Out of the Mouth of Babes: Inheriting Opinions from the “Media” of Parenting

I’ve been on a roll regarding the topic of what’s passed down from parent to child, and this post is no different.  I think it’s because I’m fascinated about how children develop and the role we as parents play in that process.

I’ve been a teacher, director and coach for over a decade and a half, so I’ve had  interactions with thousands of kids ranged from 11 to 18.  It’s amazing to me what kids:

  • don’t know (I can teach that.)
  • actually know (I can test that.)
  • think they know (I can challenge that… or can I?)

It’s the third category I’m going to discuss in this post.

Hand, Puppet, Snowman, Political

When kids know or don’t know facts, it’s my job as an educator to document these proficiencies or deficiencies and fill in the gaps with the content of my subject matter.  Schools also are to model good behavior and positive character development: be polite; don’t bully; clean up before you leave…  But it starts to get very dicey when a student professes a certain opinion and they are convinced that it is the “Truth.”  What do I do with that?  What do I do when that opinion may step on the toes of a certain population?  And especially when I suspect they have adopted that opinion from their parents?

The media bombards our senses with a skewed representation of reality masquerading as fact.  I think many adults know by know that Fox News is slanted to the Right, for example.  And we tend to gravitate to the media’s spin that confirms our own pre-existing bias.  But young people are not that savvy.

What we need to understand that WE as parents are “the media” to our children.  They look up to us and respect us (whether or not they eat their vegetables, clean their room, or expect “No” for an answer).  So what spin are we putting onto their young, malleable minds?

It becomes very obvious during election years.  When a 12 year old begins talking about immigration or terrorists and what to do with “those” people, he/she is getting that from somewhere… and unless they have CNN feeds downloaded onto their tablet/ipod/cell phone, chances are, they are picking up on your political views.

I’m not about to step in and micro-manage your dinner table conversation (hopefully you are having them), but I do ask you to make the 153Promise to realize that whatever you say, your children will absorb and repackage in their own way.

Have you discussed Caitlin Jenner?  Donald Trump?  The Pope?  Syria?  Are your children around?  What messages are they internalizing?  Is it age appropriate and fair for them to have those ideas in their head?  How are they fitting your political opinions into their understanding of the world?

Opinions may not be genetic, but they are definitely inherited.  Consider making the 153Promise to give your children a fair and balanced view on topics so they can sort it out on their own.  Or if it’s too much for them to handle, you may want to censor yourself in the future.

Like it or not, your kids will go into school parroting what you say at home.  What do you want coming out of their mouths?  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Do they know the difference between fact verses your opinion?

What “Parenting Media” do you want your children to inherit?

Kisses!  XxXx

The “W” Gene… Examining a Logical Fallacy in Parenting

Here’s an article that’s recently taken parenting sites and Facebook groups by storm.  It’s talking about the hysteria about “W sitting” like the image below:

A Child W-Sitting

Image credit: http://www.lcp-home.com/Programs/Infant/Resources/W-sitting.html

What’s more interesting to me than the article are all the comments regarding the statement that this CAUSES “femoral rotation” and winds up with inward turning feet.  Some experts swear that it’s the worst thing a kid can do; others say it’s nonsense.  Then you have the anecdotal testimonies confirming or dispelling the claim.

I humbly suggest…

Image Credit

I think both camps got it wrong.  I think people are arguing the Chicken vs Egg and are ignoring the real issue… pre-existing hypermobility that CAUSES certain kids to sit like this in the FIRST place!

My opinion is that sitting this way does not necessarily cause any issues, but the kids who instinctively sit like this are also the same children who have possible underlying issues.

So rather than trying to “fix” the kids’ problems by “correcting” them to sit the “right” way, it makes more sense to me to take that child to their pediatrician and say: My kid is W sitting; can you please check him/her for any possible syndromes/issues that would CAUSE him/her to sit this way to BEGIN with?”

It’s a simple logical fallacy known as false cause.  Think of it this way: every time it rains, there are always umbrellas.  Therefore, umbrellas make it rain.

Sounds silly now, right?  That’s why I think it’s FALSE that every time I see a “W sitter,” I think it causes problems.

Yet people get VERY worked up about this issue on Facebook.

Sheep, Agriculture, Animals, CountrysideI urge you to make today’s 153Promise to take everything you read about parenting with a grain of salt.  Evaluate the source.  Is it on a site that’s mainly geared to selling products?  Read the comments.  Do they offer a strong counter argument/perspective?

Make the 153Promise to not only parent with your heart, but your brain as well.  Don’t be swayed by trends; be logical and observe your children and look to see if they have issues.

Don’t let a viral post be your parenting guide.

Kisses! XxXx

 

“A Long Line of… Xs and Ys?” Hereditary Vs Genetic

Poker, Playing, King, Ace, Game, Gambling, Card, HeartsIt takes a lot of introspection and a lot of ego-busting, but take a good, realistic, look at your kids.  What are they like?  Polite?  Kind?  Social?  Withdrawn?  Unruly?  Nasty?  Patient?  Short-tempered?  Flexible?  Anxious?

How did they get that way?  Most likely, it was from you.  Either from Nature (biologically) or Nurture (environmentally).  Sometimes, that line between the genes and the surroundings can get very perforated.

Many behaviors are hereditary… but that doesn’t mean it’s DNA related.  Let me explain…

First off, I must put a disclaimer: I am not a scientist.  But that does not mean what I am about to say is untrue.  In fact, I may be a very good person to be talking about the topic, since I can discuss it in very simple terms and not get too technical.  And if there are any scientists out there reading this post, by all means, back me up!

Some traits people have are genetic- passed down in DNA from the biological parents.  Babies are born that way.  Eye color, general body size, certain diseases or conditions like Downs Syndrome or cystic fibrosis… all these conditions are present at birth and are out of the person’s control.  A child adopted into a different family will not change the fate of these characteristics.

Then, there are certain traits that are fostered into a child: a good work ethic, cleanliness, organization skills… they can be taught.  Any skills that can be learned are usually not present at birth.  Granted, I am oversimplifying here.  But let’s use something like the model for a healthy relationship as an example.

People will tend to pick a potential partner for themselves that is a lot like the dynamics they witnessed growing up because that was the model shown to them.  Even though it may not be a good example, people become attracted to it because it feels like home.  I’ve mentioned before that my parents had a dysfunctional relationship.  As a result, I picked very bad people to get involved with up until I was about 36 (the magical number of years where a child has now spent just as much time away from their familial influence).

So if you identify patterns in your life that are not necessarily medically linked to your parents, look at the patterns in THEIR lives… then your grandparents’ lives…  Chances are, something was passed down from generation to generation that was not genetic, yet you inherited those traits.

College is another good example.  If your parents went to college, chances are, you will too.  And if you came from working class people, you most likely will go into the trade or family business or your parents.

But  there is no gene to my knowledge for picking a career or relationship.

Now that you can recognize that distinction, I think it’s important not to give too much credit to the gene pool.  Yes, you do get what you get by the roll of the Xs and Ys…  However, its crucial to admit that a lot of who we are is due to our environment.

True, science may have found certain genes LINKED to obesity or alcoholism.  However, look at the lifestyles the parents lead.  Parents who buy healthy food and model an active lifestyle usually do not have overweight kids.  I may have a gene linked to alcohol abuse, but if my parents never drank, that switch may never get turned on…  Conversely, I may have the intellectual potential to have a very high IQ, but if my parents never read to me or deprived me of stimulation at an early age, I will never fully reach my potential.

(I probably just stepped in it… right. about. now.)

My point is to be very careful how you view the mentality of “A chip off the old block” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  If it’s out of pride, then by all means, take credit that you’ve got a “Mini Me.”

But if you are under the illusion that your child is destined to suffer the same fate as you, make the 153Promise to challenge that view.  Is your child bad at math because of some genetic aversion to numbers, or did they pick it up because they asked you for help and you said, “I’ve never been good at it, either.”

Is your child fated to be anxious because you were diagnosed with a genetic disorder, or is it that they learned from you that the world is scary because you are anxious… and so was your mother or father…  Or maybe you yell at them a lot, so they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop… Or both.

Make the 153Promise to see what “long line of” whatever your family comes from, and examine WHY you think that is.  If in doubt, ask your family doctor and if they don’t know, ask them for the name of a geneticist to learn whether or not you can change your child’s pattern of behaviors.

Give your children every opportunity to succeed, regardless of their chromosomes.

You may not be able to control the cards they were dealt, but you can help them play their hand to the best of their advantage.  And if you were never taught those skills, seek out someone who knows better than you.  Go or your child’s guidance counselor or pediatrician for support.

What “Long Line” do you want your children to come from???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Kind of Mistakes Are You Willing to Stand By?

Drip, Milk, Pour, Liquid, FoodI’d like to build upon yesterday’s post about parenting styles.

It’s not as easy as checking one box and moving forward.  We are human beings, and we can’t be lumped into all one category- there’s bleed over from one style to another.

Similarly, there’s times in life where a person could actually benefit from an Authoritarian upbringing (military) or Permissive (artist).

And of course, we are all human, so we may try as hard as we can, but we’re bound to make mistakes.  Even the most balanced, kind-yet-firm Authoritative parent may have a short fuse one day, and snap.  They most likely will apologize to the child afterward, but what if that child’s memory bank stores THAT moment as one of the top moments in their recall?

Let’s face it: no matter how hard we try, we have to reconcile that when our kids grow up, they most likely will realize that our parenting played a crucial role in who they are.  And since nobody’s perfect, they also will most likely credit us with their shortcomings.

So the big question is: what mistakes are you willing to make?

We all know the saying, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.”  Yes, it’s true that once a mistake is made, perseverating over the issue will not clean it up.  But first, you must acknowledge that there is a mess to clean up.  Then you grab a sponge and move forward.

Today, make the 153Promise to really take a good, long look at your children and how they are turning out.  Pay attention to how they react to a variety of circumstances and be really honest- do I stand by my kids’ behavior?  Are they are great example of my parenting so far?  Is there any “spilt milk” I need to clean up in my parenting?

Over the weekend, I plan to post about the role we play in our children’s personalities.

Kisses!  XxXx

 

 

Ghosts of Parenting Past and Present

Aygul Barieva, Tatar, Artists, Family, Parents, ChildThere many ways to categorize the different parenting styles.  I remember learning about them back (many!) years ago when I was in college, taking my education and psychology courses.

Then I stumbled upon this article today and was surprised that the theory remains intact.

The four are:

  1. Authoritarian- they are the dictators.  “Because I said so!”  Think That 70’s Show.
  2. Authoritative- they rule with firm but kind hand.  “You broke the rules, so here are the consequences.”  Think Leave It To Beaver.
  3. Permissive- They are the best friend.  “Whatever you want, Honey Bunny.” Think Marge from The Simpsons
  4. Uninvolved- They are detached.  “*crickets chirping*”  Think Married with Children

NOTE: I am going to add a 5th… Overinvolved.  They are the helicopters.  “Because I said so.”  Only this is said to other ADULTS, rather than the child.  I don’t have an example from TV since it seems to be a fairly new phenomenon and I don’t watch television.

Can you guess which style is recommended by professionals?  (Answer at end of this post)

Ghosts, Gespenter, Spooky, Horror, Souls, CreepyMany times, we parent how we were parented.  It’s all we know.  But sometimes, we parent by doing the exact opposite of what we were given because it did not work for us as children, so we are actually reparenting our inner child, along with our current kids.  That’s not a great tactic.  It’s like your Ghost of (Your Nickname as a Kid) Past is hovering around your son or daughter.  Kinda creepy, huh?

Or, you may parent in the exact opposite of your partner.  Think Good Cop; Bad Cop.  Yes… you are actually using a strategy to get criminals to break.  Again, not the best way to roll.

I know I was raised with an Authoritarian father and a Permissive and Uninvolved mother.  It was not fun.  There were strict consequences for minor infractions from my dad with my mother trying to be the soft place to fall one my father was through.  It went into the realm of physical emotional abuse.  I’ve got CPTSD from my childhood.  As a result, I try not to be as “mean” and also try to be my children’s advocate.  But that also does not mean I overindulge or helicopter.  I try to find a balance.

My point to citing the article is to find out which parent you are and why to learn if you are on track for creating a well-adjusted child.  It can be insightful.

Make the 153Promise today by learning about your Ghosts of Parenting Past and Present so you can set up a great future for your children!

Kisses! XxXx

*#2!

The Golden Rule of Parenting… Bring an Umbrella!

I got my first dissenting comment on Saturday!  Someone disagreed with my perspective that the more a kids protests about something, the more we may need to have them do it… specifically with regards to my “Bus Challenge” post.

Umbrella, Rain, Colors, Woman

The opposing viewpoint was that we should parent from the perspective of the child… Would *I* want to stand in the rain and wait for a bus full of screaming kids to come?  Who wouldn’t prefer a cozy, personal ride to school???  I totally understand that perspective.  However, I do not think that empathizing with our children should be the basis for our parenting.

The Golden Rule, Treat others how we would want to be treated may work for equals, but I think it’s a mistake to make our parenting decisions using this mentality.  Yes, we do want to keep in mind our children’s feelings when choosing our words or even some of our actions, but just because a child does or doesn’t want to do something doesn’t mean that we should cater to those wishes.  That, to me, is a recipe for raising an entitled little person… which will then become an entitled big person, aka, Jerk.

I propose that sometimes, your 153Promise can be saying “NO” to your child or pushing him or her to confront difficult situations, knowing you’ll be there to support them… instead of preventing those learning opportunities altogether.

Rather, I think the Golden Rule of Parenting should be, Parent the Child Today for the Generation of Tomorrow.  After all, they will be the ones to run the country when we are in rocking chairs.  Do we want a bunch of coddled, spoiled, unbending adults who never learned how to negotiate tough times, improvise another alternative, or work hard to get something for delayed gratification?

My position is: Sometimes, saying NO for NO’s sake is good.

Check out what pediatrician Dr. Leonard Sax has to say regarding the topic.

I welcome differences of opinion and I thank the writer of the Saturday, January 9th comment.  It challenges and inspires me to continue to refine my 153Promise mission.

Rather than trying to prevent rain from falling, make the 153Promise to either dry them off when they get wet… or teach them to bring an umbrella.

Kisses!  XxXx

 

Hop on the Bus Challenge

Diversity, Happy, People, Young, SmileDo you let your children ride the bus???

I’m going to sound like the ‘uphill both ways’ generation, but when I was my children and students’ ages, I DID take the bus.  Sometimes, I had to lug a giant bass clarinet or bassoon case for a good ten minute walk to the bus stop.  It built character. 

The ONLY time I got a ride to school was for a broken leg in 7th grade because navigating the crutches on those giant steps was just too much for me.

I remember being in junior high and having to take the shuttle bus to the high school in order to get a ride home on the activities bus.  Let me tell you, being a 12 year old riding with a senior football player was scary!  But it built character.

Back then, it was a more hands-off approach to parenting.  You trusted the school to do your job when you gave them your kids.  Part of that meant riding the bus to school.

When did that stop happening?

There are cameras on the bus now.  Kids have cell phones that can record things, if stuff hits the fan… so why is that busses — that are paid with local tax dollars — are half empty, and the drop off line gets longer and longer?

If it’s to protect/shelter your children from certain stuff, I can understand that mentality, but I am going to suggest that it’s slightly misguided.  Things that happen on the bus to NOT magically disappear in the school.  Plus, it’s under surveillance, so it’s actually a pretty safe environment.

And IF something goes down on the bus, it’s an opportunity to talk about it with your child.  Therefore, to NOT let them ride the bus is actually PREVENTING them with real-life learning experiences.

My daughter rides the bus every day she is at our house. (She lives at her dad’s half the time.)  Sometimes we talk about the kids who ride with her and how to deal with it.  If I didn’t allow her that experience, I’d be robbing her of that opportunity to learn those skills.

After all, it’s NOT going to get any easier out in the “Real World;” why not practice now?

Just a few months ago, we were watching a movie together.  It was a more “adult,” though appropriate, film.  A few “ripe” words were tossed into the air.  I looked over at her and apologized and asked her if she’d like to stop the movie.

“It’s nothing I haven’t already heard on the bus,” she said, wiser than her then 9 old self.

So we talked about words and language and how it is a reflection of your character… How the people in the movie were depicted and the associations with those words are also associated with the people using them.  It was a good chat.  That never would have happened if I was a “drop-off parent.”

In conclusion, I am going to throw out a “Bus Challenge” to you: if you do not currently allow your kids to take the bus, give them the heads up TONIGHT that next week, they are going to take the bus!  Make the 153Promise to love your child by giving them the opportunity to face a situation, talk about it with you, learn a lesson, and develop as a person.  Chances are, the more they protest, the more they need to do it…

It builds character.

 

Tasting the Love

Fruit, Plate, Dish, Appetizer, Healthy

The saying goes, You are what you eat.  Good nutrition is no longer a mystery.  We know what’s healthy and not… we just need the discipline to follow the guidelines.

So, it stands to reason that what your kids eat is reflective of you.  Is your love for them healthy?  Is it wholesome?  Think about what you are providing for them in the mornings and throughout the day.  Would you want your love for them to be judged by what they eat?  Are YOU what THEY eat???

Let’s take two different scenarios:

Student A- is seen eating a lunch at the cafeteria that consists of a peanut butter and banana sandwich for carbs, protein and fat, some fresh veggies for crunch and a homemade brownie for some sweetness at the end.  All washed down with a water bottle.  Breakfast was either some oatmeal and fruit, some yogurt and granola, or a bean and cheese tortilla eaten in home room.

Student B- has an energy drink in homeroom and is seen putting a second one in his backpack… for his lunch.

I’ve seen both of these scenarios.  I’ll leave you to make the inferences.

Which parent do you want to be?  Which associations do you want to be held responsible for?

By and large, most students do not do the shopping for the household…

Make the 153Promise next time you are at the grocery store by selecting items that make for healthy lunches and breakfasts.  That way, if you get in a rush and have to rely on a go-to faster, more convenient and less healthy alternative for dinner once and a while (I totally get that!), it’s not such a tragedy.  Two out three sure is better than a goose egg.

Next time you have a free moment with your children, sit them down and ask them what types of food they want for their breakfasts and lunch.  Explain that you are going to do an overhaul with their meal routines and you want them to have a say.  Make a date to go shopping together with that list (to avoid impulse purchases) and stick to it.

Getting a good night’s sleep the night before and putting in healthy fuel all day can be a great way to get their daily 153.  I’m willing to bet that after a few weeks of this adjustment, you’ll also be feeling their love from their better performance and attitudes.

BE what they eat.  Have them taste your love!

Kisses!  XxXx

 

Smooth Operator…

Saxophone, Child, Classical Music, SepiaWhen I think of this song by Sade, I hear her dulcet tones and sultry groove.  But I also think it’s a great backdrop to inspire having a calm start to your children’s day.

Leaving for school can be stressful, and this sets the tone for the rest of the day.  But a few strategies can make the morning more like a mellow jazz pop tune… and less death metal:

  1. Have your child pack his/her school bag the night before and place it in the same spot every evening.  That way, there’s no forgetting any homework for class.
  2. Do the same with sports equipment and all ride arrangements.  That way, there’s no, “Can I text my mom/dad/sibling about…” requests when teaching is supposed to be taking place.
  3. Plan lunches the night before.  It can actually be a nice ritual if there’s a fun bento-style lunch box and ready-made, healthy go-to items like baby carrots and apples; protein spreads like hummus, nut butters; string or cottage cheese; whole wheat pitas or tortillas…  What better way to make sure they’re getting good nutrition than to buy these at the store?
  4. If they get ready and off to school by themselves, have a designated spot for all signed forms, tests, etc…  That way, if your family are more like ships passing in the night, it makes communication easier.
  5. Have them choose their laundry the night before.  Then, if laundry is an issue, they can help you put in a load of wash when they get home and dry it in the evening… never a last-minute scavenger hunt to find something 5 minutes before leaving… or being late.
If your child is from a two household situation, it’s even MORE important to have this system in place, since all variables that can potentially add more stress doubles.
Make the 153Promise to keep your kids stress-free by putting a few of the above strategies into play.
Kisses!  XxXx

Good Night and Good Rest

Bedroom, Bed, Alarm Clock, Night TableOne of the best ways to insure that your children have a good day is to make sure they have a good night… of sleep.

It may sound obvious, and there are tons of sleep studies that link a good night’s rest to improved performance, but do you know how many hours of quality sleep your child is getting?

SleepTimeRecommendations012615[1]-page-001_0

 

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the average teenager get 8-10 hours of sleep a night; younger students 9-11.

That’s a lot more doable for an elementary school student with the later opening.  But if your high schooler’s homeroom is at 7:30 am, presuming they get up at 6, that means that they really ought to be in bed — and asleep — by nine pm… ten at the latest.

With today’s tight schedules, that may sound impossible.  But rather than falling into an “all or nothing” mentality, try for “as much as possible.”

That means if a Sunday through Thursday ten hours a night is not going to happen due to outside activities, your family may need to re-examine priorities so if something has to give, it’s not going to be sleep.

Here are a few suggestions I’ve come up with to give your children the best chance at waking up well-rested and ready to perform at their personal best:

  1. Limit extracurricular activities as much as possible as not to cut into sleep time.
  2. Have a set evening ritual- same time; same “power down” routine.
  3. Tighten up the morning routine so they can sleep in as late as possible.  (This is going to be a future post.)
  4. Support them in time management and study skills so they are not up late at night cramming for that test or slapping together that paper or project at the last minute.
  5. When they go to bed, take their cell phones and laptops… BOTH the devices AND the users need to be fully charged for the next day!
  6. No caffeinated products after three.
  7. No naps.  They only enable staying up later.  If they *must* take a refresher break, they should take a “Power Nap”, then get a glass of water, and do a little light aerobic activity for ten minutes like taking a walk around the block.  It will give them a boost of energy without delaying bedtime.
  8. Power down and reduce screen time an hour before bedtime if possible.  The blue light from screens is known to affect sleep patterns.
  9. If possible, keep the bed room for sleeping and have other conducive areas for work-related activities.  That way, the association of slumber will come with those four walls.
  10. Establish and keep a peaceful atmosphere in the evening.

I realize that all of these suggestions are the ideal in a perfect world, but if you make the 153Promise to aspire to achieve as many as possible, your children will reap the benefits all day from a good night’s sleep the night before.

Kisses! XxXx