Friday, December 19, 2008
Dealing with bullies
If "it takes a village"—and it does—to raise a child, then every adult must stand up for every victim of bullying.
Granted there are bullying kids who will benefit, maybe change for the better forever, by parents’, teachers’ or victims’ on-the-mark correction or statement of impact ("Please stop you’re hurting me/my feelings.") As columnist Jennifer DuBose writes, "sometimes this stops a bully in his tracks." It doesn’t always. To give your child true mastery, they must also be taught what to do when the bully does not stop and when they do not need to say "please."
If your child’s feelings are hurt deliberately, they should be able to choose to say "You hurt me and I want an apology"—or not. They should be allowed to say "keep your distance, "Never gossip about me again," "Don’t you ever touch me again."
In the real world, there are psychopaths, teen sadists and sex abusers who would laugh at being asked to "please" stop, and kids have to know what to do if they are up against one.
Everyone should have already had at least a self-defense course, or better still, an ongoing martial arts class. We clamor for computer literacy, foreign language, exposure to the arts, camps, etc. We must also insist each child stick up for himself verbally and know how to protect herself physically if the need arises. We should not only be teaching our kids to forgive, but how and when to fight.
Bridging the autism gap
In the article about Alex Arias of Joliet who has Asperger Syndrome, his mother speaks of the troubles raising a child with this disorder. She is correct and deserves sympathy. However, I take issue with her statement about other children with special needs, namely autism. She says, "Everybody can accept it if a child is autistic. It’s obvious there’s something very wrong there."
As a parent of a child with high functioning autism I know first hand that everyone CANNOT just accept a person with autism. And there was NOTHING obvious about my son’s condition for many years. Autism is a spectrum disorder with ranges in behaviors and abilities. Further, parents of kids with Asperger’s and high functioning autism could benefit from working together in parenting strategies and recreational opportunities best for this special group. I hope Mrs. Arias can see that instead of comparing her situation with others she can see we are mostly in the same boat and should focus on helping each other help our kids.
Longtime reader appreciative
Just picked up the December 2008 issue. I first found your publication at a now defunct resale shop back in 1991. On my way home today, I remembered picking up that first issue and somehow, being a first-time mom (raising a surviving twin and dealing with the ensuing grief of the stillborn twin) managed to read that issue and eagerly awaited the next issue.
My oldest is now 18, the middle one is 15 and my youngest is 13, and I still reach for an issue each month at my library.
Being a stay-at-home mom operating with a frayed shoestring budget, I have come to rely on Chicago Parent, Chicago Baby and Going Places year after year. We have been able to shop, find no- or low-cost family entertainment and learn a few things all thanks to you, your advertisers and monthly calendar.
It is not very often that I write the editorial staff of any magazine, but now is a good time to say THANKS for a wonderful publication.
Now, I will settle in and read the most current issue. Keep up the good work for I will be looking for the next issue by the end of the month.
Early childhood education
My message is simple: it’s never too early to invest in a child, no matter the nation’s economic struggles. Access to quality early childhood education is the dividing line for many families between economic isolation and economic opportunity. The most cost-effective and successful way to close the achievement gap is through early intervention and childhood education.
For 23 years, I have worked for Children’s Home + Aid and its Early Childhood Care and Education programs targeting at-risk families in Chicago and the suburbs. I have found that children born in high-risk environments (defined by low income, young parental age and low maternal education) face significant barriers to healthy development and learning. If these deficits are not addressed, these children will face a lifetime of obstacles that will lead to poor academic performance.
Children’s Home + Aid has taken a major step forward in setting new benchmarks for early childhood education with the introduction of a new initiative. We have partnered with Drs. Craig and Sharon Ramey (Georgetown University) to implement the findings of their 30 years of groundbreaking research in child development.
All children are born with the same potential to become successful learners. Almost all healthy children test at the same developmental range up to age 1. After that, significant differentials begin to appear in developmental tests, with children from high-risk backgrounds showing developmental deficits.
Ameliorating these deficits, or preventing them in the first place, remains our mission.
Readers missed on cover
I really enjoy your magazine, but have a comment about the masthead. Since your magazine is called Chicago Parent, shouldn’t the tag line be "Parent Tested. Parent Treasured?" As a stay-at-home dad, I think this would be more reflective and inclusive of your readership. Keep up the good work!