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Continuous Integration Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Mehdi Daoudi, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Article

Not Everyone Does it

Be your child’s parent, not friend

Dear Dr. Fournier:

My 10-year-old wants to spend Friday night with a friend, but I have misgivings. The friend’s parents plan on dropping them off at the movies. When I said to the child’s parents that I think elementary-age children need supervision, they said they see no harm in letting them go to the movies alone. They added that their daughter would be upset with them if they were not cool about this.

Well, I’m not cool or hip or down, or whatever the vernacular, with allowing my child to be at the movies unsupervised. What do I say to these parents?

Lisa S., Fontana, CA

Dear Lisa:

If you have not heard it already, then prepare to hear from your child, “But Mom, everybody else does it!”

Thousands – if not millions – of parents have heard their children try to justify going against parental rules and wishes by using this old argument.

Don’t fall for it.

ASSESSMENT

Every household has its rules.

And every parent has the authority to carry out those family rules because each household is different; the rules change from family to family.

Our rules send a strong message to our children about our values and beliefs, and the way we reason on issues such as this. Superficial actions that disrespect our own beliefs often give our children the message that, down deep, it’s acceptable, even no big deal, to violate rules. They will quickly learn in these cases that rules were meant to be broken and there is grave danger in raising a child this way.

While this is not a minor rule you are asking about, I would remind you of the need to remain flexible to change minor rules as your child’s needs change.

WHAT TO DO

Lisa, your child is reaching the age of increased personal freedom and social interaction, but you are right to set certain limits. Every time your child goes to someone else’s home, view it as a trip to a different country or culture. You must respect the rules of the different countries while sticking to your own values.

Make sure your daughter understands your own rules and the strength with which you are committed to them. Also talk about the rules of the other household and how they differ from yours.

After you have discussed the rules with your daughter, let the other parents know what you do and do not permit, and work out a plan so that your rules will not be violated. As you negotiate with the parents you will discover if the rules of this “foreign country” make it a place you do not want your child to visit.

Your child may try to make you feel bad if you say no by implying that you are not cool, so expect to hear: “Gee, Cindy’s mother is nice because she lets her go to the movies alone.”

Do not be manipulated!

I feel strongly about this particular subject. At a child’s birthday party, I overheard a sixth-grader explain in detail how he went to see R-rated movies when his parents dropped him off at the movies.

I know plenty of parents who say absolutely not to this and besides; it’s too dangerous a world out there for unsupervised 10-year-old girls, even at the movies.

More Stories By Dr. Yvonne Fournier

Dr. Yvonne Fournier is Founder and President of Fournier Learning Strategies. Her column, "Hassle-Free Homework" was published by the Scripps Howard News Service for 20 years. She has been a pharmacist, public health administrator, demographer and entrepreneur. Dr. Fournier, arguably one of the most prolific of educators and child advocates in America today, has followed her own roadmap, calling not just for change or improvement in education but for an entirely new model.

She remains one of the most controversial opponents of the current education system in America.