Archive for October, 2007

The Kids Are Always Watching

Monday, October 29th, 2007

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The families of two 5th-graders involved in a pushing incident are called in for a counseling session after words between families were exchanged. After the counseling session ended, an argument and altercation outside the school followed. When it was over, the father of one of the boys was dead.

How do our children learn? What do our children learn? They learn from us, their first and most important teachers. They learn how to behave, how to resolve arguments without violence, and they learn that sometimes they are wrong.

Scenario

Two best friends try out for the high school varsity cheering squad. Tracy makes it; Allie doesn’t. They walk home together in silence. Allie walks in her house, tosses down her book bag, and tells her mom, “I can’t believe she didn’t say a word to me. I can’t believe she didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t make it!’” At the same time, Tracy arrives home in tears. “I can’t believe she didn’t congratulate me,” she tells her mother.

A parent has a tremendous opportunity to help her child, and at the risk of hyperbole, even get us closer to world peace, by pointing out to her child the other person’s point of view. What if the same scenario played a little differently?

What if Allie’s mom replied, “Honey, maybe Tracy was struggling with feeling good about making the squad and feeling guilty that you didn’t. It’s very possible that she simply didn’t know what to say.”

Tracy’s mom could have replied, “Tracy, put yourself in her shoes for a moment. Allie was really disappointed that she didn’t make it. Give her a day to deal with that.”

The world looks very different when you hear the same scenario from the other person’s perspective.

What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
-Mother Teresa

The Grass Isn’t Greener – Even in Scotland

Friday, October 26th, 2007

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Known as one of the world’s best golf courses, one would believe that St. Andrews in Scotland is an indication that the grass is truly greener. That may be true in the literal sense, but not figuratively.

If you’re worried about parenting, then you should know that parents in Scotland feel undermined, under-valued and un-supported. Scotland’s parents are feeling the pressure to be perfect more than ever before and parents of teenagers are looking for help they say just isn’t there. That’s the findings from a new report which was launched today (16) by leading children’s charity CHILDREN 1ST during National Parenting Week.

The bottom line is the same arguments noted in the report are heard here in the U.S. I applaud UNICEF ambassador Kaye Adams comment that it is no longer ‘us and them’ – we need to work together to help parents, especially parents with teens.

So You Want to Save the World?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

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One of the most beautiful compensations of this life is that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a story you may have heard about David & Goliath. In case you’re unfamiliar, the story is set in biblical times where a giant one eyed-giant Cyclops named Goliath terrorizes a small town. All the warriors in the town tried to fight him and were quickly defeated. A young boy named David, armed only with a slingshot, volunteered to fight the giant. The townspeople looked at the brave young boy and said, “Look at the size of the giant and look at you, how could you possibly win?” David had a very different point of view. He said, “Yes, look at him. How could I possibly miss?”

That story is a myth. A myth by definition is an invented story, idea, or concept. But in reality mythical situations happen all the time. A single person can make a significant difference. What a wonderful lesson for our children, and a great time to discuss it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 is Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others – a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate in this USA Today sponsored event.

The good news is that our kids want to help. Toddlers, according to Psychology researcher Felix Warneken proved the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age with a simple experiment. 61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world suggests a survey of 1,800 young people. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are “the most socially conscious consumers to date.”

What great news. Need an idea?

Here are two:

The Idea Generator

The Future of Life Organzation

Talk about family fun!

What Target® can teach us about being good parents

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

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You see their striking television commercials and slick print ads. You know where their stores are located, and what they sell. So why does Target® need to continue advertising?

Simple, because they want to constantly remind you they are there. Advertising is repeating the message; sometimes in a varying number of ways. The more you hear it, the more likely you are to believe.

That is the lesson we need to learn as parents. It isn’t enough that you told them once to clean up their room, or their toys, or eat their vegetables, or be respectful, or to stay away from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Much like an advertising message, your children have to hear it repeatedly.

Why else would household names, like Coke®, Pepsi®, and Disney® spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising? Surely their brand position is solid. They want to be kept top of mind.

Don’t we want the same thing? We’re battling popular culture for our children’s attention, and let’s face it – the interests of popular culture don’t exactly match our interests as parents.

Make sure you repeat the message you want your children to hear. Visit Parental Wisdom Free Reports to find ways to communication with children and teens.

No one has made this point better (or funnier) than [youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=sXT6Hs113ZA]

Trust Me – You’re Doing a Great Job at Parenting

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

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There are days when you go to sleep at night questioning some of the decisions you made as a parent. You hope that the bad decisions won’t have a long term affect on your children.

The good news is since you care enough to worry about it; you’re probably on the right track.

Compare that to Michele Cossey, 46, was arrested last Friday on charges of illegally buying her home-schooled son, Dillon, a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope. Michele’s son Dillon was being bullied, and planning an attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School [PA]. Buying him the weapons was her way to help.

Dillon tried to recruit Lewis Bennett III, who went right to his parents who went to the police who searched the boy’s bedroom and found the 9 mm rifle, about 30 air-powered guns modeled to look like higher-powered weapons, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado and violence-filled notebooks, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said.

Good police work, but great parenting. Naturally I mean the Bennett’s not the Cossey’s.

Rest assured when you have one of those days when you are questioning your parenting skills, you are probably doing just fine.

Trust, but verify

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

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The front page of today’s USA Today reads High schools using breathalyzers to fight teen drinking. The article discusses the increase in high school orders for breathalyzers which are up 120% in each of the past four years, according to Keith Nothacker, president of KHN Solutions, which sells the machines. Another company, AK Solutions USA, a New Jersey importer of the devices adds that orders go up before prom.

Increased sales come as lawmakers and educators are cracking down on youth drinking with hotlines, awareness classes, tougher penalties for adults who give teens alcohol and more college classes on Fridays to reduce “Thirsty Thursday” partying.

This all makes sense to reduce underage drinking. So who would be opposed? Naturally the American Civil Liberties Union with the concern that schools might violate rights if they test without “reasonable suspicion, and the students themselves who claim that their rights may be violated and they feel the school doesn’t trust them.

So why the picture at the top of this blog of former President Ronald Regan?

Simple – the topic of trust and teens is a divisive issue. Teens want to be completely trusted, but some adults feel teens should not be trusted at all. Both, at times, may be right. I found myself waffling back and forth on this topic until I read a comment by Ronald Regan. When responding to national security issues, Regan commented,

“Trust, but verify.”

At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, I must say that feels just about right.

Think of teens as toddlers on steroids (hopefully not literally); their brains are still being wired. They aren’t capable of making certain choices and need to know and hear from us that they can’t do certain things. If we agree with them, or even if we remain silent, that is taken as a yes when they need to hear a very loud no.

You wouldn’t feel safe moving into a house where the wiring wasn’t complete. Jay Giedd, Chief of Brain Imaging for the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Health Institute of Mental Health, who with Michael Bradley co-authored Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!, concluded that the main area of the brain still developing during the teen years controls organization and decisions such as whether to walk home from school or go for a ride with beer-drinking buddies. Our brains are still being wired till we’re about 24. Is it a coincidence you have to be 25 to rent a car? Sounds like Hertz and Avis were the only ones paying attention on wiring day.

If we compare a teenager’s brain to a new home being built, you can’t get a Certificate of Occupancy until the wiring is complete and inspected. Then it would be safe enough to move in. It’s our job to keep driving the bus until the wiring is complete. According to David Walsh, a clinical psychologist and author of Why Do They Act That Way?, teenagers need and look for curfews, limits, and family rules.

We can provide the walls our kids need. Breathalizers aren’t a bad thing.

The Sandwich Kid

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

I have a sign hanging up at home. It says ‘No Whining’ and has a red circle around it, with a red line through it. I first drew that sign when my kids were little and whining, as young children often do. I remember thinking one day how ineffective a means of communication whining was and that I didn’t want to add any more whiners to an ever growing population.

That is especially true when it comes to me. Anytime I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I realize that there is always someone that has a more difficult time, and none more than parents and families of children struggling with an illness or a disability.

I was surprised to learn that over 650 million people in the world suffer from disabilities, from mild to severe. If you think about how many siblings and family members that would affect, the number is staggering.

Take a look at this brief clip of The Sandwich Kid– a film about special needs families. I guarantee you won’t whine again about the struggles you face. Thanks Judy Winter for sharing this ten minute promo.

We Don’t Need Another Hero

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

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“People who cheat cannot get away with it.”

– Marion Jones in a 2004 interview

Yet another ‘hero’ falls from grace by her own admission as a drug cheat. Before last week, Jones has always vehemently denied taking performance-enhancing drugs and many were willing to believe her. After all, she was a high school star who appeared blessed with immense natural talent. After seven years, time has finally caught up with her.

She deserves an award all right, but not necessarily the Olympic medals; more like an Academy Award. A tearful Jones admitted to taking the anabolic steroid stanozolol, only after pleading guilty to a charge of lying to United States Government investigators.

Let’s hope the medals now go to their real winners, Jamaica’s Sandie Richards, Catherine Scott-Pomales, Deon Hemmings and Lorraine Graham-Fenton who performed so gallantly in the 4×400 metres final.

For the rest of us mere mortals, let’s introduce our children to the worthy heroes that live among us.

How to raise your baby

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

Parent-to-parent advice on feeding, soothing, and more during baby’s first days at home.

Breastfeeding baby

Breastfeeding

It’s been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She’s finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She’s also becoming more alert when she’s awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we’ve been hit by a truck. I’m amazed that we’ve muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.

Hints for Nursing

Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it’s almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch-ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.

1. Women who seek help have a higher success rate. “Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth,” suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby’s pediatrician for a lactation consultant’s number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).

2. Use hospital resources. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, “I learned everything I could about breastfeeding before I left the hospital.” Ask if there’s a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse-call button each time you’re ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.

3. Prepare. At home, you’ll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O’Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. “Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read.” And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, “pee first!”

4. Try a warm compress if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. “Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast,” says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.

5. Heat helps the milk flow, but if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, “A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me.”

6. If you want baby to eventually take a bottle, introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3-month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but “we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks,” says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.

Sleeping

If your infant isn’t eating, he’s probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You’ll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.

7. Stop obsessing about being tired. There’s only one goal right now: Care for your baby. “You’re not going to get a full night’s sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired,” says Vicki Lansky, author of Getting Your Child to Sleep…and Back to Sleep (Book Peddlers). “Just tired is easier.”

8. Take shifts. One night it’s Mom’s turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it’s Dad’s turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. “I’d be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later.”

9. The old adage “Sleep when your baby sleeps” really is the best advice. “Take naps together and go to bed early,” says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.

10. What if your infant has trouble sleeping? Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. “Don’t worry about bad habits yet. It’s about survival — yours!” says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.

Soothing

It’s often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You’ll learn, of course, by trial and error.

11. “The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex,” says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs.

12. Play tunes. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it’s likely to calm him. “The Baby Einstein tapes saved us,” says Kim Rich, a mom in Anchorage, Alaska.

13. Warm things up. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. “I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water,” she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.

14. You’ll need other tricks, too. “Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down,” says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. “And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape!”

15. Soak to soothe. If all else fails — and baby’s umbilical cord stub has fallen off — try a warm bath together. “You’ll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby,” says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom. Check this gentle bottle dish soap, it will help avoiding unexpected allergic rushes and other skin problems.

Getting Dad Involved

Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby’s here. It’s up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you’re doing.

16. Let him be. Many first-time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. “Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them,” says Armin Brott, author of The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press).

17. Ask Dad to take time off from work — after all the relatives leave. That’s what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. “There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son.”

18. Divvy up duties. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. “I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself.”

19. Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff, too. “I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped,” say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. “I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together.”

Staying Sane

No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.

20. First, ignore unwanted or confusing advice. “In the end, you’re the parents, so you decide what’s best,” says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.

21. “Forget about housework for the first couple of months,” says Alison Mackonochie, author of 100 Tips for a Happy Baby (Barron’s). “Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent!”

22. Accept help from anyone who is nice — or naive — enough to offer. “If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes!” says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

23. Got lots of people who want to help but don’t know how? “Don’t be afraid to tell people exactly what you need,” says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It’s one of the few times in your life when you’ll be able to order everyone around!

24. But don’t give other people the small jobs. “Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You’ll need others to do time-consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers,” says Catherine Park, a Cleveland mom.

25. Reconnect. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: “Get outside on your own, even for five minutes.”

Out and About with Baby

26. Enlist backup. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. “Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn,” says Suzanne Zook, a mom in Denver.

27. If you’re on your own, “stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore,” suggests Christin Gauss, a mom in Fishers, Indiana.

28. “Keep your diaper bag packed,” says Fran Bowen, a mom in Brooklyn. There’s nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you’re not.

29. Stash a spare. Holland Brown, a mom in Long Beach, California, always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. “You don’t want to get stuck walking around with an adorable baby but mustard-colored poop all over you.”

30. Finally, embrace the chaos. “Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time,” says Margi Weeks, a mom in Tarrytown, New York.

If nothing else, remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you’ll be rewarded with your baby’s first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.

Stop Digging

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

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Actually, stop digging is the answer. The question – what do you do when you find yourself in a hole?

Britney Spears didn’t stop digging. In fact she may have gone so far as to channel her inner Elvis.

Like Elvis, she was talented but surrounded herself with people that enabled her, agreed with what ever she said, and decided although she chose to have children; it wasn’t yet time for her to grow up herself.

Wrong.

If you feel sorry for her, don’t.

When you have children, you don’t necessarily have to come last, but you don’t come first either.

Perhaps it would have helped if she had read my book Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals®: Contemporary Advice for Parents.

She could have seen 10 Things to Consider BEFORE Having Children… It is listed here:

10 Things to Consider BEFORE Having Children…

1. Would you want to have you as a parent?
2. Have there been times when you could have been more generous?
3. Do you treat the people that matter in your life as well as you should?
4. Is your relationship with your spouse strong enough to withstand the stress of children?
5. What sacrifices are you willing to make to be able to afford children?
6. What family traditions will you carry on, and what new traditions will you both create together?
7. What is your idea of quality family time?
8. How will you decide how to share family holidays?
9. Do you believe it is your job as a parent to tell a child what to think or how to think?
10. Is there something about your spouse that makes you look forward to becoming a parent, or is there something that has you concerned?

To receive a printable version of this list, simply visit Parental Wisdom and enter your e-mail address to get this free report.

Thank goodness the legal system acted in the best interest of the children.

We all know that although it is a lot of work to raise a child, it is still easier to build a child than it is to repair an adult.