First, more singing!
Today’s Boston Globe ‘Music class lifts teen from life of silence’ story October 26, 2011 http://b.globe.com/taZvSJ (the link requires a subscription to read the whole article) describes the transformation of a young man into a musical ‘superstar’ after spending most of his youth not speaking at all. Thank you, James Burnett, for writing the article.
The best part in Burnett’s story for me, as a parenting educator and parent activist, was the role of the young man’s father. His dad enrolled him in the school that gave him the opportunity to be part of musical performances and his dad encouraged him to ‘just do it.’ Yeah dad! And yeah to all dads who are involved in their children’s lives!
For the academically inclined, here are two references on the topic of fathers’ involvement:
Flouri, E. and Buchanan, A. (2004) Early father’s and mother’s involvement and child’s later educational outcomes, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 141-153. This U.K. Economic and Social Research Council-funded study based on the National Child Development Study found that good father-child relations are associated with an absence of emotional and behavioural difficulties in adolescence and with greater academic motivation.
Buchanan, A. and Flouri, E. (2001) Father involvement and outcomes in adolescence, U.K. Economic and Social Research Council Award Report (R000223309) 24 October 2001. From the summary: “In recent years there has been considerable research from the US on positive outcomes for children whose fathers become ‘involved’ in their care. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether there was similar evidence in the UK…. An ‘involved’ father, as defined in this research, is a father who reads to his child, takes outings with his child, is interested in his child’s education and takes a role equal to mother’s in managing his child. He may or may not live with the child’s mother, and he may or may not be the biological father to the child….”
Next, less soda!
A report in the same issue of the Globe, a Washington Post article entitled ‘Soda-drinking teens found to be more violent,’ reports that teenagers who drink soda are more likely to carry a weapon and act violently. The research describes increased incidence of violence towards a romantic partner, peers and siblings. Oh no!
So I was right to have kept carbonated beverages to a minimum in my house when my boys were growing up. They still found plenty of opportunities to disagree and even fight, of course, but mostly used their words, not weapons.
Whew! I am so glad we got them into music, art, drama, debate, sports and all of that. Imagine the mayhem if their father and I had not done that.