Mother's Corner: Children face more pressure than ever, need help to adapt
by Yolande Barial
Jan 17, 2014 | 4431 views | 6 6 comments | 165 165 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Our children need a soft place to land — a place where they can go and relax and escape the hustle and bustle of their day and experience peace.

As adults, we may tend to think, What could kids possibly need escape from? After all, the child’s full-time job is going to school and getting good grades.

School and life ain’t what they used to be.

In school, many children encounter bullying, especially if their appearance or behavior is different from what the bully thinks is normal. Because many of us experienced bullying when we were growing up, the tendency is for us to tell the child to accept it, saying “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you.” The truth of the matter is that words can and do hurt, and in many instances, words can kill. How many times have we heard about a bullied child or bullied adult who decides to take his pain out on another by shooting up anyplace?

There is not a place our kids can turn where sex, violence and bad behavior are not being advertised and, in many instances, celebrated. On every electronic device, on television, on billboards and on magazine covers, visuals are seducing our children to accept what used to be unacceptable. Children practice exit drills in school, just in case someone decides to disrupt their day and their lives, causing mayhem.

Our girls see many women older than them trying to squeeze their size 12 bodies into size 9 clothes, which teaches them to not accept themselves. They long to wear makeup and disguise the beautiful skin they have, in exchange for painted images far more mature. We rush our girls into womanhood before they even know what a woman is.

Our boys think wearing pants that hang down off their backsides with the belt cinched tightly on the hipbones is cool — many not knowing that this idea of sagging came from the incarcerated prisoner who had to find some way to signal to the other prisoners that he was available for a sexual encounter. Our boys hear men in music using foul language to denigrate women and glorifying fast money with minimal work. This music has crossed over into the mainstream and is now constantly heard as background in television commercials and on any given Sunday during football and basketball games.

In the perceived need to fit into the false image of reality our skewed society has given our children, there is pressure. Our children, whose brains have not yet fully developed, have to learn somehow to navigate this minefield we have created and emerge fully functional and responsible. They have to be wary in movie theaters, walking on streets and in the malls, for they never know when someone is going to shoot, start a fight or abduct them. Our children are no longer innocent.

Back in our day, we played. We played hide and go seek, tag and four-square, and as we got older, we sneaked and played spin the bottle. The kids of today do not play. If you ask them to go outside and play, they look at you as if you have lost your mind.

We the adults, the ones in charge, have messed it all up — and we can fix it. Giving our children a soft place to land in an environment of safety, where a listening, nonjudgmental adult allows them to relax, is a good thing.

• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to

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January 31, 2014
Hello Yolanda Barial, This is Angela Esparza a resident as well as a "mother" of Tracy CA. I would like to speek with about a solution to our children in needing a place to unwind as well as have a positive,motivating,loveing,respectable, and Trustworthy enviroment and people around them to enfluence thier hole well being. Please contact me asap. At email; Thank you very much hope to hear from you soon.
January 23, 2014
"Our children need a soft place to land — a place where they can go and relax and escape the hustle and bustle of their day and experience peace."

yeah, that place is called home

provide a good and supportive one for your kids

"On every electronic device"

you realize that those things can be turned off right? And that as a parent, you can and should limit their use

" If you ask them to go outside and play, they look at you as if you have lost your mind."

my kids do not, why? Because they have always been expected to play outside, from when they were babies and we walked them in the stroller to when they were toddlers and we took them to the park. Now if I am feeling lazy they prod me to get them outside and playing. If you kids don't like going outside, did you ever introduce them to the outside when they were young? Do you lead by example?
February 19, 2014
Spike yer wrong. If a parent did all of that they just might take on th title of "responsible."

In taday's culture it's now unreasonable ta expect parents ta actually parent thair children.

Far too many of em are so busy in thair own personal lives they ain't got time fer anyone else, much less th children they apparently took time enough ta bring inta this word.

By an large it seems many of these folks, when they were children, were taught this behavior in public school as thair parents relaxed thair grip on education, because after all, th age of computers an communication's technology would become a better teacher than th classroom teacher or "illiterate" parents that didn't know anythang. I am usin th word illiterate satirically so don't get yer shorts in a wad here.

Anone remember th paperless society we were movin inta with computers? How's that workin out? How bout jobs/employment versus productivity/profit?

Somehow I don't thank it's exactly what was promised. Then again, few thangs turn out that way don't they?
January 17, 2014
Thank you, Yolande.

It isn’t enough to give our children a “soft place to land,” particularly if they are required to re-immerse themselves in a milieu of electronic busyness that is about visual spectation rather than physical participation.

You can’t escape technopoly (Postman), and for the person who isn’t using technology for truly meaningful purposes, it—technology—is played with like a toy. For many of us, our e-devices undermine discipline and self-restraint, and technology encourages risk taking. The “smart phone” (and other e-devices like it) is like a mirror, a mirror kept in the purse or back pocket or in hand, and this mirror is constantly gazed into by particular people who perpetually want superficial validation for their trifle lives—but what is extraordinary about the human animal is his capacity to elevate the inconsequential as it were incredibly meaningful. I jokingly say to a friend who asks me, “How are you feeling?” “Well,” I don’t know. Let me check my Facebook page to find out.” (I don’t do Facebook.) It isn’t a simple matter of creating a temporary retreat for ourselves or our children, because it doesn’t change the prevailing leisure culture of el
January 17, 2014
It isn’t a simple matter of creating a temporary retreat for ourselves or our children, because it doesn’t change the prevailing leisure culture of electronic busyness for the purpose of essentially meaningless amusement and transaction. (Technology may be a wonderful tool or a distracting toy.) A friend once told me not having a television was irresponsible. I’m sorry I don’t subscribe.

February 19, 2014
All of this technology stuff is good, properly used. But, like medicine an even food, too much of it ain't good fer ya.

I know when I've been dukin it out with someone or a few someones fer a long period of time, purely fer entertainment because in th end a hundred years frum now most of this crap taday wont amount ta a hill of beans, I find myself outa sorts an not very good company fer anyone, much less members of my family that I love more than my life itself.

Fer th kids it allows em ta escape inta a world of false reality that's as damagin an addictive as alcohol or any number of drugs, legal an illegal.

Fer th perents, it allows em ta tune thair kids out an th demands thair kids have. It's a great baby sitter as th kid sits on th couch fer hours on end with his head down gazin inta that false world they've attached thair minds ta. An attachment so strong that they are so detached frum reality that they have no real idea as ta whair they are or who might be talkin ta them.

Wonder what would happen if we suddenly lost power fer a week. Many people would probably go insane or die frum not knowin what ta do without bein connected virtually 24/7 ta thair personal droude that tells em what ta see, hear an thank.

Taday if ya ask most kids what they do with thair time, if thair honest, they will tell ya, play video games. They would rather do that than go outside an play with real friends.

Older adults, kids actually, take it ta th step whair they cultivate virtual friends with thangs like facebook an twitter as they tell th world all about thair otherwise humdrum lives as if it has real importance ta anyone else.

Ya've come a long way baby. With th cigarettes yeah, stink like tobacco smoke, develop smoker's cough or lung cancer an develop skin th consistency of leather. Yep, ya've really come a long way baby but frum whair I'm sittin it's not been a good trip.

Th same thang can be said fer much of our developin technology an really, it started with TV. But whare kids could be controlled like mesmerized little zombies requirin little actual physical supervision, taday they can carry around these little mesmerizers with em an tune out th rest of th world any time they wish.

Don't get me wrong, technology is great an has a lot of useful purposes. But what most people use it fer is a waste of money an time. It don't make em any more efficient as they spend all thair time playin games are chattin some basically unimportant thang with their friends. Or, worse yet, vicariously livin thair lives through these little drouds by readin about th equally borin live of someone else.

Like th issue on guns. It ain't th guns killin people, it's people killin people.

With technology, it ain't th technology stupefyin people, it's th people misusin technology that's doin that.

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