My daughter just turned 18.


She has moved into a whole new “check you age bracket” category!

Hoping to make this milestone birthday special, I asked (well in advance) if there was anything in particular she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday. Her response caught me off guard.

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“I want to register to vote.”

Not what I was expecting, but with all the hype surrounding the US presidential election I could see that perhaps she’d like to be a part of the vote.

“I mean like go out to dinner or something. The election isn’t until 2016. You have plenty of time to register before then.”

Wise and focused beyond her 18 years, my daughter explained that yes there was plenty of time before the presidential election, but voting isn’t just about helping to select a president. It is about shaping your community.

And then came the really eye opening statement, “It would be an insult to all the women in history who worked so hard to give me the right to vote. I have to vote as soon as I’m able.”


Guess what she did for her birthday?

She is now a registered voter.

Thanks to some very brave women, we will go to the polls together next month to vote for Town Council members.

don’t wait, do it

don't wait, do it

I have a friend who is fighting cancer. She is determined to win this battle and is doing everything in her power to make sure she is victorious, but that means aggressive treatment and painful recovery.

My friend has a wonderful spouse and three teenage children all of whom are a great source of support. As we were talking, pre- bone marrow transplant, about how she and her family were planning on coping, she said something that powerfully struck me:

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“I told my children, this is going to be tough, really tough. You’ll need to help out. If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it.”

If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it.

Dishwasher full?
Empty it.

Litter on the ground?
Pick it up.

Someone need a friend?
Be it.

Someone need help?
Offer it.

If we all adopted a bit more of doing without being asked, imagine what a difference we could make in the life of someone about which we care or even our world. Your children look to you. Lead by example.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it. Do it!

too young for social media?

too young for social media?

Q: My elementary school age child wants to have an Instagram account. Many of her friends already have one. Is she too young? I was thinking that if I made sure she used the privacy settings then it would be safe. Are there any other safety precautions I should take?

A: Safety precautions? Yes, tell her to wait.

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In high school, social media is used as a communication tool between students and school, classes, teachers, clubs etc. And to a degree this makes sense. In elementary school, however, this is not the case.

Does your daughter want a social media account because she feels pressure to keep up with peers? Or is she curious about how social media works?

If she is curious, then perhaps you could set up a family account, which she could help manage. If you chose to do this be very clear about what can and cannot be posted. You may even want to set up parameters about when, how often, and who may post.

But do not be misled: NOTHING IS TRULY PRIVATE ONLINE. Even if you click on all the privacy setting, nothing is truly private. There are some social media platforms which are linked in such a manner that if you “like” something which is “private” on one platform it may become public on the paired one- without your knowledge! Scary stuff.

If your daughter is asking for a social media account because she wants to keep up with her peers, then do her (and yourself) a favor: tell her that there are so many wonderful things to be a part of in elementary school without getting bogged down in social media. It is best to wait.

effective time out

effective time out

Q: We are using Time Out for our three year old and it doesn’t seem to be working. It seems like we are constantly putting him in Time Out and he still isn’t listening to us. How can we make Time Out work?

It sounds like you may be overusing Time Outs with your child. Just like with most things in life, if it is overused it loses effectiveness. Save Time Outs for situations when your child “needs a moment”. And frame it as such, not punishment, but more like a break.

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Time Out should be used as a time for your child (and perhaps you too) to step away from an escalating situation, take a deep breath, and calm down. It isn’t a time for a parental lecture. It isn’t really even a form of discipline. It is an opportunity to defuse and refresh.

Some children need only think about taking a moment and they are regrouped, but for others physical relocation and time are most certainly needed. A good rule of thumb for time is one minute for every year of age. After the set time talk with your child (not lecture) about how the two of you can handle the situation now that you both are calm.

Using Time Out as a calming down opportunity for young children is a great parenting option, but just be sure you aren’t over using Time Out.


painting by Lovis Corinth

teacher a good match?

teacher a good match?

Q: Everyone keeps telling me my child’s teacher is a bad match for my child. No one I’ve talked to likes the teacher, except my child. My child seems very happy. Last year’s teacher says I should go to the principal and get him switched. Should I?

A: Well, actually not everyone is telling you that the teacher isn’t a great match. Your child isn’t!

There are some teachers who are able to connect with their students, but their colleagues don’t get to see the connection. Some teachers interact more with students than their colleagues. And some teachers just rub other adults the wrong way. While these can be challenges, it may not affect the students in the least.

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You may feel better once you have experienced your child’s classroom setting and assessed your child’s happiness. Volunteer to help out in the class. Volunteering will give you the opportunity to observe your child in the classroom and help lighten the teacher’s workload.

Make sure you set up volunteering through the proper channels. Most schools you cannot simply show up and expect to volunteer- even if you would be very helpful.

And remember it is your child who you really want to observe, not the teacher. The school’s principal or other administration will take care of any teacher observing needed. That is their job.

Spend some time helping in your child’s classroom. You might find that your child is in a great learning environment, but even if you find otherwise you will be making informed decisions and not decisions based on the opinions of others.

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