Monday, June 17, 2013
Yesterday, June 18th marked the first anniversary of my Splashparenting Blog. This blog was created as an off shoot of my parenting classes and handbook. So after 20,000 views from 10 countries, I am asking for some feedback from readers as I contemplate whether or not I am going to continue blogging. SPLASH Parenting Principles is a parenting handbook I wrote to help parents learn skills that will transform their family life from chaos to calm. It is available on Amazon.
SPLASH stands for the characteristics that any successful parent needs to utilize:
And so I invite you to look over my past posts. And if you have any feedback, help my celebrate this occasion by writing me a comment or two.
Happy Parenting! Sincerely, Dawn Lantero
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Dads hold a special place in each child's heart. Dad is someone you can always count on, solid as a rock, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and first to hug when you walk in a room. Dad corrects you when you step out of line, but also guides and directs you when you are in need of counsel. Dad teaches you to hit the ball, run the bases, take one for the team, and enjoy the game. Dad loves to laugh, and you are the one who knows what really can get him going. Is it talking babies? Dancing hamsters? Grizzly Bears throwing punches?
Dad's wallet is always open before yours. He gets joy out of treating you. He wants to see you happy. But more than money, Dad loves spending time with you. Sit and watch the hockey game, walk to your local bakery for breakfast with him, share a bike ride. He's been riding with you since the baby seat days. And then you graduated to the cart, and then the tag-along, and now you can beat him up a hill. This doesn't bring a tear to his eye (well maybe it does) but he also is bursting with pride at the person you are becoming.
Dads are undervalued in our day in age. They are portrayed as bumbling fools on TV; out of touch with reality, hopelessly lame and boring. But in reality, most of the dads I know are hard working, proud of their kids, and enjoy staying just under the radar. They are not attention seeking, but rather the calm, steady force in the background contributing to their family's well being. So seize the opportunity to reach out to your dad this weekend, and make sure he knows what he means to you. And if you are a mom with young children, help them to celebrate their dad and teach them to appreciate the treasure in their lives that they know as Dad!
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
As parents, I can safely say that we all want the same thing...a smooth road ahead. We want our children's lives to be filled with joy and happiness and contentment and satisfaction. We want them to be able to pursue their dreams and enjoy their lives and engage in fulfilling relationships with friends and eventually find love and companionship. Sounds pretty good, right?
But so often we forget that these lofty lifetime goals we hold for them are literally shaped by the minuscule, day to day, nitty-gritty time we spend with them. And that our actions will play an important role in whether or not they have this smooth ride through life. To use a phrase from the American founding fathers: I know these truths to be self evident...here are the parenting truths I know that will allow your child to benefit from the smooth road ahead:
Truth Number I: In order for your children to grow up able to enjoy their lives, they need to understand the concept of being grateful for what they have and have been given. If your children do not realize the sacrifices you make in order for them to have the lives they have, you are not doing your job.
Truth Number II: When your children are experiencing difficulties in their lives, be it friend drama or struggles with a subject in school, pay CLOSE ATTENTION to how YOU are handling it. If your pattern is to consistently BLAME others for the difficulties, you are teaching your child two very bad lessons...the lesson that problems are never their fault, and the lesson of lowered self esteem, because you are not allowing them to work through unpleasantness of any given situation. This behavior can greatly reduce your child's ability to take responsibility for his/her actions and sets them on a rocky road through adolescence--when the crazy in any child's life is dialed up considerably. There are definitely times when parents need to advocate for their children, but if you are hard pressed to think of an example of a time when your child had an issue and you DID NOT step in but rather supported your child as he/she worked through it, you are probably a parent caught up in this unhealthy dynamic.
Truth Number III: The rear view mirror is a very important tool to understanding your parenting style. How you were raised greatly determines what kind of parent you will be. You may mimic the parenting style of your parents, or you may be trying to compensate from things that you perceived as lacking from your family experiences as a child. Often times parents that I work with realize that they are trying so hard to not be like their parents, that they swing too far to the other extreme. For example, if you perceived your parents to be super strict and controlling authority figures, you might have a tendency to subconsciously try to be your child's friend and forge a different kind of parenting dynamic. The problem is, being your child's friend leaves them with other difficult issues to face because children need some limits and structure. That is how they learn to navigate the real world successfully and understand responsible behavior, self control and consequences from their actions. Or if you felt ignored as a child, you may be trying to compensate for that by focusing too much attention on your child's life and issues. Sometimes kid's need to work things out for themselves. Sometimes too much parental attention can end up placing too much pressure and stress on your child. Sometimes always making the road smooth for them robs them of the skills to deal with the bumps and turns of real life. Confusing, huh! Suffice it to say, it is extremely helpful to do some thinking about your own childhood and how it may be affecting the type of parent you have become.
The road of a loving yet authoritative parent is not easy, but has been proven through loads of formal and informal research to be the most effective for putting your children on the right path towards a smooth life ahead. Effective parents combine loving support and empathy with the structure of having real life expectations of their children. The expectations should encompass your child's performance in school, adherence to house rules, and performance of family chores. Having high expectations for your children and holding them accountable for their behavior combined with supporting them with a positive and loving home environment will act as a GPS to guide them into a bright and fulfilling future.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Many years ago, I found myself at a end of the school year party with one of my daughters. The party was at the home of one of her classmates. She was in grade school at the time. The family hosting the party lived in a huge mansion and the event was as over the top as any child's party I had ever witnessed. Out on the lawn, near the catering station over looking the pool and inflatable slides and jumping ball pit stood the hostess of the party, who was the mother of one of my daughter's classmates.
As various parents and children entered the gathering, (most with an expression of utter disbelief on their faces) I remember standing waiting to greet and thank the hostess for this unbelievable event. As I waited, I could over hear her telling another parent that although they had lived in the mansion for over a year, she still yearned for their last house and really couldn't find much to be happy about. I was stunned. This woman was complaining about her life just as people who barely knew her, were ogling over all the incredible riches that her daily life afforded her. I did not know this mother well, and she may have been having a bad day, or problems that I was unaware of. I didn't hear the entire conversation. So I am not trying to pass judgment here, but at the time, I found it incredible that someone in these circumstances would be complaining and not feel utter gratitude, every single moment for the life that she had been given. But that is easy for me to say. There are certainly people who could look at me when I am complaining and have the same thoughts run through their head. What does she have to complain about? How can she not appreciate all that she has been given! So what is the characteristic that seems to be lacking? Gratitude.
As parents, we need to consciously teach our children to be grateful and appreciate what they have. Often, we get so caught up in fulfilling their every want and need, we forget to look at the big picture and remember that handing our children everything does not teach them anything but insatiable greed. A habit of handing your child every latest gadget, just makes them yearn for the next and newest one. Buying them closets full of designer clothes and shoes will never give them the self esteem they lack. Things don't make people happy. Relationships do. But somehow, many of us think that giving our kids everything they want will help foster our relationship with them. I am sorry to be the one to tell you that this doesn't work.
So how do you raise a child to be thankful? Well first of all, look in the mirror. Do they see you being grateful for what you have? Do you make it a point to thank people for what they give you? Do you write thank you notes or emails or make phone calls when someone has helped you out or given you a gift?
Help your child to appreciate what he/she has by having them give to others. Have your children donate toys or clothes to organizations that will pass them on. As they get older, encourage them to volunteer their time through service clubs at school or your parish or synagog. Volunteering to help others often exposes your children to families who do not have what they take for granted. This can be an eye opening experience for preteens and teenagers.
Require your children to have chores and contribute to the running of your household. If you do everything for them, they don't even understand how good they have it. But if they are involved in doing work around your household, they begin to realize that the laundry fairy and the grocery elves do not exist.
And finally, expect them to step up for you when you need them to. I recently had to organize a party for a retiring coworker. Two of my daughters were there with me to set up and help throughout the afternoon and clean up. It was a lot of work, but I knew that I could count on them to be there for me and not let me down. That is the type of relationship we have cultivated, because they appreciate all that they have and have confidence in their own abilities to help out.
When your children are young, get in the habit of having them tell you what they are thankful for each night before they go to bed. This little moment of gratitude can set the tone for a fulfilling life ahead, instead of a life of discontent and disappointment.
And if your children are older but suffer from a lack of appreciation, begin in small ways to expect more of them and also remind them how lucky you feel to have them in your life; because everyone loves to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It's that time of year again. Families are gathering to witness and celebrate middle high school and college graduations. These occasions cause me to reflect on the past and the tired old cliche of just how quickly the years fly by. I heard a young mom recently say "the days seem long, but the years go quickly". She has no idea how right she is!
My only son is about to graduate from high school. And as I reflect on his high school years and what lies ahead, I have discovered that I am a complete sexist. Why? Because the following questions continue to assault my brain. And I don't remember dealing with any of this when his two older sisters were graduating.
Why am I feeling panicky at the thought that he doesn't know how to change the oil in a car? I did make my husband teach him how to change a tire. So I can check that off my list. But can he mow a lawn? Cook a nutritious meal? Drive a stick shift? Why are these thoughts racing through my mind?
Will he know enough not to wear pajama pants out in public? Will he lock his bike on campus? I know he knows how to do laundry, but will he do it? Will he change his sheets? Clip his toenails? And the questions continue to bubble up, like the water in a drinking fountain that never stops running.
Who will look after him? Who will check up on him? Who will care about him? Maybe a girlfriend, but that comes with another whole host of worries. The bottom line is that I need to let go. I have done my job. He has learned what he needs for now. And the rest will come. And I will begin to focus on what he has already learned. He is a confident and wonderful young man facing a bright future. And he knows that his father and I are very proud of him. And we have learned how lucky we are to have him as our son!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Life can be so hectic when you have kids. The calendar fills up at breakneck speed with organized activities and then when we have a break, we always have chores and errands and things we "should" do; we should wash the windows, we should plant a garden, we should clean our closets! My plea to you is put the should's aside when your kids are young and explore your neighborhood with them.
I know you have heard it before. Children grow up so fast. That's why now is the time to enjoy exploring with them. Encourage their curiosity. Broaden their horizons. Take the time now, because before you know it...the calendar will not be as full, they will be on to their own adventures and their curious spirit and community awareness will be a credit to you.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Happy Mother's Day to all the Amazing Mother's I know:
Mother's who sacrifice, encourage, support, love, hug, kiss, work, toil, spoil, and give more than 100% each and every day!
And especially to my mom and mother in law--who make the job look easy--and do it so well!