. They’re impatient with those who do things differently.
Bosses can be a big pain in the behind.
No, give me that towel! You’re not folding it right. This family has folded towels the same way for six generations: in thirds the short way, then in thirds the long way. How could you not know that? 
Note that How could you not know that? is in the form of a question. But there’s nothing sincere about it. Can you see anything in the context of this exchange that would make the kid believe his parent was an Explorer and not just pushy Boss? 
No, don’t turn here, this is the long way! Just pay attention; I’ll show you how to get there. 
The kid thinks: “Why don’t I just let you drive? In fact, let me out; I’ll catch the next bus.”
That’s not the way to load a dishwasher. You can get more in if you ... Oh, just give me the plate.
Truly: Does anyone really believe this is the path to raising an adult?
Seriously... If you’ve been Bossing, please give it rest. Humankind will thank you. I promise.

— from Raising Adults

Sunday, October 27, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 10.26.13

resentment + theology

High/Low | what college students expect to earn (in dollars) by majors 

pick a side | Jon Stewart on the American financial press 

Is divorce contagious? Findings from the longitudinal Framingham Heart Study suggest the answer may be yes

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

resentment + theology

Martin Marty, who often makes me think twice, offers up this nugget from John R. Bowlin (in Jeffrey Stout's book, Democracy and Tradition):

Resentment is easy. Theology is hard.

I can't stop thinking about this the last couple of days...

Monday, October 21, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 10.19.13

Am I pretty or ugly? Online trolls + creepers respond to someone they think is 15 years old

Common Sense Media takes a swing at parents' top 10 questions about cyber-bullying 

fixing v. collaborating [part iii] | a small idea from Raising Adults

Lemony Snicket, still at it again 

Computerworld | Facebook loosens its rules on teen privacy 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

fixing v. collaborating [part iii] | a small idea from Raising Adults

Instead of Fixing, try Collaborating. The Fixer follows an expedient path to short-term good. The Collaborator imagines a time when he won’t be on hand to fix things or a circumstance too complicated to be simply fixed.
The Collaborator—who is also an Explorer by the way—begins with questions designed to find out what the child knows. One of the great things about collaborating is it’s equally valuable in both positive experiences or negative—learning—experiences. Kids can learn to repeat positive experiences and avoid negative ones. The collaboration is virtually the same.
Here are the three Big Questions for the Collaborator:
What? Why? How?
What do you think happened? This is not a technique, it’s a honest inquiry, so don’t get hung up on the wording. What do you think happened? or Tell me about it. or What stands out for you from that experience? are all fine variations on the theme. Whatever words you use you’re inviting your child (or student, or employee) to put a name on her experience. The subject might be a disagreement or a book, a film or a lecture or a close call on the highway. Doesn’t matter. What matters is hearing what the kid thinks she experienced.
Why do you think it happened? Once he’s identified what seems to have happened your kid is ready to assign meaning to the experience. The essential question is Why, out of all the possible outcomes, did this one occur? Why do you think you identified more closely with that character in the book than with the others? The answer to which tells the Collaborator and the child something neither may have known before the question was posed. Why do you think you misunderstood your sister? invites a consideration of why he heard something other than what she said. Why do you think you overestimated the amount of gas in the tank? calls for an assessment of decision-making skills and wishful thinking. 
How do you think you could repeat this success (or avoid this failure)? This is the money question. If a child can answer this question, the learning cycle is complete because now she can take purposeful action to repeat success or avoid failure. She may or may not be emotionally prepared to take the action. But whether she does or doesn’t the Collaborator will have a chance to repeat the same process next time, celebrating success or commiserating with failure. In either case, if the kid can answer the What? Why? and How? questions she’s a step closer to intelligent independence.
The beauty of Collaborating is you don’t have to do it forever. Eventually, you can help your child see what you’ve been doing (and how and why you do it). Then in most situations she can take over the process herself.
In more formal learning situations I frequently ask the What? Why? and How? questions this way: 
What’s the most significant thing you heard or thought about in this session? 
Why do you think that’s so important? 
How do you think you might apply that to your life?” 
When I teach kids this process I make a guarantee. I say: If you answer these three questions at the end of every class session and reading assignment, you’ll raise your grade by half a point to a point. I’ve made this promise for many years, and I’ve never had to take it back.
You may notice these questions are centered on the kid rather than the adult. There are two reasons for this. First, the Collaborator is asking a question she doesn’t already have the answer to. 
Otherwise it would be a trap. 
Second, I’ve come to believe that people learn what they can learn—what they’re prepared to learn—rather than what they’re supposed to learn. It would be great if we all learned sequentially, one thing after another until we knew it all. That’s not the case. Complex learning is more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It’s non-sequential and associative. So when a kid is asked to describe his own perceptions of an event his answers are correct by definition: 
This is what I thought was happening.
This is why I thought so.
It may be that his perceptions are inaccurate—he thought the digital clock said 11:10 p.m. when it actually said  1:10 a.m. So of course he was shocked to find out he was two hours late. Is there reason to believe he falsified his story? If not, he needn’t be punished for a misperception. Of course that doesn’t mean he won’t still pay the price of a broken agreement. But that’s a judgment call for his parent.
Whenever we ask, What do you think happened? we get another view of our child’s learning curve. We get to compare where we thought he was on the curve, with where he really seems to be with where he’s supposed to be.
That creates a matrix that’s updated every time we process a significant event, whether positive or negative. And if we can effectively process a negative event it’s likely to become positive. That’s what we call learning from our mistakes.

— from Raising Adults

Sunday, October 13, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 10.12.13

A totally unscientific look at a 10-year-old using social media [AdAge] 

imagine | crashing the global economy on principle...

in plain speech | who's shutdown is this?

food for thought | Mickey D's will include books in 20MM Happy Meals Nov 1-14—that's a lot of Happy Meals...

fixing v. collaborating [part ii] | a small idea from Raising Adults

Parents say time with kids is more rewarding than paid work—and more exhausting

Thursday, October 10, 2013

fixing v. collaborating [part ii] | a small idea from Raising Adults

Fixers come in every size, color and shape. Rich, poor, and right down the middle. A fair amount of fixing is done out of guilt by parents who are otherwise disengaged.
I remember the sad outrage my young friends expressed after a classmate’s suicide. The kid drove off the end of a bluff, much as Thelma and Louise would shortly thereafter. But there was no one chasing this girl. The others couldn’t believe her parents were so dense. She’d already totaled two vehicles in single car accidents, but her father and mother just didn’t get it. They dutifully replaced the first car with a second, sturdier one. And they replaced the second car with the one she used to kill herself.
I suppose that’s an extreme case. Nothing like that probably ever happened in another family. Probably wouldn’t ever happen again. 
Another kid I knew stacked her empties in the bedroom closet. From time to time her mother cleaned them out without a word. The mom told me she wanted her daughter to know she was aware the drinking. What she didn’t want was the confrontation. Of course that inevitably came when the kid got so strung out she couldn’t function any longer. When things finally unraveled the girl said she couldn’t understand why her mom ignored her for so long.
The stories multiply in my head.
An adolescent girl who tortured and killed frogs and insects to gross out her parents and friends around the family pool, eventually killed herself. Everyone wondered why she was so angry. But no one ever asked. 
Another came home from a trip to find all her laxatives and diuretics—the medicinal part of her anorexia—neatly arranged on her dresser. The girl put the drugs back in the closet and continued her eating disorder, feeling more alone than ever. Years of physical and emotional harm passed before she started ironing that out with her mom woman-to-woman. 
Fixing doesn’t fix a thing. At best, it postpones the inevitable. At worst, it’s deadly.
I killed a mouse yesterday. I didn’t relish the task so I did it quickly. I did it because the mouse was caught in a trap, its back leg caught when the metal bar snapped shut. 
The little guy was moving around pretty good on three legs, trying to get free, but I could see it wasn’t going anywhere. My mind flashed to another mouse in another trap. 
That one didn’t belong inside either; that was the point of the snare. But it was moving about so vigorously in the trap that I took it outside, figuring it would hobble away, lesson learned. It seemed like a good fix. A couple of hours later I went outside to be sure it got away. It didn’t. I found it convulsed in pain, swarmed by ants crawling in and out of it’s mouth and nose. I felt sick. I feel sick remembering it now.
So yesterday I killed a mouse because there was no good fix. I didn’t relish the task so I did it quickly.
Just in case you are overly literal: I’m not suggesting we set traps for children. I’m using unpleasant imagery to say our kids can’t afford to have us fix things for them. Because it’s a trap and they may not be able to survive it. What they require from us is honesty, accountability, decisive action, compassionate love. 
If for a month you refuse to bail your kid out, he’ll be surprised, then angry, then hurt, and then he’ll slowly accept that it’s not your job to fix things for him. 
And in case you were wondering, don’t expect him to say thanks...not right away.

— from Raising Adults

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

crashing the global economy on principle...

"...imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform. I think it’s fair to say that Republicans would not think that was appropriate."  
President Obama, 10.08.13

Monday, October 07, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 10.05.13

ObamaCare | find out what will health coverage cost you

fixing v. collaborating [part i] | a small idea from Raising adults 

Breaking News: Millennial parents behave a lot know...parents. 

the work we have chosen to do together 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

the work we have chosen to do together

An Open Letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren

If you watch the anarchist tirades coming from extremist Republicans in the House, you'd think they believe that the government that governs best is a government that doesn't exist at all.

But behind all the slogans of the Tea Party – and all the thinly veiled calls for anarchy in Washington – is a reality: The American people don't want a future without government.

When was the last time the anarchy gang called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children's toys? Or for inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in our babies?

When? Never. In fact, whenever the anarchists make any headway in their quest and cause damage to our government, the opposite happens.

After the sequester kicked in, Republicans immediately turned around and called on us to protect funding for our national defense and to keep our air traffic controllers on the job.

And now that the House Republicans have shut down the government – holding the country hostage because of some imaginary government "health care boogeyman" – Republicans almost immediately turned around and called on us to start reopening parts of our government.

Why do they do this? Because the boogeyman government in the alternate universe of their fiery political speeches isn't real. It doesn't exist.

Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
  1. Provide for the national defense.
  2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
  3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
These things did not appear by magic. In each instance, we made a choice as a people to come together. We made that choice because we wanted to be a country with a foundation that would allow anyone to have a chance to succeed.

The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the white pills we take are antibiotics and not baking soda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees crash tests to make sure our new cars have functioning brakes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes sure that babies' car seats don't collapse in a crash and that toasters don't explode.

We are alive, we are healthier, we are stronger because of government. Alive, healthier, stronger because of what we did together.

We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is, "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air, or toxic mortgages.

We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation.

The political minority in the House that condemns government and begged for this shutdown has its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, its day will pass – and the government will get back to the work we have chosen to do together.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

fixing v. collaborating [part i] | a small idea from Raising Adults

The line between actions and consequences is severely blurred for most kids because, by and large, they don’t understand the general principle of cause and effect.
They don’t understand cause and effect because the adults in their lives constantly come behind them to fix things when they screw up.
This problem is complicated by idle threats and equally idle promises. 
If you’re a good boy at the store (whatever that means), I’ll buy you a treat, is a promise that’s easily lost in the excuse: It’s too close to dinner; you’ll spoil your appetite.
Not fair! Sure, we have to be concerned for a kid’s nutritional we’d better take care to not make idle promises in exchange for compliant behavior.
All right, that’s it! One more word out of you and we’re going straight home!
Really? You’re going to load everybody back onto the bus and go straight home? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do exactly that if it fits the situation. But please don’t threaten to do it if you know you can’t live with the consequences of following through. 
If I say: Stop nagging! You kids are killing me! I should have the decency to die the next time one of them nags. Otherwise, it’s just an idle promise. 
More to the point is the fact that, not wanting our kids to experience pain, many of us are quick rescue them from the consequences of their failures and wrongdoing. 
When they’re young we easily replace a toy carelessly lost or broken in anger and shield children from the cost of their actions. Time passes and we drop what we’re doing to deliver an item thoughtlessly left behind so a middle-schooler won’t suffer a loss of prestige or miss a meal or fail to turn in a paper on time. Still later, we cover a negligently overdrawn checking account or pay a traffic ticket and insurance increase resulting from a moving violation, or foot the bill for whatever we believe will rescue our little knucklehead from a ruined life. 
And they resent us for it. Maybe not in the moment, but soon, and forever until we make it right.

— from Raising Adults