Month: April 2016

Behind every great kid is a pushy parent

Here’s a link to a revised version of this article that was published by ksl.com

When I was young, my mom required that all 5 children learn to swim until they could pass the Jr. Lifesaving class. I hated it. I hated water and the smell of chlorine. I hated diving for those weighted rings.

I looked up at my mother sitting in the spectator balcony and glared at her whenever I could. My body language clearly stated, “I can’t believe you are making me do this. You are the meanest mom in the world.” She just smiled back and waved at me.

About the time I was enrolled in the Jr. Lifesaving class, the movie “Jaws” came out. By today’s movie-making standards, the special effects are cheesy, but to my 11-year-old, fearful-of-anything aquatic, impressionable brain, it was horrifying. I couldn’t put my head under water (let alone take a bath) after seeing the film. When the swim instructors lined us up behind the diving board and it was my turn to arch over the horizontal bamboo stick to dive into the water, I couldn’t do it. I stared into the deep, blue abyss and could only see a set of teeth on a open shark’s mouth, waiting for me to dive into its hungry cavity.

I couldn’t do it. It was humiliating and traumatic.

But my mom didn’t seem to care no matter how much I whined and crumpled on the floor. She wanted me to pass the class since she had almost drowned as a girl and her lifesaving skills saved her. I eventually passed the class and never looked at another swimming pool for a long time.

Fast forward.

I now swim multiple times a week for exercise. You heard me right. I choose to swim for fun. I love it. Every time I get in the pool, I look up into the empty balcony bleachers with a smile and think, “Thank you mom, for not giving up on me.”

Being  a “pushy” mom or dad requires True Grit. Courage. Fortitude. A Backbone. When life gets hard, kids tend to give up. If we insist they stick with it, we are called “mean.”  Someone wrote, “My kids just told me I’m the meanest mom in the world and I’m freaking out. I don’t even have a speech prepared.” Parents! If your child hates you for something that is really, really good for them, take a bow, accept the nomination, and thank your audience. 

Parents raise successful kids by being pushy in these three ways:

Push Toward Good.

I once knew a parent who buckled under their 5 year old who refused to take his prescribed medicine. Some things are hard, some things don’t taste good, some things are boring (like brushing our teeth), and some things hurt (like getting immunized) but we insist our children do it anyway because it is good for them.  

My sister has taught voice and piano for 30 years and out of the hundreds of students, only two loved to practice. The rest think it’s hard and boring. Many kids dropped playing the piano after the first year. Those who became good were not prodigies or genius musicians; they had pushy parents who made them practice 5 days a week, year after year.

Recently, I helped my daughter register at a university. However, she became anxious and lacked confidence to navigate a new campus. As we sat with her adviser, fear took over. I realized I needed to not only reassure her, but to push.

Adviser: So what is your major?

Daughter: (shoulders slumped, eyes down) I don’t know.

Me: Integrated Studies.

Adviser: (wondering who is this pushy mom) So what will be your two areas of emphasis?

Daughter: I’m not sure.

Me: She declared Spanish and Business.

Adviser (looking directly at my daughter so I didn’t butt in) Will you start Summer of Fall?

Daughter: I don’t know.

Me: (pausing first before butting in) She’ll start Summer.

Adviser: (giving me the stink eye and then turning to my daughter) Do you have your transcript?

Daughter: Yes, but I don’t know how to download it.

I stayed out from that point on, but I’m telling you, we sometimes have to hold our kids hands and baby step them toward the unknown, scary future.  To that adviser: Don’t judge.

Push Away from Bad.

Children have a lot of choices these days and they’re not all good. Some may seem good  but turn into problems if there are not diligent parents afoot. It’s okay to tell your young child they don’t need a cell phone with Wifi or unlimited data. It’s okay to push away bad media programming that infiltrates our homes and electronic devices. A wave of filth is threatening families but we can push it away. Say “no” to children who tell you everyone else’s parents are letting them do it.

Tell them you love them more than that.

Push Back from Pressure.

Unlike many children, there are superstar kids who excel at everything and want to do it all. They overbook their lives, or their parents overbook it for them, to achieve greatness and an impressive resume. There is so much pressure to raise trophy children and compete with over-achieving friends.

Raising a great kid who is successful means they lead a balanced, happy, well adjusted life. Children need a childhood. They need play time, laugh time, creative and social time. If your child wants to be the drummer in a rock band, be on the high school basketball, swim, and baseball teams, be student body president, and sing in the prestigious school choir, it’s time to push back. Life is full of great things to do, but we need to teach our children that it’s not realistic or healthy to try to do it all. We all need to learn how to choose and prioritize.

 

So if you are a pushy parent, take it as a compliment. You know that you’re doing something right and you’re in good company.

Advertisements

Pregnancy Myth Busters

You’ve heard of the kid TV series “Myth Busters” right? One of those fun, educational shows where the group of geeks try out myths to see if they are real or not. Well, there are a lot of myths, legends, wives tales, whatever you want to call them, floating around about pregnancy. Everyone’s got advice and some crazy story about how to predict the gender.

It think it’s because pregnancy itself is so mysterious. What is really happening inside the womb and to the mother’s body? Is it a boy or a girl? Why am I so sick with this second pregnancy, but not the first? We all want answers!

Well I am speaking about which myths about pregnancy are true and which are not on BYU radio on the Matt Townsend show on Tues, April 19th. Here’s a sneak peak.  See how well you score and be sure to tell others what an expert you are now (not!)

Predicting gender: if you are carrying your baby high, it’s a girl. Carrying low? Stock up on blue. False.

Craving sweets? According to some, that means you’re going to have a little girl. Salty and sour cravings indicate a boy. False again. Predicting gender is never a trustworthy science, unless of course that involves an ultrasound.

You can’t get pregnant while nursing. False, mostly. Although nursing decreases the chance of ovulation, it doesn’t guarantee it. And there’s nothing more shocking than a new mother of a 5 month old who finds out she’s pregnant…again!

You shouldn’t have sex while pregnant because you might harm the baby.

False unless you have a specific medical condition and your doctor warns you against it.

You shouldn’t take hot baths while pregnant.

True, actually. You should avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 102 degrees. But you can take a bath in warm or slightly hot water. Some people even naively think that they can’t take a bath at all, that it will drown the baby! That’s another myth I’d like to bust right here.

You should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

True, although some studies have shown that up to 2 glasses of wine per day is not harmful. However, most doctors will tell new mothers to be on the safe side and abstain.

You will crave pickles and ice cream.

No. But cravings can occur, and are usually harmless. Husbands: be prepared for the Big Mac midnight runs. (At least mine had to on more than one occasion).

Cravings mean your baby “needs” that food. False. There are, however, some women who crave laundry detergent, paint chips, or clay. These odd cravings (called pica) have been associated with iron deficiency and you should talk to your doctor immediately if you experience them.

Gender predictor: if you mixes Drano with urine, it can determine the sex of your baby. The prediction is if you pour it down the toilet, and it turns blue, you have a boy; pink, it’s a girl. False. There’s another myth down the drain. I think this myth originated with the Drano Company to increase profits.

A fetus is sealed away in the uterus, unaffected by what’s going on outside. False. A baby can feel the stress from the environment and become distressed as well. It can detect sounds and emotions as well as ingest chemicals from tobacco and drug use.

Going to prenatal check ups is extremely important.

Yes, yes, and yes! Don’t skip this essential part of pregnancy. A doctor’s supervision might just be the key to your baby’s survival, health, and even your health. You’ll be checked for gestational diabetes, get a few ultrasounds to detect the development of the baby, and monitor any prescription drugs you are taking that might affect the fetus.

Your water always breaks when you go into labor and will gush like a faucet.

Nope. It doesn’t always break before and sometimes it’s just a trickle you don’t even notice.

The pregnant couple will sometimes feel disconnected and disoriented to one another.

True, and if not, it may happen shortly after becoming new parents.

Having wide, curvy hips make child birthing easier.

False.  It’s the size of the pelvis, not hips.

Drinking castor oil, eating spicy food or jumping on a trampoline will kick-start labor.

False. Sorry. The baby will come when it is good and ready.

Pregnant women should avoid exercise.

False. Sorry again. Exercise is actually very good for the baby and mom, but should be done moderately and with a doctor’s approval.

The second birth will be easier.

True, but not always. Still, it’s a nice thought when considering having more than one child.

You will feel an instant bond with your newborn baby.

False. New mothers and fathers may not naturally feel a euphoric sense of love and connection with their baby. Don’t worry if that is the case. Give it time. If post-partum sets in, see a doctor.

Couples should wait at least 6 weeks after childbirth to have sex.

True. Have fun.