About Me

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Hi my name is Dr. Marian C Fritzemeier and I'm an education and child development specialist. I've accumulated many years speaking, writing, consulting and teaching both in the classroom and for parenting audiences. I believe the parenting process can be a fantastic and overwhelmingly fun journey with the right plan in mind. Need some help with that plan? Then you've come to the right place.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: My Sister's Keeper

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator
When I taught Child Development in a Learning Community with an English teacher, all the reading was based on child development content. The fiction book we selected was My Sister's Keeper.

The Story. The story begins with a couple's decision to genetically engineer a baby to become a bone marrow match for the two-year-old sister Kate's leukemia. Although the book actually covers two weeks, with flashbacks, the reader gains a fuller picture of the three siblings' child and adolescent years.
Controversy. Author Jodi Picoult is known for taking real life controversial issues and presenting multiple views from various characters. How far would you go to save your child's life? Picoult weaves the view of the father, mother, oldest brother, sister Anna, sister Kate, Cambell (Anna's pro bono attorney), and Julia (Anna's guardian ad item) in this emotionally riveting book.

Life as a "Designer Baby." Since Anna's arrival as a "designer baby," she's had countless medical procedures to save her sister's life. At thirteen, when Anna's parents plan for her kidney donation, Anna makes a decision to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.
Movie Not the Same. If you've seen the movie released in June 2009 and haven't read the book, be prepared. The movie doesn't entirely follow the book. The 423 page book is far more emotionally gripping. The author takes readers on a distressing roller coaster ride. As with all good roller coaster rides, there's an unexpected twist at the end.

Food for Thought. This book is a tear jerker but gives such a concise picture of the struggles each family member deals with when a child is seriously ill. This book raises questions about medical ethics, family conflict, and the power of love. The book includes a Q & A section with the author and questions for discussion. When you read the book, you'll want to discuss it with someone.
Book Information: My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult, Washington Square Press, 2004. This book is available through Amazon.com. Paperback $12.67; Kindle $10.38; Hardcover $19.48; Audio CD $25.64.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teens & Money Part 4: To Pay or Not to Pay?

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator

College expenses are rising every year and both students and parents alike wonder how they'll afford a college education. If you have the finances to pay for your child's entire college expenses, please reconsider.
When Parents Pay. As a college professor I've witnessed the results of parents paying for their kid's entire expenses. These students are less responsible for their education because they have no vested interest. I hear students flippantly comment, "So what if lost my textbook. Too bad I failed that class. I can just take it again. My parents will pay for...".

Your Student's Share. Consider allowing your student to pay for certain expenses, such as their clothing, entertainment, car payments and insurance, textbooks, course materials, or even several of these categories. It will pay off in dividends. They will become more conscientious students which ultimately results in less overall expenses. When students are vested in their education, they're more likely to attain their goals in a timely manner.

College and Car Insurance. If your son or daughter is attending college so their car insurance is covered under your policy, within six weeks, most of them won't be attending classes. When I meet students each semester I share, "Your parents' car insurance won't motivate you to arrive twice a week for an 8:00 A.M. class. You must have your own personal reasons for obtaining a college education or you'll drop out."

College Drop Outs. Unfortunately many young people drop out of college. A new study by Harvard University reports that, "Only 56% of the students who enter America’s colleges and universities graduate within six years, while only 29 percent of students who enter two-year programs complete their degrees within three years, the study found."1

Expectations: Raising financially responsible young people is possible, but requires advanced planning. In order to train your son or daughter, you need to know what your financial expectations are for your family. Then together with your young person, you can create a financial plan that works for everyone.

1. Study: Nearly Half Of America’s College Students Drop Out Before Receiving A Degree, Travis Waldron on Mar 28, 2012, thinkprogress.org/education/2012/03. Accessed 6/10/2013.

2. Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/ accounting-calculator-and-planner 90371-m. www.whitespark.ca. Accessed 4/18/2014.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Slouching Towards Adulthood

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator
As I'm researching my book series, From Diapers to Diamonds: Raising Responsible Adults, I discovered a book that raises many of the issues I'm answering in this parenting series.

"Adultescents." Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood. Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls "adultescents" during 2010 and 2011.
The Book. This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that "twenty-eight is the new nineteen," and included a new decade, the "odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood," (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.
Great Book. I found this book so engaging. It's flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults' relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. "Forget Plan B. There isn't a Plan A," (p. 24).

No Place Like Home. This entitled generation comes home after college because "...there's nowhere else they could live better," (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don't return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what's going on with the current generation of "adultescents."
Book Information: Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, Sally Koslow, Viking Penguin Group, 2012. Available at Penguin.com. Hardcover $25.95; paperback $16.00; eBook $9.99.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teens & Money Part 3: To Work or Not to Work?

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator
Maybe you've asked yourself, should my teenager get a job? If and when your teenager gets a job is a controversial decision. Many parents don't want their young person to work and focus only on school. Others expect their teens to work and contribute to the family's income. This has become more of a reality for many families due to the economy. 
Benefits of Working
A young person working has many benefits.
  1. They become more financially responsible when it comes to spending "their" money. They can purchase things that are beyond the family budget, such as a car or a stereo system.
  2. They can save for long-term expenses, such as college or a down payment on a car.
  3. They learn how to set priorities, and manage both their money and time more effectively.
Number of Hours
A longitudinal study showed that the number of hours 10th grade and 12th grade high school students work is correlated to their grade point averages.  "The determining factors seem to be the number of hours worked during a week. Students who work less than 13 hours a week in the 10th grade and less than 11 hours a week in the 12th grade perform better than students who do not work but once students exceed the number of hours per week there is a significant drop in their GPA's compared to non-working students."1

Work Experience
Teens also gain valuable work experience especially if they can find work related to their interests. Many colleges ask applicants to list work experience or volunteering related to the school they're applying to. For example, if your child wants to become a veterinarian, help them locate work with animals. If they're headed towards a medical career, find work in a doctor's office or hospital.  

Hidden Costs
There's a hidden cost of your son or daughter not liking their future career upon graduation. It is cost effective to insure your kids like the field they are studying.  I can't tell you how many teachers I know who earned a teaching credential, only to find out within five years of employment, they don't really like kids. What if they found that out in advance by working in your city's recreation department or in a children's Sunday School class? Getting a job after a college degree and finding out they don't like this work is extremely expensive not only financially, but in time and energy as well.
After Graduation
A final benefit of teens working is that they gain work experiences that will assist them upon college graduation. Since there's so much competition for jobs amongst college graduates, related work experience and volunteering adds to their potential employability. Yes, there are a few disadvantages of teens working, but what they gain towards becoming a responsible adult far outweighs the cons.

1. Quirk, Kimberly J., Timothy Z. Keith, and Jeffery T. Quirk. "Employment During High School and Student Achievement: Longitudinal Analysis of National Data." Journal of Educational Research, 95 (2001).

2. Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/  online-jobs-concept 1417325-m. Accessed 4/18/2014.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator

I consider David Elkind's book, All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis, a sequel to The Hurried Child previously reviewed. He felt compelled to write this book since many of the hurried children were now teenagers. "The result is a staggering number of teenagers who have not had the adult guidance, direction, and support they need to make a healthy transition to adulthood," p. vii.

Three Parts: This three part book is divided into Part I Needed: A Time to Grow; Part II Given: A Premature Adulthood; and Part III Results: Stress and Its Aftermath. The book is well documented with references. An appendix provides a list of services for troubled teenagers.

Adolescents, Not Children. Elikind begins his book by tracing the history of teenagers in chapter 1: Teenagers in Crisis. The next chapter provides an excellent understanding of how adolescents think in Thinking in a New Way. The Perils of Puberty follows in chapter 3. Chapter 4 Peer Shock addresses the three ways adolescence differs from childhood.

Part II of All Grown up and No Place to Go addresses the Vanishing Markers that have contributed to "...the absence of a special place for teenagers in our society..." p. 111. Chapter 6 identifies the Postmodern Permeable Family followed by School for Scandal. Part III concludes with Stress, Identity, and the Patchwork Self; Teenage Reactions to Postmodern Stressors, with the last chapter providing valuable information for Helping Teenagers Cope.

A Must Read. If you are a parent, relative, educator, social worker, or a person who has contact with teenagers, this book is a must read. No one explains the cultural changes and how they've negatively affected adolescents like psychologist David Elkind.

Book Information: All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis by David Elkind, De Cappo Press, Revised Edition 1998. Barnes & Noble paperback $13.62.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teens & Money Part 2: Vacations, Checking Accounts, and Credit Cards

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator

Your adolescents are growing so fast you can hardly keep up. Have you noticed how much more money you're spending on them? Every time you turn around, they need money for something...new clothes, a school club activity, basketball shoes, a movie with friends, and the list goes on and on. Add to these increasing costs, in a few short years your teenager will become an adult and live independently. What money management skills will they need?

Planning the Family's Vacation. One way to begin giving your adolescents real life experience is to ask them to plan your next family vacation based on the family's budget. You will need to walk alongside and help them create various categories, such as: gas and mileage, plane tickets, camping site or hotel costs per night, food for 3 meals a day and snacks, costs for entertainment, and souvenirs. This is an excellent strategy for teaching money management and how much things really cost. We found that our daughters really enjoyed planning our family vacations.

Savings and Checking Accounts. Hopefully, you opened a joint savings account in your children's names when they were in preschool or elementary school. If not, make sure your teen creates a savings account now. When your teenagers reach age sixteen, help them obtain a checking account. Do this earlier if they already are earning income from assorted jobs.

Special Offers. Many banks offer special accounts for students. It is important for young people to understand simple banking procedures. Even with ATMs, it is ideal if your son or daughter knows how to write checks and balance a checkbook before they venture into the world on their own. The saying, "How can I be out of money, I still have checks," is a reality for many.

Credit Cards for Teens? At the beginning of your son or daughter's senior year in high school, consider applying for a credit card in their name with you as a co-signer. You can create a very low maximum amount on the card. Our daughters' credit card limit was $250.00. We chose that amount because it would cover many emergency situations. It is way better to teach your young person about credit cards while still under your roof.

Colleges & Credit Cards. Unfortunately, banks appear in mass on college campuses every fall practically handing out credit cards to 18-year-olds. When these students max out their credit cards and don't make payments, the banks go after their parents. Legally, their parents aren't responsible, but many will pay for their child's "mistakes." It has become such a problem nationwide, that many colleges are not allowing banks to access their students on campus.

Now or Later? When would you like your teenager to learn about budgeting, savings, checking accounts, and credit cards? When the stakes are low and the kids are close to home or after they leave your nest with the possibility of costly lessons? 

1. Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/.sale-1430736-s. Accessed 4/17/2014.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Teens & Money Part 1: Designer Jeans, Coupons and Budgets

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator

"Why do we always have to use a coupon to buy my clothes?" laments my eleven-year-old daughter. "I want them today."

"You know we have a clothing budget. We can get more for our money if we wait until the item is on sale and we have a coupon," I try explaining once again. 

"Everyone else's moms just buys their designer jeans even if they're not on sale," she retorts trying for the mother guilt button. 

The Budget
This conversation changed significantly one year later when our seventh grader was given her very own clothing budget. "Mom, do you have any coupons? I need some jeans," I proudly heard. She was allotted a monthly amount but could use up to three months of budget money at a time if necessary. Since our daughters were in year-round school, budget money for three months seemed reasonable.

No, we didn't just give our adolescents money and let them have a free for all. We talked about special events coming up, seasonal items like coats and swimsuits, what still fits from last season, do they need new undergarments, what about shoes, ways they can update their wardrobe inexpensively, and yes, how buying items on sale and using coupons saves money.

Care of Clothes
Because they knew the cost of every item purchased, they took great care of their clothes when they began doing their own laundry at age thirteen (see previous blog, Laundry or Writing?).

Special Events
As they entered high school and needed dresses for special events such as the winter formal and the prom, we paid for half the dress cost up to a certain amount. Young men will need additional budget money for winter formal sports coats and renting tuxedoes for the prom.

Designer Clothes
When they wanted additional clothing or designer clothing items that cost more, they used gift money or worked for extra money. Other families we know paid up to a certain amount for clothing items, such as a pair of jean or athletic shoes, and the young person paid the difference.

How Much Money?
I'm purposely not sharing how much money we gave them for two reasons. My daughter's are young adults and inflation has occurred since they were teenagers. Secondly, each family has an income; some may have a larger budget for clothing, while others families will have smaller budgets. You may think you can't afford to give your adolescents a clothing budget, but if you honestly track how much you spend on their clothes, shoes, undergarments, etc. it adds up quickly. The point isn't so much about how much you allot for their budget, but teaching them the principles of money management.

Resist the Urge to Rescue
When you transition the budget responsibility to your young adults, please resist the temptation to rescue them when they spend all their clothing money and need something. They will not learn to plan ahead and use their money wisely if you rescue them. Keep in mind that they will eventually learn to live with the consequences if you allow them opportunities to learn. And in no time, they'll start asking, "Do you have any coupons?" and you will know you've done your job.

1. Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/.sale-1430736-s. Accessed 4/17/2014.