Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Service of Enough is Enough: When Should the Familial Milk of Human Kindness Cease?

Monday, March 13th, 2023


Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay 

I disagree with part of the response New York Times Ethicist columnist philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah gave generous grandparents who wrote him about their “rude and ungrateful” youngest grandchild. The 17-year-old never thanked them for the educational trust they set up for her college tuition nor for recent birthday gifts and she ignores them at family gatherings. Her mother—their daughter—said the young woman was simply being a teen [though none of the other grandchildren behave this way] and not to confront her with how her behavior hurts their feelings.

I agree with this part of his response: “You have an independent relationship with this teenager; if you think your daughter’s recommendation is mistaken, you can tell her so and let her know you’re going to talk to your granddaughter about your concerns.”

He recommends that if they do speak with the brat, [my choice of words], the conversation “shouldn’t be accusatory or aggrieved; you can ask if you’ve done anything to make her feel distant from you, while emphasizing how much you care about her.” This is me: She may not like them for no other reason than that they annoy her. Personalities clash. It happens. They might want to prepare themselves to hear that–or nothing.

This is the part of Appiah’s response that I disagree with. The philosopher wrote: “Precisely because your financial generosity to your granddaughter is an expression of familial love, it shouldn’t be part of this discussion. The real problem with reducing your largess is that if she then mended her ways, you would all end up wondering whether you had effectively purchased her displays of affection. This could permanently damage your relationship with her. Authentic gratitude is what you’re entitled to, and it isn’t for sale.”

I think the faucet of their kindness should be turned off posthaste. I’d go a step further. The entitled youngster should be told that there are countless students who would be grateful for help to cover their tuition. The grandparents should tell her that they have donated the money in the trust for her to XYZ university for that purpose. They should honor her future birthdays with a card. This way there would be no doubt, should the youngster change the way she treats her grandparents, that she’s doing it for the money.

Am I too harsh? How many times should relatives be expected to turn the other cheek?

Image by genielutz from Pixabay

Service of Screen Time for Toddlers & Children: None to Little is Best

Monday, April 29th, 2019

I was on a Manhattan bus stuck in traffic last Saturday. Just outside my window was a fascinating feat of construction dexterity. Sitting across from me was a little boy glued to his phone as his parents were to theirs. He missed the giant beams balanced in the teeth of a construction truck inching to their temporary resting place inches away.

Countless toddlers similarly stare at phone and tablet screens while the person pushing their strollers chats on the phone. Both miss opportunities to communicate as well as fun things to see from dogs and store windows to characters on the city streets they pass in a place like Manhattan.

Turns out the children are doing more harm to themselves than substituting one dimensional scenes for the world around them. According to mayoclinic.org, “The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use, except for video-chatting, by children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you want to introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it’s high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.”

The Mayo reported that “too much poor quality screen time has been linked to: obesity, violence, loss of social skills, irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep and behavioral problems.”

New World Health Organization guidelines used even stronger language. The title of Jen Juneau’s article in People is “World Health Organization Now Recommends No Screen Time for Children Age 1 and Younger.” Instead, parents and caregivers should do what many have done for decades: read and tell stories to their children. For children up to two, WHO doesn’t recommend they watch TV or videos or play computer games either.

Juneau wrote: “With children aged 2 to 4, ‘sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better.’” She added that some experts disagree. “The WHO’s advice ‘focuses on quantity of screen time and fails to consider the content and context of use.’” said the director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford.

“The new WHO guidelines come almost three months after a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that found that ‘Excessive screen time has been associated with various negative outcomes, including cognitive delays and poorer academic performance’ in children,” Juneau reported.

According to the study on Mayo.com, “children younger than age 2 are more likely to learn and remember information from a live presentation than they are from a video.”

I conjecture that plenty of parents think they are giving their children a leg up by starting them on computers as young as possible. Others may appreciate quiet time when a little one is absorbed by colors and movements on a screen. Publicity about the WHO’s recommendations came out last week and yet I still see countless toddlers in strollers staring at phone screens. Goodness knows what’s happening at home. What will it take for caregivers to get the message about the dangers of screen time for young children? Do you see benefits for little ones to be conversant with the latest gadgets since babyhood? Is reading and telling stories to little ones out of style?

Service of Contests for Kids: We’re All Winners

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Contests that teach, encourage and reward kids to better themselves and/or their communities help us all.

Author Karen Russell told NPR “New Yorker Radio Hour” listeners on a recent August weekend about how proud she was to treat her family to a pizza when she was a kid. An avid reader, she’d qualified for a free pie with one topping through Pizza Hut’s Book It program. She’d read 10 books.

Books tossed recently at the Millbrook, NY Transfer Station

Book It was founded in 1985. It runs from October 1 to March 31 for children from Kindergarten to the sixth grade and homeschoolers can also participate.

Things may have changed since Russell won her pizza. She read printed books and today many children use Kindles and other tablets. Some may still record their books on paper and some access an app that reaches teachers who track their participation. But the goal remains–to promote reading.

The National Road Safety Foundation [NRSF] conducts contests for kids to help its campaign to drive down the number of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries here. I know about it because a colleague, David Reich, runs and promotes the contests. One is “Drive2Life,” in its seventh year, in which teens submit messages to be turned into public service announcements [PSAs] to warn drivers about the dangers of speeding. This year’s winner, a California 8th grader, received $1,000 and a trip to New York where he collaborated with Emmy Award-winning producers to script, film and edit his winning PSA, “Cars Aren’t Toys.” The PSA aired on “Teen Kids News” on 150 TV stations.

In addition to Drive2Life, there are NRSF Drive Safe student contests in Washington DC, LA, Chicago and Atlanta as well as Safe Rides Save Lives for members of Family Career and Community Leaders of America [FCCLA] and #DrivingSkills101 for Students Against Destructive Decisions [SADD] Chapters nationwide.

Can you name other great contests for children? Did you participate in any when you were a kid?

Service of Goofy Things Kids Do: Overnight Challenges in Stores & Restaurants

Monday, April 9th, 2018

We made silly phone calls and tossed paper bags filled with water out the window into a courtyard to make a crashing sound to scare the neighbors. One Christmas Eve, kids–I assume it was kids–broke windows on the sidewalk side of every car parked outside the Brooklyn Museum. Ours was one. Kids who have no financial constraints steal candy and small items from stores for sport.

Jennifer Levitz, in “Where’s Your Teen Sleeping?” wrote about what some kids are up to these days. According to the sub-head of her Wall Street Journal story, they are “Adventure seekers hiding overnight in stores for ‘24-hour challenge’—and are really, really bored.” They hide in fast-food restaurants and big-box stores that close at night or hang out for 24 hours or more in those that stay open.

She wrote about the adventures of a few teens at a McDonald’s: “After the initial thrill of escaping detection, they passed the time by going down the small slide, flipping water bottles and filming themselves whispering in the dark.” Sleeping was hard. One tried to do so in a toy car.

“Young people boast of holding the overnight challenges in trampoline parks, bowling alleys, home improvement stores and supermarkets, too. Companies mostly seem perplexed,” Levitz reported.

What nutty things did you do when you were a kid and what wacky things do your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren do today?

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