Posts tagged under Parenting. Show all posts.
Kids need structure—they crave it, according to the experts. And what happens when you shake up that structure and introduce the kind of change that even mature and responsible adults (like us) can’t handle? Well, I can tell you from personal experience this past week that your child will turn into someone you have never seen before. But if it does happen to you, don’t panic because you will get your child back soon enough.
This past week my 10 year-old son switched schools—yes, mid-year. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I thought he would accept it and embrace the challenge like any new sport or team he has joined in the past. Like going to camp, maybe?
Not so much.
Apparently, I forgot about the structure part of life that we had supported for so long. I forgot that he had been in the same school for seven out of his 10 years—that’s almost a lifetime for him. So we considered for a few days—is the change too much? Or is it actually a good thing? Will the anxiety of adapting to a new environment be damaging or affect his learning process?
When we told him the news, he went from being the nicest kid in the world to the craziest kid in the world. Clearly, just thinking about the change was too much for him. We knew the only way for him to accept it was to get him into the classroom and learn from experience. Sure enough, we are on day five and he has figured it out. There have been a few tears and a lot of (very) loud discussions, but we are through the worst of it.
As parents, we are reminded that change is a reality of life. Whether you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, our kids benefit from learning how to navigate through it at some stage. There will be a time for most parents when we are faced with making a tough decision on behalf of our children that we feel is right, but that we know they won’t understand. Those are the toughest decisions to make and even tougher to execute because they usually involve some kind of change.
The best advice I received through our process was to follow my instincts and stick to my convictions. I’m glad I did.
Tell me a tough love story of yours. I am interested to hear it.
I’ve been reading all of the amazing stories and inspirational words from the parents of the McDonald’s® Olympic Hopefuls Program. It makes me so proud of our Canadian athletes and their parents now that the Games that they have been working and training for their whole lives are starting. It also strikes me that the lessons learned from these families are not specific to elite athletes. The messages are all consistent, with love and support being the common thread throughout. What else would give these kids the confidence they need to be so successful?
As a mom of two tween boys who are active in just about every sport out there, I can appreciate the challenges that Alex Despatie’s mom, Christiane, writes regarding scheduling and logistics taking over the family routine. Driving to, and from, practices and games while trying to fit in a healthy meal (fit for an elite athlete) is no easy feat!
Having said that, there is still always time for a family game of Scrabble by the fireplace as long as you make it a priority. That’s why I was heartened to read that the Dionne family do that as well. The busier and more hectic life gets, the greater the need to regroup as a family. That gives kids (whether they are athletes or not) the rest and the grounding they need.
Another one of my favourite posts was written by Janny and Joan Arendz, parents of Paraympian, Mark. They speak of how Mark inspires them and everyone around him every day. His determination, but most of all his bravery, is what inspires them as parents to be better people. This is seriously good reading for any parent.
Look for upcoming posts from Manon Goulet, speed skater Charles Hamelin’s mom, who will be sending us posts live from the Games.
So we have common themes of support: eating healthy meals, lots of sacrifice and spending time together. What struck me the most is that these families all really like each other. They are bonded with the same stuff that connects most families but their bonds run deeper because they share the same goals. Perhaps that is what keeps them so close.
I know I have learned a great deal from these remarkable families, especially the part about having common goals that everyone works toward. They might not be Olympic ones, but they are yours and the whole team can work together to reach them.
What are your family goals for this year? I would love to hear them.
Becoming a mom means you’ll never be the same person again—I think we moms can all agree about that. But exactly who that new person is really depends on you. Some of us feel more ‘whole’ with a baby by our side; others feel torn with our varied roles. Some of us are happy to put others needs first 24/7; others need more ‘me-time’ to recharge.
With Mother’s Day coming up, we want to learn how becoming a mother has changed you. Do you worry more? Shower less? Fight with your partner more? Fight with your mom less? Share some thoughts with us on your ‘mom milestones’ and be entered for your chance to win this gorgeous lifestyle bag from SoYoung Mother valued at $150. It’s got features you can’t even dream of and will take you through all the stages of parenthood.
And take it from us, every stage is as wonderful and rewarding as the previous one.
Enter here and good luck.
(View contest rules. Contest closes April 30, 2010)
One of the most basic instincts we have as mothers is to keep our kids alive. That’s why safety is always of paramount importance to us at SavvyMom. But let’s face it, while we’re busy keeping them alive, we’re also spending a lot of time in the car driving them around.
So, with that in mind, I wanted to share this video with you that a friend of mine sent to me. I think it’s beautifully done and it serves as a reminder to cherish what we have and to keep our kids and family safe.
I know I’m grateful for my family and that we now have the right tools to keep them as safe as we can. I am also grateful to my friend for sending it to me.
Car seat safety is always a concern of moms, we know. What is the biggest fear you have about your child’s safety?
Here’s a great job description for parents that made its way into my inbox recently. I liked it so much, I found myself reading it over, forwarding it to friends, reading it out loud in the office and smiling and nodding a lot.
Now that my boys are getting a bit older, I can relate to the part about endless sports tournaments and being hated (temporarily) until someone needs $5. But no matter what the age of your children, there is something in this that you will relate to—especially the end. But I won’t give it away, you can read for yourself. (Ed note: my favourite part is the compensation package.)
POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION:
WAGES AND COMPENSATION:
With a title like that, how could it not catch your eye? Especially if you’re a busy working mom with three kids born within 3.5 years of each other, who are all now old enough to give you lip but not old enough to drive themselves to their many different activities and sports practices, or to remember to brush their teeth! So before I even got started reading it, I wondered whether it would resonate with me. I can’t say it’s all roses around here all the time.
The article starts out with a series of statistics from a number of studies, all of which conclude that having children does not make you happier. So why do people choose to do something that, while good for the preservation of the human race, does not help them individually? (Reading the comments on the article on nymag.com, I was amazed by how many people were sharing—or is that admitting—that they didn’t want to have kids as they enjoyed their life just as it was and even having houseplants was too much of a commitment.)
But perhaps, the article goes on to say, we once did enjoy parenting (after all, having children was more of an economic asset as they could help around the farm). Today, the experience of raising children has fundamentally changed.
Reasons for this change include the pressure of (parentally-supervised) homework, lack of extended family nearby to help out, and too many organized activities. (Just as I was writing this, I came across another very interesting article on children and competitive sports and the impact on family time which referred to the Youth Sports Arms Race—need we say more). As one mom is quoted about parenting today: “There are just. So. Many. Chores.” Another reason given is the abundance of choices parents have to make today, starting from the variety of sleep-training methods and organic diapers to $1,000 strollers.
It’s not all bad news though, and the article concludes by sharing some thoughts on studies which correlate ‘purpose’ with happiness. Parents are less likely to experience the ‘moment-to-moment’ happiness but also less likely to experience regret for things they have not done and more likely to experience a deep sense of gratification and delights.
If you read it, I would love to know what you thought.
Parenting is the toughest job there is. It’s not just the first few months of sleep deprivation—it’s more about the fact that as soon as you think you have it almost figured out, you move into the next phase. The job of a parent doesn’t get any easier with experience—as evidenced by the fact that after about 15 years of parenting you realize your skills really haven’t improved at all.
All parents are clear about the degree of difficulty involved in their job, but not all of them admit it. Those non-admitters are the ones who are not to be trusted in my books. I don’t trust a parent who acts like they have it all figured out and I certainly don’t believe that their life is any better or easier or happier than anyone else’s.
Take Amy Chua, for example. She’s a Yale law professor and author of a new book entitled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which examines the cultural differences between Chinese and American mothers’ approaches to parenting. An article from The Wall Street Journal titled ‘Why Chinese Mothers are Superior’ pretty much sums it all up in the headline. Amy Chua thinks she has it all figured out. Her autocratic ‘Chinese mother’ approach to parenting is what produces straight A students, and successful adults. No A-minuses allowed. No sleepovers, no boyfriends, no sports.
Not surprisingly, this article has sparked huge debates online—dubbed the ‘global mommy wars’—as a debate over Eastern and Western values and how they project into parenting. It’s all very interesting, but I don’t wish to get into the back and forth on which parenting style is better. My issue is not about her strict rules (I support strict rules and fully endorse her belief in hard work—for the record). I just don’t buy her self-righteous attitude that her way—or that of what she refers to as the ‘Chinese mother’—is what produces high-achieving, superior children. It’s just not as easy and straightforward as she describes, and most parents would agree with me that there is no blueprint for success when it comes to parenting. I also question her values with respect to measuring ‘success’.
Here are a few questions I would like to raise on this issue. If you have any answers or comments, please share them below.
I’ll leave you with what my friend Kathy Buckworth had to say on the topic:
“While Tiger Mom might try to convince you that she rules the roost and what she says goes, the fact of the matter is, if you’re spending 99% of your leisure time forcing your children to practice the violin and to do their homework for three hours a night, I’m pretty sure at this point the kids have taken over your ENTIRE life.”
And where is the balance in that?
It’s a boy! It’s a girl!
Rarely do you hear: We’re not telling.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about Derek Stocker and Kathy Witterick, a Toronto couple who made the decision to keep their third child’s gender a secret and raise him or her as, well… an X. The older siblings have free reign at clothing stores, choosing from boys and girls clothing as they please. They started the family trend of living ‘gender neutral’ but are still acknowledged as boys. This prompted the parents to take the plunge with their last child. Their rationale? They feel they’re giving him the true freedom to be who he wants to be without being ‘branded’ by gender conventions. The debate? That the parents are forcing their own ideological values on a child who has to struggle now against bullying and other issues that come with having no ‘gender’. There is also a strong point in favour of the fact that by taking a stand against gender, they are drawing much more attention to the identity issue.
This social experiment has received a lot of feedback from readers who are both highly critical or supportive of the couple’s decision, and the couple have finally issued their own response to the frenzy. Here’s some interesting discussion we found on the mommy blogs including Emma Waverman of embracethechaos.ca and Karen Green of The Bad Moms Club.
There are many potential ramifications for their decision on social, psychological and (let’s face it) logistical levels, but the question I pose is this: are they truly being ‘neutral’ by not allowing their child to have a gender?
The parents claim to be standing up against the societal expectations and pressures that come with gender labels: something that in the 1950’s I could see being an issue. But rather than actually make a ‘neutral’ decision, which would be to not put weight on whatever sex their child is and offer her or him a variety of options as s/he grows up (as they are currently doing with their first two sons), they are going to the opposite extreme and actually imposing a ‘non’ sex on their baby. By doing so, they are in fact putting major emphasis on gender, or ‘non’ gender as the case may be, rather than simply letting their child be a child which, they claim, is their ultimate goal.
Even more so, by introducing the idea to the public, they are adding even more pressure to both their baby as s/he grows up, and their current children who now have a secret to hold. Their psychological experiment has become a political one as well, and is that really fair to put that on the shoulders of a baby?
Parenting has become much more complicated in the past 30 years for a multitude of reasons, requiring all of us to make decisions about things like Internet exposure, organic food versus conventional and more. But there is a big difference between choosing to keep your kids away from watching TV as a learning experiment, and isolating your child in a society that (whether you agree or not) does indeed classify between males and females.
Is it fair to put Baby Storm in this situation? We’d love to know where you stand on the issue.
June is almost over and I, for one, am not sad that the first summer seasonal month is coming to an end. That’s a heavy statement for one who likes to cherish every bit of summer, but I think most moms would agree that June is as crazy as December. End of school now means graduations (nursery school grads are very sweet but really?), then there are the gifts, the dance recitals, end-of-year parties, cupcakes and track meets…In fact, we are running a poll asking moms which month they find more exhausting and found that 30% said June was worse than December.
How many of us have asked the question (maybe not out loud)…“How did our parents live through this stress, or did they?” I can’t help but think they did not. And we turned out OK, right?
Then someone sent me this parenting-themed article from the New York Times about whether or not the amount we do for our kids has any impact at all on their happiness. It doesn’t speak directly to the June craziness, but it does allude to how much our generation does as parents.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should undo the good we are doing, but I think we could all use a dose of ‘keep it in check’. This article is an interesting read at a time when we are all gearing up for the summer months, and looking for ways to keep the kids entertained and happy.
Have a read through and let me know if you think we are doing too much for our kids? More importantly, answer me this: who are we really doing it for—us or them?
We had the pleasure of having Amy’s mother, Brenda stay and help us out for a full 10 days after Baxter’s birth. She only planned to come for a few days (bless her heart, she didn’t want to be intrusive), but I threatened to tether her to the banister if she planned to leave early. It’s great having a grandma to help out, offer sage advice, expect the unexpected and allow some brief periods of respite and reflection. Brief.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family. It’s been a veritable deluge of onesies, battery-operated chairs, teething giraffes, funny hats, diaper layer cakes, cards, cash and well wishes. We’re not sure what we’d do without the anecdotes and advice. We’re not the types to ‘go it alone’, nor are we the types to research topics ad nauseum (my siblings got that DNA). But that doesn’t stop me from making quasi-medical pediatric observations I personally consider as truths until such time that I am told differently.
For example, Baxter can get quite fussy at certain times of the day. No matter the time or place however, if strapped into his Baby Bjorn (pre-owned), Baxter will quickly lose consciousness. This is shocking as, until now, I’ve never noticed how terrible my gait is: uneven, clunky and of course, very fast. His head is thrown to-and-fro, yet he remains as limp as a blacked-out rodeo cowboy. ‘Doctor Bond’ believes this is because he slept in-vitro while Amy was out and about, rockin’ and rollin’. It’s his comfort zone. He’ll love my mother’s driving when we visit this summer.
So this post is dedicated to all our friends and family, a wonderful melody of disparate folks that orbit our little Baxter and happily pick up pieces or explain where they go (after we wipe the puke off them).
My job is all about adapting schedules, expectations and deliverables around clients’ unique needs. Adapt and deliver, that’s what I do best…but baby Baxter messes with my head. Just when you think he’s got a schedule, my basis for that conclusion disappears and all new ‘habits’ take hold.
We enjoyed two nights of bliss last week by putting Baxter down rather early in the evening. We cooked and ate our dinner while he slept blissfully in his bassinet on another floor of the house. We nestled on the sofa and caught up on some television (why this feels like a victory, I have no idea) then before our bedtime, we gave him a good feeding and a pit stop. Sweet.
For two evenings, we relished in this newfound routine. We turned a corner. Parenthood was allowing us some peace and time to ourselves. There was no turning back, we could only move onward and upward.
This is where the experienced moms are rolling their eyes or perhaps laughing a little. Of course those two days feel like a mirage now. For a full week we attempted to recreate our fleeting success—to almost superstitious efforts: “I’m sure we turned this light off and had the red blanket over here and, OH NO the temperature and humidity are all off in this room”. We were back to confused, tired new parents, seemingly outwitted by our own progeny.
But last night was different. As always, in our futile robotic reproduction we put Baxter down early and began doing whatever we could before we would be interrupted. Exhausted from a hot Sunday out, we started to do what we could to relax. Having learned something, we sat down to watch Marley & Me presuming it to be a vacuous light comedy we could half-watch. Well we watched it all (I bawled—who knew it was a vacuous modern day Old Yeller minus the froth?). Amy and I were then able to tidy up, chat, snuggle and… well, this is a family blog but let’s just say I can easily adapt to one evening a week like last night.
Last week was all about kids growing up too fast. This week we’re talking about parent–anoia and over-the-top discipline tactics.
Are you free-range or just a chicken? In an article making the rounds on the Internet this month, one mom confesses she suffers from ‘parent-anoia’. Her symptoms include referring to her daughter by a code name when they’re in public together (because of course, some creepy pedophile might learn the child’s real name and use that to lure her away), wriggling beside her daughter, commando-style, through kiddie tunnels at the playground in order to thwart any would-be abductors who might be hiding in there, and panicked trips to the emergency ward to have her daughter treated for bumps and bruises that could easily be handled by a Band-Aid and a little Polysporin.
It feels like 2008 all over again when Lenore Skenazay wrote an article about encouraging her then nine year-old son to get himself home on the New York subway. To Ms. Skenazy’s way of thinking, parents, ‘see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range’. The article sparked such a heated debate in the blogosphere that you’d think Ms. Skenazy was asking her son to walk off a cliff instead of just finding his own way home. Don’t get us wrong—we’re big believers in keeping our kids safe—but we also have to let them grow up. I’m pretty serious about safety but I’m quite confident in saying that parent-anoia is not savvy at all. We can’t raise our children in a culture of fear. There are nice people out there, and we have to instill some level of trust and faith in humanity (read: strangers). Not everyone is a bad guy. That’s why I think parent-anoia is so not savvy. Still the question remains: where’s the fine line between their safety and our fear?
We keep our kids safe by disciplining them when they make a mistake, but what if your chosen methods just aren’t working and you’re at the end of your rope? That was the case with two moms who made the news this month. An Australian mother caused an uproar when she forced her 10 year-old son to wear a sign proclaiming, ‘Do not trust me. I will steal from you as I am a thief’ while standing in a park as his family ate lunch nearby. She also made her son wear Shrek ears and write lines (presumably saying, ‘I will not steal’) over and over again. I know Aussies have their own way of doing things but this is a serious case of not so savvy—no matter where you’re from.
As bad as that sounds, it pales in comparison to the discipline doled out by Jessica Beagley, a.k.a. The Hot Sauce Mom, who was found guilty of child abuse when she poured hot-sauce into her seven year-old son’s mouth as a disciplinary tactic. Her son, who was adopted from Russia at age five, suffers from a challenging emotional disorder due to early deprivation. Beagley claims she resorted to this extreme measure when nothing else worked. Maybe so, but the real issue I have with this mom is that she sent a video-tape of the encounter to the Dr. Phil show. Yes, that’s right. Beagley sent a tape of herself pouring hot sauce into her son’s mouth to the Dr. Phil show in hopes of being featured as an ‘Angry Mom’ on the show’s ‘Mommy Confessions’ segment. It’s disturbing on so many levels and definitely not so savvy in my books. It’s a topic that’s not worthy of discussion beyond this point.
Speaking of punishment, in what-goes-around-comes-around news, Kimberly Garrity was the subject of a lawsuit brought against her by her two children, Stephen and Kathryn, both in their 20s. The pair allege their mother treated them poorly and was ‘mean’ to them after she divorced their father. They were hoping to be awarded $50,000 for the ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ their mother inflicted on them including not sending birthday cards with money in them, making Kathryn return the family car early (midnight) on homecoming night, and not sending care packages to Stephen’s college dorm. The judge ruled against Kathryn and Stephen but it’s still unclear as to whether the siblings will appeal the decision, possibly siting new evidence including the fact they didn’t get a pony for Christmas. Maybe Stephen and Kathryn should be enlisting the help of professionals with a degree in the medical arena rather than the legal one.
Tell me if you have any news that is savvy or not. We like hearing from you.
Chickenpox lollipops? Absolutely gross and so not savvy.
Last week, the parenting news sources were all a-buzz about parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children with the chickenpox vaccine and have resorted to more ‘natural methods’ of ordering lollipops previously licked (or as my kids would say: ‘gobbed on’) by an infected child, in the hopes of catching the disease that way.
This is just wrong. Before the vaccine for chickenpox was readily available, moms deployed the old-school tactics like hosting a ‘chickenpox party’ and inviting the kid with spots over to infect the rest of the gang (so it would be done and over with). But that’s not immunizing, because the kids actually get the chickenpox. It’s just a way for the parents to control when it happens so they can manage it with their schedules. Fair enough. I understand the desire for parents to control things as much as they can (and I wish them good luck with that).
Today’s parents are now reaching further than their immediate communities for help. No more local parties. They now have the Internet and their vast social communities to make connections and solve problems. Apparently the latest solution to natural immunization was offered up on Facebook in the form of dirty lollipops.
Parents ordered and paid for the lollipops online, then had the infected treats mailed directly to them. This is not just disgusting and very risky, it’s ineffective and it’s actually against the law. Chickenpox is not spread through oral secretions but by the respiratory route so there is very little chance these kids could catch the pox from a dirty lollipop, but they do have a good chance of catching some other kind of infection.
This is seriously not savvy. But it begs the question: Do you vaccinate or not? We’re interested to know.
Teen pianist and superstar, Jan Lisiecki, recently blew me away. In an interview he commented how his parents weren’t musicians. He felt compelled to share music with them: the emotion and the soul. Cool kid.
I suppose all parents have secret—or not so secret—desires for their child to be a prodigy of some kind. My mom confided that she hopes Baxter will be a major league pitcher. She fantasizes watching from the catcher’s seats, as Baxter nods to her knowingly just before he throws his trade-mark ‘buckle ball’. I’ve never seen my mom watch a baseball game, or any sport for that matter.
Where are these overblown expectations born? I was brought up on the cusp of the ‘you’re special’ generation. Meaning I was more or less taught extreme manners, humility (ha) and that I’m not exceptional or entitled to anything. I may earn it, but it still may not come. These values are instilled from war-generation parents and I still hold them as true.
Of course I’d be happy if Baxter was exceptional at something… anything, really. But let’s be realistic—he is partly my kid. The reality for me is that I do have an aspiration for Baxter. I’d love him to love music. I’d love him to play music and sing music. Moreover I’d love to play music and sing music with Baxter. Jammin’ with the kid; I couldn’t think of anything better.
I’m in a band right now. I was in two, but family demands made me choose the less motivated team. Playing in a band can sometimes resemble family life. When everyone plays well and thinks of the others, all of you enter a shared state of bliss—where skill, happiness and pride (excuse the pun) converge.
And just in case he is a guitar prodigy, I’m practicing more so I can keep up.
There is no denying my sister and I are simpletons. We put it out there time and time again. We increasingly feel challenged by our children, and have moments when parenting can be a bit tricky. Sometimes we just don’t know what to say or how to handle situations. I think that is why we developed the habit of talking to our kiddles in Top 40 Hits. You can only say ‘no’ so many times and sometimes it just feels good to say things in song. Plus, if you really think about it, we are giving our kids a lesson in culture, expanding their musical prowess.
On any given day you can hear me saying, “Hey, Nate dog, where’s G-Child?” That might be why my kids spend a lot of time looking confused and not knowing what is going on. While I should address my children in a more mature manner, throwing a lyric at them when they are giving me some attitude is too much fun. It confuses them, it shows them that, ‘Guess what? I know more than you.’
If a child is giving you the stink eye, why not say: “Hey I see what you’re doing there: Vogue, strike a pose”.
When they are hanging off of you, jungle gym style, a quick hammer-time with “Can’t touch this” comes in handy.
When my daughter acts like a whiny mofo, I serenade her with “Don’t cry for me Argentina”.
If my kids won’t cooperate while I am trying to get out the door, a simple “Hey hey, you you, get into my car.” Not only is it getting the message across, but Billy Ocean really lifts the mood.
Here are some big hits and how they come in handy:
Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” – When your child needs to learn something new or directions with a task, you throw this at them.
Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” – If your child is going down the wrong path, spazzing and losing their sh*t, they need to turn their beat around, and fast.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Don’t Do Me Like That” – When your child forgets their manners and is trying to humiliate you.
Erasure’s “Respect” – this one is easy, they have a bit of a ‘tude and are trying to tough-talk you, try: “Oh baby please, give a little respect, to me.”
The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name” – This one is obvious. When they have said Mom more times than you can count, you need to sing this out loud.
It is totally reasonable to modify a lyric here and there, if need be. For instance, if your child has an accident of some sort, Human League’s “Human” comes in handy when changed to “you’re only human, of flesh and blood, you’re made.”
When my children finish cleaning up and ask if it is a job well done, I throw some Cyndi at them: “It’s good enough, for me, it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough, good enough for me, yayayayayaaaa.” I use this song so much that I now just say, “Dude, it’s Goonies”, and the children get it.
Give it a try. It’s liberating.