Tag Archives: motherhood

So, You Can’t Tape Your Child’s Mouth Shut

We moved recently, relocating from one of the most forward thinking places on the planet to a small town. No more highways. Very little crime. Good people. But this is no city!

Not long after we arrived, one of my boys called another “Homo!” And no, it wasn’t a “Dude, you’re so innovative — like homo-erectus. You, know, ‘homo’.” No. It was an angry put down at the expense of gay people.

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Why I don’t ‘Go away!’

Sometimes it feels like my son is deliberately trying to push me over into that parenting place where my thinking stops and feelings rule. Where finally, after a full day of whining and sibling squabbles and talking back, I lose sight of my boy’s goodness and say something I later regret. It’s usually in the form of, “Why can’t you just… (fill in the blank),” or “Why do you always have to… (fill in the blank),” or “What is going on with you!” My tone is harsh, and in that moment, my desire is to shirk my responsibility as the only adult present and to blame. I don’t expect an answer to my questions. I’m just boiling hot, and need to release my frustrations. And there’s my little boy, standing in front of me. I see him cower, but the engine of my anger train is just revving up, and it’s energy overcomes me. It’s leaving the station, and it has power over me. I’ve now lost control too. I’m overcome with a “need” to overpower something or someone. A power that when I’m in my right mind, I don’t even want.

That’s what a bad day looks like. And we all have them.

Mostly, though, I’ve learned how to avoid boarding those anger trains — those trains that take me on a ride towards the land of blame and shame, where I can rule with an iron fist (at least with the younger ones). I hate that land. It’s not perfection I strive for as a parent, but my goal is to hop that train as infrequently as possible.

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The other day my boy was driving me nuts. He was sulking around the house, barking at his brothers with all sorts of choice words, and the only response he could muster up to any bit of thinking I offered was, “What do I care?” I thought to myself, “One more ‘What do I care?’” and I’m going to be on that train of mine. I asked him if he wanted an hour of Special Time.

“No!” he barked.

I took a deep breath. I knew he needed to connect with me. And I knew I needed a framework to help me remember that I love him.

I set the timer for an hour. I’ve been doing Special Time with my boys for years, so I’ve built up stamina. I can pay full attention to one of them for those 60 minutes, pouring in love and appreciation despite their ugly behaviors. I can be pleased to do whatever they want — accept their requests for sugar-loaded treats, or set up a bunch of pranks around the house. None of it phases me anymore.

“I’m all yours, baby. I’ve got an hour, and we can do whatever you want.”

“I want you to go away!” he shouted in my face. “I want to be alone!”

I took another deep breath.

“I’m not going to leave you alone when you’re struggling. Later on, you can be alone. No problem.”

He lay down on the couch, facing the back cushions. I sat down next to him, positioning my tush behind the crook of his knees. He tried to push me off with his backside, and again screamed at me to go away. I stayed. After a few minutes, he stopped pushing and continued telling me to leave. I stayed. After another few minutes he quieted.

“What do you want to do for Special Time, baby?” I asked again in a tone that expressed the sweet anticipation I was now feeling.

“I don’t want to do Special Time,” he threw out the words with about as much life as a dead cat.

“Well, here we are doing Special Time. I’m all yours for probably 45 more minutes, and I’m happy to just sit here on the couch with you, if that’s what you’d like. I’m happy to just be with you.”

He was quiet.

After another five minutes or so, he asked me if I knew how to make caramel. I told him it just happened that one of my college roommates had lived on caramel corn, and I had watched her make it so many times I was sure I could do it with my eyes closed.

“I don’t want to make caramel corn,” he stated, with zero enthusiasm. “I want to make caramel.”

“OK,” I said, in a chipper tone. “Let’s do it!”

He dragged himself off the couch and towards the kitchen. I knew he wanted to make caramel and that he was grateful for my attention, but his body language successfully disguised his pleasure. I was familiar with the “How long will you hang in with my nutty behavior?” test. And I knew how to hang.

For the next 45 minutes we played in the kitchen. It started out slow and quiet, but fairly quickly my boy grew more animated. The smiles returned. It was as if we had blown air into that half-deflated balloon from last night’s party. He stood up straight. Suddenly had lots to talk about.

When the timer rang we had just poured the sticky caramel into a glass baking dish. Together, we cleaned up our mess, and then we went our separate ways. He headed to his room to do something on his own. And I made myself a cup of tea and took a five-minute break to appreciate my success in staying off the anger train, and bask in my son’s sweetness — and love of sweets!

This piece was originally published on HuffPost Parents.

40 Ways to Connect – Guest Post by Becky Eanes of Positive Parenting

40+ Ways to Connect with Your Child Today

Guest Post By Rebecca Eanes

Building and maintaining a strong connection with our children takes focus and work, but the benefits are worth the effort. When children are securely connected with us, they have higher self-esteem, behave better, are more cooperative, and are happier overall. I know we live in a busy world and sometimes it’s difficult to carve out an hour for playtime when dinner needs to be made, dishes are piled high, the inbox is full of messages that need responses, work calls are coming in, and the laundry is everywhere! Connecting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are many small things we can do throughout the day and night to strengthen the bonds we have with our children.

  1. Give a cheerful morning greeting. Rather than start with a “Hey, hurry up!” try a special morning greeting for each child, like “rise and shine my sunshine” or “good morning doodle bear, I’m happy to see you this morning!” This slight change in greeting can shift the tone for the whole morning.
  2. Make it a point to show affection before breakfast. A hug, a rub on the head, a kiss on the cheek – take just a couple of seconds to be affectionate with your child because little moments add up to lots of love.
  3. Do something a little special at breakfast, like a note beside their cereal bowl or fruit shaped in a smiley face on top of their oatmeal.
  4. Notice something good about them before breakfast and say it out loud. “Your outfit looks nice today” or “Thanks for making your bed this morning. That was helpful.”
  5. Make up a secret handshake or hand symbol that’s just for the two of you.
  6. Say a blessing over them before they head out the door.
  7. Never let them leave without a hug.
  8. Put a note in their lunchbox that says “I’m so glad you’re mine!”
  9. If your child has a cell phone, send a text to say “I’m thinking of you and smiling!”
  10. Do one of their chores for them.
  11. Bring them a snack or drink without them asking.
  12. Make a comment on what they’re working on when you pass by. “Oh, are you about to beat that level?” or “How’s the homework coming? You’re being so diligent!”
  13. Always greet them with a smile, not a question first. “Hi sweetie, I’m happy you’re home!”
  14. Make their bed for them and leave a note on it. “Made lovingly by mom.”
  15. Block out 10 minutes of time and say “I’m stopping what I’m doing and giving you 10 minutes of my full attention because I love you! What do you want to do for 10 minutes?”
  16. Blow up balloons and cover their floor with it “just because.”
  17. Offer to rub their back, feet, or shoulders for a few minutes.
  18. Choose a topic of conversation at dinner, such as new movies, vacation plans, or best books to avoid awkward silence and shrugs after “how was your day?”
  19. Turn some music up loud and dance in the kitchen for 10 minutes while the food is cooking.
  20. Begin an afternoon or after-school tea time. Get darling little teacups with saucers and sit down together for a few moments of civilized engagement. Don’t like tea? Put water in the teacup. They’ll probably still think it’s fun!
  21. It’s affirmation time again! Notice something good about your child and speak it out before dinner is over.
  22. Do a chore alongside your child. Remember how the dwarves did the dishes in The Hobbit? They were singing and laughing and just having a good time doing it. Try that, but don’t toss the dishes around like they did unless you’re very, very good!
  23. Do a quick, fun science experiment together. Mentos and Coca Cola or vinegar with baking soda are cheap, easy, and fun.
  24. Re-work the homework hour with soft classical music and fresh cookies from the oven. They’ll appreciate the effort and change in atmosphere.
  25. Read a chapter aloud from a classic novel.
  26. Invite them into your world to learn something new about you. Tell them about a book you’re reading or invite them to do yoga with you.
  27. Take a walk together after dinner.
  28. Play a round of Uno or a card game of your choice. One round doesn’t usually take too long, but it gives everyone time to gather and unwind.
  29. Leave love notes everywhere. Bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, pillow top, under their shoes.
  30. If you have little kids, play on the floor with them for 10-15 minutes uninterrupted. If your kids are older, build a Lego creation or join them in their interest for few minutes.
  31. Ask questions that are more specific than “how was your day?” Try “What’s one thing you learned today?” or “Tell me something nice that happened to you today.”
  32. Grab a flashlight and go under covers together to tell stories.
  33. Make bath time with little ones a special time by adding bath crayons, lots of bubbles, or new bath toys, and play with them for a short while instead of hurrying through the routine.
  34. Spend 5 minutes daring each other not to laugh as you each make silly faces, tell jokes, and make silly noises.
  35. Say yes to an invitation to play that you’d usually turn down.
  36. Play the favorites game by asking “What’s your favorite ___” back and forth quickly until you run out of ideas. You’ll probably learn something new about each other.
  37. Tell them stories from your childhood.
  38. Talk to them about their family heritage. If you don’t know much about your ancestry, explore it together.
  39. Hold them in your lap and rock them like their still babies, even if their limbs are sprawled out all over the place!
  40. Arm wrestle each other.
  41. Give a piggy back ride to bed or a horsey back ride to the tub.
  42. Spend “special time” with each child at bedtime. Sit on the end of their bed or lie down beside them and just listen to what they have to say. If they say nothing, just hold them.
  43. Tuck them in with a special prayer or blessing every night.
  44. Always kiss them goodnight.

Rebecca Eanes is the creator of www.positive-parents.org and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children. Because parenting is about so much more than discipline, Rebecca hits on important topics less spoken about, making this more than a parenting book. It’s a book about building lasting family bonds and reclaiming joy in parenting. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide releases on June 7th. Pre-order now and receive access to an exclusive online book club. Click here to learn more about the book and the pre-order offer.

Do you worry you’re not a good enough parent?

Sometimes this parenting thing gets tiresome. It feels like I’m giving giving giving, but not gettin’ any – if you know what I mean. READ MORE>

Desert Inspiration

Happy New Year!

I’m fresh back from a retreat in the desert with three colleagues (and dear girlfriends), and re-energized for 2016!

There’s something magical about the desert that revives an energy inside me. I’ve only now discovered this magic in mid life, as I was raised along the Pacific Ocean in the cool mist and the shade of the redwoods. READ MORE>

Reasoning with the Unreasonable

I felt like a little kid today in the library when I took a break from (home)work to have a snack, only to be scolded by the librarian.

“I’m sorry, but there’s no eating in the library.” READ MORE>

The Car Ride From Hell That Didn’t Really Bother Me

It’s been a long, hot summer here in our new home. We have gone from North America to Middle East, freezing ocean to warm sea, English to Hebrew (but I’ll keep my posts in the former), urban to rural, family dog to no dog, burritos to falafel, no cousins to tons of cousins, driving lanes as guides, to driving lanes as mere suggestions for placement of your vehicle (which most choose to ignore), many friends to many future friends…

Oh, and there was the month of chicken pox, baseball dreams that didn’t come true (more on that another time), broken down cars and a new dryer that didn’t work (not that we need it in this heat)… I could go on.

The point is, though, that while I’m ready to scream at the top of my lungs, “Yahoo! School starts tomorrow! We made it!” The reality is that each of the five of us is a well of emotions pounding the shore much more like the waves of the Pacific Ocean than the Mediterranean Sea. READ MORE>

A shout out to immigrant parents

When my husband first came to the United States 21 years ago, he did not speak English and he was not an American. I would go to work in the morning, and he would stay in our rented room in a shared house and…well, I don’t really know what he did. But I do remember what he didn’t do. READ MORE>

A letter to my son on his bar mitzvah

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It really does feel like yesterday when you were still Choco, tucked away all cozy and warm in my belly. I remember sitting in Savta’s apartment just down the street from where we are now and having our first heart to heart. It was June 18, 2002 somewhere around 2:30 in the afternoon. READ MORE>

Talking to Young Ones About Sex

Just tell the truth. READ MORE>