Category Archives: parenting

An Open Letter To The Fathers Of Daughters Around The World

father-daughter

An Open Letter To The Fathers of Daughters Around The World:

Starting at a young age, at a very young age, make father/daughter time a priority. Make it a such a regular, natural occurrence that by the time she is a teenager, she expects you to take her out for sushi or ice cream.

When she’s six, laugh at her knock-knock jokes, teach her to fish. Walk the dog with her and dance the Macarena. Listen to her giggle about her favorite television show. Sit in the front row at her school music assembly. Let her fix your hair with barrettes and bows. Tell her she’s beautiful, inside and out.

When she’s ten, indulge her passion for ice cream. Ask about her teachers at school. Know her best friend’s name. Ask about her friend’s friends. Tell her about your friends when you were a kid. Go to every gymnastics meet. Play catch with her in the backyard. Go on a hike. Listen. Watch. Teach. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

When she is 14, share your passion of sushi together. Have her teach you how to use your iPhone.  Even if you already know. Watch a baseball game together. Go to her cheerleading competitions. Listen to her babble about things that seem unimportant. The important things will slip into the conversation when you least expect it. Listen harder. Tell her she is beautiful , inside and out.

When she is 19, take her out for coffee to hear all about her college classes. Listen as if your life depends on it. Nod. Smile. Offer advice if you think she’ll hear you. Sit silently, if you think she won’t. Just be there. As close as a text. As close as a phone call. Send her a funny picture in the mail. Make sure she knows you think of her every day. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

You have a power we mothers don’t have. You have the ability to teach our daughter that she is worth treasuring. The partner she chooses will be a reflection of you and all the work you did when she was still a little girl.

Will she pine for a boy and wait by the phone, just as she had to pine and wait for you? Or will she expect to be treated with kindness and consideration and respect? Will she allow her heart to be trounced on, over and over because she doesn’t feel she deserves better? Or will she let go of the frogs and hold out for a prince because you taught her that she is a princess?

Model good behavior with her mother. Show her how she should expect to be treated by her future soul mate.

Do these things, these simple, yet oh-so-important things to make life a little easier for the mothers of the daughters of the world. We tell our daughters that they are beautiful, both inside and out, every day. But they roll their eyes at us and say, “But Mom, you’re paid to say that!” When you say it, they hang onto your every word. Their eyes sparkle. They stand taller. They begin to believe what you say.

And then someday.

One day.

They will find a man, like you, who is beautiful.

Both inside and out.

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Filed under Adult Children, children, parenting

My Son. The Supernanny.

We all have good days and bad days as a parent. We all pray that our children won’t end up on Dr. Phil one day, telling the world how we messed them up.

And then, out of nowhere, when we least expect it, we get a glimpse of how we’re doing.

While folding clothes and watching a re-run of Supernanny, my youngest son sat down. Just to be in the same room. To play on his Kindle. And he started watching.

ABC#00001

“Mom? They should put her in a time out. Shouldn’t they be in bed by now? I can’t believe he even knows that word. How old is he?”

Then a Supernanny parenting question pops on the screen. We have to wait until the commercial break for the answer.

“I don’t have to wait. That’s an easy one. The answer is C!”

Sure enough, he’s right.

“You’re going to be an amazing father someday,” I beam.

“Yeah,” he muses, going back to his game.

“Just remember everything I taught you,” I say, kissing the top of his head.

“No,” he says, “I’ll remember everything you DID.”

…..

Yep.

Today is a GOOD day.

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Filed under children, parenting

How Young Is Too Young? And Am I Setting My Kids Up For Social Suicide?

A friend shared with me her shock and dismay that her niece had an Instagram account. First of all, her niece was constantly on her phone, fingers in motion. Second, the child’s mother spent the weekend saying things like “Ohhh, such a cute shot. You should send that out!” and “Six more followers! Good job!” Third, my friend’s daughter was now begging for an account because all the cool kids had one.

And last, her niece is 10 years old.

Ten.

As in, one and a zero.

twitterpic

So, I ask. Why does a 10 year old need a phone? Why is her mother so concerned about the number of followers her daughter has? And are my kids uncool because they don’t even have a phone yet?

Social media is difficult enough for an adult to navigate, and I’m talking about the emotional aspects, not the mechanics. Cyber bullying is now addressed in high schools and middle schools. Must we address it in elementary schools, as well?

Of course we must. But that doesn’t mean I want to.

I don’t see the need for my child to have a phone just yet. Knowing what I know about the dangers of the world and how close our technology can connect my child to these dangers is not appealing. Call me a worrywart. Call me over-protective. I don’t care.

My children are at an age when I am having to address this issue and I don’t want to. I want to keep my kids young and innocent and pure. I want their phone conversations to be supervised by a long cord tethered to the phone in the middle of a common area, oh say, like a kitchen. I want to know who is calling and at what time. You know, like it was when we were kids.

I’m struggling.

How young is too young?

Am I setting my kids up for social suicide because I want to prolong their innocence?

What do you think? And how are you handling this tricky, yet common, new century conundrum?

 

10 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

Damn It. I Hate It When Mom Is Right.

“Damn it!”

Hearing this wouldn’t be shocking. Except it was from the mouth of my 3-year-old foster daughter.

I freaked out when I first heard her say it. I gently reprimanded. I talked about good words and bad words until I was blue in the face. Nothing worked.

“Just ignore it,” counseled my mother. “It will go away.”

“I can’t wait for it to go away! We’re monitored by social workers and case workers. She has a visit with her birthmom in just a week. If she says that in front of her they’ll take her away from us. We’ll be labeled unfit parents. We’ll NEVER get to adopt!”

I was clearly distraught. To me, this slip of the tongue, this bad mommy moment that this angelic toddler had heard and was now emulating, was catastrophic. This behavior had to stop and it had to stop NOW.

So, I continued with my reprimands, my explanations and peppered in a few time-outs.

To no avail.

Running into the grocery store for a few things, I was in a terrible rush. Her older sister was still at school and I was due in the carpool line soon. Time was limited. Trying to get Julia out of the carseat, her foot got tangled in the straps.

“Damn it!” she said.

I froze. I didn’t have time for explanations. I didn’t have time for reprimands. And I certainly didn’t have time for time-outs.

Searching my face for a reaction, she said it again more emphatically, “Damn it, Mommy!”

I remembered my mother’s words of wisdom. In desperation, I decided to take her, although ill-advised, advice. So, I simply scooped her up, placed her in the shopping cart and said, “We just need milk, carrots and eggs. And then, we have to hurry over to the school to pick up your sister.”

We shopped. We dashed to the school (well within speed limits, of course) and we went home. I made dinner. We read stories and played. We bathed before bed. We went to bed. We woke the next morning and started our daily routine.

Twenty four hours. Forty eight hours. A week.

All passed by without incident.

I never heard “Damn it!” from those sweet little lips again.

……..

Sigh.

I hate it when Mom is right.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under children, parenting, Words of Wisdom

10 Things I’ve Said To My Children That Other Moms Might Not Say. (Thank Goodness.)

I’m a little late to the party but a few of my blogging friends participate in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop and I always have the good intention of trying it out. Here’s my attempt this week. Enjoy!

10 Things I’ve Said To My Child That Other Moms Might Not Say

  1. “How can you have any dessert if you don’t eat your meat?!?” (Cue Pink Floyd music in background.)
  2. “If you wear that out of the house I swear I’ll take a picture and use it for your wedding invitation!”
  3. “No, Sweetie. I’m pretty sure they haven’t made a Lifetime movie about you. Yet.”
  4. “Nanny, nanny boo-boo. I told ya’ so!”
  5. “Oh. It was just beer? Well, at least you’re not trying Meth.”
  6. “I don’t care if you can toot on purpose. Stop doing it. You’re going to hurt your anus.”
  7. “Just be the best teacher or lawyer or ditch digger you can be. But don’t be a pimp. ‘Cause they’re not nice.”
  8. “Yes. Shut-up IS the s-word and I don’t ever want to hear you say it again!”
  9. “I’m pretty sure that the states are androgynous. There is no Mistersippi that I know of.”
  10. “Seriously? Stop that crying right now. There is NO crying in housework!!!” (Just call me a pop culture junkie.)

Feel free to share your doozy below.

8 Comments

Filed under funny, parenting

Teach Your Children Well

Most people who stumble upon or actually choose to peek in on my blog are moms. Almost all are parents who want to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted children. You find practical advice on head lice (it’s still my #1 seller! Go figure!) or find solace in my anecdotes. Or, in laughing at me, you sit a little straighter, knowing you can top Jane in parenting ability.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a parenting authority.

But I know someone who is.

Madeline Levine, PhD., author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting For Authentic Success, uses “cutting edge research and thirty years of clinical experience” to help us be the parents we want to be. The best kind of cheerleader for our children. Encouraging, supportive, and nurturing. Her book shows us that superficial success is not what shapes an authentic self.

I am familiar with Ms. Levine’s book The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating A Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids.  I found it so interesting, I decided (since I’m not eligible for the giveaway – and I’m cheap) to request her newest book from our library. There’s a waiting list. Out of the 7 copies, all are checked out with a wait list. Looks like Amazon.com is going to squeeze a book out of me this month. Yep. I don’t want to wait. She’s that good.

Harper Collins has graciously offered a free book (read: GIVEAWAY!) for a reader of my blog. Simply comment below and share a proud mommy/daddy moment, a learning (aka bad mommy/daddy) moment, or simply respond with “I want a free book!” Any comment will do. I’m not picky.

Comment before 12:00pm, EST on Monday, August 13th 2012 and a random winner – from the U.S. or Canada – will be chosen. (Yes. Your fate lies in the sticky fingers of one of my sons.)

Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

And have a happy parenting day full of highs and short on lows!

Update: And the winner is……..Naptime Writing! I guess your two entries increased your odds just the right amount. That and the fact that my son rolled your lucky number on the dice. Congratulations! And thanks, too, to TKW, Robin, Velva, Rudrip and Cool Joe for playing.

7 Comments

Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting

Pinch Me. College Age Daughter Actually Wants To Come Home For A Visit.

“Mom, they cancelled my shift on Tuesday. I don’t have to work until Wednesday,” #1daughter whined over the phone.

Boy, this is a switch, I thought. The realities of college expenses are finally sinking in.

I’m dying to ask her to come home, spend some time with us before the boys start school, but I want to be the “cool mom.” I want to be the mom who gives her daughter the space and independence she needs to become a functioning, healthy adult.

So, I bite my tongue. I ask about weekend plans, instead. I suggest biking or checking out the pilates class at the school fitness center.

Silence.

I joke, “If you were a little closer you could come home for a few free meals.” (Okay. I’m not really joking but I’ve run out of suggestions.)

“Really?!” she says excitedly.

“Of course!”

“Okay! I’ll pack a few things and call you as soon as I’m on the road!”

Click.

Four hours later my angel was home. Teasing her brothers and taking them out for frozen yogurt. Watching the Olympics with her mom. Late night B-movies with her dad.

Given a few free days and my daughter actually wanted to come home and spend them with us.

What a relief. Maybe I am doing something right.

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Filed under Adult Children, Motherhood, parenting

Blame Game Or Personal Responsibility. I Choose Personal Responsibility.

This is information that bears repeating. Those beautifully colored laundry packets are tempting to young children who think they might be a tasty treat. Keep them away from children. If you need more information, click here.

But seriously. Did anyone really need to click the above link?

Cleaning products are dangerous to ingest and should be kept away from children. 

End of story.

Right?

No.

On my morning news I saw a woman, indignant. Sure, there are warning labels on the packaging but toddlers can’t read. (?!) She feels the detergent industry should take it a step further and make the actual packets childproof.

Now, I don’t happen to use these handy little packets. I pour my detergent in the machine the good ol’ fashioned way. But if the packets were actually childproof how would they dissolve in your machine and clean your clothes? And here’s a thought. How about keeping your cleaning supplies away from your children?

Just a thought.

We are losing our grasp on personal responsibility each and every day. A news reporter felt her opinions on this subject were newsworthy and valuable to the viewers at large. Heck, he probably thought the laundry companies should take note.

I disagree.

When I was about 2 years old I ingested Drano. (Which might explain some things, you may be thinking, but that’s for another blog post.) My mother was horrified. I remember her nails digging into my armpits and I remember water splashing onto  my face. Luckily, there was no permanent damage.

And yes, my mother was horrified.

With herself.

She was unloading groceries, pregnant with my sister and thinking about getting dinner started. She set all the cleaning supplies that she had purchased by the stairs, ready to be transported to the basement cabinet that was higher than I could reach. Then, she started to pull things out for dinner. While she was distracted, however, I saw pretty blue crystals and thought they might taste yummy. They didn’t.

My mother was terrified but thought quickly. She raced me to the tub and cleaned out what she could. She then called poison control. They gave her advice and as far as I know, no further action was needed. Apparently, I hadn’t ingested enough. Thank goodness Drano tastes yucky.

After the terror subsided, my mother was embarrassed. And angry. With herself. She didn’t blame the company for making the crystals blue and pretty. She didn’t blame them for not having a childproof cap. She chastised herself for not keeping a closer eye on me and for leaving Drano within my reach.

Personal responsibility.

Just a thought.

 

15 Comments

Filed under parenting, Soapbox

If Only We Could Wrap Their Hearts In Bubble Wrap

We attempt to protect our children from the weather, illness, accidents and the boogie man. Most of the time we are successful. Sometimes, we are not.

There is one thing that proves to be a fruitless fight.

Meanness.

“Mommy? I had a horrible day today,” #2son says to me over cantaloupe and crackers after school. I settle in for his tale of woe.

It contained the usual. Dropping his jacket in a puddle. He didn’t get to sit in his favorite seat on the bus with his favorite friend. They ran out of pizza at lunch and he had to have chicken drumsticks. Which he loves. But still.

The worst thing that happened? It was during the fire drill. They were all filing outside and a younger kid, a kid in the 1st grade, was walking ahead of #2son. They were to wait under the tree and Mr. 1stgrade moved a branch aside and looked like he was holding it for #2son to pass. But just as #2son got close, as he was smiling and starting to say thank-you, Mr. 1stgrade smiled and let the branch go. Hard. Smacking #2son in the face. And then, Mr. 1stgrade laughed.

“Why would he do that?” my son said with tears starting to fall, “That was so mean.”

The look of innocence in his eyes broke my heart. And he wasn’t crying because of the sting on his face. He was remembering the offense. He was tearing up because of the sting in his heart.

“Why was he smiling? And why did he laugh? It wasn’t funny. Nobody else laughed,” my son implored, trying to make sense of such meanness. “And he was younger than me. I was about to thank him. He doesn’t even know me. Why would he do that?” he asked again.

I had no answer. I hugged him. And said something about sad, angry people and how they lash out at others because they want people to hurt as much as they do. But it was no consolation.

And my son’s innocence was shattered.

How do we protect our children from mean people? And if we could, should we? When our oldest daughter was dealing with some mean-girl shenanigans years ago my husband said, “Better she experience this now, when we can help guide her rather than protect her and then have her experience it when she moves out, when we’re not around to help.” I suppose he’s right. Reluctantly, I agreed with him. But why do we have to experience meanness at all?

I can make him wear his seat belt or his bike helmet. I can feed him Flintstone vitamins and make sure he drinks his milk. I put him to bed at a reasonable hour. I know his friends. I read to him and he reads to me. I do everything I can to make sure he is safe and loved.

But I can’t wrap his heart in bubble wrap.

But oh, how I wish I could.

12 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, parenting

Parenting Is Blind Trial And Error. I’m Just Crossing My Fingers We Get It Right.

One of the toughest challenges about raising two boys who are a mere 10 months apart in age has been protecting their self esteem. I’m sure other parents have similar struggles with their children who have a larger gap between them. And I know I’m not alone in the Irish twin department. But that doesn’t make my predicament any less problematic.

#1son (age 8) = strong verbal skills, excellent baseball player, great tennis player, kind, thoughtful, hard working, eager to do chores ALWAYS (how did I get so lucky?), conscientiousness, responsible.

#2son (almost 8) = a memory like an elephant about EVERYTHING, a wiz at mental math (he can do computations in his head quicker than me and that’s sayin’ something because I’m a little bit of a math nerd), excellent speller, strong swimmer, a little comedian, excellent cuddler.

#2son outshines #1son in academics. There are days when I dare say that #2son is off the charts bright. (Keep in mind, this IS his mother writing this.)  His teacher has hinted that pushing him up a grade might be in his future. Although, I’d never do that, for many reasons, but one very big reason is that he would then be in his older brother’s grade.

Hence, my problem.

In a household when academic achievement is far more valued than athletic pursuits, how do I balance the praise? I’m glad #1son loves his sports. I’m glad he’s good at them. But I don’t want to highlight his athletic achievements. Yet, #2son brings home amazing grades, and #1son knows it. So, we hesitate showcasing A’s and 100’s on the refrigerator.

It’s like walking a tightrope in this house some days.

I have a fish that can swim but can’t climb trees. Then, I have a squirrel who leaps from tree to tree but can’t swim.

We do our best to focus the praise on kindness, compassion and doing for others. But sometimes I feel their individual strengths get lost somehow.

Sigh.

Parenting is such blind trial and error. We’re doing our best with each child’s achievement and setback. With each child’s accomplishment and failure. I just hope, fingers crossed, that we’re responding in the best possible way that creates happy, confident, amazing young men.

Make that toes crossed, too.

18 Comments

Filed under parenting