Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category
Finding your own parenting style is not easy. Most of us adopt our parents’ parenting style, without regard really thinking about it. We don’t choose our parenting style, but let the style choose us.
We also like to think that we are better at parenting than our own parents. We often don’t notice how we use the exact same parenting styles we hated in them. To our credit, we sometimes manage to make small changes and this makes us think that we are better than them. We can do something they couldn’t. We think that the harder it was to make the changes, the better we are. This is not always true. In fact, the damage from our choices can be as bad for our own children as it was for us (or even worse).
This is a very hard concept for parents to understand. Kids see things completely differently. If your dad beat you with a belt or hot iron and you only use your hands to beat your own children, it is not very effective to tell your kids that you had it worse and that you are better than your own dad. When you hurt your kids, they can’t really be all “Pollyanna” about it (Pollyanna was a girl who always found the positive side of everything).
From time to time, I hear or read about parents who shame their kids in public as a way to “teach them a lesson”. I think Shaming kids is a very bad idea.
Shame is one of the most debilitating feelings. It can make people, young and old do horrible things. Many grownups I work with are trying to overcome a combination of guilt and shame which is impacting their lives. These feelings are born in childhood, when parents use this combination as an incentive, thinking, “If I shame you enough, you will feel guilty and the guilt and shame will prevent you from doing it next time”.
I grew up in a house that thought where shaming kids and using guilt were major tools in the parenting tool box. If parenting practices are the tools, my parents used a hammer. Yet my parents grew up with parents of their own who used this hammer as an educational tool. They thought that if they just didn’t hit it as hard as their parents did, that makes them better parents. Their attitude was, “I am better than my parents” because of this. As a child, when a hammer hits your head (metaphorically speaking), the thought that your parents had their heads hit harder does not make the pain go away. Funnily enough, telling me how much shame and guilt they felt growing up did nothing to ease the pain either.
As a child, I was ashamed of my grades. My parents thought that shaming me would make me want to do better at school, but rather than working harder, I diverted all my energy away from learning and succeeding and towards hating them for it.
Vegetables are good for our health, but they are not very popular. I think this is because the advertising departments of junk, sugary and chocolaty food companies are much better than the advertising departments of vegetable companies. It is very simple. If we had the same publicity for vegetables that we do for junk food, it would be easy to get kids to eat vegetables and they would do it happily.
Even more than advertising, the best way to get kids to eat vegetables is to love eating vegetables yourself and to buy lots of them for your home. If this is what kids have on hand, this is what they will eat. Obviously, this is not as easy to do as we might think. Otherwise, everyone would do it and every kid in the world would eat vegetables at every meal.
The A-Z Vegetable Challenge
One of the tricks I offer to my clients to get kids to eat vegetables and overcome eating problems is the A-Z Vegetable Challenge. Starting with the letter A, the family chooses a vegetable beginning with that letter to focus on for the week, to learn about, research, cook with and eat.
I have three kids and they all started talking very early. Many new parents ask me if it is better for babies to talk early or not? Is it something they are born with?
Firstly, I personally do not think this is hard-wired. There is no timer in the brain of a baby that says, now you are 1 years old, you should start saying words. It is very much dependent on the stimulation the baby gets from their environment.
Secondly, babies who can communicate early are very easygoing babies.
Because they can express themselves and are not as frustrated as a baby who uses sounds to communicate.
One of the scariest things about having your first child is baby food. What do babies eat? How do you feed them and when? The answers are not always straightforward.
Every two or three years they change the philosophy about feeding babies. I have to say, as a mother of 3 kids, this can get very confusing. When Eden was a baby, the philosophy was breastfeed full time until the baby is 4 months old, introduce fruits slowly for one month and then introduce mashed vegetables with chicken (no dairy, no egg and no nuts until 12 months of age). I did exactly this and it worked fine.
When Tsoof was born, we lived in California and the philosophy was different: breastfeed until 6 months old, substitute with formula if you needed and introduce cereals at 6 months. Fruits, vegetables and chicken were introduced much later. I was totally confused. There was about 7 years gap between Eden and Tsoof. Papers and books kept saying that what we know today is not the same as what we knew a few years ago. I didn’t know what to do. While I was still breastfeeding, I debated whether to stick with what I knew or give the new philosophy a try. I asked around. A much older and more mature mom told me that the philosophy changes every 2-3 years and that she thinks it is better to stick to whatever works for you. I decided to take her advice and stick to what I knew. I did the same with Tsoof as what I did with Eden and it worked perfectly fine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.