Tag Archives: Parenting

Cards

Mother’s Day cards scare me

a little, when they proclaim

that I’m the

most marvelous mom ever,

that I might not be able

to live up to that

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Morning Cuddles Are The Best

unmade-bed

There’s nothing sweeter

than the little wee one who

wants nothing more in the

world than to just cuddle with

his dear Momma

 

I’ll For My Children ~ Poetry Challenge 2015

'Mother and Child Reading,' Mary Cassett

‘Mother and Child Reading,’ Mary Cassett

I’ll not be perfect

I’ll make mistakes

I’ll tell you the truth

I’ll always love you, my children

I’ll always be human

I’ll try to recognize my faults and improve

I’ll try to be true to myself

I’ll try to do what I know best

I’ll try to give you better

I’ll try to find balance

I’ll always comfort you

I’ll lose it

I’ll hug you when you’re sad

I’ll protect you

I’ll let you down sometimes

I’ll be your hero at least once

I’ll learn as I go

I’ll try to teach you what I know

I’ll get frustrated

I’ll forgive you

I’ll let you mess up and then we’ll talk about the right way

I’ll lose my way

I’ll make sure we figure it out together

I’ll let you figure out what’s right for you

I’ll let you get away with things

I’ll make you hate me sometimes for your own good

I’ll always be your Mom first

*This poem is part of my 2015 Poetry Prompt Challenge, if you want to play along, join in, do the prompts and I’ll post your link on my blog. Today’s prompt is “Write a Poem that begins with a proclamation.” I decided to take it to the next level and make all the lines a proclamation.

 

Further Proof That Conveniences Are Making Us Think Much less

I’ve blogged in the past that convenience makes us lazy.
A shining example of this is the way LEGO now prints their instructions.

The old way was Lego just showed you a picture of what you needed to build and you had to sift through and figure out how to get there by looking at the pictures.

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Now they put little boxes in the (upper left) corner to show you exactly what pieces you need before you build.

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Yes, it’s plenty more convenient, but also takes some of the brain power out of the mix. Sometimes it’s just little nuances like this that that are scattered throughout life that makes us just have to think less on a daily basis.

Combine this with autocorrect, GPS, etc and our kids are learning less and less how to do things without some device or instructions telling them exactly how to achieve the end.

Protecting Our Children Online

Guest Post written by Sarah Upton.

children friend girls playing internet with smartphone

Summer is fast approaching, and children are quickly being released from schools all across the nation for their summer vacation. While this might be the best time of the year for them, it can be some of the most worrying months for parents. Our children having infinite free time each day to get into trouble while we are unable to supervise from work is a problem many parents face, and it can be difficult to keep track of what our kids get into while we aren’t home.

 

When we were growing up, all our parents had to worry about was us coming home with cuts and scratches or bruises, but the with the growing impact of technology in the modern world, many children have access to personal smartphones and computers. Reports from a study by Common Sense Media back in 2013 suggest that three in four children have used a smartphone or tablet by the age of 8, and nearly twenty percent use them on a daily basis. While the access to smartphones and tablets grows by the day, children are getting more and more linked to the internet at all hours of the day.

 

It can be difficult to monitor what your children are doing all the time even while you’re home, but when you’re at work it is nearly impossible. Many parents stress out all day over what their children are doing online while they aren’t looking, and this is likely to be a problem that affects all of us at some point in our children’s lives. While some parents might want to try limiting their family’s access to technology in an effort to keep them safe, it is becoming far too easy for children to get access through the rest of the community. Here are some tips for how to help your children remain safe while they are wired this summer.

 

The first step any parent should take with their children is to simply educate them about safe use. Microsoft published an article explaining what to teach your kids, and it is definitely worth taking the time to do if you haven’t already. Many tips seem obvious to adults but are not so for children, such as never sharing your passwords, logging out of websites when using public computers, and not giving out full personal information. Remember that you should set guidelines for what your child can do online—anything posted to the internet can potentially be seen by everyone, even if posted privately, so if you are not comfortable with everyone seeing what your child does, it is time to set stricter rules.

 

In addition to ordinary parental supervision, there are apps that can assist with the daunting task of tracking your child’s online habits. Verizon Wireless wrote an article about protecting your children online, and they list many helpful apps. They carry helpful tools for parents such as FamilyBase, a service which allows parents to monitor their children’s phone activity and set limits for when and where they can access the web. Not only can this enable you to track their phone use, but you can see which apps they have installed and which apps they use the most. As smartphones are quickly becoming the main source of online connection for children, being able to directly monitor their usage through your mobile provider is the most powerful tool you have.

 

The article also mentions other apps which are independently published for you to download. One of these apps is MamaBear, which parents can install on their phones for help monitoring their children. This app gives feedback to parents about everything their child does, including where they are and how they are interacting with friends on social media networks like Facebook and Instagram. It can even track how fast your teenagers are driving and alert you if they are going above a preset limit! My Mobile Watchdog is similar in practice but also gives parents the ability to monitor their kid’s text and picture messages. It gives parents an email summary of their child’s activity and alerts them if any boundaries are broken, however, it is Android only.

 

There are many other apps which can give you some control over how your child uses their mobile devices or computer. Even if you do not wish to place hard restrictions upon your family, these apps can still give you the peace of mind you deserve this summer. Rather than limiting your child’s access entirely, simply monitoring them can help you ensure they are using modern technology safely while you aren’t there to supervise. While modern technology has given children greater access than ever to unhealthy sites, it has also empowered parents to know more about their children’s activities and habits.

~ Sara Upton is an avid reader and dog enthusiast. When she isn’t reading or writing, she likes to take long hikes and experiment in the kitchen with new recipes.

 

 

 

 

Do We Over Sugar-Coat To our Kids?

The other day I went to the zoo with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. They’re mostly 1st graders.

We were in a huddled group together enjoying a snack, basking in the sun. Girls gnawing on pre-packed cookies and conversing about reptiles. One girl mentioned a certain white snake in the reptile house- to which a parent responded that the snake “went away.” I really absent-mindedly didn’t realize they were trying to gloss over the fact that the snake had died the year before. Did not cross my mind.

“He died I replied.” I really thought the other parent just wasn’t aware of what happened and didn’t think anything, anything at all of my instant response.

She, the other parent, scolded me for not sugar-coating or essentially lying aboutsugarworms the death of the snake. Not a beloved household pet mind you.

I don’t think I am an insensitive person, but I often feel an obligation/duty/ philosophy/interest in telling and explaining the truth in most (when I deem appropriate) situations.

I’ve introduced the concept of death to all my children. We’ve said goodbye as a family to friends and relatives and pets. I’ve never told them the “gone away” cover-up. I’ve explained that people we’ve known were all done living, answered questions and so forth. We’ve shared sad situations and cried together as a family.

The whole situation made me step back and think- am I insensitive? Should I have not told a group of 6/7 year olds (that were not mine) that an animal had died? The girls hadn’t really thought twice about what I had said in that moment, or at least nobody but the grownups had blinked an eye. Do we sugar-coat life experiences too much for our kids? Am I desensitizing my children to not value life? What do you think? What would you have done/what have you done in similar situations?

Raising The Entitlement Generation

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More and more I feel like we all have this overwhelming sense of entitlement. You, me, our children; we are all guilty. We think we ought to get the best service, the best products, the best treatment, all our dreams are supposed to come true, big companies need to give to our causes, and so on and so forth. It’s an underlying theme that is lurking within our government, our schools, our wallets, our relationships, our jobs, our fundraisers, our businesses and our homes. Not only do we need what we want, but we covet, deserve and demand we get it or else. No sacrifices necessary.

“Never second best.”

“Not on my watch.”

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

“It’s our party we can do what we want.”

There’s an immense sense that we can be crappy people and we deserve to be rewarded anyway.

Is it because retail is so competitive in this country that customer service often goes above and beyond (even when it equals a loss to the company)? Do we walk into [insert popular grocer here] and expect there to be a cart-boy at our every beck and call when we snap our fingers? Is it because buying beyond our means on credit is a societal norm? Is it because parents are given a major guilt trip à la “mommy wars” style when they don’t give into their child’s every need regardless of the hardship it poses on them? Is everything so disposable that we can abandon effort and still expect to be rewarded? Do we expect that big biz owes us “X” amount of their profits? Has donation-culture given us an expectation of what is deserved and demanded? Is it because we are told the American Dream is not only ours for the taking, but ours by a God-given right? In a yes-man/YOLO society, is the word “no” becoming unfamiliar and uncomfortable? In a world where anything is possible and everything is right at our fingertips do we expect everything to come directly to our fingertips extremely easy? When we’re told we can be anything when we grow up, do we demand that we get to do exactly what we want without restriction and/or without sacrifice and dedication? When we are raised to question everything, do we never learn to be satisfied with the undesirable answers?

So much of this revolves around the way we treat people whom we perceive to be “below us.” It also revolves around the way we won’t stand for being talked down to. Those two statements seem contradictory side by side, but I believe they co-exist somehow. No one wants to be the one on the bottom rung, but we’re more than happy to treat those we consider beneath us poorly and those above us like they owe us something.

A few things play into why this might be happening.

Our on-demand culture is making us impatient. How dare we ever have to wait for anything? It’s unacceptable.

We’re used to getting enraged about a mass amount of topics with limited knowledge on a particular subject; rinse, recycle, and repeat. We live in a 30 second sound bite meme world. Media included. There’s a flood of sob-story sound-bites out there on how life is so unfair, when there’s a usually a piece to the puzzle we don’t know and don’t care or have time to investigate the bigger picture. Our social media feeds are a constant overflow of urban legends where everyone is a victim and no one is at fault. We primarily don’t understand laws, regulations, and don’t want to see the other side to an argument nor do we care. We want “justice,” we want it now and we don’t demand logic and deeper research while seeking it.

I also think a lot of this has to do with our consumer culture. We love to surround ourselves with “stuff.” We are used to demanding that “the customer is always right.” Demanding a customer style status bleeds over into everything we consume. We feel like it’s necessary to tell media persons, weather forecasters, police officers, and everyone else from teachers to the president that they are doing it wrong and they need to fall over themselves to please us. The President can’t even eat mustard on his hamburger without being told he’s turning his back on the American people. He needs to do it our way or else. We (think we) are entitled to being appeased.

We love shortcuts: why learn to spell when you have autocorrect; why learn directions when GPS can lead the way, why read a book when we can skim the cliff notes?

“Life isn’t fair,” was a common phrase I heard as a child. The current generation is hell-bent on proving their parents were wrong. We think we’re entitled to life being fair. Not only that, but to go one step further, it’s an oyster waiting to be deposited directly into our fingertips.

When our parents were young their teachers and principals probably hit them on the knuckles with a ruler or they sat in the corner wearing a dunce cap, and at home a belt across the rear was commonplace. Manual labor was common. Children called their parent’s friends by their last name only; they were seen and not heard without exception.

Let me be clear, this is not ideal nor would I advocate for the return of this. Fact is: child-rearing was different. There’s been a shift in the way we treat and raise our children; and even if for good reason, that doesn’t mean the outcomes is one-dimensional or an all out win.

Some of that stern-parenting gradually trickled away as we (my generation) grew up. Children had a place and learned respect, but it wasn’t like the old days where kids were treated like second class citizens. And now, today, we see a total shift in that notion where parents are often defending their children against teachers and their superiors. We live in a sue-nation where we bring lawsuits at the drop of a hat. We believe we deserve to be compensated when we are not happy. We also use social media and threats of going to the news media as leverage to get what we want. We play off the fear of exposure of our opposition to demand satisfaction.  We feel it is our job to expose and call out every single misstep that people, corporations, etc. make. We also just don’t teach our children that they have to concede themselves to respect anyone, and with this, a part of ingrained politeness fades.

Also with the shift in smaller family sizes, our lives are more centered or revolve around our kids and instead of them being a part of the picture, they ARE the entire picture. Parents are encouraged more and more to compromise their lives to provide for their kids. Parenting is now a competitive sport and our kids are our pawns in the game of ‘I did it best.’

I remember when I was younger; the way we played was different from it is now. Our playmates were other kids, while our mother’s role wasn’t to primarily indulge our every whim. There’s been a shift in the expectations of a parent today. WE are now expected to be our child’s primary playmate, cheerleader, indulger, etc. The expectations also include providing for them for a longer period. It’s more commonplace to pay for their college education, their healthcare, etc. while they live at home until well into their 20’s and beyond figuring out what their careers are going to be, while 50 years ago people in their low 20’s would’ve been married or well into a career and expecting kids of their own. Today the average age of first marriages is in our late 20’s, (28 for men & 26+ for women) the oldest it’s ever been in history. Our nation also has stricter labor laws and regulations today than ever pertaining to child labor, which yes, of course is a good thing, but it also delays responsibility until later in life. Manual labor isn’t as common and regarded as a second rate employment. We have thousands of jobs in this country that are unfilled because we believe we are just too good to do them. Whether or not this shift is a good thing, is a moot point. It still has consequences. Regardless of the necessity to change our lives, it remains that there are costs to this shift in how we live in that our attitudes and expectations are just different. Somewhere we got lost in that shift and that happy-medium place slipped between our fingertips. We value responsibility, but have failed to create situations for our children that teach them or rather demand of them to be accountable. I like the quote, “If we know better, then we do better.” Life in many ways is better, but we’ve forgotten to make up for the lost skills that are a result of living better, more convenient lives.

There’s something in our culture that we all subscribe to that makes every one of us believe that we deserve the best regardless of what other beings or companies have earned or who our expectation’s stomp on. And part of that is the fact that biz businesses have earned their profits on the backs of others. That’s a crappy thing, but our pushback to all the injustice in the world contributes to feeding our entitlement. “They can’t get away with this” is our adage. And I do agree, we shouldn’t let the big guy get away with it. We should demand better treatment. But more and more we’ve crossed the line between vying for our rights and our engrained sense of entitlement.

I should also add that I do believe in Government subsidies. I believe that the poor should get assistance, the feeble need help and those down on their luck need a lift. I don’t subscribe that entitlement is a poor problem, but more of a wide-sweeping way of thinking that is poisoning our lives.

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Meteors, Not Shooting Stars: Musings From The 6

When it’s time to put the kids to bed and they have me or my husband all to themselves in their rooms is usually when we finally get a quiet one on one moment and they each tell me all they know or tidbits and random highlights from the day. On this particular evening my 6 says to me in one hurried breath, “We’re learning about planets and people think shooting stars are stars, but they’re not, they’re meteors, but when they land on the ground, they’re meteorites and if you wanted to travel to the sun, you couldn’t because you’d die before you got there. Also, there’s a Mr. Bailey, did you know that?”

There’s some moments I just want to remember forever.

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I Lie

I lie. You probably do too. Well, at least just a little.

pino

I’m not talking about super big lies- I am who I say I am- but sometimes little white lies crawl out of my mouth all too easily. Things like that shirt doesn’t make you look fat or I don’t have a babysitter to watch the kids tonight, because really I don’t want to do something or oh yum, those homemade cookies taste great. Also, blaming something on my kids or my husband is perfect way to get out of doing something and not be a jerk, right? Right?!

Sometimes we justify telling our little white lies because we want to spare the feelings of those around us. We (I) tell myself (unconsciously) that I bend the truth so they don’t feel bad- but maybe in actuality we bend the truth because we are to chicken to face how bad it will make us feel to be that completely honest. We are the ones who will get red in the face, we are the ones who will feel uncomfortable. So we save ourselves.

I also really have a hard time saying “no,” probably partly for the same reasons. And you wouldn’t think this is true probably, because sometimes I have a snarky little mouth that says too much. But I end up saying yes to volunteering or whatever, because maybe it sounds good at the time or I just don’t always find the words to say, “no, I have too much damn stuff on my plate already.” Maybe I speak too quickly to just be agreeable. Maybe we aren’t taught to say no or be disagreeable. We are taught to be polite and kind and fit in, no matter what. And you had better just eat that cookie that grandma made and smile, because you don’t want to be rude. We teach our kids to say thank you for that horrendous sweater with kittens on it that they got for Christmas because otherwise you hurt their feelings. Maybe even when we say yes but don’t want to, it means we aren’t being our authentic selves or being honest. Maybe sometimes we should stop doing that.

Sometimes it backfires.

Recently there was this situation where someone asked me if my child could do something with them. For several reasons the answer will always be no. And to save face I just made an excuse up about why they couldn’t- instead of saying the real reason why they couldn’t- which included my extreme distrust and discomfort of this person, and knowledge of some illegal activity. I gave the brushed off version, which was, “sorry we’re busy.” But now the problem is, they are being pushy and keep asking again and again. (Which is weird. stop) So it seems like I’m just going to have to be completely honest and let them know I don’t feel comfortable leaving my child with them. I feel like I have to break up with this person I don’t even like. And break-ups are uncomfortable, right. And I especially know that because it doesn’t just involve me, but my child- I have to just be straight up- and risk being a jerk to speak up for their best interest. This has to happen every time, really for their safety and to teach them a valuable lesson here.

Author Mark Twain once said, “No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our circumstance–the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without saying.” Is this right?

So what would you do? Is it ever okay to lie? I will give credit to local media personality, Evan Dawson, because when I asked Twitter this morning what I should do, he suggested that it was never okay to lie, for any reason- even to save face. He also sent me a link of a book, Lying by Sam Harris, where the author tackles the problem with white lies and argues that we can “radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”

Interesting and thought-provoking (yet so simply glaringly true) concept. And man with three kids, I need simplicity like I need food and water.

Oh and also everyone else on Twitter also says I need to cop to the truth. Something that I was already overwhelmingly feeling like I had to, considering the present situation- but I apparently needed a kick in the butt to reassure me that it was the right thing to do. For me, and maybe for them too, and definitely for my kids.

The Guesswork of Parenting

Do you ever feel like parenting is just a series of on the job training experiences? Where you don’t know what the job entails, you don’t know how things are going to go, or how to solve the problems, but things keep rolling ahead at full steam and you have to make decisions on the fly or handle the job blindly. Sometimes I have no clue as to what the answers are. Or maybe I do know the answer, and at moments I am too weak to make the right choices. And then something happens and you kick yourself for not doing something differently. Lately I feel like that’s what parenting is all about. A series of guessing what the best answers are. Sometimes I know for sure I did the right thing, and sometimes it turns out I didn’t. And when you know better, you do better- hopefully.

Ultimately we have to learn from our mistakes and forgive ourselves for having moments of weakness or ignorance, because even if we screw up, the job is still going to be there tomorrow. Our kids will be still looking to us for guidance and there will be bigger decisions to make soon enough. At some point my biggest decision won’t just be how to handle a tantrum during dinner.

Before my kids were born I could tell you how many ounces of sunscreen I was supposed to apply and how often, when to start solids, potty train, and how many hours of sleep a night they require. Sometimes all that by-the-book mommy-training will be tossed out the window and you just have to play things by ear. Mothering is sometimes guided by advice, then after time, by experience and always by using your best intuition. And even after all that, you are still thrown curve balls (and screwballs and fastballs and sliders and change ups)!

Sigh

My only hope is that one day my kids know that I did my best, and that one day all those fickle “I hate yous” that I hear when I’m being the “mean one,” all become “I love yous.”

I have to believe that overall that can be true.

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