Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you.

Thank you, friends, for reading Henry's Treehouse.

Over the last four months, we have blogged together about issues that affect our lives as parents, educators, and child advocates. I have learned so much from your input and ideas, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts, ideas, and opinions with all of you.

As I look ahead, I have decided to combine a couple of my blogs, and in turn, I will be shutting the door to this chapter of Henry's Treehouse. Within the next month, I plan to launch a new blog design and theme, thus opening a new chapter to Henry's Treehouse.

Please stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

College email is so last year?

A friend sent me this article about a prestigious college's decision to forgo new email accounts.

What do you think?

"Officials at Boston College have made what may be a momentous decision: they've stopped doling out new email accounts to incoming students. The officials realized that the students already had established digital identities by the time they entered college, so the new email addresses were just not being utilized. The college will offer forwarding services instead. Starting next year, freshman enrolled at Boston College won't be given an actual email account complete with login and inbox, just an email address."

So, is this the start of a new trend? I think so. There are a few concerns, but in time, I think this is the way colleges and universities will go. It does make me think about a young man who I knew through a previous job. He had an email address that consisted of a gang name. Let's hope that students like him find a more appropriate email address to use when they start their college career!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Do you have a high schooler who is college bound? If so, ask your child's School Counselor for the school's Peterson's StudentEdge access code.
If your child's school does not have one, encourage them to get one - access codes are FREE for school administrators!
Do not pay for access! Every school should be able to acquire an access code that allows administrators and students access to this resourceful website.
What is StudentEdge? StudentEdge is an online resource that gives students the opportunity to engage in the college planning process with tools and timely advice such as entrance exam preparation, financial aid information, practice standardized tests, and many other helpful tools. The site is customized to a student's grade level so there are tons of resources depending on whether your child is a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.
Remember, there is no reason to pay for access to this site. Be in touch with your child's School Counselor today for more information about this valuable resource.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ohio abortions on the decline

I read the headline, Ohio abortions decline, and I thought, "great news." 

But then I read the article. 

According to the article published in The Columbus Dispatch, "In 2007, 30,859 pregnancies were terminated, down more than 6 percent from the previous year and the lowest number since the state began keeping statistics in 1976. A report by the Ohio Department of Health shows abortions have been declining since 2000, when 38,140 were performed."

Wait, did I read that right? Over 30,000? Just in the state of Ohio? Holy smokes! That is a crazy-high number!

Here are some of the facts:
  • About 1 in 8 abortions were performed on women younger than 20.
  • Women with at least one child accounted for 60 percent of abortions.
  • Eighty-two percent of the abortions were performed on unmarried women.
  • Women between the ages of 20 and 24 accounted for a third of abortions, more than any other age group.
  • Eighty-six percent of abortions were performed before the 12th week of pregnancy.
  • Ohio continues to have a lower rate of abortions than the national average.
  • Although Ohio statistics are not available, national figures show that unintended pregnancies are increasing among lower-income women while decreasing among higher-income women.
  • Nationally, those with a high-school diploma or less underwent nearly two-thirds of the procedures.
So what do you make of all this? I think it is wonderful that abortions are on the decline, but to know that my state still performs over 30,000 abortions every year? Well, we have a LONG way to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I want this book.

I must tell you about a book that I recently discovered (and no, it's not a new book, I'm just behind the times).

Poetry Speaks to Children is a collection of nearly 100 poems from amazing poets such as Emily Dickinson, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Langston Hughes. The featured poems are those that speak to children through rhyme, rhythm, fun, and sometimes, mischief. Additionally, the book comes with a CD featuring many of the authors reading their work - how cool!

I love this book because I think poetry can be intimidating. But if we expose our children at an early age to the work of fabulous authors (not simply nursery rhymes, although those are good, too), then when our children mature, they will be more likely to turn to those sometimes intimidating authors. 

In addition to the delicious poetry, the book is beautifully illustrated making it fun for the littlest children to read. 

And check out this review on NPR (and listen to Roald Dahl read The Dentist and the Crocodile!). 

I love a book that both children and adults can enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let your kids 'give' this holiday season.

One thing that I hope to instill in my son (and any future children) is the desire to give back to the community. Certainly I cannot force this on him, but there are ways to nudge him in the direction of philanthropy. 

One option is YouthGive. YouthGive, where young people are building a world of good, allows parents to create a Giving Account for their children. The children are then able to manage their own virtual foundations. Parents simply deposit money via PayPal, and then their child can choose from a variety of nonprofits and decide how much to donate. There is no minimum, and parents monitor the child's donations along the way.

According to the website:
YouthGive helps to grow the next generation of givers and global citizens, believing that everyone can be a philanthropist.
YouthGive is giving by the many, for all ages, with local and global impact.
Help us create a new story for youth and families, one that empowers us all as caretakers of our communities and the world.

Consider engaging your child(ren) in the giving spirit this holiday season, and beyond!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A teen on teens

Ever wonder what your teenage daughter is thinking? What is going through her head as she storms out of the room stomping wildly up the stairs and slamming every door behind her? 

Well now you can take a peak into the madness behind her irrational behavior (or is it?) at On Teens Today

On Teens Today is a blog created by Vanessa Van Petten, a young woman well beyond her seventeen years. Vanessa and seven other teens discuss their perspectives and opinions on issues such as sex, academics, and relationships. 

I found this note from Vanessa on the website:
Welcome Brave Parents
HOORAY! Finally, parenting advice from the kid’s perspective! It’s usually impossible to get more than one-word-answers from us, but here I hope that I, along with my 8 teen writers (age 13-17) can be honest about real issues that teens and pre-teens are dealing with, so parents can actually understand us (well at least a small part of our world)…and we can finally develop better relationships.
As much as I LOVE my freedom, I know that adolescents are often two steps ahead of parental controls and because of this, watched many of my friends make really, really bad decisions. So, we have decided to break open the door to our SECRET, terribly complex world and let you in. Ok, I am exaggerating just a tad, but I do truly believe that *if we help each other stay informed, we can stay safe, supported and become happier adults.*

So next time you are at your wits end, log on. Who knows, maybe someone from Vanessa's posse can clue you into your daughter's apparent explosion over a seemingly innocent, "no, honey, you cannot stay over at Michael's house on Prom night."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stop the stigma - is controversial?

Yesterday's post was a first for me, and I'm excited about it!

I have been blogging since February, but it was not until yesterday that I received my first negative comment following one of my posts.

I have always asked people to be honest and express their opinions - that's the fun of the blogosphere. But until yesterday, I never experienced a negative response to one of my posts.

After first reading the comment, I felt my blood pressure rise and my heart begin to race. But I quickly realized that it was so cool! Someone actually read something that I had to say (although in this case it was a post of a letter from a third party), and my words caused them to actually "feel" something. I love it!

Unfortunately, the individual who commented did not leave their name or a link to their website. It's not a big deal, I simply find it interesting. I'm constantly dishin' out my two cents but I think there is something to be said about someone who posts an anonymous comment. Hmmm.

Oh, and how interesting that I have never received any negativity from my political posts (I post a lot of political mumbo jumbo on alidotes) or controversial posts regarding abortion, etc., but it was the post about de-stigmatizing self-mutilation that struck a chord with someone. Not sure what to make of that, but it's interesting.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I received my first negative post, and I can officially say that I am part of this crazy little world called the blogosphere! Thanks for joining me on the journey.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stop the stigma.

Please read this request.

As a parent, I am often concerned when I see blatant evidence of our broken society: graphic graffiti on a sidewalk, nudity on television, violence in video games. And as a mental health professional, I am passionate about breaking stigma, such as helping people to understand that to see a therapist does not imply that something is "wrong" with a person. 

I recently received the following request from a colleague. This request spoke directly to my heart as a mom and mental health professional. I contacted the highlighted party immediately because I am not only a concerned citizen, but I am also a concerned mom, educator, and child advocate. Please consider sending a message to this company.

This came from NAMI StigmaBusters:

The Burton Snowboard Company in Vermont, an international leader in the sport industry, recently unveiled its “Primo” line of snowboards, featuring graphic images of self-mutilation. NAMI is protesting the company’s insensitivity to public health concerns.

For people living with mental illnesses, self-injury unfortunately sometimes is a means of coping with severe emotional stress. Physical injury becomes a surrogate for emotional pain. The Burton images reinforce impulses toward such violence and essentially trivializes them.

Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Vermont , which provides housing and services to homeless, foster and at-risk youth, has protested the toxic snowboards by suspending its participation in Burton’s “Chill” program— which provides free snowboarding lessons to disadvantaged youth in cities around the country. Chill’s mission? “To build self-esteem.”

In a newspaper article , Spectrum’s executive director objected also to a Burton snowboard line that features Playboy models, which is being protested by other groups: “I think I have the right to get on a [chairlift] this winter with my 5-year-old and not have him subjected to any of these scenes…I think I have the right not to have my son ask me, ‘Daddy, why is there a picture of someone’s naked bottom on that snowboard? Why is there a picture of a bloody hand all over that snowboard?’”

Please send Burton a message:
  • Primo snowboards are a public health hazard.
  • Self-injury is not a sport. There is nothing athletic about self-mutilation.
  • Graphic illustrations of bleeding fingers are insensitive and trivialize a symptom of mental illness.
  • Be one of the good guys. Stop toxic marketing. Support mental health education instead.

Mr. Laurent Potdevin, CEO
Burton Snowboard Company
80 Industrial Parkway
Burlington, VT 05401

StigmaBusters involved in youth-oriented programs are especially encouraged to contact Burton’s Chill Program to emphasize that the Primo line is a black-eye to the good the company tries to do. They are at risk of losing goodwill and credibility.

Katherine McConnell
Burton Snowboard Company
Director of Chill Program

Friday, November 14, 2008

Telling our children that we care about them

With so much going on in our lives and the lives of our little ones, we sometimes forget that our words, no matter how insignificant, can make a difference in a child's life. 
Giving our children praises is crucial to building their self-esteem. And letting them know that we care about them helps them to turn to us when they need to talk. 
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hosts a Family Guide website. There you can find a list of phrases that you can say to your child to let them know that you love them. 
Sometimes it's not simply saying, "I love you," although that is a great thing for a child to hear, but often it's saying, "how can I help you," or, "I know you are sad so tell me about that." Letting our children know that we want to listen is often enough of an invitation for them to share their thoughts, concerns, and feelings with us.
Check out the list, and make it a point today to tell a child that you care about them.
*I realize that some of you might be thinking, "I tell my child that I love her everyday," and your child thanks you for that. But this list includes phrases for various situations, and it's a simple reminder that the little things really do count.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sexting - have you heard of it?

I read this commentary on Teen Checkup, and I thought, "thank goodness my child is still a baby." Really, God help me when it's time for me to make decisions such as whether or not my child will be allowed a cell phone. It's not boding well for him.
According to the commentator, young people, especially those in middle school, are engaging in a behavior called "sexting." Sexting occurs when kids (or anyone, for that matter) take naked pictures of themselves and then send the picture to others (who then forward the picture to an unimaginable number of people). Did your mouth just drop to the floor? Because mine did the first time I read this.
And I like to think that I am not naive. In fact, I have received naked pictures through spam or immature friends via text message. But never did it occur to me that young people would take pictures of their own body to be flashed across the digital world - for what, fun?
As if the natural consequences of this behavior are not enough, sexting is actually child pornography. Under federal law, child pornography is a criminal act, and is defined as a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, painting, photograph, film, video, or computer-generated image or picture, where it depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene. 
For instance, a 15-year-old Ohio girl is facing felony charges and may have to register as a sex offender after allegedly sending naked pictures of herself from her cell phone. What might have seemed like a funny game is actually a criminal offense.
The commentator concludes, "some people may argue that sexting is harmless and, perhaps, a form of safe sex. I would agree if 18-year-olds were doing it."
Excuse me, but even as an adult, I do not find sexting harmless. I find it disgusting, offensive, and troubling. And if any man text me a picture of himself in the buff, you better believe I would file a harassment charge.
If you have a teenager who has a cell phone, please talk with them. It is the parent's job to know what information and communication children are receiving from all media and digital outlets.
There are many benefits to allowing your child to have a cell phone (sorry, I don't discuss many of them here), but that doesn't mean your child should be allowed phone privileges carte blanche. 
Let me know your thoughts on sexting and how you intend on working with your teen to prevent them from ever being involved in such behaviors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's eat.

With the holidays approaching, I wonder how many of us are engaging in food, fun, and family the traditional way - sitting together around the table.
Anymore it seems that families and their overstuffed schedules are running in fifty different directions from the time the bell rings to the time everyone falls into their beds way past bedtime. So how are we making time to actually sit and eat together? 
According to a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, "families who eat together have healthier, more balanced diets. Making family mealtime a priority not only improves everyone's physical health, but it also contributes to their overall well-being and mental health."
One thing about eating together that appeals to me is that it allows me to control what my son is putting in his mouth. When he is elsewhere, I never know what he is receiving in terms of food and nutrition. And as he gets older and spends more time away from home (boo-hoo), I know that this will be an even greater struggle.
Additionally, eating together as a family allows parents to establish hopeful habits for their children. One day my son might go off to college thus taking a sabbatical from home-cooked meals for weeks or even a month at a time (say it ain't so). But I will have some peace in knowing that five years at college surely can't negate my eighteen years of meal-together rituals established here in my home.
Furthermore, my husband was raised in a small town miles away from a restaurant of any sort. Nearly every evening meal that he consumed was prepared in his mother's kitchen and delivered to the family at the dining room table. Now my husband might be a rare breed, but because of this delicious upbringing, my husband can cook a serious meal - breakfast, lunch, dinner - you name it, he can cook it. What joy that brings me my family!
Additionally, mealtime is a perfect lab setting for learning socialization skills and manners. The dinner table is a wonderful place for children to practice how we want them to behave in public. Though mealtime can and should be enjoyable, there is no harm in learning how to keep our napkin on our lap or how to ask, "can you please pass the salt?"
Finally, eating together establishes ritual and tradition. I take great comfort in knowing that, no matter what happens during the day, my family will be together for dinner. Growing up, I always sat in the same seat on the same side of the table during our meals together, and it would not have felt the same had my father, for instance, taken a different chair at the table one evening. To me, our everyone-has-an-assigned-seat was like a security blanket.
In fact, a 2004 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine study found that families who regularly eat together are closer than those who eat separately. When we sit down with our children we create an environment conducive to communication. Mealtime is a great opportunity to actually talk with our kids rather than simply mentioning something in passing as we often do when we are scurrying off to the next event. Also, dinnertime occurs at the end of the day, which means that by then, we all have some catching up to do.
As we approach the holidays, it would do us all good to break-in the dining room table before our company arrives. Nothing fancy, nothing formal - just family, food, and memories.
To read more about the wonders of mealtime, visit this article.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Stranger

I received this email as a forward. I have no idea where it originated.

A few years after I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger ... he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries, and comedies. If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!
He took my family to the football and cricket games. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home ... not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.
My dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked ... And NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. If you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name?
We just call him 'TV.'
*Note: He has a wife now ... We call her 'Computer'.

With my recent posts on technology, I thought this story was a perfect illustration!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Candy, Consumption, & Cavities

If you still have Halloween candy lingering around your house, you might want to consider ridding of it, and quick. 
According to a article, the fewer episodes of candy eating, the better. The author states, "although some parents may be tempted to space out the amount of candy their children consume after Halloween, dentists have advice to the contrary: When it comes to teeth, it's better to eat a whole lot of candy at once than to space out candy consumption over time." Repeated consumption leads to cavities thus it's better to eat a bunch of candy and then brush your teeth rather than spreading that candy out over time.
So if you must, spend the rest of the day gorging on leftover Halloween candy. Do what you can to limit your child's exposure to the cavity-producing substance over time, and insist that your children brush their teeth after any candy consumption from this point forward. 
And really, did you need another reason to be the one to finish off the last few Snickers?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lessons from a potato peeler

I read this article (and watched the video) about Joe the Potato Peeler on Park Avenue. Joe is a hard-working, passionate, and dynamic salesman. His story is simple yet inspirational. Though his story offers many "life lessons," the most valuable lesson that I gained from Joe the Potato Peeler is that loving what you do is invaluable. This great lesson is one that I hope to teach my children though I don't think it is a lesson that can be taught. Rather I believe life experiences - celebrating our successes and overcoming our mistakes - allows us to gain the perspective that leads to such life lessons. It is my hope that I allow my children to celebrate their successes and learn from their mistakes so that they can ultimately learn to love what they do no matter what that is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post-election instructions

It is now two days since the 2008 Presidential Election, and naturally, the country is still on fire - either on fire because of excitement or on fire because of disappointment. And though these last few days have been intense and emotional, I encourage everyone to step back and look at this historic moment from a child's perspective. What are our children learning from this? What are we teaching our children through this?
November, 2008, provides us with a wonderful opportunity to teach our children great lessons surrounding politics, liberty, and citizenship.
I recently read a fantastic commentary by a Christian educator, Dr. Mosbacker. I believe that his instructions to us are profound and necessary during this time of transition. Even if you do not aline yourself with the Christian faith, I believe that these instructions are worth considering because they focus on nonpartisanship through a greater cause.
Here is an overview of Dr. Mosbacker's instructions, though I encourage you to check out the entire commentary on his blog.
  1. Pray for the new President and mean it.
  2. Pray for our country.
  3. Verbally express due honor to the Office of the President and to the man who occupies it.
  4. Use the election to teach your students (or children) how to work through the various policy issues from a biblical perspective - not from a Democratic or Republican one.
  5. Instead of always protesting what is wrong, offer solutions and prepare our students (or children) to do the same.
  6. Celebrate the moral progress that this election represents.
  7. Remember that "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."
*The picture of the troops circled in prayer was too beautiful not to include in this post. What an example they are!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

TV, Teens, & Sex

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers’ exposure to sexual content on TV is linked to teen pregnancies. The study found that teens exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy in the following three years as teens with limited exposure.
The study's lead author cautioned that exposure to TV is not the only factor relating to teen pregnancies. She stated, “we don’t think that [TV] is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighborhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies. But even when we removed all the other factors, we still saw a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies.”
Additionally, the study's abstract states: 
This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between exposure to sexual content on television and the experience of a pregnancy before the age of 20. Limiting adolescent exposure to the sexual content on television and balancing portrayals of sex in the media with information about possible negative consequences might reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Parents may be able to mitigate the influence of this sexual content by viewing with their children and discussing these depictions of sex.
It seems that I continue to be made aware of research challenging my decision to let my son watch TV. As for now, I limit his TV exposure as best I can, and as he matures, I intend on having some very honest conversations with him about what he sees on TV, on the computer, in magazines, and anywhere else that the media is present. I believe that is ultimately the best that we can do as parents - talk to our kids. It is impossible to protect them from everything, but it is very possible to talk to them about anything.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The next President: Invested in our children's future

Today marks one of the most historical elections of all time. It is my hope that we are engaging our children in healthy political debates, and educating them about the electoral and democratic processes. Both presidential candidates are invested in the future of our children, and each has written an essay highlighting the importance of young people in this election. 
I share their words with you.

A More Peaceful and Prosperous World
by Senator John McCain

Throughout this election we've been fortunate to witness the inspiring involvement of so many young Americans, many of whom are not even old enough to vote. Families are bringing their children to campaign events; teenagers are canvassing neighborhoods; and college students are organizing student groups. With so much at stake in this election, I am proud to witness the involvement of this new generation of Americans. They understand their participation is not limited to the ballot box: they are volunteering their time and effort to improve the well-being of our country.

Blogs, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube have changed the way young people participate in the political process. I have made it a priority to reach young people by participating in such venues as the MTV/MySpace Presidential Dialogue, hosting a blog on my website, and reaching out through social networking sites.

Reaching young people isn't simply about the logistics of how you communicate; it is about what you communicate. Young people are not fixated on a single issue. They want leaders who will address the many critical issues directly affecting their lives, the lives of their families, and the people in their communities.

At town hall meetings across the country, I am repeatedly inspired by the commitment of the young women and men who crowd in to have their voices heard — veterans home from Iraq, relating what they saw, telling us to let them win; volunteers with the ONE Campaign talking about their efforts to alleviate global poverty; recent college graduates wondering what I will do to make health care affordable; and the countless young people who ask how I plan to combat the problem of climate change.

After 9/11, leaders in Washington missed an opportunity to call young people to service. Young men and women, who are willing to give of themselves and sacrifice, want a leader who will ask something of them. Young people want — and deserve — to have their opinions respected and their concerns taken seriously. I know this and will continue to call on young people to serve causes greater than their own self-interest.

Young people understand the power that the political process wields as a force for change, and they are actively engaged in harnessing that power to bring about change for their families, their communities and their world. I see, in the efforts and enthusiasm of America's youth, that our nation's best days are ahead of us. I hear the message of young people loud and clear, and as President, I will honor the obligation of today's leaders to leave the next generation a more peaceful and prosperous world than the one we have today.

Choices for a Rising Generation
by Senator Barack Obama

We are in a defining moment in our history. We're fighting two wars. Our planet is in peril. Our economy is in turmoil. And the dream that so many generations fought for feels as if it's slowly slipping away.

Now, I know that the easiest thing in the world for young people to do is nothing at all. To turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, and walk away from the stories about Iraq or Darfur or the rising levels of joblessness and hopelessness in our own communities. To go about their busy lives, wishing these problems away, expecting someone else to solve them. To remain detached and indifferent.

But I hope they don't do what is easy — because sometimes, there are moments when what's truly risky is not to act. What's truly risky is to accept things as they are instead of working for what could be.

Taking action can mean getting involved politically. We've seen huge numbers of young people taking part in our campaign. They're knocking on doors and making phone calls and helping fight to bring about real change in this country.

But action can also happen outside the political arena. I was born the year that John F. Kennedy called a generation of Americans to ask their country what they could do. And I came of age at a time when they did it. They were the Peace Corps volunteers who won a generation of goodwill toward America. They were the teenagers and college students who knew it was probably safer to stay at home, but still decided to take the Freedom Rides down South. And because they did, they changed the world. And they inspired me, just out of college, to move to Chicago to help lift up neighborhoods that were devastated when the local steel plants closed.

So at this historic moment, we must ask our rising generation to serve their country as Americans always have — by working on a political campaign or joining the military, by doing community service or relief work abroad. Because that's how real change has always come — from ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things; from all those, young and old, black, white, and brown, who were willing to do what was risky and what was hard and put their shoulders to the wheel of history, and turn it towards opportunity and equality and justice for all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Children & Politics

Here are a few great tips for engaging children in the election process. My favorite is "take your children with you when you vote." Even though our son is too young to understand what goes on, my husband and I will be taking him with us tomorrow. It is a tradition that we want to start because we believe that our behavior is what will shape his desire (0r lack of) to one day be an actively involved citizen.
It is our honor and right to vote tomorrow - not simply for us, but more importantly, for our children's future and the future of our family.
And if you haven't already, PLEASE exercise your right to vote tomorrow!