Involved dads raise college grads

Involved dads raise college grads, writes W. Bradford Wilcox in The Atlantic. “Young adults who as teens had involved fathers are significantly more likely to graduate from college,” even after controlling for family income, race and ethnicity.

Eighteen percent of teens said their father was not involved in their lives, writes Wilcox. He used “activities as playing a sport, receiving homework help, or talking about a personal problem with their biological, adoptive, or step-father” to divide the rest into groups with somewhat involved, involved, or highly involved fathers.

Compared to teens who reported that their fathers were not involved, teens with involved fathers were 98 percent more likely to graduate from college, and teens with very involved fathers were 105 percent more likely to graduate from college, controlling for respondent’s age, race, ethnicity, level of mother’s education, and household income as a teen.

. . . involved fathers may provide children with homework help, counsel, or knowledge that helps them excel in school. Second, involved fathers may help children steer clear of risky behaviors — from delinquency to teenage pregnancy — that might prevent them from completing college. Third, involved fathers may help foster an authoritative family environment (characterized by an appropriate mix of engagement, affection, and supervision) that is generally conducive to learning. Finally, involved fathers may be more likely to provide financial support to children seeking a college education.

College-educated parents are more likely to marry and stay together and earn a comfortable income, notes Wilcox. Paternal involvement is high. Young adults who’ve grown up in these affluent, intact, father-involved families are “triply advantaged.”

When pre-k is too late

New York City is adding prekindergarten seats to public schools, but pre-k may come too late to change the trajectory of disadvantaged children,writes Ginia Bellafante in a New York Times blog.

Last year, when I was visiting a public school in Sunset Park in Brooklyn for teenagers with boundless difficulties, my host, a poet who teaches at various city schools, mentioned a student who had become pregnant. Hoping to start a library for the child soon to arrive, the poet told the young woman embarking on motherhood that she would like to give her some books — books of the kind her own grandchildren growing up in a very different Brooklyn had by the dozens. The offer was met skeptically. “I already have one,” the girl said.

A young, single mother “who thinks one book is enough” isn’t likely to expand her child’s vocabulary or knowledge of the world through talking, reading or exposition, writes Bellafante. “We should concentrate our energies on helping the most vulnerable parents and children beginning at, or before, birth,” she concludes.

The left is squeamish about telling poor people how to behave, Bellafante concedes. “No one wants to live in a world in which social workers are marching through apartments mandating the use of colorful, laminated place mats emblazoned with pictures of tiny kangaroos and the periodic table.”

But perhaps paternalism can be sold as “compassion,” she concludes.

The Harlem Children’s Zone includes a Baby College, a parenting workshop for expectant parents and those raising a child up to three years old. There’s an intensive preschool program to prepare three- and four-year-olds for kindergarten. It’s not clear the “pipeline” concept is effective enough to justify the costs.

It’s the parents, stupid

Sitting in a waiting area at Penn Station, Robert Pondiscio heard the word “Crimea.”

I look up and see this woman reading a Magic Tree House book to her little boy. In about 90 seconds she mentions Florence Nightingale, Crimea, and Egypt. The word “wound” comes up and the child asks, “What’s a wound?” Mom explains it’s “an injury. Like a cut or a broken bone.”

. . . Educated, affluent parents build language and background knowledge without even knowing they’re doing it.

That kind of parenting is known as “concerted cultivation.” It’s very powerful. Can pre-k close that gap?

We’re on a family vacation with all four kids, spouses, friends and the two grandkids. Yesterday, the 4 1/2-year-old asked her mother for a snack, then said, “Mom, why are you hesitating?”

Let your kids fail

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success

Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail, writes Megan McArdle on Bloomberg. Her new book, The Up Side of Down advocates “learning to fail better.” That includes taking on challenges and being ready “to pick ourselves up as quickly as possible and move on when things don’t work out.”

After a book talk, a 10th-grade girl said she understood about “trying new things, and hard things,” but she couldn’t risk it. “I’m in an International Baccalaureate program and only about five percent of us will get 4.0, so how can I try a subject where I might not get an A?” 

High school shouldn’t be about perfection, writes McArdle.

If you can’t try something new in 10th grade, when can you? If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age of 15, then for heaven’s sake, when is going to be the right time?

Now is when this kid should be learning to dream big dreams and dare greatly. Now is when she should be making mistakes and figuring out how to recover from them. Instead, we’re telling one of our best and brightest to focus all her talent on coloring within the lines.

Too many achievers are trying to get into a small number of elite colleges, writes McArdle. Upper-middle-class parents are pushing their children “harder than ever — micromanaging their lives.”

NY law would mandate parenting classes

New York parents would have to attend four parenting classes, including one on child abuse, under a bill introduced by State Sen. Ruben Diaz Jr. If parents don’t go, their sixth graders wouldn’t be promoted to seventh grade. (Would they stay in sixth grade forever?)

Kohn: Parents are too controlling

Millenials aren’t confident, coddled and narcissistic, writes Alfie Kohn in The Myth of the Spoiled Child.  Parents aren’t too indulgent, he argues. They’re too controlling.

Otherwise liberal parents are adopting socially conservative practices, Kohn believes. “It’s widely assumed that parents are both permissive and overprotective, unable to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail,” he writes. “We’re told that young people receive trophies, praise, and A’s too easily, and suffer from inflated self-esteem and insufficient self-discipline.” Not so, he argues. “Complaints about pushover parents and entitled kids” are nothing new.

It’s possible to be overprotective and controlling.

Swedes fear the kids are all brats

 Is Sweden Raising a Generation of Brats?  In How Children Took Power, David Eberhard, a Swedish psychiatrist and father of six, argues Sweden’s child-centric culture has gone too far. The book has sparked a fierce debate, reports Jens Hansegard in the Wall Street Journal.   

. . . his book suggests the over-sensitivity to children and a reluctance to discipline has bred a nation of ouppfostrade, which loosely translates to “badly raised children.” “All this kowtowing to the kids actually causes kids and society more harm than good,” Dr. Eberhard said in an interview. He suggests the trend could contribute to higher anxiety levels or depression at a later stage in life for these children.

Swedish students have been falling behind on international exams. Swedes look enviously at countries like Finland, which has more discipline in schools and where teachers retain an old-school authority they have lost in Sweden.”

 “The kids of today, who are the children of parents who did not experience much discipline themselves, become very obstinate and self-centered,” says Ida-Maria Lindros, 31, a teacher outside of Stockholm. A typical scene at her school might go like this: “I ask a child to clean up after himself, and he replies ‘No, you’re not my boss, you cannot decide what I’m supposed to do,’ ” she says. “They’re very anti-authoritarian.”

. . . “If you get your way all the time, you won’t develop empathy and you’ll have problems respecting other people’s wishes,” says Beatrice Nyström, a Swedish developmental psychologist.

Swedish parents get long parental leaves in their children’s first year, but then universal day care encourages parents to disconnect, says educator Jonas Himmelstrand. “The state is sending out the message that you don’t have to raise your children yourself,” says Himmelstrand. “Day care and schools will raise your kids, and when the kids come home, you can just be their friend.”

How to raise 12 kids

Eat your vegetables, don’t blame the teacher and learn to clean, cook, sew, assemble a computer and rebuild a car. And pay your own way through college. Those were the lessons Francis L. Thompson and his wife taught their 12 children, who now range in age from 37 to 22. All have college degrees or are in school; most have graduate degrees.

I have always had a very prosperous job and enough money to give my kids almost anything. But my wife and I decided not to.

Thompson children started doing chores at the age of 3. They washed their own clothes by 8 and learned to make dinner from a recipe as soon as they could read and double a recipe. Boys and girls learned to sew. 

All the kids were required to take every Advanced Placement class available.

If children would come home and say that a teacher hated them or was not fair, our response was that you need to find a way to get along. You need find a way to learn the material because in real life, you may have a boss that does not like you. We would not enable children to “blame” the teacher for not learning, but place the responsibility for learning the material back on the child. Of course, we were alongside them for two hours of study a day, for them to ask for help anytime.

All the children had to play a sport and join a club or some other extracurricular activity. All did community service projects.

When the kids turned 16, we bought each a car. The first one learned what that meant. As the tow truck pulled a once “new” car into the driveway, my oldest proclaimed: “Dad, it is a wreck!” I said, “Yes, but a 1965 Mustang fastback wreck. Here are the repair manuals. Tools are in the garage. I will pay for every part, but will not pay for LABOR.”

Eleven months later, the car had a rebuilt engine, rebuilt transmission, newly upholstered interior, a new suspension system, and a new coat of paint. My daughter (yes, it was my daughter) had one of the hottest cars at high school. And her pride that she built it was beyond imaginable.

At the age of 12, each child built his or her own computer.

I bought the processor, memory, power supply, case, keyboard, hard drive, motherboard, and mouse. They had to put it together and load the software on.

Older children helped their younger brothers and sisters.

In the comments, several Thompson children explain how they paid for college. Some started at community college, then transferred to a state university. Others got scholarships. All worked.

 

Post-It parenting

When Chris Illuminati quit his job to stay home with his newborn son, he began leaving Post-It notes for his wife (and writing Message With A Bottle).  This is my favorite, via More Claremore.

stay-at-home-post-its-11

Closing the ‘word gap’

Providence Talks hopes to close the “word gap” between rich and poor, reports NPR. The project is funded by a $5 million, three-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Providence will distribute small recording devices — essentially word pedometers — that tuck into the vest of a child’s clothing. These will automatically record and calculate the number of words spoken and the number of times a parent and child quickly ask and answer each other’s questions.

The LENA Foundation in Colorado developed the device, which makes it easy to track verbal interactions. Parents will get coaching in how develop their children’s language skills.

The children of low-income, less-educated parents may be six months behind in language development by the age of two, a Stanford study estimates. By the time they start kindergarten at 5, they score more than two years behind.

The Providence experiment was inspired by Three Million Words in Chicago, another gap-closing effort.

Aneisha Newell says that program taught her to talk to her young daughter in new ways. She says she never realized bath time — with colors and shapes of bubbles and toys to describe — could be a teachable moment. She ended up breaking the program’s record for the most words spoken.

And then there was the moment her daughter — not yet 3 years old — used the word ‘ridiculous’ correctly.

University of Chicago Professor Dana Suskind, who started 30 Million Words, said sitting in front of the TV doesn’t develop language. It takes interaction between the caregiver and the child.

“We can’t just have people saying 30 million times ‘stop it!’ It’s got to be much more,” she says.

The parent should “tune in” to what the child is looking at, talk about it and ask questions that can create a sort of “serve and return” between parent and child.

In Chicago, adults and children spoke and interacted more after receiving feedback from the LENA recordings and home visits, reports The Atlantic. Suskind is advising Providence Talks.

“Close the word gap, advocates say, and you might close the achievement gap and maybe even disrupt the cycle of poverty,” concludes The Atlantic. 

I like the idea of working directly with parents rather than trying to create preschools to do — a few hours a day — what parents aren’t doing at home. I’d make videos modeling parent-child conversations — and throw in a little coaching on how to get a child to “use your words.”