Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Awful Truth: Parents Need to Grow up!

Saturday evening a group of us went out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. While we were eating, a little league team of boys in their red uniforms tumbled in along with a large group of parents.  I'm guessing that the boys were all about 9 or 10 years old.  That is when things started to get interesting.

The parents immediately seated the boys at a long table and then separated into a mom's table at one end and the dad's booth across the room.  And that is when the 'parental' interaction ceased.  

The parents did not look up from their respective sides of the room to give these boys ANY attention.  The boys held it together quite well for awhile, eating their pizza and generally behaving.  But as the time wore on, the hijinks began.  

It started with spit ball throwing and escalated to bits of food being thrown and soon it was becoming an all out food fight with chunks of bread being dipped in water glasses before getting launched.  The wait staff at the restaurant picked up on what was going on and creatively interceded with some materials to distract the boys and save the restaurant from utter destruction.  And all the while, the dozen or so parents were choosing to completely IGNORE their boys and their inappropriate behavior.

I and the other parents in my group were left scratching our heads.  When did it become acceptable to surrender your parental duties in a public place to strangers?  Why did these parents feel justified in ignoring their children?  I am baffled!  Are parents so lazy now that they truly have given up on trying to teach their children anything?  I do not blame these boys--the blame falls squarely on the immature and selfish parents who could not be bothered to monitor or even interact with their own kids.  What a shame!

Have you seen other examples of selfish and immature parents?
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Raising your child with a healthy self concept

Each rose is perfect and beautiful, just as it is!

We live in the age of immediate commentary.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the countless other forms of public online forums allow us the ability to weigh in with our opinions and observations in real time.  And not only can we do it, we see it being demonstrated for us everywhere.  Television shows and news reports reference tweets made by anyone with a twitter account.  So what is everyone commenting on?  It seems lately that we are all commenting on other people's looks.  Why are we so obsessed with how other people look?  Frankly, I think this ideology is being sold to all of us.  It is good for the economy.  When people walk around in fear of being judged, what do they do?  They spend money, on plastic surgery, haircuts, new clothes, diet programs, health clubs, and any other number of things to "fix" themselves.  The truth of the matter is, none of us needs fixing.  We are all unique and beautiful in our own right.  So how do we fight back against this constant unhealthy tide of judging ourselves and others by their appearances?

Let's teach our children the powerful message of love and acceptance.  That is where it all begins.  At home.  At the beginning.  As they are growing and learning about their world.  Don't let the media serve our children up the idea that we all have to live up to some unrealistic vision of universal beauty.  Be the voice in their heads that reminds them that there is beauty in the essence of every person on this earth.  Teach your children that a person's actions and character are much more important measures than bra size or BMI (body mass index).  Let them know that it is not cool to say unkind things about another person.  "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!" is a mantra that was repeated to me and then my own children over and over again.

Be the parent who teaches your children to look deeper than the clothing that someone wears, or the size and shape of a person's body, into the very heart of a person in order to get to know them.  Encourage your children to choose friends who are honest and interesting and loyal and truthful.  And as with anything, you as the parent need to model these behaviors.  Don't gossip about other people in front of your children.  Don't be that critical voice that freely puts yourself or others down in front of your impressionable little ones.  If they hear you criticizing your own body or physical features, it hurts them because they love you so much.  And it also sets them up to do the same to themselves.

The message is clear.  It we want our children to feel good in their own skin, we must help them understand that they are beautiful--as are each of us.  Beauty comes from within.  The rest is merely marketing.  Don't buy into it--for the sake of each of your children and their well being.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

High School Seniors Don't Belong in Mexico...without you!

Writing a parenting blog affords me the opportunity to voice my opinions--whether popular or not.  And my opinion on this topic will not be popular with many but...it is my firm belief that High School Seniors have not earned some type of automatic privilege to celebrate their Spring Break with an unchaperoned trip to Mexico.

I am fully aware of all of the excuses parents make in order to justify sending an 18 year old on holiday with their friends to Mexico.  The prices are affordable.  They are of legal drinking age in Mexico.  Parenting from guilt makes you feel as if they deserve it because they have endured the college application process.  They are most likely heading to college in the fall, and you won't be controlling their decisions or even be aware of them when they are living on campus and not with you.  Parenting from exhaustion makes you give in because your teen wants to go and is making your life miserable unless you say yes.  Or you fall into the "all the other kids are going" trap.  Reach out to the other parents and confirm what your teen is telling you.  Then, perhaps some of the parents can agree to go and chaperone.  To me, this sounds painfully awkward...but it is more responsible than sending them on their own.

The reality is 18 year olds are still painfully immature.  There are truckloads of research confirming that their brains have not fully matured.  And the part of the brain that remains immature is the impulse decision making area.  Therefore, they are physically incapable of making good decisions 100% of the time.  And much more likely to make poor ones in an uncontrolled, unsupervised environment.  Poor choices that in some cases may lead to alcohol poisoning, drug use, and date rape.    Does it make any sense to send them to a foreign country that has a lower drinking age as well as other safety issues?  You have just dedicated 18 years of your life raising this child.  Do you really want to risk this precious investment?  The risks are enough to keep me and my husband saying "No!" and planning a family trip instead.  They will have plenty of time to drink alcohol and experience the partying lifestyle in the years to come if that is what they are seeking.  It is not your parental duty to serve that up to them on a silver (all expense paid) platter.

Seniors can be very persuasive.  I get that.  But stay strong, parents.  And safely launch them onto a college campus in the fall rather than a Mexican nightclub this spring.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Ideal Father is...

Imagine a loving father who is encouraging and supportive.  One who actively participates in his children's lives.  A father who takes the time get to know his children.  Spends time with them.  Plays with them.  Listens to them.  Counsels them.  Laughs with them.  Imagine a father who's face lights up at the sight of each of his children, equally.  

Think of a father who doesn't raise a hand to them in anger, but patiently sets limits and teaches his children self control.  Imagine a father who respects the personality, likes and quirks of each of his children.  Imagine a father who models strength and comfort and protection.  Imagine a father who loves the mother of his children and one who is proud of his children.  Imagine a father who's words   carry weight and meaning.  Who uses his words to build his children up.  Who teaches his children to trust in his words...no matter what.  

Imagine a father who is the ideal father.  The one who instructs his children about life and love and happiness.  Imagine a father who encourages his children to dream and helps them learn to accomplish those dreams.  A father who has high expectations of his children, and helps his children learn to work hard, set goals and achieve success.  Imagine a father who lives his life in such a manner that his children want to grow up to be just like him.  Imagine a father who is a hero to his children.

Now be that father.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

5 Do's and Don'ts of Parenting

Parents are the gardeners of their children's lives.  Do you grow an over tended bonsai child?  Do you pick and prune incessantly?  Do you overwater your child?  Too much attention, too much stepping in to his/her life, too much anxiety, too much everything resulting in a child who feels weak and

Or are you a naturalist?  Do you free range your child? Let him/her go and do and drift and float where he/she  chooses.  Don't concern yourself with the media messages he/she is picking up.  Don't worry about the friends he/she hangs with.  Let him/her decide what choices work, what limits to self impose. What boundaries to keep or cross.  He/She will grow into the person that he/she is meant to become without your input.  Without your guidance.  Without your wisdom.

Neither of these methods will result in a happy, self sufficient and well adjusted child.  And isn't that what you are trying to accomplish?  So what is a parent to do?

Here are the do's and don'ts:

1.  Don't over manage your child's life--Do allow him/her to make decisions (simple ones at tender ages and larger ones at older ages) and require him/her to stick with the consequences.  But also have faith in him/her.  Hold high expectations.

2.  Don't constantly criticize your children--Do let them know that your love for them is unconditional and support them in growing into the people they were meant to be, not what you WANT them to be!

3.  Don't give them everything they ask for--Do help them appreciate things by making them work and earn privileges and material possessions.

4.  Don't allow your children to do whatever they want--Do set boundaries and have rules.  Young people raised without any boundaries or limits will continue to push the limits of behavior in an effort to find where their parent(s) will finally draw the line.  Young people interpret a lack of boundaries as a clear message that they are not cared about or loved.

5.  Don't ignore your child's friendships but don't engineer them--Do get to know their friends and help them understand what makes a true friend and a valuable friendship.  This area is a tricky one, as sometimes children need your support and guidance when it comes to friendships, but also you can become too involved and should strive for the role of coach on the sidelines not referee in the middle of the action.

Growing a child to adulthood is exhausting, exhilarating, damn hard work!  Keep in mind that an unattended garden results in weeds choking back the true beauty and essence of a flower, and an overwatered garden becomes soft and weak.  Balance is the key to both gardening and parenting!
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