I Think Some Parents Need To Go Back To School To Learn How To . . .

It sure isn’t easy being a parent these days and when I think about how it used to be and how it is now I can begin to understand why teen suicide rates have dramatically increased. I am not blaming parents for not caring. I am suggesting that parents need to go back to square one and begin to evaluate how they are parenting their kids and based on what philosophy–what approach?

Life has changed for all of us–both kids and parents. Young adults seem to be taking on parental roles earlier than they used to. The problem with this is that many young parents aren’t quite ready to BE parents yet-they aren’t ready to give up those days when they could still act like kids themselves. They work hard at being a “young and progressive parent” and as a result they end up trying to be their kids best friend–Sorry but research tells us this approach doesn’t work out well for either the kid or the parent. Kids don’t need their parents to be their friends. They likely have friends that they count on for friendship and discussing the worlds’ secrets and have much more in common with their real friends than they do with a much older person who needs to be acting as a parent first and foremost. They need the guidance and the experience that someone their own age can’t possibly provide them. Yet we see Moms who dress like their teenage daughters and Dads who want “junior” to emulate them-“a chip off the old block”as it were.

But the major life issues for our kids mostly go unnoticed or left unaddressed. Situations like childhood depression, stress, substance use and abuse, promiscuity, bullying or being bullied, difficulty at school both academically and behaviourally, loss of interest around friends, eating disorders, teen violence, watching porn, general high risk behaviour, more isolation, addiction to violence and “murder simulated video games. There is much more going on but hopefully you get the idea. It doesn’t strike me as surprising that teen suicide rates have and continue to rise dramatically. Yet parents are still in denial about the causes and possible reasons why this is happening. Here are some ideas around the “why.”

  1. Many parents have just stopped being parents. As with many things that occur these days we tend to gravitate to particular theories and instead of using a modicum of sense we go all or nothing. This has occurred with particular philosophies concerning parenting. A prime example of this would be the decision to parent by democratic process. Some would call it “permissive” parenting-allowing kids to make their own decisions from options they believe they can choose from. If this is the style you would like to employ as parents then as parents you need to create a list of options that are presented to the kids designed to provide maximum security and safety. These are options that parents believe are in the best interest of their child/children. No other options should be considered and kids still get to choose what they want from the list presented to them.
  2. Parents need to allow their kids to grow up at reasonable pace. Using phrases and sending messages like “when are you ever going to grow up” and “act your age” and “if you want to be treated like an adult then start acting like one-take some responsibility” are not very helpful and certainly don’t build any sense of security and maturity into a parental/child relationship. Let them grow as they will and when you notice a consistent change in behaviour make a positive comment about it. Remember that kids will grow and learn at their own speed. Some kids grow faster than others. But at ALL times they learn from watching and listening how their parents handle stress, how they communicate with each other, if they are respectful to each other or do they get their way by threatening the other parent. View violence as a mediator and kids will believe that’s the way things get done.
  3. You’re the parent–set some boundaries. Start by limiting the time that kids spend on their electronic devices. It’s OK to do that even if the kids don’t think so at the time. No devices or buds at the table during meals either. No phone calls during dinner time. Once you’ve go them there show them some interest by asking how their day went, how is school going, tell us about one thing that you learned that was interesting and why–anything to engage them in a conversation of some kind.
  4. Kids feel safe and secure and much more confident in a home that has structure. Be sure to create structure and rules for living that are not oppressive but rather democratic (when all agree) and realistic boundaries. For example, if you make a mess then you clean a mess. Don’t leave it for someone else to do and expect the same from your kids. They will eventually warm to the idea that rules can be a good thing. They provide consistency.

I’ve included a great resource for you to check out. Please take the time to do that. All or any of our kids or grand kids for that matter (grand parents need to be mindful as well) could be at risk and if we are not diligent and willing to do all we can at all times it may be one of us who is the receiver of horrible news. Are you willing to take that risk?    http://www.zurinstitute.com/teenviolence.html

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

All comments are welcome: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo by helpguide.com. Used for education, research or criticism purpose. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

Are We Becoming More Authoritarian or Safer? Tough To Tell For Sure.

When I was a younger man knives were used to do a few things. Cutting your food at the table, surviving (hunting, skinning something), securing or preparing a food supply or carving as in creating an artistic image of some kind. Sure there were other uses but these were the main ones. But today, as the research shows, a knife has become the weapon of choice used by more unhappy, angry, disgruntled or mentally ill people than at any other time in our history-well perhaps not if we take into consideration that time before guns were invented. Those who want to create more violence-deadly violence or just inflict pain on someone else are using knives and they don’t seem to be constrained by rules and regulations-not yet.

It is so much easier to get a knife than to get a gun. It is cheaper by far therefore more affordable. Any hardware store or any fish/tackle store, any hunting shop will be happy to sell a knife to someone. Almost anyone can walk into a hunting shop and purchase a 6 inch Buck knife with little trouble. A four or five inch blade is big enough to take a life. A two inch blade is enough to cut a throat. Knives are much easier to conceal and much lighter to carry. Many folks have said that a knife is more scary than a gun and they are quiet to use which again makes them scary.

Police have reported finding knives that are 2″ pen knives to large machetes on people when they have been arrested for something unrelated. Who needs to carry around a machete?? Really! It seems there is a great deal validity to the claims of vastly increased knife use. Crimes using knives and doing bodily injury or killing/stabbing people is up around 20% in the last year. In the last 2 months alone, in London, there have been 31 stabbing deaths many of which have occurred in the immigrant controlled parts of the city. As well, according to police, gang members are given points (not sure toward what great reward) for people they stab as a part of a game they play. These are crimes perpetrated by humans not by a group of runaway or uncontrolled knives or guns.

Having said all of this and made some points that suggest a modest shift in the world around us we are still missing the bigger picture. We are still either refusing or remaining stubborn enough to leave our heads buried in the closest dirt pile we can find. THE TYPE OF WEAPON that is used to kill or maim others IS NOT THE PROBLEM. What will it take for the law makers and the “great thinkers” to get it. There are two very important issues that are being ignored here, whether on purpose or not. How can we continue to disregard that which is apparent to so many of us out here. We cannot legislate morality or individual value systems. That takes education to do that.

The two important issues I spoke of are:

  1. The nearly out of control violence that has rendered our neighbourhoods nothing more than killing fields, is/has been perpetrated by fatherless sons–those young men who are or have been without the benefit of a strong and healthy male role model. These young men are full of grief and anger and violence and resentment and hatred. They populate most of the street gangs that steal our freedom and safety and security on a daily basis. Look at the figures. Listen to the experts and listen to the many young men who keep telling us what is happening on the streets and we STILL refuse to consider it is too simple an explanation.
  2. The other problem is that our broken education systems are not exposing information to our children that would encourage a solid developmental basis of self-management skills. Curriculums haven’t changed much in 50 years and have not met the changing times with relevant approaches but rather are just providing an environment to move data from a system that has been failing for a long time to a group of learners who are bored and not interested in what the “system” is trying to push at them. It is hard for the “system” to admit that what they are trying to “teach” is not relevant anymore and no matter how much they try they can’t find a way to make it interesting. There needs to be more than evolution taking hold in schools–there needs to be a revolution–a new birth of thought and approach. We need to be teaching our children how to think and to learn not how to remember. Bored kids will only find interest and excitement in other places and that’s what is happening now.

We are burying more innocent people and blaming a gun or a knife or an acid bomb for the travesty. Does that mean that that same weapon is now responsible for creating a remedy to the problem since it was initially to blame? That would be ludicrous. Legislating a solution will not work. It hasn’t so far and will not in the future either. People kill other people. If not with a gun or a knife or a bomb then it will be something else and I shiver at the thought of what that might be. It’s time we got real and started to recognize where violence originates. Deal with the Genesis not the symptoms.

Anyways, that’ how I see things, All the best, Jim

Send your comments to:  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo image by telegraph.co.uk. Photo resources used for education, research and/or education purposes. I don’t realize any monetary gain from their use)

Can You Name The Most Important Social Issue Of Our Time?

I will likely keep writing about this until people finally hear that we are not doing a very good job of taking care of our young. Of course this is not about all parents nor does it refer to all kids. But there is a very important social issue that we are not acknowledging as we should and it is costing us the lives of the innocent. For instance the recent shooting in Florida was perpetrated by a young man who is/was fatherless. Of the 27 mass shootings in U.S. history 7 of those occurred after 2005 and were perpetrated by young males. Of those 7, 6 were committed by fatherless sons. If that doesn’t concern us it should. We are witnessing a problem that is more important to deal with than the other social issues we have identified. This is not to take away the importance of dealing with homelessness or poverty or abuse but rather to indicate just how severe THIS issue is.

I will soon write about the fatherless female issues as well but lets look at the young males first since they are the ones that are better researched.

Like it or not males and females are not the same. We are different with very different wants and needs and social issues and socialisation issues. Right from day one of our lives females and males are treated differently. Baby males are still mutilated at birth (the ritual of circumcision) in many countries and the act is seen as a “normal” thing where it is now against the law in many countries to mutilate young females. We have different genetic make-ups. A recent study reported in the Daily Mail identified over 6500 differences between males and females genetically speaking. So can we stop the rush to androgyny and concentrate on the real problems of fatherlessness that directly influences the characters and personalities of our children-both male and female. Can we just accept and allow our kids to be who they are without fanfare and love them for WHO they are and less about WHAT they are. I get there are kids who really struggle with their identities but the public and social issues connected to fatherlessness is considered by many to be at the genesis of much more violence, death, destruction and danger.

Take another look at the information at the top of the page (title box). There are about 24,000,000 kids (about 35%) who are living without a father influence in their homes in the U.S. In Canada 80% of single parented homes are led by Moms. The numbers and the consequences are proportionately similar in both the U.S. and Canada. That is a great deal of energy and potential that is running around with no place to displace it or take advantage of it except through violence, gang life and self destruction. So what are we not doing that we need to be doing to begin to rectify this massive social problem?

In my mind there are a couple of places to start. One, obviously, is the family home. The legal system needs to take a look at how it treats single fathers and custody rights, support payments, non-support payments and what is in the best interest of the child or children. To jail a father who is unable or even unwilling to pay support does nothing but separate the family and exacerbate an already terrible situation for the child or children. I’m not saying he shouldn’t support his family but threatening his job or incarceration is simply not the answer. It has never worked and it will never work going forward. Making it even harder to pay makes no sense. The other option is to redefine our school system and what education really means. I understand that our culture has changed and the “rules” of living have changed but the one thing that has not changed is people. We still have the same needs as we did 500 years ago. True we get those needs met in different ways today but they are still the same needs. Go back to Maslow’s Hieracrhy–food, shelter, clothing, water, air, sleep and to reproduce. Further on we need to feel we have purpose, we are connected to something or someone, able to receive love and be able to give love. This is where the whole process has broken down. We no longer pursue the traditional family system. We have many excuses for not doing so and since I don’t believe in coincidence (I’m mostly a cause and affect guy) I have to look at the changes we have made in family, church, values, morals, only to recognize that we are not near as well off regarding safety and security as we used to be. As a society and community we have allowed the break down of the “traditional” family and the values and morals that were a part of that to have little meaning. The question then is are we better off today? and if we want to change things how far back do we need to go?

Schools and their curriculum have a massive role to play. I’ll be commenting on why I say that and how that could work quite successfully in coming weeks. Education needs to include a “whole learner” approach meaning that kids are now in need of learning how to self manage their emotions, develop/learn new coping strategies in order to deal with depression, addictions, anger, stress, boredom. Key here is to learn how to deal with being fatherless in todays world.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

If you have a desire to comment one way or another please connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo resources are used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of these images)

It Was True Then-It’s Worse Now . . .

The following is a re-post of an article I wrote in November 2013. In it I wrote about the issues concerning fatherless boys and how this has been the most serious issue of our time. Not much has been done since but I feel it is important to note here that many of the mass murders in schools and public places have been perpetrated by fatherless sons. When are we going to “get it” that this is a problem-a big problem and unless we do something (as a community) of great importance more senseless murders and slaughters will continue to take place. It was true in 2013 and it is certainly true today-5 years later:

“Perhaps if I were to title my life I would tag it with ‘As the pendulum swings’. It is no secret that I have a become involved in the discussion regarding the challenges young men face in today’s world especially if they are fatherless. Involved to the point where I penned a book called  “A Man’s Work Is Never Done…A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons”.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 2-3 generations you would know that many young men are struggling mightily with the changes that are happening all around them. In short there is no lack of research that tells us many of our young men are just not able to keep up with the ever changing expectations that society now has placed on them. Traditional roles are being re-defined with little discussion about what that means to all those affected. This is due, I believe, to an inflated importance defined by political correctness. Peer pressure and bullying are climbing the list very quickly and the list goes on. As a consequence to all of this there is a co-incidental or perhaps not so co-incidental rise regarding many social indicators which suggest that we, as parents and guardians, teachers and mentors have lost touch with what it is our young men desperately need from us right now. We seem to be at a loss as to how to help them or where to go from here. We create harsher penalties for some things but mete out a slap on the hand for others creating a sense of confusion and a lack of boundaries, responsibility or accountability for decisions that are being made. We build bigger penal institutions, we employ ‘tough love’ approaches, we try to be their best friends, we make excuses for their horrible behavior and we have instilled a sense of entitlement in them that will surely lead, more often than not, to their demise whether that ends in death (suicides) or a complete breakdown of our social fabric. In any case the point to be made here is that none of this works.

I recently read, with great interest, a report tabled by two female social scientists/researchers. The essence of their report was that fathers are just not all that important in the scheme of things when talking about what and how a young man learns what he needs to know to be successful. I’m not sure what ‘successful’ means in this case. How do we define ‘success’ anyway? What are the criteria? Success, to me as a man in the world, is about helping a young man understand how to use and how to live the characteristics that define us as men each day. As mentors we need to help him become more aware of them as he moves from boyhood to manhood. These ingrained character traits are simple. They are also basic and are intrinsic in men. Try to alter them, downplay or dismiss their importance is simply a large part of the problem we find ourselves faced with today. They also allow us to respond with freedom to the needs of family and the community we live in. Math and history can be learned but one cannot teach what seems to come to us naturally. We can explain, model and clarify what they are and what they mean. There are some things that haven’t changed in the last several hundred years if not longer. I am referring to our basic needs as human beings. We still need clothing, water, air, shelter, food and I’d like to add love and affection. Most kids learn and respond to what they see going on around them. To a young man-‘pa’ is everything. He is a teacher and a role model, a protector and provider, a mentor and a warrior.

My question,then, is do the social scientists really understand what a young man is truly thinking about when they ask the questions and surmise what the answers mean? Can anyone explain clearly what another is thinking and feeling at any given time? I doubt it. Who among us can describe what a cherry tastes like when you pick it fresh from the tree. Or what chocolate tastes like as it melts in your mouth.

After twenty plus years of hearing the stories from many fathers and sons about this very topic. I have put together a list of basic things that most sons need from their fathers or a strong and trusted role model that are necessary in order for a young man to engage in the process of transitioning from boyhood to manhood. I have been asked to share this list with anyone who is interested in learning more about this. Many who asked were single moms, single dads and grandparents. So I will try to add another ‘basic’ from the list in following blogs.

This first ‘thing’ that fathers need to give their sons is a must. As dads, role models or as mentors we need to give our sons our undivided TIME. If we say that we are going to do something with our sons then nothing short of an emergency or crisis should come between that promise and our time with our sons. He learns to trust what you say. By doing this first it establishes the footings upon which credibility is built. It also says that you see him as important and that he matters–that he is relevant. At this point we are planting seeds anticipating the growth that will follow.”

That’s the way I see it anyway, Jim

Comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

5 Reasons Why A Student-Centered Education Is The Right Move . . .

Ok so I agree that I have a definite bias when it comes to this topic and the answer. For a large portion of my life I was a confirmed traditionalist. Teacher centered education was the only way to learn what I needed to in order to succeed in life. Teachers had all the answers to all my questions. To listen to them one would think that they knew EVERYTHING there was to know about everything. I was wrong on both accounts. I guess my change process began when I was given my Grade 12 Diploma in 1966? (wow) and encouraged never to return to my school again. I wasn’t exactly sure about what had happened there but I knew that I was so happy to not go back to that experience again. It was boring, uninteresting and none of the stuff they were trying desperately to teach me made any sense. It had no relevance to me whatsoever.

Fast forward to 1990 and I was involved in College life and loving the opportunity. I had found a career choice that I was excited about and gifted with instructors who understood what I needed (how I learned) and encouraged me to do it my way. What a great experience. This was the kick start to many years of researching education and why the current pedagogy works for some and not for others.

Fast forward once again and it is now 2015 and a colleague of mine and I began to think about how WE would do it differently if we could change how education was presented. What followed were discussions about the differences and the pros/cons of a student centered education and a teacher centered education. Then we took the topic out into the public and we found ourselves in heated discussions with those who were dyed in the wool traditionalists as I once was.

What is clear to us now is that a change is coming. Of this there can be no doubt. The only thing left to decide is the “when.” Perhaps my mini comparison will sway some of the fence sitters. For the sake of saving my fingers I will let SC=Student Centered and TC=Teacher Centered. The question will be: What are the benefits of a SC education.  

  1. Learning How To Collaborate–Being able to share thoughts and ideas and to work with others in order to seek common solutions to assigned problems or develop new products and methods is vital these days. One of the strong points of SC educations is it usually requires group work, discussing ideas with a common goal in mind and being able to consider other points of view.  TC focuses on working as an individual and then providing a solution.
  2. Participating in active learning. Learning should be fun and exciting. This is what maintains a learners interest and keeps them coming back to learn more. TC is a passive approach to learning. It is learning in a vacuum where, for most learners, the process is not very stimulating. It gets done because it needs to be done but the passion that is generated in SC learners is seldom there for the TC learners.
  3. Hearing all the voices. By their design SC educations encourage all the learners to have a voice in what goes on in the classroom. Whether by open debate or providing a report on a piece of work followed by a Q&A session kids have an opportunity to learn from their peers-to hear other thoughts and ideas. In a TC classroom the only voice that is generally heard is that of the teacher. He/she is the one with all the answers and only their point of view or information is the one to be considered. It is widely accepted that kids will learn more effectively from each other than they do from the one voice at the head of the room.
  4. SC educations are “inquiry” based. TC are “knowledge” based. Part of the goal of education should be to teach our children how to learn. Once they know how to learn knowledge becomes a by product of that skill. Asking questions and seeking answers is more important than trying to remember prepared scripts that require nothing but memory.
  5. SC educations allow the learner to learn and progress at their own speed. Not all kids will grasp concepts and understand                    processes at the same rate or time. SC approach allows the learner to say when he/she is ready to move on to the next learning requirement. In a TC style education the teacher is often the one who decides what happens to the learner who might be a bit slower on the uptake.  Often moved on to the next challenge the learner may not be ready to take on the task of learning further information while not having a good solid grasp or idea of the work to be done and so he/she doesn’t do well. It is a set up for “failure” not to mention anger, depression or stress.

Alvin Tofler said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

There are so many other reasons why a student centered approach to education makes so much more sense but you need to figure that our for yourself. I will be writing more about this stuff in the weeks to come so stay tuned if your kids education and their well being are of interest to you.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

Send any comments to : jim.lifechoice@gmail.com or check out my new web site at jimcloughley.com

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Is It A Porn Addiction Or A Sex Addiction?

ATTENTION ALL READERS: 

Coming to a house near yours: Certainly not the newest but one of the most harmful addictions to hit the public streets in quite awhile. Addictions to pornography and sex are insidious. No one is immune so don’t be naive enough to think that “that would never happen to anyone I know.” In all likelihood it probably has. I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist and I don’t want to be a fear monger. However, you need to listen and read what I am about to post. Believe it when I say to you–“you need to know this stuff and understand how it could very well happen to someone in your family–even you.” If it does what would you do?

In order to be on the look out and understand more about sex addictions and porn addictions you need to understand that not all porn addictions are the same. In fact unless you know the differences between a sex addiction and a porn addiction you will really struggle trying to figure out how or if you want to help your loved one in some way.

To indicate how ingrained sex and porn are in our lives here are some basics you need to be aware of:

  1. Pornography is not just a man’s issue any longer if it ever was. Some of the latest research and statistical information shows that 25-30% of viewers or participants are women who are into either pornography or are struggling with a sex addiction. That number is slowly rising and one group that is paying more attention to sex and porn sites are teen age girls. Sorry ladies but it is difficult to point that long pointy finger in our direction any more.
  2. Considering all the searches made on the Internet each day 68,000,000 are porn related
  3. US Internet porn sites generate 2.8 billion dollars per year. Considering world wide sites that figure jumps to 4.9 billion dollars per year.
  4. 40,000,000 million Americans are regular site viewers
  5. 12% of sites available on the Internet are porn related. That is 24,644,172 sites currently (give or take a few hundred thousand)
  6. Teens are regular viewers with the youngest age group beginning to gain more than a passing interest 10-11 years of age

The key to treating, helping or supporting someone who is addicted to porn or sex is to know that they are very different from each other. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE TREATED THE SAME WAY.   

There are three very fundamental principles that must be accepted before going any further here:

  1.  There is no “cure’ for a sex addiction but sex addicts can enjoy a normal satisfying relationship with a partner.
  2.  Using a 12 step approach to “treat” a sex addict is not a very useful or helpful approach. Why? Because the goal for the sex addict is not abstinence or celibacy but rather to work to create a loving environment where a sexual relationship is possible with his/her partner. 12 step programs are abstinence based–they are regressive by design meaning that abstinence is the goal. The alcoholic needs to stop drinking. The gambler needs to stop gambling. The sex addict doesn’t have to stop having sex but needs to be enjoying it with his partner.
  3. The best most constructive help and support a partner can provide for the addict is a clear understanding and having the knowledge to see the two addictions as separate and not similar. If you can do that your role in the program will be much easier-not easy-easier and a great deal less frustrating.

So what is the basic difference between a sex addict and a porn addict.

As we can see there is there is quite a difference between a sexual addiction and being addicted to pornography. A porn addiction is centered around the creation of a fantasy world in which the addicted person is the central character and he/she controls what happens, with whom and how. It is a world that is very difficult for partners to deal with because no matter how great the real life sex is between partners, the “imagined” outcome of a porn fantasy experience will usually be better. It is very difficult to compete against an imaginary experience. Someone who is sexually addicted is living in a “real life” situation. His/her addiction manifests itself with real life people or circumstances. Some characteristics of a sexual addiction would include sex with prostitutes, anonymous sexual partners, high-risk sexual activities, voyeurism, multiple sexual partners, sex with a partner soon after finishing with another partner, feeling out of control, being in a depressed state, obsessive sexual thoughts and being unable to control those thoughts, and constant self-stimulation to name a few.

This has the potential to be a very serious in-your-house situation and not just with your partner. Your kids could be at risk too. Some folks would tell you that sex or pornography addictions are harder to shake than a powerful drug addiction. Don’t believe for a minute that this could not reach you and your family.

Anyway that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim

Got any comments please send them to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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Our Kids Aren’t As Smart As They Used To Be . . .

 

Now more than ever we think we are so much smarter than our predecessors. We equate technological “smarts” with “living smarts” when there really is no comparison. No one disputes that today’s teen  gets around a key board with little or no trouble but that doesn’t make them smarter when regarding life skills.

There is a growing body of work and research that suggests that kids from the mid 70’s were just as smart and in many cases smarter than today’s “wunderkind.” The following is an excerpt from a study done at Kings College in London, England that supports the previous statement.

(By Charlotte Bailey)

But average achievement was found to be similar in teenagers from both generations. Professor Michael Shayar, who led the study, said: “The pendulum test does not require any knowledge of science at all. It looks at how people can deal with complex information and sort it out for themselves.” He believes that the decline in brainpower has happened over the last ten to 15 years and could be a result of national curriculum targets which drill children for tests as well as changes in children’s leisure activities, such as an increase in computer games and television watching.”

As parents we have been told that our kids are growing up much faster than they did 20 years ago. There is a great deal of truth in that statement but only if you consider physical growth as the only criteria to be considered. Considering mental and emotional growth these test results say exactly the opposite. Are we expecting our children to grow up much faster than before and if so does that mean that they are better prepared to make “adult” decisions? Does that mean they are better equipped to deal with the consequences of those decisions? My answer to that would be a simple and emphatic “NO” they are not.

We, as those who are supposed to be responsible for preparing our children for adulthood, have, for the most part, been woefully ignorant or reluctant to do what is required in order to do that. Not all adults or parents of course but far too many. We expect the school system to perform that duty and parents are saying “that’s why we pay you guys.”  In the end we have a generation of kids who are trying to figure out who and what they are supposed to be. How are they supposed to behave? They don’t feel they can talk to their teachers or parents about the issues they face and are accessing public and social services at an unprecedented rate. Go to the Canadian Children Rights Council/Fatherless children in Canada to see just how dire this situation is.

So the question remains: “Are our kids as smart as they used to be?” If we believe the outcomes of these two studies and the information attached to the link I listed above–It is clear that we need to pay attention. Our children are not learning what they need to learn in order to be more confident, successful and hopeful in the new world they live in. When our children are trying to tell us they are more fearful of being bullied, that they are fearful of the outcomes of exams because of the pressure put on them to succeed–we need to pay closer attention to them. When their behaviour indicates that using alcohol and drugs is the answer to many of their emotional and spiritual problems–we need to listen. Perhaps if we pay closer attention we can help reduce the number of teenage suicides per year.

Our kids are doing their job by trying to tell us what they need from us. Now we need to do our job as parents. We need to expect much more from our school system. Education is more than just feeding facts and information to kids who are often bored and disinterested with stuff they don’t feel has any relevance to their future lives. We need to listen more closely to our kids and let them know that we have heard them and help is on its way. We need to stop believing that our kids are smarter than we were and they will handle life more effectively than we did because they are growing up faster. We need to understand that that is just not true. We must stop expecting them to make adult type decisions using a child’s view of the world around them. It just doesn’t work that way.

Anyway, that’s how I see things.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas

Thanks for stopping by, Jim

 

Please pass this along to family and friends. Comments are always appreciated–jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(The study information and the photo image have been used for research, criticism or educational purposes. I derive no financial gain from the use of that material.)

 

Minister of Education Is Doing The Right Thing For All The Wrong Reasons . . .

For those parents who have not been paying attention or don’t have any school age children this likely wont mean much to you. My hope is that you will read it anyway because ALL of us need to be concerned by these types of decisions. We are ALL affected by school closings since they affect the overall health of our communities.

The provincial government says they have put a halt to school closures–until they can come up with a ‘better’ plan and process for closing schools in the future. This sounds more to me like an election decision than one born from common sense and reason. Research and studies will suggest that it can be just as costly closing schools as it can be to refurbish them.There are more than a few questions that could be directed to Ms. Hunter regarding the decision making process she alluded to in a recent article announcing the government decision to halt school closures –for now. But above all we need to feel as though our elected officials can be trusted to safe guard our health care system, which includes the mental health system, and our system for educating our children. To quote Charles DeGaulle: “politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” Unfortunately, this government and many before it have proven this sentiment to be true.

There are programs and places where some cuts can be made but health care and education should not be on that chopping block. A cut made somewhere always creates a deficit somewhere else. Usually to the detriment of the taxpayer. If money is a determining factor perhaps our politicians would like to give back 20% of their yearly salaries to start that cost cutting process as a showing of good will. Like that is going to happen. They throw us a bone or two every once in a while but often that bone is not near enough to justify the reduction of funding resulting in cut backs in services. Health care and education should never be sacrificed for a balanced budget. We should never grant permission to the ‘bean counters’ to make decisions as vital and important as any that would affect these two vulnerable systems.

Other provinces are becoming much more progressive and realistic concerning philosophical changes to how education is presented to the new learners of the 21st century. British Columbia is light years ahead of us and Alberta is showing signs of undergoing large changes in curriculum. So called experts have stated that we should not toy with the system because it has historically returned quality marks in international testing. There is no question that we are very good at how we are teaching the present curriculum. The problem is that the present curriculum is NOT RELEVANT any longer. Our system is still focused on providing a knowledge based system when the world does not require knowledge it requires imagination, innovation and creativity. These are the skills that will open the doors to prosperity and opportunity for our next generation of learners. Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” 

Points to ponder:

  1. I can understand that the public is concerned about any new approaches to educating our children but other countries have been doing what we are talking about for years now and have managed to become the top 5 growing economies in the world. They know something we don’t and have not been shy taking a chance to thrive. Mistakes are what we learn by. But a mistake here can be one that keeps us ‘safe’ and finding ourselves left behind in the global marketplace.
  2. Let’s work to put kids back into school instead of accepting decreasing enrolments. At the very least perhaps working harder to find out why kids are dropping out of school instead of learning and enjoying their educational experiences would be prudent. Dropping out could be related to the fact that kids find the current curriculum boring, uninteresting and not relevant. Might it also be that learners and parents are finally figuring out that secondary and post secondary education is expensive and does not adequately prepare learners for the demands of future global economies. No one really has a clue about what those demands will look like because of the dramatic growth of technology but we do know that they will be much different from what grads are presenting with today.
  3. If we could find a way to lower the drop out rate across Canada by 1% point we would save billions of dollars per year in costs to fund the demands of social services, police services, court services and medical and health services. In fact we may be called upon to provide more schools.
  4. Can we not be more creative around the use of empty school space in rural communities. Things like sharing space with medical clinics, senior programs, treatment programs, social programs, community centres for kids and daycare spaces could be options as well as renting empty space to small retail stores.
  5. If the trend continues private schools will continue to see increased enrolments in their programs. This despite the fact that parents still have to pay public school taxes regardless. That tells me that there is some concern on behalf of parents that the present system is not delivering what it advertises.

It’s time that parents and care givers began asking their trustees and representatives on school boards the important questions and do not leave until you get a straight answer. Pay attention folks-your child’s education and indeed their very futures depend on how diligent we are right now.

Anyway, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim

Please send this along to friends and family. Feedback or comments can be sent to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: Photo by linkedin.com. The photo is used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from using this image.

We Are Not Doing This Right And It’s Costing Us Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars . . .

Do I have all the answers–no I don’t. I don’t suggest I do. However, I feel pretty certain about the answer to the following question: Why are we spending millions and millions of dollars needlessly every year on a ‘war’ that doesn’t exist? I understand what folks are trying to say but we have gotten lost in the meaning of the words. There is no war on drugs. How can you fight something that has no conscience, no soul, and no heart beat? It can’t be killed. This whole business about a war is nonsense. Is there a problem with alcohol and drug addiction–a huge one. No denying that. There are no individual freedoms to be gained-just grief. Strange, though, how we struggle with the idea of someone choosing to end their own life for whatever reasons-humanitarian or not. I guess we really will do anything for money after all.

By the way. In my opinion legalizing cannabis was a dumb-ass decision that will turn out to be a costly error in judgment. Use it for medical purposes of course. Should have happened 20 years ago. For ‘recreational use? Nothing good can come from this except the revenue-shame on us for selling out. (For more info click on the underlined text). Just what we need–another mind altering drug on the street with about as much success keeping it out of the hands of the under 18 crowd as they have realized with alcohol. Best of intentions my ‘butt’.  If we wanted to go after drug dealers we need look no further than our own back yard. Let’s look at Big Pharma and physicians who over prescribe and don’t follow up with the folks they prescribe it to as a part of our drug problem. Now those are tangible targets. Perhaps we could ‘wage war’ on them. Canada currently spends over 2 Billion $/year on this ‘war’. We might as well rip up the cash for the good it is doing. The strategy just does not work. It never has and it never will. There isn’t any evidence that suggests our efforts have reduced the global drug problem. Granted there are large quantities of drugs coming into our country. We should do what we can to reduce that amount but we are missing something quite fundamental here.

Why don’t we spend that money trying to influence the DEMAND side of things instead of the supply side of things? “WHY” is the question that should be asked and a solution to the answer would seem to be a more prudent approach. Why are people using? No one–NO ONE–gets up in the morning and decides that they want to be a drug addict. People use illicit drugs and over prescribed prescription medication because they provide relief of some kind. It is often the only product that does this without rendering the user useless or unable to function at a level that allows him or her to perform their duties at a job or to provide for their families. They are easy to come by and often unable to detect. Being a quick fix society and that is certainly what we have taught our children to do-take the quick way out–we often hear “just take this and you’ll be fine.”

We need to put a hefty portion of our ‘war chest’ into treatment programs and approaches that are well thought out and which treat the source of the problems people struggle with instead of dealing with the symptoms of those issues. Let’s take on things like loneliness, isolation, depression, fear, anger, resentment, panic and anxiety, feelings of being disconnected from life around them and that they don’t belong-need I go on. We are using alcohol and drugs as the great equalizer because it is the only thing that seems to work. Obviously, it doesn’t make the problem go away but it does provide some relief from the constant, daily presence of issues that can be dealt with. We also have to ask “why” do our children feel the need to risk their lives just for the buzz? What are they trying to tell us as their parents, their mentors or their role models? My guess is that they are really disappointed with what we have NOT given them. Things like our time, our love, our guidance. You go figure that one out and perhaps they will stop harming or killing themselves. Either by accident or design, they are still gone.

When we are able to reduce or eliminate the demand side we won’t have to worry near as much about the supply side. That will take care of itself.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim.  Thanks for stopping by.

Please send this along to friends and family.

Comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Photo resource used for education, research or criticism purposes. I derive no financial gain from the use of this photo.

So You Want To Be The Best Parent You Can Be Eh? Then Stop Doing This . . .

So you want to be the best parent you can be–good for you and good for your kids. The problem is most of us don’t quite understand what that means much less how to do it. Many parents think that we have to be tough on our kids to make them responsible. We also think that how our kids are seen is a direct reflection on us as parents. Still, other parents will say that they need to make sure their kids respect them and showing weakness is not something that is helpful to the development of the child.  Admirable to be sure but not very helpful or inspiring. All this with the best of intentions. Go figure. Unfortunately, intentions aren’t enough. A knowledgeable foundation is what is needed. As parents, we are our children’s teachers. What is it we want them to learn from us?

I have always believed we need to have a comprehensive parenting program in our schools. It needs to be an integral part of any child’s overall education. Not just some 3-hour class to pay subject lip service and to say it happened but a program that looks at all the different aspects of parenting and one that encourages the input of the kids themselves.

Let’s take a look at one of the most misunderstood but good intentioned practices in the whole parenting business. That is mistaking praise for encouragement and encouragement for praise. So many parents see these as interchangeable or similar in meaning when just the opposite is true. By not understanding the differences we can create more confusion for our kids that can, sometimes, morph into mental health and self-determination issues over a period of time.

What is it most kids want to do more than anything?? To please their parents-to have their parents see them as skilled and talented and good at many things. They want to know that their parents see them as capable and that they are pleased with who they have become or are becoming. Nothing wrong with that but this is where most parents drop the ball.

  1. One of the major mistakes that parents make is believing that kids learn best by being punished for what they do wrong. As parents, we need to learn that it is OK for kids to make mistakes. That’s how most of us learn, isn’t it? We don’t learn much from what we already do right. Should there be consequences for poor choices made-absolutely but it doesn’t have to be punishment. Just a simple question is often enough to learn something valuable without diminishing the impact of the decision. “So what would you do differently the next time?”
  2. Our love for our children should NEVER come with conditions attached. Our kids need to know that our love is unconditional and will not waver in the face of poor decision making or a lapse in judgment. This is absolute. We need to let them know that our love for them is not negotiable and does not depend on their successes or non-successes. “I will always love you no matter what.”
  3. Parents need to understand that perfection is not the goal nor should it be. Our kids are not machines and their best effort is what needs to be recognized here-NOT a comment concerning the outcome. They don’t want to hear “Don’t worry I know you’ll beat him next time.” What our kids are likely to hear is parental disappointment–that he/she was not good enough. What they need to hear is a parental comment on the great effort they put out like “did you give it all you had–then good for you”. Their performance should never be tied to a parents disappointment about their effort. Let’s not ‘judge’ them but rather let’s just accept them for who they are becoming. Kids are no different than adults in that there are days when they will perform better than others. That’s just life. They won’t compete any harder if they are discouraged.
  4.  As parents, we need to make comments on what we observe. “Even though that was a really tough job, you got it done–thanks”  or “It looks like you worked really hard to get that assignment done on time.” Our comments need to be more about their effort, not our satisfaction. They will often work harder the next time because they know that we appreciate what they are doing and how they are doing it.
  5. Our kids need to hear support, not frustration from us as parents. What they really need from us is for us to help them learn how to think and not what to think.When our kids are concerned about ‘what to think’ so they can be seen favorably by others that’s a problem because it takes away their freedom to choose who they will be in their lives. We want our children to learn ‘how to think’ so that they are free to make decisions that are in their best interests and not the interests of others.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. All the best and thanks for stopping by–Jim

Comments will find their way to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

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