Articles

A tribute to A.A. Milne

Of the many books that were read and re-read to me in early childhood before I could read, my favourites were A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Especially appealing were the difficulties facing Pooh that he didn’t know how to resolve, like getting down from a tree…

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To strengthen schools, start with the family

Successful Schools New research shows family structure is strongly linked to educational success. If your country is anything like mine, you will hear teacher organizations constantly complaining about the government’s miserliness towards schools and smallness of teachers’ pay packets.

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Chaste – and happier – Millennials

The idea that you can enjoy life without having sex is catching on. The News Story: Less Sex Please, We’re Millennials—Study The British Guardian reported recently on an American study revealing—to the surprise of everyone involved—that millennials are having…

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After 140 years, Tom Sawyer is still a beloved character

This story follows Tom’s very unique personality through a range of adventures including getting stuck in a cave and cleverly arranging the chore of white-washing a fence by allocating it to other children. Author Mark Twain pushes the limits to keep the reader on the edge of his seat. One goes through the whole gamut of emotions and thoughts with the twists and turns of the adventure…

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For the Richer, Not the Poorer: Marriage as a Class Affair

A constant theme in today’s news and comment is inequality – the increasing gap between rich and poor. You will hear or read about it practically every day. But how often do you hear about another yawning gap that has opened up in the richer countries: the wealth gap between married and unmarried parents?

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Why good values alone aren’t good enough in parenting

My husband and I went to a really great parenting talk last week by educator Andrew Mullins from Australia… I liked it a lot, and not just because of his charming accent, which made everything sound so friendly and hopeful! It was very positive and practical, and focussed on 15 specific parenting tips or goals to consider in helping prepare your child for adult life.

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Getting Teens to Obey (the right people)

As children approach their adolescent years, they sometimes revert to their terrible twos as they exert their independence and question our authority. This becomes an important time to work on the third degree of obedience: full submission of one’s judgement, for this is when obedience really becomes virtuous.

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Build good habits if you want your child to be happy

Character equals good habits. If you are systematic and persevering in sculpting good habits of thinking and acting in your child, you will have a happy child and a happy adult. You must carve these habits from the living rock of a deep and loving respect for others.

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Teach detachment from material things

Graffiti along my favourite jogging route reads, ‘I shop therefore I am’. Descartes would squirm! How enthusiastically did you take possession of your new car? What glossy magazines and mobiles catch your eye? Which advertisements? How therapeutic do you find shopping for clothes?

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Find new ways to keep communicating

Respect your child’s right to self-determination. Don’t just tell them what their goals should be. Don’t try to manipulate your child into a career path, a subject choice, musical tuition or your favourite sport. No matter how much energy it takes, engage with that young person…

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Delegate, even if it takes more time to get the job done

Children take so long to do things. No wonder parents end up doing so much for their children – cleaning up after them, picking up after them, making their beds. It can seem more efficient not to delegate, and it is certainly a lot less trouble. But this is short-term thinking.

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How to get your kids to obey

As we strive to develop the virtue of obedience in our children, we need to keep in mind that the purpose of obedience is not just so that our children get their school work and chores done without arguing or whining. Nor is it simply a matter of keeping peace in the house and annoying behavior at bay. Our reasons for making our children practice the virtue of obedience have to be nobler. Obedience teaches humility and self control and it leads to true freedom.

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Pre-marriage Questions to Ask

In a world where divorce is rife, maybe young people feel that they can apply their “go with the flow” and “it’ll be right” attitudes to marriage. Wrong. The break-up of a marriage is no laughing matter, and part of its prevention would be asking the tough questions while dating – as brought up by this recent New York Times article.

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The lost world of Ramona Quimby

Why do Beverly Cleary’s young characters seem to have more time? “I think children today have a tough time, because they don’t have the freedom to run around as I did—and they have so many scheduled activities.” That was Beverly Cleary speaking to the Washington Post this week.

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Family Movies

Many families sit together for a weekly family movie night. It is a great time to relax, watch a great movie and maybe have some popcorn. Well-chosen movies provide enjoyment, insight and criteria. They also act as powerful role models for our children. Good parents try to ensure that their family values are underlined and not undermined by what they are viewing. It becomes increasingly difficult as kids get older to find good movies that provide wholesome entertainment without offending our family values.

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The Importance of Reading

We can always know more and better. As human beings we are open to the infinite, although we cannot contain it all. Reading can be much more than a pleasant pastime. It can be a preparation for life. Good books challenge, thrill, excite and awaken us to the potential drama of life, especially to the drama of a life lived for the highest ideals. Through them we meet people of different types and we become better judges of character. Like true friends, good books encourage us to be our best selves.

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Handy advice for parents overwhelmed by their kids’ media world

Parents raising children today are internet savvy and well able to keep up with their kids in this area. Right? Wrong. A recent survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US shows that “only 61 percent of parents check the websites their teens are visiting,” reports Naomi Schaefer Riley. “About the same number have ever checked their kids’ social-media profiles.”

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The Perfect Parent Lives in Timbuktu (and is likely a Sasquatch!)

I haven’t met the perfect parent. It’s not me. It’s likely not you either. But that’s ok. Children are born of love, not perfection. Still, sometimes we wonder if there is a scientific formula for being the perfect parent, a special combination of elements that will help us get it just right. Our society encourages this; we are told we must have the right economic, educational, medical, emotional, and intellectual circumstances to responsibly have a child. It seems a very dangerous and risky business, and one must be perfectly prepared.

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The Consequence of Consequences

When talking about changing behaviour, I typically focus on preventing bad behaviour and teaching good behaviour. I believe this is where we should always put the majority of our effort. However, since the days of the Garden of Eden, even the perfect parent has had kids who do the very thing they are not supposed to do. As important as the prevention of bad behaviour is, we sometimes need to be the law enforcer. I remember when I first took on this role in my house…

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Family Rules: The Power of “WE”

Every healthy family lives by a set of rules in the home, some high standards for attitudes and conduct directed toward the welfare of others. When children live by these standards every day for years, they gradually–with fits and starts along the way – internalize powers of judgment, ethical responsibility, gutsy perseverance, and consideration for others. Active family rules form the framework for their growth in character.

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