A commercial free childhood?

By Karen DeBolt | 12th Jan 2008 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Techniques

What a concept! Recently I found Rae Pica’s Blog where she evangelizes about the need for children to play for proper development–a concept I agree with wholeheartedly.  Her latest entry is about an organization called The Campaign For a Commerical Free Childhood.  Apparently, they are an advocacy group fighting for the rights of children to not be constantly subjected to commericals whether it be television, popular websites like Webkinz, and even report cards (McDonald’s on report cards!!!) 

 God knows, I saw plenty of commercials when I was a kid.  My husband and I will wax nostalagic over the Oscar Meyer Wiener Song or the Oreo Jingle, but that was nothing compared to the number of commercials kids have to deal with today.  The quantity seems to have multiplied over and over. Not only does it seem like there are more commercials in between tv programs, but there are ‘product placements’ within the programs themselves.  When you add in websites, programs at school sponsored by commercial interests, and who knows what they will think of next, it gets to be overwhelming.

So what is a parent to do?

My solution is to instill a healthy skepticism in my children.  When we watched tv together, I would question the ridiculous claims of the commericals with my kids. Pretty soon this became a habit, and they would do it without me starting it.

The added benefit is that they are asking questions about all kinds of things now rather than just taking it at face value.  I’m thinking its a good thing.  We have also had the cable tv removed from the house for the last six months, so that has drastically reduced the amount of commercials we are exposed to as well.

Do you feel that commercials are having a negative effect on your kids?

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No Resolutions, just a burning bowl

By Karen DeBolt | 7th Jan 2008 | Filed under Family Rituals

Burning Bowl CeremonyBurning Bowl CeremonySeveral years ago, my family and I created a family ritual to mark the beginning of a new year. It takes the idea of New Years Resolutions and expands it a bit as well as making it a lot more fun. Here’s what we do:

Items to collect:

2 candles – one dark colored like blue and one white
1 fire proof container – we use a ceramic bowl that one of my kids made, but you can also use an ashtray or anything along those lines.
2 pieces of paper for each person
1 envelope for each person

How to do it:

Light both of the candles to set the mood, then pass out the papers. You write on one piece of paper all the things you would like to let go of in the new year. These can be bad habits or qualities that you would like to change or even bad memories or feelings that you have. Then carefully place the paper in the flame of the dark candle and put it in the fireproof bowl. Watch the paper burn as you imagine releasing the items you wrote on the paper.

Then on the other paper, write what you would like to bring into your life in the next year. Write goals, plans, qualities, and feelings you would like to have. Then place the paper in the envelope with your name. Now gaze at the flame on the white candle and imagine what your life will be like when everything that you have written is yours.

Once everyone has completed the ritual we put the envelopes away in a safe place. We review what we wrote on previous years to see what progress we made or whether we changed our minds about what we actually wanted.

Sometimes we share what was written, but that is completely optional.  This should be a nurturing and loving family ritual not a time for teasing. Dreams can be very fragile sometimes.

I hope you will give this a try and let me know what you think about it!

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Whew! Pan to burner

By Karen DeBolt | 2nd Jan 2008 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections

The holidays really took over around here. What with having two sets of company, hosting all the big meals, and last minute shopping, I’m pooped! 

Unfortunately, about the time that Christmas was over my mother went into the hospital.  Mom was definitely not doing well at Christmas. She has been frail for quite a while now and periodically goes in for blood transfusions. “I understand how vampires feel now!” she says.  After the transfusion, she would perk up for several months, but recently those several months have turned into several weeks instead. 

It had only been about a month since she had her last batch, and they gave her three units instead of the usual two. They also discovered that her potassium levels were off the charts and her kidneys were in big trouble too.

No wonder she didn’t feel well at Christmas! Yikes!

Mom has always said she doesn’t want to be one of those “old biddies who complains about their health all the time.” The problem with that is that we often don’t know what is going on until it’s really bad. Its’ not that she is trying to be a martyr at all. She just doesn’t want to “bother me.”

Oy! I’ve told her now to please bother me that I would rather know than not know, but old habits die hard.  She knew for months that her Leukemia had gone out of remission after 30 years (yep, you read that right–30 years!) before she finally told me about it.  I was 8 years old again for a few minutes.  Maybe that is what she hoped to avoid. My emotional reaction.

Such is life in my family. We are so busy “being nice” that sometimes we forget to have our feelings.  I’m working to change that dynamic everyday, but its always a struggle.  Say a little prayer for mom (or whatever you do) and spend some time thinking about your own family dynamics today. What do you wish you could change? I’d love to hear about it!

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