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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for May, 2010

My kids are the center of my life or are they?

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd May 2010

I have been thinking about this question a lot recently. I meet parents who praise their kids and say things like:” My kids mean everything to me” or “my kids are the center of my life” or “I have to focus on my kids, this is what I was born to do”.

So, I started thinking if this is really the way to think about our relationship with our kids. Yes, it is true, kids are very important and indeed, once you have kids, your life as you know it is over, your free time is gone and your schedule revolves around them. But the question remains, are they or should they become the center of attention? The more I think about it the more I see how wrong this approach is and as a matte of fact kids should not be the center of attention, there is something more important that should be there.

I argue that parents should not focus on their kids but they should focus on the family as a whole and how each member of the family fits in. Once you shift this focus things are much clearer. First of, the kids are not placed at the front of the family anymore, they stand in line with the parents. That means that the family now has to function as one unit and not necessarily (as the kids in the center approach) the parents give and the kids take. When we focus on the family we find out that everyone has to give and get and together they all function much better.

Want an example? Here you go. Think about your body. Which part in your body would you say is the most important one? No matter what you choose, I can always find arguments against that organ and arguments for another one and the reason is very simple. The different body parts do not function separately from each other. They all work for one cause – the well being of the body. Your car functions the same way, house and even the people in your work. They all are a part of an organism that if broken to pieces does not manufacture or does anything, but put them together and all of a sudden you got a great oiled machine.

Same with families. If you take the kids from the center of the stage and focus on the family as a whole and not the individuals the ramifications are simply beyond explanation. The kids finally have a place in the family unit; they are not raised above anyone else, the family functions as a team and performs better.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 4 Comments »

Raising Little Consumers

Posted by Barack Levin on 21st May 2010

“Buy me, buy me!” It seems that kids these days think that money is grown on trees. They want to buy everything they see and our wallets are never deep enough to satisfy their needs. There are many reasons why kids think this way, but I want to focus on one and show that it is us, the parents, who encourage them to act this way.

I went with my son and his friends to an activity center around town. Me and the other moms were sitting and chatting while the kids were running around. Obviously after about 20 minutes of hard play the kids got thirsty and wanted to drink. Not 3 feet away from us we had 2 options. The first one a water fountain attached to the wall behind us (and obviously free to use) and right next to it a fridge with sodas, juices and bottled water. When my son came up to me for a drink I pointed at the water fountain, but except one other kid, all the other kids, accompanied by their moms headed to the fridge. I could have (may be) understand if they decided to buy them juice, but no, they all grabbed bottled waters. I am personally against bottled water anywhere and I try to avoid them like he plague. I do not think they are useful and only damage the environment, but that’s me.  The kids walked away with the bottles and the moms left behind to pay for them.

So what is the lesson here? Parents are conditioning their kids to ask for more things to buy, after all, even when it comes to the very basic items such as water, parents prefer to buy them than using a water fountain. No wonder kids are raised to become little consumers from an early age.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 1 Comment »

Raising dependant Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 20th May 2010

So many parents these days complain that their kids are so dependant on them that they are clingy and demanding. They are so frustrated by this behavior and look for answers. Here is an example I witnessed today that shows how parents themselves train their kids to become dependant on them.

We went with some of my son’s friends to an activity together. At lunch time we decided to head out to eat together at a restaurant. My son wanted to ride with his friend in his mom’s car and I of course had no problem with it. However, in order to do so, he had to have a seat car with him so I told him to go over to our car, get one and carry it over to the other minivan. After all he is 6 years old and can do it himself. And so, he walked to our car, grabbed a car seat and started walking with it towards the other car. Mid way, the other mom saw him carrying that seat and rushed to his aid. She pulled (yes, pulled) the car seat out of his hand and carried it to her car.

This very small but significant act only shows how in her mind, the mom thinks that she needs to be in control of everything and that kids can not do anything by themselves and than she complains that her kids are so clingy. Of course they are, they are used to her doing everything for them so why should not they become little brats?

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

… and bread too

Posted by Barack Levin on 19th May 2010

It is extremely hard these days to get the kids eat healthy foods not to even mention to have them avoid junk foods and sugary treats; as if obesity is not a growing plague among us. Now we have to face exposing our kids to sugar with even the most basic food items.

We went to the store today (health store, mind you) to stock on some supplies, bread included. We always buy whole grain natural breads, but this time we also checked the labels. We could not find even one brand of bread that did not contain sugar in it. Bread!

Why should there even be a need to add sugar to bread? Why? To hook our kids on more sugar? To add more useless calories to their diet? Sometimes it seems to me that we are fighting a losing battle. There are whole industries around us who pump these extra calories into our diet and in the most basic and simple food items where do not even need them.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Since when snacks became cookies

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th May 2010

I am wrecking my brain lately about this very issue. It seems to me that wherever I go, both parents and kids think of snacks as those high calorie count cookies or candies. So in addition to having deserts, lollipops, ice creams and chocolate now also comes the horrendous calorie loaded snacking evil in the form of a cookie, as if our kids do not consume enough sugar via other food items throughout the day.

With my kids, a snack is for example carrots or peppers. It is crunchy, healthy and great in nutritional value. If they are tired of this snack, than we still have a piece of bread with some cottage cheese or plain yogurt for them. There are always better and healthier alternatives to cookies.

There is really no need to keep on feeding them with all of that processed sugar.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 3 Comments »

No “no-TV” policy

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th May 2010

I have been asked more than once, how can it be that we do not have a “no-TV” policy in the house for the kids, and still, my kids hardly ever watch TV (and when I write hardly ever, I mean that they watch TV an hour every 2-3 weeks).

There is actually a very simple answer to this question – we simply do not have time to sit down and watch TV with the kids. We are always on the run. You might think that we must be crazy because with no TV, it means that our kids are bombarded with activities to fill up their free time and to this I would say that you are wrong.  My son has keyboard lessons once a week and my girl got none. So how do we do it?

Here is a description of typical weekday in or family. My son returns from school around 4PM. Depending on the carpool duty for that day he ends up either playing at his friend’s house or our house for about 45-60 minutes. Around 5 PM, we go and get his sister from her day care. Around 5:30 we all return and meet my wife. It is time to start preparing dinner. The kids always help. They cook and prepare the meal with us. We eat around 6:15 or so and talk about the day and the kids’ activities. When we are done, it is already close to 7PM. We take the kids and the dog outside for a walk. We take some tennis balls to play catch, draw with chalks on the road, play with the freezbe, ride the bikes, or just walk and talk. Around 7:45 it is time for the kids’ bath and at 8:10 they are already in their pajamas. W e goof around with them until about 8:30, read a book and around 8:45 they are in bed asleep.

So you see, in this typical day, we simply do not have the time to have thm watch any TV.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 2 Comments »

Change of Approach

Posted by Barack Levin on 11th May 2010

 We went to our favorite restaurant tonight with some of my son’s friends. It is a salad bar and my kids love it because it is one of the only places where they get to eat ice cream. We were sitting down, the adults in one table and the kids in another, eating and chatting. The kids, being kids, finished their meals and started goofing around. Usually after eating in this restaurant, I let the kids play hide-and-seek outside. They love it, they spend some energy and most importantly, they know the rules. They know were they can play and what they can do even without an adult supervision. So when they approached me and asked to go outside, I agreed but their friend’s mom did not, so they decided to stay together inside and of course within a few minutes the mayhem began. So I decided to take action and went with the kids outside to play their game. Within minutes I was surrounded by 7 kids who all wanted to join and play. Because I do not know these kids, I laid down the only one rule I had: You can run and hide on the sidewalk but you are not allowed to go down to the parking lot area. I was dealing with kids ages 4-9 and they all understood this very simple rule. And so the games began and they were running as a group to hide while one of the kids was counting.

I of course kept an eye on everyone but I was also able to chat with another adult who was just sitting there waiting for his wife. Under my supervision, no kid even dared to go down from the sidewalk. And this is something that I have discovered a long time ago. I know how to talk to kids. I know how to convey my ideas in such a way that they will do EXACLT as they are told, in most cases, to the dismay of their parents. This time was no different. I was in full control of all 7 kids (some of which I never saw before in my life) and we all, including me, had a blast. We played for about 45 minutes while the other parents were sitting inside chatting and finishing their meals.

The second the other parents came out, as if by magic, the kids started roaming into the parking lot. It was as if the magic spell that was cast on them to be under control and obey orders, was lifted at once, and now they were no longer under that spell.

And this is what I mean about change in approach. There is simply no reason why kids will listen to me (a stranger) and not to their parents. There are very simple and easy to implement steps to make this control issue permanent. You only need a change in your parenting approach

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Hypocrisy at Day Care

Posted by Barack Levin on 9th May 2010

Several weeks ago, day care decided to have a dental education week. A true blessed initiative. During that week the kids learned about their teeth, their purpose, dental hygiene and more. The highlight of the week was a visit by a dentist who demonstrated proper cleaning and hygiene of the mouth.

During the week, there was a great emphasis on what foods should kids at. The teachers and the dentist talked about good foods and bad foods. My little girl (4) came home energized on telling us that fruits and vegetables are good foods and that candy and sugary treats are not good foods. We of course encouraged her to tell us more and show us, by opening the fridge, what is good and what is bad. She was all very excited at the fact that we understood her and agreed with her on her newly acquired knowledge. We, on our hand, were very happy that in addition to what we have already told her about the different types of foods, day care was helping in that effort.

As I wrote, on Thursday, the dentist came in and gave the final blow. He came in and explained about cavities and which foods cause those cavities. He also brought in some goodie bags which contained tooth brushes, dental floss and tooth pastes. On that very day, I came to pick up my little girl from day care and she proudly showed me her treasures of the day and told me about the dentist and what he told them. As we were leaving her class, my eye glanced on something on the table that I have missed on my entry. I looked again, because I could have sworn I was not seeing right, but there it was on the table – a box of donuts. I asked my girl what it was (I thought that may be only the staff was allowed to eat those) and she told me that this was their snack. I was barely keeping up from bursting at the day care’s supervisor. How hypocrite and conflicting was that? On the same day that dentist comes in, during the oral hygiene week, they had to brig this? Have they ever heard about conflicting messages? How do they think the kids will take what they are teaching seriously? On the one hand they are preaching for not eating bad foods, and on the other hand they are serving the same exact food they warn the kids from eating?

No wonder that our kids are all confused. We send them those conflicting messages and let them try and put some sense into them.

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