Parental Involvement

A Tragic Indifference to Violence

I was watching the news last night and it was chilling when the newsman said, “Well here we go again, another shooting at a mall in …”

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

This past week the sports world was in full tilt. We had Super Bowl Sunday plus a full slate of college and professional basketball games followed immediately by college football’s National Signing Day. For a sports fan, it is a great time of the year. But let me tell you about the best game I saw all weekend.

A REAL Valentine’s Day

Over the past week every time I turned on the radio or television I heard about Valentine’s Day. I kept hearing that if you really loved your wife then she needed flowers and chocolates and maybe even diamonds. Then I heard that if you really loved your kids they needed new toys and clothes and maybe even a new phone. If an alien landed on this planet last week and all he knew of our civilization was what he heard in advertisements he would think that this is a very expensive and shallow place to live. He would think that relationships are built on stuff – really expensive stuff.

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

I just closed my eyes and now it is time to start all over again. The morning shower is about the only time I am going to have today with a little silence. That moment of peace is my chance to brace for the day. The problem is that in my moment of peace I can’t take my mind off of my kids who are struggling. I can’t stop thinking about the things I should have done to make learning a little easier.

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

This past week the sports world was in full tilt. We had Super Bowl Sunday plus a full slate of college and professional basketball games followed immediately by college football’s National Signing Day. For a sports fan, it is a great time of the year. But let me tell you about the best game I saw all weekend.

A REAL Valentine’s Day

A REAL Valentine’s Day

Over the past week every time I turned on the radio or television I heard about Valentine’s Day. I kept hearing that if you really loved your wife then she needed flowers and chocolates and maybe even diamonds. Then I heard that if you really loved your kids they needed new toys and clothes and maybe even a new phone. If an alien landed on this planet last week and all he knew of our civilization was what he heard in advertisements he would think that this is a very expensive and shallow place to live. He would think that relationships are built on stuff – really expensive stuff.

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

I just closed my eyes and now it is time to start all over again. The morning shower is about the only time I am going to have today with a little silence. That moment of peace is my chance to brace for the day. The problem is that in my moment of peace I can’t take my mind off of my kids who are struggling. I can’t stop thinking about the things I should have done to make learning a little easier.

Refocusing on Humanity

Refocusing on Humanity

I woke this morning to news that Russia and the new Ukraine government are in a political standoff with military options mobilizing. There was also news of another major storm that has temperatures as far south as Austin in the 30s heading east and picking up steam and looking like it will slam the east coast again. Then there was the appalling news of a school in Nigeria where terrorist had killed a schoolyard full of children and burned their bodies in some twisted attention grab in the name of a twisted view of their religion. The news went on and on with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I watched and read and listened to a litany of events that should make a grown man seek refuge. But one horrible story gave way to another, and the incredible news of the Nigerian tragedy faded from the television screen and a smiling anchorman talking about a rampant pack of Chihuahuas in Arizona segued into a story of absolute silliness. Those dead children were worth a 20 second mention – about the same as a pack of ankle biting dogs.

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I Am a Daddy

I Am a Daddy

This morning was bittersweet. My 8th grade son boarded a plane early this morning with most of his fellow 8th graders. They were on their spring break trip to Washington DC. We had to be at the airport at 4:30 this morning which meant getting up at 3:15 and leaving the house by 3:45. Today also happened to be the “Spring Forward” time change for Daylight Saving Time so in actuality it was like getting up at 2:15. We were both a little groggy!

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What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong sang “What a Wonderful World” in 1967. In that beautiful song he opines and laments, “I think to myself, what a wonderful world”. His world in 1967 was a world that saw a 10,000 person march in San Francisco against the Vietnam War while more than 11,000 American soldiers died. It was the year Jim Garrison claimed a conspiracy theory in the death of President John F. Kennedy. It was the year Fidel Castro absconded all intellectual property in Cuba. Israel was in the midst of a 6-Day War with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. A prison riot in Florida left 23 dead, and an explosion on the USS Forrestal left 134 dead.

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When I Hurt

When I Hurt

As a psychologist, I am often asked how to help little ones understand and deal with loss. How do you help your child, adolescent, teen, and even yourself deal with the loss of a loved one? From a family pet to a family member, death is one of the most difficult things for a parent to help a child through because they are often trying to get through it themselves. This isn’t a fun topic but it is one worth discussing. I hope these words help a little during the difficult days.

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The Key to Changing Behaviors

The Key to Changing Behaviors

Some kids have good days and bad days. Chad seems to have good days and mad days. He has days when he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and stays there. And today is one of those days. Everything is irritating Chad today. He doesn’t want to be in school. He doesn’t want to have to talk to people in class. He doesn’t want to walk the hallways in between classes. Today is definitely a mad day.

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Today, Let’s Laugh

Today, Let’s Laugh

This afternoon I was watching my son Hunter crush the baseball at batting practice. As I watched him, I was amazed at how much he has grown up and how mature he is becoming. Besides being very athletically gifted, at 14, he practices being a gentleman and genuinely works on using good manners and being the type of person that makes a Dad proud. Don’t get me wrong, he can still be a big-time goofball. He is 14 after all. But as I sat watching Hunter I began thinking about all the times this boy made me laugh. And aside from swelling with pride when he holds the door open for others and is the first to jump up and offer to help, his ability to make me laugh has been one of my life’s great blessings. As I was watching him at practice I became nostalgic and remembered this:

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I Work, Therefore I Am.

I Work, Therefore I Am.

When you look back on the history of this great nation, it was built by people who also wanted self-improvement but self-improvement was defined very differently then. Today we have so much that self-improvement is defined as attaining more or being better. In years past, self-improvement was defined not as the attainment of things but the opportunity to better yourself through work and sacrifice. For many years people sought personal fulfillment through work and through the labor necessary to survive.

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Kids Having Kids

Kids Having Kids

I sat with a high level administrator of a state agency recently and listened to her explain why she thinks we are losing the battle for so many of our kids’ futures. She truly lamented the fact that a large Midwest city that is under her purview from a service standpoint was dramatically affected by a large group of young parents and kids who have grown in an environment where little is expected and so little is realized. She talked about how 26-year-old moms have 12-year-old daughters and they both live with the 42-year-old grandmother. She talked about this cycle of kids having kids and parenting being abdicated to the system, or worse, to the streets.

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Who is Teaching the Parents?

Who is Teaching the Parents?

It is easy to write about the people who are neglectful parents. You know who they are. In my former company I had two psychiatric and psychosocial clinics that served children, and I used to walk into those clinics and think to myself, “What spawned these hellions?” Then I met their mom and dad and I understood. It is true that kids from bad homes and kids from broken homes have a much harder road than kids from homes with two loving parents… But do two loving parents guarantee good parenting?

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Ladies and Gentlemen

Ladies and Gentlemen

Sylvia and I were married for 9 years before we had our first child. Megan was the answer to many of our prayers. She came into this world as the most absolutely beautiful baby ever born and soon became the smartest and quickest and friendliest child that ever lived. Trust me on this one – it’s all true. Once she started school she became the light of her teacher’s eye and the best friend to the kids in her class. She excelled in all subjects and with all people. She is truly that remarkable and beautiful and darn near as close to perfect as young lady can be. It seems that only yesterday I watched in absolute awe as Megan came into my world and nothing had been the same for me sense. My little girl quickly became the focal point of my world and when her brother and little sister came along I knew that there truly was a much higher purpose than me. These precious little souls are the greatest gift ever given. And my Megan started this incredible journey for me. It is a journey that gets better every day.

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Today Will Be Great

Today Will Be Great

In a couple of days I am going to have the honor of standing in front of a graduating class of seniors, accepting their course work and declaring them graduates. I chair the Board of Trustees for the school my children and many of their friends attend. In a couple of days, I am going to watch young men who swam in my pool at the kindergarten party 12 years ago walk across the stage and accept a diploma. I am going to watch young women who spent the night at my home and giggled with my daughter as they talked about boys and dressed up like princesses walk across the stage and walk in to a new stage of life. In a couple of days the world as I know it will once again be redefined, because kids I have seen every day for 12 years are not going to be there anymore.

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I Believe in Competition!

I Believe in Competition!

There are few places that bring about the smile of a child faster than Disney World. Just the thought of riding the spinning teacups or flying on Space Mountain or going on an adventure with the Pirates of Caribbean will bring cheers from any aged child. Disney World is a planet unto itself where make-believe and wonder are at the core of every day. Where else can you eat lunch with Cinderella and have dinner at Epcot while a Viking ship patrols the Fjord? Disney World was built to indulge the imagination and be the friendliest and happiest place in the world.

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Face to Face: Anger

Face to Face: Anger

Anger is one of the most readily identifiable and easy to discern emotions we deal with each day. From being cut off in traffic to something going wrong at work to breaking your favorite glass – anger happens. We have read so much pop-psychology regarding anger that we have almost made it a bad word. It is as if people who are truly centered and enlightened will no longer get angry. This is not only wrong, it’s goofy.

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His First Date | Part Two.

His First Date | Part Two.

The days between the invite and the movie were filled with fear and the nights were sleepless. I juxtaposed between dread and elation. I was at the peak of anticipatory joy and at the same time unmitigated fear. I prayed for an illness to consume my body leaving me powerless to attend the matinee, while at the same, time I combed through my wardrobe and prepared my opening line. It was the longest week of my life.

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His First Date | Part Two.

His First Date | Part Two.

The days between the invite and the movie were filled with fear and the nights were sleepless. I juxtaposed between dread and elation. I was at the peak of anticipatory joy and at the same time unmitigated fear. I prayed for an illness to consume my body leaving me powerless to attend the matinee, while at the same, time I combed through my wardrobe and prepared my opening line. It was the longest week of my life.

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Pain is a Fact of Life

Pain is a Fact of Life

Very few people enjoy pain, and those that do are likely not reading a blog about social and emotional well-being. From an early age we try to teach our kids how to avoid pain and how to be cautious so that they do not end up in a place where pain is the outcome. Billions of dollars are spent every year on everything from pills to therapy to acupuncture to massages to self-healing books all in an attempt to remove as much pain as possible from our daily lives. And yet pain is still here.

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Why Pre-K?

Why Pre-K?

There is a lot of discussion on the news and online, in schools and homes across the country about whether or not having a robust and even mandatory pre-k program in our schools is necessary. There are all kinds of statistics pointing to the advantages of pre-k. For example, the “Chicago Longitudinal Study” found that pre-k recipients were 29% more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not attend pre-k. The “State Efforts to Evaluate the Effects of Pre-Kindergarten” study out of Yale found that pre-k attendees were 44% less likely to repeat grades than their peers who did not attend pre-k.

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