Friday, December 28, 2018

Parenting; How Goes It?

Two interesting articles on parenting; I'll be interested on your take of either or both.

The first is from Mother Jones on school discipline.  I absolutely agree with trying to help kids figure out what is really upsetting them (and giving them tools to deal with anger).  Punishment doesn't really work for a child with real issues so more care needs to be taken.

But, as someone in a classroom on a regular basis, I will push back a bit.  If a teacher has a large class plus the kid in question is endangering other students (not just stopping the teaching and learning), the teacher needs the ability to act.   And sometimes, it won't be nuanced.

Has your child ever complained about another child disrupting class?  Is kindness taught for other children's issues?  

The other article is from the New York Times, The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.  (I actually heard something on NPR this morning about Amazon's own relentlessness and that Alexa had read literally hundreds of thousands of holiday stories.  Really? Even during a holiday, parents can't read to their own children? But I digress.)

Tantalizing tidbits from the story:
The amount of money parents spend on children, which used to peak when they were in high school, is now highest when they are under 6 and over 18 and into their mid-20s.

There are signs of a backlash, led by so-called free-range parents, but social scientists say the relentlessness of modern-day parenting has a powerful motivation: economic anxiety. For the first time, it’s as likely as not that American children will be less prosperous than their parents.

“Intensive parenting is a way for especially affluent white mothers to make sure their children are maintaining their advantaged position in society,” said Jessica Calarco, a sociologist at Indiana University and author of “Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.”  

The time parents spend in the presence of their children has not changed much, but parents today spend more of it doing hands-on child care. Time spent on activities like reading to children; doing crafts; taking them to lessons; attending recitals and games; and helping with homework has increased the most. Today, mothers spend nearly five hours a week on that, compared with 1 hour 45 minutes hours in 1975 — and they worry it’s not enough.

At the same time, there has been little increase in support for working parents, like paid parental leave, subsidized child care or flexible schedules, and there are fewer informal neighborhood networks of at-home parents because more mothers are working.  

Parenthood is more hands-off in many other countries. In Tokyo, children start riding the subway alone by first grade, and in Paris, they spend afternoons unaccompanied at playgrounds. Intensive parenting has gained popularity in England and Australia, but it has distinctly American roots — reflecting a view of child rearing as an individual, not societal, task. 

Race influences parents’ concerns, too. Ms. Jones said that as a parent of black boys, she decided to raise them in a mostly black neighborhood so they would face less racism, even though it meant driving farther to many activities.
This is common for middle-class black mothers, found Dawn Dow, a sociologist at the University of Maryland whose book, “Mothering While Black: Boundaries and Burdens of Middle-Class Parenthood,” comes out in February. “They’re making decisions to protect their kids from early experiences of racism,” Ms. Dow said. “It’s a different host of concerns that are equally intensive.” 

“It’s still an open question whether it’s the parenting practices themselves that are making the difference, or is it simply growing up with college-educated parents in an environment that’s richer in many dimensions?” said Liana Sayer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland and director of the Time Use Laboratory there. “I don’t think any of these studies so far have been able to answer whether these kids would be doing well as adults regardless, simply because of resources."   


Anonymous said...

One thing I notice on this blog (& sometimes elsewhere) is some people erroneously equating middle class with the affluent. There is a big difference, which is growing and has educational and achievement gap implications between the two groups. In fact although that gap is growing, the black/white racial gap is shrinking if we look at data from the past 30 years, according to Stanford's Reardon research and others.



Melissa Westbrook said...

JK, I believe that in some people's minds, anyone who isn't poor is "affluent."

Benjamin Leis said...

Here's a parenting topic on my mind: what's a good resource for talking about suicide with your kids?

Anonymous said...

These results indicate that most schools are doing their job(s). The larger society is continually shortchanging children and old people--those who don't pay taxes. So much for those who want to rake teachers under the coals...

The fact that schools show continual improvement in children's outcomes means that these outcomes are variable and amenable to input and support. What does that mean for those who want to separate and call their slightly "above average kid GIFTED" or "highly capable" etc.? (not referring to those who register scores that result from highly or profoundly gifted--just the "sorta, kinda" that come from students of educated families).

Is it because American society may not want to have a level playing field after all?

Who Knows?

That would be very scary to more than a few.

Anonymous said...

The above comment was from

Who Knows?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for that, Who Knows. This is a thread about parenting, not who is gifted. I think you are stirring the pot for no real reason. Back on topic.

Anonymous said...

@Who knows There has never been a true level playing field in education. In fact, it was much worse in the past when you study the history of education in the US. The public education system strives to create a relatively equal playing field.


Jet City mom said...

Benjamin, I can’t recommend any books, but what I found helpful were choosing movies or tv shows that broached topics I found difficult otherwise to bring up.
It’s even easier now to find topics with searching on line.
But two I can think of that talked about suicide are old movies, Ordinary People, and a little lighter, Harold and Maude.
Perhaps someone else has some more recent suggestions.

Jet City mom said...

One thing I would suggest is reading the books your child is assigned along with them.
I was stunned by some of the books my daughter read in middle school under the auspices of a health class.
Very heavy emotional content, even triggering.

This article about how to watch movies to start conversations with your kids might be helpful.


Anonymous said...

My 2E child is “that kid”. The ADHD kid other parents don’t want in their child’s classroom. The one who doesn’t have friends and doesn’t get invited to birthday parties and play dates. What I wish other parents know is how heartbreaking it is for us and for our child. We have medicated, tried several counselors and therapies, social skills groups, CBT, etc. Frankly, my student is not a good fit in any SPS classroom (IQ over 160). We have no options. We are judged constantly by our child’s behavior even though we have tried every recommendation there is. It really does feel like we are fighting for my child’s life.

What we are starting to see this year I believe is an escalation in some behaviors due to our child feeling more and more like an outcast-shunned and bullied. My child regularly reports being called “idiot” and “stupid” by peers. It’s during those incidents where feelings of unfairness flood my kid's frontal lobe that the worst behaviors come out. The teacher sends out signals that she dislikes my child and my child knows it. The teacher doesn’t use my child’s IEP accommodations and then doesn’t understand why my child doesn’t do the work or has meltdowns. I am helpless watching my once happy go lucky kid becoming angrier and sadder each year (not even in middle school yet).

Yes, I think SPS needs to do a better job teaching compassion. Yes, teachers can only do so much. Yes, I want other students to be safe. We have used Dr. Ross Greene’s ideas at home and have seen drastic improvement. There is a disconnect with the classroom and SPS approach.

Done Done

Anonymous said...

@ Done Done, I'm so very sorry to hear about your situation. I wish I could tell you things will get better, but we were in a similar boat and found that things only got worse in middle school, when those feelings of isolation are even that much harder for a kid/tween/teen to take. Unfortunately, even 100% adherence to the IEP isn't likely to solve the problems and make your child a good fit in SPS. Even if your child were "only" an intellectual outlier he would still be ill-served by SPS--but when you add learning differences on top of that, it's that much more unlikely that anyone (peers, teachers, counselors, other parents, etc.) will understand or know how to deal with it. If the district were to do a better job of teaching compassion it might help a little, on the surface--but I don't think it would solve the root problems. Your child is simply not like the other kids his age, and he is not likely to find his peers unless you are able to find a more specialized program.

You did not say whether your child is in HCC or not, but even in HCC exceptionally and profoundly gifted students are not a good fit. In fact, sometimes it's even worse, because teachers are convinced that HCC itself provides sufficient differentiation. At least if you're in a regular classroom you may get the occasional teacher who is willing to let the child's interests and abilities drive the curriculum. We had a few wonderful teachers over the years who were willing to cast aside the traditional curriculum (for the most part) in favor of independent study work we sent in with our child, but that doesn't help with the social component.

My advice would be to continue doing what you're doing--looking for new options and trying them all, despite the heartbreak. Your child will continue to grow and change, and things may get a little better on their own. Counseling, therapy, CBT, etc. may work better down the road, or after you find the right fit in terms of providers or approaches. New medications may help, even if those you tried in the past have not.

When you say you have no options, I assume home schooling is not an option for you? What about partial homeschooling, or working out some sort of online programming that may better engage your child? Sometimes tapping into their passions can help. Is moving an option? I don't know which school districts are better at this, but there have to be some. I think there's also an SPS 2e facebook group, and people there might have some advice or recommendations.

You feel like you're "done," but I have no doubt you'll keep plugging away and doing the best for your child. It's hard work, and very few can appreciate just how emotionally draining--and damn near impossible--it is. You have my respect and best wishes.

Never Done

Melissa Westbrook said...

Done Done, I feel for you. I agree with Never Done; things did not get better for us,either. More in middle school than high school. I also agree to keep casting out for options. My son found a group that played D&D and that helped.

Just know that you aren't alone even if you feel that way.

Anonymous said...

@Done Done,

I also feel for you. My child has a friend who fits your child's description. She has stood up and advocated for her friend when other kids did not understand. HCC was a better fit in some regards for this child in middle as she had 2E peers and did make some good friends who understand her, but still had a hard time. It has been hard for her and the parents moved her into several different schools trying to find a good fit. I wish I could suggest an additional option for you.


Anonymous said...

We were free range parents. It was partly why we went with Waldorf for grade school. Kids were allowed to climb trees, etc. My walked to school from an early age and my eldest rode the bus downtown for high school. My youngest went to Hale and walked there. I worry that many kids will be less independent with all the hovering we as a culture do. Being white, I had the privilege of not worrying as much about my kids walking to and from school.


NNE Mom said...


This has been weighing on me as well. Here are some helpful resources:





I think it's probably also a good idea to explicitly teach teens how to recognize warning signs in their friends and peers and what to do. Teens need to know where to go for help. Because the world is full of people who will not reject or abuse them if only they can find their way to these resources.

Also, keeping in mind the leading causes of death for teenagers can also help adults in providing targeted education:
1. Accidents (unintentional injuries) (Motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of accident death among teenagers, representing over one-third of all deaths to teenagers.)
2. Homicide
3. Suicide
4. Cancer
5. Heart disease

Anonymous said...

@ HP, one person’s “hovering” is another person’s “parenting”—and I think there are many shades between “free range” and “hovering.” Not all kids, neighborhoods, family circumstances, etc. are a good fit for the “free range” approach, although many free rangers often act as if their approach is superior.

Some who free range out of necessity rather than choice probably wish they had other options—and those kids might be better off if they did have other options.

Never Done

Anonymous said...

@Done Done

I have such compassion for you and your situation, as many before you have had to run this same gauntlet. Although it may feel otherwise, you are by no means alone! I encourage you to reach out to other parents of exceptionally (IQ > 160) to profoundly (IQ > 180) gifted children. Seattle has more than a few such families.

If you are already at an HCC school, you may already know some parents and need only ask around for connections. (A major exception is Thurgood Marshall, which does not have a healthy climate for this kind of outreach. In that case, also try reaching out to families at other HCC schools.) Even among parents of HC students, understanding the unique vulnerabilities and needs of exceptionally to profoundly gifted students can be lacking, so your role as a vocal advocate for your child will never end, regardless where you end up.

There are several other groups you can reach out to. Others have mentioned 2e Seattle. There are also potential connections to be made through SENG, either via their Parent groups (sengifted.org/smpg-facilitator-directory/) or through their SENG Connect groups (sengifted.org/programs/seng-community/). Because children in this category are only about 1 in 10,000+ people in the general population, try to be open about making connections and reaching out to people living throughout the country and the world via the Internet and social media to find help, support, ideas, camaraderie, and sometimes even friendship.

To be frank, Seattle Public Schools does not currently offer an educational program that is suitable for many exceptionally or profoundly gifted students. You are justified in feeling "done." All Seattle Public Schools offers is acceleration by 1-2 years depending on the subject area and the school, although some schools do better with the critical issues of professional development and social-emotional learning for students with asynchronous development than do others. IEP compliance is weak, and a full range of special education services are simply not provided at HCC schools. If you have any flexibility in where you live, I encourage you to consider moving out of the district for these reasons, but only to a district where you think services will be more comprehensive and overall better.

You have some other alternatives locally. The area does have some private schools that might work for your child's combination of needs. 2e parents might be a good resource for talking about these options. Many parents of exceptionally to profoundly gifted children end up doing homeschooling or part-time homeschooling, where you would homeschool some subjects but the student would remain in school at other times. This is feasible only if you have the resources for one parent not to work and if you have the gumption to teach, of course, but sadly for many parents this is the only realistic way to meet some children's needs. Check out 2e Gifted Homeschoolers (www.facebook.com/groups/1727857833995345/), NWGCA (www.nwgca.org/homeschooling.html), and others.

Nationally, there are some other things you might want to look into, such as the Davidson Institute: www.davidsongifted.org or Davidson Academy in Reno: www.davidsonacademy.unr.edu, and other schools: www.hoagiesgifted.org/schools.htm.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

If there was greater appreciation and understanding of free range, there would be less harassment of parents who either free range due to necessity or choice. Most parents who hover are well off. They can afford to drive their kids to school 2 blocks, they can afford an endless stream of classes after school, etc. Free range is what all parents in America used to practice and it is how parenting is done in many places in the rest of the world.

Everyone needs to figure out what is best for their own kid and family, but not letting your kid walk to school 2 blocks in safe neighborhoods due to fear is not helping your kid. If there are legitimate concerns like busy streets or unsafe neighborhoods, then yes it makes sense to provide another way to school. That is what the Rainier Beach students were pointing out with their bus passes for all.


Anonymous said...

@ HP, if you took my comment as "harassment" of free rangers, that tells me a lot. It also says a lot that you refer to "hoverers" as people who drive their kids 2 blocks to school. Really? I don't know any people who do that--in fact, I know very people who even live within 2 blocks of their child's school. Statistically and demographically in SPS, it's a rarity. Surely you wee exaggerating, or are otherwise referring to a tiny subgroup (so small that I'm not sure why the bother).

It's also funny that you cry "harassment," then suggest that parents who aren't on board with free ranging must be uneducated about it. I suppose you think if they just weren't so ignorant and had a "greater appreciation and understanding of free range" they'd see the wisdom of your ways and join you on your horse.

Yes, there are "free rangers" and "hoverers." There are also the rest of us--probably most of us--who are somewhere in the middle. Regular old parents. It's not one or the other. We free range on some things and hover on others. But often (usually?) it's not because we think one style is better, but often (usually?) because one is more feasible or feels right given the situation.

For example, I let my kid walk a mile home from school all alone (Yay me, I'm a free ranger!). But then I drove him a couple times a week to soccer practice (uh oh--hover, hover!). I would have let him walk to practice had there been an opportunity to play nearby (yay me!), but there wasn't a park nearby, nor a team (bad mom for paying so he could play soccer--hover!). I let my 5th grader stay home alone for a couple hours at a time when he felt ready (yay me!), but was sensitive to my middle schooler's anxiety issues and didn't make her stay home alone until much later, when it no longer terrified her (bad mom, coddling her!).

As a kid, I guess you could say I was a free rangee myself. My parents were pretty uninvolved/uninterested/uninformed about what I did. They loved me and tried to protect me in their own ways, but they were very hands off. We roamed freely. In elementary school, I got rides from an adult male (my parents didn't know). We walked on a dangerous road every day, and one time I got to make a police report for witnessing a hit-and-run of a cyclist right in front of us. I cut class in high school and wrote my own notes (w/ my mom's forged signatures), and neither the school nor my parents cared as long as I got ok grades. As a 16-year-old I drove all over town late a night, for fun and work, often being the last one in dark, remote locations since I was closing up the place. It was scary, but I lucked out and nothing bad happened. My parents didn't know it was scary or potentially dangerous, but they also didn't think to ask. I was free to roam about the cabin, and they just assumed all was well! I got sexually harassed at work as a teen and had no clue how to deal with it, but as a free rangee I was on my own for that, too. When it came time to look at colleges, I got no guidance. I guess that made me more independent (yay me!)--but it also means I made poor decisions that have had long-term negative consequences. I'd like to help my kids learn from my experiences and not make similarly poor choices, but then again, researching colleges and taking them on tours might place me at risk for being labeled a hoverer...

Personally, I think the key is to gradually expose kids to more and more responsibility and, yes, risk. But to also help out when we think they need help. Much depends on the kid. I'm glad what you chose to do works for you and yours, but this "2-block" idea is kind of bizarre--and insulting to all the reasonable parents out there.

Never Done

Melissa Westbrook said...

Never Done, a lot of what you say rings true for me as well.