Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fishing Is A Lot Like Parenting

Learning the art of fishing at an early age!

I do not claim to be much of a fisherman, or fisher woman, but I have learned a lot about the sport through my husband and son's passion for this pastime.  And I have come to believe that mastering the art of fishing is very similar to mastering the art of parenting.  How so you ask?  Well, here is why.

Chances are the first time you ever went fishing you used a pole, a line and a bobber.  The method of bobber fishing is a lot like being a new parent.  When the bobber moves you react, and when the baby cries you react.  Your focus is on the bobber and/or the baby and your role is to jump and assist at the proper moments.

As your child grows, your fishing/parenting method has to change.  If you still react each and every time your child makes a peep, you will not be allowing him/her to develop and grow.  So you learn to try something a little more complex.  This is when you begin to cast your line further out and only react when your child hits a snag or needs you to pull in the line.  This parenting style usually appears when your child is in grade school.  But some parents truly never leave the first bobber method.  So if you have graduated to being a cast and reel in type of parent, congratulations.

When things really get interesting is when you progress to the fly fishing method of parenting.  This method is appropriate for high school age children and beyond.  And is truly the most complex and intricate form of parenting.  A good fly fisherman(woman) learns to delicately place his/her line a long distance away and play the current in order to be successful.  This type of fishing depends on staying silent, removed from the picture, but still prepared to react at just the right moment.  Parenting teens requires all of this intuition and more.  Often times, the best parenting reaction is no reaction at all.  Staying quiet becomes a proven talent.  But all the while, you are still connected by that line directly to your child--and they need to know you are there.  Emotionally letting them navigate their way through changing currents can be very difficult but you are preparing them to function in the adult world.  It is so important to allow them to solve problems, overcome challenges and handle things that they are able to handle on their own.  This stage does require you to be constantly vigilant, though.  It is still important to remain aware and involved in their lives, and maintain rules and standards that you expect your teen to live up to.  Teens are amazingly adept at acting as if they don't need you, when they are really crying out for your love and attention.  They don't necessarily like boundaries but realize that you care enough about them to set them.  You are still connected by that line, so they feel the security of your presence but the freedom to grow into their own person.  Mastering fly fishing parenting is truly an art.  It takes a lot of practice and patience, but the payoff is raising children who are ready to emotionally succeed in the modern world.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Marriage = Happy Family

It strikes me as ironic that same sex couples are fighting for the right to be married, and those who already enjoy this right are routinely taking it for granted and wanting to escape their marriages  In the US most couples enter in to their marriage in love and full of hopes and dreams for a future together.  But somewhere along the way, many of these marriages hit the skids and ultimately break up.  And often times, the marriage has produced children, who are profoundly affected by the divorce.  I clearly remember a friend of mine in college was devastated by the news that her parents were divorcing.  And at the time, I thought that she would or should be "old enough" to handle the news.  I think her parents thought that, too.  But divorce cuts children to the core.  Even if the marriage is troubled, children still hold on to the hope that their parents will find love again and reunite, because children owe their very existence to that loving couple, even after the love has died.

Everyone has heard this before: Marriage is not easy.  To stay married, the commitment to each other has to reign supreme.  And in addition, having a good marriage requires time, effort and attention.  In my parenting work, I have seen many parents who struggle with the role of being a divorced parent.  If staying married is difficult, being a successful single parent is really, really difficult!

So don't divorce if you are bored, feeling restless, or have lost the spark before you give your marriage another try.  Go out on date nights.  Take up a mutual hobby, or find a hobby yourself, that will bring you joy and satisfaction.  Spend a few months doing kind things for your partner.  Get some counseling.  Have more sex.  Get in shape.  Try a variety of approaches before throwing in the towel.  Marriages can be resurrected.  Problems can be solved.  The spark can be reignited.  And the long term benefits to you and your children are immeasurable.  Put your marriage back at the top of the list, where it was when you were planning to get married, and if it is not what you want it to be, make some changes to improve yourself and your relationship.  Not all marriages can be saved, and there are legitimate reasons for divorce, but don't add your name to the list if you haven't first attempted to rediscover the love you once shared.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Ricki Lake's Friend of the Week!


Hi to all my friends and followers!

Big News:

This week my blog will be featured by the Ricki Lake Show as their "Friend of the Week".  So you can watch me give parenting advice and challenges all week long.

Please go to the TheRickiLakeShow?group_id=0  page to see my parenting videos and advice.

The schedule is as follows:

Moments Monday: January 14th--AFTERNOON the Video Will Be Posted!
Relationship Tuesday: January 15th
Wellness Wednesday: January 16th
Technology Thursday: Januaty 17th
Fun Friday: January 18th

Five parenting videos will be posted.  It would be so awesome if you watched them and shared your thoughts!  Can't wait to hear from you!

Happy Parenting!

Dawn Lantero

@dawnlantero #friendsofricki

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Consistency is the Key to Parenting

He is watching you...

We adults love spontaneity.  Doing something spur of the moment is exciting and refreshing and we are drawn to those experiences like bees to honey.  But here is a huge pearl of wisdom for parents.  Children are not like adults.  Young children thrive on routine and consistency.  It is how they make sense of their world and how they begin to form their first feelings of confidence.

Why is this important?  Because if you are the parent of young child.  Understanding this concept will help you immeasurably.  Children learn to trust their parents based on consistency of language, actions, and routine.  Try to think of your child as a detective.  They are little detectives trying to size up the people they come in contact with.  The messages that you are sending them everyday are the only way they have of understanding their world.  And they are watching closely.  So how can you make this knowledge work for you?  Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Only promise what you deliver.  If you say you are going to go somewhere or do something.  You need to follow through.  If you don't follow through you are teaching your children not to trust you.  Even if you view the change in plans as insignificant, your child is watching and making a mental note that you don't really mean what you say, at least sometimes.  Remember, they are trying to figure you out.

2.  Don't make idle threats.  A parent who continually says "if you do that again, you are getting a time out!" but never carries out the punishment is LITERALLY teaching their child to ignore them.  Time after time, the child makes a mental note that the parent doesn't mean what they say.  Then the parent is shocked when they say something they really mean and the child ignores them.  You have taught them to do this, People!  Wise up and only threaten punishments that you are prepared to enforce!

3.  Be mindful of how you treat other people.  If you are rude to a waitress or gossip about your Mother-in-Law behind her back; guess what?  Your young children are watching.  They are picking up clues about who you are and how you think.  And in a few years, you will see some of your own faults mirrored back at you, when your children are rude to others or gossip mongers.  Be the person you want your children to become and act in a manner that illustrates this.

I like to compare being a parent to the Colorado River.  It took millions of little drops of water, over time, to carve the wondrous and awe inspiring Grand Canyon.  It takes millions of little actions repeated over hours, and days, and months and years, to raise your young child into a capable and successful adult.  It is healthy to be aware of how all of your words and actions lay the foundation of your child's world view, relationship to others and ultimately, their self identity.  And parenting, when done right can result in some pretty wonderful and awe inspiring results!


Arches by Lexfys
Arches, a photo by Lexfys on Flickr.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Parenting on Skis

 I recently spent the day skiing with my extended family.  My niece, Annie, a first grader was the youngest in the group.  Annie is athletic and bright.  She is competitive and charming and flashes a smile that can melt your heart.  She had skied before but not for while, and as we headed out for our first run, we chose an easy slope, (a step up from the bunny hill) we were sure she could handle.

Initially, we were wrong.  Annie's parents and I were helping her down the hill and after the first few falls, her nervousness was palpable.  This confident little girl was tense and serious and as she grew more and more distraught over her falls, you could see the doubt creep in and her fear and frustration began to take over.  "Keep your ski's straight," encouraged her father!.  "Just follow me, honey" suggested her mother.  But with each attempt, her little body became stiffer with fear, and her face was not registering any ability to listen to her parents patient instructions.  We adults flashed each other a few glances, silently communicating our unspoken fear that Annie was about to do the unthinkable given her personality, and give up.

Suddenly, her older brother whizzed down the run with his cousins.  Annie's jaw became a little less quivery and a little more determined.  She once again stood up on her skis and set her sights on a target of rocks a little ways down the hill.  She started moving slowly and then picking up speed began making her snowplow turns.  Instead of falling when her speed picked up, she tried adjusting her skis and kept heading down the hill.  When she eventually fell, she had made it well beyond her target and the delight in her face was as evident as the snow on the ground.  After that, her confidence grew and by the end of the day, she was literally whizzing down hills twice as difficult as the first one.

So what does any of this have to do with parenting?  Well, it serves as a perfect metaphor for good parenting.  The little girl on the mountain was frustrated and frightened and experiencing failure.  But instead of quickly allowing her to give up or stepping in to take over; her parents encouraged her, made her feel safe and protected but left her to her own devices to figure things out.  And she did.  And the confidence it brought her was immeasurable. 

We parents have great difficulty allowing our children to work through things on their own.  We want to take over or allow them to give up when things get difficult.  The secret is to continue to encourage our children, and let them know they are unconditionally loved but then step aside and allow our children work things out.  When they do, the confidence that this brings is truly amazing.  This is a difficult assignment for parents of our generation, but the benefits are incredibly valuable.  You are teaching your children that you have faith in them to solve problems that come their way, and this lesson will prepare them for a  successful life.  What could be better than that?