In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2006 / 12 Sivan, 5766

Seventh grade, time to draw line in the sand

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's been happening since fall, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. First, his clothes looked as if they had been made for someone else — someone with shorter arms and legs. The school pants I bought at the start of sixth grade fit like clam diggers by Christmas. In February, I ripped out the hems and told my son to ignore the little threads hanging down on his sneakers.

That tactic got us through the winter until the school dress code allowed shorts again, but it didn't solve the sleeve-length issue on his uniform shirt. He looks like Frankenstein, but don't tell him.

Come to think of it, his sneakers were too snug just weeks after they were purchased. Jimmy lobbied for new ones for a couple of months, but I put him off on the grounds he was in a growth spurt and buying new shoes would be a waste of money.

When I finally had his feet measured at the shoe store, I discovered we had skipped two full sizes between purchases. Oops.

The next thing I knew, Jimmy announced he was growing out his hair. In my mind, this was his official proclamation that he is donning the mantle of the preteen. In no time, I expect he will give up bathing and the transformation will be complete.

With all the physical symptoms in evidence, I guess this week's conversation in the van between my son and his buddies should not have shocked me.

In the span of one short drive from our neighborhood to the gym where the boys had basketball practice, Jimmy and his pals discussed: girls, Jon's new instant-messaging buddy list, girls, the underarm hair on the guy from last summer's basketball league, a classmate's obsession with online computer games, girls and food.

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Mind you, we were in the van for all of seven minutes. They didn't discuss these topics so much as mention them, giggle, mention something else, giggle, roll their eyes, giggle, and then I think someone burped. Such is the discourse of the sixth-grade male.

Sixth grade ends in five days, and that can mean only one thing: Seventh grade is coming, and it's time for me to draw the line in the sand.

On one side: the "culture of cool," a media-saturated, consumer-driven state of pseudo-adulthood in which otherwise sweet children are sucked in and corrupted by the vacuum of pop-culture values, graphically depicted on MTV.

On the other side: "geekdom," a place where childhood innocence is preserved and protected and children are (happily) uncool enjoying oddball pastimes such as reading, chess and playing outdoors while living under the banner of "late bloomer."

Figuratively, that line represents the barrier between us and a culture that would steal our son's boyhood and replace it with cynicism and worldliness gained not from life experience, but from experiencing life through the media.

Practically, it's the standard that will dictate Jimmy's social status for the next two years of middle school. While many of his peers will have access to the "culture of cool," we'll be making choices that limit the development of our son's social savvy.

PG-13 movies? Unlimited access to the Internet? A personal music download account? A bedroom TV?

In a word: No. In a phrase: No.

It won't be easy to hold that line; it's a struggle we've experienced already while fighting to maintain a wholesome environment for our two older daughters. There seems to be no end of potential threats to childhood innocence, no limit to how low the culture will stoop to spread its twisted notion of what's cool.

Just this week, our school counselor sent home a letter warning parents to be on the lookout for new and dangerous trends, such as "The Choking Game" (in which players asphyxiate themselves in pursuit of an "oxygen high") and the blog site www.myspace.com, the Internet craze that promotes self-expression to the point of risky self-exposure. The counselor's letter also included a laundry list of "stressors" that adolescents might be feeling, from pressure to succeed in school to concerns about family finances.

The letter was good. It spoke directly to parents about things we need to understand, and it offered suggestions for talking to our children and keeping the lines of communication open.

Nevertheless, it made me sad that my young son is growing up in a world where children aren't sheltered but instead must be educated about things that insidiously threaten their well-being.

As much as I wanted to slip that letter under a stack of papers on my desk and keep Jimmy from knowing about its content, I knew the issues were too close to home to avoid. Seventh grade is just around the corner, after all.

So I talked to Jimmy while he ate a bowl of ice cream. I described the letter and asked him if he had any questions. I reassured him that he could always talk to his dad and me when he hears about things he doesn't understand.

When it was clear he wasn't going to participate in a dialogue, I tousled his new longer hair and said, "Why is it when we have these talks you seem so uncomfortable?"

Jimmy sighed and said, "Mom, I just want to be a kid."

"Who could blame you?" I said. "Be a kid."

Then again, with that kind of wisdom, it's clear he's growing up already.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 19 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2006, Marybeth Hicks