Archive for January 2008

Our Babies, Ourselves

January 31, 2008

While looking for reading material at my local library, I came across this book by Meredith F. Small that was published in 1998. As I read the blurb on the back, I seemed to recall having it recommended to me before, but I had never gotten around to reading it. Well, I decided to go ahead and pick it up this time, and I am very glad that I did.

Our Babies, Ourselves isn’t your typical parenting book; it comes from the world of ethnopediatrics.  Ethnopediatrics is a developing field of science that examines childcare practices through the lens of evolution, biology, and cultural expectations. Through this research the different parenting techniques, especially as regards infant-care, were compared through various cultures, Western and non-Western, industrialized and non-industrialized. The thing that would startle many parents in the United States are that the standard parenting practices of this country, designed to promote independence, are not necessarily compatible with the physiological needs of babies. This is why the U.S. has one of the highest rates of SIDS in the world and colic is a frustration only suffered by American and Western European babies and parents.

The book looks at three main areas of infant care: sleeping, crying, and eating. I had always heard that in most other countries that co-sleeping with a baby was the norm, but parents who do it in this country are made to feel wrong or over-indulgent. Most Americans would be amazed to learn that co-sleeping is not only the norm in third-world or primitive cultures, but it is even the norm in industrialized Japan. Sleep studies of co-sleeping pairs show that when a mother and baby share a bed they become a synchronized unit of breathing and sleep cycles. It is believed that during this sleep time the mother is actually teaching the baby (whose nervous system is not completely developed) how to breathe more thoroughly. Research shows that all healthy babies have short periods at night where they stop breathing, called apnea. The baby that sleeps with its mother receives and subtle nudge from the mother’s own breathing pattern to start breathing again. However, a baby that is left to sleep in a separate bed in another room might not receive this nudge at a time when it may need it; they believe that this is one of the main causes of SIDS.

Of course, the American Academy of Pediatrics is still outspokenly against co-sleeping. They say it is too dangerous because the child will be smothered by blankets or over-laying by a parent. They don’t explain that in 99% of these cases the parent was drunk, taking illegal or prescription drugs, or obese. It’s one of those things where they have to preach to the lowest common denominator, when it might be more constructive and healthier for babies if guidelines for safe co-sleeping were established.

Studies of crying between cultures and in the science lab offered some interesting results as well. Babies in non-Western cultures cry less than those in the West, and colic is completely unheard of. The reason that babies in other cultures cry less is because they are often carried and interacted with at a higher rate than Western babies and their cries are almost always responded to promptly by a parent, sibling, or at times the whole village. In this country, parents are discouraged from responding promptly to their infants past the first few months for fear of spoiling them with attention. Behavioral studies show, though, that babies need constant human interaction as much as they need food, sleep, and fresh diapers. Since the majority of cases of colic can not be traced back to any physical problem, and colic is non-existent in most non-Western cultures, ethnopediatric scientists conclude that colic is a symptom that the babies nervous system has become off kilter because it has not received enough stimulation from human interaction.

Of course, the chapter on feeding, underscores what we already know. Breastfeeding truly is best for babies. That is what a woman’s body is designed to do. The book is clear that formula can be considered a nutritionally viable alternative in cultures that can bottle-feed sanitarily, but in already impoverished areas, encouraging mothers to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed is actually more harmful to their babies.  The biology of breastfeeding is designed to help the a baby survive in spite of the nutritional deficit of the mother. And beyond nutrition, breastfeeding offers more of the human interaction a baby needs and often is packaged with the benefits of co-sleeping. In fact, SIDS researchers learned to suggest laying babies on their backs to sleep by noting the low-rate of SIDS among breast-fed babies. Breastfeeding requires that a co-sleeping baby be put down on her back in order to nurse. Breastfeeding also passes immunities, hormones, and natural chemicals that may actually help a baby’s nervous system develop faster.

Another point of interest about this book is its description of how economics effects culture which effects parenting techniques.  Studies of nomadic hunter-gatherer societies that are being forced to settle down to a more agrarian lifestyle are showing changes in their parenting practices as there are new community goals and different dangers.  And secondly, there is an examination of the role of the pediatrician in the Western world.  Pediatricians are often called upon for advice to behavior problems that are outside the realm of their experience or expertise.  In non-Western cultures parents would seek advice from other family members and friends, but in the West we have become dependent on pediatricians for help with parenting beyond physical health and illness.

It is possible that I may have liked the book because it did vindicate parenting techniques that I already used (co-sleeping and breastfeeding).  Although, it also gave me some food for thought.  For instance, it looks as if babies really are designed to be breastfed longer than most people are comfortable with the thought of (even me).  And though I learned early that letting the baby cry it out only led to a more stressed-out baby and parent, I know that I could probably improve on my over-all response time to my next baby (while still keeping in my mind that she can cry for two minutes while I go to the bathroom).  And I am thinking that instead of looking for every opportunity to peacefully set the baby down in a bouncer or bassinet, maybe I should get more use out of the sling and keep her closer to me.  It might be less stressful for both of us in the long run.  This book definitely has me thinking, which is the best thing to be said for any book.


The Typical Homeschooler

January 20, 2008

Everyone knows about homeschooled kids. First of all, they spend five days a week trapped inside the house sitting at the kitchen table from 8 am to 2:30, working from textbooks, and being sure to cover every school subject in the allotted time. Because these poor children do not spend this time everyday with other children that are the exact same age as them, they do not learn any social skills, are unable to function in general, and are just plain weird. Their parents are these religious-wacko control freaks who are afraid to give their children any physical or intellectual freedom.

If you meet a homeschooled kid or family exactly like that let me know. Now I must admit that we are little closer to the stereotype because we do tend to stay inside the house most of the day. This is because we make the sacrifice of having a second vehicle so that I can stay home with the kids. We are the exception compared to most of the homeschoolers that I have met or had contact with.

We do happen to do most of our formal school work at the kitchen table, but as our older daughter wouldn’t even be eligible for kindergarten until this August, we only do about 30 minutes a day at most. Even when she officially becomes school-aged, I do not see us doing much more than that most days. I figure we will gradually add more formal learning time as she gets older, especially by the time we’re ready for high school, but even at that level I do not see more than three to four hours being necessary.

The only official textbook I plan to use at this point will be part of the Singapore Math curriculum, but Singapore approaches math slightly different. Each school year is comprised of two thin text books and two thin workbooks and as many supplementary materials as you wish to use. Our daughter is about to begin the last of Singapore’s four-workbook kindergarten program. Otherwise, she is learning to read using home-made worksheets and cards. And we do not need a textbook for reading, literature, history, or science when there is a whole library of real books and periodicals that are more likely to be accurate and offer more varying view points than traditional text books. I see us using some workbooks through the years, as they work well for my older daughter. Of course, I may have to adjust my approach for my younger daughter if workbooks don’t appeal to her. But there is also a lot to be learned by playing games (board, card, computer), watching some television (lately we’ve had lots of discussion about elections and government), and just living life.

We are members of a large homeschooling group that offers a weekly unstructured playgroup. We don’t get to go often because of our car situation, but we have made friends with whom we arrange play dates at more convenient times. We usually keep our older daughter involved in at least one outside activity of her choosing through the parks district; so far she has had classes in painting, digital microscope usage, soccer, tap/ballet/tumbling, and gymnastics. She’s signed up for t-ball this spring. She has always received high marks and compliments for her behavior, manners, and interaction with other children in her classes. And while she sometimes needs a small warm-up period with adults, once she is comfortable she will talk your ear off. Our younger daughter will not be eligible for activity classes (at least on her own) until October when she turns three, so we’ll see where her interests and talents lie. She already is speaking on par with most three-year-olds and plays well with children twice her age.

And as for us, we do not homeschool for religious reasons. We do like having a little more control over our children’s environment and safety than maybe some parents, but I don’t feel that is necessarily a bad thing. And homeschooling can really equal more freedom for our children: the freedom to learn things in an order, at a speed, and using a method that works for them individually; the freedom to learn that sometimes there is more than one right answer or view point (not just the one the teacher or the textbook is fishing for); the freedom to make mistakes with out being embarrassed or humiliated; the freedom to play and enjoy life rather than being bogged down with two hours of homework on top of six hours of school and extra-curricular activities; and the simple freedom of being able to go to the bathroom without having to ask for permission.

So this is how we typically homeschool, for now anyway. In a few years, as circumstances in our lives change, we may end up doing it totally different. Most families do have to make adjustments through the years. I seriously doubt, though, that we will ever match the idea of the “typical homeschooler” that most people who have never studied homeschooling have in their head.

My Mama’s for Obama

January 18, 2008

We actually have a size 2T t-shirt with this slogan and a picture of Barack Obama on it.  My husband found it and purchased when Obama was running for the U.S. Senate for our then 2-year-old daughter to wear.  Now the t-shirt will be passed down to her younger sister, at least once the weather warms up.

Like I said, I first became aware of Obama when he was running for the U.S. Senate.  We hadn’t lived in Illinois that long, and I was never a huge follower of politics.  Before the primary, though, I saw a commercial in which Obama talked about how he worked to get mammograms covered under Medicaid while in the state senate.  I was impressed because here was a politician who didn’t just blather on about taxes but had actually done something to help poor people.  He also just seemed to exude integrity, something else I rarely experienced in a political ad.

I mentioned Obama to my husband, who is into politics, and my husband quickly dismissed him on name alone.  Now I have fun reminding him of his initial attitude as he cheers Obama on for president.  I must admit that I feel kind of privileged that I could see Obama’s potential long before he made his national debut at the Democratic Convention.  And if he wins the presidency, I will probably feel even smugger.

I have read both of Obama’s books and found them both to be amazing.  His first was a very insightful look at race in America through his own unique lens.  His second not only discussed his approach to various political positions, but it is also a primer on how the American government and political system works (or doesn’t).  And who better to explain such things than a constitutional law professor?

How amazing would it be to actually have a president who understands and respects the constitution?  And what about one that actually cares about helping the poor and underprivileged?  How wonderful would it be to have a president who represents the kind of respectful, intelligent, and honest person most of us would like to be?  I believe that Obama is our best chance for these things.

Now I’m not saying that Obama is a saint; nor am I saying that all of the other candidates are evil (although I have my doubts about one or two Republicans).    I could be happy with Hillary or John Edwards.  There are even a few Republicans I could deal with if I had to (like Ron Paul).  But for what it’s worth, this Mama is for Obama.

Best Job I Ever Had

January 17, 2008

The best job outside the home that I ever had was working at Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders in Bowling Green, KY.  It may seem strange for a college-educated person to say that their favorite job was working at a restaurant.  Isn’t the whole purpose of going to college to move up to a better-paying and more prestigious position?  If only better-paying and more prestigious always did equal better and more fulfilling.

I worked at Mancino’s from about September of 1996 until December 31, 1997.  I did take a short six-week break for part of the summer so that I could go on vacation with my family, but otherwise I stuck around and worked every holiday.  And why did I quit this job if it was so wonderful?  There were two reasons.  1.  I was burnt out from working thirty hours a week and take 21 hours of classes that semester.  2.  I was tired of the food smell that would not leave my skin no matter how much soap or lotion was used.  I will tell you, though, that it is the only job where I cried when I gave my notice.

What made this part-time position at a restaurant that was one step up from fast food and one step-down from full service so great?  Well, the fact that you got a free 8″ grinder (a baked sandwich), slice of pizza, or small salad for every four-hour shift worked was pretty sweet.  The fact that the whole place was staffed by college students who loved to party was a lot of fun.  But the greatest thing about the place were the owners, Chris and Lisa.  They were the fairest bosses I ever had.

Chris and Lisa were a married couple in their mid-twenties.  They had worked their way up in another Mancino’s in Indiana owned by Chris’s parents (two more wonderful people).  After a few years Chris’s parents put up part of the money so that Chris and Lisa could open their own restaurant in exchange for a chunk of profit.  (That’s just the Mancino’s franchise way.)  So here were these very young but committed people opening a new restaurant staffed mostly by college students just a few years younger themselves.

First of all, they always tried to arrange the schedule so that every employee had at least Friday or Saturday night off so that your whole weekend wasn’t shot.  They worked around your class schedules, because they believed in the importance of education.  If you worked hard and they approved of you, you knew it; you received lots of verbal praise, regular raises, and extra responsibilities.  If you were slacking, they would take you aside and tell you to raise your game or face the consequences.  There was none of that garbage where you would get great feedback on your evaluation only to be called into the office two days later to be chewed out for not being good enough, like what I saw happen repeatedly in the corporate world.

Chris and Lisa also really cared about what happened to us.  You’d go to work and hear stories about how Corey accidentally busted out a tooth during his free time, and Chris and Lisa spent all night finding him an emergency dentist.  Or someone else was having problems with their architectural design homework, so Chris went over the concepts with them after work.  (Chris had studied architecture and designed the store.)  Or once when I was too overwhelmed with school and life and called in sick on my shift, they called one of my best friends who also worked at the restaurant to go check on me because they could tell I was upset.  Even after I quit, they always had a smile, kind word, and assistance ready for me if I needed it.  They were just good people.

The last time I was in Bowling Green I learned that Chris and Lisa had just opened their third location in the town, so obviously they have been doing very well.  It helps that their food is absolutely excellent, and they hold their employees and products to a higher standard than some other Mancino’s I’ve visited in other cities.  So it just goes to prove that bosses can be fair with their employees and still turn a profit.  I think that it’s a lesson that more companies need to learn.

And let me add before I go, there are still nights that I dream that I have gone back to work there.  The only nightmare I have about the place is of being negligent and allowing food to fall out of the conveyor ovens.  I also still strongly crave the food.  Whenever I go back it is so hard to decide between the Reuben, steak Grinder, meatball grinder,  BBQ grinder, Hawaiian pizza, garlic cheese bread,  or chef salad.  So if you ever make it to Bowling Green, KY stop by Mancino’s for me.

5 Things I Never Thought I Would Do as a Parent

January 16, 2008

1. Be a stay-at-home Mom. I always figured that I would be a working mom just like my own mother. I don’t think I ever really understood that my mother went back to work because she felt it was financially necessary, not because she wanted to. When I got married and later pregnant, my husband and I discussed the idea of me staying home after he finished his Master’s degree and became the main breadwinner. The idea was that while I was home with the kids I would also go back to school part-time for my Master’s, and then I would go on to a better job once the kids started school.

Now you could not pay me a million dollars to go back to work. Ok, maybe a million dollars, but not what little I would get paid if I did go back to work. Once I did quit my outside job, I realized that I was just downsizing my workload a bit. I can’t imagine having to work a full-time job on top of taking care of the house and the kids. Things are busy enough with out all that extra stress.

As for continuing my education, I realized that we really can’t afford it first of all. Secondly, I’ve yet to find a graduate program that really appeals to me. And third, the thought of going back to school is very overwhelming at this point. Since we’ve discovered homeschooling, the kids will not even be off to school until they get to college. It’s funny, too, because I always thought I would want to be a teacher. Now I will be teaching the most important students I could ever have.

2. Breastfeeding. I never met anyone who breastfed for as long as I can remember. Bottles and formula are just iconic of babies. My mom had one “horror” story of the inconvenience of watching a breastfed child and being unable to relieve their hunger. Breastfeeding is just not something that was ever really talked about when I was growing up, so it’s no wonder that I just assumed that I would formula-feed my babies through a bottle.

The first person who I really knew that decided to breastfeed was my college roommate. Then once I became pregnant I did quite a bit of research myself (with a little help from my friend) and decided that I would give it a genuine try and see what happened. Now I’m not going to say that it wasn’t painful at first, because it was and is. But as you and your baby learn it gets easier. The health and developmental benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child are well documented. And it sure is nice not to have to pay the expensive price for formula. The endorphins are pretty cool, too.

3. Co-sleeping. I was raised that a baby belonged in its own crib, usually in a room of its own. This was how I was raised, and this was my experience with the babies I sat for through my teenage years. I always heard “If you let them into your bed it will become a bad habit and they’ll never want to sleep anywhere else.” I even remember spouting off that bit of wisdom to some first-time parents I worked with.

The thing I didn’t realize is that pretty much none of the people that I had experience with had breastfed their babies. Breastfeeding adds a new dynamic because breast milk digests faster than formula, so breastfed babies eat twice as often as formula-fed babies. Now some people get around this problem by pumping milk so that anyone can do night feedings, but I always found pumping more trouble than it was worth. I also realized that I really need sleep to function and be a somewhat nice human being. I also learned that I have a hard time getting back to sleep if I have to physically get out of bed several times a night.

I must admit that with my first we didn’t co-sleep the safest way possible the first few months, but by my second child I already knew I planned to co-sleep. So instead of spending $400 on a crib that would just become an expensive clothing rack, we bought a twin mattress set to put between the wall and our queen set. It offered plenty of room for the new baby to sleep next to me while our three-year-old slept between me and my husband. I figure that eventually the twin set will come in handy as big kid or guest bed.

Yes, it took almost four years to transition our oldest daughter to her own bed. And, yes, our second daughter will probably be in the bed with us for awhile after the next baby is born. But it’s nice to be able to respond to their needs promptly before their or my sleep is disturbed too much. When my older daughter was sick this past month, I felt slightly isolated and out-of-touch with her middle-of-the-night needs. Eventually, my second daughter will transition into the bed with her big sister, too. At least, I’ll have one more little warm body to snuggle up to in the night for a few more years.

4. Go to the bathroom/shower with the door open. This seems like a pretty obvious one. I mean, don’t most people prefer to go have their privacy in the bathroom. This often becomes a luxury for a new mom. It’s just that you bring that little helpless baby home, and your husband goes back to work. And it’s just the two of you. And you put off going to the bathroom because neither one of you want her to be put down. And then your bladder is about to absolutely burst, and the baby starts crying the moment you set her down, and you realize that shutting, much less locking, the bathroom is just wasting precious time in which you could be making it to the toilet before you make a mess and getting back to your baby.

I actually make a point to tell first-time moms that they have the right to go to the bathroom without guilt and that their baby will not suffer (if set in a safe place) in the two minutes it takes them to do so. They look at me like I’m crazy, but I hope that the words come back to reassure them later. Going to the bathroom is never the same for a mom after having kids. If you get off lucky, they just fuss a little bit as babies and camp outside as toddlers calling your name and trying to look or stick their fingers under the door. If you don’t get lucky, they get completely hysterical if they can not have visual access to you at all times, like my first child.

Supposedly, you eventually get your privacy back. My oldest dd now has a better understanding of privacy, and even led her little sister out of the bathroom the other day so I could have some. I still keep the door unlocked during showers, so that I can mediate major disputes and assess injuries. And I know the new baby will be hanging out in the bathroom in her bouncer while I shower for her own safety the first six months. But maybe this will be one I can reverse at some point.

5. Homeschooling. Unless you have been homeschooled yourself, I would say that homeschooling is not something most people plan to do from the get-go. Many fall into it after traditional schooling (be it public or private) has failed their child or their family.  I feel lucky that we discovered homeschooling early.  But one of the major points of homeschooling I think is clearly reflected by the 5 things I never thought I would do as a parent: learning doesn’t just happen inside the classroom. Learning is something that happens throughout life, and it can take you places that you never expected.


January 15, 2008

This weekend dh and I decided to enjoy our day off from the kids (on Sunday they go to Granny’s) by watching a pay-per-view movie. After going through the long list of horrible options, we decided on Michael Moore’s documentary on the health-care industry Sicko. We weren’t sure that we were really up for such a serious topic, but we have enjoyed Moore’s movies in the past.

I really believe that it is one of those must-see movies, and probably Moore’s best and most important one yet. Unfortunately, I think it may not have been quite as popular due to a little bit of Michael Moore backlash. Now, I am not saying that Michael Moore may not skew the facts at times (but what journalist or commentator doesn’t these days); however, his over-all messages are usually pretty sound. At least, in my opinion.

Sicko briefly mentions the plight of all those poor Americans who try to get by without any medical coverage. His real focus, though, is the way the health-care industry does everything in its power to keep from paying the medical bills of those Americans who invest their hard-earned money into insurance premiums each year. He shows the struggles of families who have lost everything from their homes, their dignity, and sadly even their loved ones because insurance companies refused to approve life-saving medical treatment and medical care-givers refused to give the treatment without guarantee of payment.

Then Moore goes on to discredit all of the misinformation that is deliberately sewn by those who are against socialized medicine. He visits four countries with socialized medicine (Canada, Great Britain, France, and Cuba) and talks with doctors, hospital administrators, and patients to debunk the myths that socialized medicine equals inferior health care, lack of doctor choice, and poor and beleaguered medical staff. And if a third-world country like Cuba can afford socialized medicine, why can’t the richest country on the planet?

The fact of the matter is that in the United States profit has become more important than doing the right thing, especially in the medical field. I’ve seen it first hand. After I graduated from college, I worked in medical billing for almost four years. At my first job, I had to handle benefits and pre-certifications for durable medical equipment. For instance, if someone broke their foot my company supplied the various walking boots and braces until their fracture healed. There was one insurance company that would not cover any equipment unless it was customized and pre-approved. So everyday I would call this company and I would ask for Michael (because he would let me do more than three patients per phone call and he was sadly in on the joke of it all) and give them all of my patients’ id numbers and what they needed and then he would send me and the patients denial letters.

Another part of my job at the company was to fill in as a receptionist at one of the physical therapy clinics. Everyday the number of treatments (exercises) that each patient received by each therapist was added up. Then the therapists were expected to do a minimum of three treatments per patient, but they were strongly encouraged to do more “if they are medically necessary, of course”. You see more treatments equaled more money. At my second company, there was an incentive program for nurse practitioners who saw more patients and did more procedures in a week. They received expensive electronic equipment, in addition to their hefty salaries (while those of us in the billing department fought for an extra 25 cents a year). The company was later investigated for insurance fraud and went bankrupt about a year after that.

Our insurance through my work changed within two months of becoming pregnant with my first child. As a result, I had to find a new OB/GYN office. Since medical billing is dominated by women, I had plenty of people to ask for recommendations. I looked into one group that was highly recommended, but before I made my first appointment one of my co-workers took me aside. She explained that she used to work for that office a few years before. She told me that they had a special prize each month for the doctor who brought in the most money and that as a result the group had the highest cesarean rate in the city. Considering that the U.S. Cesarean rate is already grossly out of proportion compared to the rest of industrialized nations and the infant and mother mortality rate higher as well, I opted to look for a different doctor (which is a story for a whole other post).

We always hear that the Hippocratic oath that doctors are required to take has the words “First, do no harm.” Sadly, these days the American medical motto seems to be “Only help if there’s a profit in it, and don’t worry about doing harm from unnecessary procedures as long as there is a profit in it.” I feel truly sorry for those doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals who truly want to help people but are pressured and harassed by their company’s CFO and other business administrators into sometimes working against their patients’ best interests. And I wonder how those in the medical community who lie to, steal from, cheat, and harm people in the name of profit in personal greed live with themselves.

Top 5 Reasons We Homeschool

January 14, 2008

Why do we homeschool? What made us decide to take this educational path with our children? Are we religious weirdos or is there something wrong with our kids? Are we anti-schooling?

These are questions homeschoolers often get whenever they reveal themselves (which most of us are so convicted about our vocation that we want to shout it from the roof tops). There’s another question we often get asked; it involves the dreaded “s” word. Most homeschoolers, though, will often tell you in one way or another that socialization was exactly one of the reasons they chose to homeschool. This post just concerns the first two questions.

Our journey began about two years ago. Our oldest dd was around 3, and my friend Kelly’s oldest child child was about 4 1/2. Kelly casually mentioned in a letter (yes, we write real letters to each other) that she and her husband were considering homeschooling. I really wasn’t too surprised, but I thought it would make a lively debate. So I started doing research of my own so that I could take the anti-homeschooling position. Kelly was very shocked when she received my next letter, and I explained that we had now decided to homeschool our kids as well. She said it was easiest time she ever had converting anyone to homeschooling.

Now I was never adamantly against homeschooling. Whenever it was mentioned, I would say that it was something I would have to look into more. And of course I would sometimes mention the “s” word. I never seriously considered it, though. I just assumed our kids would go to school, because that’s just the way the world works.

What changed my mind? Well, the first book I read was So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel of “Facts of Life” fame. The book shares the stories of 15 diverse homeschooling families, including her own. It describes why they decided to homeschool, their family circumstances, and their various homeschooling methods. It really highlighted many of the questions and concerns about homeschooling in an entertaining and eye-opening way. I really became aware of all of the positive possibilities that homeschooling could afford our children and our family.

I could go into all of the things that caught my attention about homeschooling, but frankly I don’t have the time. And there are about fifty other books that go into plenty of detail. Here are the top 5 reasons why we choose to homeschool:

1. So our children can have a customized education that can be adjusted to fit their individual abilities, interests, and personalities.

2. So our children will model their behavior and values on their family rather than their peer group.

3. To maximize positive social interactions and minimize negative social interactions to which our children are exposed. (Realizing that negative social interactions are a natural part of life, but they do not have to be dominant over positive ones.)

4. So our children will keep their love of learning, because it will take them anywhere they want to go in life.

5. So that we can give our children what we feel that they need to grow into happy, responsible, and giving adults.