There’s just so much in the news that today’s Table Talk will be a splattering of things for you to choose from, if you’d like. Or maybe you can just keep it in your back pocket for days when you need some fuel in your equipping tanks. All it takes for me is a zippy reminder to get me though the whine fests or to fortify my teflon exterior. I used it the other day to ignore a child who literally cried the entire time he did the laundry. Amidst the moans of “It’s NOT fair”s and “but I don’t know how to”s (the latter of which I just don’t get – we both know he knows “how” to, yet that whine never ceases to be lobbed) I stayed strong and kept my frustration and hands to myself. And on the other side was neatly folded clothes – see, he knew how, that a little brother grabbed and put away. Ahhhh… it’s the little things in life.

So here you go – something old (I’ve been meaning to post, but have given into my procrastination tendencies), something new, and something that might make you blue (some FB friends have seen this one, but it’s still good fuel for the tank):

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GREAT stuff to piggy-back off Andy’s post last week on talking with our kids. This is an interview Breakpoint’s John Stonestreet did with Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together,” in January. We know our kids are trending toward isolation despite “thousands” of friends, but what is it and how do we stop it? Check out: Alone Together

“People want to be with each other and present with each other,” she explains, “but they also want to use technology to be elsewhere… We’re having fewer conversations, and more connection. But connection and conversation are not the same thing.”

The result is a type of relational isolation no generation has ever known.

“The prediction you make,” recalls John Stonestreet, speaking of Dr. Turkle’s book, “is that we’ve actually become people who will choose artificial, digital or electronic relationships over real ones, because our relational skill set will be so poor, that all we’ll want our of relationships will be empathy. We’ll just want someone to acknowledge our feelings and our emotions, but we don’t want anything to be required of us.”

But we have a choice.

Then, some words to ponder from a dad has been moved by the crazed schedule trend. In Overscheduled Kids, Anxious Parents, CNN’s Josh Leve’s something inspired in part by his HOBY World Leadership Congress keynote talk, “Shine.” Love where he ended:

As I looked out at these kids from all over the world who have stepped up in their communities and shown great potential, it struck me that I couldn’t care less whether they can run an 8-minute mile, play the violin, or set up a tent.

I care that they know they can achieve anything, that they understand big rewards come from perseverance and hard work, that they treat others as they’d want to be treated.

I care that they fill their lives with positivity, love and friendship, and take time for those things.

I realized I had gotten caught up in the means, not the end.

It isn’t about a search for the perfect activities. My role as a parent is to help guide my kids to that good place. And there are plenty of ways to get there.

And last but not least (or maybe least) cue the moans. Apparently there’s a new industry in town: Concierge service for kids in college. Yes, you heard right. A small but growing industry acts as doorman perched at the beck and call of needy students whose parents aren’t within reach. Forget the Good Old College Try, Ring the Concierge provides a few gasps if nothing else. Here’s a taste:

Mr. Papu, who was born in Colombia but grew up in Miami, also contacted the company when he was pulled over for speeding on the way home from a Vermont ski trip last winter. The concierge reached out to a local lawyer, who went to the ticket clinic and paid the fee.

Such assists raise some eyebrows.

Parents are “breeding ineptitude,” by allowing—and in some cases encouraging—children to hand off those jobs, says Hara Estroff Marano, author of “A Nation of Wimps” and editor-at-large at Psychology Today. Figuring out how to do the laundry, cook a basic meal or even wait for a handyman “are not crippling responsibilities” but rather “minor life skills” that can prove useful if the housekeeper cancels.

“Any parent who subscribes to or subsidizes this should really have their head examined,” she says.

Ms. Smart (another mother) had previously hired Ms. Battani, who charges about $40 an hour, to furnish her son’s bedroom in an off-campus house during his sophomore year. “My son would be sleeping on the floor if there wasn’t some intervention there,” Ms. Smart says. She spent roughly $1,200 plus fees for a bed, computer table, towels and homey touches like a nightstand clock—and had it all set up while he was out.

Despite their offerings, even concierges concede that some parents could profit from a few boundaries.

There you go. Some fuel for you tank. Thanks for walking the road with me.


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