Posted in Editorials

Parents Need Increased Role in Bully Prevention & Detection

bullyingI came across a young girl who asked me if I knew how hard high school was today; not in the sense of keeping up with gym class and acing the math test, but adapting to teenage and adolescent growing pains. My response-honestly, I don’t think so. She looked at me, nodded and said; every morning I get up and make sure I have the perfect outfit picked out, my shoes match accordingly and my hair and makeup are untouchable. If I don’t do that, I’ll be the next target.

Wow!! Is this really how youth are thinking today?

I know the issues I may have faced when I was in high school were sought by petty girl fights that eluded to a battle for territorial power that meant nothing the day after, boy drama that emerged from whispers and sightings in the hall, or defining who’s group of friends belonged to which social clique- again, all forgotten as soon as it happened.

Sad to be hit with a dose of reality, but eye opening to face the true monsters our youth are running from-literally. Today, our world is filled with social media, cell phones, video games and overwhelming inappropriate television programs that are bombarding and threatening their potentials to make wise decisions. I know there are numerous articles on why, how and what can we do about this issue- but let’s take a step back and just talk about the role of parents and how the patterns that are defined at home can lead to such behavior, whether it be your child is the bully or is being bullied.

Bullying is all too common among school-age children, especially that age 12-18. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, more than one out of four children had been a recent victim of bullying, with 6th graders the most vulnerable. Every day, nearly 160,000 children miss school because they are scared of bullying, according to the National Education Association. These numbers are just climbing the peak of outrageous and continue to spike.

School was always the stepping stone where children gained knowledge, sensibility, social skills and ultimately set the foundation for adulthood. As parents, we expect this would be the safest place for our children. Unfortunately, bullying is resulting in serous physical, emotional and academic harm, and now in an overwhelming number of cases- death.

In some cultures, parents are often reluctant to talk to their children about who their friends are, and what they are doing outside of school, what their hobbies are, the new “crush in their lives, or even what type of clothes they are into. Neglecting to spend quality time with your child and really understand who they are as a person, may deter you from recognizing the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. It’s important to be alert that something is not right to help steer your child in the appropriate direction, or provide guidance. That can only happen by being intimately involved in your child’s life. Take an interest in their social settings, study environments and habits, taste in music and fashion.

Most households have more than one child. If you’re dealing with two siblings or four, the fact remains that one always takes on the more dominant role and how they begin to treat and act towards the other siblings is only the beginnings of shaping their minds. It’s important to start turning that behavior around from a young age and teaching them the importance of kindness, compassion and unity. Kids are so intelligent at such young ages and it’s incredible how easily they will pick up and mimic what their parents do.

Condoning bad behavior can lead to impulsive and wayward conduct that equals trouble. Overlooking good behavior can lead to insecure and ungrateful adolescents who are always seeking approvals or acceptance. Both are important elements of building character for your child. My two year old, as any two year old would, draws all over my cabinets and has spitballs flying out of her mouth. Now, while this is a much more trivial example- I still let her know what she’s doing is wrong. When she listens and actually gets ready for bed at a decent time (doesn’t happen often) – I let her know what a good girl she is. Giving children positive feedback will help build their self-esteem and give them confidence to stand up firmly for what they believe, reinforcing empathy. Letting them know something isn’t right will also give them a sense of reluctance to make an unwise decision and promote responsibility.

Taking bullying serious from a parent perspective can allow us to play a more significant role in preventing it. Parents have the key to shaping a child’s mind, giving them the power of knowledge and more importantly, helping them overcome the challenges of growing up.

According to the National Crime prevention, your child may bully if, he or she; lacks empathy and doesn’t sympathize with others, likes to be in charge, often fights with brothers and sisters, is impulsive. kids who are bullied tend to be different from other kids, whether by size, race, sexually, or have different interests, seem weak, either physically or emotionally and are insecure.

Look out for these signs and be more vigilant to help your child find his or her path in this world.

The Center for Disease Control and prevention has an entire section dedicated to helping youth and parents cope and overcome bullying.

Posted in Editorials

Turning a New Leaf for Generation Y

When my parents bought their first house in 1974, they paid less than $100,000 for it. When they decided to open a business, they bought computers, printers and other start up accessories for under $500. Today, I can’t think about buying baby formula and pampers without having at least $100 in my pocket. Times have changed so drastically and many young people are struggling to keep afloat, raise a family, keep their houses, and experience the adventures of life. We all yearned for independence and freedom from the time we were probably 15 years old, but did we really understand what that meant. Generation Y may not have been cushioned with enough experience to enter adulthood and were not fully prepared to handle the evolving dynamic economy and financial demands of a household, family and the workforce.

Becoming an adult has fundamental core elements traditionally coined by sociologists- leaving home, completing a degree, entering the workforce, getting married and starting a family. It seems these transitions have become an economical and financial burden for many and young people today are taking longer to attain a gratifying level of achievement.

For 21-year olds graduating from college and entering the job market- fear and hopelessness floods to the top. Some go into a dismal panic as they already have thousands in school loans, job prospects seems dim and they are competing with successful baby boomer generations who don’t want to give up their jobs that easily; and some really shouldn’t have to.

Those starting a family find themselves with a $300,000 mortgage, $50,000 in debt and late bills. When the first child is born, the strains are tightened and the emotional stress becomes a deterrent in attaining joy from starting a family.

Many thirty year old bachelors are enjoying life without attachments and commitments, and sometimes that means commitments to the bank. Some are frivolously spending money on cars, vacations, and other materialistic things forgetting to save for the long-run.

This raises a few concerns. Was this generation prepared with the appropriate skills and guidance to adapt to adulthood and make the shift to the next phase in life? Were we really ready for this complex pathway to adulthood where we must own up to our own mistakes and misfortunes? Sometimes, I think not.

Graduating with a business degree gives us the green line to become, a Vice President, CEO or entrepreneur, but I’m not sure it builds our mentality for a financial down spiral. While we thrived in our classrooms and honed in on broadening the horizons of climbing the corporate ladder, we may have taken for granted the unsolicited advice on making critical life-changing decisions that could impact our financial growth.

I don’t know if I myself had a true understanding of the power of a credit card and how toxic it could be, or how quickly debt really piles up. Joining the workforce is undeniably complicated on so many levels, but knowing how important investing in a retirement plan is was not something I was taught in college.

When my husband first talked to me about life insurance policies-It was new concept that never crossed my mind. Thinking about taking a second mortgage on our house now has me searching on Google to better understand how it could impact my life.

Yes, some of this seems so trivial, but yet, gen Y is finding we are covered 10 feet deep under a dark hole.

According to an article in the New York Times magazine entitled “What Is It About 20-Somethings,” One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch.

No group has felt the impact of the economic turmoil more than generation Y and I do agree it’s harder for this population to reach many of the basic financial goals our parents may have taken for granted. It’s harder now to save for the future, pay for college, or buy a home.

But I also think easy to blame this time period for our financial troubles and we should begin to look forward on how we can turn this around and help our own families prepare for what we may not have been prepared for.

The expectations of this generation were always highly optimistic, but youthful optimism does not always give insight to the crushing realities.

It’s our time to hold the reigns and leverage the tools we are given to trudge ahead. Attending financial seminars, learning how the stock market works, taking advice from elders who can often be a valuable resource, or networking with business professionals, can all help us get back on track and take control of our financial outlook. There are classes about budgeting, saving money, how and when to use credit cards.

One of my favorite presidents, Bill Clinton so eloquently said, ” As we have throughout this century, we will lead with power of our example, but be prepared, when necessary, to make an example of our power.”

We have the opportunity not to arm ourselves and our families with the power of knowledge- let’s take it and run!




Posted in Editorials

Turning Workplace Frustration into Empowerment

We often find ourselves stressed, frustrated and just down and out because of our job and its inevitable remnants on our lives. While some of us love what we do and we do it well- the toxic environment we thrive in can distract us from growth and accomplishment causing unnecessary happiness.

The combative tone of a boss who doesn’t possess the skill, drive, or talent to be in his or her position, the scathing emails from co-workers in high positions who believe their ultimate goal is to diminish the existence of your being, the uncooperative teams of people who send you into ten different directions to get what you need because they are too lazy to do it themselves, and the bitter remarks from the caddy “one” who has a sense of entitlement because she’s been there a little over three years- get over it. Unless you’ve put in 10+ years of devotion keep your whining to yourself.

Putting up with all of this can really send you into a career coma- dreading the feeling of turning on your computer and going to your first meeting, talking to anyone to has anything more than Good Morning to offer, seeing your bosses face, and becoming agitated by the minute because you decided not to call in sick today.

Most of the people described above really lack the compassion and dedication you clearly possess and there really is no explaination why they’ve come so far, so don’t bust your brain trying to figure it out. Some are either trying to get you out of the picture because you pose a threat to them, make you slowly cut your own rope so they don’t look bad, or they just do not like you. Is any of this fair? Of course not, but who’s really going to do anything about it. Forget human resources as most of the time it’s a failed attempt that gets right back to the management you are complaining about- which in the long run may give you what you think you want- no job. Talking to other employees may console you, especially if you’re all in the same boat and feeling the same way. But, at the end of the day, you deal with your own problems and you go home to face the sleepless nights, endless headaches and frequent ‘I’m going to quit this f….n job today!” outbreaks.

So, is it really going to knock you down and keep you there? Only if you let it. While I know this is going to sound cheesy and almost impossible at times, I find staying positive and trudging through the mud is the best option in the long run. Well, the best option aside from really quitting and pursuing your dream. For some, quitting and moving on is not that easy if you have a family to support, a mortgage to pay, debt to pay off. Finding another job is a great option, but you actually have to spend time looking, interviewing and don’t forget taking time off from work and dealing with the repercussions of not being at work during a major fire. Looking for a job is stressful in itself, and there’s no reassurance you’ll find something that pays as well, is the optimal location you’re looking for, or is even the best job fit for you.

By staying positive I mean literally looking outside the box of your cubicle and spotting ambition. Finding outside hobbies that raise your self confidence, portray your real worth and give you a sense of accomplishment leaves you empowered and feeling above those who try to bring you down. Some people have so much more going for them outside of work than they realize. We all have unhidden talents and there’s no time like now to unmask them and use it to your advantage. We hear stories all the time of people like Warren Buffet who started off selling gum and coca-cola door to door, but put his time and effort into a real interest which made him a millionaire and America’s business magnate.

There are plenty of business opportunities available that you can devote just a bit of start up money and real time too, and your investment may turn you into the next business mogul.  

In a nutshell if you’re unhappy at work-be happy at life.

Make something for yourself. Start your own business, whether it’s an online t-shirt store, a blog, or a lemonade stand. Become the world’s next biggest humanitarian by creating your own volunteer group and start making a difference just in your community. Join groups, chambers and churches and see what you have to offer.

Think about your talents at work and how you can make money outside using those talents. I’ve developed a career in marketing and communications, and I’m actively using those skills outside of work to head up a non-profit organization, start my own marketing company, and invest in business opportunities.

If you really do want to move on and find a new job, these extracurricular activities and self motivational movers will all look great on your resume and above all, you will start feeling more empowered.

Posted in Health

Healthy you, healthy kids

Since becoming a mom, I’ve realized how important what I eat is, especially since my kids are eating what I am.  Do I really think switching to brown rice or whole wheat bread is all I need to do? Not by a long shot.  This millennial generation that I am part if is incredibly busy and always on the go, which usually means we don’t have time for healthy food diets, exercise or even eating sometimes. But in the larger scheme of things, it is imperative that we make a conscious effort to be healthier, for us and more importantly for our kids.

Our kids are influenced by our behaviors, attitudes and actions, and what we choose to be, is what our kids will choose to perceive and portray.  If we want to promote lifelong healthiness, we all need to get the ball rolling, literally!

With the spiking rates in childhood obesity, diabetes and cancer, it is our moral duty to help prevent these health disparities from clinging on to our children. Can we really totally prevent out children from ever developing any of these issues? Probably not, as fate must play its course, but we can take a proactive approach in promoting healthy eating and behaviors from a young age. If our kids are watching us trade in apples, granolas and yogurt for ice-cream, sodas and chocolate we can only expect their unhealthy behaviors will soon develop and emerge. We want to help our children maintain healthy weight and normal growth.

As we are disciplining our children in appropriate behaviors, it is the same we must institute for healthy living.  We may first need to start disciplining ourselves, as I know I need to, before we set acceptable rules for our kids.  By instilling this discipline, we will all quickly learn what behaviors are acceptable in terms of eating, exercise, and playtime.

So, how can we kick off these healthy habits? It all starts with innovative ideas integrating health and fun.

Making healthy eating part of movie night or game night is a great way to get everyone involved and sets aside some family time.. Let  everyone help cook dinner, throw on some music and make it an unforgettable time.  Teach your kids about what your cooking and talk about the health benefits of certain foods.  Let your kids lead healthy choices by coming up with their own recipe ideas. You can even make a scrapbook together of all your great recipes. .It’s a great way to incorporate laughter and fun, the two most important ingredients in a healthy diet!

Turn off the TV, put down that iPhone, throw on your walking shoes and get outdoors! Take your kids for a stroll, run or challenge them to a game of softball, tag or red light green light 123. Any outdoor activities will show your kids how important everyday exercise is. While your out and about, invest in some bonding time and take a few minutes to talk about sports and find out what interests them. It’s a good way to learn more about your kids and motivate them to join a sports team.  If you were an athlete in High school or college, show your kids pictures and it might spark an interest.

As the sun starts rolling around plan regular outings and trips to the park with friends and family and kick off an annual sports day. Do relay races, potato sack runs and games. Not only will kids want to practice Their moves leading up to the day, they will be pumped and excited to beat their little sister, best friend or cousin. A little competition is healthy.

Join a spin class, take hip hop classes, or try out yoga, all together. Moms, use the once a week to take your daughter to your favorite exercise class of your choice, then stop for smoothies, maybe a manicure and enjoy the day. Dads, use the day to find a favorite sport like boxing, karate, track or basketball and make a pit stop at the arcade or for smoothies too! Everyone loved a good smoothie. The point is to use the time to educate and engage your kids about healthy living, while living happily!!

Create a body chart with your kids and educate them on what each organ of the body does and what it needs to function.  Let your kids be creative and colorful and use lots of highlighters and words. Let it be their creation that they can be proud of and maybe even hang on their wall in their room.

We all need to start somewhere to be a healthy role model. Find your role and start teaching your kids the healthy way.