FAMILY & FRIENDS
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Put Down The Phone and Lets Communicate!
Miti Ampoma Contributing Writer
As human beings we are made for relationships. It’s a fundamental human need to communicate face to face through language and speech. Face to face communication connects us to one another. It liberates the human spirit. Through this timeless natural medium we bond, motivate, connect, love and inspire one another. To communicate in this way is essential for a strong family life.
A recent UK study found that modern technology is making face to face human communication redundant. Almost half those sampled admitted they used phone calls, text messages, tweets and emails to communicate with family members in the same house rather than going into another room to talk to them face to face! Yet meaningful relationships, the connection of family life is lost when there is insufficient face to face interactive human dialogue, leading to misunderstandings, discord, confusion, potential distrust and ultimately family relationship breakdown.
To help keep your family life in top shape, avoid tech overdose. Take a break from it and communicate directly as a family, face to face, whenever possible, to ensure your relationships are rich and meaningful. Here are some top tips:
• If you’re a family who is welded to their technology, start by ring fencing 2 hours in the week (you can be split up time or together) and allocate that to human face time – time that is dedicated to a face to face sit down and talk time with each other. Parents of children should build this into their weekly schedule
• Increase the 2 hours by another hour or two over the weekend, so the family has concentrated tech free time together. Just be with each other over the weekend and have fun
• Better still, have one whole day in the weekend with no technology (apart from answering the phone). Just be and enjoy each other.
• If you’re relaxing, switch of your smart phone and other tech devices to silent. This means switch off the beeper, ringtone and vibration mode!
• As a family try relaxation techniques like yoga where the exercise is great for you and you learn to be comfortable with silence
• Have face to face conversations with family members if you are in the same house!
• Get together for shared hobbies and recreational activities and make that tech free time. E.g. A family barbecue should not include playing with iPads, laptops or checking messages on your smartphone. Instead, enjoy the food and each other’s company with your undivided attention.
• At home, eat at the table with loved ones with no smart phones or tech gadgets in sight. Focus your time on listening and contributing to family time. Don’t sneak off to look at your smart phone messages.
• As a family keep using these simple tech free time tips. It’ll soon feel natural and right and your relationships will be so much better for it. Promise!
5 Tips for Parents of BB Gun Owners
Guardians of Rescue – contributing writer
Each Christmas, there are children around America who unwrap a new, non-powder gun. These guns include BB, pellet, and paintball. While many parents may believe such guns to be harmless, and even see them as a toy, statistics suggest otherwise. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over 20,000 injuries result from these types of guns each year, with four percent of them requiring hospitalization.
“These guns are not toys at all, and they can certainly do damage both to people and to animals,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an organization dedicated to helping animals in need. “In our line of work, we have seen it often – kids who shoot at animals just for fun, and leave them distressed and injured. These guns create problems that parents are not even usually aware of.”
Here are 5 tips for parents who may have a child with one of these non-powder guns, or who are considering getting one for them:
1.Ask why. If your child wants a BB or pellet gun, find out why and ask what it is that they want to shoot at. If they don’t have a good answer, or it is one that involves harming people and animals, then hold off on making the purchase.
2.Wait until they are older. Young children may not be mature enough or have the impulse control to follow the rules that come with a BB gun. Wait until they are old enough to follow the rules and will take them seriously. Typically, this would be when they are a teenager.
3.Find a safety course. Check around in your city to see if you can find a safety course for your child to take. You may find one by checking with the NRA, the Boy Scouts, or local camp sites.
4.Hold them accountable. If your child has one of these guns and you have set rules and guidelines, be sure to follow through if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Better to take the gun away now than have to face up to someone whose child or pet has been injured by the gun.
5.Discuss the ethics. Talk to your child about not shooting animals for target practice. This causes a lot of injuries and leaves injured animals out on the streets, helpless. Help your child learn to have compassion for animals, rather than seeing them as merely something to shoot at.
“There are many problems that can arise when children have these guns,” added Misseri. “People may mistakenly think your child is actually holding a high-powered gun, or your child may get a taste for shooting things and move on to bigger targets. It’s really best to just avoid a BB gun purchase all together, which helps avoid potential problems later on.”
Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to animals out on the streets, helping to rescue them, provide medical care, food, shelter, and find foster home placement. They have also been instrumental in helping the animals that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Many families are still struggling to recover from the storm, making it difficult to care for their pet, either financially or while living in temporary housing. To learn more, or to make a donation to support the Guardians of Rescue, log onto www.guardiansofrescue.org.
Regular Marijuana Use by Teens Continues To Be A Concern
University of Michigan
Continued high use of marijuana by the nation’s 8th, 10th and 12th graders combined with a drop in perceptions of its potential harms was revealed in this year’s Monitoring the Future survey, an annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th-graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan. The survey was carried out in classrooms around the country earlier this year, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The 2012 survey shows that 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily, up from 5.1 percent five years ago. Nearly 23 percent say they smoked it in the month prior to the survey, and just over 36 percent say they smoked within the previous year. For 10th graders, 3.5 percent said they use marijuana daily, with 17 percent reporting past month use and 28 percent reporting use in the past year. The use escalates after 8th grade, when only 1.1 percent reported daily use, and 6.5 percent reported past month use. More than 11 percent of 8th graders said they used marijuana in the past year.
The Monitoring the Future survey also showed that teens’ perception of marijuana’s harmfulness is down, which can signal future increases in use. Only 41.7 percent of 8th graders see occasional use of marijuana as harmful; 66.9 percent see regular use as harmful. Both rates are at the lowest since the survey began tracking risk perception for this age group in 1991. As teens get older, their perception of risk diminishes. Only 20.6 percent of 12th graders see occasional use as harmful (the lowest since 1983), and 44.1 percent see regular use as harmful, the lowest since 1979.
A 38-year NIH-funded study, published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that people who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38—an average of eight points for those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. Those who used marijuana heavily before age 18 (when the brain is still developing) showed impaired mental abilities even after they quit taking the drug. These findings are consistent with other studies showing a link between prolonged marijuana use and cognitive or neural impairment.
“We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “THC, a key ingredient in marijuana, alters the ability of the hippocampus, a brain area related to learning and memory, to communicate effectively with other brain regions. In addition, we know from recent research that marijuana use that begins during adolescence can lower IQ and impair other measures of mental function into adulthood.”
Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of well-being and life achievement, including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status.
“We should also point out that marijuana use that begins in adolescence increases the risk they will become addicted to the drug,” said Volkow. “The risk of addiction goes from about 1 in 11 overall to about 1 in 6 for those who start using in their teens, and even higher among daily smokers.”
Use of other illicit drugs among teens continued a steady modest decline. For example, past year illicit drug use (excluding marijuana) was at its lowest level for all three grades at 5.5 percent for 8th graders, 10.8 percent for 10th graders, and 17 percent for 12th graders. Among the most promising trends, the past year use of Ecstasy among seniors was at 3.8 percent, down from 5.3 percent last year.
“Each new generation of young people deserves the chance to achieve its full potential, unencumbered by the obstacles placed in the way by drug use,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy. “These long-term declines in youth drug use in America are proof that positive social change is possible. But now more than ever we need parents and other adult influencers to step up and have direct conversations with young people about the importance of making healthy decisions. Their futures depend on it.”
The survey also looks at abuse of drugs that are easily available to teens because they are generally legal, sometimes for adults only (tobacco and alcohol), for other purposes (over-the-counter or prescribed medications; inhalants), or because they are new drugs that have not yet been banned. Most of the top drugs or drug classes abused by 12th graders are legally accessible, and therefore easily available to teens.
For the first time, the survey this year measured teen use of the much publicized emerging family of drugs known as “bath salts,” containing an amphetamine-like stimulant that is often sold in drug paraphernalia stores. The data showed a relative low use among 12th graders at 1.3 percent. In addition, the survey measured use of the hallucinogenic herb Salvia, finding that past year use dropped among 10th and 12th graders, down to 4.4 percent for 12th graders from last year’s 5.9 percent.
Abuse of synthetic marijuana (also known as K-2 or Spice) stayed stable in 2012 at just over 11 percent for past year use among 12th graders. While many of the ingredients in Spice have been banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, manufacturers attempt to evade these legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures. Another drug type – inhalants – continues a downward trend. As one of the drugs most commonly used by younger students, the survey showed a past year use rate of 6.2 percent among 8th graders, a significant drop in the last five years when the 2007 survey showed a rate of 8.3 percent.
The data shows a mixed report regarding prescription drug abuse. Twelfth graders reported non-medical use of the opioid painkiller Vicodin at a past year rate of 7.5 percent. Since the survey started measuring its use in 2002, rates hovered near 10 percent until 2010, when the survey started reporting a modest decline. However, past year abuse of the stimulant Adderall, often prescribed to treat ADHD, has increased over the past few years to 7.6 percent among high school seniors, up from 5.4 percent in 2009. Accompanying this increased use is a decrease in the perceived harm associated with using the drug, which dropped nearly 6 percent in the past year—only 35 percent of 12th graders believe that using Adderall occasionally is risky. The survey continues to show that most teens who abused prescription medications were getting them from family members and friends.
Overall, 45,449 students from 395 public and private schools participated in this year's Monitoring the Future survey. Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th-graders nationwide. 8th and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991. Survey participants generally report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Questions are also asked about daily cigarette and marijuana use. NIDA has provided funding for the survey since its inception by a team of investigators at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, led by Dr. Lloyd Johnston. Additional information on the MTF Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Volkow, can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.
Selecting an Assisted Living Community
Sherry King, Contributing Writer
There are many things to consider when it’s time to move from your home into an Assisted Living Community. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you are ready.
A) The more research you do, the better choice you can make about the community you will move in to. Once you find the place for you remember that vacancies can change daily, so give the community enough time to ensure your needs are met. Placing a deposit is an excellent way to ensure you will have a room when you need it.
B) What are your options? Compare at least 2-3 communities so that you know which community will fit your needs best. Is the location good, does it meet your budget, do they provide the care you need or will need, what type of menu do they serve, and do they have life enriching activities planned daily?
C) Talk to the staff, do they seem to care? Do they take time to talk to you, are they interacting with the residents when your tour?
D) Talk to the residents, they are a valuable source of information. Are they sociable, are they similar to your level of functionality, do they seem happy?
E) Get references; get testimonials from family members, volunteers, etc.
F) Know who they are: how long have then been in the senior care business, does the community have any major state licensing issues, what is the longevity of the staff and residents?
G) Just observe, how clean is the building inside and out? What does it smell like? Does it feel “home like”, are pictures displayed of activities and outings, is the menu posted, are activities posted? Do you see activities taking place? Are the residents and staff engaged?
If you find a community that has positive answers to these questions, then you most likely have found your home.
Raising Grandma: A Lifetime of Lessons Learned
CO business owner, author and grandmother shares wisdom, advice
The beginning of a new year always causes me to think about what is truly important in life. With each passing year I seem to get a little more clarity on this issue. Being a grandparent has truly become one of the most fulfilling parts of my life, I find it to be as rewarding as being a parent. I have come to realize that when it comes to raising kids, the more support you receive the better. Grandparents have so much to offer their children and grandkids; we’ve seen it all. Nothing will rock our boat (or should I say chair). We can bring a fresh, outside perspective when parents are at their wits end. We can be that unconditional support for the grandkids when the parents have to lay down the law. It’s a sneaky business, as grandkids don’t always realize until later that we are in cahoots with their parents, but since we are all working in their best interest this little deception is justified.
One of the most significant parts of being a grandparent for me is being able to provide my grandkids with an outlet to express themselves. Sometimes they feel more at ease talking their problems out with someone other than “Mom and Dad.” Kids don’t always realize that their parents do understand them, so having that outside resource helps them feel more grown up. It is so important to have these outside resources supporting your children, as opposed to leaving them with only their classmates to turn to.Now I do realize that grandparents are not always available, and sadly some just don’t understand the importance of being involved and helping out. But, there are always older adults who love to help mentor and be a part of something bigger than their own immediate family. Look around and see if there are some older people in your community that have a lifestyle and values similar to yours. Always look for someone who has obtained the life you want. Remember birds of a feather flock together and land in the same location. Don’t pick anyone who landed where you don’t want to go.
Another advantage of older generations playing an active role in the family is the stories we tell about our youth. This sentiment connects children to history because they hear stories of what it was like growing up forty or more years ago. It gets their imaginations going to hear about how things have changed and allows them to see life from a different perspective. And let’s face it, who among us doesn’t like to tell stories from our past to an interested audience?
My final words for you, parents: don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a person of true strength and love to seek wisdom and support when they are at a crossroads. Being a parent is such a small fraction of your life. Go at it with all the gusto you have and take advantage of every bit of support and love available to you. At some point all this hard earned wisdom will help you when it comes time to raise your amazing grandkids. God bless you this New Year!
About the author Shelli Smith is an author and proud mother of three and grandmother of two living with her husband in Grand Junction, Colo. In her hometown, Smith is the owner of Precision Air Drilling Services, Inc., owner of Praxis East Olympic Weight Training Center and owner of PraiseMoves Studio. She is very active with her family life and within her community. Her new book, Grammy Goes Green, explores the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents, emphasizing the support that comes from both sides. For more information please visit http://shellismith.authorsxpress.com/
5 Tips for Teachers to Make Classrooms Bully Free, New Educational Curriculum Released
Each day in America, it is estimated that 160,000 students stay home from school to avoid being bullied. If you take a look at the media headlines in any given week, it’s easy to see that bullying is a growing problem in our schools. The good news is that it is a problem that many teachers can help tackle by creating a bully-free classroom, something that is easier to do than one might think.
“We all know that bullying is a major concern in our schools,” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats.” “But there are things teachers can do to help address this problem and prevent it from happening.”
Goodman has now bundled his popular book with an educational curriculum package, which helps children identify and work through their emotions and feelings. The combined tools use cats as characters to help teach children about bullying and accepting others even if they have differences. The curriculum, titled “Bully Free Students Make Bully Free Classrooms,” focuses on such lessons as what bullying is and feelings and bullying, helping children to identify feelings and how to make the right decisions when they do.
“Being able to integrate a bullying curriculum into the classroom is an effective way to help tackle this problem,” says Julia Anderson, Ed.D, a primary school teacher at Arlington Public Schools. “The subject needs to be there at every level during the elementary school years so that the foundation has been laid.”
Using a fun, interesting, and educational curriculum such as “Bully Free Students Make Bully Free Classrooms,” which has been designed for pre-K through grade 3 students, is just one way that teachers can help create a bully-free classroom. Other tips for doing so include:
•Teaching kids to be upstanders, rather than bystanders. Children typically bully others because they believe they are in a power position to do so. But if peers stand up for the child being bullied, the power is taken away from the bully.
•Place an emphasis on teaching kindness. Show kids ways that they can be kind to one another, and recognize it when they do, complimenting them on it.
•Pair up kids who need a buddy. There are, at times, new kids or those who have a harder time in social situations. Teachers can help with this situation by pairing the child up with someone who has a stronger social personality, so they can stay together during particular activities.
•Work with students to brainstorm a list of classroom rules regarding kindness, tolerance, and bullying. Include ways that they can handle conflict resolution, as well, so that they know what to do if situations arise.
“When you combine several of these factors, you will have a much greater chance of creating a bully-free classroom,” added Goodman. “Children learn when they have fun, when the information is repeated, and when they can actively play a role.”
“Teachers have to be more proactive in this area so that we can create a safer classroom,” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “Addressing the issue now and creating a bully-free classroom can save a lot of problems from occurring later on. Plus, the kids learn skills they can use for a lifetime.”
To learn more about bullying, visit www.kittycatsbook.com.