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Entries in parenting (16)


Mom to Mom: Words Mean Something, So Please Stop Saying That You Want to Kill Someone

The following guest column by Amy Hatch first appeared on chambanamoms.com, where she is the co-founder. If you have friends or family in the Champaign-Urbana area, please make sure they know about this great resource.

As a writer I should know better and as a parent, it is critical: Words are meaningful and when we use violent language to describe our feelings we are contributing to a culture that is numb to the effects of killing.

Photo by TexasT's on Flickr.Since Dec. 14 when a madman entered an elementary school intent on slaughter, I’ve become hyper-aware of the permeation of violence all around me and my kids. Last week, my 8-year-old daughter was innocently playing an app on her iPod that involves fairies and magic potions while we drove from one place to another, and she asked me if she could “buy a gun to kill some people” in her game.

I replied maybe a little more vehemently than I intended to and opened up a discussion with her about guns and killing and violence that I probably could have handled with more parenting aplomb. I’m here to tell you that talking to your kids about guns and violence is a lot harder than telling them where babies come from.

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Practical Advice on How to Talk With Your Kids About the Newton Massacre

I've wanted to write about the tragedy in Newton, but honestly, my thoughts are such a jumble that I feel like I have nothing useful or original to share. So I want to thank my friend Melanie at She'sWrite for allowing me to re-post her column from yesterday, featuring some valuable advice from a family physician.

Today was the first of the funerals. The beginning of seeing the heartbreakingly small caskets as families start laying to rest 20 innocent young children and six brave adults.

Photo by One-Speed Photography on Flickr.We’re all still shocked that the unfathomable has happened in Newtown, Conn. As parents, many of us have been stumbling through talks with our kids about this massacre. On the afternoon of the shooting, my son’s school sent out a link with advice on how to handle this.

It was generally helpful, but like many of the stories and other links out there, it was largely in broad strokes rooted in the recommendations from the American Psychological Association: Talk with your child, make them feel safe, look out for signs of stress or anxiety, take a break from the news, take care of yourself.

So I wondered what my friend Dr. Deborah Gilboa had to say. She’s an ubermom of four who is a family physician and travels the world giving presentations on parenting. She’s smart, nonjudgmental and is filled with commonsense advice.

Dr. G, as she’s called, says to first start trying to process your feelings as an adult. Work on your own horror and anxiety over this because you don’t want to lay all of those heavy emotions on your children.

She also completely agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids under age 7 don’t need to hear about the tragedy.

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She'sWrite: Preschool Graduation - More than Just Poop & Circumstance?

I have crossed another milestone as a parent. My firstborn has graduated ... From preschool.

I remember before I had kids, I thought, sheesh, what’s up with all of these graduations? Preschool, Kindergarten, sixth grade, eighth grade and finally high school??? I have had two graduations: High school and college.

But then I got the notice that our daycare was having a ceremony for all the kids who were going to start kindergarten in the fall. I stopped rolling my eyes about preschool graduation and now, I found myself getting excited.

Hubby got off work early so we could attend the Friday evening event.  Logan was so excited, he could not stop jumping up and down. The school even gave him a red cap and gown to borrow, which was cute. Silly? Yes, but really very cute.

Then the kids put on a program for the parents. Of course this meant all of us parents had to squat on those impossibly small kiddie chairs. Seriously, why bother offering us a place to sit when only half of my butt fits on the seat?

I digress. Back to the program … All of the songs I’ve been hearing around the house about Johnny working with hammers or apples and bananas or sharks and dinosaurs, now I got to hear them in stereo and with the appropriate hand movements.

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In the Nourish Kitchen: Strawberries and the Gift of Imperfect Perfection

Recently, an intelligent person I have incredible respect for commented on my tendency to be hard on myself.  This comment made me think about this flaw which grabbed me as a child and has held on tightly. Some perfectionist mellow with age and the reins are loosened. In my case, the battle raged on into motherhood.

For Jennifer Downing, the perfect berry might be tiny and smooshed, but it smells like heaven. Photo provided.Many great moms told me to relax, let things go and give myself a break. I didn’t listen. Maybe after a decent night of sleep and formal proclamation I could have grasped the idea and understood such sage advice. “Welcome to motherhood! You won’t need all of that baggage. Nature Valley makes granola just as good, those breakable Pottery Barn-esque accessories are choking hazards, and no one really notices sticky handprints on glass doors.”  Instead, I constantly chased my version of flawless and, no surprise, I’ve never caught it. Taking heed would have made the early years of motherhood so much easier.  No, I continued to make granola, pick up toys every hour, group accessories higher, and then higher still.  I obsessed over the handprints.  As more children arrived in the yellow house, I ironed tiny t-shirts, and planned meticulously-themed birthday parties complete with homemade cupcakes (which went straight into the trash can).  I volunteered … for everything.

As children grew in numbers greater than the sum of their parents I began to let things slip. I recycled more volunteer sheets than I returned. The ironing board was in the closet, and I placed wrinkled but smoothed clothes into drawers. There was dust where energy efficient bulbs allowed it to be missed. Chips on my white trim remained chips on my white trim. I felt guilty. I felt I had failed.

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A Dad Wonders ... What to Do About Santa? 

My wife and I are struggling with what to do about Santa. Our oldest son, Aaron, will be three years old this Christmas, making this the first year he’ll be able to start to understand the holiday.

Photo by premier-photo.com on Flickr.My wife has many fond memories of a variety of family Christmas traditions, including many that involve Santa. She loved the mystery of leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, the footprints coming from the fireplace, and gifts appearing Christmas morning. She also remembers when she started to put things together:  “Why are there presents in the closet with Santa’s special wrapping paper?” “Why does Santa’s writing look so familiar?” Even those are fond memories for her, because she was able to participate in the fun of it.

I don’t have as many memories, though I do remember getting gifts from Santa. I knew from a very early age that “Santa” was really just my parents – his writing did look suspiciously like their handwriting! I also have a vague recollection of my parents telling me that the lights from an airplane overhead on Christmas Eve were really Santa out delivering presents. I’m very logical and literal, so this never made sense to me, and I don’t remember ever enjoying Santa as much as my wife does.

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