April 15, 2017


Fear and anger surround us these days:  on the phone with friends, on social media, on television, in the newspapers, at school , at the grocery store, on the radio....we seem surrounded.  How this affects us, our children, our grandchildren, our great/grandchildren is no mystery.  Children may display the affects by having sleepless nights or being frightened by everyday happenings.. Each child has his/her own way of showing that they are upset.  We can pretend that a disturbing  issue does not exist, and/or  try to protect our young ones from hearing, seeing and/or  knowing  about it. But in these days of instant everything, that is hardly possible. 

It  seems that each generation has their own fears and worries.  The 30's had depression and the holocaust; the forties had WWII; the fifties had the atom bomb and McCarthyism; the sixties had race riots. We have faced depressed times, threats of war and being involved in war since the 70s.  These days our children worry about being shot in school, climate change, being homeless, catching the z virus and /or their friends and families being picked up by ICE for being "illegal". Each time we try to find ways to shelter our children from the fear and anger that is a result of these happenings. And it is becoming even more difficult now, given the political climate and the abundance of available media. So what can we do to help children during these difficult times?

We know that fear and anger are rooted in a sense of helplessness; a lack of control over events, other people's actions, nature, disease, and/or disaster.  It is important for children to know that you also worry about these things, but you have taken action to prevent  harm to them, as much as possible. 

For example, you have provided safe shelter with smoke alarms, their immunizations are up-to -date, you don't drive and text, everyone wears safety belts in the car, you know your friendly neighbors and help them when you can, you vote your conscience, and, perhaps, you know your neighborhood police officer. If you have firearms, you have them securely locked and out of reach of the children.

It is important that you tell children that it is YOUR AND/OR THEIR PARENT’S job to keep them as safe as possible, especially when you are talking to the very young.  Even when you are not with them, you or their parents have chosen a place, like school, after-school care, friends houses, after-school classes and/or caregivers, where they will be protected.

But never promise what you can't deliver (there could be earthquakes, or other natural disasters, etc. and we have NO control over that). Hopefully, you have made your surroundings, as safe as possible: fire alarms, door locks, telephone emergency numbers posted, how to call 911, etc.

You know your great/grandchild(ren) best and you can be alert to any changes in the child's behavior or mood which can be a signal to explore a situation further and offer appropriate reassurance.  Grandparents and great-grandparents can take steps to lessen the feeling of helplessness that fuel fears and anger.  We can discuss the active roles we are taking in our communities, working to alleviate the causes of some of these fears.  Aside from these actions helping US deal with any of these challenging situations, it can also help children feel more secure because people they trust are trying to make a difference

Most of all, be generous with hugs, reassurances and ideas that comfort children
so that they are able to participate and enjoy their family and friends.

December 6, 2016


With the recent elections, we noted that our “Greats” were confused, worried and questioning about the political noise that was surrounding them on the media, in their schools and at lunch and dinner conversations. 

The nastiness of the recent campaigns led to some citizens feeling that their votes didn't matter, and that their opinions weren’t being heard.  As grown-ups, we believe that “Voting Matters” and voting is one of the greatest privileges and duties we have as citizens of the United States. We also feel that if our votes are not heeded, we need to make our voices heard in other ways.

We wanted our “Greats” to feel that what they think and opine about the world around them is important.  We try to model and teach empathy; we try to reassure our youngest that they will be safe; we try to teach or preach that their friends and even those that may not be their friends are worth being protected and respected.

So, in that vein, we decided to start our “Greats” on a political path that requires some thinking, pondering, action and writing.  We did this in order to give them the feeling that they can make a difference by their actions; that they are not helpless in this political world in which we live.

We created and printed stationary with each child's name and address, plus envelopes with their return address.  On a separate page, we printed the names and addresses of each child's elected representative as follow:
·       Two Senators
·       One Congressional Representative
·       One State Senator
·       One State Assembly Person
·       One Mayor of the City
·       One County Supervisor
·       One City Council Person
·       One Governor of the State

We know this may sound overwhelming, but the idea is that if a child simply states his/her concern about an issue, and sends it to an elected official, it is more than likely they will receive a response, which we hope would be the beginning of the feeling that one opinion counts; that one vote counts.

This has been a very unusual year, but we hope that together, we can make our voices heard, not let the bullies beat us, and that Peace and Health surround you and your families.

June and Laurie

November 1, 2016


We read this article and were so impressed, that we thought we would share it with you. Given the proliferation of hate speech and fear, it's important for you to share your values and outlook with your great-grandchildren. 

Before you read this important piece, let us share with you the perfect example of how children personalize what they hear. About a month ago, our almost 9 year old great-granddaughter, had this exchange with her parents after hearing Trump on TV..

"...she asked with a tear in her eye, "Why does Donald Trump hate me? He says such mean things about women. Does he really hate me, mommy, Savta, Nana, Abuela and June?" 

We encourage you to share this article with teachers,parents, child-care workers, and/or others involved with children.  This is so very important.

How Kids Learn Prejudice

"Recently, my 2½-year-old daughter asked me about the Trump video everyone seemed to be talking about. Like many parents, I had made the mistake of assuming we were still in the soft and squishy baby days when she wasn’t listening. But now she is listening.
                 I told her that a man who would like to be president said some mean things that hurt a lot of people’s feelings. My daughter started to cry; like many children, she is sensitive. I hugged her and assured her that everything would be O.K.
                 But as a psychology professor who studies the development of social attitudes, I had to ask myself, will it really be O.K.?
                 At the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton talked about the “Trump effect,” a rise — anecdotally, at least — in bullying in schools. Are children adopting the negative attitudes that Donald J. Trump’s campaign has too often promoted? Do they feel a newfound sense of permissibility in mocking people, as Mr. Trump has, based on their race, their religion, their gender or their disability?
                 It will take time for research on education to answer those questions fully. But past research from psychology suggests that a “Trump effect” on children’s attitudes is very likely real.
                 Children are cultural sponges: They absorb the mores that surround them — how to dress, what to eat, what to say. This is a good thing, all in all, since a major function of childhood is figuring out how to be a proficient adult in a particular society. This means picking up on social norms. Unfortunately, this includes learning your society’s explicit and implicit views of the status and worth of different social groups.
                 Developmental psychology research has shown that by the time they start kindergarten, children begin to show many of the same implicit racial attitudes that adults in our culture hold. Children have already learned to associate some groups with higher status, or more positive value, than others.
                 An association between status and group membership can be learned surprisingly quickly. The psychologists Kristin Shutts, Kristina R. Olson and Suzanne R. Horwitz recently demonstrated that in just a few minutes of exposure in a laboratory setting to information about fictional groups with differing socioeconomic status, children picked up on which groups were wealthier — and indicated that they liked those people better.
                 Gender attitudes, too, form early and can be influenced by subtle cultural cues. For instance, in experiments in preschool and elementary school classrooms, teachers were instructed to make a bigger deal of gender than they typically would. They treated girls and boys equally positively, but they highlighted that the two genders were different — for instance, boys and girls hung their art on different walls, and children were labeled often as being “boys” and “girls.” Note that the children were not taught anything explicit about gender stereotypes. Yet after a few weeks, they started to endorse broader stereotypes about gender. For example, they became more likely to think that boys, but not girls, should become scientists. It seems that merely marking a category — suggesting to children that it matters — led them to pick up on cultural stereotypes.
                 It is also important to consider that negative information is particularly compelling to children. For example, my colleagues and I have found that when children learn about people committing antisocial actions, they remember those actions in greater detail than they do with comparable positive actions. Talking about entire groups of people as being threatening or dangerous, as Mr. Trump has done, is precisely the kind of language that children are likely to internalize.
                 Now, all hope is not lost. Our country has made progress on many issues of social bias, and younger generations tend to be more open-minded and tolerant of different groups than older generations are. Research by the psychologists Melissa Ferguson, Thomas Mann and Jeremy Cone shows that with sufficient countervailing positive information, even initially negative implicit attitudes about people can be unlearned.
                 But we need to remember that what’s at stake in a Trump presidency is not just his policy choices, his approach to diplomacy and his having a finger on the nuclear trigger. Also at stake are the attitudes Mr. Trump’s discourse would transmit to a generation of children. Electing Hillary Clinton, in addition to offering a wholly different set of policy positions, will also help teach children that America is a place where little girls can grow up to be scientists, and maybe even president."
*Katherine D. Kinzler is an associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell.