Tag Archives: parenting

My Epiphany For Social Change

I want to precursor this by letting you know that I actually wrote this about 10 years ago.  It’s just as relevant now as it was then.  I probably should have sent it to the White House as a petition.

If any of you have any ideas or connections to make this happen, or make it better, by all means, let me know and feel free to share this.

A little back story… My ex-husband (Kid’s biological father) was ordered to court when she was 5 so we could start receiving child support.  He never responded to or complied with court information requests for job and income information.  The child support order was written based on minimum wage (which was $4.25 at the time).  Truly, each time there was a minimum wage increase I should have gone back to court to have it adjusted.  I, however, didn’t feel it worth the time since he wasn’t paying it anyway.

President Clinton signed into law a bill making it a felony to flee the state to avoid paying child support.  Shortly afterward, I discovered that he moved to Kentucky.  I called child support enforcement and was told that they couldn’t go after him because even though we were separated we were still legally married.  (I was not able to collect government assistance including him in our ranks however because we didn’t live together.  See a little problem there?  I know I did.)

Fast forward our story to about 3 years ago.  All of a sudden I start receiving small child support checks.  To this day I’m not sure if a) he just ran out of under the table jobs, b) he finally stayed at a job long enough for the support order to kick in or c) lost track of time and thought she was too old to have to pay child support somehow thinking it goes away when they get older.

The checks lasted a couple of months (every two weeks) before child support finally issued me one of their new debit cards.  Then the payments stopped.  Over the next year, I would get one randomly here or there before they stopped again altogether.

Well these sporadic payments triggered an audit and I was required to go to court several times and of course, he never showed up.  After almost 14 years of non-support and arrearages of over $20,000 (remember, this was based on $4.25 an hour) child support they decided that it was the time that an arrest warrant was issued and that he should go to jail.

I asked the attorney when he goes to prison does the state pay the support on his behalf?  No.  So let me get this straight… he hasn’t willingly contributed to the raising of his daughter at any opportunity, he owes me over $20K and now I have to support him during his incarceration via my tax dollars???  In addition, when he gets out of prison he’ll have a record making it even more difficult for him to get a job?  How does this help me, our daughter, him, anyone really?

I know that mine is not the only side of the coin on this issue.  I know that many “deadbeats” are classed as such, not because they don’t want to take care of their kids but because they can’t.  Poor job markets, unfair support orders (ones favoring the child/ren with the ex but not factoring in the children living with you because you don’t have a support order for them since they live in your home), support orders that don’t allow enough left in your check for you to live on but if you get a second job they’ll take that too, etc…

So here’s the epiphany… open the draft to “deadbeat parents” after say, one year of non-support.  Don’t wait for 5, 10, 15 years for things to get so out of control.  Here’s my reasoning…

By being drafted into the military, the draftee’s pay is based on the number of dependants guaranteeing that all parties are covered and no one is getting the short end of the stick.

All parties would be covered by insurance.  Sadly, even if an employer does offer insurance the cost is even more prohibitive when you have child support being deducted from your pay.  In addition, life insurance is also part of the package making sure that your child will continue to be taken care of on your behalf should something happen to you before they reach 18.

Being in the military is recession proof as well as lazy proof.  You can’t get laid off or fired.  Your job will never be outsourced and your hours will never be cut.

Being in the military is salaried position so there are no fluctuations in pay making it difficult to pay a set support amount if you miss a days work.

Being in the military will offer the opportunity for you to learn a trade and/or go to college.  Most Americans can’t afford to go back to college once they take on the financial responsibilities of a family.  This tends to add to the frustration because this is where we truly see the value of an education at its fullest as an adult. We now “get it” that we need the degree to get the better job to better support our families.  The military allows you to do both without you or your family starving and/or becoming homeless.

I realize this is a two-sided coin.  There are those that would find the miliary as a deterrant and that’s fine.  Do what you have to do to keep from being drafted.  For others out there, this would be a welcome solution and a means to get on track as opposed to prison which will have negative ramifications for the rest of your life.  By and large I believe this could be the most proactive step our country could take to reform a system that isn’t working.

Please give me your feedback and let me know what you think.  If you really like the idea, share it with others – including people in position to make change.

Maggie

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Spread the Word, Lend a Hand

** Update**  Christion Isaac-Alexander Shaw  6/20/09 – 12/18/14   Please consider helping with this fundraiser to help with the arrangements and passing on this story of Christion and his life.  Thank you – Maggie **

 

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been experiencing many life changes, most positive… a new relationship, new additions to the family with more on the way, a little travelling with a whole lot of visiting, etc.

Today’s post unfortunately is not so upbeat.

Today we’re stepping up to a window into the life of an incredible single mother and her two sons… a one seven-week old named Cameron and the other a five-year old named Christion who has muscular dystrophy.

 

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This is my friend KaShonda and her boys.  Christion is 5 years old and has Nemaline myopathy Muscular Dystrophy.  He’s a great kid.  He laughs and plays and watches TV… loves Handy Manny and was completely enamored with being able to watch PBS Kids on my iPad and snuggling with me while Mom and I got to spend time together.  In many ways Christion is just like any other 5-year-old.

 

 

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Then there’s all the special extras that do not surround a typical 5-year-old… oxygen, suction to clear his lungs, a belt that provides air pressure that simulates pounding on his back to loosen the mucus in his lungs, wheelchairs, monitors, pulse oximeters, etc.

While as a country we’re trying to get kids away from the happy meals, Christion has never had one and probably never will.  Christion doesn’t eat, he has a feeding tube directly into his stomach with nutrition that comes in a pouch.

 

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Christion doesn’t have babysitters or daycare, but has home nurses.  In fact KaShonda even went to nursing school just so she could not only be better prepared to take care of her son but so that she would be able to work at home with him.  It doesn’t get anymore incredible than that, truly a devoted mother.

Sadly just a few short weeks ago, Christion’s health once again took a down turn when he developed pneumonia and wound up in the ICU.  Finally improving enough to be moved out of ICU, you can see that spirits were high.

 

Tickle time!
Tickle time!

 

Later this very same day, November 28th, Christion coded.  Medical personnel worked on him extensively to revive him but he was down for 12-13 minutes.    This is Christion right now…

 

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Heartbreaking is the only word that applies and yet that word doesn’t go deep enough.  He is 5 years old and should be writing letters to Santa, not hooked to monitors unresponsive.  His Mom should be trying to sneak in presents to surprise him with, not crying bedside in a hospital room, praying for her son.

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Then there’s Cameron.  For those who would say that thank God the 7 week-old is “normal”, they are incorrect.  While Cameron is quite healthy he is in no way normal.

Seven week-old babies should be in their mothers arms, not bounced around to relatives so his mom can keep her vigil at Children’s Hospital.  Cameron should have a big brother that can teach him to throw a football, intimidate kids who try to bully him, teach him how to date, how to drive and be his best friend.

UPDATE:   While the CT scan and EEG’s looked promising, an MRI has shown that Christion has suffered massive trauma on his whole brain and the prognosis is not positive and family is preparing for the inevitable.   Prayers are still needed for this family, for strength and courage to help them along their difficult journey.  Any donations would help considerably.  Please consider sharing this post or the fundraiser page to help.

Donations for Christion

Donations for research can be made to:

Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Office
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60606
888-HELP-MDA
(888-435-7632)

 

If your children are healthy, give thanks.  Not just once, but every day.  Life is fragile and it can be short.  Please take the time if you can to help a friend or neighbor who may need that extra hand.  Consider donating to research to continue the fight for a cure for this and other diseases and disabilities that hurt children and torment parents.  Even a few dollars a month can do a lot of good.

Have a safe, happy and healthy with your family and please join me in #PrayersforChristion.  Please share this story and allow his story to open hearts and maybe a wallet or two.  We can’t have too many people praying for him or sending positive energy their way.
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

And The “Mom of the Year Award” Goes To…

That would go to Ashley, Ryan & Adam’s mom!

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Ma’am, I don’t know who or where you are but there are parents all over the country that are saluting your genius as we speak.  I do believe that my own mother would have taken you out to dinner and bought you a drink if she were alive today.

Wifi Password

Keep doing what you’re doing!

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Picky Eaters? Choosy Moms Choose Paleo.

Picky eaters can put parents over the edge.  (Along with Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, friends with kids, etc.) The kids that only want to eat three things for dinner but junk food is fair game.  You know the child.  They could be yours, a niece or nephew, your bff’s kid, but we all know at least one.   We try to introduce new foods.  Look at magazines for help, but when they show you a hot dog cut as an octopus, it’s really no help because it’s still a hot dog…. Make some thing with asparagus, now that will impress me!

I was blessed with a child who loves vegetables but even she had her moments.  When she was about 2-1/2 my mom tried giving her creamed spinach.  From then on just the word brought on near PTSD flash backs of the incident. Then she discovered lasagna Florentine and wedding soup.  When she asked what the green stuff was I thought quickly and answered “Italian parsley”.  And so it stayed for several years.   At 23 my daughter is still an avid vegetable eater and a great cook because she’s not afraid to try new things or combinations.  To the point that my husband and I will only eat Brussels sprouts if she’s cooking them!

The goal is to get them to eat and to eat well.  Not junk, but well balanced meals.  Of course there’s bribery, eat your dinner and you can have dessert.  But for those of us who really are trying to eat healthy, we really struggle with offering desserts.

In my opinion, one of the joys of parenting is trickery.  Getting away with something in front of your kids is empowering.  Don’t believe me?  Tell me you don’t have a cheesy grin when your child comes running into the room to tell you that the tooth fairy came, right?  Admit it.

So what if they’re clawing tooth and nail to get at dessert and dessert is actually good for them?  I know, the possibilities are mind blowing really.  That’s where paleo comes in.  Even if you don’t follow the diet and just want to make some healthier choices for you and your family, paleo desserts are the way to go.  The key here is to NOT let them help in the kitchen (normally I’m down for having them right there with you, but subversive activity requires secrecy.)

So what is “Paleo”?  Its a plant and meat based diet.  No grains, dairy, soy or legumes.  It’s become very popular and it’s very good for you.  It’s perfect for the person with food sensitivities (lactose or gluten intolerance, allergies, etc), autism, diabetes, arthritis, etc.   Needless to say to maintain no grains, dairy, soy or legumes, cooking and recipes can get quite creative.

banana cinnamon chocolate chip muffins

I mean sure, you expect bananas in these delectable Banana Cinnamon Chocolate muffins.

….but no flour? (by TaylorMadeItPaleo)

 

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But what if I told you these brownies had no flour or nuts and was made with sweet potatoes?  (by EatDrinkPaleo) Do I have your interest now?

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What if I told you that these frosted cupcakes…. (by LivingLowCarb),

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... and this smooth and delicious chocolate pudding (by HowSweetItIs),

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… and even this creamy delicious milkshake (by MeaningfulEats),

… all have avocados in them!  Oh yeah, and they’re dairy free!

We’re always hearing about how avocados are so good for you, packed with nutrition, but unless you make guacamole or put them on a sandwich or salad, can be at a loss on how to eat them.  These are great ways to get what your body needs while providing what the mouth and mind want as well.  🙂

Okay, so I’m also going to mention that sometimes it’s not the kids that are picky… it’s the adults.  It’s the husband that needs to cut a few pounds or the aging parents that have developed a bit of a sweet tooth that can also be hard to feed too.  Trying to argue with an aging parent about desserts sometimes can be like asking for a kidney.  If you’ve done it you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t done it, just wait.  These can be the perfect desserts to give them the extra nutrition they need without the carbs, calories and filler they don’t.  Drop over for a visit and bring dessert and leave the pan.  Tell them you made extras and you thought they would like them (or better yet, that the kids didn’t need that many sweets in the house LOL).  Remember when they made you eat liver?  Now’s your revenge.  Enjoy!

Hugs!

 
Maggie
 

Giving Thanks Every Day

I just found a fabulous frugal craft on Snail Pace Transformations.   (Btw, I LOVE your name!)  It is a gratitude journal, a place to log a sentence or two of what you were thankful for every day.  This is number one on my Christmas list this year, very inexpensive and yet very personal.

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I admit that I am one of those people that sometimes have to work at staying positive.  Sometimes it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the tide instead of just enjoying the beauty of the beach so I look for little things to keep me on the path I choose.  I saw this craft and I jumped.  Whether its a gift for friends and family or just for yourself, its a great way to just a a minute a day to give thanks for what you have.

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It all starts with dollar store calendars, the kind that show one week at a time. Like this…

I love the thought of making this part of my bedtime ritual, just a sentence or two of what I was thankful for today. Instead of going to bed dealing with the stresses of the day, fall asleep relishing and reviewing what you had to be thankful for.  Positivity breeds positivity.  And imagine making this a bedtime ritual with your child, even if a young one is not yet ready to write, it makes for a great dialog as you tuck them in and how it can shape them for the future.

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Then you can cover the outside with contact paper, your favorite pattern of duct tape or personal art.

Not only does it help in the training of a positive mind, but can you imagine being able to look back and read these a year, 5 years or 10 years down the line?  To bring back all those wonderful memories and feelings of days gone by.   Imagine your kids stumbling upon one of these once you’re gone and getting to remember all the best of you, with you.

Giving thanks isn’t just for one Thursday in November.  Spread the word.

{{hugs}}

Maggie

Online Sewing Class

Update:  I just found this great video that I just had to share.  It ties in with this project so beautifully and really gets your wheels of creativity going.

Let me know what ideas you have!

Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids

…and How to Correct Them

February 15, 2013

Recently, I read about a father, Paul Wallich, who built a camera-mounted drone helicopter to follow his grade-school-aged son to the bus stop. He wants to make sure his son arrives at the bus stop safe and sound. There’s no doubt the gizmo provides an awesome show-and-tell contribution. In my mind, Paul Wallich gives new meaning to the term “helicopter parent.”

While I applaud the engagement of this generation of parents and teachers, it’s important to recognize the unintended consequences of our engagement. We want the best for our students, but research now shows that our “over-protection, over-connection” style has damaged them. Let me suggest three huge mistakes we’ve made leading this generation of kids and how we must correct them.

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1. We Risk Too Little

We live in a world that warns us of danger at every turn. Toxic. High voltage. Flammable. Slippery when wet. Steep curve ahead. Don’t walk. Hazard. This “safety first” preoccupation emerged over thirty years ago with the Tylenol scare and with children’s faces appearing on milk cartons. We became fearful of losing our kids. So we put knee-pads, safety belts and helmets on them…at the dinner table. (Actually I’m just kidding on that one). But, it’s true. We’ve insulated our kids from risk.

Author Gever Tulley suggests, “If you’re over 30, you probably walked to school, played on the monkey bars, and learned to high-dive at the public pool. If you’re younger, it’s unlikely you did any of these things. Yet, has the world become that much more dangerous? Statistically, no. But our society has created pervasive fears about letting kids be independent—and the consequences for our kids are serious.”

Unfortunately, over-protecting our young people has had an adverse effect on them.

“Children of risk-averse parents have lower test scores and are slightly less likely to attend college than offspring of parents with more tolerant attitudes toward risk,” says a team led by Sarah Brown of the University of Sheffield in the UK. Aversion to risk may prevent parents from making inherently uncertain investments in their children’s human capital; it’s also possible that risk attitudes reflect cognitive ability, researchers say.” Sadly, this Scottish Journal of Political Economy report won’t help us unless we do something about it. Adults continue to vote to remove playground equipment from parks so kids won’t have accidents; to request teachers stop using red ink as they grade papers and even cease from using the word “no” in class. It’s all too negative. I’m sorry—but while I understand the intent to protect students, we are failing miserably at preparing them for a world that will not be risk-free.

Psychologists in Europe have discovered that if a child doesn’t play outside and is never allowed to experience a skinned knee or a broken bone, they frequently have phobias as adults. Interviews with young adults who never played on jungle gyms reveal they’re fearful of normal risks and commitment. The truth is, kids need to fall a few times to learn it is normal; teens likely need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require. Pain is actually a necessary teacher. Consider your body for a moment. If you didn’t feel pain, you could burn yourself or step on a nail and never do something about the damage and infection until it was too late. Pain is a part of health and maturity.

Similarly, taking calculated risks is all a part of growing up. In fact, it plays a huge role. Childhood may be about safety and self-esteem, but as a student matures, risk and achievement are necessities in forming their identity and confidence. Because parents have removed “risk” from children’s lives, psychologists are discovering a syndrome as they counsel teens: High Arrogance, Low Self-Esteem. They’re cocky, but deep down their confidence is hollow, because it’s built off of watching YouTube videos, and perhaps not achieving something meaningful.

According to a study by University College London, risk-taking behavior peeks during adolescence. Teens are apt to take more risks than any other age group. Their brain programs them to do so. It’s part of growing up. They must test boundaries, values and find their identity during these years. This is when they must learn, via experience, the consequences of certain behaviors. Our failure to let them risk may explain why so many young adults, between the ages of 22 and 35 still live at home or haven’t started their careers, or had a serious relationship. Normal risk taking at fourteen or fifteen would have prepared them for such decisions and the risks of moving away from home, launching a career or getting married.

2. We Rescue Too Quickly

This generation of young people has not developed some of the life skills kids did thirty years ago because adults swoop in and take care of problems for them. We remove the need for them to navigate hardships. May I illustrate?

Staff from four universities recently told me they encountered students who had never filled out a form or an application in their life. Desiring to care for their kids, and not disadvantage them, parents or teachers had always done it for them.

One freshman received a C- on her project and immediately called her mother, right in the middle of her class. After interrupting the class discussion with her complaint about her poor grade, she handed the cell phone to her professor and said, “She wants to talk to you.” Evidently, mom wanted to negotiate the grade.

A Harvard Admissions Counselor reported a prospective student looked him in the eye and answered every question he was asked. The counselor felt the boy’s mother must have coached him on eye-contact because he tended to look down after each response. Later, the counselor learned the boy’s mom was texting him the answers every time a question came in.

A college president said a mother of one of his students called him, saying she’d seen that the weather would be cold that day and wondered if he would make sure her son was wearing his sweater as he went to class. She wasn’t joking.

This may sound harsh, but rescuing and over-indulging our children is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse. It’s “parenting for the short-term” and it sorely misses the point of leadership—to equip our young people to do it without help. Just like muscles atrophy inside of a cast due to disuse, their social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual muscles can shrink because they’re not exercised. For example, I remember when and where I learned the art of conflict resolution. I was eleven years old, and everyday about fifteen boys would gather after school to play baseball. We would choose sides and umpire our games. Through that consistent exercise, I learned to resolve conflict. I had to. Today, if the kids are outside at all, there are likely four mothers present doing the conflict resolution for them.

The fact is, as students experience adults doing so much for them, they like it at first. Who wouldn’t? They learn to play parents against each other, they learn to negotiate with faculty for more time, lenient rules, extra credit and easier grades. This actually confirms that these kids are not stupid. They learn to play the game. Sooner or later, they know “someone will rescue me.” If I fail or “act out,” an adult will smooth things over and remove any consequences for my misconduct. Once again, this isn’t even remotely close to how the world works. It actually disables our kids.

3. We Rave Too Easily

The self-esteem movement has been around since Baby Boomers were kids, but it took root in our school systems in the 1980s. We determined every kid would feel special, regardless of what they did, which meant they began hearing remarks like:

  • “You’re awesome!”
  • “You’re smart.”
  • “You’re gifted.”
  • “You’re super!”

Attend a little league awards ceremony and you soon learn: everyone’s a winner. Everyone gets a trophy. They all get ribbons. We meant well—but research is now indicating this method has unintended consequences. Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a landmark book called, Mindset. In it she reports findings about the adverse affects of praise. She tells of two groups of fifth grade students who took a test. Afterward, one group was told, “You must be smart.” The other group was told, “You must have worked hard.” When a second test was offered to the students, they were told that it would be harder and that they didn’t have to take it. Ninety percent of the kids who heard “you must be smart” opted not to take it. Why? They feared proving that the affirmation may be false. Of the second group, most of the kids chose to take the test, and while they didn’t do well, Dweck’s researchers heard them whispering under their breath, “This is my favorite test.” They loved the challenge. Finally, a third test was given, equally as hard as the first one. The result? The first group of students who were told they were smart, did worse. The second group did 30% better. Dweck concludes that our affirmation of kids must target factors in their control. When we say “you must have worked hard,” we are praising effort, which they have full control over. It tends to elicit more effort. When we praise smarts, it may provide a little confidence at first but ultimately causes a child to work less. They say to themselves, “If it doesn’t come easy, I don’t want to do it.”

What’s more, kids eventually observe that “mom” is the only one who thinks they’re “awesome.” No one else is saying it. They begin to doubt the objectivity of their own mother; it feels good in the moment, but it’s not connected to reality.

Further, Dr. Robert Cloninger, at Washington University in St. Louis has done brain research on the prefrontal cortex, which monitors the reward center of the brain. He says the brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. The reward center of our brains learns to say: Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards,” Cloninger says, “will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

When we rave too easily, kids eventually learn to cheat, to exaggerate and lie and to avoid difficult reality. They have not been conditioned to face it. A helpful metaphor when considering this challenge is: inoculation. When you get inoculated, a nurse injects a vaccine, which actually exposes you to a dose of the very disease your body must learn to overcome. It’s a good thing. Only then do we develop an immunity to it. Similarly, our kids must be inoculated with doses of hardship, delay, challenges and inconvenience to build the strength to stand in them.

Eight Steps Toward Healthy Leadership

Obviously, negative risk taking should be discouraged, such as smoking, alcohol, illegal drugs, etc. In addition, there will be times our young people do need our help, or affirmation. But—healthy teens are going to want to spread their wings. They’ll need to try things on their own. And we, the adults, must let them. Here are some simple ideas you can employ as you navigate these waters:

  1. Help them take calculated risks. Talk it over with them, but let them do it. Your primary job is to prepare your child for how the world really works.
  2. Discuss how they must learn to make choices. They must prepare to both win and lose, not get all they want and to face the consequences of their decisions.
  3. Share your own “risky” experiences from your teen years. Interpret them. Because we’re not the only influence on these kids, we must be the best influence.
  4. Instead of tangible rewards, how about spending some time together? Be careful you aren’t teaching them that emotions can be healed by a trip to the mall.
  5. Choose a positive risk taking option and launch kids into it (i.e. sports, jobs, etc). It may take a push but get them used to trying out new opportunities.
  6. Don’t let your guilt get in the way of leading well. Your job is not to make yourself feel good by giving kids what makes them or you feel better when you give it.
  7. Don’t reward basics that life requires. If your relationship is based on material rewards, kids will experience neither intrinsic motivation nor unconditional love.
  8. Affirm smart risk-taking and hard work wisely. Help them see the advantage of both of these, and that stepping out a comfort zone usually pays off.

Bottom line? Your child does not have to love you every minute. He’ll get over the disappointment of failure but he won’t get over the effects of being spoiled. So let them fail, let them fall, and let them fight for what they really value. If we treat our kids as fragile, they will surely grow up to be fragile adults. We must prepare them for the world that awaits them. Our world needs resilient adults not fragile ones.

Want More? Click to download the expanded version of this article as an eBook for Kindle apps. 

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