By no means am I trying to provoke guilt. Life tends to be very busy for everyone and everyone has his/her unique situation to deal in and find a way through.
These are the general purposes behind this post:
To generate awareness of how you spend your time relative to your children. (Awareness is generally the first step of change—and an important seed for “laying the groundwork” for future relationships with your kids.)
To offer from-the-trenches-suggestions to help busy parent(s) work things out in a way that works for his/her/their unique family styles/lives.
Because, folks, when it’s all said and done and those “little ones” have morphed into “big ones,” what (IMHO) will have mattered most is the effort and intention behind all you have done as a parent. Not that it’s easy, especially in today’s work-driven, achievement-oriented society.
Quick story and then I’m done (for today):
A special-ed teacher/friend mentioned a conversation she had with the parent of one of her autistic students. (Let’s remember that, among other things, autism is a developmental delay of social skills.)
The teacher discussed using dinner time as a means of practicing and building social skills with“Mom.”
“Mom”—whose two older, non-classified children are honor students who attend an elite, enter-by-testing-only public school in the area—wasted no time answering the teacher. “We don’t have dinner together. Everyone eats while they study.”
Welcome back, all. If you’re a fan, I hope your pick won the Super Bowl–mine got eliminated by the Cardinals, but I suppose Cam Newton provides enough entertainment to make up for it. 🙂
A while back I was cleaning in my kids’ room. (“Is it ever clean enough for you?” a friend asked recently. It’s not so much the “clean,” it’s the constant fending off clutter that collects in small spaces. These clusters of stuff catch dirt and dust, and then you notice them when you’re doing something else…and you have to clean that spot…and the next…)
Back to topic.
In my boys’ room, I have a crate with some of their childhood books I can’t seem to part with. (My “boys” recently turned 19 and 17.)
As I moved things around for a more thorough cleaning than the weekly surface-get-the-house-back-to-baseline regimen, I came across this book:
My father was born and raised in Italy and apprenticed to a tailor. That’s the work he did here, as a naturalized US citizen, until health issues forced him to retire. He died not long after I met my husband, and never had a chance to meet or know his grandchildren.
That of course, goes both ways; his grandchildren never knew him either. So, when I happened on this book (at Barnes and Noble, most likely), picking it up was a no-brainer. It gave me a way to connect my kids to their nonno, and also provided a pattern for making the apron that “Bruno” made in the book.
Older Son and I cut that out together. We never made the time to sew it, but I when I happened across it in the basket at the bottom of the stairs (where I discovered the mother’s day coupons), I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So, it is still saved upstairs—one more thing I can’t let go of—as a reminder of time spent together when he was younger. The scarf pictured above belonged to his Cub Scout uniform—every grade the scarf changed. I believe this was the last one, before he would have crossed over to Boy Scouts in 6th grade. (And I wonder why I have clutter.)
I know folks are busy these days. I suppose I was too, as that unfinished sewing project suggests.
So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll list more thoughts in the next post, and some ideas following that.
All thoughts on this topic welcome! (For the comment-shy crowd, please feel free to send me an email via my contact page.)
Good day, everyone. Not sure how the end of the calendar year has crept up on once again. Thanksgiving and hectic–I mean holiday 😉 –season around the corner. Wow.
This is geared toward the parents of teens, in particular, those with driving permits or brand-new licenses.
Yes, we do hand kids the keys to a lethal weapon, don’t we now? But in the interest of letting go, this is a B-I-G piece of the package. Sooner or later, most children in our society benefit tremendously from that monster shift in independence. (Under the correct circumstances, parents do too. Trust me. They LOVE running errands when that DL is shiny-new.)
That, to me, is the parents’ role: prepare them to function independently in their worlds.
Any parent who’s made the lateral move from his/her vehicle’s command-post to the passenger side of the front seat knows the nail-biting experiences to which I refer. Being a second-son veteran of this coaching process, I can assure you it (usually) improves as the child’s experience improves.
Having said that, the most important defensive seed I can plant in my child’s mind is this: DON’T ASSUME THE OTHER DRIVER WILL STOP.
Forget who has the right of way. I can’t speak for other areas, but in my suburban neighborhood and surrounding towns (an urban and suburban mix) the STOP sign seems to have gone invisible.
I remember being taught to stop about five feet before the corner, and then slowly and carefully inch out into the intersection before making my move.
Around here, on a good day, a driver will approach the stop sign at full-speed and maybe come to a complete stop a good three-quarter of its length past the corner. Others just go through, especially when they’re turning right. (That left or straight through is even scarier. Just yesterday, Hubby was almost hit, when someone blew off the sign at a very busy 2-way-stop intersection a few blocks from our home.)
I emailed this link to my current driver-in-the-making after one of those we’re-turning-the-car-around-right-this-second moments. He sped up at least 10 feet from the yellow light then hesitated before making a left turn against the red!!! (We went straight home from there. It took a few days, but my stubborn one finally acquiesced to: “Maybe I ran it.”) A little humor helps to illustrate the point, especially when dealing with know-it-all-teens—part of their developmental stage. (I wasn’t humbled out of my own-who-knows-more-than-moi-about-kids until I gave birth to this one in particular, after enduring 13 months of constant crying, but that’s a story for another day.)
Which brings me to the most important point: DON’T BE AFRAID TO IMPOSE LIMITS, especially relative to driving.
Hopefully, doing so has been part of the parenting process all along. There are no guarantees, but if children have been raised with the consistency of parent(s) setting and enforcing boundaries when the kiddies are little, the better the chances that older children will respect your say-so when they’re way too big for me to drag to their rooms, lol. And it’s not like I can jump from passenger to driver side either.
Have you started driving with your teens? What is the most important thing you want them to remember when you’re not there to guide them? What is scarier–driving with them, or them taking that monster machine on their own? Do you have any fingernails left?
No, I haven’t gone totally missing. It’s been quite the challenge getting back into a routine is after a shift from the norm. (Summer ended how long ago??) Although somewhat dynamic, my new school schedule has fallen into some kind of place. I’m also getting a handle on the paperwork, which has been a bit more on overload than in previous years at this time.
With all that, I still get to be a parent too. Since I want this site to be a place where folks can relate, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some universal emotions. Regardless that it’s a normal part of the parenting journey, these feelings are still new to me. Just like anyone else, I need to feel and deal, along with finding a way to embrace this stage.
Guess the beach was a place for letting go themes this past summer. Thanks to young-adult author Stacey Wilk for the inspiration to this post. It started out as a comment/response to arecent write-up at her blog and started growing, lol.
My family spent a few days at the shore during the summer. Older Son’s girlfriend had to leave after the second day, to attend an orientation at her new school. (Yep. The 2015 “class couple” are officially out of high school and on to the next phases of their lives. I keep wondering when they “grewed up”.)
So that his girl didn’t have to do the near-3-hour trek alone, Older Son opted to drive back with her the night before Hubby, myself and Younger Son were scheduled to leave. Younger Son (who is a few months shy of 17) got it in his head that he wanted to go with his brother.
Though we weren’t thrilled with the idea, Hubby and I gave the okay.
I was already working on coming to terms with the notion that one kid was old enough to take off. Watching them both go? All I’ll share is I stayed up on the balcony while they packed their stuff and themselves into Older Son’s car. Neither kid needed to see his mamma blubbering during the send-off. (Hey. That parkway can be a scary place. And I can always blame the hormones.)
I can’t tell you how strange it felt to know they were on their way ‘here’ (i.e., home), while we were ‘there.’ Hubby was emotion-choked too, though a bit more together than I. Immediately though, he offered to collect our things and head out behind them.
I held out. I knew once I got word they were home, I’d feel better. (I did.) It wasn’t so much them not being there as much as it was internalizing that “the next phase” has arrived. (You know, that tear-my-heart-up, Erma Bombeck, “No More Oatmeal Kisses” kind of next phase). I enjoy the freedom it brings, but I am dealing with the feelings of finality that our kids are grown. That vast space I couldn’t see at the end of when they were small and keeping me feeling overwhelmed has been bridged, and the bridge knocked out. There is no going back.
I know this is the way things should be. Generally speaking, kids grow. They put feelers out and look forward more often than they look back. As Stacey said her in her post, “…they get to the other end of the beach and I’m nothing more than a glance over their tanned shoulders.”
Morning came. Hubby and I enjoyed coffee on our balcony, renting and riding bikes on the boardwalk. We took our time checking out of our hotel, then drove back to serenity-ville (a.k.a., the gorgeous gardens of the Hereford Lighthouse and the seawall walkway, down at the North Wildwood end. (A very short, well-worth-the-ride trip.) From there we geared up for our trip home, back to our boys (er, young men).
Maybe we all “grewed up” a little on this particular trip.
In keeping with the theme, Younger Son is scheduled to get the DL come the end of November. He’s been searching the web and local streets for months; as of several days ago, his new/used Mazda is in the driveway, patiently waiting. It is what it is, and all part of letting go.
Where are you on this roller-coaster ride of parenting? Just starting out? Keeping your eye on the younger school-aged crowd or venturing into that tween-early-teen world of cell phones, texting and just starting to let them go to the closest convenience store within walking distance? Do you have any drivers yet? And how are you handling any/all of the above?
Welcome back, all. Between less structured summer days and a laptop that needs a li’l TLC, I’m feeling a bit disorganized and out of sorts. Please forgive my delay in getting this post up. As always, I’m hoping all is well with all of you.
“The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.— Ernest Dimnet…(from Don Charisma’s awesome blog–EVERYONE should take a minute and check it out. Just sayin’ 🙂 )
This is a great segue into where we left off last time. We were discussing shaming children in public, the possible consequences and a more positive way of responding (vs. reacting) to an incident I observed while standing in line at my supermarket. (Read Part 1 and Part 2, if you so desire, and please remember to come back! 🙂 )
The night before I wrote this post, I was doing a little cleaning on my enclosed front porch, killing some time while I waited to pick up Younger Son at a friend’s. Outside, the wind had picked up, strong enough to rattle the windows.
Behind me, I heard a loud thump. Attributing it to the wind, I turned toward the (glass) front door and startled BIG-TIME to a face behind the door.
Younger Son had gotten a ride home, saw me from outside and decided to have some fun.
“Please don’t do that again,” I heard myself say, in a calm voice that belied the heart beating and the short breaths going on underneath.
Okay, this didn’t take place in public, but I realized practicing my response over the years—with my guys, and with my school kids (lots of opportunities for practice there 😉)—helped me to not react. (“Are you out of your ________ mind?” Are you stupid, crazy…?”)
I’m far from perfect, but it’s easier to lose one’s cool when one is behind closed doors–when no witnesses are around. If one has managed one’s behaviors under those circumstances, one can hope to have it even more together out in the world.
Here is an effective way to practice: next time your child does something outlandish that catches you off-guard…(drum roll, please…)
Okay, so do this instead: take a step back and then survey the situation.
Honestly, unless your child is in immediate and/or imminent physical danger….
While you’re “doing nothing:”
Get your bearings.
Replay the scene in your head,
Imagine how you might handle the situation via more positive words, actions, etc.
If you need to, write down exactly what you want to say.
(Replaying the scene and scripting your response has its place—pinky-swear!)
Once you feel confident–or at least have an idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it, go to your child and address the issue.
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Experience you’d like to share? Please feel free to do so in the comments, or by contacting me privately. You never know who you might help by putting your story out there.
Have a wonderful day and many thanks for your time,
Welcome back. As always, thank you for your time and support!
Last time, we ended on how children might learn from shaming and belittling them (in public or otherwise–catch up with Part One here.).
Like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.
What shaming and belittling do, IMHO, is:
• hurt a child’s sense of self-worth. Self-esteem drops. The child is put in a position to question his/her capability and/or intelligence.
• plant seeds of resentment (toward the parent and/or other authority figures, present and/or future): If treating him/her like that is the norm, what are the chances those seeds won’t wind up taking root and flourishing under a consistent diet of negativity and being put down?
• lay the groundwork for negative patterns: What are the chances that child will grow up to shame his/her children?
Reacting to what kids do is easy. Our impulses take over, our brains go on break and we want to say or do whatever responses—verbal and/or physical—the child’s action evokes.
Responding, on the other hand, takes practice. That means making a conscious effort to do any—and probably ALL of the following:
Take a step back.
Think about NOT saying or doing that reflex action, and…
Carefully choose our verbal and/or physical answers to our kids.
Respondingis a SKILL that can be cultivated. It takes awareness of one’s tendency to react, a consciousdesire to change that tendency to react and practice.
Empathy (i.e., identifying with how someone else feels) can be key to responding vs. reacting. Putting ourselves on the receiving end of our actions, (i.e., imagining our kids’ feelings and possible reactions to what we say and do), can go a long way to helping us be more positive in our responses.
Finally: It’s easy to assume kids understand the direction(s) we give. (Asking them to repeat the direction is a great way to be sure.)
Here is how I might have handled the boy at the supermarket:
Assuming he was of average or better intelligence, restating what I wanted him to do—in simple, concrete words and a calm voice—would have sufficed. “Henry, I asked you to stand in line until I got back.”
With specific words—and a normal voice—I also would have shown the “consequence” of not having followed the direction. “Now we’ll have to wait at the end of the line.”
Henry probably would have understood his error—that he hadn’t fully comprehended his parent’s directive—and the natural consequence of his action (or lack of it).
One more thing to consider: Henry wouldn’t have been publicly shamed. Chances are, he will most likely remember to stand in line next time and won’t resent the person admonishing him.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ―William James (Psst! Waiting in line isn’t a catastrophe. It’s an inconvenience. Just MHO. 😉 )
Another thought: “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29
So how might you have handled “Henry’s” situation? Have you found yourself in a similar one with your child, or someone else’s child? Do you throw in your two cents if you’re within earshot of someone dealing with a child in a negative manner? All comments and thoughts are welcome! (And if you’re shy, you can always email me via my CONTACT page.)
I’ll dedicate a future post or two to specific examples of how a parent or authority figure can respond vs. react, i.e., deal with a child in a more positive way.
Hi everyone. Please excuse my lack of posts since Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy past month. School begins its wind-down and the rush to last-minute paperwork on.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James
I was waiting in line at the food market the other day. A boy—maybe about 10 (?) years of age—was standing next to me. He was looking toward the back of the store, and appearing a hair uncertain.
A woman—perhaps his mother or grandmother (?)—approached him, glanced at the line, then at him.
“Why are you so dumb?” Her raised voice and annoyed tones conveyed her frustration—and turned the heads of anyone nearby.
(I’ll surmise the boy should have been keeping the woman’s place in line.)
The folks ahead of me must have thought the same. They offered to let the boy back in. No harm. No foul.
Someone must have commented about there being no problem. The woman, however, maintained her (mild) indignation, and her right to admonish the boy. “He has to learn.”
People, I had to bite my tongue. The woman might have been old-school. She had an accent, which suggests culture might have influenced the way she addressed the boy. She also might truly believe she was acting out of love.
As I wrote this, I had to wonder: If shaming that child in public was her way of “teaching” him, how does she deal with him behind closed doors?
I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, folks. I do, however, care deeply about how others feel, children in particular.
I suppose belittling and shaming, publicly or privately, might get a child’s attention. Will they “learn” from the experience?
Chances are, the child will remember feeling embarrassed more than s/he remembers the infraction.
But like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.
We’ve all been there–done something we can laugh about when we look back.
As parents, we are harried. My kids are 18 and 16, and still my day never seems to end. When they were small and needed constant close supervision, I remember how many things I had to keep track of. Chances are, something gave.
Last week I was listening to the radio. one of the morning show hosts is a fairly new mom; she has a toddler. Long story short, her male counterpart asked her why she thought to text him one morning, when she locked her keys in the car. (Not sure if her daughter was in her car seat when she did so.)
He told her he felt badly; he was too physically far away to be able to help her in any way.
She maintained how stressed out she’d felt that morning, and how she just wanted to talk to somebody at that moment; that she sat down on the curb and cried while she waited for AAA to show.
The DJ’s story reminded me of when my older guy was still an infant. The day before my mishap, we’d gone to see my husband’s family. My brother-in-law is a volunteer firefighter, and is often involved in rescues. We wound up in a discussion about a man whose wife had asked him to drop the baby off (at daycare?) one summer morning. Because the man wasn’t in the habit of doing so, he forgot he had the baby and went directly to work. He supposedly came back to find his child had died in the extreme heat of a car in the summer.
The next day, I remember going to a nearby shopping plaza. I had a mini-van that I had turned on to run the A/C—so that the vehicle would cool while I was putting my son in his car seat. I don’t remember the details, but I locked him in the running, air-conditioned car—with me not in it.
I generally don’t panic, but the horribly tragic story of the man forgetting his baby in the car had freaked me out. If I had a cell phone I’m sure it would have been in my purse already in the car. I ran into the closest shop—the pizza place—and begged someone to call for help.
Within minutes, our mobile precinct—a bus-sized converted RV—showed (It looked very much like the one in this image. Talk about mortified!) The very kind police officers jimmied open my door—which–lucky for me–they still did back then.
After the police left and I calmed down, I noticed I had left the front passenger window open a few inches. Had I not lost my brain, I could have asked the pizza guy to borrow a long-handled utensil (i.e., a spatula). With it, all I would have had to do was push the button to unlock the door.
We’re all human, my dear parents and caregivers.The preceding is only ONE of many incidents my children and I have survived. (Trust me, I’ve truly been blessed that some things I never foresaw happening didn’t end worse than they did.)
Do you have a parent mishap story? How did you feel then and how do you feel about it now that you can look back on it?
Happy Tuesday, everyone. Thank you for checking back in. Guess “later this week” will have to include a full seven-day cycle for this post. Life gets REALLY busy sometimes, and the best one can do is make the necessary adjustments.
Last time we discussed issues that messed with the morning routine I’d gotten into during my kids’ elementary school days. (This included early-AM exercise.) Once they got older, their schedule changed and this mom-who-works-outside-the-house had to adapt. Here are some of the ways I did.
One: I moved my ankle, wrist and small dumbbell weights from the basement to my bedroom. I exercised in my room—or between their beds—while calling them between counting out reps. (These days, my gear hides in a basket near the TV in the living room, just within reach of the exercise ball.)
Two: I shortened and/or broke up the routines (about 10 minutes each): do arms in the morning; legs in the afternoon–often while catching a Law & Order SVU re-run. I get in full-body routines during Dancing with the Stars, too 😉 ).
Three: I learned to multi-task exercises (i.e., combine lunges with arm work, arm work with abdominal work while on the exercise ball, etc). Translation: More muscle groups addressed per move.
Four: I make walking outdoors a priority—15-25 minutes, usually 5 days a week. (I abhor treadmills and exercise machines—I’m far too restless to stay in one spot that long. Reading and/or watching TV while I’m on one just doesn’t cut it for me.)
Dancing: I’ll cue up my favorite YouTube videos of songs I like and just move to them. So many out there—all age groups covered.
Five: YouTube videos: Long and short workouts galore to be discovered—some as short as FIVE (!) minutes. I pick, choose and vary them. Try two or three 5-minute ones and cover a full-body workout in 15 minutes. (This barre workout and Popsugar fitness are (still) favorites. If you can past the English girl’s voice in the former, you’ll be just fine.)
Six: Sneak some exercise at work: take stairs, squeeze your back end while in your chair. My little guys at school are doing wall push-ups or jogging—often with me right alongside, often in red heels—by kindergarten.
Disclaimer: CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR, AND USE YOUR JUDGMENT WHEN USING ON-DEMAND AND YouTube VIDEOS (and if running in shoes with a heel). I have a background in anatomy and physiology. I’m no expert, but I am familiar with the directions that individual muscles move, what key muscle groups do, etc, so I can tailor my routines.
I also have physical therapist friends—this is among their areas of expertise. I ask; they help. Even so, I wound up doing something to my hip during a zumba/soca video I pulled up. (Within 2-3 months, I was having serious trouble getting off the floor. I started by chucking the rocker-sneakers, which I still miss. A trip to an orthopedist, my regular practitioner and athletic taping of my knee followed. 18+ months later, I still swear by my tape.)
Disclaimer #2: WORK AT YOUR OWN PACE and DON’T PUSH YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF INJURY. If a workout calls for jumping or running and you can’t–modify (i.e., walk in place, etc). An injury will side-line you big-time and totally get in the way of your purpose.
Having stated that, it’s a mind-shift, my dear parents and caregivers. And it can be done. All you need is a little flexibility in your thinking and a desire to make it work within the parameters of your particular circumstance.
How do you adapt? All ideas and thoughts welcome—leave yours in the comments or email me privately.
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: email@example.com