Tag Archives: children

Stop driving stupid!!!

I’m appalled by the recent news of the 4 year old boy hit in the crosswalk on one of our Santa Rosa streets yesterday afternoon. He was crossing the street with his family when a driver sped around the waiting car and hit the little boy full force, causing him to fly through the air.  (Update:  this young boy died from his injuries at the hospital, leaving behind a twin sister, along with the rest of his family) Reading the comments, the conversation has turned to target those who are unlicensed and uninsured. But let me tell you, this problem of being unable to wait exists in all kinds of drivers, not just the ones being, let me just say it, racially targeted.

This is not a race problem, this is an IDIOT DRIVER problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had cars speed around me when I’ve stopped to let pedestrians cross the street. Several times, the fear on my face and my hand on the horn have stopped those crossing in front of me from being hit by some idiot who doesn’t understand that someone might be stopped at the crosswalk for a reason.

But it doesn’t just stop at crosswalks.

Towards the end of the school year last spring, I was floored when a father zigzagged around other cars IN THE SCHOOL ZONE on the way to dropping off his kid. Judging by the time, he was just as late as I was in getting his kid to school. But rather than just letting his kid face the consequences of being late with a tardy and possible detention, he was risking the lives of all those around him just to get his kid to the curb 2 minutes earlier. A tardy is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it might motivate your child to get ready in a timelier fashion next time.  Oh, and by the way?  My kid got to school at exactly the same time as this kid with the maniac father.

And then there are those who are still on their phones. WHY? I mean, seriously, why???  If you think you can drive with a phone in your hand, you’re wrong.  I can point out exactly who is on their phone when on the road just by the way they are driving slowly or all over the road.  And if I can tell, so can a cop.  But more than that, after all the press regarding kids who have been hit by those texting or talking on their phones – why are there still people on the road who continue to use their phones while their car is in motion? Ever since little Calli was hit and killed crossing the street with her mother last year by a teenager using her phone, I have made it a strict policy that my phone stays away from me while I’m driving. If it’s in my purse, I have no idea that someone is calling or texting me. After all, the majority of the things that someone might want to reach me for can wait the 5 or 10 minutes it takes me to get to my destination.

Your phone can wait too.

Why am I so jaded about driving in this blog when this isn’t even the Road Warrior Blog? Because this is a parenting blog, I’m a mother, and THERE ARE CHILDREN on the very streets that all these stupid drivers are driving on. School is back in, which means the possibility of a child getting hit by a car goes up significantly.

In case anyone needs a briefing on how to drive on the road, especially during the school year, let me give you a crash course:

1. Scan the road at all times. Don’t just look straight ahead, but weave your eyes across the road and on the sidewalks to anticipate anyone or anything darting across your path. If you are about to drive through a crosswalk, be especially sure to check both sides for someone who might want to cross.

2. If someone has stopped in the middle of the road, slow down and check out the reason they have stopped. DO NOT PASS THEM UNTIL YOU ARE SURE IT IS SAFE.

3. Yellow means RED. Trying to beat the light might mean running though a biker, walker, or someone else’s car.

4. Your phone call/text/email can wait.  Put the phone away.

5. Driving recklessly or fast on city streets will not only fail in making you any more on time, it could kill someone. Is avoiding a tardy really worth taking a life?

6. School zone during school hours means 25 MPH. Period.

7. Your car is not just a vehicle, it is a piece of heavy machinery that can cause serious damage when used improperly.  Drive responsibly.

School is now in session. Please protect our kids by driving safely and smartly.

Stop driving stupid.

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10 things I learned as a parent

As parents, it is our job to guide our children and teach them important lessons in life. But sometimes it is our kids who are teaching us. Here are some very important lessons I have learned from my children.

1. Girls don’t always dress like girls.
My daughter was the very first girl of the family. This resulted in piles of pink clothes with frilly lace being thrust at me from all directions. Me? I was never a girly girl. I preferred to dress my new little girl in neutral colors and overalls. And when she got older, she abhorred pink with a passion. But her grandparents always tried. She’d receive pink shirts and pretty dresses – all of which would end up in the back of her closet or in a pile of clothes to return that would just end up going into the Goodwill bag because I was too lazy to make it to the store. Did I wish she would dress more like a girl? Have I tried to sell the idea that pants can still be worn under dresses to make them somewhat less girly? Have I bribed my daughter with money to make her dress like a girl for one week? Yes. But still, my daughter’s preferred look consists of black shapeless t-shirts and jeans, and she refuses to wear a swimsuit without boy’s swim trunks in the summertime. But is she happy and like the way she looks? Yes.

2. Having the kids help clean the house may mean that the TV remote and your linens may end up in the bookshelf.
We have been really good about our 30 minute clean-ups. Every night, the electronics get turned off, some cleaning mood music goes on, and everyone pitches in and cleans an area of the house. I usually reserve washing the dinner dishes and clearing the kitchen table during this time. My daughter will resign herself to the bedroom so that it gets cleaned her way. And my son is left to clean the living room since it’s all his crap that is littering it up. At the end of the 30 minutes, the house looks decent enough that I’m not embarrassed to open the door to anyone who comes by. But once they go to bed, I realize I can’t find anything. And it is soon discovered that nothing was put in its proper place, but was instead hidden in little pockets of the house. The roll of tape that you couldn’t find the week before when you were wrapping their birthday presents is safe and sound in the Lego’s box. All the little Lego’s, that have caused the most colorful language to roll off your lips as your bare feet land on a *$&%  little piece of plastic that is 2 feet away from the Lego box, are now under the couch. And the book shelf holds more junk than books. Good idea – getting your kids to help you clean. Better idea – checking their progress (and under the couch, in the bookshelf, and in every single nook and cranny of the house) before you let them go to bed.

3. According to your child, it’s never his fault.
“How did you do in school today?” I ask the Taz every day. “My teacher hates me,” he’d tell me. “For no reason at all, I had to sit on the bench at recess while the other kids played.” “Well, why is that?” I asked him. “Billy was talking during class, and when I told him to be quiet, the teacher told me that I was interrupting the class. When I tried to tell him what happened, he told me I had to sit out at recess, and Billy didn’t.” Upon further investigation, it came to light that my son was being a distraction to everyone around him, and that his seatmates had ceased talking when the teacher told them to the first time. Then there was the time that the principal called to let me know that my son had been misusing the bathroom – again. He had been caught flickering the light switches off and on. He had to call me from the office to tell me what he’d been up to and then hear a lecture from me and from his principal. But I was proud that he had fessed up and was taking ownership of the misconduct, as small as it was. That is, until he got in the car. “I lied in the principal’s office,” he stated. “Oh? How so?” I asked him. “I wasn’t really fooling around in the bathroom. It was all Billy. I just didn’t want to get him in trouble.” Oh, my son the martyr… Too bad he had been caught red-handed…

4. Great!  They are making their own lunches.  Sort of…
This past year I have given over the task of packing the school lunches to the kids. I figure that not only will it save me time as I get ready for work, it will allow them to pack the things that they want to eat so that we are wasting less food. But it’s not foolproof. “I’m concerned about the Taz,” Mr. M told me the other week. “By the end of the day he is too tired to keep his head up off his desk, and he seems to be eating his clothes.” Sure enough, there were bite marks on the stretched out end of his sweatshirt sleeves. “What’s going on?” I asked the Taz. “I’m just hungry,” he said. “Well, what did you pack in your lunch?” I asked him. “A cupcake, some goldfish crackers, and a Capri-sun.” There was no sandwich, no fruit, nothing nutritious at all. And yet, I had been making sure that there was plenty of stuff in the fridge for them to pack something. Now I ask the kids what they have packed before we leave for school, sometimes resorting to making their sandwiches just so that they have something in there that will hold them over. Of course, it’s probably just ending up in the garbage anyway. But at least the lunch meat isn’t being wasted in my fridge.

5. Just because he said he brushed his teeth doesn’t mean that he did.
Once the kids took over the brushing of their teeth, it was easy to assume that they were doing it. It’s a natural routine in our house – teeth are brushed every morning and every night. Once they are 9 and 12, you’d think that you don’t need to give them that twice a day reminder. But when the Taz smiled at me and all I could see was a layer of gunk on his teeth, it was obvious that he had skipped the routine for several days. But it gets worse. I give the reminder, and he swears that he’s done it. And when I ask him to smile at me, the gunk stands out like orange rust. Either his toothbrush is seriously malfunctioning, or the kid is a little liar. So I have him do it again. Another smile and it is obvious that I am going to have to do it myself, or just get out the chisel. So I hold his head in a headlock, pry open his mouth, and brush every one of his teeth till they are gleaming. He, on the other hand, is squirming and twisting and trying to get away. And when we are done I ask him, “Don’t your teeth feel better now?” “No,” he tells me. Job well done.

6. Sometimes we parents are an embarrassment to our kids.
“Goodbye sweetheart!” I said as she left the car. “Give me a kiss goodbye,” I instructed. “Mom, no!” she cried, trying to get away from me. “Come on!” I said, wiggling my toes in my slippers and running a hand through my unbrushed hair. “I love you!” I called out as she shut the car door. She ignored me and walked away as if she didn’t even know me. After school, she waited on the sidewalk talking to her friends. “Sweetie!” I called. “I’m over here!” I waved wildly, hoping to get her attention. “Honey!” I called. I got in the car and pulled up closer, honking the horn. Her attention was caught, and the look on her face told me that she wanted to sink into the ground. “Did you have a good day?” I asked her. “Mmmmph,” she grunted. That night I found a really cute picture of my daughter and her brother when they were little. I posted it on her Facebook so that all her friends would see how cute she was when she was 3. And then I wrote a blog about her when she was little. I included a link to it on her Facebook so that she would be sure to find it and read it.
Am I doing this on purpose? Am I aware that this is mortifying to her, that to her I’m just an ignorant mom who makes her life miserable? Hey, as the mom of an almost teen, I am already the most embarrassing and clueless person on the planet. I might as well have fun with it.

7. As a mom of a boy, sometimes I miss diapers.
Skid marks. Enough said.

8. Your kids think you’re the best cook in the world.
There’s a stipulation, of course. The quality of your cooking is directly proportional to how long you spent on it. If you spent all evening making a meal from scratch that is sure to fill them up and it fills the house with heavenly scents, your kid will hate it. But pop some fish sticks and French fries in the oven and serve it up with some ketchup, and your kid will rave about your cooking and let you know that this is the best meal they ever had.

9. Reading is reading.
Every week my kids are assigned to read a book for 20 minutes a night. My daughter will read fantasticly long novels, getting completely engrossed in them. And she reads a lot longer than the 20 minutes allotted. My son, on the other hand, hates reading. Well, actually, it’s not the reading that he hates. Once engrossed in a book, he thoroughly enjoys it. What he hates is that it is getting in the way of his free time. So reading has to be just as fun as going out. Comic books, silly stories with superheroes in underpants, diaries of wimpy kids, poems that are more funny than literature – they’re all words that have to be read. They may not be Mark Twain or Hemingway, but they are still helping him with his reading. He has to get 20 minutes in, right? If he likes what he’s reading, there’s less of a fight. Problem solved.

10. Even when their belongings are stolen, your child will still leave their items in your front yard.
My parents used to threaten me with this logic. I would leave my bicycle out on the front lawn, and my parents would tell me that if I didn’t put it away, some kid was going to come along and steal it. Being that we lived in a quiet neighborhood with no through traffic, this logic was a little ridiculous. Nobody was going to steal my bike. But just to get my parents off my back, I’d put it away. Now that I have kids, I can hear my parents echoing in my words as I tell my kids the same thing. “Put your bike away,” I tell the Taz. “Somebody’s going to steal it.” Of course, in our neighborhood this is perfectly plausible. We live on a busy street with lots of people passing by our front yard. A bike out front is an invitation for some kid to suddenly have a new green bike, and for my son to suddenly have none. But still, he wouldn’t. A week ago I was getting the mail and our next door neighbor’s kid rode by on a very familiar green bike. “Did the Taz let you ride that?” I asked him. “Uh huh,” he said. “Whenever I want.” I called the Taz over at his dad’s house where I was informed that no, the Taz had NOT given permission. Thing is, this wasn’t the first time the bike had gone missing, or the first item. Skateboards, our newspaper, basketballs, soccer balls – they all had gone missing and were either returned from whoever “borrowed” it, or were never seen again. And still, the Taz refuses to put his things away so that they are safe. As much as I lecture him about it, having his stuff stolen is not teaching him any lessons, and it is only wasting my money. So sometimes it just makes more sense to put it away myself. And the bike? He gave it to a girl only days after telling the neighbor boy he couldn’t ride it. Go figure.

What lessons have your children taught you?

The difference between moms and dads

Growing up, I was fortunate to have both my parents in the home. My dad is a real estate appraiser, and though he worked a lot, we were often able to accompany him on local road trips when he went to look at houses. Sometimes we’d ride along with him, fascinated by the beauty of some areas that we never would have seen otherwise. Other times he would drop my mom and us three girls off at the park so we could have a picnic. He’d join us when his appointment was done.

Dad was the one who had the ideas for fun places to go and things to see. Who knew that sitting in the lobby of a fancy hotel, as if we were guests, enjoying hot chocolate by the fire could be so much fun. But with Dad, it was his way of instilling make-believe in us. It wasn’t because we were poor, mind you. But because my dad was so busy all the time, he was sharing with us his way of coping – a one hour vacation from reality. Our favorite place to go was to the Sonoma Mission Inn (now the Fairmont) in Sonoma. The waitresses knew him by name, he visited so often. “Go wash your hands in the bathroom,” he’d whisper to us. “The soap is amazing!” And we would. (note: he’d offer us vacations in a bottle every year for Christmas by presenting us with our very own Sonoma Mission Inn Soap to use in our bathroom. It was one of our favorite gifts) Without fail, we’d all order hot chocolate and Crème Brule, taking the smallest bites possible after breaking through the caramelized crust of the pudding, mulling it over our tongues as we tried to make it last as long as possible.

In the winter we’d take weekend trips up to the Sierras. The 4 hour drive was broken up in two parts, always a stop in Lodi. We were creatures of habit. We had our favorite Carl’s Jr. that we stopped at in the evening. And whenever we hit the town in the morning, we had our favorite little diner, ordering our breakfasts by the number. And thanks to my dad, I can’t even think of the town of Lodi without humming a few bars from “Stuck in Lodi Again”. The drive was also peppered with us girls taking turns singing our favorite songs in the backseat as if no one were listening, then making each other giggle uncontrollably, and my dad yelling to keep it down – every 5 minutes. We’d argue with him, thinking that he was being ridiculous since we were having a good time and not fighting. Now with my own kids giggling in the backseat of a small vehicle, I think I understand. Once up on the mountain, it was dad who went skiing with us, putting us in a ski class while he ventured out to the more experienced slopes, and then joining us later to take a few easy runs with us. When we graduated to snowboarding, he stayed with his skis. But he took pictures with us and our snowboards just to be a part of the fad.

But there was more to Dad than just offering us a fun time. He was also the heavy hand in the family. If we got in trouble, sooner or later we were going to have to face Dad. And there is nothing worse than being the brunt of Dad’s anger. And let me tell you, as the oldest, I was there quite often. If I stepped out of line, my Dad was right there to pull me back in. “We didn’t raise you this way,” he’d glower, as I suffered the repercussions of sneaking out at night, or being caught with a cigarette, or when I’d “borrow” the car and not return until the wee hours of the morning. Wash my mouth out with soap? Time outs in the corner? Bah! Dad wouldn’t bother with that. In my younger years, every infraction was met with a couple hard swats on the bottom. And it was worse to be spanked by my dad than by my mom because Dad made sure we remembered it. “Wait till your father gets home,” is all my mom would have to say for us girls to stop in our tracks. And even though our infractions were committed hours earlier, Dad would stop by our rooms and let us know that our misbehavior was not going to be ignored. As I got older, there were times when he’d be so angry that he’d offer up the silent treatment. There was nothing worse than knowing I had stepped out of my dad’s graces, that he was so disappointed in me that he couldn’t even speak to me. Every morning we had a ritual of waking up early and reading the paper over coffee while everyone else still slept. During the silent treatment, he’d be in his office, avoiding me at all costs. But inevitably, one morning he’d just be there. We’d sit for an eternity of minutes in silence, both mulling over what we want to say in our minds, but afraid to speak first. At least I was. But the silence would eventually be too much to bear, and I was most likely the one who would offer up my apology first for being such an ass. And he’d accept my apology graciously, and would then talk about why it was so upsetting when I acted a certain way. There would be tears and frustration on my part and a level emotion on his as we worked it out. And then he’d invite me over for a big hug that he knew I needed more than anything. Once again I was Dad’s girl.

I had a different relationship with my mom than I had with my dad. With Dad, I was able to share things at face value – favorite songs on the radio, places I’d like to go one day, how much fun we had doing something or other, how I was doing with my studies, needing $20 for the movies with my friends… With my mom, I was able to confess the contents of my heart. A boy at school likes me, and I’m nervous about going to the school dance with him. A different boy, who I had liked for 3 years, kissed another girl in front of me and I am heartbroken. My friend just had to go through something really traumatic, and I don’t know how to be there for her. All the kids are wearing this certain kind of style, and I don’t think I’ll look good in it. There’s something wrong with my body and I don’t know what’s going on. It was mom who talked to us about the birds and the bees, and who told us that we could come to her if we became sexually active so that she could get us on some birth control. And when we did, she kept our confidences, much to my father’s disappointment in later years, never telling him what was going on. With her, the things that we couldn’t speak out loud to many people could be told to her. And she made it safe to do so, even bringing up certain things that might be too embarrassing for us to talk about first. If we just couldn’t talk about it, Mom always knew the right book we could look through to answer our questions, and maybe spur some dialogue once we became more comfortable. When I experienced the first dealings of mortality after a childhood friend died of brain cancer in 7th grade, it was Mom who held me when I could finally cry three days later. And she was the one who went with me to the wake so I could say my goodbyes. When my own infant son died of a stillbirth, my mom held my other hand as I gave birth, not leaving my side once even as scary as the situation was. And it was my mom who taught me how to attack the ground and make 6 inch holes in rock hard dirt so I could plant a daffodil garden in his honor. She knew I needed to get the aggression out on a life that is so full of things that aren’t fair. She knew I needed to do something for him since to everyone else he never even existed. And she knew that I needed to get some sunshine and fresh air instead of laying on the couch day in and day out, as I would have rather done. She got me to open up to grieving, and to eventually be able to see the day as something new, rather than just life after my baby died.

Growing up, it was a lot easier to get into fights with my mom. My mom was a yeller. That was her main punishment. And we’d yell back. It would be World War 3 in our house as we fought back and forth at the top of our lungs. To this day, I wonder what the neighbors were thinking. Getting our mouth washed out with soap was her favorite way to discipline. And secretly, it was ours too. It tasted awful, but it was over in a moment. And it was nothing that a little toothpaste couldn’t fix. But sometimes she’d get so angry that she’d bring out the wooden spoon and paddle our behinds. We learned not to put our hands in the way to cushion the blow. A wooden spoon coming down hard hurts a lot more on the knuckles than it does on the soft cushion of our derrieres. But the thing with Mom, if she had to resort to a spanking she would feel awful about it later. A screaming and yelling match happened because Mom was so angry she could think of nothing else to do. If she got so angry that she had to take out the wooden spoon, the incident would be followed up an hour later with an apology.

Dads and moms are very different when it comes to raising kids. In general terms, dads are the ones who initiate all the fun things. They are the ones who come down hard, and teach us to mind our steps if we don’t want to suffer the consequences. And they are the ones who will be there if you need help. Moms are the ones who nurture us by making sure we are fed and bathed. They make sure we have the skills to take care of ourselves when we are older – teaching us the right way to wash a dish and load it in the dish rack so it dries, how to create buttermilk using only milk and vinegar, and how to fold the towels correctly so that they all fit in the cabinet. They get to our hearts by talking about the things we hold close to us. They are a lot gentler in their approach, and not as intimidating when they are screaming at us than our dads are when they throw down the gauntlet. Kids growing up in two parent homes get the benefit of both parents’ personalities. And where each parent is lacking, the other is able to pick up and be the strong suit.

So what does that mean for single parents who only have one side or the other?

I got an email today from a man who is in his own single parent household, raising an 11 year old boy. And because I have been having so much focus on my son lately as I deal with his behavioral issues, he offered to supply me with his own wisdom about raising boys from a male perspective. He hasn’t been the first male to offer such wisdom.  And it got me thinking about my role as a mother, and my lacking role as a father.

I have two kids – my almost 12 year old daughter, and my almost 9 year old son. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll notice that not much is written about my daughter. Partly that is due to the fact that as a pre-teen, any mention about her would embarrass the living daylights out of her. But also it’s because I get her. A long time ago (no, not that long…), I WAS her. So when she gets mouth and sullen, or when she had a hard time saying anything without a heavy dose of attitude, I get it. And we give it back and forth to each other until we reach a “White Flag” moment, hug, and move on. But my son? I don’t get him. I am not a boy. I didn’t have brothers. The things and feelings he’s going through, I just don’t understand them. When he looks me in the eye and tells me that I obviously don’t care for him because he isn’t getting his way, and he tells me this after I’ve just spent the whole day working, doing errands on my lunch, grocery shopping, making sure his homework is done, fixing him his favorite food, making sure that his pajamas are clean by throwing in a quick wash, balancing my checkbook to find that I have nothing left after paying all of the bills and signing him up for baseball…. When he claims that I don’t care about him, after everything I do, because I’ve told him that it’s bedtime and he can’t play video games, I see RED. When he tells me that I’ve ruined his day, or that he wishes he had another family, or something else that he knows will go straight to my heart and leave a black hole, I am at a loss. And the way I deal with it when my emotion is on my sleeve does not strike fear in his heart. It only leaves him with more of a reason to insist that I don’t care about him. And being a single mom, it makes me wonder how I can do things differently so that he is raised up to be an extraordinary man – as if he had both parents in the house.

This last week, things came to a head between my son and me. And I want to get to that soon. But for now, I have several questions for you:

Were you raised in a single parent home, or a home with two parents?
What does your own family look like now?
Do you see differences in the way moms and dads raise their kids?
Is it possible for a single parent to be both the mom and the dad?

TV Battles and Video Game Wars

About a week ago I posed a question from a local dad. He was wondering about how to impose limits on his willful kids concerning television at night. “I try to turn off the TV but that is met with heavy resistance. So when I turn off the TV the battle is on. The best solution I’ve come up with is putting it on the weather channel.”

One mom gave an “all or nothing” approach. JMacaroni said, “Give them two choices … 1) turn the TV off when I say it’s time or 2) lose ALL TV privileges for a week. Tell them it’s their choice, but they must choose one or the other.”

I find that the all or nothing approach works wonders. And along with that approach, staying firm is extremely important.

videogamesCase in point…. This summer, the battle that existed in my house was over video games. We have a steady rule that during the school year video games are played only on the weekend. But summertime is kind of like a 3 month long weekend. At the beginning of summer, my son took to playing video games ALL DAY LONG. And I admit it. I let him. It was the perfect chance for me to actually get a break. The house wasn’t getting messy because he wasn’t messing it up. I didn’t need to be on guard if he went outside. I didn’t need to entertain him or feed him constantly or hear him whine. I could even get a nap in if I wanted to. It was great.

Thing is, my son gets so sucked into these video games that he actually forgets how to entertain himself at all without them. He was playing way too much, and would throw fits when it was time to get off them. I knew I needed to set limits and stick with them. But this didn’t go over too easily. If we had to go anywhere, I had to hear constantly how we were cutting into his video game time. He wouldn’t play with friends because of the games. Or if his friends came over, they would sit there while he played, doing nothing. He became obsessed. And when I’d tell him to stop playing, a major fight would take place.

I got to a point where I realized that the video games were causing more harm than good (I know, duh). The very next time my son wouldn’t listen when it was time to turn off the video games, I took the games away for a week. This caused an extreme meltdown. When he continued, it became a month. And still he pushed it. He ended up losing the games for the whole summer. And let me tell you, he pushed my buttons something fierce over it. But when he realized that I wasn’t giving in, that I was keeping to my word over the games, he gave up and decided to start changing his behavior. We ended up having a really nice summer because of it.

My son made friends over the summertime that he didn’t even know lived by us. He learned new skate boarding tricks he didn’t know before. He read lots and lots of books and surpassed the 800 pages required for the summer reading challenge (he read 1,420 pages!). We enjoyed family movie nights, game nights, and times of just hanging out.

But most important, he learned his lesson because I held my ground. More important than that? I learned mine. I survived even without the “video game crutch”. I survived the meltdown in the beginning. I held strong even as he tested the limits, or behaved just long enough to see if he could “earn them back”. I never gave in early. And when I did give them back it was with a reminder that the video games would be the first to go if bad behavior continued.

My advice for the dad of the TV addicted kids is in agreement with jMacaroni. Kids won’t listen? Take the TV away. Let the kids know about your rules beforehand, and if they choose to ignore them then they choose to lose privileges. If you stand firm, then they will soon learn that they need to change some things to get what they want. As the parent, you are the one in charge, so BE the one in charge.

By the way, if you are a parent of a teen, all of these rules don’t apply and the game has changed dramatically. Sorry about your luck.

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Guiding our Children Positively

Call it sassiness, adolescence, or plain old Back to School backtalk, but my 8 year old is suffering from it. And this means that our whole household is suffering from it. Last night was a prime example. We’ve been working on implementing the rules for a successful back to school schedule: packing up the backpack the night before, preparing most of the lunches, and being dressed for bed before bedtime so that a little bit of downtime is allowed. But each direction I gave was met with a complaint, a whine, a cry, or a “You’ve got to be kidding me!” The last straw was when he had to get a lunchbag down to put his lunch in. Upon trying to reach the top shelf and failing, he uttered, “Are you trying to humiliate me?!?”

Kids.

He claimed I didn’t care about him. To that I told him that I felt he didn’t care about me. It all went downhill from there. Argument after argument ensued until finally it was all done. By the time it was finished, it was bedtime. There would be no time for downtime. And he had a fit over it. I was exhausted, he was angry, it was all a bad combination. I put both kids to bed with a hug and kiss, though it wasn’t as endearing as usual. Upon closing the door, he called out, “I love you!” I said it back, and went back downstairs with feelings of guilt over how the night had played out.

The best way to guide a child is with love. Not with yelling, not with frustration, not with anything but love. They respond to it, things go more smoothly, and real lessons are taught that they soak up and remember. A hug telling them that you understand how hard things are with so many new responsibilities. Helping them when they get so overwhelmed they can’t see straight. Encouragement that they can accomplish anything. Telling them how proud you are of them when they succeed.

I got caught up in the moment. I did not do any of that. I was so frustrated I couldn’t get past the stress I was feeling over the frustration of the night. I failed to stop and think about the stress my 8 year old son was feeling, and how he really could have used an encouraging word. As the adult, it was much easier for me to turn the situation around than it was for him.

In times of stress, stop and take a deep breath. Pause before you say anything. Ask yourself, what am I teaching my child with this behavior. And then implement the kind of behavior you want mirrored back to you. Yelling never creates peace. As parents, it is our job to control the environment in our households. It’s not easy, it never is. And as humans, we’ll slip up time and again. But if we work at it, we can create more peaceful households, which can have the potential to create a more peaceful world.