I don't know if you'll agree, but I do know you'll have fun reading Tina Fey's take on this topic from this weeks The New Yorker. Read it if you've ever pondered the question, "Should I have another child?" Read it if you've ever wondered, "Is my career harming my family?" Or, just read it if you'd like a good laugh! The only bummer: You can only read a snippet unless you subscribe to The New Yorker's digital edition - or grab one on the newsstands.
Sitting in my editor seat, I'm the first to pick up on buzz around all things kid-related and education-related. So I was lucky enough to snap up tickets to a special screening of "Race to Nowhere" at Seattle University before it "sold" out. I'd heard many things about this documentary - mostly, that it paints a stark, painful picture of the reality of hothouse highschoolers, those brilliant and hyper-driven high achievers who are held up as examples of exemplary teen excellence even as they crumble into heaps of misery.
Yep, this film's got all that, and it sent me and many others staggering out into the night wondering if it could happen to our own precious children. We want the best for our kids - and from our kids. We expect them to try their best, and we worry (many of us worry) whether we've given them enough of an edge to compete in the world. We all know 10-year-old basketball phenoms who pull down straight A's and serve at soup kitchens. Outsanding child! But as we encourage our kids to do their best, are we going too far?
"I'm afraid chidren are going to sue us for stealing their childhood," says super-cool book author Wendy Mogul in the film. For some children, it starts early. Says one educator in the film: "We've got 6-month-olds doing flashcards when they're supposed to be sucking on their toes and thumbs!"
What is lost in this equation? Where is the "sweet spot" between expecting the best - and causing way, way too much stress? Here's another chance to see this fascinating film: ParentMap is hosting a special screening at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island this Thursday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door (though it's almost certain to sell out!).
Is technology wiring teens to have better brains? Watch the smart people at PBS tackle the subject in this fascinating story from NewsHour, forwarded to me by our editor Kris. We've been digging into teen media use all month, beginning with our February feature story, "TV Nation." Gah!
If you're interested in getting personal, here's a Q&A with the TM, Amy Chua, on how she's been misunderstood and the impact this brouhaha has had on her family (written by one of her students at Yale).
Should you answer that question truthfully? Toss that one out there at your next book-club meeting and watch the fireworks. People don't just have opinions about this one, they have strong opinions. Recently, a local expert, Patti Skelton-McGougan of Youth Eastside Services, sent us these tips on talking honestly about drug use. She suggests you come clean about your ... dirty past ... and offers tips for the conversation.
Thist just landed in my inbox: an open letter from our wonderful friends at MomsRising. I could not have said it any better myself; it's just beautiful:
Last night was the memorial for nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green and the other victims of the January 8th tragedy, which killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life. I'm still stunned with sadness by the horrible events of last Saturday.
As the mother of two children, one around the age of Christina who's attended similar Congressional events with me, I ache for the families.
What President Obama said in the memorial service last night resonated deeply: "I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
"That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
We stand behind the President's call last night of doing everything we can to make sure our country lives up to our children's expectations.
As mothers, fathers, and grandparents we have a unique and powerful voice, and now is the time to make our voices heard in a united call for kindness, decency, and goodness in our democracy.
For one small, first step toward increased national civility and unity in our democracy, Sen. Mark Udall is proposing that members of both political parties sit next to each other at this year's State of the Union address set for January 25th, instead of using the normal seating pattern which is divided by party. It's past time to remember that we're more than just “elephants vs. donkeys.”
Join me in signing our open letter asking every member of Congress to honor Christina Taylor Green, along with the other victims of the January 8th tragedy, and all of our children by living up to their expectations for a kind, decent, and fair democracy. Urge Congress to start in this direction with the small, first step of Republicans and Democrats sitting together during the State of the Union.
(And when you sign on, feel free to also take a moment to share what more you think members of Congress can do to live up to a democracy as fair and just as our nation's children imagine it. We'll share your comments with top Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate.)
"It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," President Obama said during the memorial last night. In that pause, let's urge Congress to take a small first step forward toward talking together across party lines.
Don't forget to sign our open letter now urging members of Congress to live up to the expectations that our children have for a kind, decent democracy. Urge them to start in this direction by sitting with both parties mixed together during the State of the Union--and feel free to share your thoughts about what more Congress can do too if you have time:
President Obama closed his speech last night speaking again of Christina. He said, "...we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit."
Thank you for working with us to build a nation that's worthy of all our children's expectations.
- Kristin, Joan, Mary, Sarah, Donna, Ruth, Ashley, Julie, Anita, Julissa, Nanette, and the MomsRising Team