Good Afternoon Sparklers,
Watching The Academy Awards (Oscars) is one of my favorite family events. We spend dinner voting for who we think will win the big categories and settle in on the comfy couch to watch the fashion arrivals. I do hope some of you stayed up late and watched “live” the epic guffaw that happened when Warren Beatty mistakenly announced La La Land as the best picture of the year when in fact Moonlight had won. How they ALL handled the mistake is where we placed our attention and wow, were we impressed! Everyone handled the awkward situation with graciousness, civility, and humor!
Love and Learning,
To Do… Measure Sucess In Saving Lives
This past Valentine’s Day, Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual letter about the Foundations progress. What was especially interesting was that this year the letter was addressed to Warren Buffett, you, me and our children! In this letter, The Gateses are explaining the impact of Warren Buffett’s 1996 contribution of $31 billion — yes, billion with a “B” — to the Gates Foundation.
The letter details the amazing impact those funds have had on saving and improving lives around the globe. In the letter they share with us the astounding notion that poverty has been cut in half since 1990, thanks in part to efforts by The Gates Foundation and many other donors and supporters. I for one was blown away by this factoid! They shared this statistic with us now at a time when the country is feeling very divided in order to promote optimism and to spark enthusiasm for continuing philanthropy.
The Gateses shared this letter in hopes of informing the public about initiatives that they are working on, like women’s health, immunizations, research to decrease infant mortality and ending malnutrition. These issues are especially urgent in third-world and developing countries, where treatable diseases and infections can be fatal. As Melinda says, “‘All lives have equal value’ is not just a principle; it’s a strategy.”
You and I may not have billions of dollars to donate to these causes, but we can still fight for them.
Spark the Conversation:
Help your daughter to understand the great need for people who will champion the rights of those who can’t do it themselves. Sometimes we get so mired in the daily grind, we don’t have time to show our children how to help and serve others. Talk to your girl about some of the statistics in the Gates’ letter. Work together to find ways you can make a difference, whether it is with time or money.
Bill and Melinda have been extremely successful in the tech world, but it is clear that they are very passionate about saving lives. Success can be measured on so many fronts, but the way to feel true joy and fulfillment is in helping others. Philanthropy and hands-on community service outreach is a great start for you and your girl.
Yes, times are tumultuous right now, but as Mr. Rogers used to say “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” We can raise a generation of helpers if we take the time to show them how.
To Buy … A Starbucks Frappucino?
It’s after school and you have a few minutes to kill before you drop your kids off at practice — and of course there’s a Starbucks right around the corner! You’re tired and that 4pm pick-me-up is just what you need to get through the crazy evening rush. Naturally, the kids are asking for something too. There’s always Very Berry Refreshers, Caramel Frappuccino’s and Smart Water, but what about when they ask for a “leaded “ beverage?
And to your teens who have hours of homework and studying to do – what do you say when they ask to have a coffee to keep them awake? The National Institutes of Health tells us that the USDA says caffeine use is “generally recognized as safe,” but that is largely based on studies of its use in adults. So that really doesn’t tell us much. The same studies show us that in the past three decades, caffeine consumption has increased in general, but children and adolescents increased their intake by 70%.
There are many new caffeine-containing products such as gum, energy drinks and even water that market to younger consumers — our kids!! We all know a huge amount of caffeine is not great for us (negative health effects include sleep dysfunction, obesity, and dental problems, not to mention it’s addictive!) and we certainly want to be cautious about how we and our children use it.
So what do you do? Well, that’s a personal choice.
Spark the Conversation:
If your kids ask for caffeine, find out why they want it. I know my youngest daughter sometimes just likes to look cool sipping a Java Chip Frapp on our way home from hip hop class. But when I looked it up on Starbucks site I saw that the caffeine content was 110 mg and so I decided to allow her to drink it — sparingly. But what to do when your teens start to think they need the perk-up effect of the real stuff, it’s time to spark a more detailed conversation about caffeine and it’s pros and cons for adults and kids Then you can agree on some limits to keep them healthy — it’s up to you both to make sure her caffeine intake doesn’t interfere with their sleep or ability to focus.
The Mayo Clinic suggests a maximum of 100mg a day for adolescents and none for younger children. A comprehensive list of caffeine content in drinks can be found at caffeineinformer.com.
To Learn … Practice REALLY does make perfect!
In my classes, I always ask the girls how they get better at soccer, piano, gymnastics, their spelling? P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E! To learn a new skill or to get better at it, one needs to practice… over and over again!
So why is it when it comes to communicating with others — having super hard conversations with our girlfriends or telling our parents how we really feel, we avoid it at all costs? Somehow we think others should just know how we are feeling? Instead of having the hard conversation, we just shut down or avoid. But what we really need is practice!
Many studies show that repeating a physical activity, whether it’s your tennis swing or piano music, actually changes your brain! Learning some social skills will require the same persistence. Before the digital age, we naturally practiced eye contact, conversation skills and human interaction on a much more regular basis. It was built into our lives!
Unfortunately, it is not so common for our girls — much of their “social” interaction is via texting and snaps. If their generation is to have interpersonal skills, we are going to have to be intentional about them getting some real life practice!
Spark the Conversation:
Look for everyday opportunities for your girl to interact with new people. Make sure she orders her own food in restaurants, let her tell the doctor what’s going on at her next sick visit, have her call the coach to find out what time Saturday’s game is. And check your habit of speaking for her when she’s uncomfortable. The more practice she has, the more confident she will be at communicating and social interaction. This is the perfect time to let her try it while you’re there to offer support without jumping in at the slightest sign of nervousness.
To Think About … Getting Into Politics (You OR Your Girl)
As we’ve seen, President Trump’s ascent into office has caused some pretty big changes for millions of people worldwide. While his politics and policies may not be very “female friendly” we have begun to see some surprisingly positive results borne out of this furor. Women seeking training to run for political office has skyrocketed!! Advocacy groups are working more diligently than ever for their causes and our girls are taking notice, getting engaged and feeling inspired!
VoteRunLead, an organization that trains future female politicians saw a windfall of applicants in the two days following the election — so much that they had to close registration and open a waiting list! You already have seen how many women have shown up for countless marches, protests and to voice their opinions to their elected leaders, but now thousands are taking the first steps to representing their causes themselves.
Most of those women have no background in politics at all — just a passion for standing up for themselves and others who can’t. I’m inspired by their courage and dedication to serving others.
It is tumultuous, but empowering time to be a woman. It’s so important to show our kids how to show up for our causes, whether that is volunteering our time, donating money or running for office.
Spark the Conversation:
Tell your girl about Rachel Hundley, the former lawyer and food truck owner who became the mayor of her town Sonoma, Ca. Sometimes we assume that elected leaders have some sort of special sauce that got them in office. It’s so easy to forget that the reason that America is STILL great is that anyone can get involved! If she sees an injustice and feels strongly about it, help her find resources to get involved — from her school student council to volunteer organizations to political advocacy groups.
Tell your girl that sometimes being brave means letting your heart lead. So what if she doesn’t know much about politics You are never too young or too old (pay attention moms and dads who feel stuck!) to recreate yourself.