Archive for the ‘ Mom Tricks and Tips ’ Category

I Said Coddlers Were Idiots. People Got Mad. Let Me Explain.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

It’s funny as to what strikes a chord of passion and/or fury when I write a blog. I’m always surprised at the parts in my post that people take issue with, agree with or despise. I can never predict. So it came as a total shock when someone alerted me that my Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots post went viral. I began looking at the countless comments and began to realize how my rant didn’t translate to a lot of people.  I can take the hatred in the comments. But I don’t like it when I’m not understood. However, that’s my bad for ranting, complete with profanity, and thus losing the main focus.

What resonated with a lot of people was my perceived lack of patience. I said a little boy wouldn’t give Emmett his toy back. I said it took the father asking him 3 times, and about 60 seconds to get exactly nowhere. It’s not a long time. But it became clear pretty quick that the scenario wasn’t going to change by asking asking asking. We could have stood there 10 minutes and probably gotten the same response (though I would hope that the parent would finally intervene. Who knows?)

The bigger point is that at this age and with toys/objects–frankly almost anything in societal norms– unless you are firm from the beginning, no 2-year-old is going to instinctively know what to do. A toddler won’t “want” to give something back or else he/she wouldn’t have grabbed it in the first place. If the child is raised with parents who ask, ask, plead, plead, with everything but don’t take charge, then guess what? That kid is always going to think they have a choice.  To hit, grab, steal, throw food, pull hair. This goes far beyond the playground. This is about parenting with clear rules and boundaries.

When I finally said, “Let’s give that back,” and gently took the toy from the little boy, he didn’t cry. He just went onto the next thing. I didn’t grab. I didn’t yell. I was nice. But I stated it instead of asking. I simply don’t see the harm in that. However, a lot of commenter’s said similar things to the one below:

…”What if a stranger prying the car out of his hands sent him into a meltdown? It would have been more appropriate for you to ask dad to grab it instead of you physically intervening.

Sure I could have asked the dad. And then maybe he would have asked his kid. Again. If the child had a meltdown, then I would have stepped back and let him deal with it. Frankly, I probably would have told him to just keep the toy. But that’s because I find myself all too often being the mom who backs down when other people’s kids aren’t behaving. Even on playdates when a child is being bratty to mine, I am almost always the one who says, “Fia, why don’t you go play in a different area,” etc. But I am sick of being the one who changes gears for the kids who are coddled. If their parents were more direct with them, it wouldn’t put me in this position. In this scenario, I found that by simply stating I wanted it back made for a very easy pass over. The toddler basically handed it and I took it. The reason it was so simple is most likely because he was told what to do.

I know from the comments, many of the people who “got” my post will know exactly what I’m talking about here. Seems like these people have had similar experiences as mine:

  • Excellent!!! I feel the same and what sucks are that bratty kids make it hard on the kids who have parents that “tell”" them what to do!!
  • I love this article and am glad to see that there are parents out there that are not afraid to be a parent. I am not my child’s friend nor do I intend to be. Say what you want but I NEVER have these problems with my kids because they respect what I say when I say it.
  • Love this!! Well said!!! Parents are parents first and friends later! It’s ok for your child to get mad at you. We are their adversary!! All these spoiled bratty whiny kids running around controlling their grown parents. It’s sad and pathetic really.

One commenter even directed me to a post she wrote about the type of parent to avoid at the playground.

From the time my kids could interact, I’ve tried to be clear and firm in sharing. I do it with love and I do it with patience. Sure there are times it doesn’t work, and of course it depends on the kid (and the parent). But my kids are not the grabbing type. They also listen really well and usually share really well (which their teachers consistently tell me. Emmett, my wild boy, apparently sits better than a bunch of 3-year olds in circle time).  They also have incredibly happy temperaments. I don’t think that’s just luck. I also think it’s cool my kids are so well behaved. Kids learn quickly to be polite, to share, to not hit, to not grab. They like rules. And order. I think parents who have kids who grab or don’t share, aren’t realizing how simple it is to teach your children basic etiquette. It may take a few tantrums and time-outs, but to me it’s been well worth it.

I hope this clarifies why my original post wasn’t a matter of being “more patient” or as some called me, “a bully.” I’ll wrap up with this woman’s comment:

How would it feel if they turned around and said YOU’RE not parenting right because you are impatient and don’t let your kids figure things out for themselves? 

I know exactly what I would do. I would tell them my kids do think for themselves. And what they think and know is that they don’t grab other people’s toys. And if they do, they give it back. Promptly. No “asking” required.

Find out what your parenting style is here.

Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep

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Can You Sleep Train a Cat?

Monday, March 17th, 2014

For 7 years he slept through the night–sometimes for more than 12 hours. I thought we had it made. No more sleep training needed in this house. But ever since we moved to our new place, things have imploded. While my children progress, my cat has regressed.

Wayne Sanchez is becoming a real problem. He licks our hair with his bad breath in the night. He sits on our head to the point where have to put pillows over ourselves. He howls and yowls. And it all begins at the cheery hour of 3 a.m.

During the day he is the sweetest, most affectionate cat. He tolerates the children constantly rolling and carrying him around. He sits on my lap while I write. He curls up next to Phil at his computer. But come nightfall it all changes.

He won’t relent unless one of us gets up to feed him. Usually Phil gives into Wayne when I give into Emmett at 5 a.m. Bleary eyed, I go make Em’s bottle, while Phil takes Wayne downstairs to eat. Then he closes the door to the basement. We both get back in bed. Em sleeps. Wayne goes to the top of the steps, right between our bedroom and Fia’s, and begins his catcall. Again. This lasts until we get up with the kids. So basically we have broken sleep from 3-7 a.m.

We have a sound machine in Fia’s room and a high-powered fan in ours. But sometimes he gets so loud he could wake the dead. We find ourselves cursing the cat we rescued from Brooklyn’s toxic Gowanus Canal; the cat that we had to turn into a transsexual to keep him alive.

He gets 1 can of food a day. We used to feed him half at 7 a.m. and half at 7 pm. Now it’s more like 3 am and 3 pm, with a “bonus round” of dry food at 9 pm–which actually goes against the vet’s orders. She had us cut down on his dry food and he lost 4 pounds. I proclaimed him The Biggest Loser. Now not only is he wreaking havoc on our sleep, but he’s getting fat again. We’ve tried pushing the evening feed back to 7 pm. It doesn’t matter. It’s as if he’s still on east coast time, even though we’ve been west for almost 3 years.

We have nowhere to put him at night where he won’t be heard but still be close to his liter box. The other night Phil said, “That’s it. I’m putting him in the shower.”

“You can’t put him in the shower!” I said with strange indignation. I have no idea why I was defending the cat at that godforsaken hour.

We compromised and let him have free reign of the bathroom. There, he’s further from Fia’s room but even closer to ours. It’s not a solution.

We are at a loss of what to do. We’ve let him cry it out. We’ve tried Ferber. He is relentless.

Any ideas?

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Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

There are some things you tell your kids and some things you ask. Telling makes it affirmative. Asking makes it optional.  Coddling comes from the latter–and parents who coddle their kids incessantly are entirely insufferable. Their children will suffer for their actions. We all already do because it pisses off the parents who are doing the right thing. In the last week two instances illustrate this perfectly. Strangely enough, it was both dads. But I find the majority of my encounters of this kind are with moms, simply because there are usually more moms on the playground. Regardless here goes:

Emmett went down the slide and his little car slipped out of his hands. A boy around 2 or 3 takes it. Em runs over, points and says, “Emmett’s car.” He doesn’t grab, he doesn’t push. He waits. I am next to him.

The boy’s father comes up.

“Sean, that’s not your car. Can you give it back?”

Silence. More silence.

Dad leans over.

“Hey Buddy, can you give it back?”

More More Silence.

My mind: Okay, if you’re counting that’s twice you’ve asked in the 30 seconds my kid is waiting. And are you an idiot? No kid wants to give up a toy–even if it’s not theirs– so why keep asking?

“Sean, you really need to give that back buddy.”

Nothing. More Nothing.

My mind: Okay are you stupid? The proper thing to say is, “Hey Buddy, give it back.” You don’t ask if he can. Of course he can. But chances aren’t he won’t. Clearly your kid is not responding to your passive parenting. Duh.

At this point, we are approaching 45 seconds, maybe a minute. I’m done. I kneel down and physically take the car from precious little Sean’s hands, while saying, “We are going to give that back now.” I hand it to Emmett and we resume playing. I’m furious though.

Do you see how ridiculous this scenario is? We have become a culture of coddlers. So many parents take the path of least resistance when it comes to child rearing. Your kids are acting up? Hand them your phone. Your kid doesn’t want to share their pile of French fries (on a playdate)? Have the other parent order a new batch, even though that kid will never finish his. It’s ludicrous.

Two days later, at a different playground, Fia and Emmett climbed up to a double slide. The kind where you can sit side-by-side. One slide was empty; the other had a little girl around 18 months on it. Fia sat down on the empty one next to her.

“Come on Emmett, slide next to me,” she said.

“He will Fia, we just have to let this little girl go down first,” I explained.

I look at the father who looks at his daughter.

“What do you think sweetie? Do you want to go down?” he asks.

Silence. More silence.

Emmett is on the top, once again, waiting patiently.

“Hmmm honey? What do you think?” he asks. Again.

My mind: Are you f–king kidding me?

Silence again. More silence. And more.

Fia: “Mom, when can Emmett come with me?”

Me: “When this little girl goes down. What do you think?” I say, turning to the little girl.

Blank stare from girl while I fantasize about shoving her father off of the nearby jungle gyms.

I turn to the father: “Is she going to go down the slide?”

Father: “I’m not sure. I think she just wants to sit here.”

Me=dumbfounded. Speechless. Um, okay, so you are going to let her monopolize the slide? Are you an ape? What are you trying to teach your kid? And what about my kid who actually wants to use the slide your daughter is meditating on.

I can’t believe I didn’t say something directly to him. I should have. Instead I told Fia to go on down her slide and that we will find another place where she and Emmett can do something together. I said it loudly but that’s not good enough. I should have told him his behavior and “parenting”  was inexcusable.

What are these as-hole parents afraid of? That their kids will “freak?”  (Which by the way, is a dumb word to use on your kid. ie: Oh, so and so will “freak” if I don’t do xyz. I catch myself using it sometimes and have to remember how much I hate that word in relation to children. I can’t stand the labeling of our kids. Even worse is when you say “xyz will freak” in front of xyz. If you say your kid is going to freak then guess what? They are going to freak. You are teaching that to them.). Are parents afraid they will actually have to do some work as a parent and “make” their kid do the right thing? That their kid might cry (or “freak”) and you may have to be tough? To be a parent? I don’t get it.

Parenting is not easy. So if you sign up, then do the f–king work it entails to not produce overly whiny, cowardly, and/or bratty kids who aren’t taught the basic etiquette of society. The playground is a metaphor for a helluva lot more. So if you can’t teach them on the playground, how will you teach them in real life?

For all their faults, I have a hard time thinking my parents would have stood for any of this bulls–t. For the handful of things I disagreed with in Stephanie Mertz’s viral rant, she had some excellent points. The helicopter needs to crash and we need to press the restart button on proper parenting.

Bottom line: It’s not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s: You Tell, Don’t Ask. Got it?

Do you coddle your kids? Take our quiz and find out what your parenting style is.

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What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

Cartoon pic via shutterstock

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A Picture to Inspire Your Daughter

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

My friend Elizabeth sent this to me. It made my day. In case you can’t read it, the small print has the little girl saying, “Skip to the part where the princess climbs to the top of the corporate ladder.”

 

I could have saved my breath in lamenting about the princess culture if I had just seen this. A picture (and short quotation) is worth more than a thousand words. Pass it along!

 

Cartoon is courtesy of the Feb 17, 2014 New Yorker Magazine.

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The Evening Mom Blahs

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

I find that right around 5 pm, when dinner is looming and the kids are typically at their worst, my mentality starts to shrivel. It’s why I founded The Failure Hour 2 years ago, but have been a terrible president as of late. My backyard has remained devoid of girlfriends, toddlers and wine.

Sure, I’ll get one together soon, but my emotions that go along with this time of day have confounded me. It’s not like getting dinner together and sitting down with the family are a bad thing. Sure, the bedtime routine can be tedious, but it can also be fun.

I realized my restlessness and blah-ness are because while many parents switch gears in terms of leaving work and coming home, my gears don’t really switch. I’m not in a boardroom or an office. And no matter what I’m doing–even if my kids are in school–I’m always wearing my mom hat.

From the caption here, I’m not saying I yearn for either side–the working mom or stay-at-home one (though I’m sure the cartoon will provoke outcry).  It’s just that I never have the opportunity to “forget” I’m a mom. Well, except if I’m in Bikram. And dear god, the instructor gets more insufferable each time. The other day she said we could grow an inch by doing a certain pose. Seriously?

I’m not even remotely attempting to have a poor-me, I’m home all day with my kids moment. First, because it’s not true. I’m not home with my kids all day. Fia is in school 5 days a week, Em is in preschool 2 days now and on those days I have a free life to do what I want. Sort of. If you count trips to the grocery store, errands around my area, taking kids to and from school, if I’m lucky a workout (though that’s proved disastrous), meal planning (also semi-disastrous), and, if I’m lucky, a blog post. Thus, the mom hat. I’m not complaining. It’s part of what I signed up for when I slowed down in the career arena and sped up in the mom space.

So I have come up with an experiment to try.

There is a big comfy chair in our living room that we rarely sit on. Around 5 pm, I’m going to sit in it with a cup of tea, a glass of wine–anything that physically tells my brain I am crossing over (not in the John Edward way, of course). I’m going to attempt to sit and do some Sudoku. I know this probably sounds lame, but I need my brain to have some sort of “jolt” to shift gears. It’s a far cry from leaving a boardroom and coming home, but I’m hoping it will train my brain to look forward to 5 pm rather than dread it.

During this time I will unapologetically park my children in front of their favorite show for 30 minutes, which I usually do anyway. I call it our time to regroup.  Fia will sometimes say, “Mama, can we regroup today with Daniel Tiger?” I see nothing wrong with this, especially since any show they watch is educational.

I’m hoping this shift, while not drastic, will be enough to take away the antsy, blah feeling. I will let you know. If anyone can relate and has other ideas, I would love to hear them.

Cartoon of mom via Shutterstock

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