Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope your Super Bowl pick won. If it was the Falcons, I truly feel for you and them. Most. Amazing. Comeback. Ever. And what a catch by #11 Julian Edelman–I mean, how was that catch even possible???

Belief.  Drive. Determination. Motivation. Grit. (A miracle or two doesn’t hurt either…)

That’s what won Super Bowl LI for the New England Patriots.

And those same qualities are what parent(s) need to apply to “the journey.”

person-red-sport-game-football

www.pexels.com

Anyway, this should have run last week, but I somehow messed up scheduling the post. Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion and are ready to delve in a little further!

Disclaimer: Please remember, these are my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences. I do not equate myself with the title “expert.” I do, however, hope to be of service to others sharing this journey, by relating my experiences and what I’ve gleaned from them to date. (Not sure we’ll ever be out of the trenches, and that’s okay too! 🙂 )

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, respect is (1) esteem for, or a sense of, the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person (and/or an older child) does have feelings that need to be considered.

This notion hit me very clearly one day, when my older son was about eight months old. We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, my mini-man had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go.  As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying.

Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This boy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to dealing with his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’ve read parenting books—God knows, they abound—and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Luckily for me, a close friend (and mom) often reminded me that if there were ONE way that worked, there’d be a lot less books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. I also remember browsing a bit through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Thought I might gain some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s often available through Lent. I’ve been known to give that one up every now and again. 😉 )

fullsizerender-1

Back to my point:

I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living.

My job is not to make my kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to make the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. If not, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

When I fight for my way, or for that instant response to what I tell my kids to do–for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!)– I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope to be laying a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

Any thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, etc), so don’t be shy!

With you on the journey,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).

 

 

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Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Also, if you need to catch up, here is the link to Part 1.

celebrate life plaque

Everyone is busy. Let’s own that.

Let’s also consider some fairly easy ways to work together-time into one’s busy day.

Sometimes, it’s a mindset. If whatever you’re doing is a necessity (i.e., making dinner), find a way to involve your kids. (And yes, sometimes it IS far easier–and faster–to get the job done yourself.)

Meals: Kids can tear lettuce for salad, count out baby carrots for snacks, fold napkins, set the table.

Laundry: Let kids fold laundry or match socks. (A direct, life-skill application of some of the skills kids learn in pre-k, or through pre-k aged activities—more on that in a future post.)

“Table Time”:  Have kids do their homework nearby (i.e., while you’re preparing dinner). Simple crafts a child can complete without a parent’s help are ideal at this time too.  (That’s a great way to work in fine motor skills too! Examples: Make a macaroni necklace, paint a page from a paint-with-water book, etc.) Allow a younger child to read to you while you’re engaged in something else.

Schedule a DOABLE amount of time for something you and/or they enjoy (i.e., snuggle time to read a book, play a game, etc). Even 15 minutes works, and sometimes, two quarter-hour slots are easier to find (or make) than that one 30-minute period.

When they were too small to walk, I’d hold them while I sang and twirled to show tunes I’d play on CDs. (It’s even easier to find songs with YouTube.)

When weather allowed, I’d take them to the school yard, walk behind them while they rode their bikes, dragged them to the tennis court. (Older Son still plays with me every now and again. BTW, this blog-post talks about working in fitness time. Use your creativity to make it work for you and your kids together!)

As my kids got older (i.e., middle school age), just sitting at the dinner table longer with them and their friends—vs. jumping up to get everything tidied up—often resulted in some of the liveliest, bond-building chats we’ve had. We still have them every now and again.

And this segues me right into a biggie: HAVE DINNER (or one meal*) TOGETHER AT THE TABLE, per day, if possible.

I understand parents’ work and kids’ school, homework and/or activity schedules don’t always jive. Even a meal together once or twice a week will suffice—and what’s currently happening at my house these days. (Older Son works until 7:30 PM at least three evenings/week. His commute is 30+ minutes, depending on traffic, and he goes to school all-day Saturday.)

For those of you with older kids involved in extracurricular activities, work, etc, hold the meal until later, assuming you can. Or, set the table and eat as a family with whoever is present. (Lately, Hubby and I are home alone. Most times, we’ll still sit at the counter and eat together, rather than plop in front of the couch while we eat.)

*MAKE FAMILY MEAL TIME A DEVICE-FREE TIME. Parents too! No TVs on, phones or tablets at the table, etc—except, of course, when the US Open Tennis Championships are rescheduled to Monday b/c of rain. Then this Mom is allowed to tune the iPad to the match and have it on nearby while we eat. Being flexible is important! 😉 .

Relative to social skills and the autistic student whose family studies during meals. (I mentioned him in Part 2.) Family meal-time isn’t necessarily magical, but opportunities for sharing with potential resultant bonding, closeness and—yes, life-skill-learning—abound. And for some children, particularly those with special needs, that social piece might wind up being more key than the academics. Just MHO. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

I hope you found some ideas here. And please keep this reminder: Don’t allow this write-up to make you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough, etc. (Society will imply that from all angles. Reality is far different.)

So what are some ways you spend (or have spent) time with your children? Don’t be shy! Someone might be inspired!

Until next time,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 2)

Good day! Last time I opened up a discussion on spending time with our kids.

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:

  1. 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.)
  1. 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.

mom -n-baby boys
My li’l boys–can’t believe it went as fast as it did! Who knew?

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.”

I’ll pick up from here next time.

Seize the day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 1)

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…)

Inhale.

Exhale.

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.)

book crate
Yes, there is a Dick-and-Jane reader in there. Pretty sure it belonged to my middle stepson–he turned 27 last week.  🙂

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:

Bruno the Tailor
Remember when I found the “mother’s day coupons”? I found the blue fabric too. More about that below.)

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.)

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Yes, I Have to Let Go Too

Hello friends and followers,

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 a recent 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).

Hereford lighthouse front (1)

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.

Kevins Mazda

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?

Until next time,

Joanne

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Why Are You So Dumb?! (Part 2)

Welcome back. As always, thank you for your time and support!

Congrats to Older Son and his girl--Class of 2015 high school graduates! 
Congrats to Older Son and his girl–Class of 2015 high school graduates!

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:

Stop.

  • 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.

Responding is a SKILL that can be cultivated. It takes awareness of one’s tendency to react, a conscious desire 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.

Have a great day, everyone!

Joanne

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

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, recipes, Reflections

“Why Are You So Dumb?” (Part 1)

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.

banana n almond butter
Easiest breakfast ever: sliced banana with a drizzle of almond butter. Pair with (almond) milk for a gluten-free, super-energizing, no-cook start to the day!

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?

Maybe.

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’ll pick this up next time.

Joanna

Posted in mind and body, Reflections

Peace via Gratitude

Received this AMAZING QUOTE by Gilda Radner in my inbox via Thoughtful Mind:

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

tulips--2015
Totally in love with the colors of these Easter flowers. Can’t wait to plant them outdoors for next year!

This got me thinking. I know very little about Gilda Radner. She had a flourishing career on Saturday Night Live, and was married to Gene Wilder who supposedly loved her very much. (He probably still does.)

Life hit her.

Hard.

Cancer doesn’t care who you are or about what’s going on in your life.

The little I read suggests she chose to make the best of it, until her short life came to its close. (She died at 43.)

Flexibility is key, folks. Life happens. People—kids included—do what they do. (Sometimes it stinks.) We roll with it and experience some modicum of peace, or fight with it and spend many of our days feeling miserable, resentful, cheated, hopeless—you name it.

Regardless of your situation, name ONE thing for which to be grateful. It can be big (that promotion you just got) or not-so-big (the thoughtfulness behind the ceramic loon your 8-year-old spent his money on at the flea market, figuring you’d love it 😉 ).

bird

Make thankfulness a habit. Challenge yourself to name two things. Five. (You get the idea.) Miring oneself in gratitude—despite the stuff life brings—makes it really hard to stay sad. Just MHO and just sayin.’

“A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” Abraham Lincoln. (I’m thinking this applies to women too! 😉 )

How do you practice gratitude and/or flexibility? Does either or both bring you peace? Share about it in the comments. You might just inspire someone else.

Have an inspired day,

Joanne

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