Parenting: one-size-fit-all II

After years of seeing different fads, I came to the conclusion that there is no one right way to raise a child, and discipline is just one aspect of it. In the US, like in some other places, we are trying to move away from spanking and other physical punishments, which are common in traditional society around the world (and in the US). So what are the alternatives?

I would like to share with you my observations and my personal experience. I found that the parent needs to choose something that fits the child, but also something that fits the parent. I would never do anything that would make me uncomfortable, even if all the children’s books say I should.

It is not just about my comfort zone, because it is about the child, and not me. I might wish it would be easy, or that it would not hurt, or that it will all be lovie-dovie, but it isn’t. I need to choose what will teach my child, and will represent me–my thoughts, feelings, and values.

I have to choose a path I will be happy to defend 20 years from now, something that might not feel loving to my child right now, but when he/she will be a grown-up, he/she will say “thank you” for making this choice, for insisting, for setting the limit, for protecting me from myself, for showing me what it means to be strong.

There is a limit as to how other parents’ experience can help. If you do not know the person, his or her experience might not resonate with you. Whatever they suggest probably worked for them, but if it does not click with you–that does not make them wrong. It is just advice that does not fit you. Just keep looking, exploring; the right inspiration will manifest quickly enough.

Parenting is not one-size-fit-all

In the business of parenting, most of the advice is similar: It’s about staying calm, being consistent, not spanking or punishing, and how we need to replace it all with “time out.” Isn’t “time out” punishment? And–whose problem are we solving anyway? The parent’s? The child’s? I also questioned this: Is there really a “one size fits all” solution to the challenge of discipline? We are all mothers and we all love our children, but do we want to raise them to be the same person?

We all come from different cultures, with different stories, and we have different sensibilities and sensitivities.

Holiday gifts: What’s a parent to do?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and holiday gifts are an inevitable issue. This year, the dollar amount is an issue in most families, and since I do not qualify as a financial advisor, all I can say is: Stay within your budget. But I do want to share my thoughts about giving presents to children.

  • For children, more is NOT better.
  • You have to decide if this is going to be a surprise, or if the child is to have a say in what is the present is to be.
  • Making a long list and then not getting all of it feels deceptive to a small child.
  • Give your child an opportunity to tell you what is to be given to others, not just to her or him.
  • Monitor the commercials your child watches on TV – that is where his or her expectations come from!
  • Talk with your friends to find out what kids consider “cool” this year. Then you have to decide if you are for or against this particular “cool” factor.
  • Toys that make noise (speech, music, beeps) are not always welcome.
  • Elementary school children are vulnerable to peer pressure, and to get something that is considered desirable by friends is very important. You can take your child on the most interesting trip to Africa, but if this is not something of value to his or her friends – it is not something he or she will care for. Don’t blame your child for it – he or she is just trying to find their place in the “pack.”
  • As you are shopping for, wrapping, and mailing presents, you can talk about what it all means to you. Talk about caring for the people you send presents to; tell your child stories about these people in your life. Put into words your loving feelings.
  • Talk about money. Not about how much you want to have more money, even if it is for gift-giving; that will teach your child that there is never enough money. Instead, make positive statements: “How nice that we can buy gifts for our family!”
  • Talk about what is important, like time spent with people you love.
  • Get the child involved in the wrapping (you can make your own wrapping paper) and the writing of the cards. A scribble from a small child, a hand print, a picture, or a poem, are always welcome treats to grandparents and other relatives. You can even record your child – voice or video – sending greetings. It’s easy to do on websites like Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, and Weebly.
  • Use technology to create inexpensive presents: picture albums, videos, ebooks. Grandparents and the rest of the family will love it!

Holidays are wonderful focal points for creating memories for the rest of your child’s life!

Be prepared for the holidays!

Holiday season is already here. The unofficial shopping season started a while ago, decorative lights have started to appear, and the changing of foliage colors – even in California- brings a comforting beauty as we let go of the fun of warmer and longer days.
With a small child – or children – at home, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to create a wonderful – and child-appropriate – holiday experience.
1.   Prioritize! What are the most fun parts of the holidays for YOU? For your spouse? Do you like shopping? Sending greeting cards? Getting presents? Cooking? Decorating? Visiting with family and friends? Church? The answer is different for every family.  Be aware of your priorities, and plan accordingly.
Be honest with yourself, and remember, especially if this is your first holiday season with a small child: Things are different now. You may not be able to do everything you looked forward to before you had children. If this makes you said, just remember: It’s only for a few a years. And now you have the opportunity to create new and wonderful and different holiday memories for yourself and your children.
2   Be honest and realistic about your expectations from your distant family. Let’s face it: Small children can be disruptive, and some adults can’t handle the ruckus. Sometimes we think that for THIS holiday, it will be fine. With small children in tow, you cannot expect that.
So expect everyone to behave as badly as you remember, and come up with your strategy of how you are going to make the most of it. Try to minimize opportunity for family – sometimes strangers to your children – to criticize you as a parent. You have the right to make your own mistakes and learn from them, and tell others that they have just to live with it.
3.   Create a safety bubble around your young children: They do not have to enjoy all the commotion. They will learn to love it if they have fond memories of it. If they start to fuss – it means that they have had enough. and that it may be time to return to their familiar routine.
4. Get the children involved! For example, gift wrapping – it may not be “store-perfect” wrap, but it can have a beloved child’s hand-print on it! You can make your own wrapping paper with your child (If crafts are a priority, and you love to do that!) by using hand-prints on newspaper in the season’s colors.
5.   Make a holiday calendar: Mark the days and what is to happen each day, and then cross off the days as they pass. This helps you to prepare the child for what is going to happen and prepares the child to understand the idea of a time-line.
6.   Do not make your schedule too tight. Leave room for changes and relaxation. You can always add things as time goes by, without exceeding the family “stress threshold.”
7.  Schedule relaxation for you and your spouse.
8.   Plan for the “after-holiday blues.” You will need a rest, but also something exciting. How about a Hawaiian party? You do not have to go Hawaii: Crank up the heating for the evening; decorate with bright yellows, oranges, and greens; serve everything with pineapples; make an appropriate music playlist – and have fun! This can be a multi-generation party: get sunglasses, straw hats, flip-flops, maybe bathing suits or beachwear. Exotic fruit drinks – with or without alcohol. What did i miss? The possibilities are endless!
In the present economic climate, you can avoid the money issue by concentrating on what matters most: Good times spent with people you love.
This should be priority number one!