Parenting

My parenting strategy: sometimes you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind

If my son forgets to wear a coat on a chilly day, he experiences cold. If my daughter forgets to bring the lunch I pack for her, she experiences hunger. Neither experience will cause lasting damage (well, maybe a little for the teachers who have to deal with them). In fact, my hope is that such lessons will leave lasting impressions. I want my children to pay consequences they can afford. Like the time Tessa left her brand new Thumbelina on a playground swing, and we weren’t able to find it when we went back the next day. Tuition for this lesson? About $20 and a bucket of tears. Or when Reed didn’t have enough money to buy the Power Ranger costume he wanted (we kicked in the first $10) because he shot his piggy bank wad in a manic spree at Chuck E Cheese. Tuition for this lesso...

Mama Drama: How to Grow Independent Problem Solvers

Dear Mama Drama: (photo credit) I’m afraid I’ve created a monster (or two) by being an overprotective mom. My kids can’t seem to solve even the smallest problem by themselves. If something doesn’t turn out the way they think it should, they fall apart and for every little thing it’s “Mom, mom, mom!” How can I help them become more independent? ~Overprotective Mama Dear Overprotective: Good for you for realizing that you are the link in this chain of helplessness that you have the control to change. It’s hard to admit when our behavior has led to difficult behavior in our children. There are many small things you can do to help your children increase their independent problem solving skills. It just takes a shift in thinking, a lot of teaching...

Mama Drama: Expanding Food Choices for Your Picky Eater

Dear Mama Drama: (photo credit) My preschooler won’t eat anything except macaroni and cheese. I’m afraid to give him other things because if he doesn’t eat it he’ll be hungry. I see other children, even younger than him, eating a wide variety of foods. I am amazed that they will eat things like tofu and vegetables. How can I get my son to eat a wider variety of foods? ~Scared of starving Dear Scared: Many children have difficulty expanding their food choices once they have found a favorite food. Macaroni and cheese, PB & J, and mashed potatoes are common favorites. They may like the texture, smell, or associate a positive experience with that food. However, we have to offer them other foods on a regular basis if we want them to make other choices. Our job as parents is to provide healt...

Does Your Child Prefer One Parent Over the Other? Tips for the Excluded Parent

Is your child choosing one parent over the other? Does she only want Mom to put her to bed? Or, may only Dad pour their milk? Most children will go through a phase (probably more than once) of preferring one parent to the other, and possibly even excluding one parent or caregiver. While this can be quite hurtful for the parent who is being excluded, it is helpful to know this, too, is a phase and will pass. Preferring one parent or adult to another, is actually considered healthy development and common among children of all ages. Preferring one parent to the other can typically be attributed to the attachment process. The attachment phase begins at birth and continues throughout our lives and it is an important process for your child to learn. The purpose of attachment is to find one perso...

Morning routine chaos: How can I end the madness?

Dear Mama Drama: (photo credit) I am having a hard time getting my four-year-old to preschool on time. I usually ask him to get ready while I hop in the shower. When I get out, he hasn’t done anything. I get so frustrated because we are then rushing around and end up being late. Please help us with this madness! ~Delayed Mama Dear Delayed: Getting out of the door on time in the morning is a challenge for many families. It is important to consider your child’s age and skill level when determining how independently he can complete the tasks you are asking of him. It sounds like your son, like most four-year-olds, will need more adult support to get through the morning routine. When things are not working it is time to develop a new plan. One idea would be to bring the items he needs to use i...

How can I navigate our unruly neighbor child and her screaming mother?

Hi Mamas! I could really use some advice! I’m completely stumped! (Image Courtesy of Kevin Shorter) Long story short, my 5-year-old daughter’s “best friend” lives across the street. They are in the same kindergarten class and play outside of school frequently! I have come upon a rather large issue! Considering the fact that our children play well, are in the same class and live across the street from one another I have become “friends” with the little girls mother. The more I am around her the more I am starting to see we are two TOTALLY different families. This mother uses yelling as her form of discipline. Not a slight raise of the voice, I mean a red face, veins popping out SCREAM! She also encourages her 2 and 5 year old to say cuss words, then laughs at t...

Confessions of a sleep deprived mother: 10 things I’ve done because I’m tired

Everyone told me that eventually my babies would sleep through the night. I went through a euphoric period when they finally slept for eight glorious, uninterrupted hours. Sadly, this period of time was very short lived because my infants became toddlers. And my toddlers don’t sleep.  Most nights my kids are too busy not sleeping to be bothered with sleep. Their little minds are consumed with important things that are most concerning to a tiny tot. 

Parenting: How to Say “Yes” as Much as Possible

Dear Mama Drama: I have noticed recently that anytime my husband or I say “No” to our three-year-old daughter, a huge meltdown ensues. Even if we are saying, “No, not right now, but later,” she still throws a tantrum. We find ourselves in power struggles or giving in and are at a loss for what to do.  (photo credit) How can we help her handle not getting her way right away with a little more grace?

12 Days of Toddler Christmas

As Christmas rounds the corner, I find myself officially on the other side of the Christmas magic. That doesn’t mean Christmas has no magic left. It simply means that after the Christmas magic dust has settled to the floor, I have to clean it up. With a broom. Because my three-year old shows the same amount of fear towards the vacuum as I would, if I opened my pantry and found an actual shark inside. The side of Christmas I’m talking about  is the day-to-day side: Hey, hey! It’s Christmas! Also, it’s Tuesday! Did you pay the utility bill? I don’t know who wrote the Christmas carol: “Twelve Days of Christmas.” But, I’d be willing to bet both the giver and recipient were adults. Not just because a verse from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star doesn...

How to Answer ‘Is Santa Real?’

Dear Mama Drama: Do you have suggestions for the “Is Santa real” question?  My eight-year-old asked me very directly if we did the presents and I feel like I need a better response than just running out of the room (which is what I did).  He later asked my husband the same question. I feel like we have to tell him.  Yet, he seems to still want to believe, as he still talks about writing a note for Santa and leaving cookies out. The other wrinkle is that his older sister, whose role model may be Peter Pan, still believes in Santa.  If we tell him, we have to tell her. ~Panicked Mama p.s.  The cute story:  he recently said, “I believe in Santa because good parents would NEVER get their children that many presents.”

Thanks For Giving: Thankless Mom Moment Rewards

It’s true that as a mom our joy and reward is all the happy moments. It’s loving our children and watching them grow. It’s also true that being a mom is a 24/7, 365 day a year job. There are no days off. The pay sucks. The vacation? Well, it’s often more work than the day-to-day grind. Being a mom is a tough job. It’s a full-time, selfless gig with little, or no thanks in many departments. But, sometimes those thankless tasks have their rewards. Maybe they don’t show up right away, but in the end they make the struggle, or fight, worthwhile. Here’s a few “thankless mom moments” and their rewards:

How can I ease my new mom nerves?

Dear Mama Drama: I’m a new mom and feel like I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. I haven’t spent much time around babies or young children, so am not sure what my daughter is supposed to be doing when. We are also on a tight budget, so my resources are limited. (photo credit) What ideas do you have for getting us off on the right foot? ~ Nervous Mama Dear Nervous: Please know you are experiencing the same feelings every new mom faces. Trust your instincts, respond to your daughter’s cues, and get connected with a support system. There are many great resources to help you feel more confident in understanding your daughter’s development as well as your ability to support and care for her. Look at a variety of sources and find a style that feels right to you. Since you are on a bu...