All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

My Daughter’s Autism Diagnosis And Getting Past The “Why?”

April 20th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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I vaguely remember the first time someone brought to my attention that they had concerns about my daughter’s development. Most of the time, I have razor-sharp, almost photographic memory, but for these moments, in particular, everything was hazy.

Maybe it’s because, for a long time, I was in denial. But when the word “autism” was used on a regular basis by her pediatrician, speech therapist, behavioral therapist, and occupational therapist, I knew that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I remember looking at her, asking her questions and trying to prove to any and everyone that “My daughter’s smart! She’s not autistic!”

That’s when I learned three things.

First, I had to get past my negative connotation of what autism is.  For such a long time, people used that word interchangeably with the common term for intellectual disability and mental retardation when they’re not the same. I knew that. But still, with all of my reading, studying and asking professionals questions, it was hard to shake that definition for a very long time.

My daughter, who was always very social, could count to high numbers, knew her alphabet way before she started school, and easily identified colors and shapes, seemed too advanced for to me to ever be okay with admitting that she had any disability. But the fact of the matter was, and is, that autism is an issue all on its own.

Second, I learned about the spectrum.  Autism isn’t like a light switch, where it can only be in an on or off position.  It’s a spectrum, sort of a like a dimmer switch. And an initial diagnosis doesn’t mean that my daughter, or any other child, can’t go on to live happy, successful lives. Some people grow out of the spectrum, some stay in it, but all can live completely fulfilled lives.

The final thing I learned is that I had to get over myself and stop asking, “Why did this happen?”  For a long time, I blamed myself.  I sat there and dissected every single moment of my pregnancy and the first year of her life, wondering, What did I do wrong? Was there a genetic problem with me that she inherited? Why? 

However, I realized that by pondering what went wrong, I wasn’t proactive in what could be the best direction for my daughter.  When you’re stuck trying to figure out “why” things happen, that’s when you’re ignoring the solution, and only focusing on the past.  I knew I was doing a disservice to my daughter by not focusing on her potential for progress.

So, I got over asking why and started thinking,  What now?  With that, I was able to get her into multiple programs and a regular school where she continues to excel. They also have a special program to help her with her speech.

All these things began to become second nature as I found the right programs to meet her location on the spectrum and to help her grow into the successful adult I’m trying to raise her to be.

So when one of my sisters shared that her daughter was also diagnosed on the autism spectrum, we started encouraging each other, keeping each other abreast of the programs, schools, our daughters, and just being a support system to each other.

Through all of this, we’ve both been able to help pull each other out of any mental slump that we may fall into when we begin to wonder  “Why?” because it does sometimes happen.

My note to you, dear readers, is that there are going to be moments in your life that are going to shock you, disappoint you, feel like a setback, or just make you feel down.  However, staying in that moment of “Why?” is a disservice to yourself.

True momentum comes when you begin to move forward.  Using that moment as ammunition to move toward a solution instead of dwelling on the problem is when progress happens.

The fact of the matter is, all setbacks are only as strong as you allow them to be.  There’s a spectrum of happiness, and in order to move toward the light, you must get over the dark hump of asking “Why?”

Zero Buns In The Oven: Why Not Having Kids Can Be The Best Decision

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Not planning on having kids? Join the club. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau stats, more women are realizing that not having kids is the best decision for them. Read on to find out why fewer women are having kids than ever before, and why many women are OK with it.

The Struggle To Help Your Kids With Their Homework Is Real…

April 2nd, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Do you struggle helping your kids with their homework? Niecy Nash, Lisa Leslie, and Sherri Shepherd can definitely relate and they have a few tips on how they help their youngin’s make the grade as well as suggestions for some great apps that will help busy moms. Watch and learn.

Was He Right Or Wrong? Dad Encourages Son To “Be A Man” While Getting Shots

March 20th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Be A Man

Source: Facebook

Being stuck with needles is fun said no one ever, regardless of age, but for parents it can be particularly difficult to watch your little one getting shots at the doctor’s office. One father took a bit of an unconventional approach to helping his little boy get through a recent checkup and video of the appointment has since gone viral on Facebook, and caused a bit of a stir.

Jamar Collins, whose son is quite possibly the most adorable little boy in the world, can be heard in the video clip telling his son to hold his hand while he gets three shots that are almost unbearable to watch the little cutie experience. But as shock hits the boy and tears well up, the dad gives him a high-five and this directive: “Say you the man. ‘I’m the man.'”

When the nurse brings the child off the table, the dad repeats, “Say ‘I’m the man,” at which point the toddler beats his chest through tears in a very Tarzan-like way, screaming “I’m the man” through clenched teeth. And that’s where some folks had a problem.

I only came across this video because a Facebook friend of mine shared it with this reaction: “This is insensitive and contributes to men thinking they are numb non-feeling ppl. Allow this child to feel.”

Another commenter on the video remarked: “Sooo as cute as this is, my only issue is this teaches our young boys “men” don’t cry. Hence, the reason we have some unbalance angry men walking around trying to be the Incredible Hulk.”

While I don’t know that this video is that deep, there is some validity to these reactions. For some time now I have been of the mindset that if men are fed up with “society” not allowing them to be the emotional creatures they claim they are dying to be, then they should stop reinforcing that stereotype in their very own homes. Don’t train your son to grow up to be an emotionally stifled man who can’t express himself just because that’s the way you were brought up. Break the cycle! But, because this video is the only example of Jamar Collins’ parenting the masses have seen — and likely ever will — I don’t think it’s fair to judge him as a father based on an isolated incident and the coping mechanism he employed to help his child get through a difficult situation. But that’s just my opinion. Check out the short video below and tell us what you think. Was the dad just being a good father in this instance or reinforcing stereotypes?

Spare The Rod: Celebs Who Do Not Spank Their Children

March 19th, 2015 - By Iva Anthony
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To spank or not to spank. There’s been an ongoing debate on whether or not it’s appropriate for parents to spank their children as a means of punishment for years and the hot-button topic was raised once again following the news that NFL star Adrian Peterson had used a switch to chastise his four-year-old son. These celebrities certainly would object because they are against raising their hands to discipline their children.

Celebs Who Do Not Spank

WENN

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama gave up her career when her husband decided to run for the highest office in the land. Mrs. Obama focused on becoming a fulltime mother to their two daughter Sasha and Malia and during an interview, she revealed that she had tried her hand at using a spanking as a form of punishment but it didn’t work for her. “I did it one or two times and just found it to be completely ineffective because it was less about teaching a lesson and more about my own [feelings],” Mrs. Obama revealed. “Malia was younger, probably 4.”

Does Too Much Praise Of Our Children Lead To High Self-Esteem Or A Sense Of Entitlement?

March 19th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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This has been a topic of conversation between my mommy friends and I for quite some time. Granted, there are some noticeable differences between “old-school” parenting methods and today’s practices. One question that always pops up is whether or not we spoil our children to the point of that they feel a sort of entitlement.

Researchers from two different universities are warning parents about “overvaluing” their children. One has to question whether or not these “experts” have children of their own, but for argument’s sake, we’ll roll with the information. Apparently too much praise can lead to narcissism, a pretty scary thought to imagine. “Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others,” points out Professor Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. “That may not be good for them or for society.”

You think?

As a parent, I’m all about building up self-esteem and confidence, especially raising a Black son (and pregnant with another on the way). Life is full of mean-spirited people who are waiting in the wings to cut you down. Even though my child is only 14 months old, I celebrate when he listens or does things that go beyond his expected development milestones (like use baby sign language or says a word in Spanish). Certainly that won’t lead to child narcissism… at least I hope not.

On the other end of the spectrum, I can see where some parents can encourage entitlement behavior. I love my child and think he’s one of the cutest you will ever see. That doesn’t mean I don’t check bad behavior or treat him like he does no wrong. Some of my mommy friends have no issue with pointing out “problems” in your child, but will turn a blind eye to their own.

One in particular who treats her daughter like a princess who can teach Viola Davis a thing or two about How to Get Away with Murder is bound to run into trouble in the future. While she’s a smart cookie, her attitude and sense of entitlement are atrocious. Not only does she sass her parents (they simply write it off as “being a child”), she has had problems working with others in her class and extra-curricular activities. Her team recently won a competition which is great in its own right. Too bad when you try to congratulate her, she hits you with a “I know,” or “Didn’t you think I would win?” She is six years old.

When you think about it, how can our children expect to learn anything different when the millennial generation (that’s us) have been labeled the “participation trophy” generation? I won’t even touch on pee wee sports that redefine the concepts of competition and winning and losing (everyone takes home an award). Some don’t even keep score in efforts not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Yes there are certain things younger children can’t understand or handle, but does that mean we skew their reality and how things work in the real world? Seriously, how do you think a professional will act in a team environment–or around the workplace in general–when they were constantly praised and made to feel better than everyone else?

Motivational Speaker Lisa Nichols Tells Parents To Serve From Your Overflow

March 11th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Motivational Speaker Lisa Nichols Tells Parents To Serve From Your Overflow

I must have been living under a rock because when I traveled to Orlando, Florida for the annual Disney Dreamers Academy, I had never heard of Lisa Nichols. But by the end of the trip, I was glad to have had the opportunity to speak to her for a bit.

As you may know, the Disney Dreamers Academy is a program hosted by the corporation, along with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. During the course of four days selected students, with big dreams, have the opportunity to explore their passions, receive advice from those who have had success in related fields and enjoy the Disney parks along the way.

The kids end up getting quite a bit from the experience. But so do the parents.

Motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols spoke to the parents about the importance of not giving up on their own dreams because they find themselves raising a child. She told them that they don’t have to make a choice between their dreams and preparing their child to achieve their own.

In our exclusive interview, Ms. Nichols spoke to us about why it was important for her to speak to the parents this year and she also encouraged us about achieving the dreams (even the relationship ones) we have for ourselves.

See what she had to say in the video below.

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.