Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Write Stuff: My Brilliant Career + Writing Workshop = Kids Off the Couch

If your child dreams of being a successful author, or if they simply love to dabble in their journal, they'll appreciate My Brilliant Career, a film that had an impact on us when we were young women. Judy Davis makes her debut as Sybylla Melvyn, an impoverished Australian farm girl determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a great writer, even though it means rejecting a man she loves. Although the film's ending surprised the kids -- our modern romantics couldn't understand why Sybylla spurned a man in order to write -- the character's passion for her craft stirred their creative juices. We jumped on the chance to introduce them to 826, a national, non-profit organization devoted to helping kids become good writers, and took our daughter to a writing workshop hosted by a local art museum. Our nine year-old daughter wrote the first two chapters of a murder mystery which she finished at home a few weekends later. Even if she's not quite ready for a Sybylla-like sacrifice, the 826 workshop helped turn her creative impulses into something we could all read and enjoy.

Click here for more about 826 and the film.

Monday, June 15, 2009 Article "Co-Ed Sleepovers Are the Ultimate Playdate " by Kids Off The Couch Co-Founder Sarah Bowman

Check out the full article at here

Parents need to remember that kids have their own version of a timetable, too.

Sarah Bowman: Teens take a long time getting to the girlfriend and boyfriend stage -- there is a long run up of IMing, texting, Facebooking, and (eventually) hanging at the movies in groups, which seems to occupy most of 7th and 8th grade. Even then, the negotiation for a couple to go on a first date can take weeks, involving dozens of mini-conferences between the couple and various third-party agents who arrange the setup. If two teens actually start dating, everyone is thrilled -- the kids have achieved a new public status, and parents are generally happy that their kids are developing "real" relationships and not engaging in the dreaded "hooking-up" that the media keeps warning us is rampant.

And even so, sleepovers rule as the social activity of choice in high school. My experience is that both girls and boys leapfrog from one home to another between their weekend activities. No matter how much the girls are thinking and talking about the boys (and vice versa), they love the comfort of lounging in their PJs and staying up until ungodly hours watching "One Tree Hill" for the 90th time. As for boys, it's all about gaming, poker, and reruns of "The Office."

Which is why I was so shocked to hear that my friend's 16-year-old son had been invited to a co-ed sleepover at his girlfriend's house. The girl's mother thought it would be a really cool Sweet Sixteen party concept, and this blithe promotion of a fragile, new relationship jangled my friend's nerves. After several frantic conferences, she and her husband told their son that he would have his normal 11:00 PM curfew. Turns out, their son was relieved to be told he had to sleep in his own bed.

Parenting is still, and always will be, about setting limits. Yes, you can see him tonight; no, you can't go to that party if the parents aren't home. Yes, she can come for dinner; no, you can't spend the night at her Sweet Sixteenth! With each year that my kids grow older, my anxiety about their sexuality decreases (probably in direct relation to their right to privacy)! But maybe that's because the kids have their own version of a timetable, too.

Sometimes, their notion of what's cool and our idea about what's right dovetail nicely because we all need boundaries that make us comfortable.