Children: The Forgotten Crisis

Successful Relating:
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.  Editor                                                                                   Children: The Forgotten Crisis

April, 2009

In this issue:
1. Welcome
2. Children: The Forgotten Crisis
3. Commodity or Community
4. Awareness Creates Choice
5. Upcoming Events

1. Welcome
Welcome. Mother's day is only nine days away.  Have you have heard the
saying?  "When Momma is happy, everyone is happy, and when Momma isn’t happy, nobody's happy. Why?   Because mothers look out for the happiness of their children. Thisgives them an expanded view that includes the happiness of everyone.  Today, the children in our society are in crisis. This e-newsletter looks at this crisis and explores a solution. It is related to women's joy. Special for women, I am giving a workshop on joy at the end of the month.
2.  Children:  The Forgotten Crisis  

With the current depression in the United State’s economy, many are becoming aware of the limitations of a society driven by money alone. While much attention has been given to the impact of the economy on jobs, housing, and the environment, an area that is frequently overlooked is the impact of a money-oriented economy on the development of children.

David Myers in 2000, noted the changes that occurred in our society as the
number of material products increased. In 2000, he notes, we were able to purchase twice as many products as in 1960.  In the same time period, however, the divorce rate doubled, the teen suicide rate tripled, violent crime quadrupled, prison rates quintupled (many inmates commit their crimes after getting into  drugs as teens) and there are soaring rates of depression (Christianity Today, April 24, 2000).

Meanwhile, research increasingly shows the importance of family and community involvement in rearing healthy, caring, responsible children. Rather than expensive videos or toys, kids require families and communities
that are aware and care. Because we are aware of this, we have options. We can choose to see children as a commodity, or as part of a community. 

3.  Children:  Commodity or community?

Children as a Commodity:  A number of writers, such as Henry Giroux (2009) and Juliet Schor (2005) have brought to our attention the role of corporations in commoditizing children.  Giroux (2009) reports that children and teens, because of their value as consumers, have become major targets for powerful corporate marketing and financial forces. 

Corporate America, Giroux reports, valuing children as commodities, spends billions a year on shaping children’s identities and lives.  He notes, that even at age one, babies may be watching "Teletubbies" eating the food of its "promo partners" Burger King and MacDonald's. These videos he says, are part of the grooming of children as consumers, who in turn influence the spending patterns of their parents.

Rather than seeing the need to protect children, Giroux states, "The worth of
young people is measured through the potentially barbaric calculations of
finance, exchange value and profitability." One consequence is that many of our children will confront a future that offers little hope for happiness and well being.

Children Need Community:  At the same time, we have increasing amountsof information about what it takes to raise healthy, caring responsible children. Rather than spending money on fancy toys and entertainment, we can provide them with common, ordinary, caring activities. Search Institute, after reviewing extensive research, identified forty developmental assets that are needed for raising healthy children.

It makes sense that children need a caring family, a caring community, boundary setting, organized activities, support for learning, support for developing social skills and a positive identity (Scales, et. al. 2000). Television is not on the list.

Youth with more of these assets not only show fewer problems (violence, drug and alcohol use, depression) but also show more evidence of thriving (school success, leadership, helping others, physical health). You may learn more about these assets at the Search Institute Website.

4.  Awareness Gives Us a Choice:

We can blindly follow corporate dictates, or we can become informed and empowered, taking responsible action in our communities and homes, right where we are, one moment at a time.

Which is more attractive to you? Which do you think has more influence? 
It is a community that is aware and cares. It also takes connection and organization. One of the most powerful forces that holds our society together is women's friendships. When women cultivate their internal strength
and faith in life itself, it can be very powerful. This is women's joy.

Joy, especially inner joy, is much more that being happy with a pleasurable turn
of events.  Arising from within, joy is the capacity to maintain a patient
and persistent attitude in the face of adversity.  It is a faith and a desire
to benefit life itself.  It is one of the keys to successful change. I will be having a workshop on women’s joy at the end of the month.

Join us and become empowered!

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice


*Giroux, H.A.  Commodifying  Kids:  The Forgotten Crisis.
*Myers, David.  Christianity Today, 2000, April 24.
*Scales, P.C., Benson, P.L., Leffert, N. & Blyth, E. A.  Contributions of developmental assets to the prediction  of thriving among adolescents. Applied Developmental  Science, 4, 27-46.
*Shor, Juliet.  Born to Buy.  New York: Scribner, 2005.
5.  Announcements

May 18:  Teleseminar with Dr. Stan Fine Complementary, 7:00 - 8:00 PM, CDT.

Sign up at

May 30: Workshop for Women:  The Joy Spillover

Check it out at


© Copyright 2009 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact information.  However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

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Successful Relating

The Lost Child

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D., Editor

To subscribe or unsubscribe, see below.

December 2007

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  The Lost Child 
3.  Renewed Hope
4.  Announcements

1.  Welcome

Welcome. This is the holiday season, the time for celebrating, renewal,
and hope.  When you look over this last year, what has touched you the
most? Did you get what you wanted? Or, would you have liked more to happen? 
How has this affected your intentions for next year?
What I received was different than what I had expected, even better. This can
also happen to you. Let me share my story.

The Lost Child

It was December 2002, and I was in Central Missouri, doing yet another investigation for an inmate on death row.  As an expert witness in human development, I had been asked to testify on the early childhood factors that impacted the development of his personality.

Was this person a monster, an evil person?  Or, was there another story?  As I saw all too frequently, there was another story, one of a lost child – a child that had fallen between the cracks of a busy, fragmented world.

The pattern was similar to many I had seen previously; poverty, broken family, school problems, shame, blame, and guilt. As in the rest of my investigations, the crime had been committed by age 18.  The child's most basic need, to be connected and significant, had not been met.  Instead, it had been replaced
with fear, anger, drugs, and crime. 

The choice now was death or life in prison. And, he was not the only one. The prison business is one of the fastest growing in the country.

I was concerned. Must it be this way?  No. We have enough information to do more for our children. It was then that I decided to shift gears, and use my background in human development and psychology to touch the hearts and minds of the community to effect a positive impact for change. 

3.  Renewed Hope

Over the last five years I reinvented my career.  I sought out advanced techniques to better access the early developmental emotional states and patterns. Then I delved in positive psychology, the study of character strength and virtue, and
in the skills needed for successful, healthy relationships. Finally, it all came together with a deeper understanding of the law of attraction. 

This year, my story is different.  Again, I was asked to serve as an expert witness
in Central Missouri, -- this time to reunite a child with the biological parent.

In the courtroom, faces were grim and pinched, grievances had been expressed, and the air was tense. An infant had been placed in alternative care and local groups had voiced concerns.  Children in foster care had died.  Immediate
placement of a child was not always better than the child remaining with the parent.

This time I was most grateful to be able to speak to the character strengths, virtues, and developmental assets present in the family -- generosity, perseverance, spirituality, and to me, the most powerful, forgiveness. 

The judge ruled in favor of including an evaluation of not only potential problems,
but also of the developmental assets, virtues and strengths in the home. This ignited a broader, more positive approach. The child was reunited with the biological parent.  

What touched me most deeply about this story was the power of the community to work together for good.  Once they were made aware of the bigger picture, their perspective shifted; instead of making complaints they focused on working together as a community in the best interest of the child.     

Our children are our hope for the future. Often, the voice of the child is hidden,
both within ourselves and within the children in our lives. Once it is honored
and expressed,and our higher ideals are acknowledged, the negative can be transcended.
We can build a new future. I hope you include this renewal in your intentions for next year.  Thank you for being my very best gift, the gift of being YOU.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

5.  Announcements

Women, would you like to experience more flexibility in your life, more peace at
home, and true wealth?  Then come join me for our workshop on Saturday afternoon, January 19th, 2008. 

“For Women:  Secrets to Wealth and Peace”

Call me at 314-729-2855 or visit:


© Copyright 2007 Alice Vlietstra. All rights reserved.

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Successful Relating
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