St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


Find your reason for the season

Published December 11, 2006


Don't most of us truly seek to bring more meaning to our holidays? Sure, we want to buy the right video game player. Have the best light show on the block. The finest dinner spread. But it can be hard in our holiday schedules to master the intangible meaning to it all. The activists-authors of Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World (Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, Fireside, 320 pages, $23) hit the nail on the metaphorical head: Even the simplest of acts, like buying a latte for the person in line behind you at Starbucks, can have a positive impact. Other ideas:

- Host a holiday potluck or get-together. Invite families of different faiths to learn more about each other's traditions in food, music and ritual. Kids love this stuff.

- Give an extra tip. The next time your family goes out to eat, give the wait staff an extra tip. Or tell the manager about the excellent service you received.

- Lend a hand. As a family, chip in and help neighbors in need, especially those who don't have relatives close by. Provide a meal, haul the garbage to the curb, drop the paper at their door or stop and chat while you're out walking.

(And by the way, you really do have the nicest Christmas lights on the block.)

When will all that bickering end?

Cain and Abel. Lisa and Bart. George and Jeb. Sibling rivalry is as old as the hills. When is it at its worst? When the older child is about 13 and the second about 10, say researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, as reported in the November/December issue of Child Development. Those most likely to view the relationship with their sibling in a positive light? A sister-sister pair. For those of us with bickering kids, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The wars often cool by late adolescence, the report says. Yup. Once we're grown up, all that familial fighting just melts away. Into an impermeable slag of resentments and "mom liked you best" recriminations. Oh, but we kid!

On the face of it, yuck

Assure your tormented teen that acne is not caused from eating too much chocolate or junk food. The skin becomes inflamed or infected when dead skin cells mix with the body's natural oils and plug the pores. Your kids are certainly not alone: 85 percent of 12-to-24-year-olds have some type of acne. And untold grown women, to our consternation. Hormones! Gently push a more balanced diet, face-washing twice a day, regular exercise and stress avoidance - though quitting school may be a bit much. In addition to over-the-counter cleansers and treatments, girls may ask to cover up with makeup. It's not out of the question. Find some that's oil-free and hypoallergenic - it's sure, at least, to give your girl a boost in her self-esteem. For boys, continue to cleanse. And in severe cases that recur, consult a dermatologist.

Your parents will thank you

Grandma is at the toy store right now, buying presents for good boys and girls. But do you know what she would love to get? Oh, you do, all right. You probably catch it all the time. A thank-you note. It's the sweetest of gestures and means so much but can be such a pain to follow through on. The Web site offers engaging personalized stationery, as well as practical advice for parents who would like to have their children learn how good it feels to be appreciated:

- Make it now. Have them write their thank-yous before they play with their toys. So mean! And so effective!

- Make it personal. Have youngsters refer to the specific gift: "Grandma, I really love the fill-in-the-blank."

- Make it fun. Have them dress up their notes with stickers and markers.

- Make it so. The youngest kids can tell you what to write, but do have them sign their names. For kids under 10, offer some guidance in wording. For older kids, you might play editor.

- Make it official. Later, make sure kids know how much their thank-you note was appreciated by Aunt Lori or Uncle Rick. The reinforcement will work wonders for next time.




[Last modified December 11, 2006, 06:35:57]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters