Guest Posts And Some Good News

I know I’m posting a little more often than usual this week. This is just a quick note to tell you a few bits of news!

Allow me a moment of feeling proud…

I’m honored to share the news that Red Tricycle has named The Twin Coach as one of the Best Los Angeles Blogs. Here’s what they had to say:

“This a woman you want by your side. Having experienced divorce, infertility, career change, anxiety and more, Gina Osher is a woman who can relate. Her optimism, knowledge and hard-won joy bring inspiration with every article.”

If you live on the Western coast of the US do check out Red Tricycle as they always have great postings for everything family related. And this particular post of the best Los Angeles blogs has some other great blogs that you might like…no matter where you live!

Also, I’m Guest Posting This Week!

I’ve written this week for two blogs that are definitely worth checking out. The first is on an extremely popular online magazine called elephant journal which, if you are not familiar with it yet describes itself as “your guide to what we like to call ‘the mindful life’: yoga, organics, sustainability, genuine spirituality, conscious consumerism, fair fashion, the contemplative arts…anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet.”

I’m thrilled to be working with them and would love if you have time to check out my current post which is, more or less, about what I realized about the difference between being a mindful parent and simply losing my mind as a parent: “Crying In The Hallway: Mindfulness Vs. Losing My Mind”

“In my experience, having more patience is at the heart of enjoying life as a parent. In many ways, practicing mindfulness is also an exercise in developing patience. Slowing down to be mindful from moment to moment can seem difficult for an intense and goal-oriented person like myself, but I have found it very worthwhile to start moving in this direction.”

My second guest post is on Amy McCready’s blog, Positive Parenting Solutions. I reviewed Amy’s excellent book, “If I Have To Tell You One More Time“, last year and recently she asked me to write about our decision to give our twins’ separate birthday parties: “A Birthday Party For Twins: Shared Or Separate?”

“Of all of the things we do to nurture their individuality and encourage their sense of self, what has most recently seemed to make the greatest impact on them was having separate birthday parties for their 5th birthday.”

Thanks to all of you who have shared my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, your parenting groups and elsewhere. It is because of you that I get wonderful opportunities like this to share my thoughts and experiences with a wider and wider audience.

Creating A Tidal Wave Of Change. Are You With Me?

“There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.” ~ Dr. Charles Raison

There are times when I ask myself why I put so much time and effort into this blog and all that goes along with writing it. This happens occasionally on days when I feel particularly overwhelmed with juggling everything in my life. It definitely happens on days when people who come across what I write send me comments that are so full of vitriol and judgment that I question, just for a moment, my purpose and beliefs.

I am generally a rather private person and am not inclined to enjoy being the center of attention. Nor do I tend to be confrontational about things. And I don’t have the thick skin required for being judged harshly. And yet I continue, day after day, to expose myself and push myself to share what is generally a very intimate thing: my struggle to change bad habits, my missteps, my fears, insecurities and self doubts and ultimately, my attempts to overcome it all.

And for what purpose?

I was considering that question the other day. It came up again, but this time in context of being asked what my goal was in writing this blog. When I first started, my thought was to eventually write a book. I still have that goal, I’ve just had to put it on the back burner for a bit. But, in the almost 2 years that I’ve been writing, I’ve noticed that my goals have morphed a bit.

I’ve come to realize that those two quotes at the top of the page are why I do this. I persist in sharing and examining and digging deep because I know in every part of my being that we are all connected. What we teach our children (directly or indirectly) goes out into the world like a ripple in a pond. Expanding further and further to ultimately touch everyone they come in contact with. And everyone they come in contact with creates their own ripple.

Yes, it is often overwhelming to consider how certain beliefs about children that I don’t agree with are so ingrained in many people. Yes, it can be disheartening to come up against people unwilling to see things a different way. And yes, it sometimes would be easier to just live inside my bubble and let others fight for this parenting paradigm shift.

I watch parents in the playground barking orders at their children or disrespecting them in myriad ways and I physically hurt. Can I really live in a bubble and ignore the possibility that maybe I can help in some way?

“And there is no easy way to change human behaviour. There is no quick way to change human behaviour. To achieve change we must be patient, be committed, and above all be brave.” ~ Aunt Annie’s Childcare

Bravery. That’s one trait I didn’t expect to have to work on when I became a parent. Bravery is for people who fight against racial injustice. Or against brutal dictatorships. How can I look at what I am doing as being brave? But I believe bravery is in the experience of the doer. Not in the eye of the beholder. It is brave for me to share my shortcomings and be willing to be judged. It is brave for me to push myself to find the deep connection, the underlying meaning, the empathetic response instead of just the easy way out. It is brave for me to put myself out there as a parent who speaks up for a different way of doing things…even when I’m challenged by my own insecurities about being visible.

childismA recent article in Time Magazine provocatively titled “Childist Nation”: Does America Hate Kids? discusses a disturbing trend:

“There’s a general sense now that children’s rights, children’s needs, children’s wants and desires have taken on too prominent a place in our family lives. That we’ve over indulged them and now have to tighten the reins. The backlash is, at base, against ourselves — against a form of boomer and postboomer parenting that many agree has gone off the rails. But the targets of that backlash — its victims — are children.”

When I read things like this I know that I have to write. I cannot bury my head in the sand and pretend I don’t know the effects of that sort of thinking. I am just one person, but the ripple effect of the compassion, empathy and respect for children I am working to create can grow and expand infinitely. Will you join me?

Weekend Reading: March 16, 2012

It’s been some time since I rounded up a collection of my favorite posts of the week from around the internet and blogosphere. I had intended to do it weekly, but…sometimes life just gets in the way of my plans!

villageLately I’ve been considering the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child”. Of course I understand the original intention of that phrase and even the more modern interpretation of extended family and community helping us bring up our children. I hadn’t, until recently, considered the idea that my “village” had become, in large part, the positive parenting community I have become a part of. This virtual village of bloggers, educators, caregivers and parents give so much support and guidance, have so much parenting wisdom and share so much knowledge that I am incredibly grateful to have found them. I know my relationship with my children has benefitted so greatly because of the people around me.

I hope you have a few moments this weekend to slow down and savor some of this really good stuff from members of my village. Some of it is straightforward “how to” stuff, some of it is to just make you think. Either way, I hope you enjoy it (click on the titles to read the the full post).

A little positive parenting…

What Is Positive Guidance, Exactly? {Amanda Morgan, Not Just Cute}

“Perhaps the number one misconception is that positive guidance, or positive parenting, is the equivalent of passive parenting. There’s this notion that the overriding principle is to keep everything positive. Translation: keep the kids happy, no matter the cost. For some, it conjures up an idea of spoiled kids calling all the shots, while their parents turn themselves inside out to shield them from consequences and give them everything they want in the name of preserving peace and protecting self-esteem.

Sorry folks. This is not positive guidance.”

Testing The Boundaries – What’s A Parent To Do? {Linda Knost, Little Hearts Books/Gentle Parenting Resources}

“Challenging behavior in our children can be really…well, challenging! How do you ‘handle’ a child who suddenly refuses to wear shoes or sit in her carseat/seatbelt or eat, period? Here are some tips to help you regain that snuggly, loving relationship you used to enjoy before your baby became a…shudder…PERSON!”

The Peaceful Parenting Approach To Kids’ Conflicts {Genevieve Simperingham, The Way of The Peaceful Parent}

“When children argue, they’re not trying to make life difficult, but rather they’re experiencing a problem, one that’s very big and very real to them. Children much prefer to be having fun. When two kids argue, they generally both feel frustrated, misunderstood, wrongly accused, rejected and overwhelmed, to name but a few emotions. Additionally fearing their parent’s rejection, blame or, worse still, punishment is not what they need. What they do need is help with managing those uncomfortable feelings that build up in their young bodies and support to solve their problems.”

A little inspiration…

Ode To Adolescence {Janell Burley Hoffman for Huffington Post Parents}

boy imitating airplane“I cannot remember the last time I sang you a bedtime song, shared a blanket with you, trimmed your fingernails, pushed you on a swing, tied your shoes or cut your chicken at dinner. I do not know what the inside of your locker looks like, who you sit with on the bus, or what you choose for lunch in the cafeteria.”

Moments Of Connection With Our Children {Darlene Denis-Friske for The Neufeld Institute}

“Instead of attempting to increase the amount of scheduled quality time with a child, I propose something far more basic and fundamental: increase the quality of simple moments everyday whereby you slow down to connect with your child.Parenting is not about what you do with your child, it is about who you are to your child.”

A little something to think about…

Why The Ritalin Debate Is Asking The Wrong Question: Healing Our Kids’ Soul Fever With Simplicity {Kim John Payne for Huffington Post Parents}

“Ultimately, it comes down to a choice. Parents need to decide whether they believe childhood is a fast-paced enrichment opportunity or a slowly unfolding experience. Can we unplug from the viral world for long enough to allow their kids’ disorders to flow back into their innate gifts, ready to be offered to the world in their own time, in their own way?”

Love Key To Brain Development {Dr. Charles Raison for CNN Health}

“One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.”

I hope there are some good things in here for you. I’d love to hear from you about who’s in your village and what inspires you! Leave a message below in the comments.

We’re Learning The 3 R’s. But Not The Ones You Might Expect

Our children have had the good fortune to have been enrolled at The Sunshine Shack, a Reggio inspired preschool, for the past 2 1/2 years. The philosophy of the school’s director, and the talents of the teachers, have allowed the natural curiosity of all of the children to be constantly encouraged. Each child’s interests and inquisitiveness has been expanded upon, used to form lesson plans and resulted in learning experiences for the entire classroom. One of the greatest gifts our children have received so far from school is a genuine love of learning.

I’ve been leading tours at our school over the last few months and there are always parents who visit who say something along the lines of “I love the idea of a play-based program, but exactly how do the children learn what they need for Kindergarten?”. I think, for many, the idea that children would actually learn things like reading or writing in a way other than with the use of flash cards, memorization or structured study seems impossible. But it’s not.

play

Our school director recently wrote some of her thoughts on this subject and has kindly allowed me to share with all of you.

Literacy In Preschool
by Sara Schuelein Perets

“Teaching children to read is a complex amalgam of language competency, visual awareness, understanding how to decipher the codes and symbols of the formed letters, and sometimes memorization (depending on the style in which it is being taught). But seeing the words is just the basics of reading. Understanding what has been read to allow for deep comprehension is different from basic memorization, and I believe it is just as, if not more, important.

Why do we read? What is the purpose?

At The Sunshine Shack, a preschool I founded five years ago, reading is about the love of literature, passion for stories, the ability for children to express themselves, and most importantly about creating an enjoyment of reading. We accomplish this by embracing Relationships, Relevance, and Reflection as an integral part of our curriculum. These three elements are woven into our classroom culture, thus creating the platform for children to gain the ability to read well and to read with joy.

Perhaps if children just learn to read early for the sake of knowing how to recognize words it won’t sustain their interest in reading for a lifetime. The evidence is clear that if a child is pushed to read early for the sake of knowing just how to read by both parents and educators, it has no relevance on their “being ahead” later. Often times, children that take their time in the process will catch up to those who were early readers. Our wish is for children to read for enjoyment rather than necessity.

How do we tie the 3R’s into our school’s curriculum?

Relationships

Young children learn through relationships: their relationships to people, making connections to materials, and their relationships to their environment. An environment rich with literature and storytelling invites the child to create a positive relationship with reading. Learning through relationships helps a child form connections and builds an enormous foundation for reading. We believe that if we just focused on “teaching children to read” we would be in danger of focusing on mechanics instead of wonderment, expression, and creativity fostered by the relationships that surround them which, in turn, inspire stories.

Relevance

An important aspect of thinking critically is to be able to take relevant information out of experiences and situations. This ability lays the foundation for future study habits when relevance needs to be extracted from pages of textbooks or even lectures. We need to help support children doing this if they are to become good readers throughout their schooling. It all comes down to comprehension verses memorization: are we raising children who are able to understand and follow the story, or just able to read it?

Reflection

Empowering children to reflect on what they have experienced is central to our approach and enables children to become aware of their thinking processes. When we read books out loud to children, it allows them to actively listen. When they have opportunities to learn that skill, they can build relationships through the stories they are listening to and draw relevance out of the material being read ot them. This exposure to literacy will provide children with skills to then talk about what they have heard, to share their ideas, and express their imagination. Learning to listen is just as important as learning to read.

Literacy is developed in many ways.

Absorbing and then thinking about written language are skills that take practice and are developed in many ways other than just “reading the words”. When children are given the opportunities to reflect back what was read through dialogue or drawing, we are fine tuning their listening skills and their awareness of thinking. Those principles are important in developing the pathways that allow for complex strategies to take place and to be able to absorb information on a deep cognitive level.

she is crayoningA Child’s sense of imagination as well as their ability to listen and to be more visually aware can be developed and further enhanced by the exposure to art and music. Having creative expression through art allows for the same stories that children might read and write to be expressed in a different medium and can expand upon the depth of the imagination the same way as showing children great works of art can visually stimulate their sense of wonder.

We don’t learn in a vacuum.

Education is all interconnected and the more we create curriculums where the children’s ideas can take on many forms, the more they begin to think in complex ways in context instead of seeing the world through an isolated lens. Literature, art, and music, are the tools in which we build our identity, so connecting all of those elements for children will help them not only to read with comprehension but build an important base for who they are.”

Parenting Experts Share Their Secrets (Don’t Miss This)!

Have you ever wondered:

  • How to discipline your children without ruining their self-esteem?
  • How to deal with your picky eaters?
  • How to protect your child from being bullied at school or online?
  • How to overcome your own parenting issues so as not to raise children with hang-ups?
  • How to raise your children financially aware?

I know how hard parenting can be at times, so I’m very excited to tell you about the return of a great series called the Great Parenting Show, the #1 Online Resource for Parents. It promises to answer all of these questions and some you haven’t even thought of! When this series ran last year it was AMAZING. I heard from so many of my readers that the information they learned from the featured experts changed their lives. I think this will be another don’t miss series.

This breakthrough 3- month series begins on Tuesday, March 13th at 10am PT, 11am MT, 12pm CT and 1pm ET so register right now to get more information:

Not only are the interviews available online, but they are free to you AND you can ask your top parenting question to the 24+ great parenting experts! Best of all for busy parents, the calls are recorded so you can listen at the times most convenient for you.

Here are just a few of the very well-known speakers included on the Great Parenting Show:

Dr. Jane Nelsen is the prolific author of Positive Discipline and other parenting books, past Oprah guest and major influence on other educators (her book Positive Discipline for Preschoolers changed my life).

Dr. Laura Markham therapist and author of the amazing Aha! Parenting blog will will speaking on the topic Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. (Uh…you know I will be tuning in for that one!).

Neale Donald Walsh, best-selling author of Conversations with God, will talk about how to make spirituality accessible to your children.

Sharon Lechter coauthor of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and creator of the Thrive Teen Game, will talk about raising financially literate children.

Dr. Joe Rubino is an internationally acclaimed expert, success coach and best-selling author, talking about raising kids with high self-esteem.

Shelly Lefkoe author and parenting educator talking about making parenting easier and more fun, WITHOUT sabotaging your children’s future.

Amy McCready, is a popular parenting educator who will share her proven tips to get your kids to behave without nagging, reminding or yelling. (I reviewed her excellent book If I Have to Tell You One More Time last year in this post).

Dr. Deborah Rozman is a psychologist who has co-authored over a dozen books, as well as co-founded the HeartMath Institute which provides products and services that enable people to transform stress, better regulate emotional responses and harness the power of heart/brain communication.

And so many more!

Again, this three month weekly training is completely FREE! The experts will be sharing the best of the best strategies, tactics and processes they know to help you with your parenting issues and make the journey happier, and much more successful.

I hope you take advantage of this unique chance to get answers to virtually all of your parenting concerns.

No One Told Me Parenting Was Going To Be Like Therapy

Sometimes I’m a great mom. Other times I feel like a lousy one, Having twins has been the most amazing blessing and at the same time it is the hardest, most exhausting thing I have ever done. But not in the way you might think.

Sure, there’s the lack of sleep. Any parent will mention that. And yes, with twins, sleep disturbances take on new proportions. But that’s a post for another time. Yes, with more than one child there’s the never ending battle over sharing and everyone trying to get mom’s attention. But that too, is another post.

What I have found to be the absolute most exhausting thing about having children is all of the self-examination that is required. I have done a lot of therapy over the years. I have studied various methods, I have had my own therapy sessions, I have counseled others, but I have never learned as much about myself as I have just trying to be a good mother.

Anyone who tells you that your childhood traumas don’t resurface, or whose buttons don’t get pushed, or who doesn’t find themselves repeating old patterns is either fooling themselves or is, on some level, not paying attention to themselves or their children. In addition, nothing will push the boundaries of what you and your partner can weather as much as having multiples.

me and dad 1971One of the first things I noticed, when I became a mom, was my intense need to connect to our kids. I would interrupt conversations to attend to them, I would respond to every sound or word they uttered. Not to spoil them, but because it ripped my heart out to think that they could ever, for one second, feel ignored. Then, one day my father was visiting and I watched as the two kids played in front of him, happily trying to get his attention while he, unaware, typed away on his computer. All of a sudden all of my childhood memories of trying to get my father’s attention came flooding back. All those memories of feeling not good enough or not important enough for him to pay attention to me were fresh and raw. I realized that unconsciously I was trying to protect our kids from ever feeling what I had felt. Every time they need me I struggle with finding the balance between connecting with them in order to make them feel heard and understood, and disengaging from them in order to give them a sense of autonomy and confidence in themselves.

Over the years, my father and I have worked through a lot of the old wounds. He is a wonderful father and yet, I still have “issues” with not being heard, not being understood or connected to. Sometimes I think those wounds must have left scar tissue that, when irritated, flares up and feels like a brand new pain. I dread the idea that one day my kids will be in therapy discussing something I unwittingly did that hurt them. Perhaps it’s inevitable. But I do believe that feeling “felt” is a primal need. I think I do a pretty damned good job at connecting to my kids and it’s a constant effort to stay in that head space.

Chaos is another trigger for me. Not such a great trigger to have when you have twins as chaos more or less goes with the territory! My husband is one of 7 children and is, on many levels, at ease with the storm that swirls around him, both at home and at work. I love him for this because he is often the rock I cling to.

My early childhood had a certain level of instability as my family traveled for a number of years throughout Europe letting hitchhikers determine our destination. In addition, I was an only child with parents who worked and was used to being on my own, in solitude and quiet. My need now for order, routine and a certain level of peace is enormous. It gives me a sense of calm, safety and permanence. These deep-seated needs coupled with having twin infants was a difficult combination. My husband’s desire for spontaneity often butts up against my need to stick to the plan. This difference in our personalities is one of the major reasons we were attracted to each other in the beginning and never was an issue until our children arrived; once the kids came these different styles became hard to reconcile. We realized that it was imperative to understand where these issues came from and how to release them if we were going to parent effectively and if we were going to keep our marriage strong. Other than finding a great therapist, I recommend reading Dr. Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell’s book, Parenting From the Inside Out if you sense that your past is affecting your present.

It is said that your body stores old trauma and, when something happens that triggers that memory, your brain cannot distinguish between then and now. It reacts as if the danger is current. Your survival techniques kick in, your childlike reactions flare up and you go into fight or flight mode. I am re-learning how to react to things and trying to mother myself as well as my children. Occasionally I miss the mark and behave like a child myself. But other times I am so in touch with myself and my children that I feel like I am moving as if in a dream; nothing disturbs me, nothing fazes me. My children can be throwing overlapping tantrums and I am able to be the parent they need in that moment. When I am in that mode of mindful parenting, I am no longer a child needing to control a chaotic situation, I am a mother holding space for my daughter who needs to know that her big feelings are OK to have. I am no longer a child feeling that she is not worthy of being listened to, I am a mother tuning in to my son and understanding that he is unable to focus on what I am saying because he is overtired. I am a mother doing the best she can, and my children continue to be my greatest teachers.