Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
If you have a facebook account, you have probably seen the change.org petition calling for Amazon to stop selling a truly repulsive book called To Train Up a Child. It’s been linked to the deaths of three children.
I must live in a bubble, because yesterday was the first I’d heard of the book, which, has been in publication since 1994. The passages that have been reprinted in news reports and on blogs churn my stomach.
I try to avoid getting sanctimonious on the site, nor do I talk much about my years in the behavioral field. Now I can’t envision you guys owning this book, mostly because I live in that bubble I was talking about, but I still thought it would be a good time to go over some basic things regarding punishment. Please forgive me for writing in simplistic terms, I’m a bit rusty. It’s been about 9 or 10 years since I trained anyone on this stuff.
First, let’s start with a few vocabulary terms…
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Have you guys seen the Toys R Us ad where they trick the kids into thinking they’re going on a trip to the woods? They show kids looking bored, yawning. The teacher/leader of the group gives a very dispassionate lesson about leaves. Just when the kids are looking the most bored, he rips off his trail guide outfit and reveals he’s really taking them all to Toys R Us.
Ironically, it was the commercial youtube aired at the beginning of our trees episode for PBS. Dave and I thought, WOW! This is amazing! Look, Toys R Us is showing kids the importance of nature! How clever is this timing?! Man, Toys R Us is awesome.
And then… Boom. Psych!
Man, did I feel a) stupid and b) disgusted.
Stupid, because I was duped. I really should have known better. The disgust came when it was made clear what so many of us parents (and frankly, our kids) are up against. Why are children so often portrayed as bored and one-dimensional?
I say this not because my kids have no want for shiny, plasticy things (they have plenty, I assure you), but it makes them look like that’s the only thing they care about.
Now should Toys R Us be concerned if they’re contributing to the image that kids are materialistic and have no complexity beyond, “GIVE IT TO ME! I WANT IT!”? I don’t know. They’re selling something and hey, aren’t we all?
All I know is that it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Kids deserve more respect than that. We parents, as the people who are the actual consumers at Toys R Us, deserve more respect than that too.
For those who missed it, click here to watch it and get the rationale behind the ad.
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
We have a special guest today! Writer Shalagh Hogan is here to explore the intersection of creativity and motherhood and asks the question, Whose needs come first? -Jen
The birth of my daughter Fiona brought me such joy, I could barely contain my creative expression. I would lull her teeny tiny self back into napping bliss on my lap, simultaneously breastfeeding and writing on my laptop. I was Super Blogging Creative Woman and an Uber Mom. I was proud and complete.
But six months later, as I tried to write, that baby showed me how risky a stunt this had become. After a “maybe she’ll stop if I ignore her” period, her shrill howler monkey screeches reminded me of a lesson learned with my first child and since forgotten. The fulfillment of her baby needs and my creative expression needs can not be expected to happen in the same room at the same time. (more…)
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
A few weeks ago we talked here about defining normal: about how attached we parents get to the idea of our kids developing in exactly the same way as their peers, at the same pace, along the same paths.
What is this attachment to “normal,” exactly? Why is this notion so compelling to us as parents, the idea that we have succeeded only when we’ve so carefully groomed our child to be exactly like every other child in our social circle? (Meanwhile, most of us continue to have earnest conversations with the kids around the dinner table, explaining why we need to be accepting of children with differences, and trying to find diversity experiences to broaden their minds. Parental schizophrenia!)
Parenting’s funny though. After all the effort to make sure your kids do the right things, those things that will get them launched on the path to ‘normalcy’ (-cough- conformity -cough-), you turn around and find them splashing into the puddle down the road, digging tadpoles out of slimy water. Triumphantly they carry their swimmy specimens to the boy up the street who loves bugs and reptiles. Or you happen across your kid and his buddy with their heads deep in the Lego bin, hunting down the one 18×4 piece that’ll make all the difference to the aircraft hangar they’re building. Maybe you’ll peer out your back window and spy five boys racing up and down the treehouse ladder, one fully kitted out in Star Wars bounty hunter outfit, one draped in half of an old ninja costume and dragging a log for a makeshift gun, and one without a tshirt or shoes. (more…)
Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Ten years ago, as the anxious mom of a one-year-old girl, I found myself feverishly reading Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. No matter that it described tween and teen behavior: I wanted to be in the know. I wanted to be READY. (For the record, and with a bit of distance, I’m totally ok with us sniggering and rolling our eyes about me being That Mom.)
At the time, an older friend – in the throes of parenting teenage boys – wryly observed that what was really required was a guide to the secret lives of boys. “No one thinks that the boys worry about this stuff,” she said. “And if you buy that, you’re always going to be missing at least half of the picture.”
A decade later, Wiseman has given the mystified parents of boys that exact book. Published this summer, her book Masterminds and Wingmen (Harmony, 2013) is subtitled “Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World.” Our friends over at Cool Progeny invited me to attend a recent lecture with the author in Baltimore, and I left the event determined to make full use of this challenging roadmap to Boy World.
The book couldn’t have arrived at a better point for our family. I have a 3rd grade boy who shares less and less every week, who mysteriously bursts into tears when asked to correct homework, who would happily spend the entire sunny afternoon buried in a Minecraft screen (linked up with his buddies on my iPhone, natch), but who, at the end of the day, will still crawl into my lap in a dark bedroom as we say goodnight. (more…)
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
As a young parent, you study What to Expect with reverence and respect. The message driven home at the end of every chapter goes something like this: “every child develops at their own pace, and the milestones described here are simply intended as broad guidelines.”
Even in the midst of your reverent prostration in front of that altar of parenting books, you have to stop and laugh at that. “Ha!” you secretly whisper in your small dark heart. “They mean except MY baby, who will of course meet all the milestones early, or at least Right. On. Schedule.”
Then, you might have an early playdate where precocious Polly is rolling over sooner than your darling boy. Or she might display a powerful pincer grip on some Cheerios whilst your little Michaelmas is placing his face in a bowl of oatmeal, blowing enthusiastic, gloppy bubbles. “Well,” I hear you airily comment “my pediatrician always says those milestones are really just guidelines. I’d hate to push my child beyond his comfort zone so young.” (Don’t worry, I caught that slight chill in your voice. I get it. I was that way too, back in the day.)
Ten years into parenting, I’ve lived through more than a few awkward playdates like that. (I still laugh about the playdate I mom-failed in our first year of preschool.) With some perspective, and three kids who all eventually pincer-gripped, potty trained, and slept through the night, I realize that so much of that milestone mania was about reassuring ourselves our kid is “normal”. (more…)
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
It’s already started. Yesterday, my daughter came home from school, shut the door and started crying. She was bullied on the bus.
Two kids, one she’s had a problem with off and on over the years, teased and taunted her. They made fun of her backpack, made fun of her art, made fun of her for being a safety. Why such meanness? Because a while back, she stood up for a friend who has been the victim of merciless teasing.
It’s an old story. Kids are bullied every day. In fact, I am certain that these kids who taunted my daughter are victims of bullying themselves.
I did what I thought was right—I gave her a big hug, and let her let it all out. She told me through tears how they kept poking at her (physically), teasing her for her backpack, her artwork, making fun of her for being a safety. These are all the things that she’s proud of, that make her her. (more…)
Monday, August 19th, 2013
It’s coming. (Well, for some of you it’s already here). Back to school time is JUST around the corner.
And just before the craziness hits with homework and after school activities and play dates and lunch making and snacks, let’s take a moment to think about how we can make our homes a calmer place for our families.
I’m all about making things easy. The less complicated the better. And here are my top tips for making an easy transition to the school year and a calmer school year throughout. (more…)