Listening to your Children

listening“Are you listening to me”?

Since I returned to Chicago two weeks ago it has been frigid, with a mixture of snow and ice…

I cannot remember when the cold has been this bad for so long…it seems like many years since I made sure I had a blanket and supplies in my car just in case it was needed!

At least, I no longer have a diesel engine car which would freeze and just refuse to go anywhere in the cold.

During the past few weeks, I have taken a hiatus. With all the cold I was beginning to think my brain has frozen along with my keyboard…

A few days ago, I came across an important piece about active listening

There just doesn’t seem to be anything more important than actually listening to our children and grandchildren to help them develop empathy, feel validated and remain willing to talk to us.

As a social worker and nurse, listening skills were paramount while caring for others… listening both with my ears and my eyes. Body language can also tell you how a person really feels and whether their words are contradicted by their bodies.

When I was growing up in the 50′s…there was a mantra…”children should be seen and not heard”.

I was never quite sure what was actually meant by this statement. What I do know, is that as the youngest member of my family, I always made myself known.

Over the years, it seems this saying has disappeared and to that I would say, “good riddance”!

Children speak to us in so many ways…through solo play with their toys, through our interactions with them, through body language and through behavior such as crying and tantrums.

Listening to your child with your undivided attention can derail a tantrum…really!

Making sure you understand what he is trying to tell you with his actions and his words is a very powerful tool…it actually shows your child that you care about how he is feeling.

I know, I feel so appreciative of someone, who really listens to me and is not trying to formulate a response while I am talking.

Children appreciate real listening as well and will continue to seek you out as they get older if you are a good listener when they are young.

So…try active listening…it is not easy. Beforehand, you may have to step back and center yourself rather than scream out loud as you step forward with open ears, eyes and arms.

listening with hugs

Related article:

Active listening improves communication in the parent child relationship.

 

What Real Power Looks Like

mother holding child

A beautiful letter…written by a mom, who realizes what “real” power means. I could not say it better than she has.

Please use the link to read her entire post it is lovely.

 

Dear Daughter,

I hold you close. Lithe little toddler body squirming against me as you try and settle. Small human child. One day you will be big and tall and strong. A grown woman, not the little girl I hold now in my arms as you try to relax and sleep. Not the little kid whose body is frantic to move and bursting with energy that even a whole day of play can’t consume.

I see many things in you.

via Being a Powerful Parent and Raising You With Empathy | Nurshable.

Baby Hip Health, Baby Carriers, – The Perfect Parent- Ireland Forever…Weekend Reading

Summer Sailing

Summer Sailing

Did you ever wonder how to be the perfect parent?… it is not possible as this mom writes with humor. I am sure you will be able to relate to some of her “5 Easy Steps” no matter how young or old your kids are.

 

How To Be a Perfect Parent in 5 Easy Steps… or Probably Never

I don’t dole out much parenting advice as a rule, largely because I have an almost 18-month-old and spend most of my days feeling like a complete and utter fraud and failure.

 

 

I love seeing so many babies being “worn” by their parents in carriers. Closeness is very important to infants and young children. However, babies should be worn properly, just as they should be positioned in their car seats properly.

Because infants are still developing their hips are and knees are at risk for damage in front facing baby carriers…

Education Statement: The IHDI recommends healthy hip positioning for all babies to encourage normal hip development. Within the womb, a baby spends a long time tucked in the fetal position, in which both hips and knees are bent or flexed.

 

St. Patrick’s Day is over but I love Ireland and was thrilled to find a list of some great Irish blogs.

Some days, I long for the warmth of a peat fire accompanied by a cup of Irish tea and a delicious scone with cream and jam along with good conversation. My husband and I have visited Ireland several times, it is like going home for me where as the Irish say…”there are no strangers just friends you have not met yet.”

Get a slice of Irish life through these amazing personal blogs.

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I’ve been searching for the best Irish blog. I want to know what life is like in Ireland, the secret ingredient in Irish recipes, and the best kid-friendly places to visit. What better way than to find out first hand?

Have a great weekend…thanks for reading.

Weekend Reading…

Comfort Food

This week there was a very sad and shocking incident on a plane….it involved a child and a racial slur in addition to a slap across the face…unbelievable??? not really…. when you read the account below about how it is to travel as a “minority”.

 

Recently I got into a Twitter conversation with a friend who lives on the West Coast of the United States and is planning a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend.

 

While I was hit by the headline of this article, I am not sure that I agree with it but what I know for sure is that there definitely is too much information out there for parents. Some of the information is just opinion and other is factual while some internet conversations among moms on various sites are full of personal attacks about parenting styles including breast or bottle feeding.

What do you think?

 

In part, my mother is right: moms of my generation are more neurotic than moms of her generation. According to Ann Hulbert, the author of “Raising America: Experts, Parents and a Century of Advice About Children,”  “with every generation (over the past century at least), parenting norms have become more obsessive and anxiety inducing.” On the web, there are more outlets for parenting expertise than ever before, and the proliferation of doctors, midwives and lay folks telling you the “right” way to parent is profoundly anxiety producing.

Recently, I have been watching Mario Batali and admiring his cooking skills. I guess my favorite cuisine is Italian so I share his taste buds for the foods of Italy.

Here is what sounds like a delicious recipe for “gnocchi” and squash with a kick of heat.

Teaching your kid to fight…would you do this?

Yesterday, I witnessed a very disturbing scene in an urban playground.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Chicago, at a playground nestled among the skyscrapers near Millennium park.

Our extended family was there with the youngest among them, a 2 year old little boy and 4 year old little girl. Both, fortunately, remained oblivious to the inappropriate activity encouraged by the parents and nanny of two seemingly unrelated boys.

The young boys seemed to be around 7 or 8 years old…one was several inches shorter than the other but they were evenly built….they were “duking it out” in the middle of the playground.

At first the other “parents” yelled at them to “cut it out” and “stop”, but the boys seemed intent on throwing punches and kicks to the body and groin paying no attention to the bystanders.

I watched somewhat in horror…especially when I noticed one boy’s parents watching and encouraging their son in this activity. They were not phased by any of the other parents’ comments.

I realized the taller boy was there with a nanny and toddler sister when he ran to his sister’s stroller to grab his sword out of its sheath. The nanny quickly took it away but sent him back into the “ring”. This was probably the only appropriate adult behaviour that I witnessed.

Finally…I could not contain myself as I watched this scene unfold and I approached the dad…

“Do you speak English?”…I asked.

He mumbled…that he did. I then told him, that what he was doing was inappropriate and that other children in the playground should not be made to witness this…his response was …”then don”t watch”…I then said that we could not help but witness the fighting, and this was a “playground” where we teach our children not to fight.

At that point, I walked away and approached the nanny, who was also just watching from another vantage point…I essentially told her the same thing and said that it was shameful of her to encourage this activity.

The nanny gathered the boy fighter and little girl and quickly left the playground…then other couple hung around watching their son play nicely with some other kids on the playground equipment .

I am still processing this scene and wondering if what I did really mattered…no other parents stood up to this man…did this mean that they were not appalled or was it urban apathy and “don’t get involved” that was playing in their heads?

I will never know for sure…but what I do know is that I basically stood alone facing this dad…speaking my mind…and I would probably do it over again.

What would you have done if you witnessed an activity like this at a playground?

I felt like I was watching a “dog fight”…and I had a flashback of an episode of “Law and Order SVU” where a child died of a ruptured spleen under suspicious conditions.

It was later found that the young boy was encouraged to fight by his dad and there were other dads, who brought their boys to a group at night in a park and set them free to fight…it was a disgusting show… but now I realize it seems that it is all too real.

 

Week in Review….Parenting in the Loop

Summer Sailing

Happy Friday everyone…here in Chicagoland, it is going to be a very pleasant weekend…a great one for the Air and Water Show! It is one of the summer events that always is amazing!

Here are my pick reads for one of the last summer weekends before school reopens and we start to feel the presence of Fall creeping up to greet us.

 

Getting your mojo back is critical for your quality of life so it’s cause for some radical changes and the outright shattering of your own conventional wisdom. Face it – feeling passionate and motivated every day for your work, family and self is a win for yourself and those that depend on you.

I always want to make more time for important stuff like paying attention to family and having time for what is meaningful…don’t you. It is nice to see that others have the same difficulties getting things done to make room for family fun.

I love this site. It has great little ideas for moms and grandmothers…you can follow on FB, Twitter, Pinterest or receive e-mails. Worth a look!

My long time dream is to shop for food like I did when I was a single city dweller in NY or similar to Europeans in Paris or Rome. Shopping for fresh ingredients each day and making a dinner from my imagination is truly just that …a dream! But this shopping cart bag makes me think of perusing small fruit and vegetable stands, and visiting the butcher, baker and candle stick maker. What about you? What is your dream when it comes to preparing dinner.

“Toast Tuesday”…Parenting in the Loop

TOAST TUESDAY…

This week I am toasting Lisa Sunbury…and her blog “Regarding Baby”

Lisa and Magda

She is gifted in the way she approaches parenting children and her understanding of RIE and the work of Magda Gerber.

See what you think for yourselves and let me know some of your thoughts.

About Regarding Baby:

The word Regard has several meanings; a protective interest, a feeling of respect and affection.One of my most important teachers, Magda Gerber, often talked about helping parents and caregivers to see babies with “New Eyes.” Since my area of expertise is infants and toddlers and I focus on helping parents learn to relax and slow down, do less, and to respect and respond to their baby’s needs through sensitive observation, Regarding Baby seemed to make perfect sense as a name.

 

RIE Certified child educator Lisa Sunbury & RIE founder Magda Gerber

About Lisa: I have dedicated my life to caring for, supporting, and advocating for infants, toddlers, and their parents. I have over twenty years experience working in the field of Early Childhood Education, in a variety of roles.

via About.

“Detachment Parenting”…really??

Every now and then we need a spoof…Right?

Well, this one is good.

Of course, like Dr. Sears, I can only offer “Tools.  Not rules.” And each family is so different.  But what’s great about DP is you can adjust the levels of benign neglect to suit your own family’s needs.

via The latest child-rearing fad? Detachment parenting – TODAYMoms.

My Take…

If we are all just a bit honest we just might agree that “benign neglect” has its place in the world of parenting.

What does DP or BNP (Benign Neglect Parenting) look like on any given day in your house.?

I have to stretch my brain to remember back when my now adult girls were little ones, and my house was more chaotic than it is now as a caregiving grandparent.

Here goes my valiant effort to remember…

  • My rule of thumb was that if my kids were screaming I did not intervene, unless I heard a blood curdling scream or one of my kids was actually bleeding.  Unfortunately, my husband did not necessarily have the same rule nor could he tolerate the level of screaming that I was accustomed to on a daily basis.
  • I  remember not getting too upset about accidents unless there were serious injuries…my work in pediatric nursing blunted me to small bumps and scratches. I acknowledged to my children that small injuries were uncomfortable and painful but they would get better with little or no attention paid to them…no surprise,  they always did!
  • We did not co-sleep…it was not too popular “back in the day” anyways!
  • We did not baby wear…at all…I had never heard of such a thing…but then again Dr. Sears was nowhere around at the time.
If I had to describe my parenting “back in the day” I would say that it was very much a mixture of all that I knew at the time… I was a little bit DP*, a little BNP*, a little AP*… a Traffic Copter* not a Black Hawk*.
What I most remember, is that being a parent was my most important hat of all the hats that I wore at that time.
*Glossary:
DP=Detachment parenting
BNP=Benign neglect parenting
Traffic Copter Parent= hovers, not obnoxiously overbearing
Black Hawk Parent = hovers, obnoxiously overbearing.

Week in Review…Parenting in the Loop

Lessons in parenting something all of us can enjoy and they are useful too!

A daughter is special and so is a son but this is a list a mom wrote for her daughter…sweet.

On Saturday morning as I helped JD get dressed for a birthday party, he, out of nowhere, said, “Mommy, a boy and a boy can’t get married.” I didn’t skip a beat. “Ah, yes, they can!” I said, as I pulled the t-shirt over his head. When his little face was revealed he said, “No, Mom, you’re wrong!”

I hope you have a wonderful summer weekend….I know it is still Spring but school is out, so for me, that is “unofficial” summer!   :)