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

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right???? (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Told ya I’d be spotty with posting regularly at this time of the school year. I’ve never hoped to make a liar of myself, but it might have been nice to be proven wrong when it comes to being overly busy with paperwork. At least I can say I’m writing something–yes??? 😁

So…

We’re still talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and two.

Here is where we left off: Teaching/modeling responsibility (and EXPECTING my children to BE responsible) are probably the most effective foundation-building things parents, caregivers, educators—anyone involved with kids—can do.

I like to think Hubby and I started when the boys were very young, as in, old enough to put away toys, throw a juice box in the trash–you know, the heavy work. 😉

Teaching responsibility doesn’t have to be complicated. Keeping chores and/or tasks age-appropriate, simple and few facilitates success, along with a sense of pride/accomplishment for being independent. It also helps minimize frustration and/or resentment (for kids AND parents).

Here are some of the things I expected my kids to do. Feel free to try the examples or come up with your own:

Make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does—as always, leading by example is powerful.) I kept the job easy: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (I’ve never used a flat top sheet. It’s a bit much for kids to handle, and the the bed would never get done the way this mamma likes.  I skip it to this day, and the 20-year old still makes his bed. How cool is that? 😎)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their outfits—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to ensembles I liked 😉. If morning is just too rushed, I offer two suggestions:

(1) Help really little ones on days when it’s not feasible to wait, but expect them to dress at an age-appropriate level of independence on weekends, or whenever things are a bit more relaxed at your house. (Try to be consistent with days in which the onus is on them.) This can also apply to kids who are physically capable to dress themselves, but have special needs that interfere with doing so in a timely manner. BTW, at around 12 months, even babies can “help” with dressing. Wait for them to push an arm through a sleeve or leg into pants. I like to make a game of looking for a hand at the end of a long sleeve when putting a jacket on toddlers and preschoolers—makes the task more fun for both of us!

(2) Let the older ones fend for themselves or deal with the consequences. These don’t have to be dire, mean or horrible; consequences should be a naturally occurring  (or logically-related) result of one’s choices. (More on that in my next post.)

Give up the backpack! This is a biggie  for me, and I stand by it to this day. Each of my boys carried his backpack from the day he got one. (Yes, even in nursery and preschools. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but handed them back immediately upon completing the race. (There’s that subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

Here are some more illustrations of subtext—what say you?

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Three girls walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. (I’ll assume they were her daughters.) ‘Nough said.

Another neighbor once said something about her kids not being responsible about the dog. “I told Freddelina to take out the dog, but she didn’t so now I have to…”

Another day, a neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her then-kindergarten-aged twin boys from school. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys were getting.

Next time: Don’t be afraid to do what you have to do.

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Image from Pexels

Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions? This ain’t about me telling my story, folks; it’s about parents sharing their experiences and problem-solving. Everyone’s input matters! Either you’re in the trenches–or survived them! YOUR experiences can be of benefit to others and questions can be a springboard for the answer(s) you might be seeking.

Please take a moment and share in the comments or on Facebook. I made it to Instagram (joanne.timpano) and am learning my way around there.  As always, if the content speaks to you, please pass it along via any of the buttons below, or share on Instagram! (I don’t believe there is a button I can add, but I know it’s a biggie. Thank you!!

Wising you all a wonderful day and rest of the weekend,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, OTR/L, content and images, unless otherwise specified, 2019.

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

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right???? (Part 2)

Hello all! Nothing like a snow day to help one get a little more caught up. (Who are we kidding? Is being caught up ever really possible?)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

That’s where I left off next-to-last post. If you missed it, you might want to check it out. (Pinky swear: it ain’t all that long. )

My coworker’s question really struck me; to this day I often wonder about it. (That question also inspired the name of my parenting workshop , come to think of it. 😉 ) Those of you who have been hanging around the blog for a while might remember a series of posts I did about Discipline vs. Control. (I’ve linked you to the first. Feel free to take it from there, for a total of five essays on the topic, and maybe a bit more insight into groundwork laid.)

Not that he didn’t help before, but since Hubby took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, he’s taken on many of the responsibilities involved in keeping a house running. He often refers to the house as “his job”. So, he models by doing a lot of the cleaning, along with showing consideration. (That’s an important component, folks. Kind of like the subtext in a story: what’s not written but inherent and working on your psyche as one reads.)

Example: We usually all pitch in after dinner, but on many occasions, when Hubby knows I still have paperwork to do, or errands to run after work, he’ll offer to clean up on his own. Most of the time though, I try to move a little faster and make sure to employ everyone present. If every person does a small part of the bigger job, we all get done more quickly and one person isn’t stuck with all the work, right?

And here’s a bit of an aside, but it ties in: Years ago a friend and I were chatting. Something came up about her husband offering to “help” her do something home- or kid-related. My friend took the offer; she also jumped on the opportunity to point out that whatever had to be done was their responsibility—not hers alone with him jumping in to assist because he thought it was kind, or his duty, or whatever other reason spurred him to offer his time and efforts.

Back to subtext: This was a big shift in perspective for me! Being a doer, I tend to initiate and ask others to take on parts of the job. I quickly grasped the concept my friend illustrated and passed it on to Hubby. Little by little, could it be the sons got this too?

And one more take on this before I get back to the point: When my full-timers were small and my part-timers (a.k.a., stepsons) were still children and spent time here regularly (i.e., weekends, overnighters, etc), the bulk of my time outside the day job—which never lacked for work to bring home—was taken up with two to five boys at any given time. One day, Hubby got a little annoyed with my availability for him being pretty limited. He told me, “I feel like I’m at the bottom of the totem pole.”

My reply came quick (thanks to that chat with my friend 🙂 ).  “Actually, I’m at the bottom. You’re probably the next step up. Since, however, we’re supposed to be equal in this relationship and family situation, I’m thinking you should be at bottom next to me.” (Chances are, Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with me at that moment. 😇)

IMHO, this brings me back to a single word: RESPONSIBILITY. Perhaps that is the “key” to the “foundation” Hubby and I might have laid for “something like this to happen,” as my coworker put it.

If nothing else, I’ve always been responsible. Not that it was necessarily a choice: as the first-generation-American (and only) daughter of Italian immigrants, I was groomed for being so from the first English words that came out of my mouth. My work as a health care provider is responsibility after responsibility. And dealing with the ramifications of not fully understanding my part of my responsibilities in my first work setting led to growth (which, I promise, wasn’t without pain).

So, teaching responsibility, and EXPECTING my kids to BE responsible, are probably the two most foundation-building things I hope to have done along the way. (BTW, this applies to my students too, and something I sort-of drill, especially as kids vie for increased independence, which is typical as they grow. I’m also big on pushing the idea that freedom/privilege is WROUGHT with responsibility–think driving.)

We’ll talk about this more next week.

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Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions? This ain’t about me telling my story, folks; it’s about parents sharing their experiences and problem-solving through the hiccups and rough spots, or inspiring us with jaw-dropping moments of whaa….?

Everyone’s input matters! Either you’re in the trenches–or survived them! Please take a moment and share in the comments or on Facebook. As soon as I get that danged Instagram thing together—setting it up has only been annoying with nothing to show for it to date—you’ll be able to post there too. (To the chagrin of my kids—Younger Son, in particular–who are not thrilled with mom sharing their platform, lol–which is why, I’m told, kids left Facebook. 😀 ) As always, if the content speaks to you, please pass it along via any of the buttons below!

Enjoy the (snow) day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, OTR/L, content and images, unless otherwise specified, 2019.

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.”

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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. 😉 )

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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).

 

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 1

Welcome! A much-belated happy new year to all! Not one post in on the parenting series, and I’m already behind schedule!

Let’s go straight to some definitions.

According to Dictionary.com, discipline has several definitions; among those training, punishment and instruction to a disciple (i.e., student).  

Control, on the other hand, is to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. (This one can give me the heebie-jeebies when I see it in action, or how its negative effects can manifest themselves.

Aside: Two quick thoughts: EVERYONE wants to be in control and NO ONE wants to be controlled by someone else. Just bear with me on this, parents. I’m not giving free rein to any child–no matter the age–just yet! 😉

Real-life story illustration (from 2012; Older Son was 16 years old): On the Saturday before Christmas we’d just gotten home around 8:30 PM from a family get together. Within the hour, I’m hearing kids’ voices outside calling out to Older Son. I figured they were coming from another friend’s, who lives three doors down from me. They came in for a minute then headed back out.

One of the girls in the group often complained about her parents being strict, especially her father. After the kids left, Hubby asked if that particular dad knew his daughter was out walking around at that hour. I had no clue.

Didn’t think much about it until the next day, when Older Son’s girlfriend dropped in, along with her mom. She was among those  who’d stopped by the night before. I mentioned Hubby’s comment about the other girl walking around at night. Older Son’s girlfriend’s mom went off a bit on her daughter, after she realized her daughter and the other friends wandering around the night before had essentially been stranded at a neighborhood restaurant (which amounts to a 25-30-minute walk from my house). Sounds like a disagreement between the kids at the restaurant resulted in their ride being cancelled by the boy whose dad was supposed to provide it.

My immediate thought was: my kids would never have thought twice about calling me to pick them up. The girl with the strict dad might have been afraid to call. My son’s girlfriend stated, “We didn’t want to bother you,” and the other boy who was with them rarely asks for a ride from his parents. (His stepdad watched his toddler brother while his mother worked on Saturday nights. His father lived about a half-hour away.)

The situation made me feel really good about my relationship with my kids to that point. When they were really young, I found it very tough and often terribly frustrating to manage (a.k.a. control)  busy boy behaviors. Seems like back then it was all about them getting to do what I wanted or expected, and I often felt resentful during those times they did not. (Sometimes I still feel that way, lol.)

Too many times, I grappled with whether I was being permissive or letting them make choices out of respect for them as people, especially after I’d set a boundary then found myself discussing/negotiating it. (That’s a supposed no-no in the way of effective parenting, or so I’ve been told here and there 😉 ).  Maybe what appeared to be negotiating then was my way of thinking aloud and making sense of the process as I lived it. (I still do that and my poor kids have to listen to it, lol. Good thing that older one is patient!)

Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in this process. We’ll talk more about this in the subsequent post. In the meantime, please go ahead and add your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Not an easy one, but one that is manageable with a shift in mindset.

One more request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter and/or any of the share buttons below? (Feel free to post share links at any site not represented here you feel might benefit from the content as well.) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

This article certainly appeared shareworthy. Check it out!

Have a wonderful day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images.

 

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