Feb 23, 2014

Pick the Right Parents

The popular myth is that any kid can grow up to be President. Sadly, this is not the case. At the time I became politically aware of issues, legislation and candidates, I prayed that my children would *not* want to be President. There were so many compromises made just to get to the House, the Senate, or the Governor's Mansion, that it occurred to me "any kid" cannot afford just waltz in there. Even when we elected "someone good" to the House, they always ended up voting for stupid bills and I found myself wanting to get rid of them once more! They have to make alliances with PACs and special interest groups to get the funding to advertise and run an effective campaign.

Even being rich on your own doesn't do it. Ross Perot is proof of that.

Recently, I read that Barack Obama is related to every President except Martin Van Buren. Why does this not surprise me? How does an allegedly foreign-born "outsider" waltz into the White House? It wasn't just the political compromises and financial alliances. The same way the peanut farmer from Georgia did it in the 1970s. Like royalty, he was born into it, groomed since birth.

KSBW.com says this:

BridgeAnne d'Avignon, who attends Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, traced that Obama, and all other U.S. presidents except Martin Van Buren, are related to John "Lackland" Plantagenet, a king of England and signer of the Magna Carta.

The student and her grandfather, who is a genealogist, spent this past summer designing the first known family tree chart in history that shows the presidents' direct relationship. BridgeAnne's grandfather has researched president genealogy for 60 years.
So there you have it. If you want to be President, it's very simple.

Pick the right parents.

What are the *realistic* career choices you your kids?

Jan 30, 2014

The Trouble With "Gifted"

Most public schools have a program, some enrichment classes, or something for those students identified as "gifted."It sounds great, but really provides more flash than substance.

If a child has a high IQ, or is otherwise unchallenged by his regular classes, how is one class a week going to fix that? A lot of parents complain that their son or daughter is getting into trouble at school because they are done with their work, waiting for the rest of the class to catch up, and are just bored sitting there.

 Teachers complain because they have enough special ed kids, each with his own IEP, and enough "differentiated instruction" going on. How many jobs can one person do, after all? Common Core complicates teaching to a new dimension! (That's a topic for another day.)

Kids who are labeled "gifted" put undo pressure on themselves to maintain good grades. They can become anxious if they're not the "best" in all their classes. They may be smart, but they often don't know the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The better fix might be to track kids into learning abilities. Stop worrying about hurting their feelings. Everyone can't be in 1st place. Everyone isn't in the "top" reading group. It's ok. All the tomatoes on the vine ripen eventually. Let's group them by progress so that kid who needs more time gets it, and the kid who moves faster can keep on learning. Learning is better than waiting - if indeed the goal is education, not indoctrination.

Homeschooling is gaining popularity since the Common Core Camel's nose has entered the tent. If you study it, you'll see why.

No educator loves your children as much as you do.

What goal do you (and the federal lawmakers, and State BOE) have for YOUR children today?

Apr 22, 2013

Four Words of Advice

Parental advice too often sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. All the kids hear is "Wah wah wah wah...." The more I talk, the less they hear. With emphasis on brevity, here is the most succinct advice I can offer my children:

Dental Hygiene: Brush and floss daily.
Driving: Blessed are the merciful.
Investments: Buy low, sell high.
Heaven: Despair not; presume not. 
Food: Gluttony is a sin.
Dating: Keep your pants on.
Gratitude: Be the tenth leper.
Authenticity: Be who you are.
Moving on: Don't forget to write! 
Always remember: You are blessed indeed!


Feb 15, 2013

You Can't Always Get What You Want

This is for the Carnival Triumph passengers, and anyone facing a bitter disappointment right now.

You go on a cruise for relaxation, adventure, pampering even.

You get power outages, malfunctioning toilets, food shortages.

Hey, this isn't what I signed up for!

Sometimes the thing you cursed turns out to be your greatest blessing.

Did you learn that you are capable of surviving something you never knew you could? Did you learn the importance of keeping a good attitude in spite of adversity? Did you see the cream rise to the top and people come out in droves to help others? Did you get to wave to your mom on CNN? Did you bring home memories that will sustain and encourage you next time the power goes out at your house for 20 minutes?

You can't always get what you want. Sometimes you get something better.

What blessing did you curse today,
and how are you going to change your attitude?

Oct 11, 2012

Wealth vs. Status

I went shopping for a purse last week. My first mistake was to even set foot inside the Coach store. Oh they had purses, alright. Lots of them. And they were made with excellent craftsmanship. And there were about 4 clerks for every shopper, falling over each other to curry your favor. Wow.

The bags were on sale, most of them. "Only $300" on this group, and "30% off!" (off of what?) on another, and so on. I did find a few I liked. The one that was most exactly what I was looking for was a tiny little thing with an over-body strap and (sigh!) a dog leash clip and yet still came in at almost $70. Ouch.

It didn't pass the hungry baby test. (How many hungry babies could I feed for $70?) Or, as my mom was fond of saying, "Quid ad aeternitatem?" (What does this have to do with eternity?) It's not that this was the most expensive bag in the world, nor even of the whole store. It was really quite economical in Coach terms.

Even so, I have to put purchases in the context of wealth vs. status. Wealth (property, investments, etc.) provides for our future. Status drains our wealth and compromises our future. Status might make us look and feel important (until the next newest biggest best fashionable thing comes along...) but it does not sustain happiness nor security for the long term.

I ended up buying a Kim Rogers purse at Belk. With a sale and a coupon, I spent less than $20, and the purse does everything I need it to do, except make me "look" important. And that's ok, because I have a future. I have wealth.

What status-seeking (and wealth-compromising) behaviors will you forgo today?

Oct 10, 2012

A Place For Wrestling

We've all heard the adage, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."

I contend that wrestling is a thing. So is singing. So is crying.

If my boys want to wrestle, like exuberant boys are wont to do, I don't say "stop wrestling." I say "Take it outside in the grass so that you don't break things or get hurt on sharp corners."

If my daughter wants to sing, I consider that a "Happy Noise" and welcome its intrusion in my day. If I'm in the middle of a tv show, I  pause the dvr, and resume it later. Or I figure I'll catch the rerun next summer when my daughter is gone, when I would give anything to hear her sing once more.

Crying is allowed, too. Yes, we are allowed to express our emotions, even painful or angry ones. However, if it devolves into whiny, obnoxious attention-seeking, we take it to our room and shut the door while we compose ourselves and figure out a better way to communicate our feelings.

Don't tell me not to feel. Just tell me where I can go to do it while respecting the rights of others.

What feelings will you express (in a socially appropriate way) today?

Oct 4, 2012

Kids "Unfit to Inherit" ???

CNBC published an article by Robert Frank a few months back, about parents who are leaving their millions to charity instead of their children. "Only 32 percent of baby boomers are confident their children will be prepared emotionally and financially to receive a financial legacy."

Whose fault is this? Let's assume this is not inherited wealth. (I assure you, multigenerational high net worth families groom their children for succession. It's what keeps the wealth in the family.) Boomers, who perhaps built a business from scratch and worked hard to become wealthy, focused all their attention on the business, but stopped short of pondering the fact that they may die one day, and planning for eventual maturity of their children to take the baton.

Frank's assessment:
In the end, however, the phenomenon outlined in the survey boils down to a simple problem: The baby boomers have raised kids who are unequipped to inherit large amounts unearned wealth. The kids have been given most of what they want since childhood and have followed their parents model of generous spending. And the job market isn’t exactly conducive to college grads making it on their own. [...]

Whose fault is all this? The parents, in part. Only half of the respondents had told their children about their family wealth. When asked why, they said the children would become lazy, make poor decisions, squander money or fall prey to golddiggers.

We can call it the Rinehart Paradox. Wealthy parents aren’t raising kids to be good with wealth, so they refuse to leave them wealth.

In the end, the biggest losers here are the kids.

That's tantamount to tying your kid's shoes because it's easier than teaching him to tie them himself. Really? You're going to be around when he is 30, still tying his shoes? You will cripple your children emotionally when you FAIL to teach them about your finances, financial strategies, where the money comes from, where it goes, and WHY you made the decisions you did with it. 

Whose shoes will you stop tying today?