Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Does Culture Determine Dysfunction? (Part Two)

Welcome again!

The quote: “Dysfunction is dysfunction no matter what the culture.”

Where we left off: Our culture (i.e., social mores, etc) impacts how we live. When a family is raised with two (or more) cultural backdrops, rules, choices and opinions might conflict. (Link to the previous post, should you care for more background. 🙂 )

In the novel by Cynthia Keller, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, lead-character Rachel was raised to believe children are not to be the center of attention. She expects her daughter’s behavior to reflect that, and takes steps to insure that Katie does.

From the day they were born, my children became the focus of pretty much everything, with their father and I making a big deal out of every little sound and action that came out of them. We’ve taught them their input matters. We’ve also had times when, despite their feedback, we’ve made decisions our kids didn’t like, but felt was our prerogative to do so as parents.

Despite some hiccups here and there, our teenage boys are generally respectful. They’ll present their cases when asking for something they want, and have shown the ability to take a step back and not react when things don’t go their way. (Younger Son might hem-and-haw up front and often needs a little more time to come up with a more appropriate response. I can wait.)

I’m not saying you have to raise kids a certain way. Note this too: someone else—your spouse, a grandparent, neighbor, teacher, cashier, etc—will ALWAYS have an opinion on the choices you consider and/or make on your journey as a parent. Your job will most likely include figuring out how to filter through the chatter surrounding you. (Sometimes, there is some validity to what other folks have to say. None of us has all the answers.)

This parenting gig is a process, folks. There aren’t a slew of right or wrong blanket answers to be had, nor is there always an immediate solution to an issue you might be facing.

What I am saying: In the final analysis, I don’t believe you can fully separate the cultural influence. You’ll most likely wind up flubbing your way to finding the balance that works for you and your family. Hopefully, it will be one that allows you to be able to function happily and peacefully as individuals—and as a unit—within the society in which you live.

Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? Concerns? Difference of opinion? Please don’t hesitate to share any/all in in the comments. There’s always email too: joanne@joannectimpano.com

Enjoy the weekend,
Joanne

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Does Culture Determine Dysfunction? (Part One)

Hello again! I’m hoping all is well with everyone, and thanking you yet again for giving of your time to stop in!

Let’s go right to it:

“Dysfunction is dysfunction no matter what the culture.”

Someone said that to me at least 20 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m not sure I agreed with the person then, and I’m still on the fence about it now.

I recently read, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, a novel by author Cynthia Keller. (BTW, this is not a review of the story.)

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In this switched-at-birth story, a young, Amish-raised widow (Rachel) learns she is the biological daughter of non-Amish (a.k.a., “English”) parents. About mid-story, Rachel takes her 10-year-old daughter (Katie) to New York City to meet their blood relatives.

They all go out to dinner. Rachel’s biological parents are thrilled to meet their only grandchild, and behave as “English” grandparents might.

Here is a snippet from page 168:

The waiter came over to ask if they were ready to order.

“Katie,” Gil (her grandfather) said, “do you know what you’d like?”

Rachel bit her lip. It was…not right for an eleven-year-old to be the center of attention this way, all the grown-ups fussing over her and allowing her to order her food first. This was not their way. She could imagine how upset her mother would be if she knew.

(edited for brevity) Rachel leaned over to her daughter, whispering in her ear to remember her manners, no matter how nice and casual everyone was to her.

This passage struck me immediately, and got me thinking about how our cultural backgrounds impact the way we raise our children and judge their behaviors.

What Rachel perceives as ‘wrong’ is based on her Amish upbringing.

The “English”—or those raised in a Western, American-type civilization—tend to openly dote on their children and lavish them with attention. The “English” often allow their children a voice, typically asking for input and offering them choices. We see it as part of helping foster the self-esteem and problem-solving abilities that ultimately result in independence as adults.

That brings me back to my original question: Is dysfunction culturally determined?

My gut, coupled with my education and life experiences to this day, suggests that it is.

Disclaimer: I am not saying anything and everything kids want is okay. (That applies to adults too.) Perhaps this is all my IMHO, but murder, hurting others purposefully—you know, meanness, in general—is a no-no regardless of culture, race or religion. (Certain religions, however, might disagree, but that’s not what this is about.) What I am saying is the “English” tend to be driven by “if it feels right” it’s probably not necessarily bad.

Our culture (i.e., social mores, etc) impacts how we live. When a family is raised with two (or more) cultural backdrops, rules, choices and opinions might conflict.

To keep from getting too long-winded in this post, I will reflect on this topic in more detail next time.

Until then, what are your thoughts on the initial question? Do you agree? Disagree? How much weight do you give your child(ren)’s input on a given matter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or you can always email me here: joanne@joannectimpano.com.

Have a blessed day,

Joanne

 

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting

What’s My Motivation? (Part Two)

Welcome back and thank you again for your time and support.

Summary of Part One: Younger Son was two hours shy of his Saturday basketball league’s first game. His brand-new, unused sneakers didn’t fit. I had gotten him that new pair about two months prior, at his request. He wanted to go to the store to make an exchange, two hours prior to the start of his game.

Dad honored Younger Son’s request AFTER I turned him down.

As I stated in Part One, had I been the only available parent, Younger Son would not have made it to the store that Saturday—but not because I wanted to make a point or zing him with the lesson.

My main motivation for not taking him to the store was honest. At that moment in time, I wasn’t in a position to do so.

Mind you, I’m still not completely sure about Dad driving him, but that was Dad’s decision to make. (We both try to be highly supportive of all—appropriate—choices Younger Son makes relative to physical activity. He struggles with his weight and used to be much more of a sedentary kid.)

What I’m saying is, I didn’t want my decision to be made out of spite or resentfulness that my son hadn’t “listened to Mom” the first time. (That’s about my ego, which we can discuss another time.) More occasions for shoe-buying will come up, and I can use this experience/life lesson as a gentle reminder behind a (firm) decision on my part that we’ll wait before picking up that next pair too far ahead of time.

Here’s a flip-side to that coin: Kids are pretty savvy. Most of them get ‘the bigger picture,’ and can read into a parent’s actions. They’re also pretty good at picking up the vibe(s) underscoring them.

Chances are (there are no guarantees here), if Younger Son sees my decision was made out of honesty and not b/c I wanted to assert my authority out of the motivations I listed above, he will be less oppositional and/or resentful of not getting his way. Fingers crossed—he will be more willing to heed his parent’s advice next time.

If he wants something that badly though, he might still put up a fuss. He is human, and as far from perfect as the rest of us. But he—like each of us—is a work-in-progress. And a lot of those life lessons are beginning to add up to a pretty likable 16-year-old. (Well, most of the time, anyway!)

Any thoughts on how Dad and I handled this? Would you have taken your child to the store? How might you have reacted to his or her request in a similar situation? Have you ever taken the time to examine the motive(s) behind the choices you make where your child(ren) are concerned?

I so appreciate your feedback. Please post comments and experiences below. I love questions too! Let’s make this site a community gathering place where we help each other by not being shy. (For those who are shy, you can always send an email via my CONTACT ME page.)

Enjoy your weekend,

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano. All rights reserved.

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

What’s My Motivation? (Part One)

Hello! Welcome to 2015 and its first installment. Hard to fathom that 2014 rolled full throttle to its close. How true is it that the older one gets the faster time seems to go?

Back to business!

In my previous posts* we talked about taking that step back and letting kids deal with the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, that means allowing them to fail, especially when they poo-poo every parent effort to keep them from doing so.

Taking that step back is not easy. Yet, when we least expect it, life hands our kid(s) another lesson, better than we can ever teach.

Yep, here’s another Younger Son episode. (Being my challenge child, he will most likely command the leading role in many of my posts. 😉 )

Last time we talked about his love of football. Sometimes, I think he has a greater affection for basketball, which he plays recreationally. (Remember that Saturday league he joined that led to his commitment to football? He signed up again this year, played–and won–his first three games. Better than his sophomore football team did, anyway.)

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Being a fairly organized young man, on the day of his first game during the first or second weekend in December, he pulled out the brand new b-ball shoes he had asked me to purchase back in October. This 16-year-old seems to keep growing, and although skeptical he was buying them too soon, we picked them up on a trek for another pair of sneakers. (Sales were kind of too good to pass up—and we had coupons too. )

Big Boy tried those shoes on about two hours before his game.

Big Boy had grown some more. The shoes didn’t fit, and he asked me if I would take him to the store to exchange them. (I’m pretty good about keeping receipts.)

We’re up to that ‘take a step back’ part. Rather than get into the “I told you so’s” or a lecture or yelling at him, I told him the truth: there was no way I could stop everything I was doing and get him to the store. He had other shoes that fit and would have to make do.

He took his case to Dad, prefacing his request with, “I should have listened to Mom, but…” One could hope he learned from this experience. (I figure he’s also good at schmoozing—er, saying the right thing when he wants something ;).)

Dad was not tied up and offered to take him.

At this point, you’re probably saying, “I wouldn’t have taken him. That way he would learn his lesson for next time.”

I don’t disagree with that thinking, and had I been the only parent available, there would have been no trip to the store that Saturday.

In the interest of brevity, I will pick this up again later this week.

What are your thoughts so far? Would you have taken your child to the store? How might you have reacted to his or her request in a similar situation? Feel free to post comments, experiences and/or questions below. Let’s make this site a community gathering place where we help each other by not being shy. (For those who are shy, you can always send an email via my CONTACT ME page.)

*Here are the links to Part One and Part Two, for those want to catch up. (Don’t want to miss a post? Click the FOLLOW button at the top of your screen for auto-delivery of each post to your inbox. Rest assured, emails are NEVER shared or sold.)

As always, I thank you for your time.

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

 

©Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.