From the Wall: Roundup of 10 Status Updates

From the Wall: A Weekly Roundup of Hilltown Families Status Updates on Facebook

If you haven’t already, join Hilltown Families on Facebook too, and be sure to add us to your interest list to receive our status updates in your Facebook newsfeed.

As part of our a communication network, every day we post status updates to the Hilltown Families Facebook page, including announcements, volunteer opportunities, conversation starters, promotions, links to archived posts, videos, podcast… To receive these daily status updates, check the wall on our Facebook page, or better yet, “Like” our page then add Hilltown Families to your interest list to receive status updates in your Facebook newsfeed.

Here’s a round up of what we shared and are talking about this past week.  Click on the links to follow through to our page and join in on discussions and find links to access more info:

CISA needs volunteers on two Saturdays, January 26 (in Springfield & Northampton) and February 2 (in Greenfield & Amherst), to help out at the farmers’ markets holding this year’s Winter Fare events. Tasks may include greeting attendees, handing out maps and taking surveys. Markets will run from about 10am-2pm. Please email volunteer@buylocalfood.org if you would like to get involved.The nomination period for the 2013 Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards is now open! Know of a LGBTQ youth who has demonstrated courage in the face of adversity and discrimination based on gender and/or sexual orientation? Nominate them today!

Wondering how to stave off colds and flu this winter? Check out these Western MA folk remedies, compiled by Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Tony Lemos:

Mark your calendars for the 91st Annual Greenfield Winter Carnival happening February 1st-3rd… 3 days of winter play!!!

Athol Public Library writes, “Bring your gently used jeans to the Athol Public Library for our “Teens for Jeans” campaign. Jeans will be taken to Aeropostale and donated to teens in area homeless shelters. Donations will be accepted now through January 31st. A great opportunity to help out! For info please call: 978-249-9515

There will be a teacher workshop at Smith College Museum of Art on Asian Art on Wed., Feb. 6th from 10am-3pm for K-12 teachers. Explore interdisciplinary connections between Asian and “Western” art objects through exercises and presentations led by SCMA Education staff. Curator Fan Zhang will provide teachers with an overview of the Collecting Art of Asia exhibition and Anne Prescott, Director of the Five Colleges Center for East Asian Studies will outline valuable K-12 resources for teaching about Asia across the curriculum.

If you missed the broadcast of the Hilltown Family Variety Show’s South Africa Episode last May with guest DJ, Debbie Lan of Grenadilla, no worries! You can listen the podcast anytime. Gather the kids around and follow the link. Debbie features music by Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mafikozolo, Amompondo, and many others, including a few cuts off of their newest CD, “Can’t Wait,” one of our top 11 picks for 2012!

Have your kids asked yet how babies are made, or where babies come from? What did you say? If they haven’t asked yet, how might you reply when they do?

Last year we asked our readers to share their love for their pediatricians, recommending a pediatrician to families in Western Massachusetts who might be looking for a doctor for their children…

Thinking about venturing out to the Norman Rockwell Museum with the kids this winter? Check out their family guide! Designed specifically for families interested in extending art studies past a museum trip, the Norman Rockwell Family Guide is full of Rockwell’s work and includes information and questions to keep in mind while examining the images. Follow the link to check it out our write-up from last year with links and resources:

There have been lots of opportunities lately to volunteer with your families as a Citizen Scientist, assisting with bird population counts! Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count and Bald Eagle Count both took place recently, but there’s another bird count that you can do any time of year! Mass Audubon offers a checklist of birds that visitors to Canoe Meadows in central Berkshire Cty. can print and take along on their excursion.

Do You “Like” Hilltown Families on Facebook? Join us!

“LIKE” Hilltown Families on Facebook

Check out what we're sharing on our Facebook page! You can easily share with your Facebook friends too! Make sure you "Like" our page and then select "Share" under any of our wall post you want to pass along to your Facebook friends! And be sure to invite them to join you on our Facebook page too!

If you haven’t already, “Like” Hilltown Families on Facebook for additional posts, giveaways and great community feedback every day!  Below is a sample of what we’ve been chatting about recently:

  • One of our readers is looking for recommendations on affordable theater opportunities for their 7yo and 4yo children. Share any Western MA options for this family and other families looking for theater options for their children!
  • Brenda Barlow writes, “My hubby & I are moving to Pelham, working in Amherst and looking for childcare for our crazy-dancing, mullet rocking 2 year old. Any suggestions?”
  • Trip to the Smith College bulb show this afternoon. Beautiful (and mighty fragrant) flowers to tantalize your nose and eyes! Lots of happy kids running around outside barefoot in the gardens on this gorgeous day! Make as trip before the show comes down!
  • Starting to talk about sex with your kids? Here’s a cautionary tale that will have you in stitches!
  • One of our readers is looking for fencing lessons for her child. Any recommendations?

GIVEAWAYS: We also have giveaways that you might only hear about on our Facebook page.  Right now we’re giving away a pair of tickets for a Parent’s Night Out to Artspark, and a family 4-pack of tickets to see the Pioneer Valley Ballet production of Cinderella. These are just two examples of giveaways you might only hear announced on our Facebook page. While we won’t ask you to do anything on Facebook to be entered to win (so you don’t have to be a Facebook user to participate) you can find what we’re giving away and how you can enter to win.

SUBMIT A QUESTION: Have a question or looking for a recommendation from our readers you’d like to see posted on our Facebook page?  Submit here for consideration:

Our Daughters: Your Daughter’s Online Social World

The BFF 2.0 Tour: Welcome to Your Daughter’s Social World Online

What is your daughter doing there, hunched in front of a computer, phone beeping to one side, mp3 player buzzing to the other, earbuds streaming music or video or the latest drama? Do you ever feel like she’s in another world, one you don’t understand, are too old for, or can’t figure out?

Welcome to BFF 2.0, your daughter’s online social world… I’m taking parents on a tour. Don’t worry: this tour has no technical information whatsoever. I’m going to speak in real English and keep it simple. I’m offering some big picture points about why girls are so obsessed with social media and why so much of it is making them anxious and insecure.

Stand on the edge of any playground and you’ll see a scene play out day after day: most boys play games, and most girls linger on the edges to talk. The same is true online: social media is social, and girls use technology to connect and share. Check these stats out:

  • Girls typically send and receive 50 more texts a day than boys.
  • Girls ages 14-17 are the most active, churning through 100 texts a day on average.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to carry their phones on them at all times.

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, technology helped connect girls. It was an adjunct to relationship, filling the gaps of contact that opened up between home and school. Today, technology is part of relationship itself. With gadgets more portable and accessible, the average kid ages 8-18 spends up to 8 hours a day using an electronic device. Girls move fluidly between virtual and spoken conversation, texting to each other in the same car and conducting real and virtual conversations simultaneously.

Real life is frequently experienced as a new opportunity to post or share online. A high school girl told me that the phrase “take a picture of me” now simply means, “put it on Facebook.” Another girl told me, “People go to parties in college with the intention of just having [Facebook] pictures for the night. If someone makes a joke at a party, a person will be like, oh my God, that’s the perfect title for my album.” And in 2009, a teen told Teen Vogue, “You’re not dating until you change your relationship status on Facebook.” A year later, “FBO,” or Facebook Official, became the new measure of dating legitimacy.

Many parents suspect that what’s happening online is some crazy, altogether foreign world than the one you know your daughter to inhabit. Think again. All social media does is magnify the feelings and dynamics that were there all along. In the real world, girls are obsessed with their relationships. They know a big part of their status is defined by who they sit next to, which parties they get invited to, and who they count as a “best friend.”

The same thing is happening online. Every time her phone beeps, or someone “likes” her status on Facebook, she gets a tangible message about how well (or not) her relationships are doing. Today, a socially aspirational girl must be vigilant about not only what happens in real life, but her virtual reputation — and on a new, uncharted plane of connection and coolness. That girl sitting at her laptop, working three machines at once? She’s doing a new kind of social work. It takes time, and it takes access.

That’s why girls claim they “don’t exist” if they lack a Facebook account. This is why parents sleep with confiscated laptops under their pillows; they know their daughters will do anything to get them back. And this is why girls show levels of rage and anxiety hence unseen when they lose phone or online privileges. It is precisely the value that girls place on their access to technology that illuminates its position at the heart of girls’ relationships.

But just because girls love social media doesn’t mean they know how to use it responsibly. The biggest mistake we can make is to assume that a girl “gets” technology in a way that an adult does not. Looks are deceiving. The world of BFF 2.0 has presented girls with new, unwritten rules of digital friendship, and it has posed a fresh set of social challenges.

What does a one-word text mean when someone usually types a lot? What if you and your friend are texting the same girl, but she only replies to your friend? Does she like you less? How should you handle it? Online social interactions generate situations that demand sophisticated skills. Without them, girls become vulnerable to online aggression and worse…

Related post:


Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

Our Daughters: The Importance of a Parent’s Empathy

Why a Parent’s Empathy is Vital for a Bullied Girl
…and Why It Often Goes Out the Window

When I did the original research for Odd Girl Out, I asked every bullied girl I interviewed to tell me what she needed most from her family. The answer truly surprised me. It wasn’t having the best solutions, calling the school or trying to act like everything was okay.

It was empathy.

Before you say, yeah, yeah, I figured that, hear me out. Now that I’ve been working with parents for a decade, I have seen up close how easy it is for empathy to go out the window. There are two reasons why parents struggle: First, when the alarm bells go off, we want to put out the fire. We assume – understandably – that we can make a child feel better by making her problem go away. Parents are habituated to this from the moment of a child’s birth: feed when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, hold when they cry. We bypass empathy and go straight to the problem solving.

But as your daughter grows more independent, and her peer culture becomes more influential, it becomes almost impossible for you to make her problems “go away” (in my experience, most girls come to accept that long before their parents do). In fact, peer aggression is one of the first moments many parents come to that painful realization: I’m not going to be able to control her world. I can’t fix it.

Second, empathy is painful. It involves slowing down to acknowledge and think about your daughter’s feelings of hurt, rejection or sadness. This can be an anguishing experience for parents. Connecting with these emotions can make you feel powerless and overwhelmed, so it’s understandable why many parents would prefer to spring into action.

Your daughter is hungry for empathy when she is struggling socially. Remember that girls live in a peer culture that often denies or invalidates feelings: you’re being too sensitive, I didn’t do that, you took it the wrong way, I was just kidding. Still other girls are hurt by peers who deny what they’ve done in the first place. Your empathy tells your daughter, I know this happened. I know it hurt. I see you, I love you and I’m here.

An empathic response to a bullied or targeted girl might sound like this:

  • “I’m so sorry this happened.”
  • “That sounds awful.”
  • “If I were you, I would also feel really ______.”
  • “It sounds like you’re feeling pretty _______.” That makes a lot of sense.

Empathy isn’t the same thing as expressing emotions. It’s not about sharing your feelings – it can be really uncomfortable if a parent cries or loses strength at the moment her daughter needs it most. The message sent is that you need to be taken care of, not the other way around.

To help you achieve the right balance in how you respond to your daughter, think back to when she was learning to walk. If you showed fear and panic when she slipped and fell, she’d usually sense it and wail. If you chortled, “Oops! You’re okay! Up you go!” and plucked her up calmly, she probably kept on trucking. Your concern and reassurance motivated her to continue. That’s what she needs from you now. Your courage will help sustain her when she can’t access any on her own.

Empathy isn’t the only tool at your disposal, and it’s hardly the only thing you’ll do when she’s hurting. But it’s the first step, and one not to be missed.


Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

This post is based on sections of the newly updated and revised Odd Girl Out.To get four new chapters of anti-bullying strategies and insights for girls, parents and educators, pre-order the new OGO now!

Our Daughters: Lemon Juice in Paper Cuts

BFF 2.0: Is Technology Making You Insecure?

In the latest episode, Rachel looks at the way social networking and texting can make girls compare themselves to others..


Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

Our Daughters: Being Snarky Online

BFF 2.0: Is She Really Kidding? The Problem With “Joking” Online

In the latest episode of her new series on friendship and technology, Rachel talks about how “just kidding” and “no offense” can start drama online.


Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

Our Daughters: Using Facebook to Air Conflict

BFF 2.0: Using Status Updates to Hash Out Conflicts

In the second episode of her new series, BFF 2.0, Rachel talks about using Facebook and AIM status updates to deal with friendship problems.


Rachel Simmons ♦ Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls

Rachel Simmons writes our monthly column, Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls.  Rachel is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator and coach, Rachel works internationally to develop strategies to address bullying and empower girls. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel currently serves as a consultant to schools and organizations around the world. Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and writes an advice blog for girls at TeenVogue.com. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her West Highland Terrier, Rosie, and teaches workshops for parents and girls in Northampton. Visit her website at www.rachelsimmons.com – Check out  Our Daughters: Raising Confident Girls the last Monday of every month.

Why is the National School Boards Association Selling Kids on MySpace?

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Asks National School Boards Association to Disavow Report on Social Networking

With marketers seeking twenty-four/seven access to children, it is more important than ever that advocates for children maintain their independence from the corporations that seek access to the lucrative kids market. That’s why it is so disappointing that the National School Boards Association partnered with News Corporation (owners of MySpace) and Microsoft (part owner of Facebook) to produce a report on the educational potential of social networking sites. Not surprisingly, the report reads more like industry PR than an objective look at the sites. The report makes no mention of the fact that the primary purpose of the leading social networking sites is to generate advertising revenue or that marketing for fast food, violent media, alcohol and tobacco is rampant on MySpace. It also urges local school boards to school boards to reconsider any rules against using commercial social networking sites in classrooms.

Marketing on MySpace includes ads promoting fast food giants McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box; tobacco brands including Marlboro, Camel, and Skoal; and brands of alcohol including Skyy Vodka and Captain Morgan. The Captain Morgan MySpace page explicitly promotes binge drinking and alcohol-fueled sexual activity.

Both MySpace and Facebook also plan to mine users’ profiles for data that will allow marketers to send ads targeted specifically to their interests. Facebook is also encouraging young users to allow the company to send their friends unsolicited ads disguised as personal endorsements.

You can read more about CCFC’s concerns in their press release or this article in the LA Times. And if you haven’t yet done so, please take a moment to tell the NSBA to Stop Selling Kids on MySpace. Local educators need objective, honest information – not marketing hype – to guide their efforts toward helping students grapple with the current unprecedented convergence of sophisticated, ubiquitous media technology and unfettered commercialism.

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