Let’s Help Our Teens to Walk

19 Apr


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





Words for Good Friday

18 Apr


If Life Gives You Lemons…

17 Apr

make orange juice.  :-)

Cate Pane


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.
  • “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.



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

Happy Friday!

Cate Pane

Deltopia: Were Hellions to Blame?

10 Apr

On Tuesday, I discussed my assertion that helicopter parents are not allowing their kids to move through the appropriate stages of independence and responsibility for one’s actions.  My analogy of the helicopters of media and law enforcement overhead replacing the hyper-present hovering of parents during the civil disturbance is one that is hard for me to shake.

Let’s look at another possible factor.  Were “hellions” to blame for the recent “Deltopia” riot of April 5th in Isla Vista?

First of all, what is a “hellion?”  A hellion is defined as “a disorderly, troublesome, rowdy, or mischievous person,” it was obvious that hellions created an atmosphere of chaos reaching crisis proportions.  

Massive amounts of drugs and alcohol ingested during the event certainly played a large role in creating this “hellion-like” deltopiabehavior.  Many UCSB students believe that the social unrest was largely due to the behavior of out-of-towners coming to party in Isla Vista.  This may very well be true.  If addresses are made available, the police arrest records will answer this very important question.

I doubt, however, that UCSB students are entirely innocent.  Binge drinking is an unfortunate problem at this university, as well as a multitude of others across this continent.

Those who have followed my blog are aware that I continually seek the roots of social problems.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 80% of all college students drink alcohol and about 50% of those identified drinkers participate in “binge drinking.” Annually, some of the consequences of this alcohol consumption by students are the unintentional deaths of college students who are assaulted by students who have been drinking.

  1. About four out of five college students drink alcohol.
  2. About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.

Each year, drinking affects college students, as well as college communities, and families. The consequences of drinking include:

  • Assault: It is estimated that at least 646,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are physically assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking.
  • Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and more than 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a “moderate” or “major” problem with alcohol-related property damage (Wechsler et al. 1995).
  • Police Involvement: Annually, about 5% of undergraduate students find themselves involved with law enforcement due to their drinking behavior. Approximately 110,000 and as high as 8.5% of 18-24 year-old students are arrested due to alcohol-related behaviors.

This list looks like the consequences of the Deltopia riot. Therefore, I must conclude that the “hellion-like” behavior of students under the influence of alcohol and drugs added to the unrest in the student enclave of Isla Vista last Saturday night.

Plainly put, students under the influence of mind and behavioral altering substances are unsurprisingly found to manifest hellacious acts atypical to their normal character.

Binge drinking is now an epidemic and society is paying the consequences.  Are we interested in the cause of this excessive drinking?  I certainly am and am very concerned about our youth.

Any thoughts?

Cate Pane



Deltopia: Helicopters, Hellions and Rebellion

8 Apr

Yesterday, I briefly posted about “Deltopia,” an annual event occurring in the student housing community, Isla Vista, adjacent to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

I have spent the past day perusing papers, online news website posts, UCSB student reports and analyses in an attempt to make some sense of the development of a riot and declaration of civil unrest.  Sights and sounds of helicopters, throngs of hellions and rebellious youth fill my head.

But first, here are the facts regarding the tumultuous tornado of civil unrest characterizing the atmosphere of Isla Vista on Saturday, April 5th:

  • attendance was estimated at 15,000
  • 2 people were stabbed
  • six law enforcement officers were injured, including one hit on the head with a backpack filled with liquor bottles and a another wounded by a brick being hurled at his face
  • Over 100 people were arrested
  • According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, of those arrested and cited last weekend, 80% were from out of town.
  • a suspected 17-year old teen from Los Angeles, has been arrested due to evidence of assaulting a police officer with the liquor bottle-filled backpack
  • 44 persons were treated at area hospitals

Moving on to my focus:

1.  Helicoptering:  Students reported hearing the sounds of helicopters in the skies above Isla Vista during Saturday’s events.

Are college students raised by “helicopter parents” suffering the residual effects of too much control during their years of parentandteenagerupbringing?

“Helicopter parent” was first coined by Dr. Haim Ginott in his book, “Parents & Teenagers,” (1969).  Originating from teens describing their parents “hovering over them like a helicopter,” it has become widely used in the vernacular to describe parents who are too protective, controlling and perfectionistic when it comes to raising their children.  The lines become blurred between the success and failure of said children and parents.  Unfortunately, it can continue into the college years, as to which many professors can attest.

Are college students afflicted with this hyper-vigilant upbringing lacking the experiences of behavioral consequences and assuming responsibility for their actions?  What happens when mom or dad’s helicopter is replaced by the whirlybirds of law enforcement officials and news media?  The hovering which once provided refuge from repercussion is no longer a means of protection.

Thursday, I will continue with this series by discussing the role of “hellions” in the Deltopia events of last weekend.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts about the connection between helicopter parenting and the behavior of college students, I welcome your input!

Wishing you a terrific Tuesday!

Cate Pane






Deltopia and Bill Cosby On Parenthood

7 Apr

deltopiaAs a resident of Santa Barbara County and an alumna of the University of California, Santa Barbara, I spent the majority of my weekend trying to make sense of the riot that occurred in the student enclave adjacent to the university, known as Isla Vista.

The events surpassed last year.  Most unfortunately, on Saturday night mayhem broke out.

Here’s my link to last year’s post:  “Deltopia:”   Student Community Turns into Living Hell

I will be spending the next 24 hours trying to analyze the roots of the barbaric behavior which occurred on Saturday night.  For now, I need a little humor to lighten my mood.  Bill Cosby to the rescue!

Wishing you a peaceful week with sprinkles of humor each day.  We can all use the levity!


Cate Pane


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