Saturday, May 29, 2010


"Parents may influence the development of drinking
beliefs in their sons and daughters through commun-
ication with them. These beliefs, in turn, may have a role
in influencing the probability of the students experiencing negative binge-drinking related consequences while at college. Interventions that attempt to increase such communications and beliefs in college students have the potential for reducing binge-drinking related consequences."
"Binge-Drinking-Related Consequences in College Students:Role of Drinking Beliefs and Mother-Teen Communications" : Rob Turrisi, Kimberley A Wiersma, Kelli K Hughes.

These are the final summary comments of a study made in 2000. The study was with "college"/university of tertiary students, and although researchers stated more needs to be known on the topic about teens not in tertiary study and in different population-sized centres, I think the findings give parents a lot of information to work with their teenagers of all ages.
Despite the fact that drug and alcohol abuse education and preventative programs have increased in high schools, the number of teenagers with problems in these areas are increasing.
The connection of children's drinking beliefs with communication between children and parents.
Turrisi, Wiersma and Hughes' study repeatedly comments on the effect parents can have into the lives of their teenage children, ". . . .inaccurate assumption that parents have minimal influence on the children when the children are living away from home at college. The data from the present study reaffirms the importance of the relationship between mother-teen communications and teen drink-related beliefs relevant to binge-drinking consequences. We were impressed by the consistency. . . . with which mother-teen communication were related to the "beliefs" that prevented the experience of negative consequences."
I wrote on the topic of Parents influence into the lives of their children, in my second blog - WEEK 2 QUOTE 2.
Dick Schaefer in his article "Choices and Consequences:What to do When a Teenager Uses Alcohol/Drugs", also beckons parents to communicate with their teenagers. "Traditionally, in the upcoming season of (high school and university balls) the amount of alcohol young people drink soars. What's important", says Schaefer, "is to keep the lines of communication open before an incident occurs. . . . It should be just as easy to talk to them about drinking and marijuana as it is to talk about sex. . . . and that's the problem," says Schaefer. "We think we're so open but we're not."
Turrisi, Wiersma and Hughes say in their study that not all students who drink get into trouble. "So who are the ones at risk? Our findings suggest it is the ones with certain beliefs and that's where mother-teen communication can really play a role in changing those beliefs."
Not changing habits, rather changing beliefs.
A teenager's "belief" or attitude to alcohol therefore plays a huge part in how frequently and excessively they will drink alcohol. Help is not found in trying to change drinking habits, but rather in changing beliefs or attitudes in a teenager's mind, about alcohol.
One of my 'heroes', Charlotte Mason, gives a wonderful method to bring about a change in bad behavioural habits in children. She starts by asking the parent to think carefully about the child's problem, what it could grow into for them in the future if left unchanged and how it affects the child and others. She asks us to be specific with particular details. Then, when both parent and child are calm, talk to the child about their bad habit, giving all your detailed thoughts and scenarios of the future. The idea is to show the truthful unhappy outcomes of the habit. Charlotte describes it as appealing to their will. This is what has to change - their attitude or belief, before there will be any change in behaviour.
The effect of belief on behaviour.
You may be asking how can a belief or attitude toward alcohol affect a teenager's behaviour? The study found there was a link between students who held the view that alcohol would enhance social behaviour or positively transform it, with the probability of the student driving after drinking and getting into fights. In fact as the magnitude of this belief increased in a student's mind, the likelihood of involvement in physical fighting also significantly increased.
Another finding was that individuals who saw drinking as cool, were less likely to acknowledge they had experienced hangovers or other ill effects after binge-drinking.
Facts about the effects of alcohol.
Binge drinking can lead to a raft of consequence problems such as obesity, memory loss, brain damage and death itself. Statistics show "children who get drunk for the first time under the age of fifteen are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later on in life, and if alcoholism is in your family, your child is four times more likely to become an alcoholic."
The more a person drinks the more their powers of decision-making are altered. Further choices and decisions are likely to be even poorer, increasing the risk of unacceptable actions and behaviour. As more alcohol is consumed an individual's perception of what is happening around them changes. The danger here for girls is that in their view everyone seems to be having a good time. But at that point they are oblivious to the thinking of some men, that girls "are more sexually available after they have been drinking". They also believe "it is less likely they will get into any trouble". As alcohol is increased true perception of circumstances decreases.
As a Mum, what do I need to say?
"Keeping the lines of communication open," says Dick Schaefer, means as parents we need to talk to our teenagers about our concerns. Teenagers, particularly young ones, love to state that everyone drinks, but that is not true. NZ Statistics on the subject says 50% of the NZ population aged 12 - 17 years in 2003 were non-drinkers. Seven years on, the statistics will have changed, but I am sure we can use this statistic as Schaefer says to "arm" ourselves when talking with our children about the drinking scene. He says it's important to "break this idea that everyone drinks, because it is just not true."
The study asked students about conversations with their mothers in the following areas ~
* how alcohol changes your personality.
* how drinking could get you into trouble with the police.
* how alcohol can create a false sense of power.
* how alcohol only gets in the way of making true friends.
* how drinking only makes problems worse, not better.
* how being caught drinking would affect other relationships.
* how being caught drinking could bring embarrassment to themselves or the family.
* the importance of being committed to a healthy lifestyle.
* what the punishment could be in being caught drinking.

You could add to this, facts about the harmful physical effects of alcohol on a person's body.
How about us parents?
The research showed that some mum-teen communication was due to parents hearing about or catching their teen drinking. Rather than parents following this course of action, parents need to be proactive, communicating as Dick Schaefer says before the event, or in their growing up years. The findings were that "When parents communicate more, the teens were less positive about drinking."
We need to also check our approach to alcohol - what message are we sending our children in our attention, fascination, prominence or financial investment into alcohol?
You may be wondering what "powers" Mums have in communicating, to make this difference in the lives of their sons and daughters? - a topic to explore in another blog.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, Mums, have a chat with your teenagers and preteens, about alcohol.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


"Close your eyes and picture Family Dinner. June Cleaver is in an apron and pearls, Ward in a sweater and tie. The napkins are linen, the children are scrubbed, steam rises from the green-bean casserole, and even the dog listens intently to what is being said. . . . That ideal runs so strong and so deep in our culture and psyche that when experts talk about the value of family dinners, they may leave aside the clutter of contradictions. Just because we eat together does not mean we eat right: Domino's alone delivers a million pizzas on an average day. Just because we are sitting together doesn't mean we have anything to say: children bicker and fidget and daydream: parents stew over the remains of the day. Often the richest conversations, the moments of genuine intimacy; take place somewhere else, in the car, say, on the way back from soccer at dusk, when the low light and lack of eye contact allow secrets to surface.
Yet for all that, there is something about a shared meal - . . . . not once in a while but regularly, reliably - that anchors a family even on nights when the food is fast and the talk cheap and everyone has someplace else they'd rather be. And on those evenings when the mood is right and the family lingers, caught up in an idea or an argument explored in a shared safe place where no one is stupid or shy or ashamed, you get a glimpse of the power of this habit and why social scientists say such communion acts as a kind of vaccine, protecting kids from all manner of harm.
In fact, it's the experts in adolescent development who wax most emphatic about the value of family meals, for it's in the teenage years that this daily investment pays some of its biggest dividends. Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their vegetables, learn big words and know which fork to use. "If it were just about food, we would squirt it into their mouths with a tube," says Robin Fox. . . . "A meal is about civilizing children. It's about teaching them to be a member of their culture."
The most probing study of family eating patterns was published last year by the National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse (CASA). . . . The researchers found essentially that family dinner gets better with practice; the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45% say the TV is on during meals. . . .and nearly one-third say there isn't much conversation. Such kids are also more than twice as likely as those who have frequent family meals to say there is a great deal of tension among family members, and they are much less likely to think their parents are proud of them.
The older that kids are, the more they may need this protected time together, but the less likely they are to get it. Although a majority of 12-year-olds in the CASA study said they had dinner with a parent seven nights a week, only a quarter of 17-year-olds did. . . . The families with the least educated parents, for example, eat together the most; parents with less than a high school education share more meals with their kids than do parents with high school diplomas or college degrees. That may end up acting as a generational corrective; kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week. Foreign-born kids are much more likely to eat with their parents.
. . . . With both parents working and the kids shuttling between sports practices or attached to their screens at home, finding a time for everyone to sit around the same table, eating the same food and listening to one another, became a quaint kind of luxury. Meanwhile, the message embedded in the microwave was that time spent standing in front of a stove was time wasted. . . .
". . . . a contemporary style of parenting, particularly in the middle class, is overindulgence of children." argues William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota and author of The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties. "It treats them as customers who need to be pleased." By that, he means the willingness of parents to let dinner be an individual improvisation -- no routine, no rules, leave the television on, everyone eats what they want, teenagers take a plate to their room so they can keep IMing their friends. . . .
. . . . meals together send the message that citizenship in a family entails certain standards beyond individual whims. This is where a family builds its identity and culture. Legends are passed down, jokes rendered, eventually the wider world examined through the lens of a family's values. In addition, young kids pick up vocabulary and a sense of how conversation is structured. They hear how a problem is solved, learn to listen to other people's concerns and respect their tastes. "A meal is about sharing," says Doherty. "I see this trend where parents are preparing different meals for each kid, and it takes away from that. The sharing is the compromise. Not everyone gets their ideal menu every night."
Doherty heard from a YMCA camp counselor about the number of kids who arrive with a list of foods they won't eat and who require basic instruction from counselors on how to share a meal. "They have to teach them how to pass food around and serve each other. The kids have to learn to eat what's there. And they have to learn how to remain seated until everyone else is done.". . . .
When parents say their older kids are too busy or resistant to come to the table the way they did when they were 7, the dinner evangelists produce evidence to the contrary. The CASA study found that a majority of teens who ate three or fewer meals a week with their families wished they did so more often. Parents sometimes seem a little too eager to be rejected by their teenager sons and daughters, suggests Miriam Weinstein, a freelance journalist who wrote The Surprising Power of Family Meals. "We've sold ourselves on the idea that teenagers are obviously sick of their families, that they're bonded to their peer group," she says. . . . She scolds parents who blame their kids for undermining mealtime when the adults are co-conspirators. "It's become a badge of honour to say, 'I have no time, I am so busy,'" she says. . . . Parents may be undervaluing themselves when they conclude that sending kids off to every conceivable extracurricular activity is a better use of time than an hour spent around a table, just talking to Mom and Dad.
The family-meal crusaders offer lots of advice to parents seeking to recenter their household on the dinner table. Groups like Ready, Set, Relax!, based in Ringwood, N.J., have dispensed hundreds of kits to towns from Kentucky to California, coaching communities on how to fight overscheduling and carve out family downtime. More schools are offering basic cooking instructions. It turns out that when kids help prepare a meal, they are much more likely to eat it, and it's a useful skill that seems to build self esteem. Research on family meals does not explore whether it makes a difference if dinner is with two parents or one or even whether the meal needs to be dinner. For families whose schedules make evenings together a challenge, breakfast or lunch may have the same value. So pull up some chairs. Lose the TV. Let the phone go unanswered. And see where the moment takes you."
TIME "The Magic of the Family Meal " : Nancy Gibbs. Sunday June 4 2006.

Yes a LONG quote, but it's worth reading.
Family meals are not a petrol station which the children call briefly into, hastily collecting up the necessary 'bits', while the 'fuel' pumps into the 'tank'. Nor are they a fashion parade on the runway, of exotic creations, semi exhibited before those gathered, and where the intention and focus of being there is to rave about or criticise the Master Chief menu.
What is it then?
Family meals are about all that Nancy Gibbs' wonderful article gives us + the simple element of being with them, being together as a family. Yes, there needs to be some time spent on teaching manners, and handing down family legends and values. But to make the fantastic promises, of lessening the likelihood of our kids getting involved in smoking, drugs, getting depressed, considering suicide. . . ., a reality for our kids, we need to be real people, available and listeners. . . . Children need to be appreciated, listened to, loved, understood and known by their families on a regular basis and family meal times provide this and more.
The setting can be fine linen and crystal, or as casual as a BBQ or dinner around a fire; the food can be Versace style, basic leftovers or fat free, free of genetic modification, fully recyclable and low carbon footprint; but as parents we must be real, be open, be relaxed and not preoccupied with ourselves - this part is essential.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS start having meals as a family - not 1 or 2 or a few - go for 1 everyday!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Reading our newspaper this past week has been particularly sad for parents of teenagers. Sixteen year old James Webster's unexpected death, and the sisters - seventeen year old Holly Yean Jae Baek and thirteen year old Kelly Yean Sue Baek's anticipated deaths, have given us a lot of take-home thinking in regards to our own children. Such tragedies for the families and extended families and friends.

"You are not just a caretaker of a baby ( a child, a teenager) but a partner in a unique and evolving relationship. Both of you start out knowing very little about each other and go on from there to learn more every day, synchronizing with each other rather as dancers do. You both respond to non-verbal cues, to facial expressions, eye movement, muscle tension - even breathing - quite spontaneously. And when you act like this you are invariably doing the right thing. When you become self-conscious and critical, you miss steps in the dance and confidence drains away."
Sheila Kitzinger : Pregnancy and Childbirth"

Sheila Kitzinger's books have been lifesavers to many young mums over the years, including me. She is so clear and true in her approach to being a mum. She is one of those authors who gives full information to her readers so they will be equipped and empowered to put things into practice in a way that works and suits them. I always felt confident to proceed as a mum, after reading Sheila.

Today there seems to be many more professional voices that speak, sometimes intrude into mum's lives. Voices from early childhood educationalists, nutritionists, doctors, psychologists and at times the state itself. The message I'm describing here, robs parents of a freedom, a confidence which is truthfully theirs. Instead such voices set themselves up as the authority. Parents are merely seen as "caretakers".

If the first sentence of this week's quote was made into a parent's mission statement or mantra, they would be on the way in taking back ownership as a parent. This opening sentence talks of spontaneity, the changeableness, the individualness of each family's life, of parents with their children. It is not prescribed, it is "unique" and "evolving".

Sheila's comparison of parentS and children being like dancers, "synchronizing with each other", gives many valuable and practical points to think about : -

1. In professional dance companies of different styles, dancers that are put together as partners or in groups, have similarities in dance style, strength of discipline and other qualities. They look for a natural relationship between the dancers.
Some families today have a natural relationship between both parents and each child, while others have the natural relationship of just one parent with the child or children. We forget the simple fact that we are related, and like the best of dance teams, we can work and live creatively together, because of our related genes, history, temperament and skills.

2. When dancing with a partner or group for a performance, a big key to success is to dance as one, as an harmonious team. In some dance styles, the aim is to glide across the floor looking like one object, not two people. The dancers have to stop thinking of themselves as an individual and instead as they dance, think of themselves as one with the other dancer/s - a unit. Some have described it as thinking of yourself as one part in a much bigger whole. Your attention is not just on yourself but equally on everyone else at the same time.
This is the same for parents and their children. Most of us can remember when our children were very little, maybe newborn babies, and the deep feelings of oneness we felt with them then - they were ours, and we headed into life totally at their side. Of course as they grow and develop, independence comes and increases. This is as it is in dance too, but as dancers return to the together parts of the dance, the precision of oneness returns, it isn't lost or done away with because the dancers are connected, they are in the performance together. The lives of parents with their children are the same. We have times of independence, but because we are in families, we return to be with each other again.

3. Successful and gifted teachers of dance give lots of space for the learner's frustration, mistakes, time to grow, time to learn to trust and feel comfortable. They don't expect perfection.
How are you going in these areas as a dad or mum?

4. When people dance with a partner simply for fun, the most important thing is to make sure your partner is enjoying themselves. Your enjoyment in dancing with them is transferred to them, giving them pleasure. The main idea with this sort of dancing is that you want people to want to dance with you.
Absolutely the same for dads and mums with their children. We must give them pleasure and show our enjoyment in being with them. Do your children want to be with you? Do they find you a pleasure or attractive to be with?

5. In the early stages of learning to dance with a partner, one dancer needs to give guidance at times. In the beginning this is usually verbal instructions but as they develop, guidance is through physical contact and awareness - "You both respond to non-verbal cues, to facial expressions, eye movement, muscle tension - even breathing - quite spontaneously."
Some parents start off with books, DVDs or going to courses, and most of us give verbal instructions to our children to guide them, especially when they are young. But as they grow and develop things need to change. If, as the dancing pair, our connection with our child is developing, then we will be observing and understanding more of what's happening for them. Our response to their "non-verbal cues" should equip us to appropriately guide them along.

6. If your aim is to teach your partner a routine with the correct technique, you are best to dedicate yourself to a lot of practice on your own. When you advance in your level of dance, your partner always seems to have improved too.
As parents, we need to work at and then model good behaviour, habits and attitudes, so they are a natural part of us and then our children will "improve too". Children mirror what is around them. Are they mirroring you?

The dancers comparison helps us to see the huge creative sides in parenting, as well as the closeness and awareness that exists between parent and child when the relationship is going well, when one is tuned to the other. It also encourages the possibilities to improvise, giving freedom, choreographing life as you go. The closer the connection the greater the freedom to be spontaneous, more bold, daring in your family's growth. There's also the idea of complementing each other and feeding each other - one showing the way at one point, the other at another. Then there's the times when both are working hard together and relationships are deepened.

"And when you act like this you are invariably doing the right thing." Maybe you have diagnosed that you have been doing the wrong thing and your confidence has "drained away".
* do you lack confidence in what to do most days as a parent?
* are you possibly thinking too much about yourself and not enough about your 'dancing
* do you not like the way things are going with your children? - maybe you don't like what they
are doing?
- maybe you don't think you are
being heard or listened to by
your children.
* are you regularly distracted, just haven't the time to put into learning to be with you children.
* have you lost heart or interest in the children? - do you need to equip yourself better and do
more 'practice' on your own?
- are you unwell - are there health issues you
need to look at?
- are you fatigued and run down, need a holi-
day, regular sleep, a month of early nights, to
eat and drink healthily?
- do you need to talk to someone who can help?

How do you begin to synchronize with your child? Start working with the ideas above that you liked and then when you sense some progress, add in some of the tougher ones.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS get going and do some dancing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


HAPPY MUM'S DAY!!!!!!!!!!

In acknowledgement of MOTHER'S DAY this weekend here are some quote FROM mothers. I have enjoyed finding these - they have given me a prod to remember things I've slackened on or something to laugh about in myself. Have a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.

"Wicked waste brings woeful want"
I heard this saying from my Mum. As kids we laughed, rolled our eyes and thought her totally out of touch with reality when she came out with this one. Now, I see these words through different eyes, both because I am interested in conserving our resources and I now understand a little of what Mum grew up through in the Great Depression of 1929 - 1933 when she was a girl.
They are words we need to hear today!

"There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one."
: Jill Churchhill
Some people feel defeated, incompetent and overwhelmed before they get going on their way in anything in life. Sometimes they are labelled as "perfectionists". This quote reminds us mums that we are all human, and that there are no perfect mums in existence. I think the quote is encouraging us to relax in our approach, realizing there are many ways, styles and methods of happy, successful mothering. It's ok to make mistakes, we all do. Mothering is not a test we need to pass - it's to be enjoyed.

"Who is getting more pleasure from this rocking, the baby or me?" : Nancy Thayer
This is a great quote reminding us mums to find, feel and experience for ourselves, the pleasure and comfort we give our children as we care for them. There's that idea of enjoying being a mum, again.

"When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race."
"A free race cannot be borne of slave mothers" : Margaret Sanger
This one caused me to really think about my attitude and what I was 'saying' to my kids about mothering.

"The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant - and let the air out of the tires." :Dorothy Parker
The whole idea of home 'atmosphere' is a topic my hero, Charlotte Mason, talks about in her writings. It is important to all children especially teenagers. I am not keen on the idea of 'keeping the children home' rather I think that home needs to be a place they long to return to, come home to... Maybe it's the food at home that draws them, or they look forward to the happy shouts of welcome received on arrival or that someone is there waiting to share a drink and a chat with them. No one wants to stay long in an unhappy, lonely environment.

"Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women's opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering." Elaine Heffner
I am standing and clapping!!! Both to this wonderful woman, and to urge you, along with me to keep going as a mum.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS get them to give you a massage, paint your toenails, brush your hair, and let you drift off in thought thinking of new inspirational ideas on being a great mum.