It is summer and for many of us the time when we pack a suitcase and take a trip. If so, you may be on to something that has life-long benefits. According to recent research, spending money on experiences and travel is more likely to bring you and your family lasting happiness than spending money on material goods. Think about it: only a few days after purchasing a shirt, a watch or new electronic gadget, the thrill starts to fade. Per researchers at Cornell University, people "adapt" quickly to the novelty of a new physical object – whereas creating an experience or a trip continues to bring joy long after the event is over.
The other day I watched a replay of the 1970’s movie Grease on TV with the hit song “Summer Nights”. Much to my kids’ dismay, I couldn’t stop singing the catchy refrain “Summer days driftin’ away” over and over. Although this popular song appears quite fun and innocent, it’s amazing how many of the themes of love, exploration and adolescence are enshrined in it and still current today. Around the globe, summertime means less structure and more freedom for many young people. Being out of school and regular supervision can lead to situations where teens spent hours on screens, have irregular sleep hours, or get dehydrated from significant sun exposure. During the summer, teens are also at increased risk for experimenting with alcohol and drugs, having a motor vehicle accident, drowning or other injury. Here are some quick tips for parents to help kids stay safe:
My 14-year-old daughter recently became a vegetarian after a visit to a farm with her school. Her classmates shared stories of how animals are killed, and she chose to stop eating meat for ethical reasons. She has also been sleeping more than usual during the summer holidays, waking up very late in the mornings. How can we help her eat healthy? Are the long sleep times and change in diet related?
K.F., Hastings on Hudson, NY, USA.
It is June. Exam and graduation time for many students around the world. In the Netherlands, our adopted home country, it is also the month when one of my favorite Dutch traditions occurs: graduating high school students hang flags on their houses together with their school bags to celebrate passing their exams and moving on in life. It takes a global village to raise a child, and I love that this rite of passage is celebrated in such a public way.
How many of us adults (or teens) actively embrace rejection or failure? Most of us try as hard as possible to avoid mistakes, particularly big, public ones. What if we risked trying something with the knowledge that failure was a distinct possibility and continued to try on a regular basis? That’s what 29-year social entrepreneur, global poverty ambassador and TEDx speaker, Caleb Meakins did in creating a 40-day challenge to try something new every day and probably fail.
I am ugly, stupid, ___ (fill in the blank). When is the last time you heard that nagging voice in the back of your head? We can all be incredibly hard on ourselves. With constant exposure to social media, pressure to fit into a peer group, demands from parents and coaches, and other stressors, teens nowadays are particularly vulnerable to being self-critical.
How many of you have moved from country to country (or even within a country) or have kids that moved from place to place growing up? Do you have parents that were born outside of your home country or a spouse from a different community or background? As evidenced by an ongoing survey we are conducting of cross-cultural teens and parents experiencing moves, transition, different cultures, languages and religions can be challenging for kids but equally so for adults.