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The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World will grab the attention of any upper grade or middle school student. Whether interested in science projects, bugs, getting along with others, or motivation, readers are caught up in the story from the first page to the last. Teachers, parents, and counselors will find the book useful to stimulate conversation about difficult topics like bullying, doing well in school, and family illness. Students will love the practical approach to friendship and family. Would make for a great classroom book group discussion!

Dr. Catherine Von Hatten, Educational Consultant, Retired Public School Assistant Superintendent, Teacher, and Principal

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Doris Wild Helmering’s young adult book The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World is ostensibly a story about 12-yr-old Alex who is unmotivated at school but realizes with the help of a sympathetic school counselor that he loves to learn about bugs and worms. However, this book has an unusual twist in that it is also a learning tool that provides essential information about how protein-rich insects and worms can be used to enhance worldwide nutrition.

After a few dark months of recuperating from a serious accident, Alex visits an indoor cricket farm where he encounters terrible smells and overwhelming chirping sounds. He asks a lot of questions and is inspired at the food potential of these loud, malodorous creatures. At first, Alex and his grandmother cook up a few recipes with crickets and worms in their apartment kitchen. Although his mother is at first skeptical, his grandmother, brother, and counselor encourage Alex to think big about his newfound knowledge. After a successful class science project, Alex partners with a company to raise crickets and produce “bug bars” to help feed the world.

This is an engaging tale that rings true regarding a boy’s enthusiasm for insects and application of what he learns to help alleviate world hunger. Illustrations by John Dyess also help make this book rich with visual energy. Endnotes offer readers additional information about the role insects can play in meeting global food needs and activities that encourage children to think more about nutritional protein sources for food.

By offering nuts and bolts information about nutrition in insects, Doris Helmering has provided an unusual twist on the story of a child who doesn’t like school and feels that he is not meant to do anything important. This work would appeal to upper-elementary and middle school students and their parents, and even adult book clubs could enjoy this story within a story and might even be inspired to taste a few crunchy crickets.

Patricia Gregory, PhD — Assistant Dean for Library Assessment Professor, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University

Now Available on Amazon

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When Mary walked into my office for her therapy appointment, she wasn’t a happy camper. When I asked her what was going on, she said she was furious at her daughter, Alice, who’s seven. In Mary’s evaluation, her daughter is extremely rebellious.

“How so?” I asked.
“If I try to hurry her up, she slows down.”
“If we tell her she can’t go outside to play, she runs out the door anyway. Or she’s supposed to stay in the backyard, but I find her at the neighbors down the street.”

“This morning I had a baby sitter lined up. But Alice didn’t want to stay with the sitter. So I decided to let her come along to this appointment, with the stipulation that she would have to sit quietly in the waiting room.”
“We were pulling out of the driveway when Alice realized she’d forgotten her book. I let her go back in the house but told her to hurry. Five minutes later I had to get out of the car and go get her. There she was in the kitchen fixing herself a glass of juice. I should have left her at home, but I didn’t.”

As Mary and I continued talking, we heard a little knock on my door and then it opened. There stood Alice. Mary looked at her daughter and said firmly, “You can’t come in here.” The daughter stepped back and it looked as though she was going to leave and close the door.

The mother then added, “I told you before we left the house that you’d have to wait for me in the waiting room.” With this comment, the little girl grinned ever so slightly and stepped into the room. It was evident to me that the power struggle was on.

As an observer, I suspect that if Mary hadn’t said anything more to her daughter after her first comment, but had immediately turned her attention back on the two of us talking, Alice would have closed the door and gone back into the waiting room. But when her mother gave her an additional warning, the little girl must have felt challenged and she reacted.

I saw a similar dynamic take place several days later when I was working with a mother and her adolescent daughter. They were seeing me because the mother was feeling more than annoyed at her daughter’s rebelliousness. The girl talks back, doesn’t come home on time, refuses to do her chores, and helps herself to her mother’s clothes whenever she wants.

During the session the daughter started twirling, lasso-style, a long chain she was wearing with a large polished stone attached to the end of it. The mother looked at her daughter and said, “Please stop that.” The daughter looked at her mother and continued to twirl the chain.

Again the mother said, “Stop,” but this time she said it with a little playful laugh.
At this point a noticeable grin came over the daughter’s face, she started swinging the necklace more vigorously, and the power struggle was on.

Children need to flex their rebellious muscle once in a while as a way to reach independence, and parents need to take on their children to teach them how to behave. Sometimes, however, we parents inadvertently encourage our children to get into bigger power struggles
than need be.

For example, it’s understandable why Mary told her daughter a second time not to come into my office. She already had to deal with several other issues that morning. Too, she was probably feeling anxious about how I perceived her as a parent, and she didn’t want her therapy time wasted.

But sometimes one firm no works better than two. If a parent says no and immediately turns her attention elsewhere, she closes off a power struggle by refusing to participate. One no doesn’t always work – rebellious children are tenacious – but sometimes it does.
In the second situation, the mother might have outsmarted her daughter and said nothing. I’m sure her daughter would have gotten tired of twirling. When children do something that is obviously designed to get them negative attention, sometimes it’s better not to give it to them.

Once the mother decided to confront her daughter, however, she needed to hang tough and stick with the confrontation. The Mother’s little laugh could certainly be interpreted as encouraging her daughter to be rebellious. Or it could signal her daughter that she wanted to stay friends with her. When you decide to take on a child’s rebelliousness, you must be willing to take the risk that a child is not going to like you at that moment. At the same time, her negativism toward you won’t last forever. And confronting bad behavior is a necessary part of child rearing.

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Treat your parents with respect and they will respect you.

I’ve talked to a number of parents who feel their grown children do not treat them with respect.

Here are a few things parents have said they wanted:

Please say hello and act like you’re happy to see me when I come for a visit. And when I call on the telephone, show some interest in what we’re talking about.

And please, please answer the telephone sometimes when I call. I know you’re available.
Ask about my life and what I’m doing.

You know I have little money. It would be nice if you helped me pay some of my doctor bills.

Respect my right to redecorate and change things in my house. Don’t tell me I don’t need a new sofa or family room furniture. I’m not ready to be buried yet.

Ask before you help yourself to food in the refrigerator.

If I tell you I don’t like something you’re doing, don’t punish me by not seeing me or not talking to me.

Sometimes invite me to one of your parties so I can meet your friends.

Just because you’ve changed religions, don’t ridicule mine.

Offer to bring something when you come to dinner.

Accommodate my schedule sometimes when we make a date to get together. I have a life too.

Once in a while come for dinner and stay the whole evening.

Stop ridiculing me when I tell you about something I’ve read about vitamins, or diet, or changes in the laws. I’m not always mistaken or stupid.

Tell me about your life and the people you’re dating.

Call back when you say you’re going to call back.

Say yes or no to an invitation in a timely manner. Don’t keep me on hold until the last day.

Remember my birthday and on time.

Be gracious and thank me when I give you a gift, rather than acting as though it’s too much trouble to open it.

Listen and believe me when I tell you I’m tired. Don’t push me to go on to one more store.

Invite me to dinner sometime.

Take a little time out of your life to remember to see your grandparents. They always took time with you when you were little.

Be on time for dinner or call when you’ll be late.

Pay back the money you owe me or talk to me about it.

Stop being critical of my taste in clothes.

If you borrow one of my appliances, return it without my having to ask.

Don’t get mad if I tell you I can’t baby sit, and don’t expect me to baby sit every weekend.

Stop talking about what I did wrong when I raised you. Tell me what I did right.

Give me a hug and a kiss when you leave.

Treat me as nicely as you treat your best friend.

Following these requests won’t solve all problems between parents and grown children. But it certainly sets the stage for a more respectful relationship.

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What happens when the parent-child relationship changes?
When children grow up, the parent-child relationship is destined to change. When both are adults, it’s time to change the way they relate and communicate. This, however, does not come easily.

Grown children speak out to their parents:

Respect that my schedule is different from yours. Try not to call too late or during our dinner. And when I can’t talk, be understanding.

Realize I can’t telephone you every day and understand that my not calling has nothing to do with love.

Don’t try to make me feel guilty because I don’t attend church every week.

Don’t tell me what other kids do for their parents.

Don’t talk about my father’s or mother’s shortcomings and expect me to take your side.

Please be understanding when I turn down your invitations – I have a very busy life.

Don’t expect my political viewpoints to be the same as yours.

When I share things such as I’m getting a dog, or we’re thinking of moving, don’t become negative and try to talk me out of it.

Don’t go on about everyone’s problems or how bad the world is.

If I share one of my problems with you, don’t minimize it and say I have nothing to worry about.

When I do nice things for you please be appreciative.

Compliment me.

Don’t always talk about my brothers’ and sisters’ accomplishments.

When you come over for dinner, please offer to help but don’t take over.

Don’t talk against me to my children.

Treat me like an adult, with respect.

Parents and grown children desire a good relationship, but sometimes it’s not clear how to get there. Evaluate the suggestions I’ve given. Then ask yourself: Do you need to do anything differently?

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Pouting closes off communication channels between parent and child.

Dear Pouting Parent,

Did you know that pouting closes off communication?

Pouting says I refuse to be close.

Pouting is a form of anger.

Parent, you can’t fix the problem when you pout.

It’s okay to be quiet and back off from your child when you’re ready to chew a nail because of his or her behavior. At the same time, answer your child when she tries to talk to you. If she tries to make small talk, understand that it is her way of saying, “Let’s be friends” and her attempt to get back in your good graces.

At some point, discuss her infraction and what you would like to have happen differently in the future. For example, you might say, “I’m very disappointed in the way you acted when your friends were over. As an apology and a gesture of good will, I’d like you to take out the trash and shred that stack of papers in my office. Once you do these chores, I’ll put away my bad feelings, and we can be friends again.”

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Here’s a far too familiar family drama.

Bobby comes in from playing and heads for the refrigerator. He stands in front of it, surveys its contents and grumbles, “We never have anything to eat.”

Mom, already frustrated from cleaning up the four messes that Bobby made earlier that day, says sarcastically, “Then what do you call the stuff you’ve been shoveling in your mouth? And close that refrigerator. It’s not an air conditioner, you know.”

Dad sitting at the kitchen table, gets into the act and says, “He’s a growing boy dear, what do you expect?”

Bobby responds, “Yeah, Mom, I’m a growing boy.”

Mom gives Dad the evil eye and says, “And who invited you into the conversation?”

Dad answers, “Just trying to be helpful, dear.”

Now Bobby looks at both parents and says,”I hope you two are not going to fight the whole night.”

“That will be enough,”Dad replies.

Within two minutes, this very typical family has traveled the triangle and everyone has had his or her turn at being a Rescuer, a Victim and a Persecutor.

How did it all start?

When Bobby left four messes in the kitchen and didn’t clean up after himself, Bobby became a Persecutor. When Mom took responsibility and cleaned up the messes, Mom became a Rescuer and defined her son as Victim.

A persecutor on the triangle is a person whose behavior is hostile and angry. The Persecutor usually “gets” people with nasty remarks, sarcasm, and hostile behavior, but denies or discounts the fact that he’s angry.

A Rescuer is a person who takes care of people who don’t need to be helped or who takes care of people when they don’t want to be helped. In both instances, the Rescuer discounts the other person’s ability to take care of himself.

A Victim is a person who acts as though he can’t do something for himself when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Victim discounts his ability to take care of himself.

When Bobby walked into the kitchen and grumbled, “There isn’t anything to eat,” Bobby became the Persecutor and Mom moved from Rescuer to Victim.

Mom, however, made a fast shift from Victim to Persecutor when she commented about the food that Bobby has been shoveling into his mouth and the fact that the refrigerator was not a cooling system.

Dad hopped on the triangle with his comment, “He’s a growing boy.” Dad became Bobby’s Rescuer and Mom’s Persecutor.

Bobby, taking permission from Dad to persecute Mom, responded to the invitation with his own persecution: “Yeah, I’m just a growing boy.”

Mom, unwilling to stay Victim, came up swinging with,”Who invited you into this conversation?”

And on, and on . . . Which, of course, leads to the moral of my story: With so much drama in the family, who needs television?

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