Archives for February 2014

Powerful Parenting: Every Parent Must Read This

I was sent one of the most powerful blog posts I’ve ever read the other day. It was truly a game-changer for me as a parent. One of the things many parents take pride in is teaching their children something that has the potential to change things that are bigger than themselves, a way of thinking and understanding the world around them that has the potential to change an unhealthy trend in human behavior to a positive and empowering human condition.

mom&daughter

The post is titled No-Part 1: Mama Taught Me How to Say No to Sex. It was posted by Rebecca Flin on the blog site Disrupting Dinner Parties: Feminism for Everyone. In her post Rebecca chronicles a childhood event that provided her mother with a teachable moment that would essentially change how she viewed her role in preventing herself from being taken advantage of by others. Her mother executed the “lesson” with amazing direction, practicality, and sensibility. She even made the content understandable to the, then 7-year-old, blogger and her 4-year-old younger brother. Not only did she equip Rebecca with skills to say what she means and mean what she says (she has her practice her intonation aloud) when she says “NO” but she also impresses upon her little brother why and how he must understand and respect the “NO” that really means “NO”. That’s a two-for-one parenting moment!

So I hope you find the time as soon as possible to read Rebecca’s blog post because if more parents engage in powerful conversations and teaching behavioral shifts like she describes, generations to come will be comfortable with sending clear and explicit messages about their desires and limits and more responsive to those messages.

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Straight Talk: Discussing Gender Identity and Teaching Tolerance

My 9-year-old son and I were lounging on the couch one evening, enjoying the Winter Olympic ice skating competition and he turns to me with a mildly perplexed look on his face and asks, “Is that a man or a woman?” Unsure of why he was asking, I asked him “Which skater are you referring to?” He replied, “The one with the pants.” At this point I felt conflicted about what to say next. Mostly because I really didn’t know the sex of the skater, and our enjoyment and understanding of the broadcast did not seem dependent upon the answer, and most importantly, I wanted to respond with honesty, tolerance, and sensitivity.

middleschooler_dad

The topic of gender, gender roles, and gender identity is very personal and complex for many of us. It becomes even more complex when we feel that we have little knowledge about gender identities that we are unfamiliar with. As a straight, cisgender parent I find it challenging to discuss LGBTQ issues in many ways because I do not have the personal experiences of those identities to speak about. However, it is important to me that I have conversations with my own children that reflect the openness, sensitivity, and acceptance that I want them to have when understanding people and things that may be unfamiliar to them. So how can parents talk to their children appropriately and sensitively about gender, gender identity, and gender roles? For me, the most important part of the conversation is that it conveys tolerance, acceptance, and a desire to learn. After all, that is how I would want someone that is first meeting me and my family to act. I recently read an article posted on babble.com by Heather Spohr titled, Talking to Kids About LGBT People and Issues. Heather’s personalized post provided me with a deeper understanding of my role as a parent in the development of my children’s perspectives of LGBTQ people (and people different from them in other ways). Check out Heather’s post and join me as I continue to work toward my personal goal to teach my children tolerance, sensitivity, and awareness of the lifestyles and cultures of others.

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Use Your Words…

Language development is one of the most amazing capacities of the young mind. Researchers have studied the brain during this phase and continue to uncover new and exciting things about how language is acquired and developed. Did you know:

  • Around 18 months, many children can say about 50 words. At this age, most children also begin using new words after hearing them only once.
  • Whether children learn words in a rush or more slowly, by the time they reach their second birthday, they’re typically using between 250-350 words.
  • Only six months later, the word total nearly doubles to about 600 words.

mombaby_drawing

I was amazed every time I watched my own children go from wordless to nonstop talking in a matter of months.  And the best part of language development for me, besides the fact that I had yet another conversation partner, was that it took a lot of the guesswork out of parenting. My children could finally express their wants, needs, and feelings (for the most part). This is known as expressive language. Expressive language is defined as the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings. It is a powerful communication tool and there are things parents can do to encourage their child’s development of expressive language. The latest newsletter from LBCC’s Healthy Families & Healthy Start Early Literacy Program is a great resource for tips and activities that will build expressive language in young children. The newsletter is written in three parts that correspond to various age ranges of language development (babies, 2-3 year-olds, and 4-5 year-olds) and gives expectations and ideas for each. Check out the newsletter and remember that the best thing parents can do to encourage language development is use your words.

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Making the Most of Mealtime

iStock_000013096434XSmallThere is much more to eating with our children than meets the eye. Eating with your child is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship as well as set the foundation for lifelong good eating habits. There are basic things that parents can do to  make the most of mealtime with their child starting from birth. The tip sheet titled: Healthy From the Start, brought to you by zerotothree.org, provides explanations of the following 7 tips to guide parents as they work to make the most of mealtime with their little ones.

  1. Remember: Meals are about more than food.
  2. Create routines around mealtime.
  3. Offer 3 or 4 healthy food choices (that your child likes) at each meal.
  4. Don’t force your baby or toddler to eat.
  5. Don’t give up on new foods.
  6. Turn off the TV (and computers etc.) at mealtimes.
  7. Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand.
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