October 12, 2007


Help me make this blog better - more effective for everyone.

Would you please do me a huge favor? From what I've read about blogging, it is a lot like direct mail in that only 1-2% of all readers will ever make a comment or suggestion. Well, that's not good enough for me because my objective is to help as many parents as humanly possible. I need to hear from more of you. I need to hear from ALL of you who read these articles.

Selecting Topics to Meet the Needs of All Readers

Usually, I direct the topics of my posts to addressing e-mails or blog comments from readers, but I can never know if that is what the majority of you want to read about… unless more of you give me your ideas.

The favor I'm asking of each of you is to take one minute and tell me what is important to you as it relates to parenting.

Please, take one minute and write an e-mail to me at mac@parentingwithdignity.com .We have created this e-mail inbox for this one specific purpose. It has no spam blockers on it and your email will come directly to me. Even if you do not wish to make any comment, please send me an e-mail that just says, "I read your Blog." That way I will know that you are reading and that if you ever have a question or comment that you will contact me.

Feel free to ask me a question, share a tale of your own parenting experiences or tell me what is your greatest challenge as a parent? In other words, help me to help you - and others who face the same issues. From your simple action of sending an e-mail, we will all benefit. Experience has taught me that when one person writes to me with a question or to consult about a problem, their comment represents thousands. Your question may help many other families.

I can't express strongly enough how important this is to helping me determine the best direction for this blog. I REALLY need each and every one of you to put everything aside and take just one minute to help me.

You may use the comment option at the bottom of this post and reply anonymously, or write to me directly at mac@parentingwithdignity.com But please, write just one short e-mail!

October 04, 2007

Help Your Children to be Effective at Studying (Part 2)

Time Management and Day Planning

"Time is the great equalizer of all mankind!" A rich man cannot buy more, a smart man cannot invent more and a fool cannot waste more… we are all given the same allotment of time each day; 24 hours! The people who learn to use their allotment of time wisely are the ones who get ahead.

A Good Book

Teach you children how to manage time effectively. There are some great books on the subject written by some of the world’s great thinkers. One of the best is Stephen Covey’s book titled “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Get a copy and read it with your children. Covey lays out proven methods for effective managing time. You can give your children few greater gifts than the gift of effective time management.

Using Technology Wisely

In my last article on study habits I laid out a plan for using modern technology to take control of the television in your family. I laid out a plan so that you could effectively control the time that your family spends watching television. In this article I will suggest that you also use modern electronic technology in the process of teaching your children to manage time.

Computers are amazing tools for managing time… IF… they are effectively and purposefully used. Over 80% of American homes have computers and almost every computer has some kind of calendar/day planner program already on it. Teach your children how to use that program; teach how to enter assignments and upcoming deadlines on their computer calendar. Teach them how to set the program up to give warnings a week or two before big school projects are due so that they develop the habit of working on projects well ahead of deadlines.

Plan Activities and Events

Teach your children to put their activities and school events onto their calendar so that they can budget the time for those activities. I would also suggest that you have a “master calendar” on your computer for your whole family to use. That way the whole family can coordinate their activities, assignments, and duties effectively.

Next, I would advise parents to look into small handheld electronic day planners. They have lots of names like Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs, etc. Many cell phones have calendars and day planners built right into them. These devices sync with computer day planners and calendars so that your children can carry their schedule of assignments and activities right with them. My strong recommendation is to NOT run away from technology; rather, I strongly advise you to embrace technology and teach your children to use it effectively. They are born into the technological age. Teach them to live in that world and teach them to use the technology as effectively as possible.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are a real stumbling block for many parents. Kids want to have them and many parents balk at getting them for their children. I understand the hesitance of many parents in not wanting their children to have cell phones but to me the big issue is not whether children should have cell phones; the real issue seems to be teaching children to use the technology sanely, effectively, and ethically. Strict guidelines can be put in place and the technology of the cell phone can become a wonderful tool for teaching responsibility to your children.

It is my observation that most people who use cell phones in today’s world could use some guidance and help in knowing when and where to use cell phones! Your children are growing up in a world where everyone is going to have cell phones. About the only way to prevent your children from eventually having a cell phone might be to move to some third world country where there simply is no such technology.

A wiser tack seems to be to teach your children how to use the technology effectively. Now, do not misinterpret me here. I am not saying that every parent should run right out and get their children a cell phone. However it might be reasonable to get one for all of your children to share. Then teach them to turn the thing off in most situations. Teach them to use the many other features of the phone like the day planner and the calendar.

Teach them the dangers in use of text messaging and e-mail. Guide them to observe safety in the use of cell phones by modeling for them that it is unsafe to use them while driving and rude to use them in public places. Let them watch you turn your phone off before entering public places like theaters and restaurants.

The bottom line here is that it is your responsibility as a parent to teach your children to live effectively in the world that they are growing up in. Teaching effective study habits ought to embrace that concept. Teach children to become effective and responsible students who manage heir time with a purpose.

October 02, 2007

Help Your Children to be Effective at Studying

USE Modern Technology Effectively
– Don’t Just Complain about It!

As I work with families all across America I find that some topics and some statements seem to crop up almost everywhere. One of the most common questions is, “How do we overcome the terrible influence of Television on our children’s study habits?”

Well to begin with, my answer to this question usually takes a similar tack. Most of the time, I ask the parents if they somehow bought a defective TV set with no “off button”! However, that is a rather flippant answer to a real question so here I will attempt to provide a more complete and reasoned answer.

"Bloom Where You Are Planted!"

Our mother taught us a saying that is quite applicable to the situation of using modern technology. She always used to say, “Bloom where you are planted!” What she was telling us was to accept where we are and make the best of the situation. “If you are given lemons, make lemonade!” She used to say! (Now, I must also add that Mom also tried to teach us to try to improve the situation in which we found ourselves.) But, her advice to make the best of the situation was really sound advice.

I would offer that same advice to parents when it comes to modern technology… The technology is here to stay. The Television is an ingrained part of our modern culture. TV will not go away. And… it is not an inherently evil thing. There is much good that can be gleaned from intelligent use of television. It can be a great source of knowledge and information. The television can allow just about anyone to be informed on critical issues of our time. It can also be a wonderful source of entertainment that can be shared by the entire family.

That being said, the television can also be the enemy of a family attempting to raise children to be self-directed and successful. Modern television broadcasting presents a lot of misleading and potentially damaging stuff. The danger to children lies in indiscriminate use of the television. I believe that it is the job of parents to teach their children to be careful consumers of television broadcasting.

Ratings and Filters of Television Broadcasting are Extremely Ineffective

Many parents feel that their children are protected by using some kind of a filter that does not allow R or X rated material to be watched in their home. That might be good to a point but it falls terribly short of teaching children how to select the programming that they deem worthy of watching in your family.

Go One Step Further Than Ratings… Develop Your Own "Family Standards"

Hold family regular meetings to decide how much time the television will be allowed to be on during each week of the year. Have family discussions about how much time should be given to watching TV.

Than hold other family meetings to select what specific programs your family will watch. Most families who do this are amazed to find that their children have some pretty strong feelings about the types of programming that they honestly feel comfortable watching in their home.

Get a DVR!

Once the amount of time is selected and the specific programming is selected, it is my strongest recommendation that no concerned family should have a Television without a DVR! Like I said earlier, we live in an age of modern technology. That technology will not go away. However, we can make the best use of the technology available to us. Just the other day, I was visiting a store that sells electronic technology, and was shocked to find that it is now possible to purchase a quality DVR for under a hundred and fifty dollars.

What is a DVR?

For those who may not be aware of what a DVR is; it is simply a Digital Video Recorder. It is a machine that will record television programming onto a hard drive for later viewing on demand. With this type of a machine it becomes not only possible to make purposeful selections of what programming is watched in your home, but t also allows your family to take control of WHEN the programming is watched!

Use Technology to Manage Time in your Home!

With that technology available I feel that using it is just an example of “Blooming where you are planted!” I will even go one step further and say that I feel that it is bordering on irresponsible to own a television and cable or satellite access without a DVR! Almost every home in America has a television. To me the only danger that poses to children lies in not teaching those children how to choose to use the medium intelligently! A DVR allows your family to do just that. You can select the programming that you all deem to be worthwhile AND you can select the time when it will be watched!

The biggest gift you will be giving your children by getting a DVR and setting your own family guidelines for watching television broadcasting lies n teaching them to be purposeful participants in their world and not just victims of the world in which they live.

Study Habits

Now just imagine how much more effective your children will be in doing homework when they do not have to compete with an incessant bombardment from the television! Study hours can be set without interrupting their recreational use of the television for entertainment! The television can be off during study hours without missing their chosen programming!