Category Archives: 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.

8 Comments

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

They Make Lifetime Movies About People Like Me!

My teenage daughter has hit yet another (inevitable) stumbling block in her young adult career. First (real, true love)Break-Up.

It sucks. And it sucks to be her mother watching her go through this heartache and not be able to make it all better.

Except laugh.  (Yes, I’m one of those moms.)

“They make Lifetime movies about people like me!” she wailed.

Thank goodness her head was buried in a pillow and she couldn’t see my face. I was biting back a smile.

You mean the one about the teenage girl raising her half siblings because her drug addicted mom was in jail?

Nope.

Or the one about the good kid turned porn addict?

Nope. (Thank God.)

Or what about the one about the cougar-she-devil who seduces her stepson who kills his dad to have creepy stepmom all to himself?

Ewwwww and a firm no.

Then there’s the upcoming movie about the woman who thinks her husband has been unfaithful so she hires a private investigator to prove it and the P.I. falls in love with her so he fakes that the husband is having an affair to win her over.

(Honestly. I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

No, sweetheart. I hate to tell you this. Your life, as unique as it is, is so similar to the millions of other lives out there. We have heartache. We have pain. We have suffering.

Some of us push through it better than others. Some of us wallow.

But we are all walking Lifetime movies of our very own.

And hopefully, yours will never be produced for television.

(Hugs, hugs, kisses and hugs, sweet girl. I am hurting for you. Right now, everything is raw and horrible. Empty. And oh-so-difficult. But like the beautiful moments we should treasure and cherish; this, too, shall pass.)

12 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Motherhood, parenting

The Pain Never Lasts Very Long

We were all working in the yard over the weekend. Spreading mulch, dividing daylillies, minor repairs. Side by side. The whole family. Ok. So, we had to bribe our daughter with gas money for her upcoming trip. But we were still having a great time. One big, happy family.

A thorn jabbed me under my nail. Deep. And it hurt.

“Ouch!” I cried.

My youngest son, all 7 years of him, rushed over, grabbed my hand and said, “Don’t worry, Mommy! The pain never lasts very long.”

I smiled. Savoring his wise words. Starting to dismiss them. Because our family has been struggling through a heaping basket full of minor and major mishaps for the past five months.

And then I realized, he’s right. In the huge (and in our case it has to be huge because we still haven’t seen the end to the crap parade that’s been coming down our street) grand scheme of things everything we’ve been going through is going to look like a tiny blip on the radar. Tiny. At least, fingers crossed, that’s what I’m predicting.

Have you ever sat there, in your comfortable life, thinking things were so hard? And wishing for the days when things were so easy? You’re in your forties, with college looming ahead for your daughter, wondering how in the world you’re going to help finance it and wishing you were in your thirties when her biggest expense was a new bicycle. Or you’re in your thirties, struggling to give your children everything they deserve, wrestling with their constant demands, wishing for the carefree life of college. Or you’re in college, struggling with studies and holding down two jobs to help pay for your existence and wishing for the easy days of high school when your biggest dilemma was what to wear or which social activity to attend.

It’s all relative.

And it’s true, the pain never lasts very long.

In a blink of an eye, your daughter is being placed in your arms at the airport. Sweet, cuddly little bundle of joy from Korea. Blink, blink. And she’s 10 years old, doing her adorable judges salute at the state gymnastics championships. Blink again and she’s struggling with a death of a boyfriend, honors and AP classes, essays for college applications.

Or she’s struggling with pain you feel you created for her. A dad, the man you married much too young and later divorced, who is making her feel like a burden, less than valued, an inconvenience. You try to take away her pain. You try to tell her the pain never lasts very long. But your words feel hollow and thin.

As much as this pain that she’s struggling with hurts right now, it is true. It will dissipate.

And be replaced with something new.

And thank goodness, that pain will never last very long either.

18 Comments

Filed under children, Deep Thoughts, family, Lessons Learned, Motherhood, Observations, parenting, Problems