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12 posts from March 2009

March 03, 2009

Mom To Pay $2.5 mil. For Underage Drinking Party

       So us moms, we're a judgmental bunch. Don't deny it. How many times have you said, "what was she thinking?" in reference to another mom. I bet lots of moms are saying it about Lauralee Pfeifer:

       A former high school student, paralyzed in a car collision after a 2006 teenage drinking party, will receive a $2.5 million settlement from the mother of the party's hosts, according to The Chicago Tribune. George Baldwin, now 22 and paralyzed from the chest down, sued Lauralee Pfeifer after the Nov. 19, 2006, party at their Lake Forest home in Chicago's North Shore area. Her daughters, then 16 and 17, threw the underage bash.

Baldwin left the party with a friend, who crashed his car into a utility box on an Illinois highway. Both men were hurt, Baldwin more seriously.

Recently, a Lake County judge approved the settlement against Lauralee Pfeifer for the maximum $2.5 millionn covered by her homeowner's insurance, said Patrick Salvi, Baldwin's attorney. "We were not suing her as a social host but in her role as a parent," Salvi said. "It was her duty to supervise her children."

     I have to admit this story is disturbing to me on several levels. Of course, as a parent I know it's my duty to supervise my kids, to lay the groundwork and hope they will use common sense.

    But can you honestly say, as a working parent, that you supervise every activity your child does? Can you swear with complete confidence that they never, ever would have a party when you were out for night, working late, or maybe away on a business trip? Can you be 100 percent certain that no one would bring alcohol to the party? Should this mom be responsible for someone else's underage child who drank and drove?

   My husband regularly threatens my kids about how he would react if he found them drinking, doing drugs or  "being at the scene of a crime." But we all know that teens from all kinds of families and backgrounds get into trouble and do things they know they shouldn't.

    Just think about  it. With social networking sites, kids can plan a party in hours and invite the whole school. They can have IM and text conversations with kids you've never met. It's so easy to wonder,  "Where in the world was this mom when her kids were partying it up at her house?" But can you be 100 percent certain it would never happen at your home?

March 02, 2009

Being brutally honest with kids

    How often do you compliment your child? Too often? Have you created a praise junkie?

   I just read the profile of Anucha Browne Sanders in this month's Working Mother Magazine and found myself intrigued by something she said. Anucha , now director of marketing for University of Buffalo is known as the woman who sued the New York Knicks in a sexual harassment. She won damages of $11.6 million in the very public landmark case.

 Anucha Anucha, a mother of three and former college basketball player, is a strong advocate of kids' involvement in sports, especially team sports. Her daughter plays basketball, volleyball and lacrosse. But she says she's careful not to cheer for every point scored:  "My kids say, 'We know you're brutally honest, and we respect that.' When I give them a compliment, they know they did really well. I look at it as preparing them for life. If you are not doing well at your job, you don't get a raise or a promotion. So why tell kids they're awesome and great at a game if they're not?"

     Complimenting a child is a minefield for parents.  We'll at least it is for me. I know I'm responsible for instilling self-confidence in my kids and weigh that against the naked truth and my child's personality. Just this weekend my son, the overachiever, wrote a poem for school. It was terrible. I bit my lip as he was fishing for a compliment. I constructively helped him rework it rather than being brutally honest.  

    But Anucha does have a point. The real world can be brutal. Workplaces can be brutal. Too many of us working parents know that to be true. I've supervised college interns and have been frustrated by their their constant need for praise. It's made me hold back some with my own kids.

 Family Fun has some great tips for the right way to praise a child that might make you think twice before giving an overabundance of compliments.

      What do you think of being brutally honest with kids? Are parents doing our kids a disadvantage in praising them too much? Will they suffer for it later in their careers?