Youth activists change the world

And they should be seen. And heard. And taken seriously.

Lots of people seem to dislike children today. There are restaurants and hotels banning them while people join “child-free” clubs and sport “My dog is smarter than your honor student!” bumper stickers on their vehicles. Given that all adults were once, after all, children themselves, this hatred is mind-boggling to me.

Perhaps such anti-child people would embrace our youth if they became aware of how amazing children are. Did you know that about 55 percent of America’s youth volunteer, compared with only 27 percent of adults? There are kids at every car wash, bake sale and canned food drive—because of their idealism, their commitment to their community, or for whatever other reasons—and while there’s often an adult or two to help move it along, youth are at the heart of changing the world. I have to wonder if any of the “child-free” club members have benefited from community gardens or building murals or garbage clean-ups or food drives that America’s youth organized.

When I was a child, my parents took us everywhere. We were often an afterthought, but we were always present and running around loudly with our cousins. Nobody ever scoffed, “Children should be seen and not heard!” to me, though the outdated sentiment seems to be more prevalent in our culture today than ever.

If anything, children should be heard often and by everyone. It is their world tomorrow that we are working so hard to improve today; do they not deserve a say in it? They are already not allowed to vote for leaders who think of their best interests as we are—why demand further voicelessness?

Revenge of the Potty Mouth

Expletives rear their ugly heads

My children have never had a problem with cursing. My wife and I have tried our best to keep our language PG rated, but I admit to the occasional slip. Recently, there has been a significant uptake in my middle child's use of bad words.


It's not all the time and thankfully it only seem to be at home, but I wanted to find out where he was learning these words. I have a tablet and one of my son's favorite things to do is watch shows and other videos on YouTube.


I never really thought much of it, but when I was sitting in the living room one day, I overheard one of the videos he was watching. It was some kind of homemade rap video that was set to some old video game music. I thought it was pretty funny until I started hearing some seriously bad language. A lot of seriously bad language.


I stepped in and took the tab away and reminded him that he shouldn't be watching that. He apparently started out watching cartoons and then started clicking on the similar videos tab. As much as I would like to blame YouTube for the mishap, I realized it was my fault.


I assumed YouTube didn't do that, and I should have taken more time to look into it. The potty mouth has since subsided, but I don't let them watch YouTube anymore. Instead, Netflix kids is as far as they get to go.

Please stop the whining

This is not conflict resolution.

Children have many ways of dealing with conflict and it's out duty as parents to teach which of these ways are acceptable and which ones aren't. Little Johnny can punch his little brother for taking his train or he may stand up and tell a parent or teacher...and every action in between.

My own oldest son has recently latched on to the crying and whining crutch of conflict resolution. When something doesn't go his way, he immediately raises his voice and lets out a whine before falling to the floor in tears.

It can be as simple as drinking from his drink, stealing a French fry or reading his book. These aren't tantrums because he's not angry or falling to the floor kicking and screaming. He simply puts on his best high pitched, whiny voice and goes around telling everyone about it.

I do my best to resolve the situation, but also talk to him about how he should have resolved the conflict. Instead of tears and whining, he should not get so worked up and simply tell me about it. Slowly, but surely things are getting better. He's handling conflict better and either lets it roll off his shoulders or if it's something that really upsets him, he will come to me or his mom.

It's a huge step in the right direction and parents shouldn't be worried about telling their children about proper conflict resolution. I had to tell him several times before he began to actually listen, so don't give up.

"The Talk"

Knowing when it is the right time.

My youngest daughter just turned 10 last month. She is at an age where I am beginning to wonder if I should have some type of talk with her. I feel like she is too young for this, but on the other hand, I don’t want her to learn all these things from the wrong sources.

This is just one of those things that, as a parent, you hope you make the right decision about. There are many other subjects in parenting where this happens too. It is one of those things where you think about it, make a decision to do it and then hope that it was the right decision to make.

Knowing when to have “the talk” with a child is not always easy and every child is different. To me, there is no point in doing this until the child begins to approach the age of puberty. If you notice that your child is starting to have changes in his or her body, the time has probably arrived for the talk to happen.

Many parents are nervous about doing this and there are good reasons to be nervous. A parent will wonder what to say, or how much to say. Is it better to offer too much information and detail than not enough? These are all very tough questions that parents must answer themselves.

One thing to keep in mind though is that, as a parent, this is one of your responsibilities. Your children will learn about this subject somewhere. Would you rather it be from unreliable sources or from you?

How loss impacts parenting

Making sense of loss.

When a parent loses a child, they often try and find a reason why God would take away their child. They need to find meaning in his or her death in order to make sense of it. In 2004, I lost my newborn primie son to an infection after six weeks.

The loss was devastating and to this day impacts my life daily. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about how he would have looked and how he would have made this world a better place. Loss of a child causes a parent to look at the world differently.

You realize that nothing is permanent and that everything can be snatched away in a moment. Fast forward many years later and I have three very healthy boys. It took a long time to come to terms with my son's death and find that meaning I had been searching for.

My son's death has made be a much better parent to my boys. I treat every second of the time that I spend with my children as precious. I refuse to miss school functions and try to give them as much fatherly advice as I can.

I realize that it can all be taken away in a moment and therefore I want to make use out of the time I have available. If something should happen to me tomorrow, I want my children to look back at me as adults and remember how much I loved them. I want to know that I am molding them to love their children and make them a focus in their lives.

The loss of my son was devastating and I would give anything to change his outcome, but I can't. All I can do his keep my son in my heart and let his brothers know that love transcends all boundaries.  

Help your children understand the value of giving

Giving is very rewarding for all of us.

With the Thanksgiving holiday occurring this week, now is a great time to emphasize the importance of giving to your children. Children do not naturally feel inclined to give; they would much rather receive. If you don’t believe this, just ask them.

Giving is something that correlates well during the holiday season, but it should be something that we, as parents, emphasize all year long. Most of us are blessed with much more than we need and giving can involve a variety of things. Sometimes people do not have financial resources to give, but they may have other gifts to give. One of these gifts is time. You can look for a place where you and your children can donate your time by helping someone with something.

Talents are another thing you can give. If you or your children have a special talent, encourage them to share this with others. Maybe your daughter enjoys singing or playing the piano. This would be something she could share at a retirement home or community center. Sharing talents is a great way to give and people will enjoy seeing children share talents.

By teaching your kids that giving is fun and rewarding, they may develop a heart that is like a servant. Serving others is very rewarding and even though you might be giving, you will be surprised by how much you get in return. This is something that you can do as a family and you will all have a wonderful time doing it.

Is My Child Gifted?

Signs Your Child is Above the Curve

Every parent when their child is a baby thinks they are going to be the next Einstein. As they grow, we find they have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. There is a small portion of children that are considered naturally gifted.


They may have a knack for picking things up quickly or a staggering vocabulary for a young child. The question is how do you know if your child is gifted? The basic definition of a gifted child is someone who has a natural ability for one or many disciplines.


For example, a child can have a perfectly normal academic career, but be a piano virtuoso or a Rembrandt level artist. He could have mathematical ability far beyond his years or just be good at everything.


If you child seems to be more comfortable talking to and being around adults rather then children his own age, then he night be gifted. They tend to be more mature and the chaotic rambunctiousness of his classmates may be distracting and annoying.


If you think your child is gifted and want to have it verified, then there are experts out there that can give them specially designed IQ tests. The question you as a parent has to ask is: what do you do with a gifted child?


Do you let him go through your local school system with his friends and peers? Do you pull him out and put him in a special school for gifted children? This is something you should discuss with the child. Gifted or not they are still children and deserve to have a good and rewarding childhood. Find out that the child wants and go from there.




Making this year special

Help your kids learn the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is next week and as a parent, you should try to teach your children what this really means. This holiday is often overlooked for its significance and with the way society is today, it is important for parents to teach their children these kinds of values.

Thanksgiving is one day out of the year and it is set aside for us to give thanks for all of the things we have. This is really something we should do every day though, because most of us have way more than we need. If you compare your life to those in third world countries, you will be able to see how blessed you are. The problem is that we often compare our lives to people that have more than us. This is the perfect way to feel disappointed.

The truth is that most of us have everything we need. We have food to eat, clothes to wear and a warm home to sleep in. We also have each other. We have families and friends, and really what more could we need?

By emphasizing these kinds of thoughts to our children, maybe they will understand this. At Thanksgiving this year, teach your children about what this really means. Have them make lists of things they are thankful for and do this activity yourself too. Read your list to your family and encourage them to read their lists out loud too. After you are finished with the lists, hang them up somewhere in the home to remind them of all of the things they are blessed with.

The Napoleon complex

When the little one gets aggressive

My wife and I had our children pretty close together with only a couple years apart between them. The oldest is seven, my middle is five and my youngest just turned three. The two older boys are definitely tall for their age, but my youngest is pretty short.

When you factor in their height and age difference, it's easily understandable why my youngest may feel overpowered by the other two. He's a very independent child and I believe has developed a Napoleon complex because of his height and age.

He idolizes his younger brothers and wants to do everything that they do, but that can't always be the case. When you tell him he's too young or too small, he takes exception and gets made. Recently, he started to try and insert dominance over his brothers by hitting them. As you might expect, this tactic is not going over well with his brothers.

They know not to hit and so come to me or their mother about it and we have to punish my youngest for this behavior. We've given him time outs and taken away privileges, but nothing seems to deter him. His brothers are starting get angry as well and I fear one day they are going to hit back.

My question is what are some ways we can help curb this behavior? We've tried to include him in everything we can, he gets plenty of one-on-one occasions and most of the time he's a great kid. I hope this hitting thing is just a phase and he outgrows it. 



Supporting local organizations

When is enough enough?

When your children are involved in various activities, they will commonly be selling things to raise money. My daughters have both gone through this many times, and lately I am learning just to pass these opportunities by.

Every time a child has a fundraiser, he will begin asking everyone he knows to buy things. If the child is your own child it may seem like the thing you should do as his or her parent, but is this really necessary. The items they are selling are usually very expensive and they might even be things you don’t really need.

My daughter attends a private school and the school is constantly having fundraisers. I already spend over $5,000 a year to send her to this school and I really don’t have a lot of extra money for these things. This week alone, she has come home asking me to buy her a yo-yo that her school is selling, as well as books from the Book Fair her school is hosting. While both of these things are useful, I wasn’t sure if I should dish out more money just to let her have these things.

I do understand that her school needs the extra funds and therefore I am often inclined to help out by making purchases, but sometimes I have just had enough. While it is good to support organizations that you like, there comes a time when enough is enough. For me, I think I have reached that point this school year and it’s only November.