look for the good

I just found this while cleaning up some archived emails. I wrote it back in 2005 ...

I am all aglow this morning, having just spent 30 minutes over at the middle school with my son.

Each month, the teachers there are encouraged to nominate a student who quietly, day in and day out, makes the school a more positive and fulfilling place to be. These students receive an award for their leadership at a celebratory breakfast, which their parents also attend.

internet safety for girls

interesting article from CNN about how teenage girls can minimize the risk of receiving unwanted sexual advances online:


For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit http://www.karenalonge.com/

grounding and curfew violations

There's an important distinction between grounding for protective or punitive reasons.

Punitive grounding is intended to apply uncomfortable consequences and restrictions which can be avoided in the future by complying with parental rules. It may appear to work in the short term, but rarely triggers permanent changes in high risk behaviors. In fact, punitive grounding often simply inspires teens to find creative ways of not getting caught. (Such coming home on time and then sneaking out their bedroom windows later ...)

Protective grounding is intended to maintain safety; to scale choices and privileges back to the zone where teens can handle their freedom without risking harm to themselves or others.

My son is so hard on himself!

Q: My son sets impossible standards for himself and then gets upset when he can't meet them. I try to tell him that it's okay to make mistakes because that's how we learn, but he still gets so down on himself for "failing." I know how painful it is to be a perfectionist because I'm the same way. How can I help him lighten up?

A: Yes, perfectionism can be painful. And it can also be a gift. I suspect that you've achieved some amazing feats in your life because of your visionary idealism and your drive to improve upon whatever you can. No doubt your family has also been blessed with many gifts because of the kind of parent your inner drive has motivated you to become.

brain 101

this is sort of a user's manual for your brain, written by a self-proclaimed 'grumpy' scientist who is scrupulous about his research and sources. I think you'll find it illuminating, and I bet you'll learn something new about how your child's brain functions. ( and yours, too!)


For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit www.karenalonge.com

a sweet story for mother's day

You might want to have some tissues handy when you read it. It's about a Boulder woman who offers to give birth to her best friend's child.


For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit www.karenalonge.com

Parenting a high school senior

Q: During the past 3 months, my straight A daughter, who is a senior in high school, has become a C student. Her grades started slipping when she started dating -- before then she had no real interest in boys. She says she is 18 and can do as she likes. We have always been a close family and are just worried, not about our daughter growing up, but about her future. If you have any suggestions about how to take care of this I would appreciate it greatly.

-Concerned Dad
(note from karen: this question was edited for brevity)

A: It can be really painful to witness our offspring learning from experience ... even excruciating at times. We can feel so powerless -- like our children are slipping from our grasp and there's nothing we can do about it. It's easy to fear for their future. We've seen so much more than they have, and we worry that a few poor choices now can irrevocably change the course of their lives.

Helping your athlete deal with poor sportsmanship

Q: My daughter pitches on the Little League (LL) softball team. Last night, the coach of the traveling team, who is also the father of another pitcher, stood a yard from my daughter when she was doing her pitching warm-up. He then stood at the fence next to her dugout during the game and tried to intimidate her by staring fiercely at her.

I didn't say anything to him, but am really angry. My daughter said that it bothered her having him stand there, but that she finally was able to ignore him. However, she played worse than I have ever seen her play. It was so frustrating.

What should I do, if anything?

- Her Number One Fan
(note from karen: this question was edited for brevity)

A: Yuck. No wonder you are frustrated! Bullying is hard enough to deal with when it comes from another kid, but from an adult? And a coach, no less? That's out of line!

consequences vs. collaboration

How many parents have ever heard their young children issuing ultimatums? Playmates may hear If you won't play Barbies, I am leaving. Toys and dolls are ordered to Stop crying or go to your room. Even parents are not exempt: Mommy, I'll only eat these green beans if you give me two cookies for dessert.

Where does this stuff come from? I have a theory. (Of course ... don't I always have a theory?) The Top Down model of parenting teaches our children that big people are in charge of little people, and can therefore unilaterally impose their will on them. Remember that story where the boss yells at the father, who comes home and yells at his wife, who then yells at their children, who in turn kick the dog? It's a big long chain of pain.