P20 Talks 2013 We too have a dream

Last month I violated one of the most sacred tenants of bloggers – consistency. I failed to post a blog for July entirely. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I can chastise myself for maintaining an end of the month posting schedule, or credit the unanticipated surprises and demands of transitioning from a home in California to a cabin in Oregon.

But the truth, if I am completely honest, is something far more chronic.  The truth is I am enormously – indeed spiritually – conflicted every single time I compose a blog.

Not for lack of something to say.  As everyone who knows me personally will be happy to confirm, I am intensely passionate engaging in two-way conversation regarding the importance of humanity embracing a more proactive educational process for Life Skills.  I am conflicted because I am brutally aware that, by blogging, I am adding to the avalanche of unidirectional information that assaults individuals daily – the avalanche that, mere survival mandates, human beings respond to with a deaf ear.

As I shared in my introduction to P20 Talks 2012 – “Life Skills Educators market themselves primarily independently. And what happens with that is it is like going to the symphony and having every instrument play its own song. People aren’t going to the symphony. Parents aren’t listening. Critical resources are getting buried, life-altering resources.”

I write today not because I am no longer pained, but because I am pained more deeply.  I am pained by news headlines that celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have A  Dream” speech alongside discussions of chemical attacks and international warfare.  I am pained by the fact that an even greater war, fought not on streets or battle fields but within homes, delivers epic silent suffering and death daily.

The day will come, when after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world we shall have discovered fire.” Pierre Teillard de Chardin

I write today out of gratitude for the Thought Leaders that travelled from multiple continents to San Diego, California one year ago for P20 Talks 2012 – the first ever professional conference for Life Skills Educators – and the more than 100 Global Presence Ambassadors hosting regional gatherings around the globe for P20 Talks 2013.

I write today, because we too have a dream..a dream of a time when human beings everywhere embrace third party wisdom for the skills necessary to succeed in the mandatory curriculum of communing with others. A dream of a time when children learn not merely the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic but also the three C’s, concern, compassion and conflict resolution.

 

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before improving the world. Anne Frank

 

 

No More Bullies

Stick Figure Family

What is the point of education? To prepare children to thrive in a diverse world? To ignite their unique passions and empower them to support others in thriving? What top three skills do human beings need to succeed? Is interpersonal communication on the list? What about conflict resolution? 
 
If there is one arena where the disparity between the educational processes of academics and Life Skills is most glaring it is interpersonal communication skills. For math developed countries regularly provide children trained educators, multiple age-appropriate resources, and opportunities to expand their competency levels over years. For conflict resolution –  by contrast – children are called names (bullies, mean girls, ADD) ostracized, disciplined, and incarcerated. Why?
 
What does placing thirty children with diverse interpersonal skill levels in a classroom,  mandating they “get along,” then shaming and punishing them when they struggle communicate about adult respect for interpersonal communication?

What avoidable pains are suffered by children and adults in homes around the planet daily? What does employee conflict cost companies and societies? What do prisoners cost taxpayers? What human potential is thwarted due to our failure to prioritize this critical Life Skill?
  
Although societies wholesale ignore teaching children the skills necessary to avoid conflict in grade school, they regularly prepare adults to respond to conflict: psychologists, therapists, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, military etc.

Isn’t this a bit like telling people to jump in the cockpit of 747’s absent instruction then cleaning up crash sites?

 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. Einstein

 

 What is needed to effect substantive social change? Parenting 2.0 provides a top ten list for a paradigm shift, we welcome also your suggestions.
  
1/ Respect human hard-wiring. Unless someone is the exception to all of creation, they are hard-wired to thrive – they are always doing the best within their circumstances given their abilities. 

2/ Acknowledge the mandatory curriculum every child faces – feeling they “matter” and having friends.

3/ Prioritize teaching children the skills necessary for success in the arena of interpersonal communications from pre-school to graduation.

4/ Appreciate every stage of the learning curve equally. Just as we don’t call a first grader learning addition “bad” and a tenth grader learning calculus “good”, the terms are no more appropriate in the arena of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.

5/ Celebrate diversity. Humanity, like all of creation, is magnificently diverse. Human beings have different brains, different temperaments, different sensitivities. Rather than disparaging these differences – acknowledge and celebrate them. Learn from others rather than mandating or feigning homogeneity.

6/ Embrace humility. We would not call a mechanic that could not tell us what is under the hood of our car an expert. Human beings are still learning what is under their human hoods. Discoveries of the human brain alone in recent years have proved many things once understood as fact to be wholly false.  Until we can construct a human being from scratch in a lab, let us remain humble and curious during the discovery process rather than all-knowing and self-righteous.

7/ Express gratitude. Instead of teaching children to always want more, teach them gratitude. Millions of human beings struggled for today’s children to enjoy the blessings they do – millions more still lack basics like food and water.  Express gratitude, pay it forward. 

8/ Heed your Human GPS. Every living thing has a God given inner GPS. Instead of teaching children merely to listen to the instructions  of others, teach them also to listen to their human GPS – they are equipped with one for a reason.

9/ Applaud failure. Failure is a sign someone is trying something new. Trying new things is courageous. To applaud success and decry failure is to celebrate the cake and disparage the farmer. 

10/ Love. Human beings thrive when loved, brains work better, health is enhanced. Let’s acknowledge the value of love and respect its power and supremacy on the list of human needs when teaching the three R’s.

Editor’s note: This blog is dedicated to the Parenting 2.0 humanitarians that graciously served as Thought Leaders for the No More Bullies panel at P20 Talks 2012: Devin Hughes, Dr. Donna Volpitta, Dr. Samantha Madhosingh, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Catherine Mattice and Dione Becker. P20 Talks 2012 was the first professional conference to recognize Life Skills as distinct foundational skill sets teachable by third party educators.

 

Room to Read receives P20 Talks 2013 Global Presence Humanitarian Award

 I remember vividly being a young girl – growing up in the south end of Seattle, Washington – and having the Book Mobile cruise our modest suburban neighborhood. The Book Mobile was a library on wheels and my mother was a faithful patron.

Although she’d left school in grade eight to help care for her beloved, ailing grandfather – married at age 16 and had five daughters by the age of 24 – the Book Mobile enabled my mother to continue her explorations of great minds and authors.  It also affirmed for her that learning to read, and life long education, were two of the most empowering gifts a human being could ever embrace.

A highlight of my own childhood was the monthly Dr. Seuss books that arrived in the mail addressed to me. I recall – as if it were yesterday – walking down our driveway in great anticipation of their arrival, hugging them as if they held all the possibilities of the universe, then reading each until memorized. They are the reason, I am confident, that I remain an avid reader today. 

Consequently, I was very excited when the Executive Director of Room to Read for San Diego, Leora Langs, attended our P20 Talks 2012 conference. Leora is a vivacious, strawberry blonde with great enthusiasm for life and learning and an infectiously sunny disposition. My first thought upon learning she was Executive Director for San Diego was how fortunate Room to Read was having her as one of their volunteers. My second thought was how many lives would be positively impacted as a result of her contributions. 

I did not, however, in any measure, anticipate what happened a few months later.

In January of 2013, Leora sent me a copy of Room to Reads’ Girls Education Yearbook titled “Beyond the Classroom.” I opened the publication while drinking coffee one morning, expecting to read about the thousands of libraries and schools Room to Read has constructed over the past decade – in some of the most impoverished areas around the planet – and the tens of thousands of young lives they have transformed through their commitment to education and literacy.

What I saw instead were the words “Life Skills Competency Framework”, and an entire page dedicated to thirty core Life Skills competencies including personal care, safety and interpersonal communication.

I have been tracking the term Life Skills ever since I created the Life Skills Report Card out of desperation while raising my own daughters a decade ago. Up until very recently, over ninety percent of the articles and blogs referenced Life Skills only in terms of  basic living skills. Learning that Room to Read held Life Skills in the same high regard as Parenting 2.0, that they appreciated Life Skills for their role in individuals and societies thriving as opposed to merely surviving, brought instantaneous tears to my eyes. I knew immediately that Room to Read would be the perfect recipient for our P20 Talks 2013 Global Presence Humanitarian Award.

I called Leora and informed her of our plans. She was thrilled with the news and proposed we present our award at a May 15th, 2013 event featuring Room to Read’s Founder, John Wood, at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice in San Diego.  

When she mentioned the Joan Kroc Institute, I recalled another event I’d attended there five years prior. It was organized by It Takes A Village and, while listening to one of their speakers, I had the strangest sensation that there was more of me on the stage then in my chair. I shared this fact with my eldest daughter who was seated next to me. Had it been my younger daughter, she might have rolled her eyes and said “Ok mom, whatever” but – having a few more years to understand my quirky personality – my eldest daughter simply gave me a warm smile.

When Leora invited me to present Room to Read with our P20 Talks 2013 Global Presence Humanitarian Award during their event, I knew this was the day I had somehow anticipated five years previously and my heart was overflowing with gratitude.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture, however, is worth so much more to me. I am deeply grateful for Room to Read’s magnanimous contributions in the Life Skills arena. I am equally grateful for their Founder John Wood who courageously pursued a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” despite overwhelming challenges. I am in awe of the lives they have transformed through their activism. Most of all, however, I am grateful for people like Leora – people who volunteer their time to make seemingly impossible dreams come true and dramatically improve the lives of others.  John Wood will be the first to tell you that Big Hairy Audacious Goals only become manifest when shared – it does, in fact, take a village.

In talking to Leora today,  she told me that when people ask her if she minds not being paid for her work, she replies that volunteering for Room to Read has delivered her untold riches in friendships and rewards – riches impossible to quantify.  I know well what she means. I feel exactly the same way about my collaborations with her and my work with Parenting 2.0.

Editor’s Note: In August, P20 Talks 2013 will proceed with over 100 Ambassadors holding regional events in cities around the planet to promote a more proactive educational process for life skills and greater unity among Life Skills educators.

 

Second Annual Backpack Free Friday

The greatest burdens in life are not those we know, they are those we ignore, those we accept as “normal”. How tragic that human beings in any country need look no further than their children to find the greatest suffering.

Parenting 2.0’s International Backpack Free Friday’s public awareness campaign invites adults everywhere to stop and take a fresh look at children’s foundational health – their mandatory curriculum.  Are they well-rested? Hydrated? Fed? What is their stress level? How heavy is their backpack?

An August 2008 WebMd.com article stated that the AAOC (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery) says a child shouldn’t carry a backpack that exceeds 15%-20% of their body weight.”  It further shared that “A reasonable recommendation is a 10% cutoff weight for bodyweight. This will help reduce the risk of injury related to falls and relieve pain that comes from wearing giant backpacks loaded with school supplies.” With 10% as the more conservative target, here’s a breakdown by body weight for measuring how much your child should be lugging around in his backpack:

Child’s Weight Backpack Weight

50 pounds         5 pounds

75 pounds          7.5 pounds

100 pounds         10 pounds

125 pounds         12.5 pounds

150 pounds         15 pounds

Backpacks, however, are merely the tip of the iceburg – the problem we can see. During classtime – and yes permit me to acknowledge we are speaking about the “fortunate” children on the planet if they are in classrooms – backpacks are typically on the backs of chairs or in lockers. This is when children’s greater suffering continues – suffering that stems from being dehydrated, tired, emotionally stressed and hungry. While initially less obvious, all of these are well-documented to negatively impact every aspect of human functioning.

In my prior role as director of an academic tutoring club, I was shocked at the condition of children arriving for paid tutoring sessions – many parents took better care of their cars.

Where are our priorities? When will we focus attention on children’s readiness to learn rather than simply what they are learning? 

Students who falter in school are more likely to embrace lives of crime and end up incarcerated. With incarceration considerably more expensive than school, isn’t it worth every adult taking a broad lens to means for improving children’s odds of educational success?

As the mother of two (now adult) daughters I know well the demands facing those on the front lines raising humanity. Be they parents or teachers, the fact is, they’re busy. Criticsm and complaints don’t inspire human beings to higher performance, they hinder it. Parenting 2.o is committed to lifting the burdens off children and schools by sharing the concept of Life Skills Report Cards year round and supporting adults performing the most important job on earth. Backpack Free Friday is the day we draw broader public attention to our activism and link arms to be the Change the World awaits. Thank you for joining us by sharing news of Backpack Free Friday forward. 

 

 

Modern Families

P20 Rhonda SciortinoOnce upon a time, not so very long ago, the word family in the US conjured up a visual of mom, dad and two and a half biological children. Yes the half was always a bit challenging  – and good preparation for the definition of  “family” today. Ask any person on the street  to describe their “family” and you will get a myriad of additional responses: “single parent homes,” “step parents and step children”, “adopted children,” “foster children,” and “same gender parents.”

As complexity increases so too do the challenges. When not properly respected and proactively addressed, family problems become societal problems. No one lives in isolation. If a neighbor’s child struggles and ends up committing a crime, your taxes will be utilized to prosecute that child.  Every adult – whether a parent or not – has a role in raising humanity.

Consequently, families today are attracting heightened press and societal attention. Bright lights do not only reveal the problems you seek to find, they expose issues long hidden. “Do as your parents did unto you” and “Children learn what they live” are now revealed as the impossibly, impoverished educational paradigms they have been for decades. Institutions that previously processed human beings like so many crayons in a box – shunning those whose uniqueness challenged their constructs – are cracking.  Child abuse, molestation, poverty, human trafficking and starvation, can no longer be written off as “someone else’s problem”. 

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming. Helen Keller

All of this brings us to the one constant. Regardless ever changing cultural norms and composition, families are universal and remain a primary classroom for children. Their success around the planet is critical to all of us.  So thank goodness for the passionate ones, the courageous, the can-do, the caring – people like Rhonda Sciortino. Rhonda endured severe poverty and physical abuse as a child and today teaches others to “Succeed because of what you’ve been through.”

As Rhonda and others who have travelled the journey over centuries have learned – and modern work in neuroscience and trauma now confirm –  far from being “forever damaged”  human beings are only as limited as their educators. Life skills benefit from the same things as academics: wisdom of third party instructors optimistic of children’s success, practice over years, and appreciation that failure is an essential part of any learning process.  Children who take the harder classes in the mandatory curriculum of surviving and communing with others, and have exceptional teachers, end up becoming humanity’s curriculum scholars. 

Editor’s Note: This blog is dedicated to the Parenting 2.0 humanitarians that volunteered to serve as Thought Leaders for the Modern Family Panel at P20 Talks 2012: Rhonda SciortinoDr. Pilar Placone, Dr. Jeannine Zoppi, Jeff Everage and Diana Sterling. P20 Talks made history by gathering professionals across multiple professional fields and continents to illuminate Life Skills as distinct, foundational skill sets critical to thriving and teachable by third party educators. 

 

Where are my?

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness, Welcome to the Gates of Hell.” This was the sign Mitzi Weinman’s father placed on her bedroom door when she was a young teen. Can you relate? 

P20 Nothing is really lostPoll any audience on the top five aggravations of parents and keeping clothing, school and sports supplies organized will most assuredly make the list.

Why? Because parents never learned how to be inspiring educators.

Learning organizational skills often falls under the instructional umbrella of behavior rather than education. This sets up the cycle where – instead of parents acknowledging they may in fact be unskilled themselves – they feign competency and then punish children for “misbehaving” when performance doesn’t match expectations.

Modern brain research has revealed that which fires together, wires together. When negative thoughts and emotions accompany a task,  stress hormones pour in and children’s mental and physical capacities decrease. Because these events happen simultaneously, they are more likely to repeat. In other words, parents might as well be teaching children how not to be organized when they lecture, discipline and punish.

Here’s the good news – Organization skills benefit from the same practices of every other skill:

  1. Valuing the skill as important.
  2. Embracing the wisdom of enthusiastic third party educators optimistic about success.
  3. Appreciating that failure is a natural part of every learning curve.
  4. Understanding proficiency comes by commitment and practice over months and years.
  5. Knowing that a beginner is of no less “character” than an expert.

Parents around the planet spend hundreds – even thousands – of dollars each year for sports and music coaches, but rarely contemplate investing in an organizational coach. How transforming might it be for a teen who struggles keeping track of homework to be coached by an organizational expert instead of being berated by his parents or sent to a therapist? 

Who becomes an organizational expert? People like Mitzi Weinman. Why? Because they have compassion for those who find the learning curve challenging. They also know first-hand the value of instruction by a qualified coach and appreciate just how life-altering competency in critical life skills arenas – like organization – can be.

Editor’s Note: This blog is dedicated to the Parenting 2.0 humanitarians that volunteered to serve as Thought Leaders for the Organizational Panel at P20 Talks 2012: Mitzi WeinmanDr. Shirin Sherkat, Deborah King, Sherlyn Pang Luedtke, Dr. Yvonne Sum and Roya Kravetz. P20 Talks made history by gathering professionals across multiple professional fields and continents to illuminate Life Skills as distinct foundational skill sets teachable by third party educators.  

Communications 101

What was the last thing that troubled you? Was it a disagreement with a colleague or a loved one – a child perhaps? Where did you learn communication skills? Who were your teachers? You were taught reading and history in school but were you also taught interpersonal communication skills? Did you ever contemplate your role in making history?

Rest assured you are.  Every exchange with fellow human beings –  whether disagreeing with someone at the office, disciplining your child or fighting with your spouse – contributes in thousands of ways to the larger story of humanity. Central to every interaction – business or personal –  is communication.  

How do people learn this critical Life Skill? From communication experts? Conflict resolution classes? Not usually. They learn from role modeling.

Why is it human beings enthusiastically embrace quality education from third party educators for everything from soccer to science, yet accept children simply learning what they live when it comes to interpersonal communication? What price does humanity pay for its failure to better appreciate this critical Life Skill? 

Adults do, of course, routinely prepare millions of people to respond to crises in the communications arena – doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, military. Isn’t this about as logical as telling people to jump in the cockpit of 747’s absent quality instruction then cleaning up crash sites?

When couples struggle in relationships they are encouraged to attend “therapy.” Therapy comes from the word “remedial” meaning “to restore”. If you break a leg you attend therapy to restore your motor abilities. If you suffer a stroke, you attend therapy to restore cognitive abilities.

What couple attending therapy to learn quality communication skills ever enjoyed what anyone would define as highly competent ones? They are not restoring anything, they are learning it for the very first time.  Shame is a lousy ingredient in any educational process. 

If we can construct rockets that deliver people to the moon, might we also construct more dynamic means for empowering every individual with the skills necessary for success in the mandatory curriculum of communing with others?

How might the world change if instead of having “child care centers “ around the planet we respected these same facilities as Communication 101 Centers? How might school children blossom when we affirm for them the many ways people communicate – verbal and non-verbal – and their capacity to expand upon parents’ teachings? How might divorce rates decrease when these same children become adults and create their own families? 

Options for change are as vast as the universe when we take the first small step of acknowledging the centrality of communication in every avenue of human interaction and advocate a more proactive educational process. Doing so will constitute one giant leap for mankind.

Editor’s Note:  In 2012, Parenting 2.0 members made history by gathering professionals across multiple disciplines and continents for P20 Talks. P20 Talks was the first professional conference to recognize Life Skills as distinct, critical skill sets teachable by third party educators. Thought Leaders for P20 Talks 2012 Communication 101 panel included: Dr. Rosina McAlpine, Dr. Raelynn Maloney,  Dr. Yvonne Sum, Melissa Pazen, Mark Romero, and Susie Walton.

EQ elevated to IQ

Sitting down to write this month’s post – which happens to be on emotional intelligence – and my stomach is in knots over an argument I had with my daughter. While my small self will permit me to acknowledge that misery loves company – and take comfort knowing our household was not alone enduring heightened stress during the holidays – my larger self feels emotionally shattered in the aftermath of one of the worst school shootings in US history.

God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Is there a relationship between everyday conflict and murder? Though we will never know for certain the complexity of factors that prompted a young man to brutally gun down dozens of innocent children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012, we do know there is a high correlation between issues of social alienation and mass murders. 

So while some adults attempt to distance themselves from this most recent tragedy by avoiding headlines, and others cite evil forces or guns as the source of violence, I propose that the truly courageous join me in asking what we ourselves can do differently.

A core need of every human being is mattering to others. If children cannot get positive attention, they will seek negative attention. Interpersonal communication is a mandatory curriculum.  Our proficiency in this arena impacts every avenue of human interaction, yet how many ever receive formal education? We spend years teaching children to read and write but we call them names and punish them when they struggle on playgrounds absent education in conflict resolution. Is it any wonder these same children then do the same to one another as adults?

Free will does not mean we choose the assignment, merely the amount of suffering human beings endure until we learn to do things differently.  Need humanity scream louder than when a classroom of first graders is gunned down in broad daylight? I think not.

It is time we demonstrate greater respect for the arena of emotional intelligence and empower children and adults for success.  How do we get there? How do we make this shift?

We start by linking arms and acknowledging that emotional intelligence matters. We start by recognizing that not everyone begins the educational process with the same aptitude at the same starting line. We start by not ostracizing those most challenged. We start by ceasing name calling and embracing compassion. We start by availing the wisdom of third party educators passionate about interpersonal communication and optimistic about our potential for success. We start by retiring the impossibly impoverished paradigm of children simply “learning what they live” and better supporting those performing the most important job on earth.

This is our mission at Parenting 2.0. This is the reason “EQ elevated to IQ” was one of just nine panel discussions focusing on Life Skills at the P20 Talks Conference in San Diego, CA August of 2012. The world changes when we change.  Please join us today in being the change the world awaits.  Sign the Global Presence Pledge and expand your knowledge by embracing the wisdom of P20 Thought Leaders listed below. 

P20 Talks Thought Leaders:  Tara Kennedy-Kline, (author of Stop Raising Einstein), Roger Frame (author of Don’t Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw),  Dr. Rosina McAlpine (author of Inspired Children) Diana Sterling (author of The Parent as Coach Approach), Sheryl Stoller, (Founder, Stoller Parent Coaching)

 

 

Can I buy that?

 

There you are, standing calmly in the grocery store line, complimenting yourself for your patience while reading twitter headlines on your smart phone.  Suddenly, the toddler with the cupid curls you admired just two minutes prior lets out a blood curdling scream. No she is not being abducted. Her father has simply taken the candy bar she grabbed off the (strategically positioned at a three year old’s eye level) shelf from her precious little hands and told her “no.” 

 Is there a relationship between these everyday mini-financial battles and the international ones?  Thought Leaders serving on the Finance Panel at the first P20 Talks conference in August 2012 say “Bet Your Sweet Bank On It!” Better yet, spare society the misery and avail yourself of their wisdom.

Popular while it is to presume parents and schools are teaching children financial skills, the fact of the matter is even the average “fortunate” teenager’s curriculum can typically be described in three words “spending weekly allowance.” This impoverished educational process is then accompanied by character assassinations and name calling, “spoiled,” “entitled,” sound familiar? Is it any wonder these same teens point fingers and call one another names when they become adults?

While the brightest of the brightest contemplate salvation from self-manufactured fiscal cliffs, and Ben Bernanke laments “lack of information” on Bloomberg, Parenting 2.0 Finance Educators offer a different proposal – acknowledge now what you do not know and do something new.

Before you jump to providing the solution personally, however, please sit down. Yes sit down. Bad news is best delivered when you are not in punching position. Just as you would not attempt to teach your child french if you didn’t know it, don’t pretend to know the best means for educating your child in finance. Even if you do consider yourself a “finance educator extraordinaire,”  brains learn best with diversity of stimuli. So keep your curriculum exciting and incorporate the wisdom of others.  (If only I’d known these simple facts when my husband attempted to tutor our daughter in calculus – talk about battles – but I digress.)

At P20 we have one mission, empowering you in your role as a Life Skills Educator.  So check out the amazing finance educators and resources offered below, then pay this information forward. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the critical point for Change is in your mirror.

P20 Talks 2012 Finance Panel Thought Leaders: Lynne Finch, Bill Dwight, Arnie Benn, Etay Gafni, Anthony DelMedico.

 

Can’t Tech This!

Digital Shepherds Logo 

 

While driving my daughters to school one morning, I shared a story of their aunt (my big sis), age ten, sleep walking. “With her eyes completely closed, she went to the record player in our living room and started drinking off the arm as if it was a faucet” I explained. “What’s a record player?” asked my youngest, age seven.

Lament though many adults do the ever-expanding presence of technology in children’s lives, unless you are embracing the wisdom of third party experts to educate your children about digital safety, you too are sleepwalking. Permit Parenting 2.0 to provide your wake up call!

Wake up point number one: Fire yourself. “Allowing children to roam free on technology today is no more appropriate than permitting them to roam free on freeways” Tshaka Armstrong, founder of Digital Shepherds accurately stated at Parenting 2.0’s first P20 Talks Conference. Unless digital safety is your full-time passion, however, stop pretending to be an expert. Doing so merely passes on a false sense of security and endangers your entire household.  While you may believe your child is playing an innocent computer game, hackers may be stealing his social security number – yes his – and accessing also passwords to your banking information. Heed this call to embrace humility and seek the wisdom of third party educators like Tshaka and others.

Wake up point number two: The danger in the mirror. Over ninety percent of child molesters are friends and family – not strangers that track your child down via a computer screen. Stop saying “It won’t happen to my children” or if it did “they would tell me.” Statistics prove otherwise. One out of three females, one out of six males in the US will be molested before the age of 18. Naive parents – not strangers – are at fault. Wake up and protect your child. Add Jill Starishevsky’s book “My Body Belongs to Me” to your parental tool chest when s/he is two – yes two not twelve! Saying no to adults takes practice – empower and protect your toddler! If your child says uncle Jimmy or Grandpa touched him in a way that made him uncomfortable  – believe him!

Wake up point number three: Use technology to bond with your child. Yes bond. Parents who prevent children from accessing technology leave them just as vulnerable to danger as parents who fail to educate their children about child abuse. While there are mountains of scientific information to support that less technology is most assuredly best for brain development in small children, technology can provide a powerful bonding opportunity with your school-age child.  Embrace the philosophy of Edutainment as espoused by Digital Safety expert Kristy Bjorkland Davis. Use technology to have fun and connect with your child not simply restrict or scare them.  Very often, children know more than parents thanks to exchanges with friends. Rather than being threatened by this, set the example of life-long learning and permit them to teach you a few things. And then -like everything else you do as a parent – use their moves and the advice of experts to stay one step ahead of them.

Thank you to all the Parenting 2.0 Humanitarians who served as Thought Leaders for P20 Talks 2012 Digital Safety Panel: Tshaka ArmstrongRobin Sax, Kristine Bjorkland Davidson, Melissa Pazen, and Etel Leit.