Archive for the ‘Family Matters’ Category
We welcome Erika Napoletano of RedheadWriting to the FaceFile blog! Blogger, social media strategist and admitted technophile, you can find her (often irreverent) insights on social media, business, writing and blogging at RedheadWriting.com. Follow her on Twitter (if you dare!).
I was guilty of it. Once.
A text from a date … I couldn’t wait to respond. I (gulp) texted him back at the hasty speed of about 68 MPH.
That was, until I almost missed the big rig merging into the lane in front of me.
After having my own little “life montage moment,” it was clear: put the cell phone DOWN! This was almost a year ago and I have yet to do it again. Seriously.
We’re all annoyed when the drivers surrounding us act like fifteen-year-olds on their first day behind the wheel, so why do we do it? Obama’s recent ban on Federal workers texting while driving made quite the new buzz in October and as early as 2008, several state were trying to push through legislation to the same effect. Â According to a New York Times Poll, nearly all Americans think that texting while driving should be illegal.
My question: who’s still texting behind the wheel if we all hate it so much?
On occasion, I fall victim to iPhone-itis and respond to a text while at a stoplight or check my email. Light turns green – phone gets relegated to the passenger seat or docking station. But I don’t text while driving. I’e even been known to pull off into a parking lot or park on a side street if something needed to be handled right then and there. I will also make the person calling me wait to speak with me until I put my headset in. I’m no saint, but having a little “come-to-Jesus” moment will definitely make you rethink your communication strategy, no?
A British PSA has definitely garnered some strong responses on the texting while driving issue. We’ll direct you to the Huffington Post to view with the disclaimer that it is graphic in nature and YouTube requires you to sign in to view the video. Sometimes scared straight works, I think.
I applaud those states who have already gone to hands-free mandates for drivers. Want to know the skinny in your state? Check this list form the Governors Highway Safety Association. If there’s legislation pending in your state for banning texting while driving, send your Representative a letter of support. Simply Google “(your state) texting while driving” and that should give you some solid results.
What are your thoughts, stories and feedback on the recent and pending cell phone safety laws? Are we intoxicated by communication? Let us know below.
Daily life as a parent is full of concerns – sometimes one concern right and after the next. Lately, a few of my big concerns have to do with the health, safety and education of my children. Many times, I talk with other parents or professionals in the community and others I like to research online for help.
My biggest concern of late has to do with the health of my children. The H1N1 virus seems to have gotten too close for comfort lately. My children have been immunized for the flu and I would like to have them immunized for the H1N1, but I had some concerns about the shot. I found some very helpful information on Mile High Mamas. There is a blog post written by, Dr. Keren Call, pediatrician and board member of the Colorado Childrenâ€™s Immunization Coalition. In her post, Questions and Answers for Moms about H1N1, Dr. Call answered some very specific concerns around the H1N1 virus. I do have to say after reading the information, she helped me make an informed decision about whether or not I would immunize my children for H1N1.
Safety is always a major concern. My son is a very busy toddler and sometimes, as toddlers do, he does not exactly make the best choices nor does her have the brain development to make those choices. A website I like to use for questions I have about his safety is About.com’s parenting section. On this site, there are all kinds of resources to help me along the way. The website also includes some great reminders of things I should be doing to ensure his safety. It can be frustrating and tiring at times to keep an active boy safe!
My daughter recently started first grade, opening a whole can of worms when it comes to concerns about her education. As a past teacher, I know there are specific things children should be learning and mastering at certain grade levels. The first place I like to go with concerns about my child’s education is her teacher. I know how valuable the parent-teacher relationship can be for a child’s education. Another resource I use to learn about what my first grader should be learning is my state’s department of education website. On the site I can look at the state standards for my child’s grade level. This way I know what is expected and how I can as a parent support my child’s education.
So to sum it up, life as a parent does has concerns that come in all shapes and sizes. I believe the best thing to do is to learn how to use the many resources available to help work your way through the concerns of parenting.
What are you top concerns as a parent? What resources do you use to help ease your concerns? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Kids love sleepovers, but letting your child sleep at someone else’s house without you can be nerve wracking. There are a few things you can do to help things go safely and smoothly and let you sleep through the night when your child is away.
If you don’t know the parents or living situation where the slumber party is happening, pay a visit the day before the event. Whether it be squalid living conditions, creepy Uncle Lou who is in from out of town or parents you aren’t comfortable around, you need to know the environment ahead of time to be able to say no. If you get there on the evening of the party and the situation has changed or there is something/someone you’re not comfortable with, don’t hesitate to take your child back home.
Make sure you’ve had the talk about the privacy of our bodies with your children. Don’t alarm them – just let him know they can call you at any time if they feel uncomfortable and you will come get them.
Discuss with the host parent(s) ahead of time any kind of dietary restrictions your child has. Whether it’s a food allergy or you’re raising a vegetarian, make sure the host parents know so they don’t give your lactose intolerant child something with milk in it. The same goes for bedtimes and movies. Make sure the other house isn’t more liberal about these things than you are comfortable with.
Make sure your child is ready for a slumber party. We’ve all heard stories about the mom or dad who had to pick up a homesick kid from a slumber party at 2 a.m. The thought of sleeping at a friend’s house is exciting and usually brings promises of being ready for it. However, you’re the parent and you know best. If you don’t think you child is ready for any reason, don’t hesitate to politely decline the invitation.
Slumber parties can be a lot of fun for the kids involved and can also give you a welcome night to spend as an adult and not a parent. Most times, it will be with one of your child’s best friends and you’ll already know the parents and living situation. If not, make sure you find out before hand. If there is anything that makes you uncomfortable: just say thanks, but no thanks.
It’s every parent’s nightmare: having a child fall prey to an online predator. Children, especially between the ages of 11 and 15, have a false sense of trust and an overblown opinion of their ability to make good decisions. They can become victims to Internet predators despite all the lectures, monitoring, filters and rules you may have in place. Sometimes you have to figure out what’s going on yourself, based on your child’s actions. So, what are the warning signs that your child could be lured into someone’s trap?
- Your child is a loner. Kids with lots of friends tend to go skating or to the mall or just goof-off together around the neighborhood. Children with few friends are often starved for companionship and will accept it from that “nice kid” in the chat room.
- Your child seems awfully naive for his or her age. It might seem cute to you that your 12 year-old has the same loving, trusting heart she did when she was eight, but this kind of personality will easily believe that the 35-year-old man two streets over is really another 12 year-old girl.
- Conversely, your child is a major risk-taker. Victims tend to fall in the two extreme ends of this personality trait. If your child has been getting in trouble for things he knows is dangerous or wrong and you’ve been pulling your hair out worrying about all the things he never got caught for, you may need to pay close attention to Internet activity.
- Your child spends a lot of time online. Studies have shown that 90 minutes of online activities outside of homework is the tipping point where children are more likely to engage in dangerous online behavior. Your child should have a balanced life with sports, art, music, reading and other offline activities in his/her life.
- Your child is secretive about his Internet activity. If your child spends a lot of time online but won’t tell you what he is doing then he’s sending up a red flag. There are all kinds of tricks, such as having a benign website ready to go whenever you walk by, that kids can use to cover-up their questionable activity.
- Your child is getting phone calls or mail from people you don’t know. Monitor your child’s phone, caller ID and outgoing calls. Make sure you know everyone who they’re in contact with. Same with the mail. If your child is getting mail, make sure he opens it in front of you (or honestly, open it for them).
If you have any suspicion something might be going on, take action. Move the computer to the living area. Put filters and tracking software on it. It could be your child doesn’t want you to know he’s illegally downloading music or it could be much worse. Don’t be paranoid – just be aware and make sure that you’re in the know.
Teenagers and cell phones – they go together like biscuits and gravy. Or pastrami and rye, depending on where you live. But no matter where you live, one thing is universal: it’s possible for teens to get in trouble with cell phones. Where there’s potential trouble, there have to be rules.
We gave in early to our teens having cell phones. As soon as they were allowed to go somewhere without one of us, we decided it was time for their own phones. I remember growing up and using “But there wasn’t a phone there!” or “I didn’t have a quarter” as excuses to be late for dinner or go places other than where I said I was going. Teens today don’t have that luxury. The reason we let them have phone wasn’t to boost their social standing: it was for parental peace of mind. I know that if they get in trouble and need me, they can call or text me and I’ll be on my way. I also know that I’ve got “kid-on-demand.” I can instantly talk to either of my girls and ask them where they are and who they are with, and they’re at my beck and call via speed dial.
That leads to rule number one:Â They will always answer the phone when I call. Aside from swimming, I can’t think of one other activity teenagers could (or should) be participating in that would make them physically unable to answer the phone. Sure, playing football or being in a movie theater might count, but I always know when my kids are doing that and I don’t call. They know that if they don’t answer, I’m going to call back again and again until they do and I’m not going to be happy about having to keep at it to get an answer.
Rule number two:Â Their phones are accessible by their parents on-demand. Boy, this makes them mad, but it’s important. I don’t go snooping through texts or check voice mails on my girls’ phones, but they know that I can. And if I have strong evidence that something unsafe is going on, I certainly will.
Rule number three:Â Always observe proper phone etiquette. No calls or texting during inappropriate situations such as during school/class time, family meals or when ordering at a restaurant. It’s just good manners. I see enough adults doing it that I’m not going to let my girls get into these bad habits as well.
Rule number four:Â Remember that I pay the bill. This isn’t a rule so much as a reminder to them that I’m going to know what’s going on when the bill arrives each month. I have a list of Â numbers for all their legitimate contacts and if I see that one of my girls is talking to someone I don’t know, I’m going to find out who it is.
Rule number five:Â Never, ever give your phone number out online. The danger of that is obvious. We have installed keystroke tracking software that monitors every time a phone number is typed into the computer. (That last sentence is completely untrue, but our kids believe it.)
Raising two teenage girls is tough enough without laying in bed worrying about predators or boys with bad intentions accessing them through their phone. A little diligence and some firm rules go a long way towards us sleeping better at night.
If you have a child any older than seven, you’ve probably already have had the “I want my own cell phone” discussion. Of course, every childÂ wants a cell phone … but when does your childÂ need a cell phone?
The need for a phone in the eyes of children is probably going to start the first time one of their peers gets one. Yes, some parent is going to give their kid a phone way before most other parents are ready. That’s a time when you need to hold your ground as the parent. Reasons like “Brianna has one” or “because it’s cool” aren’t valid enough to bend your judgment on what you feel is the right time to dole-out a cell phone to your kids.
However, there are some solid reasons to get your child a phone. Most parents take the plunge when the child has shown enough responsibility to potentially take care of the device and is spending time without parents. If you child is hanging out with friends or old enough to go to the mall without supervision, it might be time to get them a phone. Your kid can call if they are running late, and more importantly, call or text in case of emergency. You can also open a Face File account and instruct your child on how to use it and the phone’s camera function any time he or she happens to be in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation.
Once your child is driving, getting them a cell phone is a good idea. In fact, it’s almost a necessity from a safety standpoint. If there is a breakdown or accident, you want to know that your child can contact you or someone trustworthy to get help. Most parents get a phone for their kids somewhere in the 13 to 15 year-old age range.
There are phones that are made specifically for children, one of the most popular being theÂ Firefly. There are parental controls and prepaid plans so you can stay in control of how the phone is used, and you won’t be surprised by a hefty texting bill caused by a kid who lost track of the limit. It’s also easy to get your kid connected with various family plans and buy one, get one free offers that most carriers have at one point or another. It doesn’t have to break the bank to get you kid in a phone call’s distance and if you opt for the Face File option, most Â cell phones these days have cameras as standard as an added layer of protection.
There are many challenges facing single dads in today’s world. If you have full custody, you’re inundated with time management issues like keeping up with your kids’ activities while managing to keep your career on track and still have some form of a social life. If you have part-time custody, you deal with a whole different set of issues regarding scheduling with the mother, being able to agree on parenting decisions (no matter how strained your relationship may be), and worst of all, something that is rarely talked about: the heartbreak of missing your kids during the time you don’t have them. If this isn’t handled well from the beginning, it leads to what is known as “Disneyland Dad” syndrome.
Many dads, especially ones who are only granted visitation every other weekend with their kids, want to win their kids’ affection and simply lose the ability to say no. Anything goes on these weekends: cake for breakfast, shopping sprees, climbing on the furniture at restaurants, being rude to other adults, having free reign on the computer…and it’s all tolerated by dad. It’s understandable to want to avoid conflict when you have such little time together, but this is not only bad for children who are trying to form personalities and opinions from input they get from their fathers, it’s also dangerous.
You may have intentions of being your kids’ best friend, but like it or not, your first job is to be their father. You need to protect them from themselves. You have to establish at the beginning that no means no and there are limits on what can happen on Dad Weekend. It’s a world that’s full of bullies and online predators and it’s important to take precautions against them, even if your child pouts about it. Get to know your kids’ friends and their parents. Keep up with how they are doing in school. Attend their recitals and sporting events. And, most importantly, monitor their computer use at your house. Put the computer in the living area in plain sight. Install blocking software and filters appropriate for their age. Learn about cookies and browser history and other ways to monitor their browsing activity. Find out what chat rooms they may go to and who they’re chatting with. Don’t let Dad Weekends be the time they are more susceptible to online predators. Talk to them about not giving out personal information to strangers, no matter how nice they may seem, and block contact with anyone who seems sketchy to you. No matter how mad your kid may get, say no. Be a dad.