Reflections on Anti Bullying Awareness Month (Guest Post)

As a single mother of three children I thought I understood bullying.  I’ve read every  definition and policy on it from daycare to preschool to grade school now.  I’ve preached against it to my own children, I’ve tried to teach against it and redirect it on the playground and at play dates.  We watch movies like Mean Girls and celebrate Pink Shirt Day every February.  For someone who thought she had “got it” I’m feeling awfully confused and disillusioned on this topic of late.

In his final grad year of elementary school my son has become an unlikely target of bullying.  As I try and deconstruct the situation I am struck by more questions than answers that delve into personal parenting styles, disciplinary action and responsibility at our school and even in our society at large.  Ian is a typical twelve year old boy.  A tall, attractive and athletic boy he has always been quite popular in his class among the girls and the boys.  Last summer Ian lost interest in two boys in his class who were engaging in activities in the neighborhood which he appropriately regarded as bad judgement.   They were breaking into abandoned buildings, setting fires in the alleys, and sneaking out and walking the streets at 1 am.  Quite independently and quite quietly he simply decided these activities and therefore these kids weren’t for him.

This was not well received by these two boys, who we shall call Charlie and Marco.  Charlie, a bright, straight A and highly persuasive student is the stereotypical ring leader.  Hatches the plan but has the fall guy carry it out, and never, ever gets caught.  The fall guy, and conscious follower in this case, is Marco.  Charlie and Marco decided early in Grade 7 that Ian’s departure from their activities was not ok, and quite deliberately and effectively set out to make Ian’s life hell.  It began with teasing and taunting, tormenting comments that insidiously weighed down on Ian.  It moved into public mocking for his interests in basketball and more active torments like stealing his basketball and enlisting younger children to hide it and bury it in the sandbox. Bullying continued to engulf Ian’s school life through conscious exclusion, directing others to not speak to him, not sit near or beside him, and to perform silly rituals if anyone were to touch something that Ian had last been in contact with.  As a mother I watched Ian become quieter, almost stoic about school, until one evening about November he burst into tears in the car acknowledging how crushing the cumulative effect had been and sadly reflecting that he had no friends in what would be his graduation year, I quietly approached the school despite his request to solve it himself.  The gym teacher kindly offered Ian a reprieve.  He could use the school gym to shoot hoops during recesses and lunch hours to avoid contact with these two boys.  It worked as an evasion strategy but with it came even more isolation.

Around this time Ian began finding his lunch bag disassembled in the classroom sink and filled with water.  The teacher asked who was doing this.  No one could figure it out, though everyone knew.  Christmas holidays were a welcomed reprieve that arrived not a moment to soon.  The color appeared to return to Ian’s drained face and as he spent time with close family friends and was reminded what healthy relationships look like.  It made me realize how far off of “normal” he had gotten in the social cage I was dropping him at Monday to Friday during the school year.  The holidays ended and January arrived and I felt like I was sending Ian back to finish a sentence in a prison of sorts where I had little to no control of his day to day treatment.

And in fact, January ended explosively, when I received a call from the principal asking if anything had happened at our home the night before.  I had been at work but my nanny reported someone coming and banging loudly on the door, which she would not open.  The principal informed me that another student had come forward after playing after school with Charlie and Marco the day prior.  He expressed concern about “how much” these boys hated Ian and more concern about a plan they had made to come to his home and set off fireworks when he opened the door.  They claimed to already have the fireworks.  I had already forwarded screen shots of text messages sent to Ian’s phone threatening that Charlie could “see him” and “knew where he lived” only a week prior to this.  The principal appropriately now saw the severity of the situation.  Not only was this a threat, but they had come to the door of our home.  Bullying was now beyond the school 9-3 and extended to our personal residence with threats of fireworks in the evening.  Suddenly this seemed very real.  The school called the  VPD youth services and an officer attended.  He pulled Charlie and Marco from class searched their bags explained to them the risk and consequences of their actions, including that after 13 they could be criminally charged.  Marco was tearful and afraid and appeared remorseful.  Charlie showed no sign of remorse and bragged he had beat the system since the “cops didn’t find anything”.

I was shaken by how far this had come. How had things gotten this far?  How had we spoken and documented the slow but steady erosion of Ian’s sense of self and overall happiness as a result of bullying and yet things had continued to progress to this point? At least I assuaged myself, we were here.  It was real now.  We were steps ahead of those most horrific stories of bullying that we all hear amid the pink shirts in February.  But were we?

A week later, these two boys remain at school.  The have offered Ian apologies, one semi sincere, one insincere.  And otherwise, Ian tells me, life is pretty much no different.  Charlie continues to ring lead and plan activities with the conscious exclusion of Ian.  Marco states he doesn’t want to be a bully but wants to continue to be friends with Charlie, which requires certain behaviours.  Ian no longer wants to attend school at all or calls asking to come home mid-day.  His mood is lower and if anything he appears almost hopeless and cynical in his confirmed acceptance that there will be no consequences for these boys’ behaviours.  Half a year of emotional abuse and threats coming as far as his front door.   No punitive action, no suspension, no call from Charlie’s parents, no nothing.  Effectively, a scare by police, a sorry and another chance, all handed out in a seamless return for one boy to another hellish day in seventh grade.

Ian is disillusioned and hopeless.  Stoically accepting there is no cure for this and instead that it is something he must quietly endure for the next five months, provided it doesn’t get worse.  But then, well the trajectory tells a different tale. And what if it does get worse?  All we know from this is that there are no consequences.  This perplexes and concerns me.   Why no consequences?  How can we learn without consequences?  Is that not the very essence of Pavlov’s notion of behavior? So what is withdrawing the consequences here?  Does it lie in permissive, protective, “head in the sand parenting”?  Does it lie in limitations of schools’ abilities to implement consequences for bad behavior?  Whatever happened to suspension?  Does it lie in the perhaps overly forgiving and supporting values of Christian schools that may unknowingly protect the bully over the victim?  Does it lie in  law enforcement’s limited effectiveness with youth or sensitivities in evidence requirements?   As I said at the beginning, I have more questions than answers.

What I do know is it sucks.  Bullying in schools absolutely and brutally sucks.  Ian is a fairly self-assured confident kid.  And every day since the beginning of September I drop him off at a place where his self-esteem and his very happiness are eroded relentlessly.  We’ve done everything we’re supposed to.  We’ve followed every guideline in every handbook on bullying.  We engaged other students, other families, the teacher, the principal and even now the VPD.  And at the end of the day, when my part broken son looks at me and says “See Mom, I told you it wouldn’t make any difference.  I told you nothing would ever change.” I am both heartbroken and chilled because I know he’s right.  Without consequences, bullying will never go away.  But how do we affect some consequences in this mess?  I will be holding my son close and sharing a common sense of hopelessness this anti bullying day sadly.  We can do better to beat bullying Vancouver.  But we need some consistent consequences for the behaviors.  Otherwise we are sadly enabling and empowering our bullies.  And that scares me.

 

 

Save

Save

The Dads Guide To PMS and Periods

So if you were like probably 99% of the boys in school that kind of glazed over and ignored health class when they talked about PMS and menstruation (period) (I was going to say 100%, but I can’t say that for sure! LOL) I am pretty sure you thought like I thought I would never really need to know the whole story, but surprise I have a daughter and one day I might be the only one around when she has her first period and I want to be prepared and I thought I would share the knowledge with you in an easy to read post!

Now I realize that this may make some of you squirmy thinking about it, but what better support can you be for your daughter with knowledge. I know Olivia is only just turning 7, but that leaves me so little time to prepare myself for the years to come. After all I may have as little as 6 years. Besides it’s always good to learn something new right?

Hopefully by this point in your daughters life you and her have that type of relationship where she’s not afraid or embarrassed to come to you because your her dad and a man. Let her know from a young age that she can come to you for anything and as she does get older let her know out right that when her period does come that she can come to you.

Premenstrual Syndrome – Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur 1 to 2 weeks before her period starts. The symptoms usually go away after she starts bleeding. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age and the effect is different for each woman. For some PMS is just a monthly bother. For others, it may be so severe that it makes it hard to even get through the day.

Symptoms of PMS – Acne, swollen tender breasts, tiredness, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, headache, backache, appetite changes or food cravings, joint or muscle pain, trouble with concentration or memory, tension, irritability, mood swings, crying, anxiety or depression.

Ok I don’t know about you dads out there, but after listing all the possible PMS symptoms all I can say is WOW! I knew them, but when you condense them and actually write each one out that’s a huge possibility list! It’s good to know and to watch her as she may not realize what’s going on with her body as it’s all new to her as well. I will say though if you notice something quite off take her to her doctor so she can be seen. The doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or alternative therapies.

Menstruation – Is a woman’s monthly bleeding. When she menstruates, her body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb) Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out the body via the vagina and usually lasts 3-5 days.

So thanks to Google you can get the information on what a typical period is like!

What is a typical period? During her period she sheds the thickened uterine lining and extra blood through the vagina. Her period may not be the same every month. Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy in terms of how much blood comes out. This is called menstrual flow. The length of the period also varies. Most periods last from 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is normal. For the first few years after menstruation begins, longer cycles are common. A woman’s cycle tends to shorten and become more regular with age. Most of the time, periods will be in the range of 21 to 35 days apart.

Problems she can have with her period – Women can have a range of problems with their periods, including pain, heavy bleeding, and skipped periods.

  • Amenorrhea – the lack of a menstrual period. This term is used to describe the absence of a period in Young women who haven’t started menstruating by age 15 or Women and girls who haven’t had a period for 90 days, even if they haven’t been menstruating for long.
  • Causes can include – Extreme weight loss, Eating disorders, Excessive exercising, Stress, Serious medical conditions in need of treatment, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding
  • Dysmenorrhea – painful periods, including severe cramps. Menstrual cramps in teens are caused by too much of a chemical called prostaglandin. Most teens with dysmenorrhea do not have a serious disease, even though the cramps can be severe. For some, using a heating pad or taking a warm bath helps ease their cramps. Some over-the-counter pain medicines can also help with these symptoms like Ibuprofen, Ketoprofen or Naproxen. If these medications don’t relieve the pain, you should take her to see her doctor.
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding – vaginal bleeding that’s different from normal menstrual periods. It includes Bleeding between periods, Spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle, Bleeding heavier or for more days than normal, Bleeding after sex.

Ok so that is a lot of information, but it’s all good information to have! You never know the things that can happen and I can’t stress enough… If you don’t know and there’s concern take her to her doctor!

Lets talk a bit about sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups!

Although this is going to come down to personal preference as your daughter discovers what makes her feel more comfortable I would imagine if it was you that had to run out and get a feminine hygiene product it would be a pad (sanitary napkin). I say this because it would be the easiest for her to use and understand and I am sure most doctors would recommend it! So here is what each of the products are as you might as well understand what each does.

Sanitary napkin (pad) – A sanitary napkin, sanitary towel, sanitary pad, menstrual pad, or pad is an absorbent item worn by a woman during her period to absorb the flow of blood.

Tampon – a plug of soft material inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood.

Menstrual cup – A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid. Unlike tampons and pads, the cup collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it.

Well there you go I tried my best to keep this post as compact as I could and give you as much information as I possibly could. I hope you find this helpful and at least a starting point.

Save

Advice For New Mums From Mums

I’ve wanted to put a post together with advice to new and expecting mums for a while now and finally asked for mums to send me their advice. I love the advice these mums have given and look forward to sharing it with you!

Cathy of Wishful Wonderings – The best advice I could give to a new mum is to trust your instincts.  Babies do not come with a handbook and each one is individual, people mean well when they offer advice, but you are the one that knows your baby better than anyone else. Let your baby guide you and as time goes by you will instinctively know what he or she needs

Karen of Stopping at Two – Sometimes you just have to stop focusing on little details (I KNOW they don’t feel like little things at the time) and look at the big picture. Everyone is different. You as a mother are different to every other mother and all children are different. Don’t fall into the trap of obsessing over when they meet milestones, if they aren’t sleeping through the night or if they are refusing to eat certain foods. Don’t ever feel guilty about the decisions you make as a parent – only you can make an informed choice about what is best for you and you baby.

Shamaila of Instagram – My advise to new mums would, when other mums are telling you what to expect, don’t stress too much and get yourself worked up, as everyone’s journey is different and what someone tells you they couldn’t handle is probably something you find yourself handling really well. Also it is not selfish to take some time out for yourself and give yourself a break, even if it means a couple of hours at the salon to get your hair & nails done without your baby or going for a coffee with your friends.

Gianna of Blood Sugar Ecmo Magik – Ready for the cliché Avalanche? Here goes… Expect the unexpected. I sailed through a perfect pregnancy expecting to come home with a baby at the end of it and begin a new, exciting chapter in our lives and I was very wrong. We hit a lot of bumps in the road and didn’t anticipate any of it. Sure enough it was all super rare stuff but I certainly did go through my next pregnancy a little more cautiously. The next piece of advice I have is to trust your instincts as a new mum, it’s easy to go along with what people may tell you but at the end of the day it’s best to trust your maternal instincts 🙂 Finally, you’re doing a fab job. Sleep deprivation, suddenly having a teeny new bundle at the center of your world and never having done it before may make you question your capabilities, don’t underestimate the fabulous job you are doing!

Harps of Baby Brain Memoirs – The most useful and home hitting advice I’ve ever received since I’ve had Arjun. It’s probably applicable to a lot of things in life. I often find myself worrying about the past or attempting to plan for the future and I often forget to live in the present… This very moment… Now… Sometimes I wish I could just stop, sit, close my eyes, breathe and become aware of my surroundings instead of being so scatter brained with the millions of things I have going on!

Jenny of Mamazou – Best advice to new mums:  Trust your instinct – you might be at the very start of your motherhood journey but if you have a gut feeling about something, listen to it.  You know best — after all you’ve known your baby much longer than anyone else has!

Bex of Mummy Bex M – The best advice I can give to a new mum (or dad) is to trust your ‘gut’. Trust your instinct; your intuition; your feelings and listen to your body. If something isn’t working then don’t try to force it. If you’re exhausted – tell someone and ask for help. If you can’t face cleaning the house whilst the baby naps – then leave it for another day. Your emotional well-being and the happiness of your child is far more important than cleaning the dirty dishes or dusting the telly! Trust yourself.

Tamily of InstagramMy advice would be, don’t compare yourself to other new mums or other old mums for that matter! When you fall pregnant, it will begin. Before you know it, you will be comparing bump size, niggling aches, how many times you feel baby move & so on with other mums-to-be at yoga class or in the supermarket. Then as soon as baby is out, it’s all about the labour length & weight comparison. Oh yeah & how amazing (or not) your birthing partner was! It will not end there, trust me, it gets worse. The next phase of comparison is how well you are coping, how long baby is sleeping for, whether you are breast or bottle feeding, feeding on demand or timed slots, co-sleeping or ‘crying it out’, how your emotions are compared to your other new mum friends, whether you are considering baby-lead weening or not, enough tummy time, are they crawling, standing, talking, walking……..argh!! Stop it! My advice? You are enough. You are doing the right things for you, your baby & your family. Yes, please do seek advice, but do not compare yourselves to others around you. None of you are going through things at the same speed & you will all experience pregnancy, birth & motherhood slightly differently. As one who compared herself to how others were coping as a new mum causing deep postnatal depression, please know that behind closed doors, all new parents are fighting their own battles. They may not be the same as yours exactly, but they are still learning how to look after a small person who is learning how to be alive. If you think about it like that, it’s a huge thing you are going to be doing or are doing. You are enough. And you are doing a great job.

Amy of Amy Being Mum – Be kind to yourself.  Don’t expect too much of yourself.  Treat yourself as you would a friend who has just had a baby.  Allow yourself days at home in your pjs enjoying your new bundle.  Nap often.  Enjoy this time, Your will look back on it as the most special time of your life.  When your tired and anxious and your partner doesn’t seem to “get it”, give them the benefit of the doubt.  It’s new for them too.  Talk to each other.  Its a huge learning curve, don’t expect to know everything from day one.  Be proud of your little creation!

Jade of Raising The Rings – The best bit of advice I could give to new mums is that motherhood is not a competition. Nobody is handing out awards if your baby reaches a milestone before another baby or vice versa. There is no science to being a good parent, it’s truly an art form and it’s about embracing what’s right for you and your baby. Don’t get hung up on feeling like you’re not as good as someone else because, believe me, they’ll be struggling with something. No parent is perfect and good parents come in many forms just do your best and as long as you’re doing that, that’s enough.

Gemma of Coffee, Kids & Ice Cream – Ronan Keating wasn’t wrong when he sang, Life is a Roller coaster, and the same can be said for parenting. As a new parent your life will have more ups and downs than a kangaroo on a pogo stick and this is to be expected. One day you’ll think you have this whole motherhood gig down pat, the next you’ll barely be able to get off the sofa let alone in a shower and out the front door. Everyone is the same. That perfect mum you spotted in the supermarket? She’s the same. The spotless mum in the baby sensory class? She’s the same. It’s highly likely that you’re just viewing them on the good days and they too will be covered in baby vomit tomorrow. My biggest piece of advice? Just be kind to yourself. Yes, today might be a shocker but always remember tomorrow’s a new day.

Diyana of Wollywrites – What’s your best advice to new mums? In one word: Worry. Everyone will tell you not to worry, stress, panic or freak out when sometimes that’s exactly what you want or more importantly, need to do. My controversial advice for new mums would be that you should worry, panic and go through all the emotions because that’s how you develop parenting instincts and learn to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.

People will tell you not to worry when your baby cries and don’t pick them up so as not to “spoil” them – but newborns don’t have a concept of being spoilt or demanding. They are communicating a need when they cry, and it breaks my heart to see new parents letting their babies cry just because they think it’s the right thing to do. Pick them up, cuddle them and soothe them as many times as they need it. It’s ok, it’s good for them and it’s good for you!

I ended up trying to control and manage how I felt and behaved, so that people wouldn’t think that I was being “over the top” or a “drama mama”, when in fact you have every right to react and feel the way you want to. Especially when something is happening to your baby and you have no idea what to do- the best thing is always to err on the side of caution. Like when our little one  was only a few days old and he had eyelashes stuck inside his eye (these will either come out by themselves or use a little warm water that has been boiled and cotton wool to ease them out), and when he kept making rasping breathing sounds at night (apparently very normal for newborns to have irregular breathing patterns), or when he was 9 months old and he fell off our bed (take them to the hospital and have them checked and monitored), or when he had bumps on his eyeball (it was just hay fever but I thought he was going to go blind!) – for all these incidents (and more) we rushed to the hospital to see the doctor. We even had a little gadget attached to his nappy that would vibrate and ring if he were to stop breathing in the night. People laughed at us and thought that we were being unreasonably paranoid, however, we would much rather have that than anything bad happen to our baby.

I believe that worrying and being hyper vigilant can save lives. We know a family whose 1 year old sadly died from choking on a fruit pip and another whose perfect baby suffered extreme burns from a flask of boiling water left on the counter. Maybe these ‘freak accidents’ could be avoided if you equip yourselves with first-aid training and how to handle a choking baby or just by remaining ultra cautious and seeing the world from a baby’s eyes. Is that knife within reach? Are the blind cords hanging too low? There was a time where our baby’s arm swelled up due to a mosquito bite and I didn’t want to panic, until I thought that it could be a spider bite or he could be having an allergic reaction. Also when they fall or bump their head, never take it lightly. I have seen parents posting up questions on Facebook and describing to people their child’s symptoms after a fall, and it’s beyond me that they can spend time on Facebook instead of spending that time seeing a doctor. So to all new parents out there, please worry because your baby deserves it.

Save

So you are going to be mom…

So you are going to be a mom and I am sure you have some or a lot of anxiety about becoming a mom (let you in on a little secret we dads do to). I would really like to emphasize to you that “YOU’VE GOT THIS”! Trust me on that one… Even when your doubting yourself and we all do “YOU’VE GOT THIS”! No matter how frustrated you get, how confused you feel you will always find a way. Your love for your baby will help you more than you realize.

I have composed a list of things I think you should know (yes I know I am a dad writing this, but I have three kids and been down the road of becoming a first time parent lol). It can be overwhelming I won’t lie about that especially the first one because your learning and doing your best and sometimes even though it doesn’t feel you are, trust me you are!

  • Other people may be experts on looking after their own child, but not yours. Only you know your child that intimately.
  • The tiredness will end! Even when it feels like you will never sleep again for more than an hour at a time a day will come when your baby sleeps longer!
  • If you’re unhappy, your baby will be unhappy. If you’re happy, your baby will be happy. Even babies feel your moods.
  • Everything will be ok! Just trust your gut instincts.
  • You are going to feel so overwhelmed with love that you may cry (I did with all three)!

f652611785f4d7d10bfe9274a713229e

  • Getting your baby on a schedule straight out of the gate… Who cares… Cuddle and snuggle your baby all you want to! It really is just a blink of an eye before they become toddlers, so just love and cuddle your baby!
  • There will be lots of times when the baby is crying and you don’t know why. That’s ok, babies cry. Sometimes they are trying to communicate something, but often they are releasing their emotions. It happens even to us adults!
  • Do not get caught up trying to be the perfect mother. There is no such thing. In order to be the best mother to your baby, all you have to do is try your best.
  • Take time for yourself. It is absolutely crucial that you take time for yourself on a daily basis. even if it’s just for 10 minutes trust me you will feel a difference.
  • Most of all and I can’t say this enough! Enjoy all the little moments you can (I know that they all can’t be the best moments)! You will never regret even bad moments (later on in life you will probably laugh at a lot of them and wish you could feel all those ups and downs again).

Becoming a mom will be your biggest moment in your life (trust me on that one… Becoming a dad was mine)! Try not to stress to much about the things that happen that maybe didn’t turn out so well or beat yourself up over what you should have done! Just take it all in because down the road the memories you have more than likely will make you laugh or shake your head with a smile. All the moments good or bad you will treasure forever!

How to be a good parent!

I was asked recently what makes me qualified to write a parent blog and what makes me a better parent than others? I was a little shocked, but my reply was simple… I am a parent so that makes me qualified in some sort of way and I am not a better parent than anyone else, I just do the best I can day in and day out and write about it from time to time.
This question got me thinking though and what does a good parent do? Well as I see it a good parent simply wakes up in the morning and does the best they can each day. Some days are better than other days and depending on your mood and the events of the day it can be a great day or it can be a disaster or anywhere in between!
Recently since I was asked this question I have been thinking of how I have done things in the past and what worked and what didn’t (trust me there are plenty of times I could have done things different to have had a better outcome)! In the end all that came to mind is I did the best I could with each situation at that moment.
Sometimes it seems to me that parents are expected to have complete control of their emotions 100% of the time, but the reality is we are human and we feel, sometimes we feel great, other times we feel like shit and that transfers to how we parent. So my advice to you on how to be a good parent…

  1. Wake up everyday and do your best! Simply by doing your best you will make each day easier on you and your children. Remember you are already an amazing parent!
  2. learn from your parenting fails! We all have them and have committed them once or a thousand times, but keep trying.
  3. When things become to much and overwhelming take 5 and breathe (easier said than done most times, that’s what the bathroom is for HAHAHA)!
  4. Each child is different and needs a different approach when dealing with them (I have learned this the hard way)!
  5. Most of all have fun with parenting as you will never regret those moments of shear happiness and there are far more of those than shit times. You are a good parent no matter what as your  children love you and look up to you!

IMG_4674

How I am raising an independent girl

Raising an independent girl is not as easy as I thought it would be! Not long after Olivia was born I realized how different she was from the boys. She tended to to want to be closer and not as independent as the boys were at an early age and needed more from me. as she grew in to being a toddler of course me being a doting dad I did everything for her. Not long after turning 4 I realized that I had to start separating myself a bit from her and guide her gently in to becoming more independent. So here are some of the things I have done over the last year.

  •  She needs water – I have her get it on her own. for this she just needed a step stool so she could reach the tap. (although sometimes this just ends up with playing in the water so I chalk it up to sensory play).
  • She wants to eat – I have her take a look and find what she wants to eat and then I will make it with her. If it’s a simple sandwich I put everything out that she will need and have her make it at the table beside me. Besides learning how to make her own lunch I have found that she will eat the food she has made guaranteed so it’s a bonus with no wasted food.
  • Cleaning her own room – Since I have started with her cleaning her own room I have found that it takes a long time because she tends to play a lot while doing it, but the bonus in that is she no longer asks for help and really to me as long as the end result is a clean floor, how long it takes her does not matter. Oh and most recently she has been making her own bed on top of it
  • making friends – I used to stay close to her in the park and be with her if she wanted to ask a girl to play, but I started quite a while ago taking a step back encouraging her to learn to introduce herself to new possible friends. At first i would stand a step behind her and then two and so on. Now I sit or stand on the perimeter of the play ground and let her make her own decisions, but when she looks at me for reassurance I smile and nod my head so she knows I am watching and she feels that boost of confidence she needs.

Modern Dad independent

  • Kids don’t want to play with her – It doesn’t happen often, but what do you do if she is shunned? You tell her they aren’t very good people to know if they are not willing to get to know you or play with you! You do not need people like that in your life. She has grasped this concept well and when it happens she no longer comes crying, she comes to me and will say “I don’t need friends like that daddy” with a smile. She will however never forget and if they do come up to her at a future outing she will tell them and I have heard her “I don’t need friends like you! I asked you to play before and you wouldn’t”! I am not sure completely on that part yet?
  • To ask directly – I had noticed Olivia was getting in to the habit of hinting rather than asking for things she wanted. So I started to ignore her hints and would simply start telling her that I do not understand hinting and I needed a direct question and I would answer appropriately whether it was the answer she wanted or not. I had to rework this a bit though as I had to teach her to not ask for other peoples stuff. So be careful there.
  • Playing on her own – For months Olivia would melt down if no one would play with her when she wanted. and it took me a good while to get her to a point where she would. She has now found the joy and imagination that comes with playing on her own as she can make the story whatever she wishes.

So these are the things I am concentrating on right now! I want teach her if you want something you get it yourself. I want her to be independent and strong and to know who’s welcome in her life and who isn’t. I want her to know what she wants and make it happen and I think little by little each day I see her becoming that person I so want her to be, but still want and need me to be there for her. I think I am achieving that. She’s happy, loves to joke and have fun kind of girl with a zest for life and she won’t let anyone drag her down. That’s how I want her to be.

Modern Dad indepenentI have come to realize that I cannot make her how I imagine her. I have to let her become who she is to become. I can only guide her and give her the strengths that will help her to become that person. If she doesn’t accept the guidance I give I now realize that that’s who she will become as she will only take from me what she needs.

Beau Twins
Handbags and Snot Rags

Public shaming kids is just plain wrong!

Ryley asked me over the weekend about my thoughts on public shaming your kids and showed me this video. Here are my thoughts and my answer…

I do not understand these parents that think it’s ok to humiliate their own children! I cannot imagine how they believe that announcing to the world that my child screwed up is a good form of punishment. Wait hold on it’s not a punishment, it’s bullying! You are not as a parent showing the world anything other than you are a bully! You force your children to make a video, that obviously is so embarrassing for them that they just want to curl up in to the fetal position and cry.

Now I am no psychologist, but what are you doing to your child? Whether it’s skipping school, being older on a social network or whatever it is by doing a video you plan to post up so you can scream to the world “look I’m a good parent”! This video is for you! You want 15 minutes of fame with public shame hopefully showing yourself as a good parent. Well I have news for you… there is at least one person “me” that does not see you that way.

Children-become...

I see it as a very cruel thing to put your child through as their friends, classmates, teachers and everyone else in their neighborhood and for that matter around the country and the world what they had done. What gives you the right as a parent to destroy your child’s life like that? The backlash of the public shame video could very well haunt them for the rest of their lives. Maybe everyone else will forget in a short amount of time, but they will never forget how little and insignificant you made them feel. How you made them feel like horrible human beings.

I stopped to think back on all the things I did as a teen myself and my parents no matter what I did would have ever in a million years publicly shamed me. I may have had all my things taken from me and grounded till the cows came home, but never would they have made me feel small and insignificant and my feelings did not matter.

Before you act, think of what the repercussions will be to your child of your actions first!

 What are your thoughts on publicly shaming your children? Would you or wouldn’t you?

Please share my post if you agree or disagree! It’s an issue that needs to addressed!

Advice to new and expectant fathers

To all you new and expectant fathers it’s not as daunting as you would think it would be! I have had quite a few new and expectant fathers ask me what advice I would give now that I am “old hand” as one so eloquently put it! Which still makes me smile and chuckle! So here’s my big advice from an “old hand”! Don’t over think it! That’s my first bit and biggest. You will only make yourself second guess your natural instincts.

As newborns there are really just a few things that they could need or want. Here’s kind of a checklist I always did when one of my kids would start crying.

  1. Diaper: This is one I would always do straight away. As you can imagine a full diaper can’t be that comfortable to be in. So if in doubt change it!
  2. Body temperature: Much like yourself babies don’t like to be to hot or to cold. Being a comfortable temperature is important. This you can tell by feeling the head and extremities.
  3. Hunger: This was always an easy one as I would just place my pinky knuckle up to their mouth and see if they would try to latch. This worked with my three anyways. Just to be double sure though even if they didn’t we would always try and have them feed.
  4. Play time: Even though you may not think it babies need play time, they do! Play time for them is interaction with you. Time where you spend time making silly noises and faces at them. This is an important one as it is a great way to get close to your baby.
  5. Needs rest: Even though the thought is simple, if your tired sleep! This isn’t so true in the case of a baby! There can be times when your baby will be over stimulated and needs extra attention to settle their minds down so they can sleep. I found most of the time if one of my kids were over stimulated I simply took them in to a dimly lit quiet room and hummed to them. Seemed to work well.
  6. Needs cuddling: Much like you babies need love and attention and to feel that closeness to you. make sure you give this one a lot! even if they are napping hold them. You will develop a great relationship with them.
  7. Has gas: As most of you may know already or maybe not, babies need help to burp or even break wind at times. I had my way of getting them too. I would suggest that you ask your doctor how they would.

After all that your guess would be as good as mine! I was fortunate as none of mine were colicky. Just don’t get frustrated and keep calm. When you feel to overwhelmed it won’t help the situation at all! Remember it’s all about learning and you have the instincts in you! Enjoy them as they grow far too fast and before you know it they are 16 and getting their learners license and wanting to drive.

crying_baby2

 

Beau Twins
The Mommy Life

Encourage your childs creative side

quoteSo my 15 year son suggested I write this post. I asked why and he said, because you encourage us to step out of the box and try new things the best you can. I’ve always thought that by encouraging their imagination they would realize that there is more to life than living in the box that most people do. Most recently they have decided they want to become you-tubers and are working on their content now. I know for myself because they are 13 and 15 some of the content might be less desirable for me to watch, but I am keeping my mouth shut and letting them plan what they want. I don’t want to put a damper on that creative side by creating a lot of rules they must abide by. I know I have raised them right and  they won’t get too edgy (I think?). We will see! So dads let them run wild with their creative side and let them enjoy that freedom of self expression and you will see a whole new side of them you never knew!

Your daughter and puberty

Puberty means a lot of physical and emotional changes for girls. You as her dad can help with these changes by acknowledging that she is now transforming from your little girl and becoming a young woman. Really you can’t pretend to be oblivious to the changes that are taking place in her as puberty comes in. I do realize that her mom should be helping her through these changes, but just like some dads don’t want to or can’t have the conversation with their boys, there are women that can’t with their daughters as well. Irregardless though you still need to know what’s coming and support your daughter and her changes as best you can.

Puberty

  • A growth spurt will happen and you may notice that in this growth spurt that she will not only get taller, but she will also put on more weight, her hips will become wider and rounder and her waist will narrow as puberty starts.
  • Breast development is an early sign of puberty and this can happen in girls as young as 9. she may feel uncomfortable and would like to get a training bra, this is a soft bra with no real support. Now if you must take her for her fist training bra because her mother cannot, make it as comfortable as possible for her. Don’t go in thinking that we just run in and grab one and go as it has to be a comfortable fit and she must feel confident when she is wearing it.
  • An increase of hair will develop on her arms, legs, armpits and pubic area. She may want to remove the hair because she feels uncomfortable with it and there are options of removing, shaving or waxing. Hopefully the mother is in the picture to help her decide this, but if she isn’t you can always talk to your physician or maybe your sister or your own mom.
  • Soon after the breasts start to develop she will get her first menstrual period and honestly dads can you imagine how scary this must be for them? So be supportive the best you can and make them as comfortable as you can. During the period there is 2-3 days of heavier bleeding and 2-4 days of lighter flow. When she first has her periods they may be sporadic and all over the place as far as timing, but as her body adjusts it should be on average a 28 day cycle. For the first while I myself would think that sanitary napkins would be the choice to use as they would be the easiest to use. Again though talk to your physician about the pro’s and con’s of both sanitary napkins and tampons.
  • Lets talk about cramps and the period! Cramps are caused by the increase of hormones during her period, this causes the uterus to contract and she may feel some or all of these symptoms, pain in the back and upper thighs, bloating, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. Ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help ease period pain. Also a heating pad or hot water bottle on her abdomen may also help. If her cramping is severe again talk to your physician.
  • Because of surges in hormones she may feel moodiness at times and especially right before her period, you know “PMS”. PMS may cause irritability, difficulty sleeping, fluid retention and food cravings. Once the period starts though the PMS symptoms should go.

Be mindful dad about this as we have no idea what it feels like to have periods or hit puberty as a girl. So learn from her ask questions when you need too from her, show her you care and your there to look after her the very best you can for anything she needs. You will have a stronger relationship with her as she transforms in to being a woman.

Having “the talk about puberty” can always be difficult as it’s hard watching our children go from being a child to becoming a young adult, all we can do as parents is love and support them the best we can with whatever they ask of us.

If you found this useful check my post on puberty for boys

talk-to-your-daughter-before-period-puberty

Let's Talk Mommy