All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

What Potty Training My Daughter Taught Me About Success

February 27th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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What Potty Training My Daughter Taught Me About Success

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There’s an adage that says:  “Once a man, twice a child.”  I took that as an illustration that your second “childhood” happens when you’re old in age.  However, I must be going through my Benjamin Button Effect a little prematurely, because there are certain things that my daughter is currently going through that I feel like I can relate to.

My daughter and I are finally rounding the final base of potty training.  Through this, I realized that there was a correlation between the struggle of getting one to use “the pot” to getting a person to a goal that they have in life, and I’m gonna share it with you.

First:  Stop Comparing Your Journey With Others

I am an avid reader of all things “parenting,” so when I read a blog post about a mother who potty trained her 15 month old, I decided that I would do the same thing.  However, it didn’t happen, and I increasingly felt like a failure each time I put my daughter on her potty, nothing happened, and then the moment I pulled her pants up she began to pee.

The truth of the matter is, success (any type of success that you’re going for) is not going to happen at the same time that someone else’s.  It might happen before others, or after others.  The most important thing for you to do is to focus on your own path, instead of feeling discouraged by how everyone else is doing.

 

Second:  You’re Gonna Have a Lot of False Starts

I remember when my daughter was one, she went a week using the potty consistently, and then… she just stopped.

Success is like that.  There are times you are going to be in your zone, and you’re winning;  or you feel like you’re about to win, and then… something impedes your momentum.  Maybe you get passed over for that raise that you were working so hard for, or you didn’t get the job that you seemed destined to get.

Along with success, failure is going to be inevitable at some point.

 

Third:  It’s Gonna Be Extremely Messy Sometimes.

In order to get to what you want to be, or where you want to be, you’re going to have to clean up some mess in your life.  It’s going to be hard. It might seem like a foul odor to your soul, and might make you want to vomit.  However, shifting through the B.S. is something that happens.

The most important thing to do is to try to clean up your situation as best as you can, until you get to the point that you no longer need someone else to do it for you.  Gain your independence!  Wipe your own nether regions!

 

Fourth:  Find Happiness In the Little Successes

One thing that warmed my heart was the excitement every single time my daughter successfully used the pot.  She would begin to beam, clap and congratulate herself for doing a great job.

This led to her being more consistent with it.

This is the same thing for you.  If you don’t acknowledge those tiny successes that come your way when you’re pursing a goal or a dream, then you’ll lose your motivation to continue.  No matter how small the success is, it still means that you’re on the path you should be on.

 

Finally:  It’ll Come, As Long As You Don’t Give Up

If I could tell you how many times I checked my budget to think:  Forget it!  I’ll just keep on buying diapers!  What?  I can’t afford it?  CRAP!

Success, along with potty training, all comes with consistency.  It’s going to be hard, you’re going to want to quit, and you’re going to doubt yourself.  However, if this is something that you think you’re meant to do, and you’re improving each time you attempt to go forward, then it’ll eventually come.

Don’t let your hard work go down the toilet!

Kendra Koger can think of about 50 potty jokes right now; share yours @kkoger.

 

Marissa Alexander Talks Parenting From Jail And Reuniting With Her Children

February 4th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Marissa Alexander Talks Parenting From Jail

Source: MSNBC

Last week, we were ecstatic to report the new that Marissa Alexander was finally being released from prison. Though we could certainly argue that she didn’t need to serve any more time at all, house arrest, (with the ability to go work, job interviews, church medical appointments and visit her children’s schools), is a vast improvement.

And on a recent appearance on the Melissa Harris Perry show, via satellite, Marissa spoke about parenting from jail, how she’s doing now that she’s home with her children and what people can do to ensure that people like her, first time offenders who didn’t injure or kill anyone, don’t end up serving unwarranted time in jail, away from their children and wasting taxpayer money.

Note: Marissa didn’t say those things, that’s my own editorializing.

Anyway, check out the highlights from Marissa Alexander’s interview and then watch the entire segment in the video below.

You have to spend the extra time and effort to really connect with the kids. For one thing, my kids were in a transition of going to teenage years. so it was a little bit difficult. You know, that’s the time when they’re into their electronics and your parents aren’t as cool. 

When I left we were all in the bed together, sleeping together and when I came back everybody was on their cell phones and on laptops. But one of the things that I did, I continued to write them. I did call them. I didn’t push them to come and visit if they had things that they wanted to do. I wanted to make sure that they had some normalcy. 

But when I got back home, I realized just how much they had missed me. My teenage daughter had all of my clothes that she was wearing while I was gone, just my sleeping clothes because she wanted some type of closeness to me. 

So those are the things that I did. I made sure that I wrote, I called and allowed them to have a life and not be tied down because I was.

Watch the rest of the video where Marissa speaks about what regular community members can do to help others like herself and others who may have find themselves dealing with the legal system.

No Mr. President, You Can’t Have My 529 Plan!

January 29th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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College saving (money) for child/family

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President Obama would’ve had an unexpected guest at the White House if he achieved his proposal to end 529 college savings plans.

As a mother of a one year old and expecting my second child in June, my husband and I are relying on our son’s 529 to grow over the years and help with college. I first learned about this program many years ago and always wondered why some of my friends had it a little easier when it came to paying their educational bills and expenses. Simply put, it’s a low-maintenance way to invest (think mutual funds) and receive some nice tax benefits.

Once my child had a social security number, he had a 529. We plan to do the same with our second child once he gets here. While we aren’t a family making Trump money, we do work hard to allocate a portion of our monthly budget to invest in our child’s future. It’s something grandparents and other loved ones can contribute to and feel great about their gift. I’ve even become savvy when it comes to shopping as I can earn money for my son’s account with purchases made through Upromise.com.

With gifted money in hand from my son’s first birthday and ready to make a 529 plan contribution, I saw news stories of policymakers–from both political parties–and parents upset over President Obama’s proposed ideas to change how the plan works. Sure my household is not one of the high-income families he wants to target (the plan allows tax-free withdrawals for qualifying educational expenses), but it does hurt our wallets. My son’s college savings plan probably won’t have the same amount in it as someone of a certain pedigree, but I’ll tell you what, he’ll be better off than others who never invested over the years. Monthly investments into a 529 plan–regardless of size–can and will add up.

This country has a major issue with tax fairness, but a 529 college savings plan is not solely available to the elite, or should be the focus. Heck in most cases you can start one with as little as $50. Think how much money we could save for our children if we focused more on their future instead of over-the-top birthdays, designer labels and other expensive gifts. Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president of Edvisors.com made an interesting point: college savings showing up on a prospective student’s financial aid application (the proposed plan would make it taxable income) and can very well result in lower-income families receiving less money. Whereas students from a wealthier background wouldn’t be as affected because they would likely not qualify for aid.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is for helping more students obtain college degrees, or where we get the money. I’m just a wife and mother who works hard to utilize whatever options are available to better my family’s situation. A change to this would hinder those efforts.

To Tell Or Not To Tell: What Will I Say When My Daughter Asks About Her Father?

January 19th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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What Will I Say When My Daughter Asks About Her Father?

Source: Shutterstock

 

I remember when I made the decision to go about being a single mother.  Though it wasn’t anything that I planned, (because when you marry someone you usually think it’s going to last forever), it was something that I was okay doing.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated because I was raised in a two parent household, as were both of my parents.  There aren’t a lot of single mothers in my family. In my immediately family I’m the only one.  Though my parents are divorced now, they didn’t follow through with that decision until I was about 25 or so.

So, I didn’t really have an example of how to raise a child by myself and how to filter through those questions of why it was only mommy and baby.  So I decided that instead of telling my daughter what happened I would tell her what I tell everyone else:  “We were just two people who weren’t good for each other.”

My rationale with this was that I didn’t want to influence her to think anything negative about her father.  If she decided to love him, hate him, or feel indifferent to him, it was all going to be on her.  I felt comfortable in that decision, until I started watching this season’s batch of reality television programs.

On “Love and Hip Hop Hollywood,” you see Apryl angry with her mother for not telling her about the events that shaped her childhood.  Apryl, whose father was in jail, was raised by her grandmother from the age of 4 until she was 11, and then moved to live with her mother and other siblings.

On “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” you see Phaedra and Apollo interacting with their children during the extremely tangible circus in the room. It was more than an elephant. There were clowns, lions, a ringmaster, the whole situation was bananas.  Occasionally you’ll see little Ayden ask his father:  “Where are you going?”

There it is, actual reality in reality television.  Who would’ve thunk it?

But along with these situations that are being played out on reality television, I’m reminded of my own.  My daughter is starting to ask questions about everything, and one of her favorite ones is:  “Where is [insert name here]?”  She goes to the window and ask:  “Where’s G-Mama/G-Daddy?” (Translation:  “Where’s Grandma/Granddaddy?”) or “Where’s Tee-Tee Kayla and Robby?” (Translation:  “Where’s Aunty Kayla and her boyfriend Robby?”)  These are people that she loves and asks for, and waits for them to show up, and I know that eventually there’s going to be a day of asking where her father is.  That’s going to turn into asking where was he, and then finally:  “What happened?”

I’m not looking forward to it, but I know it’s going to happen, especially if my daughter keeps her affinity to always ask questions (much like myself).  I feel a little annoyed with myself for not asking the right questions before I walked down the courthouse halls and got married, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.

After asking as many of my friends, who were raised in single parent households, the thing that I learned from their perspective was that timing and discernment is everything.

I learned that they were appreciative when their parents told the truth about what happened with them, while being objective.  They respected the timing their parents used when answering their children’s questions about the past.  Even when my friends thought they were ready, their parents knew if they were emotionally mature enough to handle it, and it turned out that their parents’ timing with the information was always ideal.

I plan to take their stories into consideration whenever that dreaded day comes and saying my go-to line isn’t enough for my daughter.  I also plan to continue to encourage her father to be more involved. That way when the truth does come out, it’s not as harsh for her.  Until these things happen, I’m just trying my best to give her the best life that I can as a single mother because, as my friends revealed, having a positive childhood made up for it being with only one parent.

 

So what do you think, readers?  What’s your advice and take on this?  Believe me, I’m taking ANY advice I can get at the moment!

 

Kendra Koger is holding her tongue, but her fingers are free @kkoger

No Time Like Right Now: Why I’m Choosing Graduate School With Two Babies

January 5th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Busy/working business woman

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Life always has a funny way of presenting opportunities when you least expect them.

Last year was quite the memorable one in my household considering I had my first child in January, my husband and I moved our family cross country in May, and we found out we were expecting baby number two (coming in early June). I guess you can say we were very busy in 2014!

Life has since slowed down a bit with all of us falling into a groove. Things have been very great considering my husband and I both work from home and we’re able to balance work demands (I work for myself and he telecommutes) and parenthood. We have our health, our loving family and the financial capability to plan and invest for our future. Hey, you don’t have to be the Huxtables to make moves.

So what’s missing?

I have felt like a broken record these last few years because I have been dying to go to graduate school. You would think the timing would be better before popping out babies, but it actually wasn’t. There were too many things up in the air. I kinda gave up on my “dream” once my son was born because I knew I would be too focused on parenting to dedicate any time to school. Part of me also thought it was a bit selfish.

Well folks, it seems like an opportunity has presented itself that actually seems to fit in my puzzle of a life. Our new home is not too far from a major university that offers some of the most affordable in-state tuition prices I have seen. In doing the math, I would be able to take a graduate course once a semester and finish in three years — provided I also take a class during winter and summer sessions. The campus also happens to be close to an accredited learning center that has a Spanish immersion program that’s perfect for our sons (my husband and I are are about the bilingual life). It will be especially good for our toddler to spend time with other children twice a week as he’s home with us all the time. Thankfully this location caters to the needs of matriculating parents; they appear to work with different schedules so we don’t need full-time care.

In the grand scheme of things, this does sound crazy… but not impossible. I actually know of other mothers who were able to start a business and go back to school sometimes without the help of a spouse or partner. There will always be something that will scare you into a reason why you shouldn’t pursue your dreams. Sure it’s important to weigh all your options, but don’t wait for that “perfect” time. There’s no such thing.

With regards to my situation, finances are thankfully in order where we’re paying bills, saving for a house and investing in our children’s college future. Moving from the New York City area and to a location with a lower cost of living definitely helps. The degree I eventually obtain will come in handy as I would like to head back into an office once the kiddos start school and need an advanced degree to couple with my experience.

Have you ever considered doing something, but were too afraid the timing wasn’t right?

How Raising My Son To Be A Man As A Single Mom Has Made Me A Better Woman

December 26th, 2014 - By Liz Lampkin
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Source: Shutterstock.com

Source: Shutterstock.com

Parenthood is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences known to all beings, and it is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While the task of parenting is endless, tireless work, it is also a journey of innumerable lessons in life; not only for children, but for the parents as well. As I look back on the different experiences I’ve had while raising my son, I realized that as I’m teaching him about various things in life, he’s teaching me as well. While there are a number of lessons that my baby boy has taught me, the ones that stick out the most in my mind and throughout my daily life are ones imprinted in my heart. They made me adjust my life and have molded me into a better adult.

The first thing I’ve learned to do is make better long-term decisions. Before I had my son, I would make decisions that would only affect me without considering the long-term effects they would have. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the type of person who made very reckless decisions, but now that I am directly responsible for someone else’s well being, I prayerfully and carefully make decisions for the both of us that will produce the best results possible.

My son has also taught me to have more patience, which is important when you have a child and when you’re facing the struggles of daily life. I learned the value of pacing myself, and by being more patient, I have a new sense of inner peace, and it shows outward.

Another valuable lesson I’ve learned is how to give unconditional love and what it truly is. Throughout my life, especially growing up, I always knew I was loved. My parents constantly showed me they loved me through their actions and words. Many things they said and did I never understood, but now I know why: because they knew what unconditional love was and showed it to me so that I could pass it along. And now that I have my son, not only have I experienced love for what it really is, but I have the chance to give it.

And who knew that motherhood would bring a change in style? Before I became a mom, I didn’t always go out in conservative yet chic attire. No, I would go out dressed extremely sexy, looking to snatch a man. While there’s nothing wrong with clothing yourself in a certain type of sexy, I realize that as a mother, I’m the first woman in my son’s life, and I set the tone for the type of woman he will settle down with. Now, I know he will date around and become involved with a variety of women (not too many hopefully), but nonetheless, what he sees in me will have a profound effect on the type of woman he introduces me to.

As I continue on this journey of motherhood, I appreciate life more. I also greatly appreciate how my son has allowed me to become a better person for him, those close to us, and myself. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned thus far and I look forward to many more.

Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.

14 Things Parents Should Know When Christmas Shopping

December 17th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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14 Things Parents Should Know When Christmas Shopping

Image Source: Tumblr.com

Let me take you back to my daughter’s past Christmases.  They ranged from us being so broke that my then-husband and myself  couldn’t afford to get her a single thing for Christmas, to me as a single mother only being able to buy her about 8 things from the dollar store.

But THIS year, I was actually able to get her real gifts!

Now as Christmas is approaching, I wanted to share a few things that I learned and realized (and things that my parents shared with me) about Christmas shopping as a parent.  Feel free to add whatever I forgot to at the end, and let’s support each other in this endeavor, parents!  We can make it!

Nude Baby Photos? No TV? Controversial Parenting Tips Celebrity Moms Stand Behind

December 1st, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Who never punishes their kids? Who breastfed their son until he was four? We were more than surprised to find out which celebrity moms found their way on the controversial parenting list. Prepare to disagree. We’ll see you in the comments section.

Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Alyson Hannigan: No TV Ever

Is blocking them from the TV doing too much?

Saturday morning cartoons may be made for kids, but the How I Met Your Mother star says hers won’t be watching them — even though she stars in one. Alyson says her two daughters, which are 2 and 5, aren’t allowed to watch TV at home under any circumstances — at least until they’re much older.

Dear Parents: It’ll Be Okay

October 29th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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Dear Parents

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Dear Parents,

Let me start this letter off by letting you know that I am NOT a parenting expert.  In fact, I’ve only been a mother for three years, and I’m still struggling with how to handle the ups and downs.

My daughter, who is one of the best things to have ever happened to me, is also a cause for my tears and frustration sometimes.  I know she doesn’t understand what she does, but it doesn’t stop her actions from being overwhelming, or make the tears to taste any less bitter (overly dramatic, eh?).

With my lack of expertise, there is something that I discovered that every parent needs to hear sometimes, but for some reason people seem so reluctant to say it.  It’s just three words to help soothe the pain, give hope, and encourage us that we can do this long journey of parenting.  For me, discovering those words really made a great deal of difference, and I repeat them to myself whenever I need to.

Parenting is a really weird time for some people.  Sometimes you look at these other seemingly happy-go-lucky parents, while they go to their Mommy-n-Me jamborees, and you feel resentful.  How are these women losing weight so fast, and their kids seem so well behaved?  How are the fathers so involved, and seem so happy to help?  Why is my child the only one screaming in the shopping cart while I spend my last few dollars to get her/him something to eat?

Some people just seem like they are naturals, and they take to parenting so well, while others are struggling.  Like some parents are finally starting to become honest and admit that they don’t always like parenting, for a very long time it was frowned upon to admit such a harsh secret.  Parenting is hard, and there’s a lot of pressure to LOVE it.

Regardless of whether you planned to have your child or not, no level of preparation will give you a true insight into how parenting is really going to go.  It’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have a lot of questions that you might be afraid to ask in fear of thinking:  “They’re gonna think I’m a bad parent.”

Do you know the three words that I mentioned earlier that will help you out tremendously?  They’re:  “It’ll.  Be.  Okay.”

The message is very simple, but for some reason, it’s so comforting.  It’s comforting to hear someone else tell you that the struggles that you face aren’t just normal, but short term.  There’s encouragement in the notion that the struggles that you encounter with your child won’t always be there, and it helps you to enjoy the small moments of levity that happen.

So, to all of you parents who are emotionally struggling through this role, just know that not only are you not alone, but it’ll be okay.  As each day progresses, you’ll slowly forget the frustrations and the tantrums, and those memories will be replaced by your child growing into the wonderful person that you raise them to be.  Until that day happens, it’ll be okay.

Sincerely,

Kendra Koger

 

Mother of 1, owner of the @kkoger twitter account.  

How My Daughter’s Book Helped Me Get Through A Rough Patch

October 17th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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How My Daughter's Book Helped Me Get Through A Rough Patch

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During idle days, my daughter and I like to walk down to the nearby thrift store and stock up on books.  Now, I’m not going to lie, not every time is a great one.  Sometimes we’ve came back with some duds, but for the most part we’re able to find some great books (including a bunch of “Goosebumps” books that I cannot wait to give her when she gets older).

After one mouth-wateringly (yes, I made that word up) great trip, we came back with about three bags of books and three board games (because, why not?), and immediately dumped them on my bed when we got home to really dig into them.  After reading about two or three duds, we came across:  “Jenna and the Troublemaker.”

The first time we read it, my mind wandered the entire time, thinking about what to cook, what I had left to do that day, and how lucky I was to get a “Sex and the City” trivia game for only $2 (it was still wrapped in plastic!  Score!).

When I finished the book, I placed it on our pile, and then left to fix us something to eat.

It wasn’t until a few months later that the book came back up in the rotation during a time that I really needed.

Sometimes life hits you hard, and that’s what I was going through then.  Things weren’t extremely horrible, but it was a difficult time nonetheless.  However, no matter how bad things get, there are no off-days for responsibilities, especially parenting.  So, when it was our reading time, and I picked the book up I wasn’t expecting it to touch me the way that it did.

“Jenna and the Troublemaker” is about an androgynous figure who creates troubles and delivers them to people (thus making him a “Troublemaker”).  While making a delivery he comes across a little girl named Jenna who is crying about how hard her life is due to the troubles that he keeps on bringing her.

To make her feel better he tells her to pack up all of her troubles and he invites her to come to his field of “troubles,” so she can trade her bag with someone else’s.

As Jenna goes through each bag, it seems to get worse and worse until she finally finds a bag that she can handle.  She takes it home, unknowing that (SPOILER) the troubles she picked were the ones she initially brought.

While reading, I didn’t realize that I was beginning to get choked up.  As my daughter started playing with her Spongebob pillow, completely oblivious to my moment of clarity, I was still looking down at the book.  I was caught off guard as to how ten cents bought me so much perspective.

Even though things might not have been perfect in my life at that time, the book reminded me that things could always get worse.  It also encouraged me to look a little more objectively at any trouble that comes my way, and know that not only is it temporary, but it’s also something that I can handle.

So to you, dear reader, if things aren’t going as great as you’d hoped, or your life is veering off your planned course, know that as horrible as it might feel now, it could be worse.  Instead of looking at the perceived notion that other people’s lives are better than yours, focus on doing what you can to help you lighten your own load.  At the end of the day, you might not like the troubles that are handed to you, but if you had the chance to trade, you’d probably still pick your own.

 

Kendra Koger doesn’t create trouble, but she does tweet @kkoger.