Happy New Year: Best Beginning Quotes


The end of the year is fast approaching and with feelings of end, there are many feelings of hope. Because every end is a new beginning. At our house, we usually have a tradition of writing down our wishes, desires and goals for the new year, a list of requests to send to the universe. At the same time, we evaluate how much of the previous year’s requests the Genie of the lamp has granted us. Funnily enough, I discovered this year that my Genie has some time management issues. He has a bit of a delay. Sometimes I get my requests two or three years later. Luckily, I keep my requests from previous years and so I can see my Genie has granted my wishes, even if it was a bit later than I thought. Still, I am happy. I think I will add another request for my Genie to attend my time management course.

This year, I want to wish all my readers (and we had plenty of them) a wonderful 2013.

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What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?


If I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

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Real Education


When I was a kid, my parents valued education and told my sisters and me that getting a good education was the key to having opportunities in life. My mother was a school teacher, so she could help us with homework throughout most of our school years, and my father, well, he was sorry he never got the chance to get more education, so he just gave us the drive.

But when I grew up and had children of my own, I realized that my path had been laid out for me and that I had pursued education without ever stopping to ask my self why. I may have chosen my fields of study, but the thought of traveling, taking a “gap year” to work or even starting a business had never crossed my mind.

If we look at the history of knowledge, we can see that it was once reserved to special people, such as nobles, religious leaders and professional scholars. Later on, getting a “good education” required no entitlement, only money, and over time, education became more and more accessible to everyday people.

Still, the feeling that education gives you and edge and lifts your social standing remained and was transferred from one generation to the next. Knowledge was power, or so everybody thought.

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My Kid Wants a Tattoo: How to Prevent


Lucky me, I have 3 kids who are 23, 16 and 10 years old and they have never asked to get a tattoo. If you also believe your kids will never be able to predict what the future holds for them and would like to reduce the chances they will ask to get a tattoo, here is what I have done and I hope it will give you some ideas.

If you see a beautiful tattoo and you like it, say right in front of your kids that you think it is beautiful. Make sure you separate the beauty from the act of burning the skin. You do not want them to think you are old in your mindset and do not understand anything about beauty.

Let your kids express themselves. If they want to start putting makeup early, let them do it. Noff has had her own makeup kit since the age of 3. She used to go to daycare with her face full of lipstick (even as eye shadow). Makeup can be cleaned with soap, not with a knife.

Allow your kids to enjoy face painting everywhere they go. Learn how to do face painting yourself and do it from time to time. Each time their face is painted, ask them if they would like to have it for the rest of their life. Ignore the answer. You are only planting the question in their head.

This post is part 2 of 2 in the series My Kid Wants a Tattoo

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Anorexia: How to stop worrying


Anorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.

Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.

I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.

The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.

Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.

This post is part 5 of 8 in the series Anorexia

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Moving Forward


As you probably know by now, life does not always work the way you expect it to. As a parent, you also know that your kids do not always do what you expect them to. Sure, it is tough sometimes, but it is the same for everybody. No matter how hard we try, we sometimes face situations we do not like.

The main difference between people who succeed in life and those who do not is what they do next. This is also the difference between parents who raise happy and successful kids and those who do not.

While I was thinking about this topic, I remembered a quote by an American president about taking action. When I looked it up, it turned out to be by Theodore Roosevelt, who is also quoted as saying many other highly appropriate things. I will include these within this post for your enjoyment and your (kids’) benefit.

“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Stopping progress

The best way to keep yourself right where you are and place yourself at the mercy of your circumstances, or your kids’ behavior, is to keep finding reasons for not making any progress.

No matter what anyone says to you, what are the chances it will be perfect? None. So you can always respond with, “Oh, no, this doesn’t cover everything”, or words to that effect.

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My Kid Wants a Tattoo: Short-term Thinking


I love tattoos. As a visual person, I find a lot of beauty in tattoos. I think tattoos are a form of art. I can find many justifications for having a tattoo. Much like most women (and some men) use makeup to make themselves look pretty, I can understand having a tattoo to look pretty. Although today, I will not get any piercing to damage my body, I can still remember that when I was younger, I decided to have a second piercing in one of my ears (my ears had each been pierced once by our neighbor when I was about 7 or 8 years old).

Still, I have to say it scares me to think of my kids getting a tattoo. I imagine their soft skin that I bathed and touched being damaged and it really frightens me to think that people damage their skin to look pretty.

Tattoos are a very sensitive topic. If you ask every person that wants to carve their skin and damage their body beyond repair on their motives, they will always say, “I like it!” or “It’s beautiful”, and I believe them. Some tattoos are amazingly beautiful. What I do not understand is having a beautiful tattoo that you cannot enjoy, because you put them on your neck or on your back and you cannot see them.

The problem with kids wanting a tattoo is that kids cannot imagine the future. They cannot imagine a time when their dazzling tattoo will become a problem. Unlike piercing in your ears, your nose or even your tongue, which you can hide by taking the jewelry out when you go to an interview or a tiny braid in your hair that you can cut off just before your wedding, tattoos are permanent and you cannot just make them disappear.

This post is part 1 of 2 in the series My Kid Wants a Tattoo

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Good Old Human Spirit


Charlie Chaplin was a very funny man. I remember seeing his movies as a kid and thinking he was hilarious. Only much later, I discovered that Charlie Chaplin’s movies were not comedy, but philosophical and very sharp in their social messages.

One of the greatest and most inspiring speeches he gave, in the movie “The Great Dictator”, was about the human spirit. The movie was done in 1940 and it is amazing to see just how relevant it is to what happens in our society today. Over 70 years later, we still have the same challenges.

I am the Queensland State Director of an organization called Together for Humanity that teaches kids about respect and acceptance and how working together can make a huge difference in the world around us. I have been doing this work for 4 years and feel like I am changing the world one school community at a time.

The only problem in this work is that there is a lot to be done and it requires more parents, more educators and more people who care to make an impact quickly and strongly enough. I believe that we all are all responsible for making this world a better place and that we can win by uniting.

Here is Charlie Chaplin’s video with a powerful modern spin. His speech is below the video.

I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspires me.

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Topsy Turvy World (4)


Our world is a weird and wonderful place, but sometimes, we act in weird ways that make it not so wonderful anymore. In many situations, there is a conflict between what is good for us personally and what is good for everybody. In others, the conflict is between what is good for us right now and what will be good in the future. Without considering the implications of our actions, they sometimes make the world just a little bit less pleasant.

Of course, when we do many of these things and lots of other people do them too, the decline accelerates. I often think of my kids and the kind of place I would like them to have when they grow up and it makes me worry.

When we lived in Texas, there was a period of frost every year. That was bad for the lawn, roads were slippery during morning rush hours and there were always accidents because of the frost.

Yet, a friend of mine found a way to have fun with his kids during that time. Before going to bed on Friday night, he would water his driveway, which was short, straight and steep. When his boys woke up on Saturday morning, the driveway would be ready for some extreme sliding!

This went on for a while and nearly became a family tradition, except one day, my friend’s mother-in-law came to visit on Saturday morning and slipped on the ice. She was thoroughly upset with my friend’s carelessness and promptly sued him (and her daughter, who was married to him) for her medical expenses.

The following year, my friend’s insurance raised his premium and he stopped wetting the driveway.

This post is part 4 of 4 in the series Topsy Turvy World

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Money for Nothing


From time to time, we get a knock on the door and someone asks for a donation to charity. The amount of money is up to us and the minimum is typically small. The person is pleasant and often seems like one of the people who would benefit from our donation to this charity.

But to me, this is money for nothing. Sure, research shows that people get a sense of generosity and feel good about themselves when they give money at the door, in the office or secretly in some other way. I still think this is a short-lived feeling that keeps injustice and bad management in our society long term.

I believe that the fundamental ingredient missing from the charity model is self-respect. When a person cannot provide for themselves and relies completely on others for food, shelter and clothing, their sense of identity changes and they begin to see themselves as dependent and incapable of supporting themselves. If this goes on long enough, they end up feeling worthless.

Even if you have never been poor, maybe you have lost your job at some point or your partner has. The feeling of loss of self-worth can be debilitating. When it goes on for long enough and when the loss was big enough (like a top executive being laid off at an age that makes finding another job unlikely), some people even kill themselves. Standing in line for a social security handout is humiliating for anyone used to productive employment.

Money for nothing makes the recipient feel worthless.

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