Archives for Parenting
I know, it sounds like crazy advice. You've got a new baby at home. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO! AND IT JUST KEEPS COMING! HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY JUST "BE"? I recently wrote an essay about my three months of maternity leave, and how I wish I had a re-do. New moms, I don't want you to feel the same. So I'm going to pass along a few thoughts for your consideration. Then you can go back to doing (or not doing.) Deal?
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and this week I had the pleasure of attending Rosh Hashanah services and hearing a sermon on the value of listening. As a therapist, I listen for a living. But in my personal life, sometimes I can be a little lax. I imagine that's true for all of us: We can get used to thinking we know how our partners feel, and we don't actually check it out. Here's why that's a mistake, and how to correct it.
My Facebook and my email inbox are full of stories of parents sending their kids off to school this week--from kindergarten through college. Often, it's with a lot of pride and equal amounts of tears. But there are all sorts of less dramatic and daily ways that we need to let our kids go: by loosening the reins, allowing them to make their own mistakes, and facing the consequences from the world rather than from us. If we want our kids to soar, sometimes we also have to let them fall. But as a friend just said to me: It's so damn hard, isn't it? Continue on for some suggestions of how to make it easier, or if not easier, then at least to feel more effective and purposeful. Here goes!
When your child is having trouble, it might make you feel like you need to just sit back and let the experts take over. You need to listen to everything they tell you at the school, and take all the advice from therapists. Maybe you feel like your child's issues are somehow your fault, and that you just have to turn over your power to other people. Remember, your child needs you now more than ever. So it's important to empower yourself. You are your child's best observer and greatest advocate.
I just read the fantastic book "Girls & Sex" by Peggy Orenstein. What I love is that while it paints a somewhat dire picture of the landscape for teen (and even pre-teen girls), not to mention young adults, it's not just about diagnosing the problem; there's a prescription. You can help your daughters navigate that landscape, but it involves talking to them differently than you might have considered before. It means that instead of just talking about the risks of sex, we have to talk honestly about rewards, which is probably far more uncomfortable but incredibly valuable. So here are some ideas for how to have those talks. And remember, even if you've been approaching it differently, it's never too late to try something new.
So Trump's latest racist affront has arrived, and as usual, he makes no apologies. And the Republican party wants him to just say he's sorry so he can end the conversation. As anyone with kids knows, forcing apologies does nothing for the victim or the perpetrator. Expressing remorse is just the start, though. It's also about helping the other person (or people) to heal from what's been done to them. All of that takes tremendous strength. Sadly, the Republican nominee seems to believe it's a weakness. How do we teach our kids otherwise?
So often, I talk to parents who are confused about how strict to be with their teenagers, when to say yes and when to say no to their children's request. My answer? Help teenagers know for themselves when it should be a yes and when it should be a no. Teach them to be cognizant of their own safety. How do you do that? I have one (sorta) simple trick.
I think every mother has experienced this at some point: Your young child is acting out in some way, you're trying to handle it, and you can feel other people's overt, undisguised disapproval of both you and your child. (And I call it "mother shaming" rather than "parent shaming" because typically, men don't tend to receive the same treatment--or maybe they just aren't as sensitive when they do.) I recently experienced this where I least expected it. It was from a staff member at my daughter's preschool. Instead of saying, " Your child had a hard time today," she flagged me down at pick-up, leveled me with an extremely unpleasant look, and proceeded to tell me, in detail, about my daughter's transgressions. I felt what I was supposed to: ashamed of my child, chastened, stammering how both my daughter (and I) would do better. No dessert for her! I hustled her to the car, not even wanting to speak to her. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt like she'd made me LOOK like a terrible mother. My poor daughter. She didn't deserve that. She was just a tiny human having a hard time. Her preschool should have been thinking about why she'd been struggling, and what they could do to support her. Instead, I got mother-shamed, and she bore the brunt. What's a mom to do?