There are only three things my mom and I share in common: our thick brown hair, our stubbornness and our uncontrollable need to shop. Everything else, my good (and bad) personality traits and the majority of my looks, comes from my dad. I am 100% a daddy’s girl, and I am not afraid to admit it. As for my mom, let’s just put it this way…if we aren’t shopping or getting manicures together, then we’re most likely fighting.
I think there is a fine line between your mom being a mom and being a best friend. On one side, you have the moms who look and act so much like their daughters that they are often confused as their twin sister. Then you have the traditional mother who tells you to pull up your pants, makes sure you finish your meal and fixes your hair if it is out of place. I had neither of these kinds of moms.
My mom didn’t want kids. After years of begging and convincing on my dad’s part, however, she finally agreed. What she ended up with were two daughters, and two very different relationships with each one.
I am not close with my mom. By that, I mean I don’t call her twice a day. I don’t tell her every little thing that goes on in my life, unless it involves an academic achievement or career choice. I tell her the important things, but everything else is saved for my own head or my friends. It used to bother me a lot that I didn’t have such a close relationship with her, and sometimes it still does, but I’m used to it now.
My mom has simply just never been someone I felt I could confide in. Instead, we fight over my boyfriends, my bad attitude and my unwillingness to clean up after myself. At first, I thought it was a rough patch that every mother and teenage daughter go through. Then I grew out of my teens, started becoming an adult and things stayed the same. It’s not that my mom is a bad mom or incapable of expressing herself. Her and my sister have an excellent relationship. For example, my sister and my mom will text and call each other daily. I’m lucky if I hear from my mom once a week.
I don’t envy the fact that my mom is such a big part of my sister’s life and not mine. I am actually someone who enjoys my independence and personal space. When it comes down to it, though, it’s a matter of do we get along or do we not get along. My mom and I just don’t get along. We disagree on the way to handle problems or big decisions, and therefore I go to my dad whenever I need advice on something.
What I envy is not having a mother who sees past the “I’m just tired” excuse and will ask me what is really going on. I don’t need a mom who is constantly meddling with my decisions and relationships. I respect that we give each other space, but it would be nice to be able to tell her about my first love, my first heartbreak and everything in between. I think we all can agree there are those times when you just need your mom.
According to research, over the last few hundred years fathers have been less involved in passing on important information and wisdom to their sons. Each generation of fathers has shown that they have less authority over the last generation. Due to the fact that society has believed that raising children was women’s work and making money was a man’s job, to be a provider, fathers became too involved with their work and too busy to help raise healthy, well-adjusted sons
Our society has become confused with how to connect the old myth of the “too powerful father” with the longing for a father to be loving, nurturing and a teacher to his son. During the 1970s and 1980s, men experienced a shift in redefining fatherhood. They wanted to bond with their sons and spend quality time with their sons, rather than always emphasizing the importance of being successful in their careers. Parenting took on a new role and fathers participated in childbirth and parenting.
The term “Role-modeling” refers to the importance of how a father relates to his wife in terms of treating her with love and respect. If a young boy observes this behavior, then he will treat his mother with love and respect as well as other women in his life. If a boy observes his father objectifying women, showing lack of respect, and encounters domestic violence, then the son may role model the same behaviors during his childhood.
The way a father plays with his son is very different than the way a mother interacts with her son, developmentally. The research shows that fathers will play in a “rough-tumble” manner, where mothers will provide more of the nurturing, feeding, holding, and basic skills. If a father is involved in the birthing and caring of his newborn throughout his son’s development than a healthy bond will occur in the formative years. The way a father speaks to his son is also a key ingredient in how his son will feel about himself and his self esteem. Fathers who provide guidance, role modeling, fun activities, and spend nurturing and quality time with their sons will have a healthy relationship.
Some key parenting ingredients in raising your son may include:
- Learn to be an active listener with your son
- Try not to judge your son by using positive statements and affirmations, such as, “That’s a great idea,” or “I never thought about it from that perspective.”
- Celebrate and focus in on their day-to-day accomplishments. Example, putting a puzzle together, and making a positive statement like, “Wow, you figured that out quick!” to playing a fun sport with them, regardless of how well they are able to play.
- Keep your communication topics open. Allow your child to talk to you about many different subjects without being lectured or put down.
- Set up special father-son bonding times together. Allow the child to pick his interest, instead of it always be the father’s.
- Start a project with your child. Something that is of interest to both of you.
- Attend your son’s extra-curricular activities as often as possible so he sees you and knows you care and support him. Attend parent-teacher meetings and conferences.
- Take a father-son trip together
- Text your son during middle school or adolescence with kind remarks and comments and let him know that you love him and you care.
- Don’t forget to hug your son, regardless of age.
- Tell your son how proud you are of him, for whatever small accomplishment it may be. It is critical that your son knows that you are proud of him throughout his development. Don’t just assume he knows.
Think back about your own relationship with your father, whether it was positive or negative. If you have not worked through your own issues, you may want to seek family counseling to guide you so that you break a pattern instead of repeating the same pattern with your own son. This can make a huge difference in your life and your personal relationship with your son throughout your lifetime together.
We have flipped over the calendar page for the month of March, but is the Madness gone? For many, the madness shadows us into yet another month.
Do you feel like a circus performer, the woman balancing six twirling plates on sticks in the air? Do you feel like one more “plate”, and they’ll all come tumbling down? Do you ever feel like you’ve lost control of your life? If you’ve answered, “yes” to these questions it’s time to take stock of ways to protect your sanity and happiness.
First of all, the concept of “balancing” all aspects of your life: responsibilities for family, job, kids, parents, social pressures, health concerns, etc. is misleading, throwing a ton of guilt your way. “I should have volunteered for that job at work.” “I should be at my daughter’s play at school.” All the “shoulds” add to the heavy burdens of expectations to be met throwing more layers of guilt acting as one more plate to balance.
There is no way that you can equally “balance” all of these plates of duty. You will hurt yourself trying to be part-time mother, part-time employee, part-time, daughter, wife, neighbor, friend, etc. You will lose yourself in your attempts.
Trying to distribute your limited amount of time and energy to fulfill all of the obligations that present themselves will take you on many “guilt trips” to unwanted destinations. As the pressures mount, the plates come tumbling down taking its toll on you emotionally, physically, and psychologically.
When we talk about balancing your life you need to remember that it starts on the inside. It’s an “inside” job. It’s not a matter of balancing your life but of integrating it. It’s not allowing yourself to be pulled in the many directions responding to the outside forces, but it’s integrating who you are. Only then you will find your peace of mind and spirit.
Starting on the inside, knowing who you are, your purpose in this life, and what best serves you best provides supports in your integration process. When confronted with choices, you will opt for the one that meets your needs at the time allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities with a certain freedom of choice, ditching the guilt.
With this sense of inside purpose, you have the reassuring awareness that you are fulfilling your mission, not merely meeting your obligations. You may have to say “no” to something, or “disappoint” someone but that’s OK when you knowing that you are protecting your happiness.
The outside demands of family life, work responsibilities, and social pressures also need to be integrated. Thinking outside the box gives you new ways to integrate your children with your work life. Include your kids and family in your business dealings and social obligations when possible. Extend a business trip with them exploring a new city if you can. Volunteer to share your career with their school at career day. Include them in charity fundraisers such as “Walk for the Cure”. There are many ways to keep children in the loop, integrating the ones you love and sharing with your daily responsibilities.
Living from an “integrated” approach rather than seeking to balance incoming demands, you will be living your life as one grand, purpose driven life. You will find your fulfillment in seeing your life as one glorious totality.
Remember that if you don’t control you own life, someone else will. Here’s to your happiness.
For expert advice on protecting your happiness click on my daily “Cure Your Anxiety Tips of the Day: http://pattykogutek.com/cure-your-anxiety-with-guilt-free-tips/
Dating is one of the touchiest subjects for a single mom to talk about. It’s hard to go through the dating phase as it is, let alone share that information with your peers. Well I am here to tell you that there is nothing you should be scared of. Let go of the fear of rejection and criticism, and step out of your comfort zone.
One of the hardest reasons why it is hard to start dating as a single mom is that you have to set new standards for what you want. There are a lot of single moms that think that they need to lower their standards because they have a child, but I couldn’t disagree more.
A child is a beautiful blessing, and that blessing should only make you higher your standards. Realize that your date could potentially be in your life for a long time. Would you approve of that person being a parent to your child? That should be one question every woman should ask herself when she starts dating.
It took me months to start dating after I had my daughter. I couldn’t think of anyone who would be a good candidate to be the man not only in my life, but in my daughter’s as well.
I met Marco in my second year of college. By no means did I feel ready to date. I was concentrated on my education and most of all, my daughter. I guess it’s true when they say that when you stop looking for something you find it, because love definitely found me when I was least expecting it.
Marco and I had been dating for a couple of month before he met my daughter. I had to learn to build trust with him; I am very protective of my child, as a lot of women are. Don’t feel obligated to bring your date around your child if you’re not ready. Take your time. Your instinct will tell you when the time comes for your date to meet the other part of you.
Dating is what you make it. You can let it be a miserable experience, or fun and beautiful one. I was blessed to have met such an amazing man that accepts not only me, but my daughter as well. We have been dating for a year now, and he adores my daughter as much as she looks up to him.
So if you’re wondering why I don’t consider myself a single mom anymore, well that’s because I feel that I found the part of me that was missing. Now, he is considered part of the family, and I know that I am no longer alone. I don’t consider myself a single mom anymore, but I still think I am a savvy one.
Sometimes our lives get to be too much. Whether we are working, helping out our kids, or even doing chores around the house. Where do we find the time to relax? How is our parenting style affected by our own busy lives?
Lila, a proud wife and mother of three, balances her children and married life in addition to having her own independent career. She has been married for 17 years to her husband Rick, and together they raise their three children – Evan, 13, Bradley, 11, and Danielle, 6.
Linda Levin decided to interview Lila, a working woman, mother, and wife, and ask her pertinent questions on how she is able to maintain sanity by juggling so many balls in the air.
Linda Levin: Lila, how do you keep yourself sane by balancing three different aged children, having a career, and maintaining a healthy marriage?
Lila: The words “grateful” and “healthy” come to mind. Sure, my daily schedule can be very hectic and challenging at times and there are days when I definitely feel tired and a bit overwhelmed, but you know what? As long as my children and my husband and I are all healthy and feeling good (knock on wood!), I truly remind myself every day that I have nothing to complain about. If my loved ones are all healthy, then I’m happy. I also remind myself that the busy, hectic life that I have being a wife, mother of 3, and running my own business is exactly the kind of life that I signed up for. Feeling appreciative and totally grateful for what I have keeps me sane.
What form of discipline do you use when parenting your three children? (Ex: Permissive, democratic, or authoritarian) How does it differ with each age group?
L: I would definitely have to say that my parenting style and form of discipline is democratic. I pride myself on being a strict/fair/loving parent with high expectations for my kids. I set the bar high in our household when it comes to getting good grades in school, having good manners, being involved in extra-curricular activities, keeping rooms clean, etc. because I have every confidence that my children will live up to my high expectations. And they do – most of the time!
I’ve also never shy away from using the word “no” with my kids. I remember, for example, when my oldest son was 10 and he begged me to buy him a violent, totally inappropriate video game that “all of his friends” were playing. I went with him to GameStop and asked the young salesman who worked there,
“Are mothers of 10-year-old boys really buying them this video game?”
His answer to me was simple: “Yes, because they’re too afraid or too lazy to say ‘no’ to their kids. It’s just easier for them to give in.”
My son heard every word and I was glad he did.
I remember turning to Evan (son) and proudly saying something like, “Well, I’m not afraid to say ‘no,’ so sorry Evan, but you’re still not getting the video game.” Then, I took my disappointed son out for ice cream and we ended up having a fun outing anyway.
I’ve found over the years that using the word “no” can be exhausting and difficult, but sometimes it’s simply the best and only word to use when parenting.
L: I try to plan activities that we can all enjoy doing together such as: ice skating, bowling, swimming, and hiking. We also enjoy working on different jigsaw puzzles together as a family. But, I have to say that my absolute favorite family entertainment that we all love doing together is trying out new restaurants and eating together. My kids have always been wonderful, adventurous eaters and we all enjoy eating different ethnic foods.
As much as I love cooking my family home-cooked meals and eating at our kitchen table, I’m probably my happiest and most relaxed when the 5 of us are gathered around a restaurant table all eating delicious food and talking with one another. I also love to see the pure joy and happiness in my children’s faces – and my husband’s – when a big, yummy dessert comes to the table and the 5 of us all dig in and share it!
Do you and your husband take each child individually, or do you usually do things as a group?
L: Both. There are days when the 5 of us want to do things together as a family – like when we all go to the Renaissance Festival together or go sledding up in Flagstaff – but then there are plenty of times when my husband and I plan special, individual “dates” with our kids.
My daughter and I have a standing date every Sunday morning when I take her to gymnastics school for “Open Gym” where I watch her practice gymnastics and jump up and down endlessly on the trampoline. I love to take each of my boys out individually to grab a hamburger, see a movie, or just hang out with them at the bookstore.
My husband and sons definitely enjoy their father-son bonding time by seeing science fiction movies together – the ones that I have absolutely no interest in seeing. My boys also love going to their Dad’s office every now and then on a weekend because. Rick works as a video game designer and programmer, so, in our family, playing video games is actually all in a day’s work!
My 6-year-old daughter also loves it, of course, when her Daddy takes her to the playground followed by an ice cream cone. They also love their occasional shopping trips to Target or Toys R Us. He has the best time.
Do you and your husband have family time and date time?
L: Because our weekends are pretty hectic with our kids’ sports activities, school projects, household chores and errands, etc. my husband and I sometimes meet for lunch on a weekday and enjoy lunch dates together. We always take our kids out to eat on the weekends as a family. As I mentioned, dining out is definitely a favorite, family activity of ours. But relaxing, weekday lunch dates for just the two of us are really wonderful and give us a chance to talk quietly, hold hands across the table, and reconnect with one another. We also love going out to the movies together as a couple.
How do you take time for yourself when you are not with your husband or children, in order to maintain balance and harmony in your life?
L: I love doing yoga and try to take a “flow” class at least once a week. Not only do I enjoy the relaxing stretching and breathing in yoga, I love the fact that I am actually asked to lie down for a full 5 minutes at the end of every class and simply do nothing. I also try to work out at the gym once or twice a week when my schedule permits for much-needed cardio. Also, I must admit that every now and then – on an occasional weekday when my kids are in school, hubby is at work, and my workload is not too crazy that day – I escape to the local movie theater and indulge in watching a movie. It does feel a little strange to go to a movie theater on a Monday at 11:15 a.m. all by myself, but boy, is it fun!
As a young mom, I go through stages of motherhood that I just don’t know how to tackle. And with my daughter recently turning 2 years old, I became terrified at what curveballs this stage of her life would throw at me.
When you become a mother, you tend to hear a lot of horror stories of what has, can or will happen to your child. A lot of those horror stories have to do with our children turning two.
However, instead of letting those stories make me fearful of my child growing up, they inspired me to follow my gut feelings in what I believe is right for MY daughter. I decided that I would create my own plan that I feel would work best in making the so-called “terrible twos” not so terrible.
One thing that has worked wonders for me so far is creating a bedtime. Following the steps I laid out in one of my previous articles, I am able to put my daughter to sleep by a certain time. That is a great way to show your growing child that while they have the whole day to learn and explore, there is a limit to how long they can do it for. My daughter gets at least 10 hours of sleep every night, and that allows her to have a fresh start the next morning.
Another thing that I think will minimize the difficulty of dealing with a two year old is discipline. I choose to do it in a very moderate way. Anything from taking her toys away, or even putting her on time out for a minute or two. You will be amazed at how much they learn to value their time and valuables when they learn that they can be taken away from them.
If you’re going through the stage parenting stage as I am, remember that there is always a way to overcome a difficult time in your child’s life. As parents, we have instincts telling us what is right from wrong, listen to yours and you will be surprised at how many wonderful things you can achieve.
As a child development consultant and parenting expert, mother, wife and friend, I often wonder if texting is really a good and effective form of communication. We are just in the beginning stages of looking at the research on the pros and cons of texting. Even though we are in a virtual world of texting, video games, social networking, and web communities, what does our future look like for the next generation?
According to the industry research 61% of our children between the ages of 3 and 11 are “virtual world visitors“. 22% of our children, between the ages of 6-9 years of age already have cell phones (YIKES!). According to Parenting.com, 58% of our children of the ages of 10-15 listed texting as a major form of communication.
In order to better help you and the young children, teens, and other adult kids in your life, I have compiled some of the field research on the pros and cons of texting.
- Between 8-13 years of age, kids spend a majority of their online, and over the phone time with the same people they know in real life.
- Kids love it!
- Subscribers under 12 years of age exchanged 3 texts per call to stay in touch with their friends.
- Teens 13-17 years of age were 7 times more likely to text.
- It allows a buffer according to Nathan Freier, PhD at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, against “feelings of awkwardness during this emotionally frightened age.”
- Short text messages help relieve anxiety in some children.
- Much of the texts, according to researchers, is that kids build each other up by making positive statements.
- Kids see technology as extending communication, rather than replacing time with a friend.
- Marion Underwood, a researcher, stated “Kids stay more in touch with their families through texting.”
- According to Underwood, mothers are the first person a child texts.
- Parents enjoy sharing funny faces, comments, and ways to interact with their tweens by texting or online messaging.
- Oftentimes parents are grateful to hear that their kids are doing fine in terms of safety and happiness.
- Cell phones should be removed from children’s bedrooms because kids do not know when to stop texting during the night and become sleep deprived.
- Communication with strangers can turn into very frightening situations because of the naivety of a child, tween, or teen.
- It is less likely that families will eat dinner together and talk in person due to social media.
- Families feel less connected when there has been an increase in total time spent over the phone versus in person.
- If parents role model texting in front of their kids by being on the phone and taking phone calls, then it decreases their time spent talking to their children and they will repeat the same pattern in their own lives.
- The term Ambient Intimacy is when social media, electronic devices, texts, calls, etc. can take the place of living out real life moments together with people.
- Dating can become an uncomfortable situation by being asked out through texting and not on a telephone to clarify and uphold accountability. This is a casual method to connect face to face. Intentions can also be misconstrued.
- Breaking up through a text or a social media message can also be considered a rude, and disrespectful.
We, as a nation, need more research on the effects of social media and the way we relate to one another in terms of our children’s future. Only then can we conclude on whether or not texting is helping or harming our children’s, and family’s communication skills
Becoming a mom is one of the biggest life changing events that will ever happen to a woman.
Not only do you sacrifice your body; almost every other one of your goals is put on hold. You’re faced with making some of the hardest decisions, like whether you should get a job, go back to school, or simply stay at home.
To society, the most logical thing to do would be to stay at home. People believe that devoting all of your time and energy to your household is the best choice, but that does not always mean not following your dreams.
Having a baby at such a young age I faced not only criticism from the community, but hard decisions that I had to make that not only would be beneficial to my life, but to my daughters as well. Should I continue my education, get a full time job or stay at home and watch over my child 24/7?
To most people, the most obvious answer would be to stay at home. Being raised in a Hispanic culture, I have seen women devote their whole lives to their families. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but what happens if one day the financials of the family fall on your lap? Don’t let the man be the plan.
I decided that I didn’t want to depend on a man to take care of me. I want to be able to say that if times get rough, I’d be able to take care of my family on my own. That is why I chose to not only stay in school, but get a part time job doing what I love so much… writing!
Ladies, don’t let society tell you otherwise, you can do whatever you put your mind to. Going back to school or getting a job doesn’t make you a bad mother; it makes you a mother that is willing to make sacrifices for the better of her family.
So change the status quo. Be more than just a caretaker. Do what you love. Learn to knit, play a sport or find any hobby that makes you the special person that you are.
There is no right or wrong way to be a mom, change it up a little.
Remember playing the game “He loves me, he loves me not” while picking one petal off the daisy for each phrase to validate the affection of another? Valentines Day gives us a special day for the whimsical fun of LOVE with sugar hearts carrying secrets messages.
This designated day dedicated to the celebration and expression of LOVE provides us with a time to reflect on our love for others and especially love for ourselves.
Some might consider loving yourself, “love me”, selfish. The word “selfish” suffers from a bad rap. But I would challenge you to think otherwise. Be selfish with your time, your energy and your concern. Learn to love yourself first, and then you will have something special to share with others.
As I was growing up the “golden rule” of treating others the way that I would like to be treated entrenched in my mind. “Love your neighbor as yourself” served as the basis for most of my decisions. Always, others first. In reality, I didn’t have too many decisions to be made, but when I did get a chance to make a choice, taking care of others motivated my options.
Not wanting be considered selfish, I put my own personal wants and sometimes needs, on the back burner. My decision making process was stifled with others’ wishes, others’ happiness, and others’ needs topping my “to do list”.
I now ask myself, as Dr. Phil would pry: “Now how’s that working for you?” Admittedly, it did not work for this “guilt sponge”. I missed the ”everything in moderation” class in school taking the idea of caring for others as a mark of “loving your neighbor” to the expense of losing myself.
Now I would ascribe to a reverse in the old adage. I think that we should all love ourselves as well as we love our neighbor. Be greedy with your time – limit the energy spent on email, texts, and phone calls. Take care of yourself, not just an occasional message, but carve out daily time for exercise, meditation, or whatever feeds your physical and emotional health. Know you have choices and do not have to rationalize them to others- only you are responsible for yourself. Keep an eye on your circle of “friends”. Certain relationships can drain the energy right out your very being. Clean out the psychic “junk drawer”.
Remember the flight attendants admonition: If the aircraft loses altitude the oxygen masks will come down: PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST AND THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN!
Remember you DO have a choice…Love me or love me not.
So when the game of life asks love me or love me not…don’t be fearful of choosing “Love me”.
February Challenge: Do something each day just for yourself. Learn the art of self-love.
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We all know that getting sleep is crucial in a child’s life. But what happens when you can’t seem to put them to bed? When their fighting, kicking and screaming become unbearable that you just give up.
From personal experience, I know that it is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but trust me; it is worth it.
Here is a list of steps that worked for me in setting up a bedtime for my daughter.
- Decide on a bedtime. Whatever bedtime you decide on, stick to it. Consistency is key in creating a bedtime; so make sure to be firm on the time you have set.
- Try to not feed your toddler any heavy foods two hours before his or her bedtime. A full stomach makes it difficult for a child to be able to fall asleep. If your child asks for food, try small snacks like fruits or vegetables.
- Give your toddler a bath, preferably with lavender shampoo to help them relax. This works wonders with my toddler.
- Invest in a couple pairs of pajamas. Not only will it make them excited to go to bed, but it will also help them sleep longer since they are more comfortable than regular clothing.
- One very important step to remember is to brush your toddler’s teeth. Adding this step to your list will build consistency, and help them remember something that is usually forgotten.
- The next step is one of the most crucial. Reading a bedtime story with your toddler with help them exercise their mind and help them relax before going to sleep. It is never too early to teach your child new things.
- The last step is to lay them on their bed, crib, etc. Make sure to let them know that it is their bedtime, and that you will be leaving the room so he or she can get some sleep.
*If your child refuses to go to sleep and begins to fight it; put them back to bed, leave the room and check on them every five minutes. Continue doing this until your toddler goes to sleep. This is key in showing them consistency. Don’t give in to their crying and whining. Trust me, it will be worth it, and it will only get easier as days go by.