October 27, 2014

Apparently parenting does need a license

You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they'll let any butt reaming a*hole be a father”.  That quote (from the movie Parenthood), comes back to me on a daily basis – who knew how dialed in it would be in the year 2014.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with all the outrageous parenting stories I’ve been reading about lately.  There’s Adrian Peterson and the “corporal punishment” debate, the shaming your kid method and making your kid drink until they are hospitalized.

I’m not sure what’s going on with parents and their abusive parenting methods, but they are just plain creepy and yes, I’m judging.  I grew up in Texas, and the HS that I attended used “licks” as punishment, with a wooden paddle.  Can you imagine that today?  Your child comes home and tells you that the principle “hit” them?  When I saw the Charles Barkley interview on CBS about Adrian Peterson, when he said, "I'm from the South, Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances." I agreed.  It is a Southern thing but that doesn’t make it right.  Sexual abuse happens too, doesn’t make it okay.  There’s much debate about whether or not this is a racial thing– a geography thing, or just plain child abuse?  I never think it’s okay to hit a child because it’s a form of torture and humiliation.  What do we think is going to happen if we “hit” a child in order to get them to behave the way we want them to?  Violence begets violence.  I was never a fan of time-outs, in fact they are just stupid, but you have to find a way to reach your kid, without inflicting physical harm.  It’s why the men that beat women (Ray Rice) do what they do.  It’s how they were raised and it’s how they are going to raise their own kids.  I don’t think Adrian Peterson thought he did anything wrong when he beat his son, because that’s what he knows.  At what point does Adrian see that causing your child to have open wounds on his little body, isn’t right?  If you grow up with limousines and caviar everyday, that’s how you think the rest of the world lives.  If you grow up and your father beats you everyday, that’s how you think rest the world lives.  You know what you grow up with.

How about when parents want to demonstrate their point, so they make their child stand at school, holding a sign with their punishment saying things like: “I hit my sister and I like hitting girls, or I’m a bully”.  While some parents agree that this type of punishment is effective, I think it’s disgusting.  What’s the goal?  If you shame a child, how is that helping them? Some will argue that it’s the only way to get through to your kid when nothing else works, but I don’t believe they’ve tried everything else.  Those parents should have to stand there with a sign saying, “I’m a bad parent and I like to shame my child”.  Let’s see how they like it.

Did you read about the dad from Mississippi that caught his 15 year-old son drinking alcohol?  He thought it would be a good idea to make him drink until he passed out.   Apparently the boy wound up unconscious and in the emergency room.  I just want to get in that dad’s head and understand what possessed him to practically kill his own kid in order to teach him a lesson.  Does that make sense to you?

Unfortunately, we can’t hand out common sense when someone becomes a parent.  Hopefully these incidents will gain enough attention that we start educating people on how far is too far.  All these disciplinary measures are taken to excess.  I might get my psychology license because there’s going to be a lot of kids on someone’s couch dealing with all their issues later in life. What say you?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com.

October 14, 2014

Cyber Safety - the "Talk"

I don’t know how many of you have been to a talk on cyber safety, but they are definitely worth your time.  I attended one recently and found myself feeling very nostalgic and sad for my kids.  I’m so thankful that I didn’t grow up in this digital world that is so vast and so “public”.  Our kids will never know privacy, ever.  And worse, anything they put out there in cyber space, is permanent.  We constantly hear that their “frontal lobes” aren’t fully formed until they are 25, so how are they supposed to make decisions that we tell them can impact their future and the rest of their life?  We try to teach them that their words and pictures do not go away, but that’s an impossible concept to get across to a kid.  I can’t believe I’m doing this, but do you remember the good old-fashioned telephone and if a boy wanted to call you, he had to get through your parents first?  That awful moment when you call, hear a parent on the other end of the line, and quickly hang up.  That was before caller-id when they could bust you on the spot.  That’s such a huge part of the process of growing up and experiencing awkward moments that shape who we become. Unfortunately, with cell phones and technology, that will never happen to our kids.  Parents are bypassed all day long.  I just read a great article and the author asked the question, “Would the movie The Breakfast Club even exist today”?  Think about it, those kids would all be on their phones, taking selfies and telling everyone on the outside how lame their day in detention was.  They wouldn’t be interacting and actually talking with one another.  They wouldn’t be asking Carl to talk to them about a career in the janitorial arts.  It’s so sad.  I don’t know if this generation has a name but I call them iKids.

One thing this woman spoke about that really caught my attention was family values.  My thoughts immediately went to honesty and integrity.  But the more she spoke, I found myself sinking in my chair.  To be on any type of social media you need to be 13 years old.  And for some reason, I was pretty head strong about that with my daughter and Facebook.  She got her account the day she turned 13 – but here’s what gets me.  For some unknown reason, we let both our kids have an Instagram account, a few years ago (way before they were 13).  I don’t know if subconsciously we had no idea the legal age was 13, or maybe we didn’t want to know?  But her talk made me realize that our kids had to lie in order to get their accounts, which is painful considering the fact that we teach them to never lie.  The direction of this conversation made me very uncomfortable, because it pointed out how easily we can slip, even if we are incredibly head strong parents.

When I got home, I did exactly what this speaker said not to do.  I had a major download with my son right after the talk, because that’s just who I am, sorry. I asked him how he felt about lying about his age to get his Instagram account – to which he replied, “Mom, it’s not like I’m killing anyone, or hurting anyone, I just want an Instagram, and you said it was okay.  What’s the big deal”?  So I told him that the big deal is that it compromises our family values, and if we compromise on some things, how and where do we draw the line.   We ended up having a very good conversation.

She taught us that even if we can’t keep on top of all the trends, we could control behavior.  In other words, we shouldn’t be scared of Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, Wanelo, Pheed or Kik, but we need to establish guidelines.  Face it, the hot “App” trends are going to change constantly, depending on what kids think is cool.  We will never be in front of that, but at least we can “Get on the bus”. Don’t even get me started on R-rated movies.
Have you bent any family rules, in order to let your kids have Apps, play video games or watch movies that they shouldn’t be allowed to?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com. 

October 9, 2014

Criminalizing Parenting

In case you were wondering, it turns out you can’t parent however you want in 2014.  A 46 year-old woman was recently jailed for letting her 9 year-old daughter play in the park, unsupervised, while she was working. This story comes on the heels of the homeless woman who was arrested for leaving her kids in the car during a job interview. (Sort of ironic since her home was her car). The 46 year-olds’ daughter had been accompanying her to work for most of the summer, bringing her laptop and keeping herself entertained.  Then her home was robbed and the computer was stolen. The daughter asked if she could go to a local park to play while her mom worked.  The park was a 6-minute walk from her house, so her mother agreed.  She gave her daughter a cell phone in case of an emergency, and her daughter was fine for two days.  On the third day, a stranger questioned the girl about her mother’s whereabouts, and then called the police when they realized that she was alone.  The mother was arrested on “abandonment charges”. This woman was arrested, and her daughter was taken away from her, because her daughter was playing in a crowded park while she worked?  First of all, if this “stranger” was so concerned, why didn’t they call the girl’s mother?  What made them call the police?  This morning they reported that a mom in Florida was arrested after her 7 year-old son was found walking to a park alone.  The park was a 15 -minute walk from his home and he also had a cell phone.  A stranger called the police when they saw the boy unsupervised and the police escorted him home where they arrested his mother for child neglect.

What is going on here?  Since when did an unsupervised child playing or walking to a park become against the law?  Is that even a law?  How are kids supposed to learn to take care of themselves and have any independence?  100 years ago these kids would be working on a farm from sun up to sun down, and today they can’t play without a helicopter parent lurking over them?  I used to ride my bike to the lake; 2 miles away, swim all day, and then ride my bike home when it was dinnertime.  I don’t recall anyone ever calling the cops and arresting my mom because she wasn’t with me.  We all did.  I’m truly at a loss as to what law is being broken and how these kids are in such grave danger. 

We expect people to support themselves, but when single mothers do whatever they have to in order to survive, they are criminals?  Look, would I send my 9 year-old to the park all day by herself, probably not.  But I have family, friends, and money to pay a babysitter or an X-box so my kids can stay at home and be entertained.  I have options.  These moms don’t have options.   They are limited in terms of what they can do with their kids, especially during summer.  Summer is supposed to be fun and means no homework and freedom from getting up early, making lunches and having to be at school all day.  But for single working parents who have minimum wage jobs, summer isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  What kid wants to sit in McDonalds all day while their mom works?

Seriously, when did we start criminalizing parenting?  This mom isn’t giving her 3 year-old beers in a sippy cup.  She isn’t sexually abusing her child or using him/her as a punching bag.   This is a mom, doing her best to support her family on the money she earns, and giving her child a little freedom along the way.  Why aren’t the cops spending their time going after the real scumbags?  Lord knows we have enough of them. When did we become the “Nanny state”?  And why do strangers immediately want to dial the police rather than help?  Why do we jump to demonize someone before knowing any of the facts? 

I’m outraged and I hope you are too.  Do you think these moms should be arrested for abandonment?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com.

June 23, 2014

Graduation 2014

Knowing that graduation was fast approaching, I wanted to write something about the experience.  At the beginning of the year, I went to our school’s Open House and silently wept most of the night because this was our daughter’s last year in this school.  She basically grew up with this community of people that have become like family to us.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I was going to be when the day finally came that she would move on to high school.  It was just yesterday that I sent her off to pre-pre-school at the tender age of 2.  What was I thinking?

When she was only 4 years old, the school told me that she had mastered everything at and was ready for Kindergarten.  My husband and I had nothing to compare it to, and she was our oldest, so we went with their advice. This is funny, I remember that we had a birthday party for her within the first two weeks of starting school, and she received birthday cards that read, “Happy 6th Birthday”.  It took my husband and me a few moments to understand that she was the only child who was turning 5 years old.  Our daughter is (and has always been), the youngest kid in her class. So many people analyze the pros and the cons of holding their child back, but we never did.  We took the advice from her pre-school and sent her straight to kindergarten.  We both worked full time, and frankly, we never gave it a second thought.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and here she is, 13 years old, and she just graduated the 8th grade.  She’s officially going to high school in the fall and that’s something that I always thought happened to other people.  Now I’m one of them.  Crazy, I know.  But here’s the strange part.  On the day of her graduation, I wasn’t emotional, crying or freaking out.  In fact, she was so happy that it made me happy.  I looked at her with so much pride, that crying wasn’t an option. To know me is to know that I worry about things that haven’t even happened and may never happen.  I create scenarios in my head and then I worry about them, and they are all fiction?  Don’t ask...It’s a terrible quality, and one that I need to work on.

I went to a party with my husband the night after the graduation, and heard varying degrees about how scary high school can be.  People all like to say things like, “Oh Randi, there’s sex and drugs everywhere, you just have to hope you’ve done your job”. Or you might take to two parents (of the same child), and they each have a completely different take on what it’s really like when your kid starts high school. One parent will tell you the horrors while the other tells you that it’s the greatest thing that’s happened to their family.  I’m confused.

Last year, I spoke with a good friend whose daughter had moved on from our school to high school with so much grace.  I asked her how she was dealing with it.  She looked at me and said, “Randi, this is life, would you prefer that she was held back?  You want her to move forward.  Stop worrying about what could happen, it’s not going to do you any good.”  I walked away from that conversation thinking that she was a lunatic.  How could she think that I wouldn’t worry that my daughter was going to high school (in a year)?

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I saw this same mom and reminded her about our conversation.  She had remembered it and asked me how I was dealing with the process.  I suppose she was right.  It’s surreal that I’m old enough to have a kid going off to HS in the fall, but here we are.  We can’t worry about what hasn’t happened, or try to think about everything that could happen.  This is life and it’s full of change and risk and opportunity and as I type this I’m getting nauseous.  OMG I have a kid going to HS in the fall.

Are any of you here yet?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com.