All Articles Tagged "Parenting"
Last night, I was conversing with a friend about the stressfully entertaining things that our children do. She jokingly mentioned how she still gets a case of “mom guilt” from time-to-time and I had to use Google to find out what that was. Apparently, mom guilt is very common; but it’s a paradigm that I can’t relate to at all. I did a little research and then asked a couple of my friends who are fathers if they share some of these sentiments.
Mom Guilt is the constant and crushing self-blame for not being perfect. Busy mothers think to themselves: “I should be home with my kid instead of working too much.” When having a well-deserved night out with friends or date night, the thought is: “I feel bad for leaving my child at home. I wonder how they’re doing? Maybe I should call and see how they’re doing?” If your child’s feelings are hurt from being reprimanded when they don’t listen, “Damn, I feel terrible for hurting their feelings.” I know I’m being a guy by oversimplifying a complex emotion…but with good reason.
No man wants a woman without any flaws because the quirks are some of the qualities that we as men find attractive. After dating for a while, those little imperfections begin to seep out–because people can only be a representative of themselves for so long–those are the moments when men think to themselves “she’s human.”
For every personality trait that we aren’t fond of, there is a positive aspect of it that makes for part of our charm. For as obnoxious as mom guilt can be, it’s the yang to the nurturing yin. Sometimes–ok, often– moms care too much. That’s part of what makes them who they are. For as much as it seems that fathers don’t care, that trait is part of the process that helps them screen out what really matters to protect and see the big picture.
Seven out of 10 things that cause the mom guilt aren’t that big of a deal, and now that I know what it’s called (moms know this too) that is what perpetuates the cycle of worry.
We knew and had a long-lasting love affair with ourselves decades before we had children. When we become parents, something changes in us and taking care of self becomes secondary. However, one can’t be the best parent they can be without some self-maintenance. I’m not trying to spend the rest of my life with my children. I want them to grow up, have their own lives, get married, have their own families, and let me be the obnoxious grandfather who says whatever he wants because I can. We still have our own lives to live. Being a parent shouldn’t be our identity, only a part of it. Don’t feel bad for indulging and putting yourself first every once in awhile … kids put themselves first all of the time without one ounce of guilt or shame.
Life is too serious to be so serious. Based on our experiences and ideals, we raise our children based on what we know. We are all going to fall short. Even if we are the most perfect parents of all time, we’re going to mess our kids up. Truth be told, it’s part of the fun. The best that we can do is raise them to make informed and smart decisions. When they screw up, we’ll be there for them. But eventually, the choices that they make are not reflections of us.
If anything, the mom guilt can be teachable moments. Sometimes we all have to indulge and come first. If you don’t want to join the PTA…so what? If your child doesn’t go to sleep while you’re out on a date and wants to stay up…oh well. They will still have to wake up early for school the next day and it’s their fault. Concerned whether or not your kid is getting on the babysitter’s nerves? You’re paying them for your child to temporarily be their headache while you enjoy yourself. Their feelings get hurt because you yelled at them? They should have listened.
Acknowledging and accepting being perfectly imperfect is one of the most valuable lessons they can acquire. And it’s one lesson we must constantly relearn because ultimately, it’s the key to happiness.
Like every parent I live under the guise of complete and total adoration for my daughter, which often veils my vision and judgment when it comes to some of her behaviors. With her second birthday just around the corner, many of the things she should probably be reprimanded for are often dismissed because she’s cute. Although I know better, there are times I just cannot bring myself to discipline her, and as much as I hate to admit it, she just might be the b word. No, not that one, but BAD.
My precious little toddler is really more like a 30-year-old midget. She has full command of sarcasm, and actively uses it. She has been rolling her eyes since she was about five months, and most recently has added huffing, puffing and sighing, and “reaaallyyyyy, mom” to her repertoire.
She is a handful.
Her feisty personality coupled with inherited mellow dramatics, makes for comical and frustrating days. As easy as it would be to attribute her behavior to terrible twos, I know better than that.
Lately, I have been working an inhuman number of hours, so our time together has been limited to car rides between pickups and drop offs, and the occasional bedtime story. It seems that rather than growing pains, my daughter’s most recent affinity for adverse behavior may be her desperate attempt at hailing my attention. She grows increasingly demanding by the day, and out of frustration and fatigue, I often take the easy way out and succumb to her will to skip temper tantrums, and her over the top crying.
As the fog of an overbooked schedule begins to clear as I close out the semester, I am beginning to see the monster I have created for who she is. I am fearful for what’s to come knowing I must be more strict, stern and consistent in order to correct the behaviors my recent lackadaisical parenting has reinforced, and wonder if the damage is irreversible. They always say you get back what you gave your mother, and the universe is cashing in on that for sure.
Here are a few things I plan to implement to give my daughter more quality time and consistency.
- Activities: plan together time, not necessarily an itinerary of “here and there” but rather intimate one on one time, reading together, unwinding together, cuddling in bed and just chatting before starting the day. Small things like this will make children feel like the center of your world in these moments.
- Put at home work on hold: waiting to the children are asleep to get at home work done will allow you the serenity you need to focus, as well as saving children from feeling overlooked and ignored. If for some reason work can’t wait, have your children sit down with their own “work,” so they feel included, and not bothersome.
- Stick to your guns: as hard as it may be, don’t give in! (Preaching to the choir, no?) No matter how intense, and how long a temper tantrum may be, whether at home or in public ride it out. Consistency is always key, children pay attention and following through on your word with punishments and rewards is more important than we often believe. I have learned in my short time of motherhood that children do what they see not what you say. As they absorb information from their surroundings they quickly master the art of manipulation, from fake crying to lip poking, don’t let your kids catch you slipping!
“K walked in on me and Nate having sex,” says your best friend, face so flushed you can feel the heat burning through the phone.
Your first reaction is Eww, but since she probably feels bad enough already, you settle on “Whoa.”
“It was in the middle of the night and we look up and she’s standing there, rubbing her eyes, talking about how she wants some water. So Nate said, ‘Mommy and daddy were just wrestling. Go to your room.’”
“Did she believe it?”
“Girl, she’s five going on 50. I went to her room right after and she starts asking me all these questions: ‘Were ya’ll really wrestling? Was daddy throwing you in the air? Did I hear you crying?’ It was horrible.”
“Yea, I know. I just hope we didn’t scar her for life.”
“Awe, maybe it wasn’t as bad as you think. I’m sure she’ll be alright.”
You feel for your friend because you know first hand how challenging it can be to monitor everything your five-year-old sees. Between ISIS and promos for the latest R-rated movie, watching the morning news is an exercise in how fast you can turn the channel. The last thing you want is expose her to images that could steal her innocence and get her thinking about things that she’s too young to understand. And though you can’t control what she’ll be exposed to outside, inside is your domain. To have your kid walk in on you having sex is like having all your efforts blow up in smoke in one single swoop. Boom!
But at the same time, ish happens and it shouldn’t be the end of the world. You were speaking to another friend who says he walked in on his parents doing the do when he was about six years old and he thought they were just playing around or wrestling. It wasn’t until he was older that he realized what he saw.
You decided to reach out to Dr. Kristin Carothers, Psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, to see what advice she would give parents should something like this happen. “First,” she says, “Parents are more embarrassed than the kid so try to be as normal about it as possible.” And while she understands that your friend’s husband was thinking fast on his feet, so to speak, she feels that it’s tricky to use wrestling as an explanation because it’s too closely associated with aggression. You don’t want to send that type of message. She suggests saying, ‘Mommy and daddy love each other very much and sometimes they have special times called ‘intimacy’ when they show each other that love.’ Also let her know that mommy and daddy were both safe.”
As far as ‘scarring the child for life,’ a valid concern, Dr. Carothers says, “Don’t worry, the child will be fine.” She does, however, suggest locking the door to prevent something like this from happening in the future. “Let your child know that sometimes parents need privacy, but she’s welcome to knock on the door at any time.”
Something tells you this will not be happening again.
Yesterday, during Sunday school, we had a conversation about the importance of having childlike faith. As a child is innocent, a sponge soaking up everything, we, as adults, should have humbled, open faith in God. Somehow, the conversation turned into what it’s like to raise children, and a guy in our class spoke about being an uncle to two young kids. He spoke about how he molds their minds, the contributions he makes to them, and how they always tell him that they wish their father was more like him. As a room full of older women who have children listened intently, the Sunday school teacher literally started laughing out loud.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But as a parent, I’m laughing because kids always love to be around their aunts and uncles and godparents. There aren’t rules. But when those same people have to be authoritative the kids say, ‘When did you become so mean?!'”
Boy, she wasn’t lying.
Just a week prior to class, I was enlisted with the task of watching my nephew while his mother went out of town to soak up some sun and fun. I just assumed that because he was always so happy to see me when I met up for brunch with him and his mother every Sunday, things were going to go smoothly.
Don’t get me wrong, my nephew is an absolute sweetheart, but at the age of three, he likes to throw fits. Screaming fits where he also throws things. I had seen them briefly when he didn’t get his way at a few of those Sunday brunches, but they were something serious, and in full effect in the days I spent with him. If he wanted something that I couldn’t give him, he would repeat his “waaaaaaaaant” and “neeeeeeeed” of it. When that wasn’t enough, he would scream himself into tears and me into utter confusion. He would do this when it was time for him to go to bed. He would do this when it was time for a bath. He would do this when I threw away the ice cream cone that was dripping down his hand after wind blew dirt and leaves on it at the park. He also did this when I told him the DVD for his favorite children’s show wouldn’t play.
Then there were the accidents. Sure, he’s potty training, but during his night’s rest he would wear a Pull-Up trainer and man, would he make full use of it! Throughout the day, I would sit him on the toilet and he might urinate a little. But it was as though he was waiting until the wee hours of the morning to let loose. One morning I went to change him out of his Pull-Up and into his underwear and found a horrifying surprise that wound up getting all over my hands and in the tub. Yes, I’m talking about mounds of poop.
I would go out of my way to make his lunches fancy, just for him to say “No!” when I would place certain foods in front of him. He grabbed at my books, magazines, work computer and phone when I would turn my back. When I would take them from him he would shout that they were “MINE!”
He would try and strike me when he couldn’t get his way. I stepped on his Legos, as well as the rice he dropped on the floor and in the water he would spill after he would yell into the kitchen “I want water!” He would do this from the living room while watching Rihanna’s Home for the fifth time in three days. He would cry every time he spilled milk from his cereal on the table, which was every time he would take a scoop while watching Peppa Pig in the mornings. He did this as a signal for me to clean it up.
I was awoken at 7 a.m. even on the weekends to the sounds of him singing “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and “Old McDonald” from his room after an evening of listening to him kick his feet and bang his head on his pillow until he was ready to go to sleep. All this while also having to find time and money to go to the grocery store to fill the fridge and race to the New Jersey Transit in the morning to take the train into NYC for work. In no time flat, I was exhausted.
My nephew, in those few days I spent with him, was everything I had seen in movies like Parenthood, and watched on television. For all the sweet “Hey TT Vicky!” greetings I would get from him when I would see him once a week, in my short time as his guardian, I was treated like an enemy of the state. I was the adult telling him what he could and couldn’t do, and he was NOT happy, which, in turn, kept me stressed. I couldn’t get back to Brooklyn fast enough.
Granted, he wasn’t all bad. My nephew had his moments where he would climb on me because he just wanted some attention or affection. There were also times where he would say that he loved me after I helped escort him out of his timeout zone, and it was then that I would get glimpses of the cutie patootie I knew. But for the most part, he thought he was going to get his way, and that “TT,” the “TT” who had always given him gifts and hugged him and kissed his cheeks on Sundays, was going to comply.
It was through these experiences that I could not only understand what the teacher in my Sunday school was saying but most importantly, all that the women in my family have had on their plates all these years. That includes my mom, who used to tell me stories about racing home from work on the train to have enough time to cook dinner, play with us, help us with our homework and put us to bed, to which I wouldn’t think much of.
As I struggled to get in a nap during my days with him, instead thinking it a better idea to take a shower and get myself together while he rested so that he wouldn’t have to sit around by himself when he was up and moving, I could only feel for women like them, and working moms, in general. I couldn’t help but gain a new respect in such a short time for everything they do for employers, partners and children while eeking out brief moments to do things for themselves. And yet, my sister spends her free time trying to take my nephew to play soccer with his daycare friends or to the Crayola factory so that even moments of relaxation can actually be time for them to spend together. Hair appointments? No thanks. “I just feel like that’s time better spent at home with him,” she told be before. “I can do my own hair.”
While I’m often left wondering how she does it, when I see her dance with my nephew or smile at him, I understand that there is a deeper level of love there, a mother’s love for a child, that makes it all worth it.
Even though we’ve long passed Mother’s Day, I just have to applaud working mothers out there. I barely kept up the energy and enthusiasm to work while making sure to entertain, feed, clothe, clean and put my nephew to rest for a few days, and moms do this without a second thought every day. You ladies deserve a lot more than a kudos once in May, accompanied by some flowers or a reprieve for one day from your responsibilities. I can’t give you that, but I do want to give you your props.
Hot, steamy date nights. Romantic walks in the park. Fogging up the windows. Remember those days? No?? If it’s been so long that you can’t remember, then chances are that you are married with kids. Let’s face it. We love our kids. But those same demanding kids are the reason that many of our marriages lose the passion that makes marriage fun.
But your sex life doesn’t have to take a backseat to the Disney channel and homework. I recently read “Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse” by Ed and Lisa Young. It’s a great book designed to help married couples ramp up their sex life. The book had several recommendations for couples who find their time with their romantic time being hijacked by their kids’ needs.
Here are several pointers that I loved:
- Take 10-20 uninterrupted minutes daily to talk to your spouse. Finding uninterrupted talking time with your spouse is much harder than it sounds. The book advises that once you arrive home, give the kids a hug and kiss and immediately talk to your spouse about his or her day. If the kids interrupt, just say “I’d love to talk to you about your day once daddy and I have our special time together.” This helps your kids understand that mommy-daddy time is important. It also helps you and your sweetie communicate and stay connected which is key to intimacy.
- Keep a standing weekly date night. Family time is wonderful. But every couple needs time alone away from their children. Scheduling a date night will allow needed time to focus on your spouse and build the intimacy that leads to an amazing sex life. So pull out those calendars and call the babysitter, pronto.
- Plan an annual kid-free mini-getaway. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive. It just has to be kid-free. Check out your local bed and breakfast or hotel to a passion-filled weekend with the one you love. Your kids will be just fine with grandma for a day or two. And you’ll be sure to reignite the flames in your relationship.
Parents who are passionate lovers have happy marriages and happy families. And they model a great example of what marriage should be to their children.
So put the kids to bed, pull out the Marvin Gaye, pop open the bubbly and have fun!
Moms – How do you find time with your partner despite the kids?
Yolanda Darville is a Nassau, Bahamas-based mom, writer, and communications strategist focusing on philanthropy and empowering women.
My eight-year-old has been fantasizing about the day that she gets to wear a bra – and the day that she has something to fill that bra up with. She also daydreams about being old enough to drive herself around and independent enough to transform her long dark brown curls into a short funky haircut that is dyed bright Kool-Aid red.
Without a doubt she is a quirky little kid who desperately longs to be a teenager. I’ve noticed that most of her friends are just like her. They are all into growing up too fast.
As her mom, I know that while she THINKS she’s ready to be a pre-teen just a step away from the glamorous world of teen-dom, she is absolutely not ready. She is a baby who has so much to learn before she can even think about becoming independent. And it’s my job to make sure that she doesn’t grow up too fast and find herself in situations that she isn’t emotionally equipped to handle.
Call me overprotective – I don’t care. She is still my baby. The preteen and teen years will come soon enough with all the angst, drama and tears that come with raging hormones. I can’t make time stand still, but I’m determined not to help Father Time move any faster.
I believe that our children just have too many outside influences today that are causing them to grow up too fast. And I don’t believe that growing up too fast is healthy at all. Being a child should be all about innocence and learning about the world without the pressures of pending adulthood.
So I’ve put a few simple measures in place to limit some of the “grown up” influences in my daughter’s life:
1. Limiting her television – Have you noticed how all the shows on kiddie TV have very adult storylines? There is always boyfriend-girlfriend drama and parents on shows seems to be either clueless or nonexistent. My daughter only gets to watch TV on the weekends (she needs to focus on homework anyway). And when she watches, I’m usually hovering around ready to change the channel to something wholesome if I need to (if I can find it)!
2. Monitoring her friendships – If my daughter starts hanging out with a child that acts too “grown” for her age, I’m pretty quick to squash that relationship. I can’t dictate who my daughter’s friends are, but I can wield the power of the car. And I am absolutely not driving my daughter to playdates with little girls who think they are teens.
3. Vetoing her wardrobe – There have been times when I walk into a kid’s clothing store and wonder if I have stepped into the pediatric version of Victoria’s Secret. Clothes that are too tight, too short or show her tummy are NOT allowed no matter how much she begs to wear this grown up gear. End of story.
Of course my daughter doesn’t always like or understand her mom’s old-fashioned rules. She sometimes talks about the things that her friends are allowed to do that she is not. I’m quick to remind her that I’m HER mother and my job is to care for and protect HER at all costs. The other parents get to make decisions for their children.
Childhood is a magical, beautiful moment in time. It only comes once. I’m doing my best to make sure that my daughter actually has a childhood – not just mini-teen years.
Do you ever feel like your children are growing up too fast?
Yolanda Darville is a wife, mom and freelance writer focusing on issues that make a difference. To read more of her writings connect with her on Twitter at @YolandaDarville.
By Ylonda Gault Caviness
I feel sorry for the others. You know those mothers: the highly informed, professionally accomplished — usually white — women who, judging by the mommy blog fodder, daytime TV, and new parenting guides lining store shelves, are apparently panicking all day, every day, over modern child rearing and everything that comes with it. They feel compelled to praise their kids, but fret the dosage. They worry about pesticides; this year’s best birthday-party theme; enrichment summer camps; preparing Johnnie for college admissions in 2025 (it’s never too early); and, of course, the biggie — keeping their kids happy.
Most adults know that happiness, unlike, say, integrity or self-reliance, is elusive and often fleeting. Still, so-called experts have convinced these mothers that their job is to plant joy into their children’s small bodies. Not surprisingly, this overabundance of advice has turned mothering into a hot mess of guilt, confusion and hard labor.
Thankfully, I am a black mom. Like many of my fellow sisters, I don’t have time for all that foolishness. Our charge is to raise — notice I did not say “parent” — our children in a way that prepares them for a world that, at best, may well overlook their awesomeness and, at worst, may seek to destroy it.
One thing that makes it easier for us is that, unlike many white women, most black women in America come from a long line of mothers who worked outside the home, and have long been accustomed to navigating work and family. My mama worked, as did her mama and her mama before that. According to the University of Maryland sociologist Bart Landry, the author of “Black Working Wives: Pioneers of the American Family Revolution,” black middle-class wives, long before the feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s, rejected the cult of domesticity for a threefold commitment to family, career and community. These families “ushered in a more egalitarian era,” and a lifestyle their white counterparts adopted decades later.
When I was growing up during the ’70s in Buffalo, my siblings and I were met after school by Papa, my grandfather who lived with us and cared for us while our mother was at her factory job. If Papa was not around, there were any number of “aunties” and other mothers from the neighborhood available to feed us and taxi us to and fro. Most of these women were also employed, but they did shift work in hospitals or had jobs in retail with varied schedules. No matter. As a black mom on the block, everyone’s kid was your kid.
Mommy wars? “That doesn’t make a lick of sense,” Mama, who’s now 80, would say. Mama lived to sit at the kitchen table — our light blue princess phone nestled in the crook of her neck as she took long drags on her cigarette — gossiping about her girlfriends. But there was a mutual sense of love and respect among the moms of her generation. They were always tired, just like moms now. But never too tired to offer encouragement — words like, “Girl, all you can do is the best you can.”
Read the full article here.
Ylonda Gault Caviness is the author of the forthcoming book “Child, Please: How Mama’s Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself Before I Wrecked Myself.” An independent journalist, focused on family, parenting & relationship topics, she’s a former iVillage senior producer—parenting & pregnancy. Contributor, Essence magazine. Graduate of Northwestern University. New Jersey resident. And mother to three of the coolest human beings on the planet.
When I was growing up, there were only a handful of ways to address adults, and only two involved using their first names– if they were an aunt or uncle, or if they were close friends of the family. In that case, we affectionately referred to them as Aunt Lisa or Uncle Mike, or as Miss Lisa, or Mr. Mike. Either way, it was all for the sake of showing respect for our elders, and practicing proper etiquette. It was just the way things were, and there weren’t any exceptions.
It’s rare for me to hear that from kids these days. But then again, it’s rare for me to come across a child with good manners.
Instead, more and more children seem to be addressing adults by their first names. Aunts, uncles, family friends, neighbors; in some cases, teachers, and yes, even their own parents. To me, that’s a bit extreme, but to each his own.
I admit, it’s something that I found my kids doing with friends of mine. Childhood friends were introduced to my children by their first names; mainly because after knowing them since we were kids ourselves, it was hard for me to imagine them as Mr. or Mrs. anything. Friends that I met as an adult were first introduced as Mr. or Mrs., but over time, as we got closer, we dropped the formality altogether.
My kids definitely don’t treat them as equals. They still show them respect, but the relationship is more playful in nature.
I often wonder to myself though: Am I essentially teaching my children poor manners? Should I have them address everyone by their last name– or at least with some kind of prefix or honorific?
At first I thought it would be hard to go back when it comes to what my kids call my close friends. After all, there are friends of my mother that I still address by last name, even though they’ve told me to use their first names. But I can’t bring myself to do it. It just doesn’t feel right, and I always think that if I do my mother will pop up out of nowhere and reprimand me for it.
Then I think back to the days when my children used to call and refer to their aunts and uncles by their first names. It was something that they did because they heard their father and I doing it; which is what I assume happens with others who do the same. It was a while before we corrected them, but they eventually adapted to the change once we did.
So it is possible.
Necessary? Maybe not. Besides, there are lots of other ways that kids can show respect toward adults. It would be nice to hear it more often though, and I intend to make it a rule with my children; no exceptions.
What do you think mamas? Should kids address adults by their last names– all of them? How do you feel about children addressing you by your first name, and what do you teach your kids to do?
Sometimes it seems like your high school prom was only a few years ago, when in reality, it was probably over a decade ago. Now you have your own children to worry about and although they may be years away from cummerbunds and corsages, the 12th grade is just around the corner. Maybe there are some tools that you haven’t had a chance to teach them just yet, but the sooner they learn certain rules to life, the better. If you haven’t really given much thought to what you want your teenagers to know as they become young adults, take a look here at our list of 15 rules for your teenage daughter and son.
Respect Your Body
To respect your body is not only to remain covered up in Instagram photos. It also means learning how to take care of yourself. Teach your kids the right things to eat. Remind them that they only get one body in life and it’s important to take care of it — whether that’s through exercise or extra curricular activities.