Wednesday, April 30, 2014

high-control parenting | a small idea from Raising Adults

Around the household, High Control is not the opposite of Out-of-Control.
High Control says no before the question is finished. There’s nothing to talk about, really; the rules are clear. There’s no room for interpretation because there’s no need for interpretation. If a child can’t grasp that, he certainly can’t be trusted to operate outside the rules now can he?
Controlling is neat, clean, and counterproductive. A child who perceives his parents are too controlling—especially if he thinks the control is hostile—tends toward resistance, aggressiveness, destructiveness, acting out sexually, and a bit of his own hostility.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying High Permissiveness is any better. For reasons that may or may not be obvious to a child, the permissive adult sets no boundaries. 
To be sure, it’s hard to find an adult who’ll admit she doesn’t set boundaries. I set limits, she’ll say. The kids just ignore them. Reminds me of the No Trespassing signs where I hunted small game with my boyhood pals. The signs were posted on barbed wire fences which we figured were there to keep cattle in—not to keep us out. 
So we climbed most of those fences. But not all. We learned which signs were for real by the consequences attached to being caught on the wrong side of the fence. 
Children who believe their parents are too permissive feel out of control in a different way than those who believe their parents are too strict. A child in overly permissive circumstances is likely to be manipulative, disrespectful, unmotivated, excessive, and unable to draw boundaries between herself and others.

Friday, April 25, 2014

sophisticated innocents iv | a small idea from Raising Adults

Most kids are equal parts Sophisticate and Innocent—except when they’re not. There are pristine moments when children seem completely, achingly unspoiled. Other times they appear as hard as slum lords. Been there, done that, hated it, bought the t-shirt just to be ironic. This can be awfully confusing for parents and other adults who care. And even more confusing for kids with a foot in both worlds.
Trying to protect the young from exposure to the world they live in is about as useful as putting a wetsuit on a dolphin. It’s too late; they’re already wet. What we can do is create the sort of consequential environments that help kids keep their heads above water.
Mostly adults fail to insulate kids from toxic influences—instead, we rescue them. We make it easy to engage in high-risk behaviors, then bail kids out so they don’t learn from the natural results of their mistakes and misdeeds. Life without consequences is confounding. When kids act out they get confused if there’s no equal and opposite reaction from the adults who care for them. If they don’t learn about cause and effect until something VERY BIG is at stake, the consequences can be crushing.

That’s why it’s so important to create an appropriately consequential environment for children; and I say create because it can’t be bought off-the-shelf—you have to cook it up at home from a family recipe. This requires thought and attention to minding the stove.
There are two kinds of consequences: Natural Consequences and Logical Consequences.
Natural Consequences flow directly out of the circumstances in a cause and effect relationship. Natural consequences are beautiful because you don’t have to think them up; they just are

Sunday, April 20, 2014

sophisticated innocents iii | a small idea from Raising Adults

One of the great misdirections of our age is the notion that sexual sophistication equals maturity. And regarding the details of sexual expression many of our children are singularly sophisticated, deftly parsing the subtle differences between hooking up, fooling around and friends with benefits.
It is a sad sophistication. Just as they never knew a world without wonderful high-tech appliances, our children never knew a world without high-risk sex, dangerous blood and the dangers associated with chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, HPV and HIV/AIDS. In fairness, at this stage of the game most kids are considerably more careful than their parents at the same age. Those who aren’t may pay a heavy price.
It’s worth noting that among kids who engage in early sexual activity are quite a few who, like those who took up smoking during and after the disclosure of the tobacco companies’ criminal activities, are pressing an agenda that has little to do with clear thinking and just about everything to do with wishing to be taken seriously. They’re not wrong to want that.
+ + +
Mike Yaconelli was fond of saying that crap detection is the spiritual gift of adolescents.*
Most kids believe almost nothing they hear and only half of what they see. This is probably a good thing because I don’t think we can fully protect children from what Al Franken called lies and the lying liars who tell them
For better or worse—or both—most kids learn what it takes to survive crazy families and social systems. Namely: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, Don’t Feel. The better part of learning that is what keeps kids from harming themselves irreparably; the worse part is that they’re lead to believe not talking, trusting and feeling is normal in human relationships (which may predispose them to repeat the same madness when it’s their turn—or surrender hope and opt out of committed relationships). So I’m not saying this is a healthy adaptation; only that it is a way of coping.

in the wind | tweets in the space ending 04.19.14

27% of US kids 15-17 report ever having sex; 83% of them report no sex ed before 1st sex

Common Sense Media | 6 Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share  Secrets 

If your child is obese at age 10 | anticipating additional direct medical costs

this may not be what you heard | what the Journal of Neuroscience said about a new study on occasional marijuana use

in adults 25+, more education sharply lowers smoking + at least moderately raises drinking

sophisticated innocents ii | a small idea from Raising Adults

waiting for the end | a poem before Easter  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

waiting for the end | a poem before Easter

If they wait for anything
It is a pounding at the door
when the authorities come

There is no expectant hypervigilance here
No anticipation
No eagerness
No hope


They are no longer thirteen
The strongest fled
The cleverest melted into the night
The best
is dead and buried now
They are ten

There is no way this ends well
They are not waiting for good news
They have no way of knowing
No grounds for conceiving
No frame for seeing
how this day will be called
Holy Saturday

Thursday, April 17, 2014

sophisticated innocents ii | a small idea from Raising Adults

Content is transparent.
Content comes at us—young and old—all day every day across multiple channels from sources known and unknown. Not thinking about content is easier by far than thinking about it. Not thinking about content can be hazardous in a world where ideas are peddled like soft drinks. 
Thinking about content is learned. Winnowing the wheat from the ideological chaff is another mature skill learned by contact with mature thinkers.
The media themselves are by definition neutral delivery platforms. There’s nothing inherently moral about a computer or a movie projector. It’s the content that makes the difference. A lot of adults pay too much attention to the platforms and too little attention to the content they deliver. Kids tend to take adult cues on this and, since the tech is already transparent to them, they often encounter content without assessing its value.
When it comes to violent, sexual and linguistic content, most kids are sophisticated in ways that would have made their great-grandfathers turn away and their great-mothers swoon. We’d be hard-pressed to find a media culture that exposes it’s children to more, or protects them less. There’s almost nothing they won’t see or hear sooner or later. 
By the time he’s seven, the average American child has seen more shocking sexual images than his great grandparents saw in a lifetime. 
—H. Stephen Glenn, in a live presentation circa 1990 (well before the internet became a conduit for photographs and videos)
There’s no point in pretending this isn’t true. There’s also no point in blaming the media—the computers and broadband and digital video players. There is a point—and a challenge and an opportunity—to teach kids to understand the content those media transmit. Because, when it comes to choosing content most kids are as unsophisticated as a two-year-old toddling about putting things in his mouth. He doesn’t yet know that just because it fits doesn’t mean it belongs there.
Don’t blame the kids. Children don’t create much content. I’ve never known a child pornographer*—just as there are no grade school drug lords or gun runners. Kids consume what adults generate and they tend to acquire their consumption habits by observing significant adults.
Given our cultural conversation on the subject of financial gain, I expect adults will keep selling what children and other people buy. And given our bent toward self-indulgence I expect children will continue buying what’s available... This is not a virtuous circle.
Our society, at the present time, is so caught up by the admiration of success that anything people get away with is admired. We’re a sick society in that respect. 
—George Soros, Rolling Stone, 12.98-1.99, page 137

Our job as parents, youth workers, teachers and the like, includes training kids to make mature choices about content.
— from Raising Adults

I suppose it’s possible that wide access to mobile phone cameras may call this assessment into question. I imagine it’s just a matter of time till a grade school child is accused of obscenity.

Monday, April 07, 2014

in the wind | tweets in the space ending 04.05.14

interesting arc | editorial staff discuss NYT piece on talking with kids about porn

Stop right there | a soul-killing special tax on dark-skinned Americans 

Social Combat | a challenging new study on peer victimization at school 

What actually happened | Sinner90 asked: "Teens of Reddit what's cool nowadays?" 

sophisticated innocents | a small idea from Raising Adults

Thursday, April 03, 2014

sophisticated innocents part i | a small idea from Raising Adults

Can you imagine a generation of children with greater access to technology, information and experience? 
Most of our children never knew a day without personal digital music players, video gaming, personal computers, mobile phones and video cameras, recorders and players—often all combined in a single device. Kids rely on technology, no questions asked. Digital media are in their blood. As a class, kids are as comfortable on the internet as adults are with the channel changer and telephone—and just about as uncomfortable without it. Kids hardly think about technology. They don’t have to; it’s transparent; it just is.
And isn’t transparency what sophistication is about? When something is so ordinary I don’t have to think about it, I don’t. And if I don’t think about it, it really is a no-brainer. Sometimes that’s good (breathing comes to mind). Other times, not so much. Culture comes to mind.
Most kids grow up multicultural in ways that just a generation ago would have shocked everyone but the children of missionaries, soldiers, spies and diplomats. I think that’s good. There’s no turning back from globalization and I don’t want to backtrack. One Planet, One People and all that.
By the mid-90s Douglas Coupland was writing about “global teens” for whom passports and clearing customs were no big deal. Our youngsters travel farther and more frequently than any generation before them. They can afford to, because travel is so cheap compared to prior generations. The craziness of terrorism and America’s fall from international grace may have slowed all that somewhat but nothing, apparently, can stop it. The internet certainly plays its part—kids connecting with kids around the globe on a 24-hour clock. And digital media make it possible for anyone to follow the news from anywhere—good or bad—in a matter of hours...if not minutes...if not live.
Even if our children don’t go to the world, the world comes to our children—and not just Europeans (that is so 19th century). These days North American kids meet Asians, Central and South Americans, Africans, Islanders—people from everywhere. And they very likely have classmates born on this continent of parents who were born elsewhere. Not that there are no ethnic ghettos left but for the most part ghetto populations are aging, and everywhere from city centers to suburbs our children are exposed to a great feast of world music, clothing, food and cultural mashups. 
All this exposure makes our children the most sophisticated lot in the history of humankind.
It follows that the more exposure kids have to people in the subcultures that border their own, and the earlier that exposure begins, the more naturally they build relationships across boundaries that once seemed clear and permanent to their grandparents. This does not mean kids understand other cultures. There’s every indication they don’t and that they take their friends’ cultural identities for granted. Unexamined relationships across subcultures can be fragile. Xenophobia lurks just below the surface of the relational grid, and racism is not dead (though it’s certainly sick). 
Learning to observe and understand and value other cultures and subcultures has a great deal to do with possessing the skills to perceive, understand and value one’s own culture. Developing that skill set is not a transparent no-brainer; it’s a process best learned in the company of personally and culturally mature adults. This of course raises the question: Does my child have access to such people? and, If not, how can we connect with such people and learn together?
All of which is to say it’s possible to be very sophisticated in terms of exposure and yet remain quite innocent—meaning, quite naive—about the significance of what we’ve observed and experienced but not yet understood. 
— from Raising Adults