Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Lessons in bonding

Emailing my daughter - GirlRecently my college-age daughter Rachel emailed me, asking for help with a problem. Such an event – being rarer than a sighting of Halley’s Comet – calls for all-hands-on-deck-full-throttle parental engagement.  “I’m there for you, Rachel.”

Thus began an email exchange that I am proud to say profoundly impacted my daughter and our relationship. Her gratitude for my sage advice is evidenced in her words that, well, she couldn’t even put into words how helpful I was.

Rachel:  Hey, Dad. Wanted to ask you something. My boyfriend Brad and me had a fight. I saw him with my best friend Brianna. They were holding hands. He says she’s just a friend, but I think he’s lying. Should I confront him?

Me: Thanks for your email, Rachel. I am happy to help. Frankly, this is a common problem for many young people. In fact, your mom often struggled with similar issues when she was your age.

Here are my suggestions. First, never start a sentence with a verb unless it’s a command. When you write “Wanted to ask you something”, the reader is left wondering: Who wanted to ask me something? My daughter? My boss? A strange man in a tall hat? You never want to leave your reader guessing.

Also it’s not “Brad and me had a fight.” It’s “Brad and I.”  Me is the objective form of the first person pronoun. In this context, however, you need the subjective form.

Rachel: Whatever, Dad. I don’t think you understand. I think Brad is cheating on me. Last nite, I texted him. No reply. No idea what he’s up 2. What should I do? Read More…


  • Lessons in Grammar! Whew .... Let's hope I enter all the correct language in this comment. There was grammar in …
    Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 13, 2014 by TEJ
  • Always lie to your kids

    Lie to your kids - RachelI love my kids. That’s why, when they were young, I made a point to lie to them every chance I could. As any experienced parent knows, you need to lie to your young, impressionable children to help prepare them for their lives as adults – and to help you forge a trusting relationship with them.

    Parents who care about their young children start lying to them early in their formative development – ideally while their offspring are still in the womb. Don’t wait until they’re in middle school. By then your chronic pattern of honest communication will likely have caused irreparable damage.

    There are many reasons we adults lie to each other: to get out of cleaning the garage despite your wife’s nagging about it for the past three months; to deny that you scarfed down the last piece of your wife’s birthday cake; or maybe to hide the fact that you were really golfing when I, er, I mean you, told the wife you were helping a buddy move. Of course, there are also bad reasons for lying, but at the moment, they escape me.

    But when it comes to children, caring parents know that lying is a way to avoid crushing their kids’ self-esteem. It’s not your job to destroy your child’s hopes and dreams by dispelling the myths of their childhood. That’s their future therapist’s responsibility. Your job is to keep telling your kids whatever you need to, to get them to behave, brush their teeth and maybe, just maybe, not kill the family cat, Bonkers.

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    • Drew, you completely forgot the all important step 3. You "look like' Santa ... of course not YOU Tim …
      Jeanne Whalen
  • Published On Sep. 16, 2014 by TEJ
  • When it came to the journey of parenthood, I took a guilt trip

    Guilty Parent - NapI have a confession to make. While technically speaking, I was raised in a Presbyterian household, I am sure that my parents secretly must have been practicing Catholics. Because for my entire adult life, no matter how hard I tried, I never felt my efforts were good enough. I’ve always felt guilty. Especially when it comes to parenting.

    When our two girls were toddlers, I mainly swung between three emotional states: totally overwhelmed, utterly exhausted and constantly feeling guilty. That guilt was usually caused by my feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.  When I became so sleep-deprived that I simply had to take a nap, I felt guilty for napping. I mean, a good dad would surely tough it out and watch a Sponge Bob video with the kids – for the 475th time. What kind of dad was I! For shame.

    I felt guilty about my job in a dot-com start-up where for years I routinely worked 75-hour weeks. For some periods, I was essentially an absentee parent until the weekend arrived. And on those rare occasions when I was able to leave work before 6pm, I felt guilty because all the other managers (who were all 15 years younger, single and child-free) would still be there well past 8pm.

    I felt guilty that my wife unfairly bore the burden of most of the household chores, not to mention the 4am feedings and diaper-changes. And by the time I finally got around to pulling my share of changing our girls’ diapers, I felt guilty that it took me so long to pitch in. I suspect that on some level our girls probably resented the delay in my efforts, too, especially because they were seven and six years old by that time.

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  • Published On Jul. 29, 2014 by TEJ
  • When it comes to our kids, winning isn’t everything. Whining is…..

    Winning - Whining girlFor too long, parents have been pushing their kids way too hard by doing outrageous things like telling them they need to get good grades if they want to get into college or harping on them relentlessly to practice piano for 30 minutes a week if they want to improve their skills. . Those parents are monsters!

    When I was a kid playing on various sports teams, year after year, the ruthless message drilled into me was that if you want to win, you have to try hard. And maybe even practice. I internalized this misguided achievement message at an early age. Little did I realize the long-term crippling effect caused by the constant parental pressure to “do your best” as a child. Years later, the damage is evident, as I now have a good-paying job and live in a lovely home in a safe neighborhood that has excellent schools with teachers and coaches who push my kids to do their best. When will this vicious cycle of achievement end?

    I have been as guilty as any parent, always sending the overbearing message to my daughters that if they want to get into a competitive college they might consider putting down their cell phone for two minutes and perhaps studying for tomorrow’s final exam.  In hindsight, I now realize that all this harsh talk about doing their best and applying themselves was actually undermining my kids’ fragile sense of entitlement.

    Finally, a sports league in Canada has gotten its priorities about kids and “winning” figured out. Recently, the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league of Ottawa, Canada came up with a new rule designed to protect children from the emotional scars of losing in sports. Their new rule? If a team wins a game by more than five goals, that team loses by default. The rule was designed to prevent blowout victories and to encourage good sportsmanship. Hats off to you, Gloucester Dragons Soccer League. Well done.

    Winning - kids playing soccerThe results so far have been impressive. Now, whenever a team goes up by five goals, their players usually stop playing, walk off the field, and head over to the playground to climb on the monkey bars in order to avoid accidentally scoring the losing goal. Now that’s true sportsmanship.

    I applaud the kid-friendly policy of this Canadian youth soccer league. Oh, sure, some people may criticize this new policy as yet further conclusive proof that the USA can beat the crap out of Canada anytime it wants. But I will ardently defend this enlightened new approach. Our kids’ psyches are extremely fragile from the first 18 months of life until the time when they no longer need our emotional and financial support – typically around age 37.

    We need to shelter our children from anything that might damage their self-esteem, such as losing 27 to 0 in a youth soccer match, as happened to nine-year-old Sarah Miller’s team last weekend. Sarah is the goalie. Think of what such a devastating thumping might do to her self-confidence. The last thing little Sarah needs is to internalize that she is a terrible goalie. (Although, as an aside, I have to say, Sarah really sucks at goaltending. She has no business being allowed out of the stands. But please don’t tell her parents you heard it from me.)

    As the Ottawa youth soccer league has taught us by its inspiring example, when it comes to our highly impressionable young children, life should not be about winning and losing, or showing up for practice, or getting cut from the baseball team just because little Jimmy can’t seem to figure out that the pitcher’s mound is not first base. Instead, our jobs as parents should be to protect our precocious angels from the real world that is waiting to beat them into submission.

    That’s why I’ve adopted a totally new parenting approach that focuses on preserving my kids’ belief in their greatness, regardless of evidence to the contrary. In the past, if a teacher gave my child a D on an important math test, I’d probably have a serious chat with my child and ask why she chose to stay up till 1am playing Candy Crush on her cell phone instead of studying for the test.

    But now I realize that such an interrogation might harm my child’s belief about her incredible brilliance. Now, if that same teacher were to give my daughter a D, I’d immediately berate the teacher for unfairly downgrading my child’s score simply because she gave incorrect answers. After all, when it comes to what’s right or wrong on a math text, who’s to say what the real answer is to 12 minus 5? It’s all so subjective. And I would be sure to praise my little princess on her outstanding choice of using a #2 pencil and remind her that she’s still an A+ student in my book.

    Winning - Angry boylChildhood flies by so quickly. You will have plenty of time later on to awaken your kids to the reality that life does not always even up the score to make sure everyone’s a winner. Let someone else teach them that the world does not owe them a six-figure income and a penthouse condo by age 25. Now is the time to remind your young superstar how special they are – even if they just tripped and did a face plant during a soccer game, and did so while only riding the bench.

    So, this summer, if by some act of blatant favoritism your perfect son or daughter does not get picked to play on your neighborhood’s Select soccer team, remember that your child is still incredibly gifted. It’s not your child’s fault that she skipped all the practices and couldn’t be bothered to show up for tryouts. That just means she has more time to work on that perfect tan this summer. She’s going to be a suntan superstar, I just know it.

    That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

    Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

    © Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014


    • And we wonder why some children end up living BACK at home when things don't work out at age 28? …
      Charmel Bowden
  • Published On May. 28, 2014 by TEJ
  • Memo to our kids: The family has decided to downsize

    [Author’s note: The following is a memo I plan to send our daughters in three years, when both of them will have graduated from college, informing them that they are now officially responsible for their own lives – and phone bills.]

    Family downsizing - you are firedMEMO TO: Junior members of Jones Family Enterprises

    FROM: Senior Executive Team

    Congratulations to the junior members of Jones Family Enterprises [henceforth JFE] on your recent completion of your undergraduate studies. The Senior Executive Team is confident that your long-term economic forecast is bright. We wish we could say the same for your near-term economic outlook. This memo is to inform you of an important decision the executive committee has made regarding your status on the JFE org chart.

    After a series of challenging years in which JFE has experienced steadily declining economic growth and spiraling costs, primarily in the area of our educational assistance program, the senior management has decided to implement some immediate cost-cutting measures in order to preserve the organization’s long-term cash reserves. This decision has forced us to make difficult personnel decisions to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste.

    Effective immediately, JFE is announcing a 50% reduction in force. As a consequence, we are forced to terminate your roles as fully-funded dependents of this organization and re-classify your status as “non-essential employees.”  We considered all other viable options before coming to this decision, including a recommendation by our firm’s Co-CEO, Ms. Jones, to eliminate my position on the executive steering committee. But that recommendation failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage by the two-person executive steering committee.

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    • A pre-warning to both the affected persons from their Grandmother. I agree with Mr Ralph Volk's comments. Said pension …
      Eleanor Rushworth (Yer MiL)
  • Published On May. 22, 2014 by TEJ
  • Is your own teenage daughter evil? Take this quiz to find out (Part two of a two-part post)

    evil teenager - girl with red hair In my previous post, I posited the breakthrough theory that at one time or another all teenage girls become evil.

    Based on rigorous field research (comprised mostly of renting the movie Mean Girls) I have concluded there are several cities that apparently have city ordinances requiring girls to turn evil (or at least seriously bitchy) by the time they reach puberty. This ordinance clearly is in effect in Beverly Hills, Orange County, Palm Beach, Florida, the Hamptons, and oddly enough, Omaha, Nebraska*. (I know, that last one surprised me too.)

    Now, you may still say, “Evil”? Really? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?” Well, I don’t mean evil in the “sociopath stalker kills five, kicks puppy” sense of the word. No, I mean evil more in the “You just don’t like him because he has a purple Mohawk, a tattoo of a king cobra on his neck and a chain that runs from his ear to his nose. You’re so judgmental. I hate my life!!” sort of way. You know, the she-doesn’t-have-time-to-take-the-3-extra-seconds-it-would-require-to-pick-up-her-bowl-of-half-eaten-ice-cream-that-she-left-on-our-expensive-leather-couch-for-the-fifth-time-this-week-so-the-cat-finally-knocked-it-over-leaving-a-six-inch-stain-of-Rocky-Road-that-will-never-come-out sense. That sort of evil.

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    • View From the Bleachers has done it again, Tim! In the interval between Parts One and Two, Rachel Canning, the …
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Mar. 19, 2014 by TEJ
  • Are all teenage daughters evil? (Part one of a two-part post)

    evil teenager - before and afterAre all teenage daughters evil?

    It’s a question I have seriously wondered about many times ever since my daughters became teenagers. A research study recently reported that people with teenagers in the house are, statistically speaking, the least happy demographic group of all* (I am not making this up). Interestingly, disgruntled postal workers and prisoners in solitary confinement rank higher in their daily happiness quotient than the average parents of teenagers. Sadly, Melvin Zemmecki, a disgruntled postal worker in Newark, New Jersey, currently serving time in prison in solitary confinement and father of four teenage girls, has the dubious distinction of being rated the most unhappy human being in the USA.**

    Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself an expert in understanding the impact of parenting mistakes and communication failures. As a parent of two teenage daughters, I have the pleasure of witnessing two simultaneous cases of hormonally-induced multiple personality disorder on a daily basis. There are all sorts of theories as to why teenage girls tend to be so moody, angry, irritable, thoughtless, self-absorbed, lazy, disrespectful, emotionally distant, narcissistic, a giant pain in the ass, never EVER cleaning their damn rooms, would it kill you to put your dirty plate in the dishwasher just once, I tell you??!!!??…. um, I appear to have forgotten my point.

    Oh yes. As I was saying, there are many theories to explain why teenage girls are often challenging and mercurial. Some experts attribute this to the flood of hormones surging through their bodies. Others speculate it’s about peer pressure. Some lay the blame at media for promoting an impossible-to-achieve perfect body image á la Taylor Swift. Some evidence points to the plethora of reality TV shows in which the most selfish, outlandish, nasty, back-stabbing behavior is often glorified and handsomely rewarded.

    But I have a different theory: All teenage daughters are evil. Read More…


    • Tim, Thanks to you I have successfully wasted 10 minutes of my life (mostly laughing) reading your thoroughly …
      David Driscoll
  • Published On Mar. 12, 2014 by TEJ
  • A parent’s survival guide for when your college kid comes home for the holidays

    college students visiting home - mom at airportRecently both of our daughters came home for the holiday break. Their return brought us a new set of parenting concerns. When kids go off to college, they suddenly consider themselves adults. They feel the old kids’ rules from their high school years no longer apply. So it can be stressful to know how to parent your almost-adult child now that they’ve concluded they no longer need to listen to a word you say. That’s why, in the most loving way possible, you should periodically remind them – roughly every two hours – about who is paying for their college and how you’d be delighted to spend that money on a Mediterranean cruise for yourself if they don’t clean up their act during their brief time home.

    I would like to share my best parenting advice for how to get your kids to cooperate when they come home from college. I really would. But I can no more decipher the code for how to parent college-age kids than I can explain why some people pay $200 more for a cell phone custom-colorized to match their purse. But I will try to impart some wisdom just the same.

    Challenge #1: The pit stop. Many parents experience the short-lived joy of welcoming their kids home for winter break only to become annoyed as their child vanishes seconds after their arrival, shouting, “Hi, Dad. Gotta go. Meeting Bridget to go shopping.”  It’s easy to feel like your kids are only using your house as a place to crash at night, but that’s not true. They are also using your house for the free food, free laundry service, and free use of your Lexus. Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether your child might be heading off to shop for a Christmas present for you – they’re not. They’re going shopping to swap out the color pattern on their swaggy new cell phone so that it can perfectly match their – well, you get the picture.

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    • Happy New Year and Happy Belated Birthday, Tim! We just took our precious princess back to Charlottesville yesterday. In her …
      Tracy T.
  • Published On Jan. 09, 2014 by TEJ
  • Meet the world’s smartest person:
    My teenage daughter.

    Worlds smartest person - high school graduatePersonally, I can’t stand it when other people brag about their kids. You’ll never catch me puffing up my chest, bragging about the fact my daughter won the National Chess Tournament for kids seven and under at the age of five. Nor will you ever hear me boast about her eighth grade science experiment, inventing an internal combustion engine that ran on tap water. You’ll never hear me talk your ear off about my daughter scoring four goals to lead her team to victory in the state soccer championships in ninth grade either. That’s because I hate to brag about my kids’ incredible achievements (particularly when it involves making things up).

    But the one thing I have to admit to taking pride in is the fact that I am – much to my surprise – the parent of the world’s smartest person. I’m talking about my teenage daughter Rachel. I base this conclusion on more than a decade of longitudinal field studies observing her interaction with my wife and me. At first, I was not fully aware of just how superior her intellect was – in part because at the age of four, she still believed in unicorns and was convinced we should trade in her younger sister for an Easy Bake oven.

    Over time, however, it became clear just how amazingly bright she was compared to her stupid parents – because she made a point of reminding us of that fact on a daily basis. For years, I lived under the misconception that earth revolved around the sun. But by the time Rachel hit her teens, it had become obvious to me – the entire universe revolved around her.

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    • I often thought that with my two daughters that I got significantly "dumber" when they turned 12, and then miraculously …
      Ralph Volk
  • Published On Oct. 08, 2013 by TEJ
  • Preparing for life as an Empty Nester (and hoping for an occasional text from my kids)

    This weekend I have the whole house to myself. Our elder daughter Rachel is a college freshman and our younger daughter Emily (who apparently really admires her dad – who knew?) is with my wife this weekend, visiting the college she’ll be enrolling in next fall. For the past few days, it’s been eerily quiet in the house – and eerily tidy. It’s weird to walk into my bathroom and not see my daughter’s curling iron, dirty towels and jars of makeup, eye liner, and moisturizing creams piled up in my sink. I barely recognize the kitchen now because there are no stacks of dirty dishes covering every square inch of the counter. 

    This got me to thinking about next fall, when for the first time in 19 years, there will be no kids in our house. We’ll be joining the ranks of a rapidly growing demographic: Happy People (otherwise known as “Empty Nesters”). Many couples look forward to this phase of life. But for me, it’s going to be a difficult adjustment. So I took time this weekend to look at old photo albums and watch old family videos.  It brought back wonderful memories of many happy times with our daughters. 

    Like the 1,284 times I changed our daughters’ diapers when they were young (which, according to my rough estimate, is approximately 1,284 more times than my father changed his own kids’ diapers when we were young). 

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    • Oh how your words resonate with me as my wife and I, and my father in law assist our twenty-year-old …
      Mike Jones
  • Published On Apr. 25, 2013 by TEJ