Tuesday, December 8, 2009

7 Things "Good Parents" Do (That Screw Kids Up for Life)

#1.Showing Them Educational Videos

You'd Think...

We've all heard of those Baby Einstein educational videos, claiming you can park your one-year-old in front of them and have him transform into a Mozart-playing, Shakespeare-quoting nuclear physicist. Makes sense, children soak up knowledge like little kid-shaped ShamWows. The more info you give them during this crucial soaking stage, the better!

But in Reality...

You may have heard that Disney is offering refunds on its Baby Einstein line of educational DVDs. This came after a research team led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis from the University of Washington showed that babies watching the popular educational videos around the age of one learn six to eight less words per hour than children who spent their afternoons putting dirt in their mouths. It's because, despite what you have been telling yourself for years, virtual interaction is never as good the real thing.

If you really want your children to learn from an early age, you need to read to them and supply the buggers with as much human-on-human interaction as possible, not park their adorable little butts in front of the fucking television. TV programs and Infant Education videos use a series of rapidly changing scenes and constantly bombard your kids with new words. With time, their itsy bitsy minds start to filter out most of the information just to help manage the constant barrage, and voila! The kids develop shorter attention spans, and eventually the food service industry claims another life.

#2.Heaping Praise On Them

You'd Think...

Your parents never told you that you were special, even after that kidnapping story you made up to hide the report card with all the Fs. Your kid will have it better. "Great job on the test, son! I loved it how you blocked the ball with your face, son! Got your girlfriend pregnant? High five, up top!"

But in Reality...

We have previously mentioned how the whole self-esteem movement turned a whole lot of people into dicks, because they emotionally can't handle anyone who doesn't boost their ego. We further theorized that this gave birth to the modern douchebag movement.
But it turns out there are effects beyond simply making people unbearable to be around. A study published in 2007 by researches from Columbia and Stanford University found that frequently-praised kids eventually came to believe that intelligence and talent were things they were born with, things which under no possible circumstances could be improved. Consequently, they avoided academic situations that presented any kind of challenge and refused to see the value in any activity that required effort, because if they were so freaking amazing, nothing worth doing should be hard, right?

As a result, their grades dropped and they developed motivation and, ironically, self-esteem issues. So the lesson here is, make your kid realize the value of hard work and honest effort before they self-tan themselves orange and pop their collars. By then, it will be too late.

#3.Warning Them About Strangers

You'd Think...

When it comes to child molestation, there is no such thing as too careful. It is important that your children understand to never do anything a stranger tells them to, and to realize the entire world is out there just waiting to murder the shit out of them for no reason.

But in Reality...

As it turns out, an overblown emphasis on "Stranger Danger" can apparently transform your children into xenophobic bigots, at least that's what professor Sue Scott from the University of Durham is saying. According to Scott, children should certainly be taught to be cautious of strangers, but what most parents are teaching their kids today causes children worldwide to freak out at the mere sight of anything out of the ordinary.

Statistically children are far, far more likely to be abducted/molested by someone the family knows than a roving child molestation gang. Teaching children to fear anyone strange or different from themselves manifests itself later as a fear of pretty much the entire outside world. By adulthood, they're locking their doors every time a Mexican walks by.

#4.Starting Them In School Early

You'd Think...

Education must not wait. Your parents waited until you were seven before sending you to school and look at how fucking sad you turned out. You'll be damned if your child suffers the same ill-fate. Is six-months old too early to start attending school? Come on, what's the worst that could happen?

But in Reality...

We hope you didn't have any plans to remodel your basement, because your kid will be living there for a very long time. A study by the National Foundation for Educational Research in the UK has concluded that children who start schooling before the age of six are more likely to drop out from higher education facilities, smoke weed and play guitar badly.

Researchers say sending kids to school before they've developed even the basic little-kid skills of a six-year-old can cause them to suffer from anxiety attacks and develop low self-esteem issues, giving them a bad attitude about the whole "going to school" thing that follows them throughout their education.

This does introduce children to the hopeless, bitter disappointment that is life and prepares them for their soul crushing future office workplace, but even those places want at least a high school diploma.

#5.Making Them Play Sports

You'd Think...

Nobody wants their child to grow up a dateless nerd, so as soon as his bones harden up, it's off to football practice. There, the guy who used to steal your lunch money and punched a girl at recess in fourth grade will teach your children important life lessons about fair play and sportsmanship, which will naturally transform them into honest, hard working adults.

But in Reality...

Remember your school days, when Steve the quarterback managed to keep passing his classes despite firmly believing that the first president of the United States was George Washington Carver? If you suspected he was cheating somehow, a study of over 5000 students from the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute seems to confirm it. According to the study, athletes are some of the most dishonest kids in school, with football players turning out the worst with over 72 percent admitting to having cheated during various examinations. Where does this attitude come from? The study suggests it might be the coaches.

But let's face it, you're not sending your kid off to practice so he can have a good time and make friends. You want some goddamn trophies, so coaches are not above teaching kids how to cut corners, feign injuries and do whatever humiliating damage they can to their opponents, because hey, nothing else matters but winning, right?

#6.Teaching Them To Be Themselves

You'd Think...

Peer pressure is the thing that makes kids smoke cigarettes, do drugs and read pornographic magazines by the time they reach middle school. As countless PSAs and after-school specials taught us, we must teach our kids to be themselves and never give two halves of a fuck about what their "friends" think.

But in Reality...

Remember that smelly kid in school, who never washed his hair, had no friends and once pissed in the sink at that party he wasn't invited to? That's your kid, without peer pressure. A study conducted at the University of Virginia showed that kids who were exposed to peer pressure around the ages of 12 and 13 turned out to be way more well-adjusted than the ones who weren't. They better understood the need to accommodate and make compromises when confronted with social pressure, rather than the "I'll just take my ball and go home" attitude they adopt otherwise.

The kids who were taught to be themselves no matter what didn't become walking clones of James Dean. They actually turned out less engaged, socially challenged and statistically less intelligent, their GPAs dropping almost an entire letter grade.

Maybe more importantly, when you actually give a damn about how people view you, it develops a skill of reading the most subtle changes in people's emotional states, leading ultimately to a heightened sense of empathy. In this socially awkward age of the Internet, it turns out peer pressure at the right time can basically give you superpowers.

#7.Giving Your Kids a Creative Name

You'd Think...

You want your kid to be special. There are a few million Daves, Bobs and Johns running around NOT being totally awesome and obviously it's all because of their boring-ass names. So you decide to name your son something original, like Malcolm, Ivan or Dicksmash McIroncock.

But in Reality...

You have just sent your flesh and blood straight into the middle of a massive man-rape in the prison shower. According to a study at the Shippensburg University, kids growing up with ordinary, popular names have a higher chance to become law abiding citizens, while all the unusually named ones should start deciding what state they want to commit their first felony in (friendly tip, skip Texas). The study lists the top 10 bad boy names in America as: Alec, Ernest, Garland, Ivan, Kareem, Luke, Malcolm, Preston, Tyrell and Walter, which we must point out are not the names of any serial killer or presidential assassin that has ever existed, so we're assuming the research is skewed in a certain direction.

The theory is that the additional attention garnered by odd and unusual names can cause peer ridicule and discrimination in the workforce, which tends to result in a few thousand Alecs and Prestons stealing toilet paper from the gas station. So do your kid a favor and give him a typical law-abiding, mentally stable name, like Michael.

It seems like it's close to impossible to raise a normal child these days, what with the violent video games and the 4chan and the childhood obesity. But if the latest research is to be believed, even the good stuff we thought we were doing for our kids is ruining them.

Yes, as it turns out the most innocent things we do to our kids every day can fuck them up worse than having the Joker shoot their parents in front of them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

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5 Steps to a Great Resume

7 seconds. Just 7 seconds. Recent studies have shown that is all the time you have to make an impression (good or bad) on a potential employer. Knowing this, it becomes apparent just how important a good resume is. Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t realize this fact - to their own peril. During my 6 plus years of writing resumes professionally for I have seen a lot of mistakes, misspellings, missteps and miscues along the way. I can help you before you make some of them, too. There are 5 basic mistakes that every job-seeker should avoid.

The first, and most important, is also the easiest to fix: poor writing. Things like typos, misspellings, verb tenses mixed and sentences butchered. A potential employer will not struggle to get through your resume. He will simply toss it into the “circular file.” Your resume must be easy to read; 7 seconds, remember?

Second, you need to use an easy-to-scan format; something one can glance over and have key details stand out. You should limit the amount of fancy formatting you do. Just because you can manipulate all of Microsoft Word’s functions doesn’t mean you have to show it here. Keep it clean and simple. What you should have are the four standard sections: Objective, Summary, Work History and Education. Put enough detail in to sell yourself but no more.

Third, and this is closely related to formatting, do not over write. This is a trap all amateur writers fall into. The best authors know less is more, and what works for books works for resumes too. Too often I have read resumes that have huge paragraphs of text explaining every single detail about their current job or even the company they currently work for. Employers and recruiters are not going to wade through volumes of text when they have another 100 or so resumes to get through. They need to know quickly and easily what you have done and what you can do. Most often a short bulleted list accomplishes this best.

Fourth, you need to tell potential employers what you are capable of doing. Often when a client sends me their resume for a professional evaluation, I see the job specs. Those could apply to anyone who has held that particular job. It is not singling them out as different, better and more capable than the rest. List your achievements, what you have done above and beyond, not just the job requirements.

Fifth, there is more than one type of resume. While just about every job seeker writing their own resume tries to make their professional life fit a chronological format, it simply is not the way to go for many people. A skills-based resume allows one to focus on abilities and potential, rather that just past achievements. An education-based resume allows employers to see your training in detail; this is especially useful for recent graduates. There really is a resume fit for every person. Experiment a little bit, and find the style that fits you best.

Follow these five rules to avoid the mistakes of you job-seeking ancestors. A well-written resume is your first and best chance to make a good impression on potential employers. Make yours count. Remember, 7 seconds goes by awfully fast.
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