Editor’s Note

I hope everyone has been outside enjoying the wonderful weather. Even though our lawns may be brown, the family can still have some fun. Here at Parenting on the Peninsula we thought we’d make up a list of great places to go for summer fling. Check out our article on staycations; there are museums for children, water parks, aquariums and hands-on science and nature exhibits, all within a short drive. So whether it’s beaches or horseback riding, there’s an activity for every member of your family. Make those summer memories!

As always, we have some interesting articles on parenting this month. Kimberly Gonsalves asks if you are a helicopter parent. If you do your teenager’s laundry, give them money as necessary instead of working together on a budget, write their reports and never let your kid fail, you just might be. Read how this can retard their ability to live on their own and make good decisions. Cynthia Klein, our resident middle school mom, gives us some strategies for understanding how your kids can “push your buttons. “Cynthia tells us that if you’re saying things like, “You make me so…” or “If you would just …, then I would…”or even “I yelled because you …” that your children are in control of YOUR behavior. Wow. Think about that! Don’t miss her article in this issue and learn the solution.

Gaining weight this summer? Yikes! Read and act on Coach Brien Shamp’s article on “Nine Fun Ways to Burn100 Calories.” They all involve getting off the couch, so I guess that’s my first step. I suppose I should also put the Rocky Road ice cream away.

How do we teach our children about charity and giving? It’s easy around the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? “Growing Up Online,” written by our techie guru Carolyn Jabs, has some good ideas to keep young minds focused on the needs of others. Helping your child choose charitable activities that resonate with them goes a long way towards teaching them the art of giving their time, talent and treasure.

If you’re ever at a loss for places to take the kids, please check out our monthly POP Calendar, in print and online at ponthep.com. We always list local festivals and activities. Get out there and enjoy the summer!

Until next time,


—Tory Hartmann


Father Knows Best?:

Headless Barbie of the Apocalypse

In my younger daughter’s room, there’s a naked Barbie holding its own decapitated head in its hand and it never occurred to me to find this alarming. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of my life as a parent. My wife and I are constantly surrounded by things that—under any other circumstances—would be problematic to the world at large, yet are entirely commonplace in our house.

The first time I became aware of this disconnect was when we were chatting with our neighbor and invited him and his son inside. My daughters immediately wanted to show our neighbor’s son all their toys and dragged him into our older daughter’s room where they were previously playing with Barbies. What I hadn’t realized was that most of the Barbies were sans clothing, as is my younger daughter’s preference. You see, she’s a compulsive doll-clothing remover. I don’t know if she does this simply because she finds the act of removing clothes from dolls enjoyable or that it drives her sister crazy (probably a little of both), but she’s never met a doll that she can’t disrobe in seconds. In all events, the sight of Barbies in their birthday suits strewn around the room seemed to traumatize both my neighbor’s son and even his father. I had gotten so used to this sight that it didn’t occur to me that it could be unnerving to the uninitiated.

Nursing Your Baby:

Organizing Pump Breaks

Ariana asks, “I am happily nursing my little one who is two months old and I am beginning to feel very anxious about returning to work outside of the home and leaving her. I have six more weeks left to my maternity leave and I really want to be prepared. To add to my anxiety, I have learned that there is no place at work for me to express my milk and that other moms who have worked at my company were discouraged from taking pump breaks. I spoke to my manager and she seems receptive to helping me but would like some guidance as to how to set up a program. What resources are there and is it really possible for me to combine working and breast feeding? My goal is to breastfeed for as long as my little one is willing to nurse.”

Your question is very timely. The first week of August every year is officially World Breastfeeding Week (http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/) and this year’s theme is all about supporting woman in the workforce globally.

Time out for Teens:

15 Signs You’re (Still) a Helicopter Parent

You’ve tried to let go and step back, but…there are just so many things your teen doesn’t manage well that you feel compelled to step in and keep the wheel sturning. You see yourself as a “delegator,” helping your teen by telling them what to do, putting systems in place. Mostly you see it as helping.

You have a good rationale for these decisions.

The world is competitive. (Your teen doesn’t get it.)

Freshman and sophomore grades do matter for college.(Your teen says, “whatever.”)

Stuff’s gotta get done. (Your teen is more than happy to let you do it.)

You can do it better. (Your teen isn’t getting any practice, but next time…)

You can do it faster. (Your teen says, “Mom—chill!”)

You wish you had worked harder in school and want to make sure your teen doesn’t make the same mistakes you did. (Your teen says, “Mom, a ‘B’ is good enough.”)

You wish your own parents had been more involved.

You see other parents doing so much more for their kids that you feel guilty and figure you should be doing more too.

If this feels like familiar territory, you’re in good company.

Preschool Parent:

Toddlers and Twos

Bay Area parents are so fortunate to have a multitude of preschools to choose from. Sometimes having so many choices can be overwhelming. First-time parents doing their research discover that part of their decision might focus on educational philosophy as they hear about the differences between an academically-based High Scope program, a teacher-directed Waldorf program, a practical developmental approach with Montessori, a community expression-based Reggio Emilia program, and a more hands-on participatory Parent Co-Op program. Each of these school types reflects a unique environment with a variety of theories and curriculums to meet the needs of our preschoolers. The best way to understand the differences is to go visit and observe a classroom in action.

POP Picks:

POP Picks: Book Recommendations

A good workbook can be an excellent aid for students who are getting back into the groove after a great summer vacation. The Reading Bug has reviewed a number of workbooks, and we offer three that we think represent the best of the best. What distinguishes these workbooks from others on the market? First, all of these workbooks are either written, or vetted by, award-winning teachers. Second, the content in the workbooks aligns with national Common Core State Standards. Third, each workbook includes an answer key at the end of the book, and finally, they all include excellent online resources for parents and teachers to supplement the material in the workbooks.

Although there are many Star Wars fans of both sexes, the Star Wars workbooks are especially popular with boys. Lucas film partnered with Brain Quest, which also offers the best-selling Brain Quest card games, to produce 12workbooks for preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade and2nd grade students. These books are packed with full color illustrations of Star Wars characters, species, creatures, planets, star ships and more.

Summer’s Last Gasp—Is It Time for a Staycation?

Has summer sort of passed you by? Or maybe you meant to take time off and haven’t been able to. We have some great ideas for you to capture that wonderful feeling of summer holiday by planning a staycation—staying close to home, yet having a great time!

All these activities are no more than an hour and a half from the Peninsula. And some are in your own back yard!

Take a ride on the Roundabout River at Aqua Adventure in Fremont. You can loll by the Oasis Pool, eat great hamburgers at The Grill and let the little ones splash in the Lil’ Squirts Pool. Let the big kids go for the big slides and whirl down, down, down to the splash pool. Ker-plunk…what a blast! Aqua Adventure, 40500 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont. (510) 494-4426 or www.goaquaadventure.com

Back-to-School Tips

The new school year is upon us, and while some children thrive on the excitement of it all, many feel incredibly overwhelmed. Parents too! Transitioning to a new grade isn’t easy—especially when entering middle school or high school—but these tips will help get the year off to a pretty good start.

The single most important thing you can do is talk to your child about the months ahead. What are his or her hopes? What might be the biggest concern about moving up a grade? Get the chat started by prompting them to say what they’re most looking forward to. You might then be inclined to ask, “What are you nervous about?”

However, the question may get a brave soldier’s response: “Nothing.” Instead, inquire casually about what they’re NOT looking forward to.

Middle School Mom:

Why Children Do What They Do; It’s Not About You!

When kids don’t cooperate with you, it’s easy to take it personally as though they are against you. I call this response the “parent’s victim mentality.” When you see yourself as a victim, you think your kids are acting against you—that you are the target of their behavior. You may think, “They are being disrespectful to me,” or “They’re trying to push my buttons.” It becomes all about you, rather than what your kids are thinking, feeling or needing.

This viewpoint often puts children in control of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Here are common phrases that indicate you are stuck in a victim mentally: “You make me so …” or “If you would just …, then I would…” or even “I yelled because you …” These beliefs are not effective in creating greater family harmony. Michael Popkin, Ph.D., offers a refreshing model of understanding children’s behavior by understanding the goals behind their behavior. Children are focused on meeting their needs or goals, not on going against you. This model allows parents to step out of the stuck victim mentality. When you have a clearer perspective of why the behavior is happening, you’ll have a greater ability to redirect negative behavior to positive behavior.

Growing Up Online:

Charity for Every Day of the Year

What’s the best way to raise generous kids? That question takes on new urgency during the holidays when families are urged to participate in national events like Make a Difference Day (the fourth Saturday in October) and Giving Tuesday (the first Tuesday after Thanks giving), as well as local projects such as canned food drives and angel trees.

Valuable as these seasonal efforts may be, some experts argue that kids benefit more when they have year ‘round opportunities to think about and respond to needs that resonate with them. One study done by the Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana found that children were 20% more likely to be generous givers if their parents talked with them regularly about the good they could do by contributing time and money.

The best charitable projects connect with the interests of the child as well as your family’s resources and values. The following are a variety of ways families can get involved in doing good, throughout the holidays and beyond.