5 Online Good Citizenship Lessons for Teens & Their Adults

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Kids & Technology, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 1 comment


This is not another post about online safety. Instead, this time I’m talking about road rules, or ways to make the internet a better place for everyone. There are a few behaviors I think kids need to learn as they make their way into the interwebs. And to be honest, every one of the points below is on my list because I know a few adults could use these suggestions, too. I’ll put down my smartphone an hour early for the next week for every reader who can run through these points and honestly say he or she can’t see him or herself in any of them. I’m safe, aren’t I?

  • When writing an emotional and/or important email, fill out the “To” field last. This will save your butt when you are furious with a friend or colleague. You vow it’s the last time you’ll let yourself be treated that way and you fire off a few paragraphs so hot they make your computer sizzle. Or, over the course of two hours, you draft a careful cover letter for a job. But then you rethink your words as you write or you’re not quite satisfied with the letter, but the cat walks on the keyboard and…oh, crap. You realize you never should have sent that email. If you hadn’t filled out the “To” field yet, you wouldn’t have.
  • Should you really, REALLY use “Reply All?” The teacher sends out an email asking which families can make it to the class picnic on Friday. Or the manager wants to know who will be at the staff meeting. Suddenly a tidal wave of “Joey will be there,” or “Sorry, I’m having a root canal,” times thirty similar messages floods your inbox. Why? I don’t know. But I do know this: just because an email goes to a group, the answers don’t have to go to the whole group. Stop before you hit “Reply all” and ask if everyone really needs to know the information you’re sending, or if it only needs to go to the person who asked the question. Let’s try to cut down on litter on the information superhighway.
  • Remember that no one can hear the inflection in your head when you write.
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Teaching Your Tweens & Teens About Money

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Education & Learning, The World We Parent In, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments

SAKURAKO gets money from a cash register !

What did you know about money when you were a kid? Take a moment to think back; I’ll wait.

Maybe you grew up with very little money, and you developed an inherent sense of how precious every dollar was—a sense your adult family members affirmed on a regular basis. Or maybe you grew up surrounded by money and the things it can buy, and you were taught how to stay wealthy—or simply assumed you always would be.

For most of us, I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle. This is true not only for how much money with which you grew up, but for how much you knew about the way money works. Parents talked to or around you about the need to save money, tried to direct you toward careers that pay well, perhaps refused to spend money on foolish fads. (How are your Cabbage Patch dolls doing these days?) If you obtained a little money of your own—birthday money from Aunt Jill or Uncle Joey—a parent probably took you to the bank to open a passbook savings account. Remember those? In the pages of those little books you learned the small-scale lesson of compound interest. It was so exciting to watch your money grow.

But what about the rest of lessons kids need to learn about money before they go out into the world on their own? What about budgeting? How a credit card works, and why it’s important to avoid credit card debt? How, when and why to invest? What are benefits worth when you are looking at jobs? What are benefits? How do health care and insurance work? (Okay, so this one remains opaque to most adults to some degree.) In the area of discretionary income, how do you determine the difference between wise and foolish expenditures? When is it okay to blow a little money, and when is it not? How do you weigh decisions, make choices?

In my house, growing up, money was an enigma. It was discussed, but only mysteriously and in terms that conflicted with each other. One plus one never equaled two, and it’s small wonder that I found myself in a credit card hole as a young adult.

I vowed that my kids would learn about money earlier than I did. Money is a critical part of the world we live in, and kids need to have a firm grasp of it by the time they leave to live on their own.

Here are 11 steps to helping your tween and teen understand money:

  • If they haven’t already shown interest, begin to share with them the costs of everyday life. You don’t have to inundate them, but mention the cost of your weekly grocery trip, the price of gas and its fluctuations, the cost of your monthly utility bills, etc.
  • Give them insight into some of your family financial decision-making. Where will your next vacation be, and can you even afford to take one? Let them know how money factored into this decision, or let them participate in the process if you’re comfortable with that.
  • Explain how a credit card works. Show them a monthly bill, and how much you would end up paying in the end if you only made the minimum payments. That number always horrifies me. May it do the same for our kids.
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5 Links for Parents of Tweens & Teens

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Kids & Technology, The World We Parent In, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments

Uncharted Parent is away this week, but I haven’t left you without anything to read. Here are some articles that grabbed my attention recently and made me think. Comments? You know where to put ‘em!

“Teenagers, Dealing With Addiction, on What Might Have Helped,” by Jessica Lahey – Jessica is a smart writer and an expert to boot. This post on The New York Times’s Motherlode blog really made me reconsider how I talk to my kids about drugs. Specifically, I hadn’t thought about being forward about why some kids—and adults–like to use drugs. But this piece makes sense.

“Inhalant abuse: why and how parents should talk with kids,” by Shannan Younger – You’d think with all the horrors I’ve discussed with my kids, I’d have covered the whole playing field. Apparently not. Sigh. At ChicagoNow.com.

“To the Well-Intentioned But Ignorant Parents of Teenagers,” by Kayla Nicole – I must get better about monitoring my kids’ internet use. I must get better about monitoring my kids’ internet use. I must stop typing and actually go look at what my kids’ have been doing on the internet. At HastyWords.com.

“Rock On: Getting Your Teen to Talk,” by Elaine Reese, Ph.D. – Okay, I’ll try anything. Now how do I fit that chair in my kitchen? At PsychologyToday.com.

“Just Boy Banter or Tween Mean,” by Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psy.D. – Kind of relates to the previous article. Boys this age often won’t talk about it. At PsychologyToday.com.

Now, after reading all of that, go play with a puppy or something.

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Passover, Version T(w)een.0

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Growing Up, Holidays, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments


The Venice Haggadah of 1609. The Haggadah is the book followed at the seder, or the Passover meal, to tell the story of the Jews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt.

Passover is less than two weeks away, and if you celebrate the holiday at your house, you know what that means: it’s time to clean out the pantry, remember where you put the good china and bug all your friends to see if you can assemble eight days’ worth of palatable recipes.

(Also, for those of us living in certain parts of northern New England, we engage in the annual hunting ritual for Passover food in grocery stores, best if approached as a drinking game. Each inquiry about Passover products met with a blank stare requires one shot of Manischewitz wine; every “Pass-what?” equals two shots. Sorry, but you have to drink the bottle if you’re directed to matzoh that states on the box, “Not kosher for Passover,” or to the deli case featuring “Ham for your Passover table.”)

So wrong

So wrong

In years past, I’ve offered “A Passover Seder Survival Kit” for families with young kids, as well as some of my personal culinary tactics for getting through the holiday. (Nutella still figures prominently in my Passover diet.) If you’ve got small children, then please do click on that link above for some ideas on making it through the seder with your sanity intact.

We’re in a different place in my family now. I’ve got a newly minted teen and a tween. (It scares me every time I write that.) They don’t need plague bags at the seder anymore, or a Sesame Street video to entertain them if the discussion goes on too long.

In fact, my son, “Jack,” is now officially an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community. To my husband and I, that means he can make his own decisions about whether or not to follow the dietary laws of Passover when outside of our house. So although I communicated to Jack that of course, my preference is for him to keep Passover, I figure it can’t hurt to provide him with some tangible encouragement. (Because, yes, it’s all supposed to be about religion and the history of the Jewish people, but let’s face it: it won’t hurt if the food is good, right? Of course right.)

Here are my plans for Passover T(w)een.0, ending with my newest strategy for Pesach culinary happiness:

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Reading is STILL Fun: New Books for Young Readers (Plus One for Everybody)

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Education & Learning, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments


So the kids are back in school. You might be thinking, Why would I want a book list when the kids have to read in school and for homework every day? He’s not going to want to pick up a book in his spare time. 

But…some of your kids do love to read in their spare time. And others of your kids would be willing to give up a little xBox time for a book if only they could find something that spoke to them. If only reading could be fun.

Of course reading can be fun. I know that. You know that. Here are some books to help your kids know that. (If they already know, then here are some new books for your kids to read.)

All of the books in the following list were published either in August or early September, or are due to come out later this month. With one exception, this list was put together by the fabulous Isabel, who curated Uncharted Parent’s midsummer reading list in July.

I’m going to start with the exception, because I can’t wait to share with you a book that just came out this week:

what if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

The author of what if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Munroe, is also the creator of the xkcd website, about which I am apparently the last to know. A former robotics scientist at NASA, Munroe hits the comedic/creative/scientific sweet spot as he answers silly, even ridiculous questions he’s received via his website with a combination of stick-figure drawings, laugh-out-loud humor and honest doses of solid science. Here are a few examples of the questions he tackles:

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Summer Reading for Kids, Mid-Summer Edition

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 2 comments

reading is fundamental

August starts this week. August! Just when it feels like summer has only begun, it’s time to squeeze in those last days of digging bare toes into the sand, huddling with ever-taller kids around a fire making s’mores, or, for the kids, stretching out in a hammock or lawn chair reading books assigned by no one.

But finding great books for kids can present a challenge, whether your kid is a voracious reader who’s already plowed through the local library’s summer list, or a reluctant or very selective reader who needs something special to grab her attention. So Uncharted Parent is here to help.

I asked a colleague of mine, children’s literature expert at Gibson’s Bookstore Isabel Berg, for some kids’ book recommendations to pass on to you. What follows is a fantastic selection of older youth fiction and younger young adult titles that should work in general for kids who are about nine to fourteen years old. Consider yourself well supplied for that final road trip or beach vacation of summer.

Happy reading!

Isabel’s Summer 2014 older Youth Fiction/younger Young Adult recommendations

 Realistic Fiction

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alison Levy – Move over Penderwicks, here come the Fletchers! Chronicling life’s daily joys and tribulations over the course of a school year and featuring two dads, four adopted multi-racial boys and various pets, this is realistic fiction at its finest.

Dreamer Wisher Liar, by Charise Mericle Harper – A funny & poignant novel about one girl’s magical and transformative summer.

Counting By 7’s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan (now in paperback) – For fans of Wonder, an extremely moving story of family lost and found. Both a Great Stone Face and an Isinglass 2014-2015 nominee.

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