Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Competition vs. Creativity

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We civilized folk seem to be addicted to competition — obsessed with who is the best and the worst, who has the most and the least, who are the winners and the losers. In our culture we habitually frame most everything in terms of conflict and competition. “Do you love dancing? … You should enter […]

Breast Pump Buying Guide

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If you’re expecting a baby, or about to return to work after maternity leave, you probably have breast pumps on the brain. The type of pump you rent or buy will depend on your personal needs, such as how often you’ll be pumping and whether you’ll need to carry your pump to and from work […]

Member Musings: Let’s All Put Our Heads Down. Please.

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So today at work, I was sitting at my desk, just sort of staring and not doing anything productive. You know, because I am dragging-tired. Like you are, most days, when you’re parenting a toddler who is going through yet another phase of waking up. Every. Damn. Night.

And as I was idly trying to decide between paying for an over-priced, carb-laden snack from our corporate auto-snack kiosk thingy or perusing the goings-on of family, friends, and random people on Facebook,  a faint recollection burbled to the top of my mind.

Remember those days in elementary school when your teacher had had it with the class and made everyone put their heads down on their desks? Well, 1) it occurs to me that s/he did this because s/he was dog-tired and had been dealing with a whole CLASSROOM of unruly children and 2) I almost wept at the joyous prospect that someone might not just ask but MAKE me put my head down on my desk.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone turned off the glaring fluorescent lights and said “OK, everyone. Heads down for ten minutes.” I would totally do it. I might anyway.

Member Musings: Three Things I Know

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When I became a new parent I received a lot of advice. This was, of course, my own fault. I sought out every blog post, book, parent-friend that I could in search of answers to all my parenting questions. I suspect many of the moms in PAMP are quite like me in that respect. I also suspect that, like me, they realize that there is a LOT of conflicting advice out there: You should let your baby cry it out. No, you should never let your baby cry it out if you want a securely attached infant! You should start solids at six months. No, you should not! So what are we to do? Most diplomatic websites and books come to some nice conclusion around the lines of: “You should do whatever you think is right for you & your baby. Everybody is different, every baby is different and there’s no one right way to be a parent.” This is a nice sentiment that I largely agree with, but really, some things must matter. Some ways of parenting must be better than others, right?

I’d like to point out three things that, as far as I can see from the literature, seem to be best practices for parenting (a baby). Since I’m not writing a research paper (what I did in a previous life) I’m not going to site references. Not only does the research seem to support these three practices, but these also ring true to me. Of course, whenever you come down so firmly on an issue there will always be people who disagree. And surely, there are good parents and good children who do not follow this advice but here are the three things that I think are true for any family or infant.

One: No TV or screens of any kind before age 2
This includes educational programming. After age two the jury is out though I suspect even then minimal screen time is best. But there is ample evidence that children under the age of two do worse when exposed to TV (or computers, iPads, iPhones, etc.). In Silicon Valley this is a big deal. I know that we have tons of screens all around our house, but I make sure that they are off when our daughter is around them. I also try to turn off the screens so that *I* am not distracted from engaging fully with her.

Two: Do not use corporal punishment. EVER.
Spanking is lazy parenting and aggression begets agression. Don’t hit your kids and particularly don’t hit your babies. They don’t understand. I recently read an article that 1/3 of children under the age of 1 are spanked regularly. That makes me pretty sad. There are better, more effective ways to discipline, and one of these is positive reinforcement. I’m sure this particular item is controversial, but I am actually shocked that as a society we condone corporal punishment. We would never sit by idly while a husband hit his wife. Why do we accept that parents can hit their children?

Three: Talk to your baby a lot.
Children exposed to more language at a young age perform better on many outcome variables. The more language that our babies hear, the better they will do at school and with friends. Talk and read to your kid to expand their world.

So there you have it: Two things not to do and one thing you should do. That’s all I can see for sure, but of course, there are a lot of other things I’m trying to do as a parent. Overall I want my daughter to know that her father and I love her very much. I also want her to sleep. I haven’t found a surefire way to let her know that she’s loved or to get her to sleep in all my resources, but I’ll let you know if I find one!

Paternity Leave: Play Ball

Photo by Rebecca Alison

Dear Mike Francesca, Boomer Esiason, and Craig Carton, I have no idea who you are. Really, I don’t. Sorry. I had to look up how to spell your names for this article. But I heard what you said about New York Mets player Daniel Murphy [missing two games for paternity leave]

Member Musings: Quality Time

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For months my husband and I have been trying to figure out the best way to make the most of the 1.5 hours we have with our two boys during the work week before bed time. Although we both would struggle with not showing our exhaustion and stress from being at the office earlier that day and instead show our kids “I’m excited to see you and spend time with you as much as you are!”, we couldn’t find the right balance.

We attempted to do everything together with our two young boys (now 2 and 4 years old), but realized that the needs of each was difficult to tackle at the same time in such a short period. From having them alternate what they wanted to do each night or us picking an easy win of watching a Leap Frog video for 20 minutes before reading books, we were about to give up.

I know that I was very lucky that both my husband and I could be home with the kids for dinner and bedtime most of the time, but it pained me that the small window of time was not ideal or best used. After months and months of unsuccessful attempts, I finally came up with an option that made us all happy.

Every night we would split – then switch. For example:

Monday: Mama and 4 year old would do an activity that 4yo would pick while Papa and 2 year old would do an age appropriate activity for the 2yo. Then after bath, Mama would read books to the 2yo and put him to bed and Papa would do the same for the 4yo.

Tuesday: Mama was with 2 yo and Papa with 4 yo, then after bath time they would switch…

and so on…

It’s been about a week of this and I have to say not only do we feel we get to have some one on one time with our kids and build a bond, but at the same time the kids get to enjoy an activity that they love.

Sounds simple right?! Just wish my brain would have as much energy as my heart when it would come to these types of things sometimes.

Member Musings: Glad To Be Part of a Village

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After reading stories in the media about the “mommy wars,” I assumed that other moms would be judgmental and closed off.  Thankfully, this has not been the case.  I was reminded of graciousness of other parents on a recent plane trip.  My son missed his nap and was having a total meltdown – nothing made him happy.  Out of the blue, the dad of two boys sitting nearby came over with a lollipop and a smile.  While the lollipop didn’t help, I appreciated the gesture.  It wasn’t condescending, it was helpful and given with a spirit of having been there before.  I hope I can do the same for someone else.

Member Musings: Code BLUE!

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Before my son Alex was born, one of the gifts I received at my shower was a little security blanket/lovey that had the head and upper paws of a bear and the body of a tony blanket. Just one. (The photo shows them back in the honeymoon phase, when Alex was about six months old.)

Fast-forward a few months, and as soon as my very young son started showing signs of attachment to said bear, my good friend Kelly told, “Get more. Immediately. As many as you can find.” See, her daughter Sophia had a lovely that she eventually called her “Tickle Bunny.” Well, Sophia only had one Tickle Bunny and as he aged, and began to show unpleasant signs of just how much he was loved (rather battered, stained and otherwise besmirched), my friend faced a challenge. Her daughter didn’t want to give Tickle Bunny up to let it go through the wash. Ever. So Kelly’s mom went on a veritable quest to find more of the lovey Bunny. Which, after going to extraordinary lengths that only a grandmother would endure, she did. But did Sophia receive the new bunnies with joyful appreciation? Heck no. She called them “Imposter Bunnies” and completely shunned them. Thus Kelly’s advice to immediately procure more cuddle bears. Which I did.

We have, to date, six Booboos (my son calls him “Booboo”),  so I have extra for when I needed to throw them in the wash or in case I can’t find one or—as happens all too frequently now— for when Alex throws or drops Booboo— typically somewhere I can’t reach while driving. After several cataclysmic meltdowns over not being able to reach Booboo while I am maneuvering down the bloody highway in horrible commute traffic, rain and other chaos, I started keeping “an extra” in the car.

So the other day, our morning was going well. We had made it through the morning gauntlet and were in the car on the way to daycare and work. Then he asked, quite matter-of-factly, for Booboo. And it occurred to me. Out of six Booboos, guess how many I had in the car? Zero. Nil. None.

Not. A. Single. Blue. Bear.

Of course Alex started to melt down, big fat tears of dejected disbelief. Because hell hath no fury like a toddler who is not immediately presented with his lovey when he calls for it.

Miracle of miracles, I managed to cajole him out of it by putting on his Music Together CD , breaking my own rule of avoiding all kid music until I have had time to consume the requisite amounts of coffee because I JUST CANNOT TAKE IT first thing in the morning … but it was either that or watch as he morphed into the hysterically screaming tantrum child. So I faced the music.

Book Review: All Joy and No Fun

Photo by rifqidahlgren (Peter Dahlgren)

In All Joy and No Fun, The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, author Jennifer Senior takes readers through a history and analysis of how modern parenting has become the paradox that it is today. Rather than asking, as most parenting books do, about what effect parents have on their children,

Member Musings: Thoughts on the Family Bed

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I may not get the best night’s sleep, yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Around the world, the “family bed”, or cosleeping, is more common than it is here in the states. My child is getting older, and so the bed is getting more cramped. Sometimes he is snuggled up on my chest, bringing […]

Best of the Forum: Stay-at-Home Moms — What Do You Do All Day?

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Hi there. I have a 13-month-old son. He is super busy. If we aren’t out and about by 9am, he is literally screaming the house down. I would like to do some new things with him because I am getting quite bored of the same stuff every day. This is what we do (if you […]

17 Things Girls Need from their Mothers

Photo by Rebecca Alison

I write this from the aspect of a woman who is a daughter. I write this from the point of view of a woman who has a stepdaughter that came into my life when she was 7 years old. I write this from the stance of a woman who wants to have a daughter some […]

Member Musings: Late Night Entertainment

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What are the odds that the baby could top last night’s performance? Because last night she pooped in the tub. And it was entertaining and indirectly helpful. Entertaining because I thought about that dookie scene in Caddyshack, that and my wife’s reactions to the baby’s excremental behavior are always worth a chuckle. Then the baby […]

Member Musings: Time to Learn

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So, last week out of nowhere (7-year-old) William tells me he wants to learn how to ride his bike. From 0-60 it became urgent — he needed to learn right now! We didn’t have a bike that was his size, so there was some delay getting organized.  

Member Musings: The Whole Story

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I was having lunch with some friends the other day, and one of my friend’s two sons was having a really tough day. They were both sick, and we were all hungry as we waited longer for a lunch table than anyone with children under the age of four should EVER have to wait. And, as her boys continued to melt down, and her patience also waned, it reminded me of something my dad and stepmom told me not long ago.

We were in a restaurant and there was a young child loudly crying somewhere in the place. My dad, who hasn’t always been known for his patience, sat there stoically showing zero irritation. It was almost as if he barely noticed. But later, my parents explained their attitude about children acting up in public. Basically, it came down to this: you don’t know whole the story.

I have a nephew who is on the autism spectrum. His mom, my stepsister, is one of the best moms you’d ever meet: patient, loving, kind, smart and of course, fiercely committed to meeting her kids’ needs. In spite of her superior parenting skills, my nephew, when he was younger, regularly melted down in public. Certain things just didn’t sit well with him. He was terrified of balloons. Of open ceilings with vents and pipes exposed. Of loud noises, like a blender. Consequently, it was quite possible that if he encountered a strange environment, or even a familiar environment that suddenly included something that he wasn’t okay with, he voiced his fear. Loudly. Repeatedly. For the most part, my stepsister learned to recognize things that he’d have trouble with, and she was usually able to manipulate the situation (or avoid it) if it was going to be overly challenging. (His therapist also worked with him on these things, of course.)

The lesson my parents learned from their grandson was this: you don’t know the whole story.

You don’t know what sorts of challenges the child and the family are facing, be those issues chronic (like a medical condition, hardship) or acute (a bad cold, a poor night’s sleep). The parents of the child screaming in the restaurant, throwing a gigantic tantrum in the grocery store or acting out at the neighborhood park are not necessarily bad parents who “let” their child misbehave. They’re just parents who have a child who, for one reason or another, is having a hard time.