Tag Archives: planning

Madame Leota’s Crystal Ball Says. . .

We are all time travelers: moving into the future second by second.

Which does us absolutely no good at all as far as planning for the future goes because we can’t see the future until it’s the present and then it’s too late to change it into anything but the past.

Ugh. Time travel makes my head hurt.

Anyway, I was reminded about this issue recently when I was discussing with She Who Must Be Sleeping Because It’s Dark After All a course of action regarding our oldest dude.

The actual specifics of the discussion aren’t all that important (well, they’re important to us and certainly important to him. However, for the sake of this bit here, it’s more the results rather than the cause.), but I found myself thinking of Robert Frost.

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost wrote about “The Road NotRobert Frost, one of America's best poets, extolled the virtue of taking the road less travelled. Taken.” In exactingly precise words of immeasurable beauty, Frost talked about how we often face choices in our lives and we can think of them as forks in the road.

We take one fork, make one choice, and that forever shapes all that is to come. Take the other fork, make the other choice, and that also forever shapes all that is to come.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So we sat discussing our course of action and because the substance of the discussion, the nature of the choice, was so important to Sarcasmo’s future, I’ve never wished more fervently to be able to see the future.

“Are we making the right choice? Will this work out in the long run? Will this be good for him or hurt him?”

This is something we parents have to think about every single day in almost every single decision. It’s not often such a stark choice, but it is there.

Do I make him eat those zucchini slices or not? If no, am I teaching him that he will get his way when he whines? If yes, will I be teaching him that bigger people can make smaller people do things?

The more I think about it, the more debilitating it becomes until I can enter into a state of analysis paralysis. For those of you not up on your rhyming aphorisms, analysis paralysis means you start thinking about something so much that you never make an actual decision. Which is, in effect, a decision. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There’s an old saying in project management: There comes a time in the life of every project when you simply have to shoot the engineers and run with it.

Now, that’s not actually encouraging people to kill engineers. The issue is that engineers are never finished. They always see one more thing that can be improved upon. One more thing that needs just a little adjustment.

I like to think it’s something similar in parenting. We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how our actions today will affect the life of our child tomorrow.

All we can do is make what we think is the right decision and then work for the best outcome. Which is, in and of itself, a significantly frightening thought.

So, now that I’ve spent two days scaring the pants off you, I’ve only got one thing to say. . .

You’re not wearing any pants! Neener Neener Neener!

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Teen Pregnancy Rate Continues Dropping*

Quick: are there more teen mothers now than in the past?

I’m guessing you dudes probably answered yes to that question. I’m somewhat disappointed in you, to tell the truth. I mean, just from reading the headline alone you should probably have known the answer was a resounding no. Sigh.

Moving on.

With the ever-present buzz of cultural panic about young people, especially young women, having sex, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re living in the midst of some kind of sexual health pandemic, with our high schools and even junior high schools overflowing with the swollen bellies of pregnant teenagers. The reality, according to a Centers for Disease Control report released Friday, is that the teen birth rate has plunged downward yet again, falling 6 percent between 2011 and 2012. It has never been lower, as least not in the 73 years the government has been tracking it.

Prior to the current plummet that started in 1991, the lowest teen birth rate since the government started collecting data in 1940 was in 1945, when it was 51.1 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19. It’s now at 29.4 births per 1,000 girls. In the 1950s, the favorite “good old days” era of conservatives who want to bring back America, the teen birth rate was three times what it is now, reaching a peak of 96.3 per 1,000 in 1957. While there’s been a gradual decline since then, the past few years have seen especially rapid change. Even as recently as 2007, the rate was still at 41.5.

Thanks to a nice blog post in the XX-Factor blog on Salon.com by Amanda Marcotte, I spent a nice little afternoon learning that the zeitgeist was completely wrong. I mean, just from hearing all the concern and invective hurled around the national conversation, I would have assumed there were teen pregnancies by the truckload. (Sorry about planting that visual in your brains, dudes.)

Just goes to show, we probably need to look at the actual figures when we begin to come to a conclusion on a fact-based idea. I know. Odd thought these days, right?

If we do look at those numbers, we find that the rates of teens having sex has stayed the same since about 2002. In addition, the number of teenagers having abortions has not increased either. So what’s going on?

If they’re not saying no and they’re not getting terminations, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that teenagers are getting pregnant in smaller numbers because they’re actually being able to find information, reliable information, on how to prevent said pregnancies. That is, sex education is doing what it was intended to do.

As Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress points out, teen birth rates vary wildly by state, with conservative states having a higher rate. The state of California is perhaps the most stunning example of how swiftly things can change, going from more than 70 births per 1,000 girls to 28 since 1991, in no small part because of aggressive sex education and family planning programs. Teens simply do better if they’re given the tools to stay safe when they do have sex and don’t do as well with the “just say no” message.

Unfortunately, a lot of school districts (thanks in no small part to parents who don’t want anyone, anywhere to ever talk about sex in a realistic fashion) are pushing things like abstinence, which has been proven time and again to move the needle on teen pregnancies in the up direction every time.

Maybe it’s time we started to suggest that we study things with an empirical eye, use the data to actually see what’s happening, rather than what we want to see happening. Just a suggestion, dudes. Just a suggestion.

 

*You have no idea how hard it was to fight off the notion that I would make a pun involving pants dropping as well. No idea.

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Three-Step System For Getting Organized

by Richard

Getting organized should be something that’s relatively easy to do. Then we’d all do it and we’d all be organized and the world would be a far less chaotic place in which to live.

Unfortunately, for a lot of us, getting organized can be tough. Especially when we’ve got getting organized on the same to-do list that so desperately needs to be organized in the first place.

While I’ve mostly been thinking about how getting organized can be applied to young dudes (hello, Sarcasmo and Zippy the Monkey Boy) with ADD, I found a nice little system that I think can be useful to just about anyone. And it’s relatively easy to do, so that’s a big plus.

The system is from Judith Kolberg, who’s co-author of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life and other books on organization. She lives in Atlanta.

Rather than a series of discrete moments following one another in predictable fashion, ADDers sense time as one long NOW. That’s great when it comes to solving problems and handling crises — and it certainly makes the day go faster. But the ADD way of experiencing and managing time complicates things if you’re trying to complete the items on your to-do list.

Speaking of which: her first step is to create your master to-do list.

A master to-do list should capture everything that’s currently on your plate. I’m talking about big things, like planning a wedding or moving, all the way down to simple tasks, like hanging a picture.

To create the master list, gather all the reminders you’ve written yourself in recent days — the scraps of paper, sticky notes, napkins, envelopes, and so on—and compile them into a single list. Transcribe the list into a single word-processing document; a computerized master list is much easier to update than a master list on paper.

Once you’ve got them down, then it’s time to get prioritized. Kolberg recommends and I agree that it’s best to prioritize your to-dos with three options. You can number or letter them, or whatever, just as long as you keep them consistent. They should be in one of three groups: Must be done now; need to be done soon; and need to be done when you get a chance.

One last thing about the to-do list: each thing on your list should be only one step. That is, if you’ve got to call someone to find out the information you need to order supplies, you should have that broken up into two different steps. One step is call your contact. The second step is order supplies.

Looks like I didn’t allocate enough time or space here to finish. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about exactly that.

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