Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category
But not for the reasons you suggest. See, some of us have the luxury of staying home with our kids. But we do without a lot of frills. But a lot of us don’t have the option of not working. Because the cost of living in the United States is outrageous. So we need to work for things like food and housing.
When I was working with people who are homeless, we quoted a pretty sad statistic about the amount of time someone working a minimum wage job had to work to afford an apartment. Since the required working hours was so outrageous it usually meant more than one adult working a few jobs to survive. Logically, women need to work in that environment. (The minimum wage has changed, housing prices are higher, so I’m not going to guess what the actual figures are at this point.)
Before that job I worked at a childcare center in a fairly affluent community. The childcare center catered to children in need who would be attending the local elementary school for kindergarten. Imagine my surprise when we visited with the kindergarten teachers about school preparedness and were handed a list of things the parents were expected to teach their children before they entered school: count to 100 and read a few words were the ones I’ve never forgotten.
Seriously? We tried explaining to the teachers that these parents didn’t have the means or the time for these things (many parents didn’t speak English and were working multiple jobs). Instead of being sympathetic, they were disdainful. Which pretty much sums up my opinion of the entire educational system in our country.
At a time when more women are working, schools have decided that parental involvement is mandatory for the teaching portion of education. Gone are the days when kids spend the day memorizing times tables and learning phonics. Instead, they are whipped into algebra and sight words before the basic foundation is laid for learning. Where kindergarten was once a transition for a child from no school to school, it has turned into a full-day frenzy to catch up with the rest of the world.
Instead of doing things like learning and discussing topics, the curriculum at my kids’ elementary school was based on getting good scores on the ISATs. Good God, achievement tests are supposed to be measures of what a child has learned, not be the entire basis of an educational system! But that is what has happened when every school and every teacher is judged on the scores of the children in their midst.
More moms work, so let’s pile on more homework so we can catch up to other nations. Good idea when mom and dad work and come home to cook, clean, parent, and supervise homework. And let’s make most of the homework busy work because there are mandatory homework time requirements for each day. Oh, and let’s not forgot to give first and second graders homework. Nothing builds a love of learning like having over-stressed mom and dad scream at you for not writing your spelling words out five times each fast enough.
Of course, busy work doesn’t mean just silly worksheets night after night. What about the plethora of projects? How many landmarks does a school really need? My personal favorite was the Halloween night homework. Yes, after taking your kids out to trick or treat, you were expected to sit down to help them sort candy and count it. That was always such a fun time with kids strung out on sugar!
Or pasting 100 Cheerios to a piece of paper for the 100 days of school celebrations. Food waste. Paper waste. Waste of time.
So, you see, Governor Bryant, you can blame all the working mothers that you want, but that won’t fix the fundamental problems with an educational system that doesn’t know what it’s doing. I know the politicians want to think that the never-ending rounds of testing will solve the problems; instead they feed them. By taking the fun and adventure out of learning, we are doomed. Instead of working with families to make everyone’s lives easier, teachers are panicking and sending home outrageous amounts of homework. Probably because the time they would like to spend actually teaching kids has been replaced with test prep.
It’s a vicious circle, and won’t be solved by blaming the people who are just doing their best to survive. Moms have enough guilt for working or nor working, thanks for adding a little more to their plates.
In a world where we’re constantly being told we don’t measure up. That we aren’t thin enough or beautiful enough. Where even Disney is getting into the business of body shaming by taking a beloved girl character and turning her into a vamp. It’s nice to come across a woman who has her priorities straight and her dreams for her daugher seem healthy.
When Jaime Moore’s daughter turned five, she wanted a special photography session to mark the momentous occasion. She didn’t dress the young girl in evening wear or dress her like a Julie Roberts character. Instead, she dressed Emma as real-life heroines.
I love this! (Yet another reason to wish for daughters…)
Who are the heroines? Real women who changed the world of women for the better: Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Jane Goodall, and Helen Keller. What a list!
Isn’t it nice in the age of dance moms, real housewives, and faux celebrities to have actual women who have actual accomplishments recognized in such a positive way? What a gift Moore has given her daughter!
Who would you like to dress up as? Are their heroines Moore should add?
Last week the verdict for Jodi Arias came in, and I was waiting on pins and needles. Would she be guilty? Would she be acquitted? If guilty, what charge? I checked my phone. I was glued to the HLN website when I wasn’t at home glued to the HLN channel. At night I watched Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew.
Then I saw the verdict being read. I cried. I grew sad for us as a people.
There was something so primal and disturbing about the chanting outside the Maricopa County courthouse. Americans chanting for death. It was surreal. We see this from foreign countries, from faraway lands. It’s not supposed to happen in the middle of our own country. I grew afraid for the jury if they happened to make the “wrong” decision. Would the crowd outside attack them?
I felt the same way after the Casey Anthony verdict. People were so opinionated and full of vitriol. I knew the jury didn’t take their task lightly. No jury does. Sure you probably have a group of people who would rather be somewhere–anywhere–else. But they are told again and again–even before the trial begins–that they have a responsibility to be partial and fair. Without prejudice.
Something the frothing crowd of chanting Americans was not full of.
When the verdict was read, I felt no glee. I felt nothing but grief and horror for both families. Travis Alexander’s family and friends lost him years ago. Hopefully they have some relief and can start on the road to healing. I hope their positive loving memories eventually eclipse the ones of the Travis that was presented to the nation in a court of law.
It’s Jodi’s family that is left with the debris of this entire mess. Jodi’s personality disorder means she’s self-centered and self-serving. She has no concern for the grief she has rained down upon two families. Jodi’s parents are left with the image of people chanting for their daughter’s death. Inside, they must be blaming themselves. They are wondering what they did wrong. Going through every moment of Jodi’s childhood, they are trying to pinpoint the one mistake they made that can explain all of this.
Did they yell when they should have hugged? Were they fed up with her behavior and offered consequences? It doesn’t matter. Chances are they will suffer the guilt of Travis’ death more than their daughter. It will be a long time until they can walk through their town without feeling self-conscious.
I hope the Arias family finds peace. I hope that Jodi’s parents come to realize that they can’t be responsible for their grown daughter’s actions in this case. Nothing they did when Jodi was eight, 12, 15, or 25 made her commit murder. That responsibility is on her own shoulders. It was her choice. Her actions.
More than anything, I hope I never see Americans chanting for anyone’s death ever again.
Lately, I’ve been caught up believing that everyone but me has The Perfect Family. While my family is inundated with problems and angst, other parents tweet their children’s unending stream of age-advanced adorable chatter. Other parents let us know that each of their children has an iPhone and an iPod…and they’re all under 10. The news features stories about tweens who raise funds for deadly illnesses.
Intellectually, I know there is no perfect family. They don’t exist. Each and every family is plagued with something negative. It’s how life works.
Some parents adore their children and abhor each other. Some parents aren’t really happy being parents. Some couples want children and don’t have any. Some families have great relationships with each other, but are forced to live in a car.
That’s why I think bloggers should have an absolute truth day. Weekly–okay monthly–we should vow to share something negative that happened in our homes and how we handled it. We could even open it up for suggestions how others would have handled it.
But I know that won’t happen. For the same reason I enjoy a movie or a book with a happy ending; because I don’t want to focus on the negative or it’s aftermath.
Maybe this is why comedians are often the unhappiest of people. At least that’s the word on the street. They’ve just learned to hide the bad by covering it up with laughter.
But if anyone thinks an absolute truth day would be helpful, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Maybe sometimes it’s just right to address the bad along with the good. Because that’s how life works.
We all know that grounding your kid as punishment ends up hurting you more. They don’t go anywhere. They are with you constantly. And they are not happy because they are grounded. Which you did. Because they pissed you off.
So grounding isn’t a good thing. Then I get the great idea to ban electronic devices. Another vicious circle is created where the now-deviceless child is constantly at my side bugging me because he has nothing to do. There’s a lot of sleeping, whining, bitching, moaning, groaning. And he’s not happy either.
Which brings me to the latest escapade of motherhoot. Aaron is grounded from the TV. But I come down on a Sunday morning to find him…gasp!…watching TV. He claims he didn’t remember he was grounded from it. Conveniently forgetting the one hundred times Jim and I both told him the day before he was grounded from the TV until Monday.
(My kid can conveniently forget anything I tell him, but he can quote Ipod prices from ten different stores on 5 different generations with 1400 different memory configurations. How about your kid?!)
I tell him to turn off the TV and he won’t. It becomes my mission to get the remote so I can put the parental lock on the TV. That will show him! It becomes his mission to make me chase him through the house to get the remote.
I’m middle-aged and arthritic. I am not chasing my 14 year old son anywhere to get the remote. I give him one more chance, and he refuses.
What do I do? I grab a scissors from my desk, walk over to the TV, and I cut the cord.
Snip! No more television!
(I’m not completely insane. The TV was almost 20 years old and had a permanent green spot in one corner. It was one breath away from being electronic waste. And we have another–nearly identical–TV just waiting to be put into service.)
I go off to lunch with Jim. Absolutely gleeful at my action. But also a little concerned that I might have jumped the mommy shark. Then it hits me that Aaron might be at home trying to fix the cord, and would end up electrocuted because one end of the cord is still plugged in.
So I grounded my kid…and potentially killed him in retaliation for disobedience. There has to be a child abuse charge in there somewhere.
Nope. He survived the day. As far as I know, he has made no attempt to repair the TV. It’s been weeks and weeks and weeks since TVgate occurred.
He blissfully goes off to school (where he gets to terrorize his poor teacher for several hours) while I am stuck home. Without a TV downstairs.
I have a great TV in my room. But when I go up there to watch it, I end up falling asleep. So I am doing a lot more napping than needed. I’m talking to the animals–and myself–a lot more. Once again, I screwed myself up by punishing the kid!
Moral of the story: think through your punishments to ensure you do not end up hurting yourself more than the disobedient child!
Maybe I’ll tell you about the time we went to the mat over butter…
At lunch last week with my dear friend, we discussed our kids’ weight. Not because we are really concerned with it. Because there are other issues at hand.
Mine is that my son is obsessed with his weight. I’m not sure how this happened, but as a new recruit to the Health At Every Size movement, it doesn’t make me happy. When he’s asking me for Sensa and poptarts in the same sentence, it drives me a little crazy. Getting him to eat healthy food is a battle. He would live on spaghetti.
My friend’s son is going through his chubby phase. I know about the chubby phases, as I am parenting my third boy. I’ve also worked with children and have observed children. They gain a little weight, grow a few inches, slim down. Repeat as many times necessary to get through puberty. I believe if you don’t make an issue of it, you will avoid eating disorders and come out the other end with a healthy child.
Someone actually told my friend that she was a bad mother because she had allowed her son to get fat. Nope, she’s not a bad mother. She provides healthy food and snacks. She limits sugary stuff in the house. But he’s a tween in junior high and does have access to food outside of her line of sight. And he’s probably not choosing carrot sticks and celery nuggets while his friends are eating chips and candy. Why should he? He is allowed to enjoy life.
Do you know what makes a bad mother? Someone who criticizes and bullies her child for body size. A bad mother starves her child and punishes with food. A bad mother sends the message that a person is nothing if they are not thin. A bad mother lets her child know that if they aren’t “perfect” they aren’t worthy of her love.
A good mother understands that body size and weight fluctuate during puberty. She realizes that she can only patrol her child’s food intake so much. She sends positive messages about eating healthy, maybe even leading by example. She knows that identifying food as “good” and “bad” sets her child up for a lifetime of disordered eating.
What she doesn’t have to do is listen to half-baked advice from the people around her. Unless someone can telepathically tell that her child is indeed malnourished in some way, they need to keep their mouths shut.
Weight doesn’t equal health. Fat people aren’t instantly unhealthy or sickly or ready to keel over at any second. Thin people aren’t automatically given a clean bill of health.
And having a mouth that works doesn’t make you an expert at parenting. So keep your trap shut.
I wish there was a way for me to find the true, monetary price of bullying. Because the figures have to be out there somewhere, but I’m not in a statistical state of mind.
Unfortunately, bullying seems to be something that sticks with us long after it is over. It seems that no matter the age of a person I discuss this with, incidents of bullying can be relived verbatim in an instant. Whether it was school yard teasing or comments from siblings, these hurtful taunts affect us long after they should.
Last week I had lunch with a dear friend and we discussed our children and the subject of bullying came up. We started with a harsh view of it: “bullying happens, there’s not much we can do about it.” Then we started exchanging horror stories. I have some. She has some.
By the time I got home and re-lived the conversation, I was feeling pessimistic and optimistic. Part of me agrees with our assessment that bullying seems to be a big part of growing up. No one seems to escape the wrath of their peers. And nothing is off limits. Looks. Weight. Intelligence. Grades. Economic status. It’s a never ending barrage of potential bullying subjects.
I am, however, optimistic, that there are some among us who no longer believe bullying should be part of childhood. These are the people who push anti-bullying campaigns and are passionately trying to save the new school children from suffering like the old school children. And isn’t that what we all are–school children at heart.
No, we don’t have to dwell on what happened to us as children. We can’t use that as an excuse for being less than we can be. But by remembering, we might be reminding ourselves of why it is so important to be kind and loving. To everyone, not just the people we like.
If you didn’t see it on Thursday, I hope you’ll give this video a gander. And treat someone just a little kinder today.
We were all saddened and shocked by what happened at the Sandy Hook elementary school late last year. Whenever children die, it hits us deeply because children are our hope and our future. People are driven to do something major. Speeches demanding gun control and gun limits soar. There are heated debates and ideas being tossed around in the media, in the government, and in homes.
But what about the children who aren’t part of a massive gun tragedy, but are being picked off one by one by the same gun violence? For instance, a young girl who performed at the recent inauguration festivities with her school band was recently killed. Fortunately, her death is garnering some attention because of her recent activities.
Another case of gun violence is media attention because it is the fourth sibling from a single family ravaged by gun violence. Ronnie Chambers was an adult when he was killed, yet his mother is burying her fourth child.
Every day I read the headlines for Chicago and see how many children are being killed. Toddlers caught in the crossfire of gang fights. Teenagers shot walking home from high school. Middle school children killed while playing outside.
This is not how we are supposed to live in America. We are supposed to be protecting our children and grooming them for great things. That’s difficult to do when you have to make your kids sleep in the bathtub because of the gun shots raging in your neighborhood throughout the night.
There has to be a reasonable solution. Because our children cannot keep dying. We cannot forget that it’s not just nice suburban children being shot by a crazed gunman. There are inner city children who also need our help. They deserve it just as much–if not more–because gun violence impacts every minute of every day of their lives.
It is time for mothers everywhere to become champions of gun control. We have to stress that weapons are dangerous in the wrong hands and potentially dangerous in any hands. We’ll hear arguments about the second amendment. We’ll hear arguments about citizens’ rights. We’ll hear arguments about government interference.
And we will just have to look them right in the eye and say, “But what about the rights of the children to live? That’s all we want…safe, protected children…”
How the heck did it get to be mid-January already? The year is 1/24 over, people! It’s time for a resolution check-in!
Except I don’t do resolutions. I don’t do goals. But this year I got the idea to have a word of the year. (I can’t remember which writer I got this from, but if you do, let me know!) And my word is love.
I think that if we approach the world in general with an attitude of love, we can make a difference in a lot of lives. This means being cognizant of how we treat the people around us: family, friends, acquaintances, people who serve us, etc. Sometimes we’re good with our treatment of one group of people but not so great with others. I want to treat everyone with love.
Love can be shown through politeness and helpfulness. It can be shown with genuine interest and caring. It can be shown with a smile or a kind thought in passing. Compliments show love when given genuinely. Love can make a chore bearable. I hate dusting. But if I think about how I am taking care of things I love (the furniture and knick knacks I choose to have in my home) and the people I love (by giving them a clean, pleasant living environment) it makes dusting a nice chore to engage in.
When I mentioned my word for the year, someone else told me how they have a word of the month. I think I can add some extra words to my year.
We live in such negative times with such societal, environmental, and economical unrest that we should do what we can to make our little corners of the world nicer places to be in. It’s a word. It’s an attitude. It’s a change.
If you choose a word for the year, what will it be? How will you live your word? What will you do with it?