Happy parents raise happy kids

Raising Babies: Extended Family can be Bliss

Grandparents with grandchildren

Your extended family can be a great help once a new baby arrives. I didn’t understand just how much until Eden was born. I was in my last year of university and working full time. My parents lived over 3 hours drive from us.

I never had a close bond with my mom. When others talked about having their moms around when you had a baby, I didn’t really know what to think about it. When Eden was born, I was in hospital for 10 days. I got a terrible infection and my mom came to stay with us after we were discharged from hospital because I had to go back every day to change my bandages.

We got home and I didn’t really know what would happen. But my mom incredible. She had already had 5 kids of her own and she knew exactly what to do. She said to me, “You focus on eating, sleeping and breastfeeding” and that is exactly what I did. Meanwhile, she cooked, cleaned and played with Eden, massaged her and sang songs. I never knew my mom could be like that. She was awesome.

This post is part 4 of 4 in the series Raising Babies

Save Your Marriage: On Guard

Fencing foil

In the last chapters of “Save Your Marriage”, I explained how some parenting styles can “breed” kids who clam up and withdraw into their shells. This communication style can be very devastating for them in their future relationships and marriage. In this chapter of the series, I will explain how parents who abuse or bully, like the “king/queen” or the nitpicker, can raise kids who are constantly on guard. These kids try to protect themselves from pain and heartache and by that, they invite bullies and conflicts into their lives.

Growing up in a household where you feel constantly attacked and ridiculed, where one or both of your parents make you feel small and helpless, where you have no support and protection, where one or both of your parents nitpick, criticize, complain, are never satisfied and often angry, can make children alert and hypersensitive to any small signs that someone is going to hurt them.

This is actually a very natural reaction, in an attempt to protect themselves. But when taken into adulthood, into relationships or marriage, it can be very damaging. There is a phrase, the best defense is offense. These kids adopt this philosophy because they were attacked a lot. As a result, they sometimes see an attack when there is none. They are very sensitive to criticism and their emotional state is “I am not OK, You’re not OK” (see series I’m OK, You’re OK Parenting for tips on emotional intelligence).

This post is part 25 of 25 in the series Save Your Marriage

Raising Babies: What about Dads?

Dad with little boy on his lap - dads are critical in parenting

Dads are a very important part of parenting. They are often neglected in discussions on parenting.

When I do parenting workshops, they are often filled with moms who come because dads are pretty much “hands off” when it comes to raising kids, not to mention raising babies.

It is very natural that moms who breastfeed their babies spend most of the time with them. Society is very accommodating towards moms. Sadly, not that much is invested in supporting dads. It is so bad that when Gal and I lost our baby, most people came to me to offer condolences and nothing to Gal. For them, I lost the baby because I carried the baby but Gal didn’t.

A dad’s role in raising a baby is very important and crucial in the success of the parenting experience. There are many things dads can do that do not require having boobs and breastfeeding.

In those first few months, when the baby comes home, the family goes through a time of bonding. This happens mainly through caring. Taking care of a baby is the way to make this bond stronger. The main caregivers become the most important people in the baby’s life.

This post is part 3 of 4 in the series Raising Babies

Raising Babies: Crying

Pouting baby - babies cry for many reasons

When babies cry, it is not always a sign that they are hurt or in pain. Think about it. Babies cry as a way to communicate. They can be telling you about an itch, hunger, thirst, or they are cold, hot, tight. They might be calling out, “Mommy! Daddy! I need a cuddle!”

The great thing about babies is that their cry is very gentle. It is an instinctive action and a very healthy one. As parents, we need to teach our babies to develop and prefect this instinct. It is best to respond to it as a form of communication rather than reacting to it as if it is bad (even a type of bullying, perhaps).

Try reacting to your baby’s cry as if they are calling out to you. Always answer it with words. “I’m coming” is a good way to teach babies that you have heard them and that you welcome this communication.

There are many ways to respond to a baby’s cry. Remember, our goal is to teach our babies that they are saying something. Research shows that over time, mothers can tell the difference between a hungry cry, a wet cry and a scared cry. Think of it as something you both learn. Your baby learns to cry differently with different needs and you learn to distinguish between them. It is an adventure that you both share. With the feedback you give each other, you can refine both the cry and the response.

This post is part 2 of 4 in the series Raising Babies

Kindness Matters

Be kind, for everyone is fighting their battle too

Kindness matters. If you look around, it is easy to see that everyone struggles. The world is a battle field and we are in a constant state of war.

If you watch the news for five minutes, you risk believing that the world is a dangerous place. Countries fight other countries, cultures fight other cultures, people fight in the name of God and in the name of their religion, people fight their neighbors, and their spouses. They fight their friends and their children. At work, they fight the boss or their colleagues. Even if they don’t fight for survival, they fight for justice or for love. If the fight is not with others, they fight time, weight, aging.

There is no end to the struggles. No wonder life seems so exhausting. I believe the source of all the struggles is the fight with our fears.

A fight, no matter what the cause is, is still a fight. It is like a war between two, even if the two are inside of us. I have learned a very good rule in life: In war, there are no winners. Some lose more while others lose less. In any case, there are only losers. So, if we fight, no matter who and what, we always lose.

Raising Babies: Breastfeeding

Baby in swimming pool

Breastfeeding is one of the greatest tools when raising babies. It is the easiest way to “take your kitchen with you” and feed your baby wherever you go. You don’t need to measure quantities or temperature, no containers, no washing afterwards and you don’t need a pharmacy to help your baby with its immune system.

When Eden was born, I had a huge infection and a very high fever. For a week or so, I was not allowed to breastfeed her. In the nursery, they gave her a bottle every 4 hours, like clockwork. We stayed in the hospital like this for 10 days. Once I was released home, everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I was so disappointed.

I quickly decided, “No way! I will breastfeed!”. Eden was so used to the bottle, I had to use a plastic nipple but I persisted and she breastfed beautifully. No problems at all. I was even extra lucky. She was used to the 4 hours cycle, so breastfeeding was easy and on a schedule. Let me tell you, having 3.5 hours of sleep in between feeds for a new mom was a luxury.

This post is part 1 of 4 in the series Raising Babies

Self Love Affirmations

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure

Love is important and it takes up lot of our energy. We want to love and be loved in return. I think of love as a battery. When we have love, we feel powerful, energetic, optimistic, creative and motivated. It drives us forward and it is addictive. Yes, addictive. Once you feel love, you are not the same person anymore.

I realized all this about love when Eden, my eldest, was born over 25 years ago. With her, new feelings were born inside of me and there was nothing that could take those feelings away.

Before Eden was born, my first nephew, Adam was the first kid I ever loved. And I loved him so much (and still do) that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to love my own child as much as I loved him.

When Eden was born, I was glad to discover that there is no limit to love. I loved Eden so much and my love for Adam did not change one single bit. But at that point, I realized that we bring kids into the world to learn to love ourselves. Our own kids teach us so much about ourselves and we should appreciate that.

This post is part 6 of 6 in the series Affirmations

Strong Affirmations: High Self-Esteem

High self-esteem affirmations

Self-esteem is something that functions like fuel to the body. If we have high self-esteem, the ride is better in many ways. We move forward more smoothly, we have fewer problems and we get to our destination faster.

Everyone has some level of confidence in life. It is just that some people have more than others and they seem to go through life with much more success and happiness. People with high self-esteem have fewer doubts and they don’t blame their “ride” every time things don’t happen the way they want them to be.

Let’s face it, we can’t always get what we expect 100% of the time. If we could, we would be able to predict what will happen in the future (I don’t know if this is a better way to experience life but let’s leave this dilemma for another post). What we can do is make sure our beliefs set us on a very easy, smooth (as much as possible), happy and successful ride. If it can get us forward faster, all the better.

This blog is full of many beliefs about living life with confidence. I have written about ways to instill confidence in our children as parents or teachers. The list of affirmations that promote high self-esteem is endless. If I tried to write a list of them all, I would find myself spending years and never reaching the end of the list. There are millions of thoughts or combinations of thoughts that support high self-esteem and boost confidence. Notice these in yourself and in the world around you. Start collecting them and learning how to adopt them.

This post is part 1 of 6 in the series Affirmations

Good Relationship with Loving Affirmations

Holding hand - the sign of a good relationship

Relationships and the way we connect with others are very important and essential to our happiness and success in life. Research shows that people who are in good relationships are healthier, happier and they live longer. So, good relationships are the best prescription for a long life. I would take two prescriptions of that kind of medication.

We learn about relationships from the people closest to us – usually, our parents, later on our siblings and much later, from friends. If they model good relationships, we copy them. If the model bad relationships, we model that as well. Why? Because as kids we don’t have any way of filtering bad examples. It is only as we grow that we start developing critical thinking, and we start noticing that relationships at our house are different to other houses. Often times, that can make us frustrated because we don’t have the skills to make things change.

I once worked with a woman who was 37 years old. She had so many partners and no stable relationships. We checked her beliefs and found the source of the problem. We discovered that the origin of it was from her dad leaving her mom and her siblings when she was about 10 years old. He left to be with another women and she adopted a belief that “all man are assholes” (I am quoting). As a result, she did not trust men. With a belief like that, it is hard and even impossible to find a relationship, not to mention keep it.

This post is part 5 of 6 in the series Affirmations

You Kick Like a Girl

Elephant dancing ballet (like a girl)

As a young girl, I grew up in a small town where kids played in the street until their parents called them home for dinner. It was a small street and playing there was much like playing in your front yard. You could count about 10 steps from your front door to the street. It was a generation when most people had many kids. My family was one of the smallest – only 5 kids. Most of my friends had 6 or 7 siblings.

I was very much a tomboy and never did things “like a girl”. I played with the boys, mainly because there were more of them than girls. It seemed very natural for me to hang around them, even at night, when we went to the orchards to make bonfires. I think they did not notice I was a girl until I started wearing a bra. Until then, I was their equal – chasing one another on the street, riding bikes, fighting or playing soccer, there was no difference between us.

At home was another matter.

In my family, the roles of boys and girls were very clear – boys played rough while girls cleaned and cared for the family. My mom could not bear the thought of me hanging around the boys so much. So she told me I should act “like a girl”, because with so many bruises and cuts I would never be allowed to learn ballet.

Ronit Baras

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