zondag 21 november 2010

Work life balance

How to raise your children? A question that is utterly important when you’re becoming mother/father. Nowadays, we have more opportunities, choices and demand upon us than ever before. You can choose for example to send your kids to boarding school, as Annelies mentioned, or make the choice to give up your professional career and stay home for the kids. Of course money is a very important part of the decision sometimes. When you're a single parent, giving up your job is out of the question. That’s why work-life balance is just so essential in our daily life. 
 Although our work environment has changed dramatically in the 21th century, you still need to balance your life. 

As I reflect on the relationship between parents and children, I think that a clear distinction needs to be made. When work and family life are continuously mixed, problems usually will follow. For example when one parent needs to travel a lot for work, the other one should be there for the children. As my father travels frequently for work, my mother stays at home to take care of me and my two brothers. 

Pauline Opdebeeck

Low-income children

This article doesn’t tell us a thing about the relationship between parents and their kids, but it does give us usefull  information about the family situation of poor kids. It must be said that these statistics only apply to the United States, but I think that it can be a good indicator for Europe.

There are two influences that I’d like to discuss: family structure and race/ethnicity. The percent of children in low-income families isn’t influenced by the family structure, but it is highly influenced by the race/ethnicity. This first conclusion came as a real surprise to me, I used to think that kids with a single parent had a bigger chance of being poor. The second observation doesn’t come as a surprise, as racism is still a current phenomenon.

I must admit that most of these numbers really struck me, I had no idea they were this high. The most worrying evolution is the fact that the number of poor kids is increasing. This should really make it clear to the politicians that something has to be done to help these kids.

Annelies Troch

zaterdag 20 november 2010

Boarding schools

Are boarding schools good or bad for children? Has the absence of their parents an influence on their further life? These are questions we can ask ourselves when we think about the concept of sending kids to boarding schools. Boarding schools have always been a point of argument and they always will be, but in the past few years there have been some developments that are rather disturbing.

There can be two reasons to send your kid to boarding school: you don’t have enough time as a parent to take care of your child or the school/day care is too far away from home. As for the first reason, I can’t help to think that these parents should have thought about this before they got kids. As for the second reason, it depends on the age of the kids wether the reason is acceptable or not. It’s in my opinion that this reason is acceptable for kids who attend secondary school, but not for kids who go to day care or primary school. The differences  in quality between secondary schools can be a good reason to send your kid to a school that’s far away from home. The differences between day cares or primary schools aren’t that big and there  are more schools to choose from, so I don’t see why you should send your kid to a school far away from home.

It should already be clear that I’m not a huge fan of boarding schools for baby’s or young children. However, as Karlien Dhondt points out, it can happen that boarding school is in the best interest of the kids. This would be the case if there are serious reasons to doubt that the parents are able to take care of their children properly.

Annelies Troch


How can you spend quality time with your teen?

As most parents don’t have a lot of time because of their busy schedules, children can’t have a lot of quality time with their mom and dad. But contrary to what Carol said, quality time isn’t only doing things with teenagers in order to teach them something, but it could be all sort of activities.

From a survey conducted in 2000, there were drawn some conclusions about how families are connecting with their teenagers. One of them showed that when teens are in need, they’ll turn to their parents. Most of them dependent on the personal advice of their close relatives.
However, the survey also showed disappointing results: a large number of families never sit together for meals. However, during mealtime, parents could ask questions about their child’s day without interruption. So when you have the opportunity to sit together for a meal, you should try to turn that moment into quality time. You could tell them about your day, but certainly avoid to interrupt them.
Moreover, there are a lot more ways to spend time together with your children. You could go to the movie with them, have a drink together, go shopping, cook together,... You could even take them to your work for a day. Personally, I think this can help to improve the relation between parents and their children. Of course they should do things teenagers like to do, otherwise they can’t tighten their bonds of friendship.
Vanessa Rys

source: http://www.teenagerstoday.com/resources/articles/qualitytime.htm

Quality vs quantity time: What are we doing today?

If you are surfing on the world wide web, you see a lot of blogs and articles from parents who ask themselves – and the rest of the world- if they are doing the parenting-thing right. Are they being a good parent? Should they spend their time with their kids in a different way? Do they have to feel guilty if they worked a whole day & then don’t want to entertain their offspring?

There is a whole discussion on whether to focus on quality or on quantity. Sitting in front of the T.V. with your kids is not considered quality time. It’s quantity time. Quality time is more defined as doing something with your kids that is active and that teaches them. Like going to the zoo or reading a book together. The kids learn something, they have fun. They spend time with their parents, who they see as their heroes. 

In my opinion , those activities could make these kids more inquisitive. This will extend to their education and therefore to their labour outcome. They ask for new information, because their parents have thought them to be curious by doing these things in their quality time. It’s another way of stimulating your kids for college. Not directly by saying ” now you have to study”, but indirectly by wanting them to know more.

If they ask the question: "what are we doing today?" I guess the correct answer is: “Today, I am going to tell you about the dinosaurs” or something like that.

Carol Tijtgat


vrijdag 19 november 2010

Telecommuting, to do or not to do?

Having a full-time job and spending time with your kids should be a good combination, but unfortunately this is rarely a fact. A lot of parents travel long distances towards work and being stuck in traffic jams is a daily event to them. This means little time to share with your family as the rest of the evening is absorbed by the normal day-to-day routine.

Nowadays employees in the ‘knowledge industries’ spend a lot of time working on computers, so in many cases this work can be done at home. There is no requirement to be physically in the office. This is why ‘telecommuting’ gains high interest these days. Working at least a day or two from home, can have its upsides. No need to lose hours by going to work, you can spend more time with your family, avoid the stress of traffic jams and you have more flexible hours. A no brainer.

Personally I think that when you’re still young and you live with your parents, telecommuting wouldn’t be suitable. You still have to build up your social network and contact at work is a crucial thing. Opposed to having a family, a lot of advantages go together with it.

Pauline Opdebeeck

Problems of lone parents finding a job to pay for childcare

There isn’t enough childcare for everyone who needs it. Another fact is that most of the people don’t want to take their child to a day-care centre to look after them.  Certainly, parent-child quality time is very important for lone parents.
Single parents bear a hard time when their children reach school age. They’ll have to work and they have to pay childcare. But first at all it isn’t easy for them to get a job. Sometimes their work commitments can’t be matched with their engagement as the sole carer of their children.

There are a lot of people who don’t want to work only to see grow up their children. Now there is a new policy that is more draconian as before, which eliminates the benefits for unemployed people. In that way it stimulates lone parents to search for work. Moreover, the government will save a big amount of money that they can spend on other urgent costs.

Personally, I think that’s a great idea. It’s may be a disadvantage for the single parents, because they’ll see their children less. But when they earn more as usual by working hard, they can give more to their children. After work, there is always time for parent-child quality time if they make an effort. 
Rys Vanessa