Class is in Session

22 Apr

writingclass

For the next week, I will be immersed in a course I have been looking forward to for quite some time.  I can’t wait to share my newly acquired knowledge and fresh insights with my readers when I return!

In the interim, I will publish short posts communicating some of my important values in this world of parenting.

Best,

Cate Pane

P.S. I have just been nominated for a “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award” by Sparrow at  spacemonkeytwins! More to follow and please check out her blog.

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College Cousins Share ‘Right to Party’

21 Apr
About a week, ago I asked for a guest blogger to address some of my questions about the partying behavior of today’s college students.  This request stemmed from my inability to make sense of the idea of university students’ ‘right to party,’ following the riot in Isla Vista, adjacent to The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) on April 5th.
1deltopia

The University of California at Santa Barbara

Today, I am thrilled to post a piece written by TK who blogs at ChapterTK. She is a 24 year-old, 2012 graduate of The University of Iowa (UI).  In 2013, The Princeton Review ranked UI as the #1 party school in the nation.  It is of note that UCSB, where the Deltopia Riot occurred, ranked just behind Iowa as the #2 school with the greatest party atmosphere.  Sadly, it seems that these 2 universities are cousins of sorts.  For this reason, I believe that TK is the perfect writer to respond to my questions.
r-UNIVERSITY-OF-IOWA-PARTY-large570The University of Iowa

Reasons Behind the Alleged ‘Right to Party’

The ‘right to party’ isn’t a new idea. We only need to look as far back as 1986, the year the Beastie Boys proclaimed this right in song. I may be an odd one to answer this question, as I have never been interested in these kinds of parties. Perhaps that makes me an oddity, it certainly made me feel that way when I was in college.

Before I go into the reasons why I think college students are obsessed with their right to party, I’d like to separate the actions of drinking and partying. Drinking is something I did often enough and still do with my group of friends. Commonly, this was something done within my apartment or a friend’s apartment with less than 10 people in attendance. There is a huge difference between that, and crazed house parties full of drunk people, sticky surfaces and PDA. I went to one such party with no interest in drinking and had been warned to avoid everything. Even the food was likely to contain alcohol.

I’m not here to claim drinking is a terrible thing. Even house parties can be fun. The difference today seems to be that students are drinking more than ever and are depicted as having no remorse for any mistakes made while intoxicated.

The all important question here is “why?” I have three theories:

  • Students are letting loose after sheltered lives
  • Students are pressured into situations by Greek culture
  • Students feel like this is what they’re supposed to do in college

With few exceptions, my peers who spent the first 18 years of their life in sheltered homes went the most crazy in college. Finally away from the eyes of their parents, they are free to do whatever they wish. The problem is that, having lead a sheltered life so far, these peers didn’t seem to understand the gravity of their decisions. They simply acted. While I have seen this play out, I find it is too simple of an explanation to blame the whole ‘right to party’ thing on. I knew just as many sheltered peers who live in fear of the unknown their parents kept them from. That’s a whole different problem.

Greek culture was the bane of my existence in college. To this day, I still harbor a bit of hostility towards sorority girls and frat boys. With very few exceptions, every person I met who engaged in Greek culture came off as rude and wild. There are many problems I could point out, but I’ll stay on the topic of drinking and partying. For whatever reason, most of these students seemed to be getting a free ride courtesy of their parents. I even saw some buy booze using their parents credit card. Often, I wondered if the parents really didn’t notice. The most frustrating thing, though, is that this was expected behavior. Newspaper stories about increased emergency room visits for alcohol poisoning seemed to have no effect. They were just kids being kids. While a part of me really wants to keep my finger pointed here, it’s very likely the problem isn’t with Greek culture so much as it’s with society’s expectations.

Which brings me to my last point. Students feel this party behavior is expected from them. They don’t think they can have a proper college experience without binge drinking. In a way, the ‘right to party’ is something college students think they have because society expects college students to behave that way. No one, except for maybe Fox News, seems overly surprised at the dangerous drunken shenanigans of college students.

If you ask me, the right to party is not something that exists. Instead, it’s more of an attitude based on a college stereotype perpetuated by society and media. Like many other complicated issues in our society, this problem doesn’t have an easy answer. It’s systemic. I don’t know that this attitude will ever change until society starts to expect different behavior from college students.

TK and I welcome any responses you may have to her piece!

Cate Pane

Easter People

20 Apr

 

easterpeople

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” 
  ~ John Paul II

Let’s Help Our Teens to Walk

19 Apr

girlcountrywalk

A week ago, I attended a very informative yet disconcerting presentation about the present culture of secondary education, particularly the highly competitive climate the most ambitious high school students are continually encountering.  Vicki Abeles’ award-winning documentary:  Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture, screened last year by our Parent-Teacher-Student Association, provided the impetus for creating a group intended to afford an avenue for discussion, support and understanding of this tragic phenomenon. As a culminating event, students, parents and administrators spoke genuinely about their respective experiences with our culture of excessive academics, sports and extracurricular activities.

I left the meeting feeling anxious, angry and aggravated.

  • I felt anxious because when parents were describing the massive amounts of activity in their children’s lives I actually questioned my own belief that as a parent, it is my job to protect my teens from overextending themselves.  Perhaps, my junior is not doing enough, plugging away at his advanced placement and community college courses, music and community service activities.  He has some free time in his life.  Horrors!
  • I felt angry because I can’t believe that our culture has allowed our unique, amazing, terrific teens to suffer in a culture where no matter what they are doing, it is NEVER enough.
  • I felt aggravated because this film was produced in 2009 and as far as I can ascertain, the road to college is more pressure-packed than ever for teens who desire admittance to selective universities.

Race to Nowhere, Vicki Abeles’ award winning documentary film, chronicles the pressures our kids experience in our 220px-Race_to_Nowhere_FilmPosterpresent over-achieving focused culture. The most successful students are expected to fit a profile as the best student, athlete, artist and community-service oriented adolescent possible.  As part of the race, parents can be guilty of pushing their offspring to the precipice of psychological devastation, as students experience anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Research demonstrates that approximately 10 to 15% percent of children/teens “are depressed at any given time.” Furthermore, 25% of all students will experience a major depression during high school.  On the average, these symptoms begin to occur when kids are only 14 years-old.  Tragically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2010, among 12 to 17 year-old students, suicide was the second leading cause of death.  

High school depression simply exacerbates the propensity of college student to experience depression.  Almost 50% of all college students state that at times depression prevents their normal functioning. If depression is ignored, suicide may ensue. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students.

If the emotional ramifications aren’t enough, educators and business leaders lament that students leave school lacking the essential qualities for career success:  intrinsic motivation, a passion for learning and problem solving, and the creative drive to make a positive contribution to the adult world in which they enter.

This is the “nowhere” to which many of our college-bound students are racing.

All this leads me to a call to action for parents.  Before it’s too late, let us:

  1. help our kids to develop reasonable schedules allowing time for family dinners, leisure time, and free spaces in their week allowing for catching up or slowing down.  They need our parenting to help them prioritize their activities.
  2. stop expecting our kids to be the top in academics, sports, and their amount of extra-curricular and community service activities.  Help them to find their passion.  If kids are told for too long what to do, I guarantee you they won’t have a clue about what their true desire may be.  Remember, they have their whole lives to discover their interests.
  3. stop bragging to other parents about our kids.  I have written before about “When Parents Compete, Children Lose.”  The reality is that as parents, when we make trophies out of our children, we are stoking the fires of competition
  4. join the Race to Nowhere” Community.  More than 6,000 communities that have screened the film. Share teen’s stories of walking, rather than racing to a goal. Talk to other parents about the issues their teens are facing.  Open dialogues about how communities can support positive learning environments rather than cutthroat competition.

So let’s become part of the solution. Many of our teens are over-scheduled, stressed-out and are left without time to boywalkingonbeachexplore, relax and figure out their true passions and purpose.

  • Let’s work with our kids to schedule healthy amounts of activity.
  • Let’s help our teens to walk (not race) to prepare to meet the challenges of their future.
  • Let’s communicate emphatically that most importantly, we love and accept them unconditionally.

I plan to be part of the solution and hope that you will join me.

Any comments on this subject are more than welcome!

Have a lovely weekend and Happy Passover and Easter to those who celebrate,

Cate Pane

 

 

 

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Words for Good Friday

18 Apr

goodfriday

If Life Gives You Lemons…

17 Apr

make orange juice.  :-)

Cate Pane

ORANGEJUICE

Remembering Boston One Year Later

15 Apr

Last summer, I wrote about a Red Sox vs. Giants game where I viewed a YouTube video produced by the Boston Red Sox.  This tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy was aired on the jumbotron prior to the first pitch.

There are no words for today.

Watching this is my way of honoring and remembering those whose lives were lost and the families and friends who lost loved ones, those who suffered permanent injuries, police and fire personnel, and the entire city with the biggest heart in the country.

Cate Pane

Parents Are Like Palm Branches

14 Apr

mediterraneanfanpalmAs a practicing Catholic, I celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday by beginning Mass on the steps of our Church.  There is a special Gospel reading about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and then the presiding priest blesses palm branches which were used to welcome Christ as he entered the city.  This begins Holy Week which culminates in Easter Sunday.

This post is for everyone.  The fact that I mention my personal experience of Palm Sunday, is simply a means to communicate a metaphor for each us, regardless of our spirituality. Traveling around in my car yesterday, I frequently gazed upon the palm frond on my passenger seat.  I began to see the that the palm branch is a metaphor for parenting.

The Mediterranean Fan Palm was used in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, over 2000 years ago.  This palm has several historical meanings going back to Ancient Greece.

How are parents like palm branches?

Wishing each of you joy and success as you spend another week growing the palm leaves of parenting your children.

Cate Pane

Deltopia is a Societal Issue: Seeking Guest Blogger

12 Apr

generationxBelow, you will find some excerpts from a letter written and posted on Facebook by a male University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) student. This was letter was posted immediately prior to the Deltopia riot one week ago, April 5th, in the student enclave of Isla Vista.  

I think many people in this community are tired of this subject and simply want to move on in hopes that this type of civil unrest will never pass the way of Isla Vista again.

However, I am left with questions continuing to plague me:  Why are students so interested in a “right to party,” binge drinking and rebellion against authority?  It is my belief that it is in our best interest to answer these questions about this culture of Gen Xers and the world in which they are living.

So, please email me at catepane@gmail.com, if you are interested in the questions I am pondering and desire to comment on the passages from the “Open Letter in the Defense of Deltopia,” listed below.

  • “Do not forget the student activism that has taken place within this community over the course of its inception.
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  • “I, as the author of this letter, encourage Isla Residents to remain steadfast in your commitment to express yourselves in however you deem sufficient, whilst upholding appropriate safety precautions that are needed to ensure the wellbeing of others.”
  • “If Deltopia gets ruined this weekend then have it again the following weekend, or better yet, have Floatopia. I assure you, the urge to rage will long outlast the budget of Santa Barbara to keep sending in large numbers of police.”

You may be an anonymous guest author (should you choose to do so) or simply “weigh-in” by commenting to this post.

I look forward to your thoughts, opinions, analyses!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Cate Pane

 

Friday Funnies

11 Apr

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could use a great laugh today.

drowningfish

 

Ahhh, the innocence of childhood.  Such a beautiful thing…

Happy Friday!

Cate Pane

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