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.)

FullSizeRender (2)

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.)

IMG_0994 ©Joanne C Timpano

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.

 

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back… (Part Two)

Welcome back, and thank you again for your time! I hope you find something that will make your parenting journey even a hair easier.

If you’re here for the first time, you might want to catch up by reading Part One.

And here is where we left off last time: Younger Son is on a journey toward commitment to football, but not to his grades.

Football Xbox school

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be an honors man, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about in the previous post? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting next to his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it? Please feel free to share about your experiences in the comments. And if you feel comment-shy, don’t hesitate to send me a private message via my CONTACT ME page.

Have a great day everyone!

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved (content and images) . 

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back…(Part One)

A solution often shows.

Welcome to my first “official” post on my new blog/website! (Please feel free to take a few minutes and peruse my other pages too!) I hope you know your time is greatly appreciated. As a working parent myself, I understand how precious it is. In the interest of time, I promise to keep the articles I share as short and to the point as I can make them. (That’s why I broke this one up and spread it over two days. 🙂 )

I also know–firsthand–the challenges parenting entails. Here is an episode–and some resolution–direct from my experience:

Younger Son is a great kid, my challenge-child and a definite work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure and/or implement Plan A, B, C, etc as needed, and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this almost 16-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it. Avoidance is king.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Last November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) My suggestion: “Try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the 2014-15 school year. He has been doing weight workouts regularly at home for about a year and added short spurts of biking or riding his skateboard to most of his days. (We’re working on finding him substitute cardio activities. It’s getting a tad cold for biking in our area.) He and his friends also get together for basketball or football games whenever the weather allows.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He keeps coming up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I promised to keep posts short and will pick up from here next time. Look for Part Two on Thursday of this week (Dec 11). In the meantime, thoughts, questions, insight and feedback are welcome. Please note that any comment you leave below might be helpful to someone else. You can also reach out to me privately via my CONTACT ME page. (Also, be assured only I will be able to view your email, and I NEVER share it.)

Remember to check in later this week for Part Two. (Afraid you’ll forget? Click the FOLLOW button at the top of the page. You’ll never miss a future post. It will automatically be delivered to your inbox every time one goes live.)

Have a great day,

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved.