Category Archives: The Problem

The Minimum Wage is Bad for Teens

How does a teen learn how to work these days? By “learn to work,” I’m talking about being productive continually over many hours, deciding what to do when instructions don’t totally apply to a situation, stepping in to do some needed thing that’s not in the original job description, being courteous and responsive to customers, etc. 31 percent of all minimum wage workers are teenagers, ages 16-19, and yet the percentage of this group that is working is at a … Continue reading

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Boys and Preschool

My 4-year-old, Leo, gets practically nothing out of preschool. His two older brothers, now in 3rd grade and kindergarten, got very little out of it as well. It’s not that they hate it or really miss Mommy or Daddy. I’m certainly willing to believe that many – perhaps millions – of boys have great preschool experiences, but there are also many, many boys like mine. My boys just haven’t “clicked” with their preschools. Sometimes, they engage in activities, but not … Continue reading

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When a Kid Negotiates Play Dates With Moms

My son Marco, at age nine, plans his own play dates. He knows when he has free time. He can ride his bike to other kids’ houses on his own. Unfortunately, very few of his friends can do these things. This fact has resulted in a rather sparse social life this school year for Marco. You see, there are kids who want to play with him, but they’re powerless. Their moms and nannies hold the power, and they’re not too … Continue reading

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Storm Clouds Ahead

You know that feeling when the weather where you are is perfectly fine, but you’re approaching a wall of black clouds? That’s what I feel like when I see my boys (9, 5-1/2, and 4) approaching their teenage years. Life is going to suck, and I don’t think I can do much about it. A recent article entitled “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me makes this clear. In it, writer Karl Taro Greenfield decides to do his 13-year-old daughter Esmee’s … Continue reading

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Imprisonment of Kids, at School and at Home

Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, thinks that schools are very much like prisons for children. I must admit that Gray’s contention has some merit. Let’s face it – kids are forced to stay at school, whether they like it or not. Furthermore, they are told what they must do at every moment, and are punished for not complying. And, they don’t have any say over any of these rules. My wife and I just sent our middle son, … Continue reading

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Suburb Hating is Anti-Child

Sure, suburbs have big problems. Their designs force their inhabitants to drive in cars, instead of walking and bicycling. This diminishes face-to-face interactions, physical health, and the quality of the environment. Aesthetically, many of them, particularly those dreaded “planned communities,” are quite boring. People who live there tend not to have much contact with people who aren’t like them, so suburbs reinforce racial, religious, and class segregation. A large proportion of intellectuals and politicians, including President Obama, decry these problems … Continue reading

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Vacations Versus Everyday Home Life

Do your kids absolutely crave vacations away from home? Are they sad to come home? If that’s true, there are two possible explanations. One is that you plan absolutely off-the-charts, world-class vacations. The other is that your kids’ home life is drab and boring. For your sake, let’s hope it’s the former. Our family just took a vacation to Hawaii for spring break, and although we had some amazing moments, at other moments, our kids said they wanted to go … Continue reading

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Schools Are Failing Our Boys

Boys are doing very badly these days, relative to girls. Now, a new study helps us identify the main culprit. It’s our schools. The study points out that, while boys get worse grades than girls in school, they do about as well as girls on standardized tests (better in math and science, worse in reading). Statistically speaking, they get much worse grades, relative to girls, than their test scores would predict. Why the disparity? Behavior and attitude, according to teachers’ assessments. … Continue reading

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Addressing Attention Issues Without Drugs

In many previous articles on this blog, I’ve characterized my oldest son Marco (8) as a great player, and I’ve praised his independence. However, just like any kid, he’s not all-great – he’s a complex mix of great and not-so-great. So, in this article, I’ll talk about the not-so-great: Marco has an attention problem. Every day, my wife and I struggle mightily to get him to do the simplest things – put on his socks, eat his food at mealtime, … Continue reading

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Babysitters: The Busy Neighborhood Teen vs. The Hungry Foreigner

A few months ago, my wife and I were very pleased to get solicitations from two different neighborhood teenage girls wanting to babysit our kids. Although we’ve been employing various foreign-born women as babysitters for years, we’re very happy to consider employing neighborhood teens. After all, they’re neighbors! They’re smart! They’re fun! They’re nice! Unfortunately, they’re also almost completely unavailable.

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