“They’re just texting…”

1 Comment

I have posted before in attempts to understand and discuss the impacts of texting and “instant” messaging on youth.  As parents, we attempt to monitor who are children are associating with — in person, via devices, and online. When children are younger, it may be easier to chat about the experiences and communications that they are having with friends – both positive and negative.  When they are older and relationships become “romantic”, it gets a bit more challenging.  Experiences and communication become more private from parents.  Parents may also try to give more “space” and privacy.  It can be a tough and delicate balance though.

I often hear the messages of “letting kids fail/fall/make mistakes”, etc.  I believe kids can learn from bad experiences and relationships just as much as good ones.  They have to navigate friendships and relationships and learn from that too.  The advice to parents may also be: “Let them figure it out for themselves”.  But does this serve well as support for their “instant connecting” worlds?  How do parents know when things go too far or become unhealthy given all that can be “unseen” with communication technologies?  How do they know when to intervene and how?  I am not sure there is enough discussion or clear advice available on this, especially when kids are in their late teens and in relationships.  Are there conversations that need to happen sooner?

This is my attempt to provide some support and useful reading.  I may add to the list over time ahead:

Know the Signs:  Spotlight on Nonstop and Excessive Texting

Text Messaging:  Effects on Romantic Relationships and Social Behavior

Obsessive 24/7 Texting From a Partner or Ex Isn’t Cute

In(ternet) Love: Have a Healthy Online Relationship (a lot of good resources for relationships on this site… do explore for other relevant topics)

12 Alarming Ways Texting Controls Modern Relationships

MediaSmarts recently posted a guide for post-secondary students.  I think it is excellent and practical, as well as useful for parents to read or have handy as a resource:

On The Loose: A Guide to Life Online For Post-Secondary Students

The Impact of Cell Phones on Romantic Relationships

Have you got other useful resources or articles? Please suggest!

 

Show Time

2 Comments

A mix of TV series trivia, silliness, and nostalgia in this post…

Like many families, we often watch certain movies and TV shows with our children — simply for the fun and shared experience of watching them together.  We did this throughout our children’s younger years and it somehow continued as they became young adults.

This past year, without really planning to, we started watching Grey’s Anatomy together each week.  When the show’s season ended in May, we seemed to need something else to keep this viewing time together going.  Since we had recently bought the entire (and only) season of My So-called Life on DVD, my husband and I suggested that.  The girls were skeptical at first (“that’s your old show…” ).  Early in our marriage, my husband and I watched the TV series, Thirtysomething. When we learned that My So-Called Life was created by the same producers, we tuned in.  We were new parents at that time and we thoroughly enjoyed the show during our quieter evenings… until it was cancelled suddenly after one season!  One of the reasons for the cancellation may have been because it competed in the same time slot as the series, “Friends”.  We weren’t big fans of that series, so #mscl it was. (I was surprised to find an active hashtag for the show on Twitter!)

And it turns out, our girls got hooked on #mscl and the characters.  We managed to watch the whole season over the course of the summer.  Although my husband and I recalled many of the episodes well, we still enjoyed the revisit to the stories.  As a family, we laughed, cried and discussed.  I think the girls were quite impressed to watch Jared Leto in his first TV gig.  And just like when we watched it over 20 years ago, the show still captured the essence of high school “hell”, teen angst, and the complexities of relationships.  Our daughters’ reactions and comments confirmed that.  We also had to smile when they commented about the situations that the teens got themselves in and out of… “without cell phones”.  So that led to a few stories of our own teen years to share.  We had also forgotten that the teens on the show inserted “like” a lot into their verbal communication.  Did that, like, start in, like, the 90s? 🙂

It was great that the show still led to many insights and affirmations about being a teenager for our girls, as it did for us in the past.  It captured teen angst, but also parenting angst as well!  I suspect that our girls may have gained some insight and appreciation of their parents as both people and parents.  It was nice to experience a sense that “some things don’t change” when it can seem that so much has.  From the back of the DVD case, “Whether you’ve memorized every line, or it’s your very first time, My So-called Life remains as fresh and honest today as when it premiered”.  I definitely agree!

So if this winter gets long, you can borrow our DVD 🙂  We also enjoyed checking out some related youtube videos about the show and the characters:

What happened to the cast of My So-Called Life

The Collected Wisdom of Angela Chase

Angela and Jordan – The Hallway Scene

The Evolution of Jared Leto: From My So-Called Life’s’ Jordan Catalano to Oscar Nominee

What old shows or movies have become new again for your family?

 

 

 

Paths and Gaps: Part 2

Leave a comment

IMG-20150419-01168 (3)

In January of last year, I wrote Graduation Caps and Gaps.  I included some discussion about life after K-12 schooling and following paths and passions.  I referred to a few other related posts written by others.  I also discussed the “gap year” in that post.  Somewhere in between that post in January and June of last year, our own 2 adult children had decided, with our support, to take a “gap year” before post-secondary and graduate studies.  We, individually and as a family, have been reflecting about the past year and its outcomes.  We used the list of the benefits of a gap year which I provided in my January post (although the full article I linked is not accessible now):

  • experience the world of work in a real way
  • become more mature
  • become more independent and experienced in your decision-making
  • clarify your study and career future, and make new or more informed decisions
  • work with people from different walks of life
  • experience different types of workplaces
  • learn new skills.

We feel quite confident that the past year of work and life experiences has provided our daughters with these benefits and more.  However, the year was not without some doubts that the choice was the best.  We may not even realize all pros and cons until a later time.  But now we are looking ahead to the planning and tasks that come with heading back to school and moving. It seems to be the right timing again and comes with some renewed excitement.  It has mostly worked out for our family, but I am not saying that it would be the right choice for all.  There is a lot to consider, eg.: knowing and listening to your children, the family situation, the opportunities in the community, personal goals, etc.

I thought this article (provided by a university in the UK) was another good one on the topic, Take a Break? The pros and cons of a gap year, but a search for “gap year benefits and disadvantages” will prompt a number of articles and resources.

(photo credit: me ~ taken during a family trip to Vancouver)

 

 

Raising Adults

4 Comments

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that as another school year ends there is an increase in articles about the state of parenting and also how children are spending their time.  I know I could choose not to read them, but I see such articles shared a lot online. It can be easy to point to —- (insert various labels or styles of) parenting as causing increased rates of anxiety, depression, low-resilience, entitlement, risky behaviour (or not enough risk-taking), etc.  Some offer solutions or better strategies.  Here are two articles I read recently about a new book, How to Raise an Adult:

What Overparenting Looks Like from a Stanford Dean’s Perspective (an excerpt from the book)

How to Raise an Adult (a review of the book)

The latter ends with a quote from the author of the book,

When parents laugh and enjoy the moment but also teach the satisfaction of hard work, when they listen closely but also give their children space to become who they are, they wind up with kids who know how to work hard, solve problems and savor the moment, too. In other words, get a life, and your child just might do the same someday.”

Sounds simple enough, but…

I talk with many parents now with older and adult children.  Not all did the “bad” parenting behaviours often listed in various articles, yet their adult children are experiencing anxiety and other personal struggles as they try to take on more independent living.  There is a lot of uncertainty — in post-secondary options, career planning, job stability, living affordability, etc.  Young adults have absorbed many “messages” and expectations from schools, the workplace, family, peers, media, etc., and have to sort all that out.  We have numerous conversations about this in my own family.  It can be quite annoying when an 18 year old says, “I can do what I want — I am an adult now”… yet they clearly aren’t and haven’t taken on adult responsibilities and independence yet.  This can be frustrating and discouraging for everyone.

I have posted previously about the hasty judgement of parents without taking the time to understand their context.  I still wonder if the state of society and schools should be examined more often to clarify the ways parenting can be a response to certain conditions, expectations, and the “promises” of success.  What are parenting “trends” a response to… rather than causing… ?  Can the focus become more about changing the state of society and communities rather than the state or approach of parenting?

I need a bigger picture of what is impacting youth and young adults rather than just analyzing parenting.  Are parenting articles and books really helpful, or do they just stress out parents even more?  Let me know if you read the book!

 

 

Adjusting the sail…

6 Comments

I am not sure why this song became a bedtime lullaby at our house in the day. I did enjoy Karla Bonoff’s singing of it myself for many years. I doubt I sang it that well, but one’s own kids don’t usually mind, right? I still find it soothing. I found myself listening to it yesterday. It has been many years since we tucked our girls in with a song and a story. I am now officially a parent of adult children. Yesterday our oldest boarded a flight to a much bigger city – first time by herself. Tomorrow our youngest has a driving lesson…  Yes, the days of parenting can seem long… the years go by fast, but yet I feel like we are still navigating wide new waters as parents and providing different supports. We gradually cross less and less water with them, but still provide paddles and sails as needed. It is a different part of the voyage, but it can still feel right too.

The water is wide…

Transition Time

6 Comments

And it is done.  My youngest wrote her last exam for Gr. 12 this morning.  There is one more graduation party … but I think it is official enough in terms of my role: I am no longer a parent within the K-12 education system.  Seventeen years… with the most recent 10 years being involved in school councils and Parent Involvement Committees.  I am sure I will have a lot to process and reflect on ahead still, but since most of my blogging and sharing has been through the lens of a parent advocate in education and I not sure what it means ahead for this blog — not that anyone is on the edge of their seat waiting for me to post 🙂  I don’t know what I would advise a new parent to the system at this point — I think each parent decides and finds their own path in this.  It is too bad that parent involvement in education can be subject to much judgement.

I am grateful for a number of people who were supportive and appreciative of my path and navigation of the education system through these years.  As confusing and conflicting it could seem some days, I have made some great friendships that I know will continue.  I am also grateful for many individuals who encouraged, supported, and engaged with my blogging efforts.  It has been a great “go to place” to bring and exchange thoughts, responses and experiences.  I still have posted at the top that my blog is “A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education”.  I know I have already departed from that in some posts.  Maybe I will just add “life”.  Regardless of whether I blog and share much ahead, I still look forward to being inspired by others.

Happy summer…. keep on…. thanks for reading!

School Dress Codes

5 Comments

There have been numerous news articles and headlines circulating lately about issues arising from dress codes in schools.  I think these issues frequently and regularly come up in schools, especially in high schools and once the warmer weather arrives near the end of the school year.  The situations are not always easy to sort out and resolve, especially when there isn’t enough time for proactive dialogue and planning about a school or district’s dress code.  I thought this articleDress codes are a thorny subject for many schools, captured many of the contentious areas quite well.  The “fingertip” rule is one that has always bothered me.  For example, one of my daughters was always taller compared to her peers and has really long arms.  If she followed the fingertip rule, she would have had to wear shorts a lot longer than many of her classmates.  I hope that it is no longer the case that girls are lined up at the beginning of the school day to do the fingertip test.  The article suggests that school uniforms are one solution, but does that really address the issues?

In Ontario, one of the required consultations to be done with school councils includes dress codes. Whether the policy is at board or school level – the school council is to be consulted (Reg. 612/00 (19); Reg, 298 (11: 19) ).  I often think that many issues could be avoided if this consultation and dialogue occurred near the beginning of the school year.  But how often does it?  Given that parents, students, community and staff have representation on the school council and are expected to bring matters of consultation to the attention of their school community, this could be a great opportunity to create a good policy and be more proactive and inclusive to support development and buy in.  At the secondary level, a student rep must be on a school council — so another good opportunity for that member to reach out to the students at the school.  Here is a great approach that involved students in the process as captured in this video.

Also, this is a blog post that I often share when the topic of wearing hats in schools comes up.  It captures some good considerations as well.

I recognize that guidelines or codes can be helpful, but I think they need to be flexible as well (and not create more grey areas).  Perhaps they need to reflect each season at the time and other community-specific factors.  If you have any examples of dialogue, consultations or steps that led to good outcomes for a school dress code, please share.

Older Entries