Parents

Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day approaching in 2 days, I’d like to share my 2 latest videos about parenting. They are completely funny, touching, and real. The first one is “Ten things you wish you would have known before having a baby” and I’ve watched it over and over and always tear up at the end.

The 10 things are:

10. “Don’t listen to anyone else. You’ll know how to take care of your baby. Don’t care one ounce about what other people think about you.” While I DO agree with most of this, I would also say to keep an open mind. We sometimes get in a rut or don’t see clearly the damage we are doing from inheriting unhealthy behaviors from our own parents. So while we shouldn’t be paralyzed with worry about what other people think, we should listen to wise people, especially those with more experience and expertise, to see if maybe they have something better we could be doing.

9. “Get on a schedule.” Yes and yes. Although some parents can do this earlier in the infancy stage because their babies respond to sleeping through the night. I’m always amazed when some mom says her 3 month old is sleeping 6 hours straight. I think, “What drugs are you giving him?” Sleeping was always a hard thing for me. Some of my infants were terrible sleepers and that made me a terribly sleep-deprived Momzilla at times.

8. “Parenting is hard. Take time out to revive and find yourself.” Amen and amen. Ideas they suggested were to get out and treat yourself to ice cream, go to grandma’s and drop the kids off, take a 20 minute nap, and have a weekly date night. I would add that parents need to get away for emotional, social, and physical health. I am SUCH a better mother when I return from a brief (or sometimes lengthy) absence. I think, “Okay you little buggers. I guess still love you after all. I missed you!”

7. “Discover who your children are and let them be.” When we clash with our kids, it’s often because they don’t measure up to our expectations or they don’t agree with us. So what? Most of the time (unless it involves taking drugs, stealing the car, stuff like that…) they are just figuring out who they are and that’s probably going to be different than who we are. Let’s be okay with that.

6. “Be prepared for the unexpected because it WILL happen.” And it usually involved bodily fluids. Like the time my daughter hurled vomit across the isle of the train in Chicago and hit us, the windows behind, and our bags. Just before be boarded the plane. Awesome.

5. “Make room for the baby.” The video talks about the physical needs of a baby. Stroller. Crib. Tons of diapers. Stuff like that. But I would add to make room in your heart for the baby. Especially if this is the first one, our lives are completely turned upside down. It was all about us before having a baby. Not any longer. Now the baby should be our primary focus and we need to give up and sacrifice to be there and meet all his or her needs. That might mean we drop or put aside some personal interests for a time. Change our priorities. Stop watching so many reality TV shows so we can spend time bonding with a new person who is ours to keep forever.

4. “Memories will be the only thing you’ll have so keep these fleeting moments in your heart.”

3. “Be grateful for your kids. It’s ALL worth it.” We may not think this while having to change the sheets in the middle of the night because a child wet the bed while sleeping with you because they were too scared to sleep in their own bed.

2. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. The house can wait. Some days you just won’t have the patience.”

1. “There’s going to be one thing you cannot prepare yourself for, that you cannot know until you experience it is the love you are going to feel. Overwhelming, powerful, consuming love.”

Here’s the link. You gotta watch it. Bring your hankie.

The second video clip is one I found a year or so ago. It’s brilliant! I show it in class to my university students in the parenting class I teach. I have them write a newspaper ad job description of a parent. We share them and then watch this. I hope you still have your hankie from the last video. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

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Get a PhD in Parenting (for free!)

I have a bone to pick with my high school math teacher. Contrary to his promises, I have never used the pythagorean theorem or cared to find the value of X since graduating a hundred or so years ago. That is, unless you count helping each of my 5 children struggle through their math homework.

What I have used, however, is relationship and parenting skills. Every day, all day. So where was the required Parenting 101 class in high school or college when I needed it? How ironic (and sad!) that virtually all adolescents and young adults, who will someday be a mom or dad or at least have to relate to another human, are not formally taught how to succeed in relationships.

Licensure varies across states, but to become a beautician it requires around 2,000 practicum hours in addition to coursework. To drive a car? Forty roading hours plus passing the test and class. To become a parent? Nada. In comparison, what knowledge and skills matter most to children, family life, our community and nation?

This is where voluntary, continuing education steps in.

Parents today have ripe information for the picking. Endless resources are at our fingertips to help us navigate this most important career of raising children. Websites contain information about family health, making kid crafts, homeschooling, parenting children at different stages of development, taking online parenting classes, and marriage and relationships skills, to name a few.

Best of all, most are free. Thank you, Mr. Google and Mrs. Pop-up Ads.

Here is a list of some of my favorite parenting sites. Many of these I have contributed articles to and have enjoyed those written by others.

parenting.com

parents.com

pgeveryday.com

todaysparent.com

familyshare.com

parentscanada.com

ForEveryMom.com

kidshealth.org

The downside is we need to be aware of how to navigate through so much information. I’d like to share 5 tips for being a wise consumer and using internet information successfully.

  1. Keep an open mind.

It’s not enough to say, “I’ll just do what my parents did in raising me and hope for the best.” That’s like keeping the bar so low that if no one ends up in jail, it’s a sign you’ve been a successful parent. Too often we are blinded by old habits, bad attitudes, and cultural trappings with which we were raised. We only see what we are used to, even if that means perpetuating abusive behaviors that seem “normal” to us.

Every mom and dad can and should be actively looking for ways to improve through motivating and informative content. If you were raised by terrible parents, you have some distance to cover in a short period of time. If you came from adequate or even excellent parents, you can always do better.

  1. Trust your instincts.

There will be lots of advice in cyberspace, but as every mother has learned from listening to birthing stories at baby showers, no two kids are alike. They all come packaged with their own special temperaments, personalities, talents, and interests. Therefore, not all advice may be what’s right for your child. Follow general, sound principles, but if a specific practice doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. Even if something works fabulously with one child, another one may need something different.

  1. Filter, filter, filter.

Do you sometimes feel like you’re hooked up to a fire hose when all you want is to drink a glassful of information? It can be overwhelming. There’s just too much, and even sometimes, conflicting information on the internet. Read and apply in small doses. Let’s not spend endless hours surfing websites and replace it with spending time understanding our children and building a relationship him or her.

Use your filters when looking at airbrushed photos of perfect children, flawless table settings, or crafts that most certainly were created by professionals, not preschoolers. It’s not real, folks! There are also plenty of mommy bloggers who love to shock and disturb with their latest episode in the series of Disasters of Being a Mom. Yes, we all have bad days, but let’s not revel in rudeness. It feels like jumping into a pig sty and rolling around the muck to be part of the “feel-sorry-for-ourselves mommy club.” Be wise instead, and choose websites to be inspired, laugh, and learn.

  1. Let this be a start.

The cyber community is a great gathering place, but it is, after all, a virtual world. Use websites and discussion boards as a safe place to ask questions and find answers and then follow up with live connections in the real world. Talk to trusted family members, friends, pediatricians, and other parents in your community who can offer irreplaceable emotional, physical, and social support. If there is another parent involved in raising your child, share what you are learning so you can both be on the same parenting page. Go to classes together and read books to further your education.

  1. Keep trying.

Methods shared on parenting websites are usually fairly reliable. Responsible experts base their findings on research and extensive experience. When you latch onto an improved parenting approach and try it out with your child, it may be a complete failure the first time or two.

Changing both ourselves and our children is a process. By being consistent, you will show your child that the “new and improved” parent is not going away just because he or she threw a tantrum when you didn’t give in to that cookie right before dinner. When you make a mistake and fall back on a former bad behavior, admit your mistake. “Honey, mommy forgot that she is trying not to slam doors every time she gets mad. Please forgive me. I’m going to do better tomorrow.” Let’s work on getting an advanced degree that requires classes in kindness, forgiveness, love, unity, and respect.

Now that’s a PhD I’d like earn.

Fathers, Be Good to Your Daughters

dad

I heard the song “Daughters” by John Mayer last week at a pizzeria with my husband and son. It’s one of those songs that has so much depth and gut-punching truth to it. It’s so beautiful and sad at the same time. I’m including the lyrics here for us to ponder. The most profound part is his plea:

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

We all need to realize the power fathers and mothers have on the their children, who will one day be parents themselves.

“Daughters”

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A womans good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too