Monday, September 6, 2010

Things Parents Should Worry About

Here is a great article from NPR listing the top five things parents actually worry about and the top five things they actually SHOULD worry about, based on probability statistics.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Interview on The Roy Green Show

I'm going to see if this works. I was interviewed this evening for the Roy Green Show, on the Corus Radio Network in Canada. Use this link to listen to it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Complete Streets Ordinance in my town!

I am so excited about this! The City Council of the town I live in just passed a Complete Streets Ordinance requiring all new development to include sidewalks, bike paths and other safe walking options. I had spoken with my city councilor earlier this summer about the idea, suggesting that it would be good for our community. I am so glad they moved forward on it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chart about Fear

Here is a chart about fears - comparing what we are usually most afraid of with what we really should be afraid of. Think about it the next time you make a decision about what to let your children do or what you spend your energies trying to prevent.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An idea for Mother's Day

Here is a great post about how to be a happier parent. I know that frequently my answer to "how are you doing?" is "busy". I know my life goes better when I am able to have some down time.

Let's all try and slow down a little.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seeing vs. Doing

An interesting experience recently taught me the difference between seeing and doing. 

My youngest daughter was playing with my father's brace. He had worn a leg brace from the time he was nine years old until he died at sixty-six, the lingering result of childhood polio. I kept his last one. Not sure why, but I didn't want to get rid of it. This daughter was barely a year old when my father died, so she doesn't remember him. She was trying it on her leg and trying to walk with it. She began asking me questions about how it worked and how her grandpa had walked. I explained that he walked with a straight leg because the brace had to be kept straight to support his weight, but that he was able to bend it when he sat down. Then I tried to show her how it worked, only I couldn't get it to bend. I knew my dad had bent his leg to sit down, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to make the brace bend. I remembered watching my father sit down and he always placed his hand near the back of his knee to make it bend. I had always thought he had just given it a push. That's what it had looked like to me. Then I noticed a tag right around the knee. As I experimented, I discovered that a lever pulled up and released the latch allowing the brace to bend. Easy as pie once I figured it out, but I found it strange that it took me so long to do something myself I had watched my dad do numerous times.

No matter how many times I had seen my father manage his brace, I still had no idea how it really worked until I did it myself. This is a concept I will try and remember as I am teaching my children. Having my children watch me it a lot easier than supervising them in doing something new. Doing it myself saves time, clean-up and usually, frustration. But, it's a much better teaching tool. I struggle with implementing this concept and I'm not perfect. Sometimes I just haven't budgeted my time well-enough to let my children take over, or I am not feeling patient enough. But, I will try to remember this lesson and be more patient.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Standardized Testing in Schools

My daughter's school is in the process of administering practice exams to their students who will be taking state achievements tests in May. The idea is both to get them used to the test format and to evaluate how they do. Our state recently implemented new, more rigorous tests and the results so far have been much less than thrilling. I can tell that the administrators and teachers at my daughter's school are concerned.

What can I do as a parent in this situation? What should I do? Because I have a vested interest in seeing our school and our district receive high marks as a result of these tests, I am working with my daughter outside of school to help her prepare. There are sample tests available online, which I have downloaded, and I am now in the process of reviewing them with her.

But, that's not all I will do. Another parent contacted me to discuss the situation at our school (this is elementary by the way, third and fourth grade). We've both looked over the practice test and are concerned that it is designed to be too difficult. The way questions are worded give the impression that the designers are trying to trick students, or at least demand that they know exactly what to look for on the test. This concerns me because now these teachers will spend the next 7 weeks focusing their teaching on how to take this particular test.

So, I plan to be part of a group that asks some serious questions about these tests. I recognize the need to evaluate students, teachers, and schools to ensure that students are being taught what they should. But, there are so many problems with the measurement tools that are being used.

I wonder how parents, teachers, students, and administrators handle these tests in areas where the students excel on them. I really wonder if there is better teaching happening at the school, or do the children come to school better prepared? I live in Mississippi, which has a variety of challenges that make having high achieving students difficult.

I don't have any answers, just lots of concerns and questions. I do what I can to be helpful and I spend a lot of time inside the school buildings. Still I wonder, what's the fix?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are Free-Range Parents Uninvolved?

Linda Murray, the editor-in-chief of, who was on the Dr. Phil Show with me, made the comment that free-range parents are less involved in their children's lives. I respectfully totally disagree. I can see where she might have gotten that idea, but none of the free-range parents I know would be consider uninvolved. I would make the argument that free-range parents are actually MORE involved in their children's lives.

I keep thinking, as I rush from activity to activity or try to juggle which friends are coming over to play, just where my free time is going if I'm so uninvolved in the lives of my children. It's not like I kick them out of the house and tell them not to come back until dark like parents a generation ago were fond of doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy when they find friends to play with and other houses to visit in the neighborhood, but there aren't many kids in our neighborhood, so it doesn't happen that way much. When my children get together with their friends, it usually takes parental involvement. So, I do my fair share of driving my kids to other houses and meeting parents at the park.

The fact of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to be a free-range parent. Would I have let my son walk to soccer alone if that trip had been the first time he had walked in our neighborhood? No way. I had walked with him, his dad had walked with him, his grandparents had walked with him. You can't send your child out to do something alone without first teaching him or her how to do it. My middle daughter can now cook a few things alone on the stove. How many hours do you think we spent cooking with her before she was able to do it alone? More often than not, that help came at the expense of a quickly cooked meal because it takes more time to teach someone than to just do it yourself.

I spend much of my time with my children teaching them things that will make them more independent and better people (at least I hope they will!). And, just because I'm not by their side every step of the way doesn't mean I'm not there in the background somewhere. I don't get on the horse when they ride, but I'm there because I drove them there. I don't do their schoolwork for them or drive forgotten homework to school, but I do remind them to get their stuff together before they leave. I was amazed the other day at my girls' elementary school when the principal mentioned that they have a large number of parents who are frequently bringing things to school that their children have forgotten – homework, clothing items, etc. I have been known to drive a critical piece of homework or a book to school once in a great while (which usually means my children are so distraught over the consequences of the missing item that they have convinced a teacher to let them use a cell phone to call me), but rather than spend my time running around taking care of what my children are supposed to be taking responsibility for, I try to help them develop routines and practices that help them learn that responsibility. Plus, it doesn't hurt once in awhile to refuse to bail them out and let them suffer the consequences for a mistake. They won't forget after that.

So, I challenge the assertion that free-range parents are uninvolved. I submit that free-range parents are, in fact, more involved because in order to give our children the freedom that they so desperately need, we first must teach them how to use that freedom appropriately.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Advice from Dr. Michele Borba

Here is a link to a blog post by Dr. Michele Borba, who was on the Dr. Phil Show with me. She was great on the show and I really enjoyed her advice. I love her rubber band theory of parenting. We all grow by stretching our limits - especially children. Just not so far that we break the rubber band (yes, free-range parents do have limits). The freedoms we give our children must be appropriate to their age and maturity.

The philosophy of free-range parenting is about not being afraid of what "could happen" when our children are ready to do things on their own. Be realistic about what probably will happen. For instance, when I leave my children home alone (just the younger two, btw, unless I'm just running to the grocery story around the corner to get something for dinner) I am more worried about them fighting and someone getting their feelings hurt than of a predator entering my house. The fighting is much more likely, plus I have an alarm system I can leave on.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dr. Phil Show

There are clips online and written summaries of what we talked about on the show and some of my philosophies that didn't make it on the air. I'd love to hear anyone has to say about this topic. I think it is timely and important. The other guests and I could have talked all day about it - too bad the show was only an hour.

Here is also a clip Dr. Phil showed about how to teach your children to resist stranger abduction. We hope our children will never have to use these skills and the statistics really are on our side that they never will, but it's best to be prepared. I'm going to make sure my kids see this and practice it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I'm on the Dr. Phil Show

I taped an episode of the Dr. Phil Show just before Christmas and it will air on Tuesday, Jan. 5th. The subject is parenting, specifically overparenting versus free-range parenting. You can read the blurb about it at There is also a link on that page to local listings if you don't know when Dr. Phil is broadcast in your area.

I'd love to hear what you think of the show and the topic. Leave me a comment!