Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The death of former President Ford this week hit home. We've had three deaths in the family this month. (That, along with the holiday frenzy, accounts for my two-week absence here.) President Ford had four great-grandchildren. They must be young. I wonder how they, and their parents, will deal with this?

My grandmother was one of the relatives who recently passed away, and my children knew her well. I doubt my three-year-old will remember, but I hope my five-year-old daughter retains fond memories of visiting her great grandmother at the nursing home, feeding her, singing her songs and telling her stories. To me, there's nothing like connecting the older and younger generations.

I struggled with how to explain that Grandma B died. My daughter's actually been to a funeral before and remembered seeing "cousin Betty in the box" and the box going into the ground. We've talked about our beliefs on what happens after life ends. But the concept of permanence seems to escape her. After we visited the funeral home, she asked some interesting questions -- some so amusing they actually lightened the moment:
  • Will she wake up when they close the box?
  • Will she be scared in there? It's dark.
  • Who put on her lip gloss?
  • Will she wake up if I tickle her?
  • After the funeral's over, can she go eat dinner with us?

Since then we've talked some more, and she even did some beautiful artwork in honor of Grandma B.

Why did I chose to bring her along and expose her to the details of death at such a young age? Children are naturally curious, and the things we shield them from are often the things they pursue or -- without adequate guidance -- fail to understand. As children, my mother and I both had frightening experiences with family friends who died. I'm hoping that by including my daughter early and making death a normal part of life, my daughter won't experience that fear.

What do the experts say? The National Network for Child Care says "most children are emotionally strong and want to know about death. The truth helps them understand what is real, and what is imaginary."

For small children: "Young children need to ask questions about the death again and again. They need to learn the facts about the death and to make certain the facts have not changed."

On attending memorial services: "Children need rituals. Participating in the funeral or memorial service helps make the death seem more real and encourages the healing that comes from mourning."

And on coming face-to-face with their loved one: "Viewing the body helps the child understand what death is and that their loved one is, in fact, dead. Few children later regret viewing the body; many regret not doing so."

Good advice on something we'll all face at one point or another.

News Mom T

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It just cracks me up everytime I see a teenager with a cell phone in one ear and an IPOD in the other... or thumbing away texting a friend while they're playing a video game. I have visions of the inside of their brains being completely fried.

The Kaiser Family Foundation today released a report about "Media Multitasking" -- doing more than one digital activity at a time. 65% of teens and preteens say when they're doing homework on the computer, they're usually also IMing (that's "instant messaging") their friends, surfing the web, playing a video or online game, watching TV or using some other form of media. But surprisingly, when they're watching TV, they're in the zone, so to speak. Less than half say they "multi-task" while their favorite program or video is on.

What's not clear is what affect this has on kids. Scientific research shows kids can successfully do more than one thing at a time, but the task at which they're least proficient may suffer. Homework????

There's also a question about the quality of what they're doing. It takes little brain power to IM while playing a video game. But add into that mix writing a paper on the Revolutionary War. Can kids really concentrate and do their best work when distracted? The science is up in the air.

Advertisers, on the other hand, have figured out cute commercials just don't cut it anymore. To get kids thinking, and involved, they've got to meet them on their playing field. Enter cell phone ads, online ads podcasts, forums, chat rooms and other interactive means of getting messages into the minds of young people.



News Mom T

P.S. Ask your kids to interpret. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


It surprised me to learn that 1/5 of Americans are disabled. 54 million people. Another 23 million parents have disabled kids. It makes a big difference where they spend their money: what kids of restaurants they visit, toys they buy, clothes they purchase. Yet some disabled consumers believe corporate America has largely overlooked them.

How difficult that must be! We interviewed a marathon athelete who's physically disabled. She flies from town to town competing, but at the airport used to have trouble finding a rental car that offers special adaptive equipment. Once she found a company that makes it easy for her to book that special request online, she became a loyal customer.

Isn't that how it is with all of us? I know once I find a product, store or service that offers EXACTLY what I need, they've won a loyal customer. Even if it's a longer drive. Even if I have to pay a bit more. There's something to be said for getting what you pay for!

News Mom T

Friday, December 08, 2006


Newsmoms covered Iraq today - specifically, what's the President going to do to turn around the situation there, and public opinion? Only 27% of Americans now approve of how he's handling the war.

It's sad to think that all those troops will spend yet another Christmas so far from home. We'll soon see pictures of them standing in line to eat turkey dinner in a tent... opening care packages... and saying "Hi Mom!" -- when what mom really wants is to have her son or daughter home.

You have to wonder if those men and women -- some of them so young -- had any idea what they were in for when they enlisted. For our sakes, thank goodness they're willing to make the sacrifice.

News Mom T