Weekend Reading And Happy Holidays!

Christmas weekend is already upon us. It’s so hard to believe yet another year is coming to an end. I hope you have some down time during this busy weekend to relax and read a little. With all the holiday celebrating and shopping this week you may have missed some of the wonderful and interesting articles that I shared this week, so here’s your weekly wrap-up! But before I begin, I want to take a minute to just say a heartfelt thank you for every single one of you. Whether you comment regularly, forward and share my posts to friends or just simply read them whenever you have time, I love you for it. I try to be helpful, honest and open with each post and when you tell me something has helped or resonated with you even in some small way, it makes it all worth it. Thank you.

And with all that said, here are this week’s posts, articles, quotes and thoughts that inspired and interested me this week. I hope you enjoy them:

 

My Favorite Parenting Posts This Week

If There Is A Silver Bullet, Your Toddler Probably Hid It.

“There are hard days and there are amazing days. There are days when your toddler is fun, and loving, and cute. But there are also days when your toddler is frustrating, and stubborn and difficult. There are days when you are an amazing parent. But there are also days where you feel like the worst parent in the world (I know because you’ve told me and because people Google “I’m a bad mother” every day and end up on my blog)”.
~ From PhD In Parenting.

Why Your Kids Make You A Better Person

“I want to be like all of them. They inspire me and push me to be a better person every day. Sometimes when we have children we think of it as the end of our dreams, the giving up being “The Great… whatever”- but I would challenge us to think of it differently. Challenge us to think of it as the beginning of making our dreams come true, because we now not only answer to ourselves, but also to these incredible spirits we bring into our world.”
~ From Girl On Saturday

Babies And Crying: What’s A Parent To Do?

“It seems this is a conversation that needs to continue to happen. There is so much emotion, judgment, misinformation, and misunderstanding around this issue, and that’s not good for parents or babies. Also, the question of how to respond to a baby’s cries goes right to the core of how we view babies, and how sensitively and respectfully we care for them”.
~ From Lisa Sunbury’s blog, Regarding Baby

Remembering Dad

“It was time to talk about the unknown. It was time to break their little hearts and open their world to worries that no kids should ever know. It was time to talk about loss.

“You haven’t met my daddy because my daddy isn’t here anymore. My daddy is up in Heaven.”

Their eyes, his perfectly round and blue and hers perfectly round and brown, burned a hole through my heart as they waited for more. A simple explanation would not suffice this time around”.
~ Katie Hurley’s beautiful post about discussing her deceased father with her children (Katie writes a wonderful blog called Practical Parenting. This was a guest post on Moonfrye Family).

It’s Up To Parents To Resist The Tyranny Of The Pink Princesses.

“This isn’t good for either sex. Girls are being taught to aspire to be a princess – whose main job is to wait for her prince to come, and to doll herself up in the meantime. It is a passive role in which the dominant desire is to be desired. They aren’t encouraged to be an active or brave agent, like a fireman or soldier or doctor or train driver. Boys lose out too, though. If they fear they can’t go near a craft set or a doll, then they won’t have a chance to indulge the creative or loving side of their nature. Why should love be reserved only for females? Or cooking, for that matter?”
~ From The Independent (Via 7Wonderlicious)

News Of The Week

Reel Girl’s Letter To Lego

“Dear Lego,
Legos were special. They were unique and creative and helped kids to build. Legos inspired kids’ imaginations. Boys and girls could play Legos together. But with your new product, Lego Friends, created for girls, I can no longer tell the difference between Lego toys and the ubiquitous Disney princess products or Barbies. Is that the point? Because if it is, your copy cat strategy abandons the very qualities that made your toy great”.
~ From Margot Magowan’s blog, Reel Girl.

The Petition On Change.org

“Marketers, ad execs, Hollywood and just about everyone else in the media are busy these days insisting that girls, the “other 50%,” as LEGO puts it, are not interested in their products unless they’re pink, cute, or romantic. They’ve come to this conclusion even though they’ve refused to market their products to the girls they are so certain will not like them. Who populates commercials for LEGOs? Boys! Where in the toy store can you find original LEGOs? The boy aisle! So it’s no wonder LEGO’s market research showed girls want pink. It’s the environment and the message marketers have bombarded girls with for over a decade because, of course, stereotypes make marketing products so much easier.” ~ Sign the petition if you want to tell LEGO that girls love LEGOs just the way they are!

 

 

My Favorite Quotes Of The Week

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
~Haim G. Ginott

‎”Behavior” is NOT the problem.
Your child’s inability to MEET HIS NEEDS in acceptable ways is the root issue. Listen, acknowledge, validate, empathize and strategize about NEEDS & FEELINGS and negative behavior will be transformed.
Connect the mind to body.
Get Emotional.
Stop trying to have your way.
Be the bigger person.
BREATHE
LAUGH
PLAY
♥”
~ via TEACH Through Love

“Children’s strong feelings do not disappear when they are told, ‘it is not nice to feel that way’ or when parents try to convince them that they ‘have no reason to feel that way’. Strong feelings do not vanish by being banished; but they do diminish in intensity and lose their sharp edges when the listener accepts them with sympathy and understanding.”~ Haim Ginott
(Via The Way of The Peaceful Parent).

‎”When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you” ~ unknown

And with that, dear readers, I wish you a truly wonderful holiday. As always, I love your comments and insights and please join me on Facebook and Twitter which is where I post all of these things I find interesting but can’t find time to blog about!

Are You Modeling “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Parenting?

I have been turning over this blog post in my mind for some time now. I keep starting to write it and then get stuck. Maybe that’s because what I am writing about isn’t an example of my most stellar, shining parenting moments. In fact, I have been wondering lately if I spend a good deal of my day being a hypocrite.

Now, I don’t intend to be hypocritical and I don’t generally feel that I am behaving that way, but then I stopped to think about it and it struck me that there is an awful lot of “do as I say and not as I do” going on in my house.

do as i say, not as i do

I know very well that it is what we model for our children and not necessarily what we say that really teaches them. I know that it is the way I say something more than the words I use that makes the impact. But sometimes I feel as though more often than not I am not the paradigm of calm parenting that I wish I was.

“Speak kindly”

That’s what I tell my children. I hear this come out of my mouth all the time. When my kids are getting angry at each other I remind them that yelling at someone isn’t going to get them what they want (while sheepishly remembering how I lost my temper earlier and yelled). “Speak kindly to each other”, I tell them and then wonder if I said that in an exasperated and snappish way. “Be kind to your sister” I remind my son, then flash back to me losing my temper with her.

What am I actually teaching them?

That words don’t matter much? That you can be kind except when you are really frustrated? Most of all I worry about what I am teaching my son when he sees how frustrated I get with his sister. I want more than anything for them to be kind to each other, yet he sees how she pushes my buttons and he sees how he can polarize himself by being “the good twin”. I hear her say that she doesn’t think he likes her and that breaks my heart. I fear he does it to be closer to me, to be on my “side”. Does he think I don’t like her? I worry that I am teaching them both that you aren’t lovable when you make other people angry.

“Be patient”

Teaching my children about patience and delayed gratification is something I work on all the time. But I often lose my patience with them (even while telling them they need to be more patient about something)! I teach them about cooling down, taking deep breaths, being mindful…and sometimes I am really good at modeling all of that. But then there are times when my need to be somewhere on time trumps my desire to be present and in the moment. In those moments I have no patience for my daughter dragging out the bedtime routine for an extra hour or my son dreamily taking 45 minutes to put on his socks in the morning. And even in the moment of my losing my patience I am hazily aware that what I am doing is pointless and actually making things drag on longer than if I simply slowed down & connected for 5 minutes with each of them. And yet, I don’t stop. I threaten, I bang things, I pretty much act way more immature than my 4 1/2 year olds.

What am I teaching them?

stressed momThat you should be patient, but only when it’s convenient? I can be patient when I have no agenda to be anywhere else, but an appointment at the doctor is way more important than you or you needs? And how can I expect my children to listen to my advice when I don’t walk the walk?

I know that the reason I set different expectations for my kids than for myself is that I want them to develop better habits than I have. Yet, I know the strongest way to reinforce these good behaviors is to model them myself. So, while I am not cursing at other drivers on my way to preschool, I am not doing such a great job of being the parent I want to be on a regular basis.

Now, I know I am actually a really good mom. And I do a lot of things right. I also happen to be awesome at repairing things with my kids when I do make a mistake. I talk to them, I connect after I calm down, I explain. But I feel like I am repairing way too often. How does one learn to become the parent who models the behaviors we want our children to have when we don’t really have those skills mastered ourselves? It feels a bit like teaching someone to ride a bike when you have no clue how to do it yourself.

I’m working on all of this…and I’d love any advice (or commiseration)!

Weekend Reading

When I started this blog I also started being more active on both Facebook and Twitter and subsequently got connected to literally hundreds and hundreds of wonderfully interesting people who write, think and talk about parenting and anything related to it. I know not all of you follow me on those social media sites (although…it would be awesome if you did!) which is where I share many of the things I find interesting, but don’t have time to blog about myself. For some time I’ve been intending to send out a wrap up of some of the best blog posts and articles I’ve come across over the week. Hopefully you’ll have time over the weekend to catch up on what you may have missed!

My Favorite Parenting Posts This Week

Communication or Miscommunication?

“Parents, you are the center of your child’s world for many years, and they WILL model themselves after the example you set. If you listen to them, they will learn to listen. If you are rude to them, they will learn to be rude. If you treat them with respect, they will learn to be respectful. If you are angry, demanding, and harsh with them, they will learn to be angry, demanding, and harsh. And so on. Live out how you want your children to turn out. That, parents, is what it means to “train up a child in the way he should go.” A powerful post from the always insightful Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources.

Calm Down Corner – My Way

calmdownjar“I know you may thinking, “What? A fun place to go when they’re in trouble?” 🙂 This is not a punishment, but a place to calm the mind. When my kids are regulated, I sit down with them and we talk about what happened and ways to improve or handle things better the next time. After all, the goal is to teach them better so they know what the right thing to do is, and they are much more receptive to my teachings when their brains are calm and regulated.” Positive Parenting: Toddlers And Beyond is one of my favorite blogs. The author never fails to bring me back to how I want to be parenting.

Don’t Fix These Toddler Struggles

“Stop. Breathe. Observe. Then intervene in a way that empowers, but only if necessary”. Wonderful advice from Janet Lansbury on ways to stop getting so involved in our children’s struggles. Lessons parents can learn no matter how old their kids are!

The Good Tantrum: Attachment And Emotional Expression

“Whether you are four or forty, being human means having to deal with a lot of feelings, feelings that don’t come with a time stamp. They can sneak up on you, just like Tom triggering memories of how small and insignificant I felt as a child under my mother’s judgmental gaze. And we all, big and small, deserve the opportunity to share how we feel in a caring, thoughtful and non-judgmental space. It saddens me when I hear parents proudly say they don’t put up with tantrums and send their kids off to the solitary confinement of their rooms until they can behave “properly.” I know they love their children, but what a lost opportunity to nurture and support them! That would be like my husband telling me, ‘I have no intention of loving all of you. I only want to see the parts that are easy for me’ “. Very interesting post from The Parent Scientist via the inspirational Lu Hanessian from Parent2ParentU

My Favorite Holiday Posts this week

Christmas Classics II

This is cheating I guess because this post was written by Dana of Feast After Famine last December, but it is such an all-time favorites of mine that I have saved it. On top of that, it is such a brilliant idea for children’s gifts that I had to share it. Dana, I’m stealing this idea from you this year!

Why Having Less Toys May Bring More Happiness To The Family

“Hey, I love to see my child happy as much as the next mum but I have found an alternative route to this joy which involves not having all the toys. Here are my top reasons why:” Wonderful insight from Loving Earth Mama

An Unwelcome Detour Turned Into An Unforgettable Moment

“When I picked my son up from school on Monday, I had a lot on my mind. Exactly one hour was all we had to run a quick errand, go to the grocery store, and then off to pick up Little Sister.
I see him and immediately remind him that we’re in a bit of a rush.
His face slightly drops. But, I thought you were taking me to the park so I could ride my bike.
My face drops.
Oh yeah, I think, I did promise didn’t I? Looming deadlines, unfinished Christmas cards, and lack of groceries swirl around in my head. I don’t want to, I think with immense guilt. But, I did promise”.

I love this post from Confessions of a Dr. Mom and I think we can all relate to the feeling of being pulled in two directions.

Anonymous Donors Pay Off Kmart Layaway Accounts

Not a blog post, but a news article. Still…such a simple way to make someone else’s Christmas. Can you imagine if we all helped a family this way? What a difference we could make. Oh, and yes…I totally cried reading this.

 

A Video You Must See

Annie Murphy Paul is the author of “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.” and this is her TED Talk titled What babies learn before they’re born. “The fetus, we now know, is not an inert blob, but an active and dynamic creature, responding and adapting as it readies itself for life in the particular world it will soon enter. The pregnant woman is neither a passive incubator nor a source of always-imminent harm to her fetus, but a powerful and often positive influence on her child even before it’s born. And pregnancy is not a nine-month wait for the big event of birth, but a crucial period unto itself — “a staging period for well-being and disease in later life,” as one scientist puts it”. For some reason I wasn’t able to embed the video here, but please watch it and read the interview with Annie Murphy Paul by clicking here.

 

Eye Opener Of The Week

Top 5 Regrets In Life By Those About To Die

“Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness” – from Addicted2Success.com

 

Favorite Quotes Of The Week

A parent’s love is whole no matter how many times divided.
~Robert Brault

‎”Punishment is something that happens to someone.
Discipline is something found in someone.”
~ Amanda Morgan, Not Just Cute

I’d love to know what your thoughts are about this week’s wrap up. I hope to do this every Friday and am always interested in hearing what moves you, intrigues you and inspires you.

Are We All Judging Each Other?

“The more one judges, the less one loves.” ~ Honore de Balzac

A short time after I began writing this blog I was at the park with my kids when I was recognized by one of my readers. I was surprised, flattered and a little freaked out. Not because she recognized me, but because I suddenly realized that if I was actually recognizable, there might be any number of people who are aware of my parenting philosophies and who could be watching to see if I practice what I preach!

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who considers how others perceive me when I am parenting in public. For example, when your sweet child throws an ear splitting tantrum in the supermarket, suddenly it feels as though a million eyes are on you, each one deciding if you are parenting appropriately. Obviously, the conclusion those strangers draw is totally subjective, but no one likes to feel judged. Then why do we all do it so often?

I was recently at an indoor play space with my kids and was watching my son play in a ball pit that included a large slide. He was feeling a little energetic and was jumping off the slide and into the balls below. The mother of a little girl who was also there began to get rather agitated that he was going to either hurt her daughter or hurt himself. I kept hearing her suck in her breath and encourage her daughter to tell my son “no, I don’t like that” when he got too close. This, of course, had the opposite effect as he was now intrigued with this girl.

thumbs-downI began to notice my stress level raising. I imagined the mother was judging my son as being too aggressive and me as being too permissive. I told my son to stop, he was overtired and feeling mischievous so he ignored me which ratcheted up my stress. I felt the other mother’s eyes boring into my head. My son made a move to jump back into the pit, I heard the woman say “no!” and I snapped at her that my son wasn’t going to jump on her daughter…she looked shocked and said she hadn’t thought that. Did I imagine the whole thing? Was my fear of being judged to be an ineffectual parent creating scenarios? Whatever the reality was, I was mortified and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to avoid this woman.

As I look back on it, I wish I had been more centered and more confident that my son’s behavior was not something that needed stopping. He was being a little rowdy, perhaps, but my tense demand that he stop doing what he was doing only made him want to do it more. And why did I care about what some stranger thought anyway? I will never see her again, why did I need her to decide I was a “good” parent? Why did it matter to me that she think my son was a “good boy”?

I know that I am too concerned with what other people think. It’s an issue I have dealt with most of my life and wrote about earlier this year in my post Perfection Is Perfectly Impossible. I’ve actually let go of this need to be perfect in many areas of my life, but I’m aware that when it comes to my parenting, my fear of being seen as doing it badly or ineffectually is very powerful. I’ve noticed as well that it’s very easy to get caught up in accepting (and wanting) praise when my children behave in socially acceptable ways as if this means I must be a wonderful person to have taught my children so well. The biggest problem with this is that I then must also believe the converse, that when they are misbehaving, or acting out, that I am somehow to blame and must be not only a lousy parent, but a lousy person.

twins at the beachI think about that Balzac quote often. If I am judging myself so harshly, how can I be loving myself? And if am spending so much time not loving myself, what am I modeling for my kids? And why am I putting so much power in the hands of others?

“Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge.” ~ unknown

I think everyone passes judgment at one time or another, sometimes without even realizing it. Probably, deep down, part of the reason we do it to make ourselves feel better. It’s like why we watch trashy TV…we get to compare ourselves favorably and feel superior. But of course it doesn’t actually work in any deep and meaningful way.

So the next time a parent gives me a disapproving look because my daughter isn’t wearing a coat in the cold weather, or someone yells that my son should hold my hand when we cross the street, instead of feeling the sting of their criticism, I am trying to remember that anything these other parents are saying shows more about their character than mine.