Category: Parenting

Shared Parenting? I’m Skeptical

Posted on Sep 16, 2014 by No Comments

I’ve been reading a lot about shared parenting after divorce and to be honest I am quite skeptical about it.

It’s been my experience, and the experiences of a bunch of women that I know, that it’s difficult enough to achieve shared parenting when you are married let alone when you aren’t living together. There are just too many potential problems that I can see — granted, my opinion is colored by my experience.

Two “Separate but Equal” Homes

I thought that separate but equal was proven to not work well way back in the 1960s. Yes, a child can get used to anything but how does this work in the real world?

One month with one parent, one month with another? This also assumes that the parents live close together which doesn’t always happen. That brings up an entirely different question for me, too. What happens if one parent gets transferred across country? Which parent does the child stay with and how do they decide?

I can’t see this being beneficial at all.

And Then There Is Child Support

There is the question of child support. Presumably if a child is being shared equally by each parent there is no need for child support. That’s also assuming both parents make similar salaries and both parents are responsible enough to take care of the child’s needs when he is with them.

Honestly? The few times my ex has taken the kids, he brought them home without having had lunch.. or dinner. If I can’t trust him to buy them a burger I am pretty sure that most of their daily expenses would find their way into my checkbook in a shared situation.

Who Takes Care of Medical Issues?

In my divorce I am the custodial parent. I will be honest and say that I had the agreements written to be helpful to me and to protect my kids from ,what I considered to be at the time, an irrational father. I haven’t really changed my opinion on that, by the way.

In doing so I made all of the medical decisions exclusively mine. This way I know that if my child needs something I can make that decision without waiting for the ex to call me back or make a decision or consult with his girlfriend.

When everything is equally divided, who makes the final decision?

Where Does the Child Belong?

I am not from a broken home or whatever you want to call it, but we moved a lot when I was a kid and as a result I never developed a feeling of belonging anywhere. I wonder how kids who have two homes that are shared equally will handle that not being able to put down roots in either place.

Both Parents Should Be Involved

In a perfect world, both parents should be equally involved and, honestly, a real parent doesn’t need a court order to tell them what the right thing to do is. A real parent automatically puts the good of the child before his or her own desires.

Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world and I don’t think most humans can achieve shared yoke when it comes to parenting. Both parents should be involved but one should have the final authority when it comes to the kids. What are your thoughts?

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc

Validation Is Different than Affirmation

Posted on Sep 15, 2014 by No Comments

In the past couple of decades parents have heard more and more about their children’s need for affirmation. More parents than ever before are remembering to tell their kids that they are proud of them or that they do something well.

What’s happened is that we’ve raised a generation of very self confident children but it seems that with all of the self confidence we have nurtured our kids have gotten less empathetic and less compassionate than ever before while suffering from more stress and perfectionism than in previous generations. It doesn’t make sense.

Or does it?

Validation is different than affirmation but it is just as important. Affirmation lets your child know that you are proud of what they have done, how hard they have worked, or whatever. The focus on on their action and what they did to achieve something.

Validation lets your child know that they are valuable to you — that their feelings, emotions, and opinions are important even if you don’t agree with them. Validation is about respect for someone else’s individuality.

Let’s say your son comes home from school upset because his teacher chose another student to be the class leader for the day. Of course to an adult it is silly but to a child it can be devastating. You could smile and say, “Oh that’s not such a big deal! You’ll get to do it another time.”

Doing so sends a clear message to your child that their feelings are wrong, unimportant, or silly. Another possibility is that you listen intently and then say, “That must have made you feel sad. You’ll be excited when it’s your turn, won’t you?”

In the second example you didn’t give more importance to your child’s small drama than it deserved but you did acknowledge that it was OK for him to feel that way. You then gave him something to look forward to without preaching or giving advice.

You don’t need to agree with the actual emotions but just with the right of the child to have those emotions.

I have to admit, I have a special hatred of incidences when a child gets hurt and the parent says, “Oh! Stop crying, that didn’t hurt!”

Really? And you know that because?

There are certain things that make me cry and my family will tell you that I cry more easily than most people. A scene in a movie that would make me cry might not have an effect on you but that doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t as valid as yours.

In the same way our children need to have their feelings accepted whether they are agreed with or  not. My youngest daughter was homeschooled until last year when circumstances dictated that I put the kids in school.

She is doing very well but every Monday, and some other days, we start the morning with tears and her begging not to have to go to school. I acknowledge her feelings (I know you don’t like getting up and going to school…) while at the same time letting her know that staying home is not an option (…but you have to go because there are lots of things for you to learn there!)

Do you validate your children?

photo credit: pixydust8605 via photopin cc

My Childhood Is Not Reproducible in My Children

Posted on Sep 12, 2014 by 1 Comment

It is a hard lesson to learn. I have so very many happy memories of my childhood that I have spent years mourning that my children could not (or would not) experience the long treks in the woods, the classic books I loved, or the experiences I had.

They would never really understand the peaceful, magical crunch of snow under their feet on a crystal clear winter night because we live in Texas. They’d never experience the family softball games at family reunions because I am an only child and my billions of cousins from my mother’s big family have pretty much all lost track of each other.

The list goes on — there are hundreds of things they’ll never get to do that I loved doing.

It made me sad and for a long time I tried to get them interested in reading books I had loved or doing things I had done. It finally occurred to me that they are making their own childhood memories that are every bit as wonderful as mine.

Different, but magical just the same.

I realized that if my children were to be allowed to grow and become individuals I’d have to free them from the confines of my own childhood memories.

My memories could be enjoyed, shared, and discussed but they could never be reproduced. By trying to give my children those same memories I was robbing them of their own childhoods so, hard as it was, I let go.

I had to let go of the guilt that I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be, they weren’t experiencing what I had experienced, and I had to let go of the idea that my experiences were higher in quality than their own.

What about you? Do you struggle with guilt over your children’s childhood experiences? Maybe it’s time to let go.

photo credit: geezaweezer via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Duct Tape Key Chain, a Fruit Bat Snack, Outdoor Games, and More

Posted on Sep 11, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has a duct tape key chain project, printables to keep kids’ clothes organized, candy corn recipes, and more.

Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons showed us a fun Halloween fruit bat snack to make.

Carlsbad Cravings showed us how to make skinny double chocolate zucchini pecan muffins.

The Life of a Craft Crazed Mom taught us how to make duct tape key chains.

link ru duct tape football
Crafts by Amanda shared some ideas on how to use duct tape for outdoor play time.

Create Craft Love shared candy corn recipes.

Modern Parents Messy Kids shared free printables that will help the kids keep their clothes organized.

Adventures in Making taught us how to make crayon candles.

Photo credit: Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons and Crafts by Amanda

We’re Making Little Kids Older and Older Kids Younger

Posted on Sep 10, 2014 by 1 Comment

It’s crazy. I have been writing and talking about how kids seem more immature in their teens than they used to but I never really thought about the fact that while we are dumbing down our teens we are pushing our littles to do more academics than ever before.

I was reading an article in NewsWise about how kindergarten is the new first grade and the ridiculous, topsy-turvy-ness of it all smacked me in the face. Little kids, just barely out of diapers are learning to read, do mathematics,  and focus on academics.

It wasn’t that long ago that your kid learned to tie his shoes and color in the lines in Kindergarten!

Meanwhile, teens and even young adults are increasingly immature. Unlike teens of the past, many of today’s teens are living lives with the assumption of entitlement. They don’t get part time, after school jobs, they don’t expect to pay for their own car, they don’t expect to have to pay for college.

All in all, they live at home totally supported by their parents until it’s time to go to college. After college they sometimes move back home to be taken care of some more.

I have no issue with kids’ learning as young as they are able to, and want to, learn. I don’t believe in pushing academics but I certainly don’t believe in withholding knowledge. At what point do we suddenly stop pushing little kids to be more responsible and mature and start encouraging them to become permanent adolescents?

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Furniture Inspiration, Halloween Ideas, Clothespin Dinosaurs, and More

Posted on Sep 9, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has furniture painting inspiration, 15 Halloween DIYs, a clothespin dinosaur craft, and more.

Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons showed us a cute Despicable Me minion bento lunch idea.

Seasoned Homemaker inspired us to give some old furniture a makeover with paint.

I Love to Create Blog shared 15 Halloween DIYs to wear or decorate.

link ru clothespin dinosaurs
Crafts by Amanda shared a clothespin dinosaur craft.

Mind Body Green shared eight ways you might be keeping yourself stuck.

Kenarry shared a recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce.

Adventures in Making showed us how to make mini apple cupcakes.

Photo credit: Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons and Crafts by Amanda

Bengals Devon Still Receives Blessing in Disguise

Posted on Sep 9, 2014 by No Comments

When you learn your child has cancer, everything else in your world dims in importance. Recently this happened to Cincinnati Bengals Defensive End Devon Still.

The 25-year-old found out in June that his 4-year-old daughter had stage four pediatric cancer, and needless to say, his mind was not on the game. He admitted to ABC News that “It was like my whole world turned upside down.”

On Saturday, Still learned that the Bengals decided to let him go, and he admits that he can understand their decision because he wasn’t able to give them his all. But that’s not the end of the story.

The Bengals turned around and signed him to their practice squad. This gives him a $6,300 weekly paycheck, health insurance that helps cover his daughter’s care, and as an extra bonus, requires a lot less travel so he can spend more time with his sweet little girl.

When he got the news, he cried.

“They could have washed their hands with me and said they didn’t care about what I was going through off the field. It’s like a blessing in disguise for me.” – ABC News

The 25-year-old dad has shaved his head to match his daughter Leah’s and is thankful for the opportunity have more time at home with her as she completes her treatments. This is one thing they will tackle together. Leah had her fourth round of chemotherapy last week.

To say Still is grateful for what the Bengals have done for him is an understatement to say the least. He gets to stay with the game he loves and with the team that drafted him, but without all the traveling he gets to be closer to the daughter who means so much to him.

I take my hat off to the Bengals for caring and going the extra mile to do the right thing.

Photo credits: Instagram

Swing Technology to Rock Your Baby’s World

Posted on Sep 8, 2014 by No Comments

Technology surrounds us and as parents we have to figure out when it’s a good thing for our kids and when it isn’t.

Consumers pretty much let Fisher Price know their baby seat with a built-in iPad holder was not a good thing. Monitors are a good thing but even there you have to watch which one’s you choose. You don’t want someone to hack into your Wi-fi to see into your child’s bedroom.

Then there are those scannable PJs that read bedtime stories to our kids, not a favorite concept in my opinion. However, I do like the technology incorporated in the 4moms Rockaroo swing.

The Rockaroo swing offers cushy comfort for your baby that’s safe for an infant. It reminds me of those little bouncy chairs but on steroids. It gently suspends the baby above the floor and sways them back and forth. And while all movements are gentle, it does offer five-speed control.

Plus it has a speaker and an MP3 player plug-in! Sounds more like we’re talking about a car, but it really is a quality swing that provides motion from below with a pivot at the base rather than suspending the swing from above. It reminds me more of the motion of a rocking chair than a swing and makes a perfect choice for busy mom’s with a baby that’s fussing.

Another plus with the 4moms Rockaroo swing is that it is quiet! And the sensors respond to the motion of the seat and the baby giving it a less mechanical feel. In fact, because each movement is a little different it actually delivers an almost human quality to the rocking movement.

On the practical side of things, the swing features a machine washable seat fabric and removable toy balls. This high-tech swing starts at $160 and newborn inserts are available for $30.00.

Photo credits: Amazon

Would You Let Your Ex Back in Your Kids’ Lives?

Posted on Sep 8, 2014 by 1 Comment

I am not talking about letting him back in after a month or two. If your ex left the state and saw your kids once every couple of years for a couple of hours, would you welcome him to reconnect with your kids if he decided to come back full time or would you send him packing?

I don’t now how prevalent it is for men to skip out after divorce and rarely contact their kids. I know that it’s my situation as well as a couple of other people but the majority of the people I know who are divorced are both very involved in their kids’ lives.

Still, what if your ex suddenly came back after five or ten years and wanted to be part of the kids’ lives again — right out of the blue. How would you handle it?

I’d like to say that I’d be a reasonable, forgiving adult but the truth is that I don’t think I would. When someone checks out and leaves one person to do all of the parenting I don’t think it’s OK for them just to waltz back in and say, “I’m back!”

I am pretty sure I would require a penance that would make a medieval monk gasp with pride.

I’d want to know that he was serious about coming back in and it wasn’t a game. The minute he started playing games, not accepting that he was in the wrong, or getting angry when faced with the hurt he had caused the kids and I would be out for the count.

This would be a one chance deal. There would have to be apologies and he would have to accept whatever attention they wanted to give him until he had won their trust.

I don’t think this is something I have to be concerned about personally but I do wonder sometimes how I would handle it.

It’s hard to step back and watch your kids get hurt without getting in there and doing something about it. I know that when I was married to my ex I always seemed to be smoothing things over between him and the kids.

Once we were divorced it was hard not to keep doing it. I knew it was important for them to begin to relate without an interpreter but it sure was painful to watch. My ex is not a great communicator and he tends to have the out of sight out of mind gene, so that when he isn’t with someone they sort of cease to exist.

He was like that with his family when we moved far away and now that he has moved back to be near his family he’s like that with the kids.

It creates resentment in them. They get angry and then he lets people know how horrible I am to set his children against him. Just one more layer of crazy, you know?

I know that kids need to be loved by both parents and a stepparent can make a huge difference but can never replace the parent. No matter what your (or my) personal feelings are, the kids need access. If he blows it, it’s for the kids to deal with.

How would you handle it? What would you require?

photo credit: Tobyotter via photopin cc

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