All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

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.

 

Is It Okay to Call A Kid A Jerk?

October 11th, 2014 - By Brooke Dean
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As a new mother, I have a confession to make. I didn’t always like children. Actually, let me rephrase – I didn’t always like ALL children. I think most people can agree with that sentiment, but there are others who would argue with me that all kids are likeable. I guess that’s where I would have disagreed in the past. Maybe.

Now that I have an infant son, I’ve softened my view a little bit about children and their “likeability” – mainly because I’d never want anyone to call my kid a jerk. However, if my child were behaving like a jerk, I’d take that as a reflection on me and my parenting than on my child. But not all parents think that way. I bring this up because I saw a woman on the train call a child an a-hole, right in front of his mother – and I totally agreed with her. Not with her saying it per se, but with her assessment of the child.

Now I know that may seem harsh, or even cruel – and it probably was considering an adult should know better than to address a child in that way. And you could also argue that it was disrespectful to the child’s mother. I know I’d certainly take offense to someone calling my child out of his name, and she would have caught an earful from me. But let me paint the picture for you.

The child, a boy about 10 years old, was kicking the stranger’s chair and her leg. She politely asked the mother if she could tell her son to stop kicking the chair, and the mother complied. But the boy kept doing it, all while looking at his mother and the stranger as if to say “F-you.” The mother asked again, and he said “no!” By now we’re all expecting the mother to knock said boy into next week, but instead she just gave us all an exasperated look – defeated. So the stranger took it upon herself to get up and move, to which the boy replied, “Yes, you move you stupid lady.” I think my head spun around. What?? I wish MY son would.

Again, everyone looked to the mother to see if he’d catch a kick to the throat, but instead she did nothing. We sat there stunned, and angry at his mother’s actions…or lack thereof. That’s when the stranger said it – “you’re an a-hole.” Right to the little boy’s face. And just like that, he got his act together. The mother…again…said nothing.

Now again, I’m not saying that the woman should have called the child an a-hole. But to a complete stranger, that’s what he was acting like, whereas to others he may have just been behaving like little kids do. At nine months old, my son is starting to assert his independence. But rebelling against a diaper change and being a 10-year-old who is kicking a woman’s chair are two totally different things. At 10, he’s old enough to know better. By that age, there’s a difference between testing boundaries and being outright disrespectful. By 10 years old, behaving like a jerk is a choice. And by 10 years old, parents should have laid some sort of foundation where good behavior is expected and bad behavior is punished.

But how do you know when a child is just being a kid, or when they’re being a jerk? Without knowing a child’s back story, their upbringing, what is going on in his home (or isn’t) and what his family dynamic is, it’s hard to tell if a child should wear the label of a jerk or if you should feel compassion for him. I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for a kid past a certain age – and 10 years old is pushing up on that number. I can see a child who is, say…4…acting up – because they may not have the communication skills necessary to say “I’m tired,” “I’m hungry” or “I’m bored…and that’s why I’m turning into the Tasmanian Devil.” But by 10 years old, if you’re well-fed and well rested, then you don’t get a pass from me. You’re just a jerk.

Now I know what you’re all saying – maybe it’s the parents who are the jerks, and are therefore raising jerk kids. I agree with you – I usually blame the parents. But guess what – that child is still a jerk, no matter how he came to be that way. Most a-hole adults were a-hole kids. And so the cycle continues.

So what to do? I guess if it’s not your kid or a child you have an influence over, there’s nothing you really can do except pray that the child either outgrows his “a$$holery”, or the parents step up their parenting game before it’s too late and they have a grown up jerk on their hands. That said, maybe I’m an a-hole for calling kids jerks in the first place – who knows. I’m willing to own that, so pray for me. Like I said, I’m a new mother with a new compassionate outlook on children and their behavior, so I’m willing to concede that I may have been too harsh. And for that I’m sorry. I’m working on not being a jerk myself so I can be sure not to raise one. But to all my parents out there – have you ever thought your kid was a jerk, and if so, would you ever admit it? I’m interested in the answers to this one!

Having A Second Child – Is It Too Early To Tell If I Should?

August 24th, 2014 - By Brooke Dean
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having a second child

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I was a month shy of my 41st birthday when I gave birth to my son. Being pregnant at 40 was nothing like I expected. It was magical, but it was scary…nerve racking yet miraculous. Meeting my son was the best day of my life, and its hard to imagine anything coming even remotely close to that moment.

Now that my son is 7 months old and I’m finding my rhythm as a mother, folks are beginning to ask that inevitable question – when are you having another one? I’m just now starting to average 4 (5 if I’m lucky) hours of sleep a night and I’m learning more about my son every day. The thought of having another baby hasn’t even had a chance to plant itself because I’m too busy trying to figure everything out with the baby I have. Yet I feel like I get that question from people at least once a week.

While my son is not an only child – he has siblings from my husband’s previous marriage – they are a lot older than he is. Growing up, I always said that I’d want to have at least two children who would grow up and be best friends like my sister and I are. Having one just never seemed like an option. But in that vision, I never saw myself as an older mother married to a man who already had children. Now that that is my reality, I think I’ve adjusted my thoughts on having more than one child.

Maybe if I were 31 instead of 41 this decision would be a no brainer. Now, just the thought of paying double for child care makes me cringe. Ideally, I’d be able to space them at least 3-4 years apart so that my husband and I could catch a financial breather, but the idea of being pregnant at 45 doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. All of that genetic testing I had to go through with my son was enough to drive me crazy. I feel blessed to have a perfect baby boy, so I don’t feel the need to make myself sick with worry a second time since I’d still be considered an even higher risk the older I get.

Then there’s this thing called sleep. Call me selfish, but as my son gets older and sleeps longer, adding another newborn to the mix would simply make me delirious. Waking up twice in the middle of the night now to nurse only takes 5-10 minutes tops…and then we’re both back to sleep. We’re getting there, and I just don’t see myself wanting to lose more sleep than I’m currently getting. Sure there is a case to be made for doing it now while I’m used to being sleep deprived…but I don’t want to consider that logic right now. At least not until after I grab a nap anyway.

Then there’s my husband. Right now, our household is cozy and functioning with the three of us. His other children don’t live with us, but visit often – and that works out well for our unit. When I want to take a nice long shower, I can hand the baby off to him so I can bathe in peace. When he wants to go work out for an hour, I got the baby. It’s a juggling act we’re getting the hang of, and adding another child to that act would probably throw us off-balance in a way that we may not anticipate. He’s already used to being a dad, while I’m still navigating being a mother. With another child, I think we’d both become just parents rather than husband and wife, and maintaining a marriage while looking after more than one child in the house might become a job that neither one of us has the energy and mentality to prioritize.

Lastly, there’s this silly idea I have that I might not love them equally. Yes, call me crazy – but as I sit and stare at my angelic child, I can’t imagine loving another child the way I love him. Everything with him represents my first – my first heartbeat, first ultrasound, first pregnancy, first birth, first love. I will never experience those “firsts” again, even though I’m sure having another child will be special and unique in its own way too. Logically, I know this…but part of me wonders if I can love another one the way I love him. I know I shouldn’t try to measure the two, but it’s hard to imagine my heart getting any bigger than it already is filled with the joy the little one has brought me.

And the converse of that is wondering if I’d be able to spread myself equally between the two. Will I ignore my oldest child because the younger one would require so much of my attention? Will he become jealous, or try to compete for my affection? If I have a girl, will I love her differently? These are probably all ridiculous things to ponder – but I do anyway…and it makes me wonder if I should stop at this one and just love him up with everything I have.

Loving him up is easy. But am I loving him selfishly by not giving him a close in age sibling to be his best friend? Who knows. Maybe I’m assuming too much. He might be close to his other siblings, even with the age difference. He might not want another sibling. And if he had one close in age to him, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be best friends…even though that would be my hope for them. At the end of the day, I might be making much ado about nothing.

And maybe it’s still too soon to even be worrying about all of this. For the time being, I think I’m just going to enjoy being a new mother and growing with, learning from and nurturing my son. Time will tell if having another child is in the cards for us, and the next time someone asks me if I’m ready for the next one, I’ll just tell them to check back with me in a year while I pray on it – and buy myself some time.

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: I Have A 1-Year-Old Should I Stay Out Of The Dating Game?

August 20th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Source: Shutterstock

Dear Damon,

I’m single, 25 and have a 1-year-old. Daughter. I’m currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree and have moved back in with my mother to focus on school instead of working full time. I’m holding off on dating because I feel like in my situation I’m unattractive to stand up guys or the type of men I find attractive. Even after I finish school and get back on my own I’m afraid being a mother is a big turn off. Am I being insecure or am I right to stay out of the dating game?

Signed,
Down About Dating

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Can’t Mothers Be Pro-Breastfeeding Without Being Anti-Formula?

August 15th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Why Can't Mothers Be Pro-Breastfeeding Without Being Anti-Formula?

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In 2011, The United States Breastfeeding Committee (yes, this is a real group) made August National Breastfeeding Month. As a mom who has breastfed two children, I am excited about the month-long celebration of breastfeeding. And though online activism is one of the best ways to share information and be an active advocate, when I explore some social media sites and online forums, I notice that there are breastfeeding moms who shame formula feeding moms and call them “selfish” and “ignorant.” This unfortunate name-calling undermines the importance of promoting breastfeeding. Advocating for the benefits of breast milk can and should be done without bashing other mothers in the process.

It is not okay to attack formula feeding moms because some women have no choice but to use formula for various reasons. Some women use formula to some degree due to serious illness, medications, or unsolvable lactation issues. Other moms cut nursing short or supplement with formula because they are returning to a work environment that is not conducive to pumping milk. Assuming that everyone who uses formula is lazy and a failure makes advocates look uninformed. Breastfeeding supporters should spend time exploring reasons some moms can’t breastfeed. Becoming educated about barriers to breastfeeding can help advocates share information in a tactful way. Once an advocate is cognizant of other women’s struggles, blanket statements about formula usage should be replaced with compassionate language towards other mom’s struggles. Showing compassion to moms who were unable to fulfill their desire to breastfeed is an extension of the unconditional love and support that motherhood represents.

Conversely, there are women who do have a choice, but don’t know which choice to make. Many misinformed and undecided moms-to-be may need advice from mothers with breastfeeding experience. Or, an inexperienced nursing mom may need seasoned veterans to help with cluster-feeding issues and milk supply woes. When mommy experts waste time engaging in battles with “anti-breastfeeding” Internet trolls and lambaste women who are even considering formula, they can’t offer the help other women desperately need. Incessant online wars and nasty attitudes don’t belong in a space intended for camaraderie. If advocates want to draft new moms onto “Team Mommy’s Milk,” then they have to dedicate time toward reaching out to women with solid information.

Having an arsenal of great information is a powerful tool to help other moms. But, if a nursing activist has quality facts to share with another mommy, it won’t be well-received if the information is mixed in with callous statements about formula feeding moms. Think about how most people perceive PETA and their wayward campaigning. Although PETA often provides valuable information, they are more known for their inflammatory statements than their facts. Likewise, if a breastfeeding aficionado pushes an anti-formula agenda, then focus ends up being taken off of the pro-breastfeeding agenda and, the ultimate message (“Breastfeeding is awesome”) is lost. Pro-breastfeeding ladies should also avoid taking the “I nursed my kids, so I am a better mom than you” approach. Throwing in pretentious statements among information is not the way to encourage others to forgo formula. Instead, an advocate should stick to promoting the benefits of breast milk for both mommy and baby.

As August flies by and National Breastfeeding Month is recognized across the country, people who support the breast milk movement should focus on the many Twitter “hashtag” activities, chats, and events taking place. There will be detractors and skeptics, but this month is not about their agenda. It is about the pro-breastfeeding agenda! Providing advice, offering encouragement, answering questions with tact, and focusing on the beauty of nursing an infant are the best ways to champion for a wonderful cause without hurting others.

National Breastfeeding Month: Celebrity Moms Who Breastfeed

August 12th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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While some women choose not to breastfeed or even be unable to, these celebrity moms who breastfeed are proponents of nursing the good old fashion way and in honor of National Breastfeeding month this August, we’re shouting them out.

Source: Instagram

Source: Instagram

Yaya DaCosta

After NFL player Phillip Wheeler’s girlfriend was criticized for posting a pic of her breastfeeding online, actress Yaya DaCosta was outraged and posted a copy cat pic in solidarity to #NormalizeNursing. Yaya gave birth to her first child, son Sakara, with husband Josh Alafia September 12.

Black Celebrity Single Mothers Doing It All

August 12th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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An astonishing 72% of Black children are raised by single mothers, but not all of those single parent households represent dismal circumstances. As society in general moves more toward single parenthood, we pay homage to the Black celebrity single mothers who are balancing their grueling work schedules with raising stellar children.

For more on single motherhood in the Black community, check out Moguldom Studios’ latest documentary “72%,” available on iTunes and Google Play.

Celebrity Single Mothers

WENN

Nia Long

We fell in love with Nia Long decades ago after she starred in“Boyz N The Hood” and “Love Jones.” More than 20 years later, the Brooklyn native hardly looks like she’s aged a bit. Her two sons, 13-year-old Massai and 2-year-old Kez, must keep her young because Long is proud to do it all. “I’m not a movie star mom who’s got a private chef, a nanny and a driver,” she said to “Essence” magazine. “My mantra is, ‘You created this, you can handle it.’”

15 Signs You Might Be A Bad Parent

August 5th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Parenting is the hardest job that any of us will ever have. But we still have to do better than this. If you identify with any of the parents on this list, you might just be bad at your job.

You Chose This Name

Just in case you didn’t catch it, that’s Knowledge MarLexus Townsend.

Mother Did Not Know Son Died Until She Smelled His Decaying Body

August 4th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From EurWeb

The mother of an 8-year-old special needs boy whose decomposing body was found on the third floor of their home said Saturday she didn’t know he had died until noticing the smell.

The reason given by Kimberly Tutko, the mother, is that her husband was the primary caretaker of their mentally disabled son, and he waited several days to tell her the boy had died, according to Pennlive.com.

Police were called to the home Friday and found the boy’s body. They charged the father,  Jarrod Tutko, 38, with child endangerment for concealing the death of a child and abuse of a corpse.There is no attorney listed for the family in court records.

Harrisburg police said in a statement that Tutko informed his wife about the death of their son, Jarrod Tutko Jr., “when the odor of decomposition became too strong.”

Read more about this case at EurWeb.com 

 

 

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