Friday, March 14, 2008

Four for Friday: Culinary Tricks, Secret Lives of Soccer Moms, Kids and Privacy, and Common Sense Prevails

Item #1: Culinary Tricks

Okay. I admit it. I’ve fallen for those cookbooks which advise parents to sneak healthy ingredients into kids’ meals without their knowledge. I’m not proud, mind you, but sometimes, when your kid will only eat carbs (bread, pasta, cereal, crackers) and maybe cheese pizza, a mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do. Read about my attempts to serve healthier fare to my group of uncooperative eaters in the March issue of Parents and Kids.

Item #2: Secret Lives of Soccer Moms

I’m normally not a fan of reality shows. They’re often contrived. The shows’ creators frequently edit the heck out of the footage to juice up drama where there really isn’t any, or when drama doesn’t need to be manufactured.

That being said, I’m, shall I say, a reluctant fan of TLC’s new program, “The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom,” which takes an at-home mom and gives her the chance to resume the career she left behind when she decided to care for her children full-time. I wrote about the first episode on Mommy Track’d, where a former fashion designer and mom of three, after impressing a fashion house owner accepted a full-time job as a designer.

Then I saw this week’s episode: A former gourmet chef and mom of two pre-schoolers tried her hand at cooking in an upscale restaurant and snagged a full-time job offer. But, when she and her husband were given only a short time to make a decision about whether she’d take the offer, she reluctantly and tearfully decided to take a pass, saying that her dream would have to wait just a little while longer.

At least the show provided some balance. Not every mom takes the job, although it remains interesting to see women who’ve left their dream jobs tear up when they realize they can still do their work well. However I stand by my objections to the reality show cruelty of pressuring a family into such a major decision that will turn their lives upside-down in just a wee bit of time.

Item #3: Kids and Privacy. Do They Get Any?

If you were to ask syndicated columnist Betsy Hart if children living at home with their parents should get privacy, her answer would be, “Um, no.”

In a recent column where she was discussing her kids’ use of the internet she wrote:

“There is no privacy in my house for kids . . . I'm obviously not talking about physical privacy when bathing, dressing, etc. I mean when it comes to how they, well, operate. The ‘default’ position in my home is one of ‘openness.’ This doesn't mean I always do, or need to, know what they are up to or what they talk about with their friends. It does mean I have the ‘right’ to know. Why? Because a private, ‘secret’ world, by definition outside of the circle of safety that the family and parents afford, can be a dangerous one to a child.”

Not exactly PC, but she makes good, solid points.

She continued:

“I don't intend to monitor my children at every turn. I don't want to. I do want to adopt the default position of my child's life being understood, by both of us, as best being an ‘open’ book. And for them to understand that a parent is positioned more than anyone else to help the child understand and read that book.

Is this going to solve all teen problems, secrets and defiance with my kids? Of course not. But the goal is for my children to see what is normative and wholesome, vs. secret and so, more dangerous.”

Parenting, the job that never ends.

Item #4: Common Sense Prevails

Sometimes I feel as though people have wholly taken leave of their senses. That’s the conclusion I reached after reading this blog item from ParentDish about an Illinois mother who was charged with child abandonment “for leaving her sleeping 2-year-old in a locked car while she escorted other children to a Salvation Army Kettle a few feet away,” according to the blog, which detailed how the mother was hauled away by police last December ironically, leaving her children behind. “Bizarrely, while she was being arrested and transported to jail, the girls she had taken to the Salvation Army kettle were left alone in the parking lot and later found huddled on a bench inside Wal-Mart, too terrified by the police officers to ask for help,” ParentDish reported.

Someone in the state of Illinois finally came to her senses, and the criminal charges were dropped, the Chicago Tribune reported, although the chief of police told the paper, “We’re not happy with the decision . . . We stand behind our officers and the decision they made that night to protect the welfare of that child.”

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