Monday, August 29, 2011

What If They Choose School?

Another question I expect to answer a lot as my kids get older:
Will you let your kids go to school if they want to?
The short answer: yes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Should I Be Embarrassed About This?

I share my bed. There, I said it. I sleep in the same bed as my husband. I like to have him next to me at night. I like to feel his presence there. I feel safe and warm. When I wake up from a bad dream, he comforts me. Is this bad for me? Will this have a negative impact on my growth as a person? Would I be better off if he sent me to another room? Should Nick and I be embarrassed that we prefer to share a bed?

Monday, August 22, 2011

On Bullying

How do you really feel about bullying? What are the options for a bullied child? Please consider these two stories as another school year begins.

First, a fictional story about a girl named Mary...
Almost every day for a few years, Mary has spent many hours with Peter and his friends, who are very cruel to Mary. They call her terrible names, throw things at her, spit at her, destroy things that are valuable to her. She has started to eat meals in the bathroom when Peter is around, because it is the only place she can escape his torment. She believes she is worthless and has thought about killing herself. Peter has warned her not to tell anyone about the things he does to her or else he will only make it worse for her. He is much bigger than she is, so she has not said anything until now. Mary has finally come to you and shared her story, and she is afraid.

How do you feel about Mary? About Peter? What should Mary do? Do your answers depend on who Mary is, and what is her relationship to Peter?
Continue reading here for some of the possibilities.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You Ready For the Wild Shots?

This is a little embarrassing to admit, as the wife of a tennis pro: I am terrible at tennis. I haven't picked up a racquet in years, but recently I have been thinking about the first few times I played tennis with Nick. We had just started dating at the time.

We also tried to play once when Louise was a baby.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Child Is Not Any Of These Things

A child is not a blank canvas. He is not an art project. You don't have to create him or mold him into your vision or your ideal. By the time he is born into this world, your job as the creator is done. Your job now is to help him grow as himself, not to give him a self to grow into.

A child is not a terrorist. She is not your enemy. She doesn't do things on purpose to make you miserable. If there are any battles going on, you can make sure you are on the same side as your child.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How To Stop "Giving In" To Your Child

Yesterday I read some advice from parenting "expert" John Rosemond in an article called Mom should stop giving in to tantrums. A mother writes to him about her daughter, almost 3 years old, who is having separation anxiety. The little girl used to have her father as primary care-giver, but he abandoned her just over a year ago. What does Rosemond say about this delicate situation?
I sense that you might be over-complicating the issue by thinking that your daughter's anxiety over separation is due to her father's sudden disappearance from her life. That's actually unlikely. It's more likely that she has no memory of him at all (but might recognize him if he suddenly appeared, but recognition and memory are two different things).
This is a very big assumption. While the little girl may not remember her father specifically, she certainly could have a feeling that she lost something big or that someone abandoned her. However, it doesn't really matter what the anxiety is "due to" because at age 3, she's not making it up. She's anxious about her mother leaving.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Too Much Parenting? Or Too Much Nonsense?

I was tempted to write this post in ALL CAPS. I am so tired of reading things like this, I could actually scream:
I believe that the goal should change from making children happy and protecting them from harm to raising them to be independent adults able to problem-solve and cope in the real and sometimes difficult adult world. A safety net can become a trap. Dependence on one’s parents means lack of real security and often results in low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
It's nonsense. Someone has written another book about how kids these days never grow up, and how it's all the parents' fault for being too helpful, too involved, too available. Read more about it here. Apparently, parents need to set more boundaries, have higher expectations, force independence at a younger age. The goal of parenting should be independence instead of happiness?! Dependence leads to low self-esteem?! Security makes us feel insecure?! I disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think parents should hover anxiously around their children and never allow independence. Let me remind you there IS a third option. You don't have to choose between forcing independence and never allowing it. Between removing the safety net and using it as a trap. The third option looks like knowing your child, talking to your child, respecting the level of independence your child wishes to have. It looks like making that safety net available, and using it properly so it doesn't trap your child. I wrote about this kind of thing in Choosing Your Guide.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Your Parents Disapprove Of Your Parenting

I imagine it is difficult for parents who are used to having (at least the illusion of) complete control over their children to transition to any other kind of relationship with their children. I'm glad I am starting now, when my kids are toddlers, to practice letting go. I'm practicing giving them real choices, real control over their bodies and their lives.

I'm practicing trusting them now, when the issues are things like whether to brush hair or wear the same clothes for three days in a row or when to go to sleep. These small details will not matter in the grand scheme of our relationship, except that my children will know what freedom and self-control feel like, because they are actually allowed to control themselves. I'm hoping all of this practice will prepare me for when the issues get much bigger. When my kids are deciding who to date or marry, and how to raise their own children, I'm hoping I can continue to support them without criticizing them or pushing my own preferences on them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

If You Hate Spanking Your Kids, Then Stop


A couple of months ago, I made a flowchart illustrating society's rules of hitting. It shows how ridiculous it is that children are not protected from being hit (spanked) by their parents, and in some states, their teachers. Recently, I got a comment on that post that really struck me. I would like to address it here. The comment is reproduced here in full, broken up with my responses to the different parts:
My parents really didn't use other methods of discipline other than spanking(that worked). I've also had the wooden spoon. I got "grounded" but that never really worked. None of my parents' punishments ever really worked (i.e. removal of privileges, removal of precious things, stern talking tos, bribes, rewards(not really a punishment, but a tool nonetheless.)) Spanking...I definitely feared that and it was definite motivation to do whatever it was I was or wasn't doing that needed correcting. And I wasn't exactly a 'willful' child that needed constant spanking or anything like that. I just got bad grades, never did my homework, and the normal childhood/teenage rebellion, etc.
This might be the most difficult hurdle to jump over when trying to think clearly about spanking: You did not deserve to be spanked as a child. Even if you got bad grades, did not do your homework, or did not do exactly as you were told, you did not deserve to be spanked. It can be hard to reconcile this idea with the fact that you like your parents (if you do), and you appreciate all of the great things they did for you. You don't want to be ungrateful. You don't want to think that they made a mistake.