Eyes Wide Open Parenting

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I would like to introduce you to Emi and Neumann.  Neumann is the first mother-raised infant Japanese Macaque at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines Iowa in over 20 years.

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My family first encountered these two on family vacation in early July.  You couldn’t help but notice that Emi was extremely protective of Neumann, she basically controlled his every move.

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We watched them for a good thirty minutes and we did not see her let go of him once. Hard to tell, but he doesn’t look very happy to me, what do you think?

Then I overheard a high school – aged girl say, “I bet she is exhausted at the end of the day, and I thought “yes, yes I am.”  You see, I have three kiddos myself and have realized that it is extremely easy to fall into the overprotective or even the dreaded overbearing parent just like Emi.

As we watched them in their habitat, we could see other monkeys that wanted to interact with Neumann but couldn’t because of Emi’s protectiveness.  It is so eye-opening when you start to think of this from the human perspective.  How many times am I hesitant to let my kids go to someone else’s house because I don’t know everything about their parents?  How many times do I not let my son do certain things because I don’t think that it is “safe” for him?  Am I holding them by the arm, not letting them experience life?  Where is the line between keeping our children safe and letting them problem solve on their own?

The term “helicopter parent” is thrown around a lot now. This parenting style is basically hovering over your children so that they have a hard time making their own decisions or making it in the world outside of your house.  When I was thinking about this blog, I came across this article from the Huffington Post that talks about what this parenting style does to your children. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5-ways-to-tell-you-were-raised-by-helicopter-parents_us_5609de6ee4b0dd850308e260

Sometimes I know I do things for my children because it is easier and faster for me just to do it myself.  My sister-in-law has a saying, “I will not do anything for my child that they can do themselves.”  This means picking out their clothes for church, filling their glass of water at the dinner table, tying their shoes for the hundredth time, even though you are already five minutes late.  These are just small things, right? Plus, I am only going to do this while they are still young.  This is what I tell myself. How about you? What are you telling yourself?  Soon, the little things become BIG things that they really should be deciding for themselves.   As parents we need to have our eyes wide open and notice the longer term impact of our choices and how we parent.

So, this is what I have started to do.  First of all, I am trying to be more aware of the things I do for them that they could be doing on their own.  They can sort, fold, and put away their own laundry. They clean up after supper, and load the dishwasher. I know that in the past I do these things on my own because I don’t want to hear them complain or fight another battle before bed.  But the time to start the battle is now, not when they are 17 and soon getting ready to leave the house.  Second, I let them make their own choice and walk away.  Yes, you read that right, walk away.  When your son wants to take the training wheels off his sister’s bike to teach her how to ride without them, smile, give encouragement and walk away. Lots of life lessons are going to be learned.  Be there for them to patch up the skinned knee, wipe away the tears, and give hugs. You are still their parent after all. Lastly, children can understand reasoning pretty early in life.  When my daughter asks me a question such as “what happens when…”  I will answer her back, “what do you think will happen?”  I am trying to start the problem- solving process now, because I want my children to be successful, productive adults that can play happily with the other Neumann’s in this world.

 

Mindy Hadley, on behalf of the Quakerdale Team.

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The Greatest Present

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One of the great things about working at Quakerdale is the investment that our leadership puts into staff at all levels.  One of the ways that occurs is through reading books and having discussions with co-workers about how we can make improvements in the areas that are outlined in the book.  The Present is a book that we recently went though – it was a very quick read, but had some significant points that were made through the story’s fable. Spoiler Alert – I am going to tell you what the Present is, so keep reading at your own discretion.

The Present has a fable that is the main part of the book, but is bookended by how others introduce the fable to others and use it in their lives.  In the fable, there is an old man who gives out wisdom, much like Yoda, a little bit at a time to a neighbor boy as he is growing up and through adulthood.  He lets the young man know that there is a Present that everyone can have that will make them happy and more successful, however they define success.  The young boy doesn’t understand what the present is and for a long time believes that it is something that someone would give to him.  Once he becomes a young man in the business world, he is passed over for a promotion that he expected, even though he did not put in the necessary work.  He also has a girlfriend who breaks up with them during that same time.

Through introspection alone in nature, he discovers that the Present is actually the present moment.  If he is continually focused on the future – what he will do later after he gets off work, when he get the promotion, after he is in a committed relationship, etc, rather than what he is doing right now, he is distracted and not in the Present.  By focusing on what is happening right then, he is able to enjoy doing what he needs to – including doing tasks he put off because he believed them to take too long or be too difficult.  He was more attentive to those around him and was able to enjoy relationships more.

After a while, focusing on the Present only got him so far and other conflicts arose.  He was working with another person who wasn’t pulling her weight, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get it done by himself on time.  He returned to the old man and learned about the impact that the Past can make.  The old man suggested to him that he learn from the Past, apply it to the Present, and then move on.  The young man went back and addressed his concern with his co-worker, who made improvements to her performance and they were able to work better as a team.

The young man was doing well with learning from the Past and focusing on the Present and he received promotions and increased responsibilities.  With the increased responsibilities, he had difficulty prioritizing and he sought out his mentor.  The old man talked about planning for the Future – by planning for the Future, the young man did not need to be anxious or overly-focused on the Future.  He needed to come up with short term and long term goals to keep him on the right track and engaged in the Present.

Eventually, the old man died, and the young man went to the visitation.  He was surprised to see how many others the old man had impacted – there were people of all ages there.  After some reflection, the young man realized that the old man had lived his life with Purpose – he was trying to “help others become happy and successful” (pg. 74).  The young man then began passing along what he learned to others around him.

Here is a great video that also paints a picture of the book:

 

The Present has several good ideas on ways to focus on the Present, learn from the Past, and plan for the Future and is worth the time to read.  While the book does not delve into spiritual matters, I believe there are ways to incorporate what God tells us.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

When we are anxious about the Future, we can remember the following passage: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:31-34 NIV

How we define success is an individual decision, although God, through the Bible, gives direction.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39 NIV.  By focusing and being Present for our lives, we can better do what we’ve been instructed to do in the Bible.  How many times have we missed a chance to focus on God in the Present, being thankful for all He has given us?  When have we missed an opportunity to serve others because we were so wrapped up in the Past or the Future, we missed what was right in front of us?

357bc0742fe714f139cc99eb3df2daabSarah Zollar, on behalf of the Quakerdale Team.

Johnson, S. (2003). The Present. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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This could be more important than teaching your kids to drive!

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This could be more important than teaching your kids to drive!

cyberpassword

The last six months or so, Quakerdale developed a research team to help families learn about internet safety and cyber safety. As a matter of fact, universities and colleges are now beginning new cyber security programs to chase hackers and digital bandits.  We have been learning about the trends and facts about internet safety and e safety!   We talked to professionals and sifted through the information to find what is real and what is not.

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Findlaw.com Survey of Parents

I want to give you a taste of what we have found.
One thing that many parents don’t realize are the dangers of the internet for their kids…. AND they don’t know the dangers that exist for them as parents either!

Sure, there are viruses out there that clog up the operations of your computer and ways people even steal your identity, but there is a lot worse than that!

It seems that many of us have become numb or we just don’t know what dangers exist out there on the internet.   We don’t know what it takes to stay safe online.  Many of us live in a world of complacency.

girl-is-a-victim-of-abductionHere are just a few of the internet dangers we found happening:

  • Children who develop lifelong fears and sexual addictions because they were exposed to violence and perverse sexual material
  • Parents in legal and financial trouble due to choices made by their children on the internet and social media
  • Teens abducted after finding an internet friend (predator in disguise)
  • Children who learn illegal skills like bomb making or computer hacking
  • Children hurting themselves or hurt by others by cyber bullying
  • Just playing games on the Xbox or watching Netflix can be hazardous according  to a Forbes tech article.

Parents and children who are on the internet need to be alert to these dangers and make sure they institute the right safeguards.  There are two types of safeguards:

1)       Software programs that you must install on your computer, phone or tablet. (This is called cyber security.)

2)      Parental and child readiness and awareness.  (This is the real key to cyber security).

You see it isn’t enough to just download a software protection program and consider everything safe.  The easy part is to find a cyber security program to keep viruses and malware away.  Everyone does it already.  Real internet safety requires user awareness where parents and children understand the dangers and have the ability to move through and around these dangers.   It starts at a young age with gradually increasing levels of exposure and freedom.  It requires an intentional plan orchestrated by the parents.

We found nothing substitutes for training and education.  Nobody can do it for you and no one magically becomes ready for the dangers of the internet.  Just like buying a person a car does not prepare them for driving on the roads.

Each of us must prepare for and be ready for the dangers and we need our kids ready too! The responsibilities of learning these things and protecting our families cannot be delegated to a program, school teachers, classmates or anyone else.  In this article we find that even baby monitors can bring people into your home without your permission.  It is a little hard to believe that a stranger could be talking to your baby and taking pictures of them in their crib, but technology and internet safety needs are real and growing.

After reading that article about the baby monitor, you might want to completely disconnect from the internet, but that really isn’t the answer  either.  The internet is how our world works and trying to isolate from it has its own dangers too.  Kids need to learn about it properly because their livelihood will likely utilize the internet.  There are  great things the internet brings!  We now live in an internet culture!

To protect your children, you must learn for your children’s safety, and your own.  Internet safety is not restricted to your computer.  Our phones and tablets are computers too, and don’t forget anything that is hooked up to the internet is an internet security threat – just like the baby monitor, video games or even your wifi thermostat for your heater.  It is your job to protect yourself, and your family.

We use a term called developmental readiness for preparing children for the internet culture.  Your child has to be developmentally ready.  Developmental readiness is individual to the child. Your child might be developmentally ready at 8 years of age to have a half hour of unsupervised internet time, where my child may still not be ready at the age of 13!

Parents have to be aware of the internet dangers and then be able to figure out when their child is ready for more freedom and responsibility on the internet or social media.  You must make sure your child is safe and ready to be on the internet or social media or they can get caught in illegal behavior, Internet dangers, cyber bullying and other internet dangers.

We have more to share on this, but we are curious to hear from you.

What are you doing to protect your home and children from cyber risks?  What can you share with our community about cyber bullying or other internet dangers?  What questions do you have on this topic? How have you learned about internet safety?  Please share.

If you value this information instead of just liking it be sure to share it with your friends.!

The Quakerdale Team