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The Family Podcast Network

Aug 20

Stop Crying, You Love This!: How Children Have Become Performers.

blue

I used to own a show dog. His name was Samson. He was a blue Great Dane and positively stunning. I took him to a few shows. The morning of I would get up early, bathe him, make sure his nails looked perfect, blow out his coat, take a marker and black out any stray white hairs he had.

For those who have any experience with showing any sort of animal, they probably know exactly what I am talking about. And I was fortunate! Those poor Chow Chow's, Cocker Spaniels, any long haired breed. Their fate was so much worse than Samson's. I can't even imagine how long the handlers spent getting their pooches ready. No thank you!

Several years ago, I remember flipping through the tv and finding a show called 'Toddler and Tiaras'. I can hear several of you squeal as I mention this show. I know there are many out there who love this show. Probably even some who participate in the activity. I know it's popular. The first time, and only, that I watched it, my jaw dropped. It was a flipping dog show with children as the performers. I watched their parents floof and primp, white out and add to, color, pluck, darken, lighten. You name it. The children barely resembled their former selves once they were done. I heard whimpering from the children, much like the dogs that were plucked and titivated. And the mom's were just as biting and forceful as those of the canine handlers. 

beauty

That really got me thinking. We as parents often don't treat our children as humans. We treat them as accessories. And sometimes, even worse in my opinion, we treat them as young versions of ourselves. We want them to do all that we did, play all the same sports, compete in the same activities, make the same grades, girl scouts, boy scouts, cub scouts, you get the idea. As accessory children, we buy them all the things that maybe we never had as a child and require them to wear it. Whatever popular jean at the time, bows and flowers as big as a watermelon, ear piercing at birth, fake tattoos, hair dying, jewelry, make up. I am NOT saying all these things are bad. However, what I am saying is all these things are not for every child. 

So let's start with the accessory child. This is the one that is always wearing expensive clothing, perfect hair, perfect shoes, never dirty.  We become prideful about our children's perfect appearance and look down on those whose kids look less than perfect. We spend entirely too much on clothes when it is very possible they will only wear it once. We've turned our children into the standard poodle of the dog world. 

poodle

The performance child is the one whose a part of way too many activities. They participate in football, basketball, track, honor roll, volunteer, etc... When they are younger, their parents have them a part of every intramural sport available in town. Softball, soccer, tennis. They are in band, quite possibly playing the same instrument you did as a child. Not only can this be exhausting and frustrating for the child, it can be debilitating to a marriage. All those activities can become so time consuming that you never actually spend time together as a family. 

So does this mean I am suggesting that parents allow their children to run in the mud at all times and be a dead beat in school Absolutely not!

Is having an accessory child always bad? Of course not. I think it's very important to teach our children good hygiene, brushing of the hair and teeth, clean clothes, etc... However, I feel if we are not careful, we use our children to make us as parents look/feel better. Performance kids are not always doomed to misery, but when overworked and under appreciated, it is bound to end badly.

Here is where we go wrong as parents. We forget our children have opinions.

They are little humans, not mini me's. They have likes, dislikes. They enjoy some sports more than others. They may prefer the flute where as you played the xylophone. They may like ballet, while you are pushing track. 

I do not believe it is wrong to encourage our children to play in a sport and learn a musical instrument. But why can't we make this their decision, not ours? 

I remember the day I stopped forcing Anna, our eldest, to let me braid her hair. She had long beautiful blonde hair that I loved to braid. I would do crown braids, fishtail, all kinds of fun braids. But she hated it! She cried, moaned, complained. I would tell her to hush and assure her it was going to be so worth it when I was done. Do I really think my 4 year old cared how her hair was braided? It seems pretty absurd now. Now for special occasions, church, a wedding, etc... maybe this is appropriate. But instead of forcing her to let me braid her hair, I told her she could do whatever she wanted as long as she kept it brushed. She asked if we could cut it off. And we did. Right below her ears. It sucked. Now, her hair is below her shoulders and she even comes to me sometimes asking for braids. It's rare, but it happens. 

kids

So what can we take from all of this? Remember, I am not telling you you should never take care of your children, dress them nice, fix their hair, etc... I am not telling you you should not ask your child play a sport or a musical instrument. What I am suggesting is that you ask them what they would like to wear. Ask them what instrument they would like to play. Much like you would fight and rebuttal someone forcing you to do something you don't like/want to, your children are no different. Your children should not be your show dog, they should be a little person that you care for and love.

You should not be concerned about what other parents are thinking of your child, but your child's mental and emotional health. That you are patient and kind to them. That you value, not control. You will not only have a child that will be happier, but one that will appreciate and respect you more as a parent. 

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/childrenperformers

Jun 18

Yes You Can!: Phrases That Have Made Parenting Easier

making sandwichThere is no denying it. I am what is referred to as a 'Type A' personality.

What does that commonly mean?

For me it means I like order, neatness, control, schedules, lists, you get the idea. Kids don't care what personality type you are. Kids are their own type of personality. They don't fit into any type of mold and for us neat freak, organizing, particular individuals, kids were designed solely to come in and crap all over what you had ever so perfectly planned.

In any situation such as this, I have realized in life you can do one of two things: fight it or go with the flow. 

What does fighting your child's personality get you? For one, heartburn. I know from experience. Frustration, anger, contempt. Did I mention frustration. Or what about frustration. Yeah, frustration.

It only took me about 5 years into having small children to realize a beautiful, magical, wonderful trick. When you let kids be kids, an amazing thing happens. Wait for it.........You're both happier!

So what does this 'letting kids be kids' look like? Lets take lunch for our first example. Our kids are 7, 5, 3 and 1. Here within probably just the last several months the older 3 have expressed an interest in making their own lunch. I was very torn about this. There was the Type A part of me that lunch making was apart of my daily routine. At 11:45 I would pull out lunch stuff, fix sandwiches, add some fruit, pour a few chips, fix everyone a glass of ice water and neatly place it on the table. It all changed when the kids wanted to step in.

Our kids are not picky eaters. We don't play that game. However, when they started making their own lunches, each kid wanted something different. That was a hard concept for me to grasp. Everyone should eat the same thing at lunch. But then I had to ask myself, why does it matter? IT DOESN'T!

 So my answer to the kids when they asked if they could make their own lunch was 'yes you can!!!'

Anna, who is so much like me, made a traditional meat and cheese sandwich with mayo, an apple and a few chips. Grant, he had ketchup with a little bit of hot dog. Yes, I wrote that correctly. Cora had a, well, she made a peanut butter, cheese and ketchup sandwich. And ate every. single. bite. As I choked back nausea and my words as she made her sandwich, Cora was as happy as a lark. I thought for sure it was going to be a bust. I KNEW the minute she was going to take a bite into that monstrosity, she would ask to make another sandwich. But she didn't. Not one time.

The kids self esteem soared!

So now, every day, the kids watch the clock and when noon hits they all roll into the kitchen and make lunch. IT"S FABULOUS! I don't have to do it! There are guidelines that do have to be followed. Not too many chips, try not to lick the spoon before sticking it back into the jelly, if you spill something you clean it up and when you are finished, your area has to be spotless. Table, chair and floor. It has worked beautifully.

So what are some other phrases that can make parenting easier other than 'yes you can'?

A common one in this house is 'it was an accident.' I am harder on myself than anyone else could ever be. Just this weekend, I managed to lose $45 dollars. I was devastated. DEVASTATED! I have no idea how it fell out of my pocket. I cried, I got frustrated with myself, I told myself what a stupid mistake that was. $45 may not seem like an impressive amount. But it is to us! But what did Trey do? He looked as me with calm, soft eyes and simply stated 'It's ok, babe. It was an accident.' What a relief it is to your children to know it is ok to mess up! We all make mistakes.

Some mistakes cost more than others, but the fact of the matter is it is a mistake. Of course little Joey didn't mean to spill the milk! Or Judy dropped a glass on the floor. When we dwell on the mistakes our children make, it does nothing but cause shame. When I lost the money and was dwelling on it, it certainly didn't make me feel any better. I couldn't take back losing it. Now, what I will do is next time make sure that money is shoved all the way into my pocket. The same thing can be done with your kids in a very loving and patient manner. After the situation has calmed, and little Joey has cleaned up his mess, you can ask him what he can do next time to not spill his milk. Not in a shaming or blaming manner, but truly in a manner meant to teach. And then there is often just the recognition that sometimes mistakes just happen. As a parent, you can respond with 'it was an accident!'

One phrase that Cora especially loves is 'your choice.' Her peanut butter, cheese and ketchup sandwich was her choice. She loves to pick out what pj's she is going to wear. She loves to choose what to eat at a restaurant, what clip to wear in her hair and what shoes. Allowing her to make these choices skyrockets her self esteem and she is just flat out happier when I am not trying to control her.

It is our job as parents to protect, love and watch over our children. But it is also our job to teach them. If we helicopter parent, our kids never learn! They will never know what it feels like to mess up, and then recover from it. They will not learn how to think independently and make bad choices.

Bad choices are awesome to make! It means you will make better one's later.

So start adopting some some positive phrases in your parenting. 'Yes you can!' 'It's ok.' 'It was a mistake.' The list goes on and on. Be creative and watch your kids blossom.

 

Photo Jun 11, 12 25 33 PM

Our kids during lunch time. It's amazingly difficult to get a good picture of three young kids ready to eat! Ha!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/phrases

Apr 30

Relax! It’s Just a Baby!: Tips on How to Chill Out and Enjoy Infanthood.

OK. The first thing you are probably picking out is that 'Infanthood' isn't a real word. It would be the first thing that I would of noticed as well. But it's a fun word and it fit for this blog topic. I define infanthood as basically the time until they leave the home. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but for some that seems like a reality! But for the sake of this blog, let's define it as pretty much until a high functioning toddler. Then it's a whole other blog topic. So let's move on from that.

crying baby

With a show of hands, how many  can say that infanthood was one of the more stressful times of your parenting career? You probably, like most, had child development books, baby books, baby rearing books, you name it, stacked up to the ceiling. You may of read most, you may of read none. Baby showers were a whole other story. You got gifts you never even knew existed! Contraptions that suck, blow, squeeze, push, rock, shake, and some that looked like they may of been a missing piece of the Tardis. (If you get that reference, NERDS, UNITE!) Any ways, serious baby stuff may of come your way. And if you were like me, you probably smiled cordially and your inner monologue was desperately wondering why you didn't know you needed that and you were definitely going to have to research what in the junk it even was when you got home. 

Showers were only the beginning. Then came all the pediatric appointments. Is your baby exactly 50% on growth chart. Ugh, don't even get me started on growth charts. How many times does s/he poop, pee, burp, wave, clap, smile, dance, speak German, hair length? Oops, sorry. I got carried away again. Was s/he on track with every other baby in the United States. Was s/he reading by 9 months. Because if not, s/he was definitely off track.

Even after 4 kids, I honestly still get overwhelmed at all the things my baby 'should' be doing.

But one resounding thing has become quite clear when it comes to raising my babies.

CHILL OUT!!!!

That's right. You heard it. Relax. Take a deep breath.  And here are some tips on how to chill out and enjoy infanthood.

Number One: Throw all baby books out the window. ALL OF THEM. Your baby is an individual. Just like you. And just like you, you are not a lemming. Or at least I hope your not. You baby is going to act different than all other babies. In fact, your baby is probably going to act different from all your other kids, if you have more than one. Now, hear me say. If your child is not eating, pooping, peeing and is non-responsive, then most definitely seek guidance. That is not normal. A mother/father knows when there is something wrong. I'm am referencing more on the line of a perfect eating/sleeping/pooping schedule. Or hitting all the milestones at the exact right time.

Number Two: SCHEDULES ARE THE WORST THING EVER FOR A BABY!!!!!!!! EVER!!!!!! Did I make myself clear enough for that? EVER!!!!!! Ok, as you can tell I am a little passionate about not putting babies on schedule. Just think about it for a moment. When your child was in the womb, they were warm, fed continuously, they never knew hunger. It was loud. Mommy's tummy grumbling, heart beating, blood pumping. It was not a silent environment. They were constantly held. Constantly. So why do we get so hell bent on putting our babies on schedule? It is for nothing more than our, the parents, convenience. Schedules are in no way beneficial to a baby. Not at all. Now, as they get older, schedules are very important. Routine is important. But for those first months, your baby is just trying to decide if this world is a safe environment. Show them that it is.

Number Three: You cannot spoil an infant. Infants are not inherently manipulative like we adults are. They know needs. They know hunger, fear, cold, pain. And when they cry, it is so they can be granted relief from those feelings. When you pick your child up and comfort them, you are doing just that. Offering comfort. I can almost guarantee every time I went to pick up, frustratingly, a crying baby only to find something wrong. A blown out diaper, a leg that got pinned under them, a toothache, a hungry baby. There is always a reason your baby is crying and it is our job as parents to find out why.

cow nursing

Number Four: Spend more time feeding your baby. Especially breast feeding. I know this is going to be a touchy one for many, but listen up. I have heard it time and time and time again that you stopped breastfeeding because enough milk wasn't being produced. You know this because your baby isn't gaining weight properly. Well, lets tackle the first part of this. Research has shown time and time again that less than 2-3% of women truly don't produce enough breastmilk. 98% of the time it is because you are not feeding your baby enough. 10 minutes on the breast is not enough. I seriously fed my first, Anna, 45minutes per breast. What does that add up to? Often I would sit and feed for up to 1 1/2 hours at a time. Now, this was not all the time, but definitely some of the time. I cannot tell you how many women I have seen feed for 5 minutes, baby starts to drift, they take them off the breast, baby starts crying, they put a pacifier in their mouth. Well, no wonder baby is not gaining weight! Slow down, take the time to let baby nurse. Yes, they may drift on and off to sleep. But the breast is probably their absolutely favorite place! If formula feeding, my advice is small amounts often. Baby's tummy is approximately the size of their fist. Little! When we try to cram 4 oz into such a small space, baby's tummy gets upset, they vomit, you get upset, it's stressful. Try smaller amounts as needed. 1-2 oz. at a time. If they get upset after a feeding. Stop, burp them, love on them and re-evaluate. If they are still fussy, try another one oz. We tend to think we are going to cram them full of food so they will be happy and content, but all it does is give them reflux and an upset tummy! Slow down.

Number Five: Chill out. That's right. Relax. When your tense, you hold a baby tense, your moves are jerky, you shake. All this transfers to your baby. Your baby needs a steady, strong (but gentle) hand. When you are relaxed, your baby is relaxed. I used to ride horses a lot. I did shows and trained. One thing that I was taught and learned through experience was to relax when working with horses. When you get all worked up, your horses can tell. They get all worked up. Then it becomes a battle. And battles suck. Nobody really comes out a victor and everyone leaves irritated or hurt. Same goes for your baby. Nobody really wins when you get irritated with them. You just both may end up crying in the end.

Now, obviously a book could be written on this! Hmmmm........ But these are just some of tips on how to chill out and enjoy infanthood. Just remember. A relaxed, informed (but not over informed) parent can lead to a pleasant and fun time to be had by all when raising your baby.

sleeping baby

 

Also remember that you and your baby are an individual and don't try to conform either one of you to what society says you have to be!

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/relaxitsjustababy

Apr 18

Here’s Your Gift, Now Give it Back!: Do Kids Have Property Rights?

Small amount of background. I am the oldest of 5. All girls. Our ages are in range from 33 (me) to 13. I have a full sister and 3 half sisters that I absolutely never consider my half sisters, but, whatever. I say all this just so that this story will make a little more sense! :-)

My mom called me the other day very upset. Her ex-husband (not my father) had apparently told one of my sisters (who is 16)  that if she does not come see him next week, he will take away the car he just bought her. He lives less than an hour away, so it's not like he was demanding she drive to Alaska or anything. Mom was so upset that he would threaten her with such a thing and felt it was very manipulative. She was far more upset than my sister was about. My sister is very much like me in that she matter of factly shrugged her shoulders and responded with an 'ok.' But mom was furious. She called me and went on and on. Her and him didn't have the most amicable of divorces, if you can't tell. I listened to her lament and interjected the appropriate oohhh's and awwww's. After she had calmed down a bit, I asked her a question. My question was simply had she ever taken away a phone when one of my sisters had not done something that was asked of them. The line was silent. It was then followed by, 'well, that's different.'

grabbing grabbing grabbing-hand-psd19419

Now, I love my mom. Love love love. We talk several times a day and have a wonderful relationship. Every once and awhile when I say something she doesn't like she will comment with a 'well, I am your mother' or 'you'll understand when your kids or older' or some sort of placating comment of the such. I hate those comments, but comes with the territory of being friends with your mom. So with this conversation I asked her what made her actions so different from her ex-husbands. 'It just is' was the basically answer.

The actions by her and her ex-husband got me to thinking, do kids have property rights? And if they don't, should they?

At what point in parenting did we get to where we felt it was ok to take away our children's things?

'Well, I bought it!' The gift, not the kids, of course! Ok, so, let's go down that line of thinking. Let's say your an accountant at a small boutique shop and work for the owner/manager. It's bonus time and you can't wait to see what your bonus is this year. Your handed a small box and in it contains a beautiful pair of earrings you've been eyeballing for several weeks now. You go home for the weekend and when you get back to work you realize you forgot to file your paperwork on Friday. Shoot! Your boss walks through the door and states 'I noticed you didn't file your paperwork on Friday. I'm afraid I am going to have to ask you give back those earrings.' 

WHAT!?!? That is so different than what I do with my kids!

Is it? You are taking back something that was given as a gift! Period. In essence, your stealing. You are taking something that is not yours without the permission of the owner. When a gift is given, the receiver is the owner of said gift. So, therefore, when you take away your child's property, let's say because they didn't clean their room, you are stealing from your child.

Hmmm. I don't know about you, but that even puts things into perspective for me. Ouch!

Now, I agree that it is our job to train and grow our children to be ready for the real world. But once again, I don't know that I see actions like this occurring on a regular basis in the real world. I don't hear of many bosses walking into their employees office and taking their cell phones and telling them they are going to have to earn it back. Or your mechanic taking away the keys to your car until you understand how important it is to have those tune ups. Seems preposterous when it is put like this, doesn't it?  

So, where do we draw the line when it comes to exacting discipline to our children in a manner that 'it hurts' and avoiding taking away their personal property?

Well, before you stray too far, let's get one thing straight. You are not obligated as a parent to provide your children with a car. Now, if you do decide to do that (awesome for the kid) it should probably be decided if this car is a gift or a loan. If it is a gift, it is theirs. Next step is are you going to provide gas and insurance? As far as I am concerned, that is a luxury. I was given a truck when I turned 17. I then promptly wrecked said truck. Yes, it's true. I received an insurance check and bought a crappy car. I was also told I was going to have to pay for my own insurance and gas. Ok, so maybe this was like my 5th accident in a year. I wasn't the best driver when I was young. But, because of my driving record and the astronomical hike in auto insurance that it caused, I became responsible for my own insurance and gas. It was a lot. Like $300 a month. And for a 17 year old, yikes! Back to point, the car was not only mine but because I paid for insurance and gas, there was really nothing that my parents could take away as far as the vehicle goes without it being, well, wrong. 

Same can go for a cell phone. If the phone is given to them, it is theirs. But you sure as heck don't have to pay for their service!

So, back to how to make it hurt when our kid does an undesired action. Well, that could be an entire blog in and of itself! I think if our mindset is to make a lasting impression on an undesired action from our children, it should be handled differently. So, what if you catch you son on the internet looking at porn. What then? First knee jerk is to take away his computer. Well, once again we are taking away his property. So, possibly another alternative is changing the passcode on your internet and not allowing him access. He still has his computer, but until a desired amount of time is reached or until he decides he wants to pay for his own internet, he won't have access to the internet. 

You daughter stays up past curfew texting. So, instead of taking away her property against her will, turn off service to her phone. Until she can pay for service, she will have a very pretty phone to look at and that's about it. 

We need to get creative as parents. We tend to run to the things that are most easy and painful for the kids. As many of you know, Trey and I lean much more towards positive parenting and not so much towards the deficit mindset. Instead of trying to find things to take away from our kids because of unwanted behavior, we encourage by giving things for positive behavior. But that too could be an entire blog entry!

present

So I encourage you to take a look at how you treat your kids. Why do you feel it's okay to take away their property? I'm hoping you might see it a little differently. We always try to look at it in a 'would I want someone to do this to me' scenario. Your kids are watching you. When you take their property you are simply conveying to them 'because I am bigger than you, I get to take what I want.' Is that a rational truth? Maybe not. But I guarantee through the eyes of a child it is very likely what they are seeing.

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/kidsandpropertyrights

Apr 02

Autonomy Dangers?: Why Kids Need to be More Independent

We've all heard our grandparents, parents or even heck, our stories of how we were allowed to do so much more when we were younger. How Grandma Jane used to walk 32 miles by herself to go get her favorite candy from the general store. Or maybe it was how your dad was driving by 2 and picking up his own formula from the market. 

Was this one of your grandparents walking uphill in the snow both way?

Was this one of your grandparents walking uphill to school in the snow both ways?

Ok, well, that may be a little extreme, but it seems as if now a days we do all but require our kids to walk around in full body armor with helmets on! And I've even seen the kids with the helmets! Yikes! It seems like it is such in contrast to how we raise our kids. We want them to be able to sleep on their own starting from day one, be in daycare away from us 10 hours a day by 6 weeks, school by 5, out the door by 18 or highschool graduation, which ever comes first, and completely self sufficient by 21. However, we won't let them fix their own bowl of cereal, pick out their own clothes, brush their own hair or set their own curfews....What's wrong with this picture!?

It is as if us parents are terrified of our children growing up but yet are telling them to grow up!

Well it's time to stop. It's time to be logical. It's time to let our kids begin becoming autonomous. It's time to find out why kids need to be more independent.

Bullying is a big deal topic. You hear about it everyday. Something tragic seems to be happening way to often. It's awful. However, there has always been bullies and there will always be bullies. They range in age generally from 1 year to about 110. We will always encounter them. It just seems in adulthood they are often referred to as 'aggressive' or 'go getters.' So what does autonomy have to do with bullies? A lot. When we encourage our children to be more independent. When we encourage them to make mistakes and then not crucify them when they do. When we encourage our children to make their own choices on things that matter, such as maybe bedtime or curfew. When we do these things we are building.....confidence. Confidence that mistakes happen, but can be corrected. Confidence that they can make the right choice! Circling back to bullying, when one is bullied that is confident, often they will stand up. I'm not talking about throwing punches or anything that extreme, but just having to confidence to say 'NO! That is not ok!'

When we hover over our children and become the often referred to as 'helicopter mom/dad' all we are teaching our kids is that they are incapable of making good choices and therefore we do not trust them as parents.

We are also telling them we will run to their rescue anytime they break a nail or stub a toe. You may be saying 'No I'm not! I'm just being a good parent and protecting my child!' And yes, a good parent does protect their child, but when you never allow a child to make mistakes, hurt themselves, have successes that you were not responsible for their self confidence soars! You will not find an unkind, mean or over controlling individual with high self confidence. They are the ones with low self confidence and massive fears of failure. They often use their anger to hide their ineptitude.

So to move off bullies. Encouraging our children to be more independent will encourage them to try new things often expanding their knowledge, intelligence and quite possibly expanding the probability of success in adulthood. I can promise you most Olympic athletes had to get hurt a few times before perfecting their ability.

 I used to ride horses every day. I rode english and loved to jump and ride dressage. I also rode western pleasure and trail. At one point in time I was quite competitive. I used to show and train and, well I just loved it. I remember my step-grandfather who was at one point in time quite a renowned trainer on the West Coast once telling me that you know you are becoming a better horseman when you fall off. That always seemed so stupid to me. I hated falling off. It hurt. horseThe only broken bones that I have ever sustained have been from falling off. Ouch. But it was later that I understood that if you were falling off, quite possibly it was because you were expanding your abilities. Maybe you were pushing yourself harder and going over that taller jump. Or you were challenging you and your horse and, well, sometimes challenged horses get just as frustrated as people but they often buck when frustrated which often means your butt is on the ground. But you get the idea. A good horseman just means one who is willing to grow.

We want our children to grow. Not too fast, but just fast enough.

We, or at least I know I, don't want my child to be apart of this 'teacup generation' that is overtaking the young adults. I don't want my child to feel like a 99% but instead strive to work hard for what they earn and not sit there with their hands out waiting for a morsel. I want them to be striving to bake a whole darn cake! No crumbs for them.

I want my kids to make mistakes and then learn from them. Now I'm not going to give them a scalpel and tell them to attempt surgery, but I do allow my 5 year old to cut his own apple if he wants to. Has he gotten cut before? Yeah, he has. But I still cut myself sometimes and I'm in my 30's! I want my kids to learn logical consequences and also learn practical achievements. I want them to succeed by their own hands and not mine. What good will that do them?

We are an overprotective society. Yes there are bad guys. There always have been and there always will be. But if we don't teach our children how to say no to those things they don't want and to strive and work hard for the things they do, than what good are we as a parent? 

I encourage you to take a step back from your kids and watch. What are they so badly wanting to do on their own that you keep on sticking your finger into the mix? Are they babies and trying to walk and you keep on catching them every time they stumble? Are they toddlers that want to wipe their own bottoms after going potty? Are they preschoolers that want to pour their own cereal at breakfast? Are they tweens who are wanting to stay up late texting to their friends? Are they teens wanting to set their own curfew? Why do we feel the need to regulate and help with all these areas?

No wonder so many kids are the way they are today. We have made them be babies until we send them out into the world and then scream at them to 'GROW UP!'

ship

Your kids were meant to grow. 

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/autonomyinkids

Feb 20

Hug, Please!: Overcoming the Fear of Affection.

hugs

What!?!? Fear of affection? Parents don't have fear of affection. Well, granted that may of been a little bit of an embellishment, but for some of us affection is not on the top of our list.

Let's start at the beginning.

Cora just turned 3. Out of all our children so far, she has been the most challenging for me. She is our boundary pusher. You know the type. 

Me: 'Cora, please don't touch that.'

Cora: Looks at me, then the object, not sure what she has decided to do yet.

Me: 'Baby, would you please not touch that!?'

Cora: Looks as me, then object, then slowly walks over to object which then she decides to touch.

Me: 'CORA!!!!'

We won't even start on all the things I did wrong in that conversation, but I set it up for you so you could see what she is like. If I believed in a 'strong willed child' she is what I would call one.

So, all that being said, she's is a little more taxing than the other 3. However, she is also one of the more affectionate. She is the one that is continually coming up to me stating 'hug, please?'  It seems ludicrous that those could go hand in hand. So called rebelliousness with affection. Hmmmmm. But for her it does. 

So why not just hug her? Well, that is the million dollar question. It's just hard for me to be an affectionate person. I am what is often referred to as a 'thinker.' Typically my love languages are acts of service, I like to do things for people. I like using my hands. Building things. Cleaning things. Sewing. On and on. 'Feelers' typically like hearing and speaking kind words or words of affection. They like hugs and kisses and hand holding. For me, stuff that I find annoying. Yes, annoying.

Affection annoys me.

But I'm not all heart of stone. Often when I am sick or very upset, that is when I am the most affectionate. It's in their, it's just not the first thing I often turn to. And I truly love to hug and kiss and love on my kids, but there is just that point that it gets too much. And Cora finds that point every. single. day.

You know, the only other way I know to put it is that its awkward. I know that seems unusual or strange, but it is. It is also hard on me because I feel that it is often done in an attempt to avoid what is being asked of her. Or to postpone an activity. 

Whatever may be the reason for it, she wouldn't ask for it if she didn't like it. I can already hear some of you saying, 'YES SHE WOULD! If it got her out of having to do something she doesn't like, it would!' But I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Anna, my oldest, never uses hugs to get out of helping around the house. Grant never wants kisses just so he won't have to pick up dirty clothes. It is obvious that not only does Cora like hugs, I dare say she needs them.

I decided today that I was going to embellish her with more hugs. Every time she asks, I will hug her. And I have. And it has not been my favorite.

Now before you get out the pitchforks, gimme a minute. I truly do love to hug my kids. Seriously. When I run into a problem is when it feels as if it is every single second that she is asking. Most the time, she crawls into my lap, manages to hit my bottom jaw with her head, dig her knee into my breast, her heel digs into my thigh and her feet are always cold because she refuses to wear socks. It makes me irrationally angry. Then, her breath always seems bad, she gets 8mm away from my face and then asks for a hug. And today, we did just that.

So I, in all my mommy brilliance, decided that every time she hugs me I would squeeze her as tight as I could without damaging anything. My hopes were twofold; one that she would receive the satisfaction of a hug  and two that it would be moderately uncomfortable and she would want me to stop and possibly not ask quite so often.

Remember, be kind, we are painfully honest here on FPN and this was how I was reacting to my daughters need for affection. I'm not saying it's mature or right, but it's what I was feeling and how I was handling it.

Back on subject, a strange thing happened. Cora liked it. She liked that I hugged her tight. She didn't move. I would ask if it was too tight and she would shake her head 'no'. I would ask if she would like for me to let go and she would shake her head 'no'. And then something else happened. She came back more for hugs.

DANGIT! I was trying to get the opposite reaction!

Then I got to thinking as my rational side was beginning to surface. My daughter is so desperate for affection from her mother, she is willing to be uncomfortable if it means that mommy is hugging her.

I just got choked up writing that.
 

Wow. If that's not a slap in the face. O. U. C. H.

So where else in my chidren's lives am I avoiding what they are asking of me? Is there more? I ask this because it has really caused me to reflect on how I am as a parent.

If I only parent how I am comfortable, I am not meeting all the needs of my children. Period. 

Our children all have different ways, much like our spouses, that they need to be loved. Anna loves bugs and science and dinosaurs. If I tell the kids that the only activities we would do are ones that Anna likes, Cora and Grant are going to feel pretty left out. Or if we only watch preschool tv and play with baby Charlotte's toys, the older kids are going to get pretty restless pretty fast. 

This transfers very well into how we deeply love our children as well. Cora loves to receive hugs and help with dishes. Anna likes to help with the baby. Grant likes to be told how awesome he is! They all require something differently. 

I am pretty sure Cora has never felt more loved than today. And you know what, her 'strong willed' spirit has been much calmer as well. Truly. 

Even though it was tough for me, it is growing me as a parent and a person.

So since I am giving them freely, who needs a hug!?

Hug1

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/fearofaffection

Jan 09

Leave Me Alone!

Gotta love a blog being started out with a picture of a toilet. What's even more interesting is that as I was trying to find a picture I wanted to use I was having some slight anxiety issues with how many pictures I was finding of dirty bathrooms. It really bothered me. However, I would never use a picture of my bathroom because it certainly isn't clean enough to share on the good 'ol internet. Any ways, that's neither here nor there.

So, back to the toilet. We will never be accused here at FPN of being secretive of any topics. This includes bathroom time. Don't get all squirmy and grossed out on me. It's is a fact that will never ever ever change. Everyone uses the bathroom. What absolutely never fails to amaze me time and time again is

how do my children always know when I am using the restroom?

Every. Single. Time. I know that every person, man or woman, reading this blog are shaking their heads in total agreement. It's truly amazing. They can be down the road, at a friends house, spending the night, and something will beckon them home to their bathroom. I can just see it as I walk into the bathroom, baby is napping, other kids happy watching a movie, that there is some cosmic thing that occurs. All the kids stop whatever they are doing. They pause looking thoughtfully into the abyss. And it hits them. They ALL have to either a: ask mom a question, or b: absolutely have to go to the restroom at that very moment or it is very likely their little bladders will explode all over the hall.

I say all of this and set up this incredibly elaborate and relatable story for what reason? What is the most common phrase to come out of our mouths at this instance?

LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!

Moving on from bathroom humor to maybe watching a movies, cooking dinner, folding clothes, talking on the phone. Believe me, the possibilities are endless. There is that time, or several times, in all of our days that we will recite that phrase to our children. It may be the classic 'leave me alone'. It might be the more polite and controlled, 'can you give me a moment?'. It could even be the command with a please, 'leave me alone, please!'.

So what's wrong with this? Why are we not allowed to tell our children to go away? Well, it all comes down to it all comes back to us. No, there is nothing wrong with a 'can I have a moment' or 'I am almost done'. But we all know our children are our little mimickers. What we do, they do. If we yell in frustration every time they catch us doing something important, which face it, it seems like everything is important, they are going to do the same thing right back.

Imagine walking into your child's room for who knows what reason. Maybe you need to ask them a question about a school project, or they need to finish a chore. Whatever, be creative. They are intently watching 'Bo on the Go,' my 2 year old's new favorite show. (hey, that rhymed!) Instead of them stopping and making eye contact with you why you ask them a question, they, without even looking at you yell 'LEAVE ME ALONE!' Oh no they didn't! But yes, yes they did. My first reaction as a parent is to snatch their little butt up and let them know that in no way are they allowed to talk to mommy that way! But wait. Where did they learn that from.......Dannnnnng Ittttttt! It was ME!

In the voice of Jacques from 'Finding Nemo' 'I am ashamed.'

I can already hear the haters telling me, 'but I'm the parent' blah blah blah. I agree, you are the parent, you are the adult. So try acting like one. Be the example of patience. Be the example of kindness. Even when it's annoying as crap! I've been known to throw rolls of toilet paper at the door all while yelling to leave me alone while going to the rest room. Wow, that's mature. I have also been known to yell at a kid coming out of their room at bed time not even giving them a chance to explain when come to find out they are not feeling well and running fever. Wow, talk about feeling like a tool.

I started all this out with a toilet all to make the point that we all get irritated at times.

We all have those times where we wish our kids would just leave us alone for a bit, or maybe longer. 

And that's ok. However, ask that out of respect, patience and kindness from them. How you treat them is how they will treat others...and you. And I don't know about you, but I would prefer not to be the hypocritical parent that yells at their kid for yelling at you the exact same way you yelled at them earlier in the day. It just kind of looks foolish when we do that.

So how should we handle the restroom dilemmas, the incredibly important tv show being interrupted, and so on and so forth?

Show them the same respect you would like for others to show you.

Let them know in a calm, firm voice that you need a few minutes, but after that your attention is all theirs, and then do it! Talk is cheap and kids know that. We've said it here before and we will say it again, love is spelled TIME. If your having a moment in the restroom, let your child, or husband, know that you will be out just as soon as humanly possible. If they come out of their room during bed time, stop and listen to what they have to say. If it's not important, firmly but compassionately guide them back to their beds.

The point of parents as examples can never be reiterated enough. How we treat our children as they are under our roof is who we send out into society. They will treat others that same way. I prefer to work with kind, patient, compassionate people. I want my children to have those qualities. Believe me, they will not learn those from school. But how awesome is it to think that maybe, just maybe, my kids might be teaching that to others!

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/leavealone

Nov 27

Don’t Tell, Don’t Yell.

When my husband was a young child one of his favorite things to do was play in mud. What kids doesn't love that!? Not too many. Well, his mom had asked him to please not play in the mud because it was getting his clothes dirty. So, what does Trey do? At the age of 6, he takes off all his clothes, places them in a neat little pile, folded to the best of his ability, and went mud diving butt naked. His mom found the whole incident highly amusing and still tells the story to this day.

So, what did Trey do wrong? Should he of been punished for his actions? A spanking, even? I say none of the above. In fact, he very ingeniously did exactly what his mom said. Remember, she said no playing in the mud because it would get your clothes dirty. Trey avoided just that. Not only did he keep his clothes clean, but he was able to enjoy the mud as well.

I feel that we as parents are so quick to discipline our children, we forget to check and see if  we ever really taught them otherwise

Take the ever famous baseball through a window. What is the most often screamed phrase when an incident such as that occurs?

"YOU SHOULD OF KNOWN BETTER!!!!!"

Well, why should they of known better? Have you ever taught your child that it might be dangerous to play ball so close to the house because you might shatter a window? I can hear you now, 'no really, they're smart, they really should of known better!!!'. Again, we assume, but until we fully discuss, maybe they don't know better.

One of our favorite phrases we use in our house in 'why do you think...'. Example being, just the other day I caught my 6 year old, 4 year old, and their 7 year old friend throwing rocks at the house. My first instinct was to burst out the door yelling at the kids 'WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!'. Well, they probably were not thinking. Instead, I calmly walked outside and asked them to please stop throwing rocks at the house. My daughter, ever the negotiator and inquisitive one asked why. My response was why do you think? She sat there for a moment and then came to the conclusion that it was because they could accidentally break the window. Yes, that's right! So, not only does she now know not to throw rocks at the house, which apparently they were trying to hit the roof to get a toy that had been accidentally lodged up their, but she also knows why not to throw rocks at the house.

Kids truly desire logic. I feel like the common parent answer of 'because I said so' is an awful reason. Not only does it make you sound like a turd parent, but it also offers no logic to why not.

So I leave you with this challenge. Instead of punishing your child when they do wrong, why not stop and explain to them what they did that is not ok and why it is a bad idea. Give your child a chance not only to learn, but to think. Step out of the mode of disciplinarian and into the mode of teacher. Not only will your child learn, but they will also gain respect towards you and eventually will begin to think things through for themselves.

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/dont-tell-dont-yell

Nov 05

Do You Want a Spanking?!

 

I hate whining. Like hate with a capital 'I'm going to rip my hair out if I hear you whine again.' I literally turn into the Incredible Hulktress and rip off my apron when I hear a kid whining from another room. I also kind of feel like the girl from 'The Exorcist' where my head kind of spins around and I get crazy eyes. I hate whining. However, with 4 kids it's just inevitable. Someone is bound to get their toy taken away by another. It happens.

So, what do I yell from another room when I hear my kids whine, fight, argue, etc...?

"DO YOU WANT A SPANKING...?!?!" 

I mean we seriously say some stupid stuff as parents. What am I expecting to happen? One of the kids running up to me, 'yes, mother. Oh please oh please spank me. And once you do, I will infinitely learn my lesson and never do --fill in blank-- again!' Right.

As a parent, I have found that for some unexplained reason I think that spanking will solve all of my kids discipline problems. When I step back and take a look at this line of reasoning, I realize how very narrow thinking it is. It's almost like saying every time my car makes a funny noise, I go get the brakes fixed.

If it wasn't for my husband, I would probably still be the parent that spanked for any little indiscretion. He is, without a doubt, the much more patient and level headed of the two of us. He is the one that has taught me that spanking does not solve all problems. In fact, we now very very rarely spank in our house. We save that punishment solely for blatant acts of disobedience. As in please don't do x, y, z and then the kid looks at me with malice in their eyes and does it anyways. That gets a spanking.

So, how do we discipline our kids when we lay the paddle down?

Not to stray too far from this question, but my first piece of advice would be to try to catch your kid doing it right a lot more often than them doing it wrong. Believe me, if your kids can get a lot more attention by doing behaviors that we approve of, we will find that those are the behaviors that we see more of. However, I am very well aware that kids just sometimes do really stupid things that need to be addressed. So, to answer the previous question, it depends wholly on the kid!

Our son Grant is a lover. That dude is going to be a lady killer when he gets older. He is sensitive, loving, compassionate and just a beautiful boy. However, he is also my whiner. He whines at EVERYTHING. Argh! If his toy gets taken away: whine. If he trips and falls: whine. If he doesn't get to pick the nighttime book: whine. Yeah, whine. Good gravy train it stretches my nerves. So what happens if I threaten to punish him? He whines. Well, that didn't work. Now what? With Grant, he needs love. Even though I want to just, you know, just, ahhhhhhhhhhh when he whines, I don't. I stop myself first, then call him into the room. I then calmly ask him to please sit down. He then will sit in time out for a few minutes. I then ask him why I had him come sit down? He then, 9 out of 10 times, will tell me it was because he was whining. I then ask him what he could of done instead of whine and we go over all the other paths he could of taken. He then goes on his merry little way.

So does this mean that because I have implemented this type of punishment for Grant when he whines that he never does it again? Of course not. However, I have caught him on several occasions winding up to whine, catch himself, and then continue doing whatever it was he was doing. I am, in essence, teaching him how to control his emotions by not only controlling my own, but showing him that there are other ways to get what he wants.

That last sentence is the key to all of this. I truly believe spanking is the most rudiment form of punishment that is out there. It is what we often fall back to when we are angry, frustrated and just want to show our kid who is boss!

I am not against spanking, but I am against using it in anger, frustration or in a show of dominance with our children. 

I am most assuredly not saying that when our kids need discipline we should just all hold hands and sing Kumbaya and skip through the tulips. All kids need correction. What I do encourage is that the punishment fit the crime, so to say, and find what works for your kid.

And if your anything like me, when whining strikes don't reach for the nearest blunt force spanking object, but instead take a deep breath, and then teach your child what action you would like to see from them other then the one that causes the demons to speak from your mouth. I am pretty sure I have scared my kids at least a time or two. Remember, your kids are watching you always. If you throw an adult fit about an action that they are doing, they will throw a kid size fit. Be in control and think wisely.

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/do-you-want-a-spanking

Oct 24

Catching Them Doing It Right

How many times have I run into my kids room at the sound of yelling to exclaim 'STOP YELLING AT YOUR SIBLINGS!' or run to the rescue of a whining 2 year old and give them what they want just to hear them stop whining?

What about disciplining my eldest for taking too long to get into bed while the younger two are already tucked in waiting for their nighttime routine?

 

I have disciplined the one doing it wrong too many times to count.
 

'What's wrong with this?' might be the question you ask. Besides the obvious of yelling at my kids to quit yelling. Oops. Definitely a parent goober moment. But the problem with this is that

I am not catching my kids doing it right.

That's right. Not catching them doing it right. This is a topic that will never be emphasized enough. I will never perfect this as a parent and this will be something that I will always be working on. But what does it even mean?

Imagine that you are a typical 9-5er pencil pusher at a large cooperation. You do your job and you do it well. You always make deadlines with time to spare. You constantly make your boss look really good. Your sick one day. Have to stay at home a few days. You were really sick. Because of that you miss a deadline. You come in the next day and begin working on it ASAP. Your boss rounds the corner, you haven't actually seen him in person for months. He approaches your desk. Your heart starts pounding and you continue to make yourself look very busy at your computer. He then continues to lay into you for missing your deadline. He doesn't want to hear excuses, he just wants results.

For all the times you have done it right, you are called out for the time you messed up.

This is how your kids feel. The difference is that kids want attention. Kids need attention. Kids will get attention any way that they can. If the only way they get attention is when they mess up, they will continue to mess up. Kids are not rational. They do not understand that this is not always smart. What they do know is that if mommy and daddy are too busy to notice me, I will do what I can to make them notice me.

So, how can we change this horrible vortex of attention for all the wrong reasons? Catch them doing it right.

Example. Tonight we all got done eating dinner. We told the kids it was time to get ready for bed. As all the kids ran into their room for bedtime routines, my eldest stopped and asked what she could do to help. Ahhhh! Rock on!!!! So instead of yelling at the littles for not stopping and seeing if mommy could use some help, I praised Anna for asking. I caught her doing it right.

Another example. I love examples. We had a friend over for the kids. As time was drawing near for her to go home, I told the kids it was time to start cleaning up the mess they had made. Today being a giant fort consisting of at least 152 blankets. As normal kids do, I poked my head in several times to find them twirling in circles or picking their noses. Literally. Ew.

One time I found their friend was folding the blankets. I immediately praised the crap out of her for working so hard. Guess what happened?

Because of me praising one child for working, the other 3 started to help as well.  

It could of easily turned into a grich fest of me griping at one child after another for not doing this, that or another, but instead I chose to wait until I found one of them doing it right. Room got done, all was right in the world. Nobody cried. It was a successful time.

 

So why is this concept so hard?

It is not what is being practiced in our society. We often practice what we know. How does the school system work? We have detention, after school programs, principals giving licks(dumb) to 18 year old students. Seriously, so stupid. But what would happen if we had a reward system in place instead of such a punishment one? What if you showed up to class prepared and got an automatic A added to your grade? What if showing kindness to a student got you a day off of school? What if perfect attendance got you a super awesome field trip? Not saying these are all the best ideas, but I think you get the idea.

Bringing it to a parents level, the same could go for work. Showing up on time gives you a free day off every month. Making deadlines gets you a giftcard to Starbucks. Etc, etc... You get the idea.

Now, do I think we can all live in a world of sunshine and lolly pops? No, probably not, but we could all benefit with being caught doing it right.

So, next question. Does that mean we should never punish our children? Of course not. But our motto is

for every 1 negative their should be 10 positives

For every 1 time you are getting on to your kid for something, you should be catching them doing something right 10 times. Obviously this is not an exact art, but you get the idea.

So how about giving this a whirl and see that you won't find a much happier, eager to help, easier managed child. Can I dare say I guarantee it will get better if you adopt this frame of mind? Hmmmm. You tell me!

Try it. Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. Oh, and did I mention consistency is important.

My kids helping with the dishes.

Your child wants to please you. Your child also wants your attention. Why not start giving it in a positive way.

~Corrie

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/catching-them-doing-it-right

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