Posts Tagged ‘ independence ’

Rosie to the Rescue: Room to Grow

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Pope familyCheck out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!

After having my third baby, our apartment in the city officially moved into the “way too small” category. A bathroom became a closet, the main hallway became a putting green, the living room transformed into a makeshift castle fort, and my closet obviously was repurposed as the “dress up adventure/let’s open all of mommy’s shoe boxes because we’ve run out of places to play” area. So we have moved to the ‘burbs.

To my great surprise, it has not been the longer commute, nor the friendly neighbors delivering ample cupcakes, nor the increased amount of storage space that has been the greatest change for me. Instead, it has been the way in which I parent. In my apartment, my kids could roam freely and I would pretty much feel secure knowing where they were and what they were doing.  After all, I could see into every room, nook, and cranny from the living room, there were no stairs, only one way into and out of the house, and window guards—so basically a New York City fortress. Because of this, I could juggle multiple things at once while the kids ran around and did their own thing. Perhaps that’s why having three kids hasn’t felt too difficult, despite the gasps I always receive when pushing around my triple train of a stroller!

But now in our new house, if the children go into a different room or up the staircase, I have no idea what they are doing. And once I chase after them to take a peek, it turns out they have usually found the most dangerous thing possible to explore. (You know, the usual investigating circuitry or touching some bug not known to us in the far-off lands of NYC!) Ever since the move, we’ve had to work more as a team so we can stick together as we travel around the house. Whether it’s cooking, getting dressed, or exploring the garden together, my little ones are having to be patient with each other instead of wandering off and not waiting for their siblings.

The move has also helped my children learn about independence. I simply can’t keep my eyes on them at all times as I did in the city, so my rules are more strict and their responsibility is greater. There is a sense of freedom, yet there is more order all at the same time. To be completely honest, I’ve been a total neurotic basket-case as I’m learning to let them explore. (Meanwhile, I’m still learning how to make a good cup of coffee for myself because apparently Starbucks doesn’t deliver!) However, even without my regular dose of caffeine, last night as I watched them dig into dinner, truly hungry and tired from a day of fun outdoors, I could see the happiness over every inch of their bodies and knew this was the right move for us…. Even if this mama is going to have to learn a new style of parenting!

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Willow Smith: Too Young for a Pierced Tongue?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

We’ve all grown accustomed to the daring style statements of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter, Willow. In the last year alone, the young celeb has been seen sporting sky-high platform shoes, bright green hair, and, as of late, a tongue piercing. Did we mention she’s only 11 years old?

The most recent cause of public uproar came when Willow instagrammed a picture of her and a friend proudly displaying their mouth piercings (there she is, at right). Turns out the piercing was a magnetic stud, but critics still questioned the Smiths’ lenient parenting style and its effect on their kids. In the past, Will has publicly defended his daughter’s choices, explaining that Willow is in control of her body and can decide what she does with it (including shaving her head). Though we’re all for nurturing a child’s independence, we can’t help but ask: When your child is 11, how much freedom is just too much?

It’s important to help your kid develop his individuality, even if that means occasionally giving in to his newfound “let me do it!” demands. Sure, allowing your youngster to wear his Halloween costume to the grocery store once is cute, but what if he insists on donning it every single day for a month? If you give in now, could that pave the way for a child to insist on hair dye or piercings (fake or otherwise) later? While we all want our children to learn to fly solo, we wonder where the line between self-sufficiency and complete autonomy lies, and how far parents are willing to go to let their kids feel independent.

If your child wanted to shave her head, dye her hair, or “pierce” her tongue, would you let her? Share your thoughts below!

 

Image: Willow Smith and friend via Webstagram

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The Leiby Kletzky Tragedy: When Is a Child Ready to Travel or Walk Alone?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

little girl-windowThe story of Leiby Kletzky is a horrific one because it magnifies every parent’s worst nightmare: a child’s life is lost because of misplaced trust in a stranger.  The 8-year-old was walking home alone, for the first time, in his Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn when he got lost. While asking for directions, Kletzy was kidnapped and went missing for a few days until police found his body.  What has shocked everyone is the brutal way his body was disposed, and the fact that murder happened in a close-knit religious community founded on trust. 

As police continue their investigation into the motives behind the young boy’s death, parents are left with tough questions: When is a child ready to travel or walk home alone?  How can kids be taught to stay alert?  In what ways can parents balance their fear of the world with their child’s desire for independence?

We spoke to Dr. Yoni Schwab, a child psychologist at the Windward School in White Plains, N.Y., and a Parents expert, to get his thoughts and advice on how parents can help their kids be self-reliant while remaining alert to potential dangers in this world.

At what age is a child old enough to travel by himself, whether by public transportation or walking home (from school, camp, library, store, bus or subway stop) alone? 

There are no hard and fast rules about age. It depends on the child, the neighborhood, the length and complexity of the trip, and the time of day, among other things. In some neighborhoods, 8-year-olds can walk a couple blocks to a friend’s house while some 12-year-olds may live in a place that’s not safe enough to travel independently.

How do parents know when a child is ready? What characteristics determine independence?

Find out any relevant laws in your area and then speak to other parents to get a sense of what is customary in the community and how they managed the process [for independence.] (This advice comes from Wendy Mogel’s excellent book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.) Finally, you need to know your child. Really knowing your child is the only way to determine if she is ready. Quiz the child about what she might do in different circumstances. Observe your child when walking outside. Does she pause and look both ways before crossing the street? Does she notice details about the environment and possible dangers? Try walking a few steps behind the child to observe and see how she does on her own. Is your child attentive to his surroundings, thoughtful, responsible, and appropriately cautious? Or is your child impulsive, spacey, and overly trusting? All of these factors go into a decision about when to allow your child to travel alone.

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RIE Method Advocates “Do Less, Observe More” Parenting

Monday, November 1st, 2010

ss_ISP2093704Want to raise a peaceful, confident baby? Forget the dangling mobiles, Baby Einstein—even playpens. RIE(short for Resources for Infant Educarers) devotees, including celeb followers such as Tobey Maguire, Helen Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jason Alexander and Felicity Huffman, would argue their paired-down, empathy-for-baby based method is the way to go, The Daily Beast reports.

Co-founded in 1978 by Magda Gerber and Tom Forrest, a pediatric neurologist, RIE (pronounced like “rye”) is a parenting philosophy that emphasizes treating infants with respect in order to help them grow into well-adjusted, independent individuals. Followers seek to take their parenting cues directly from their babies,  connecting to the actions and feelings a child exhibits in hopes to gain an understanding of what their little one is experiencing. Simple kitchen utensils and household items, for example, are opted for instead of battery-operated devices that are thought to distract rather than engage.

Similarly, a crying baby isn’t immediately soothed but is encouraged to ’let it out’, and asked why he or she is crying. “One of the most common misconceptions is that we just let the babies cry and we don’t pick them up,” longtime instructor Hari Grebler, who teaches in Santa Monica and makes RIE-approved toys and baby furniture, was quoted as saying. “What RIE talks about is, how do we pick them up? Do we just snatch them up from the floor? Or do we go over and talk and try to find out what’s up and tell them, ‘Now I’m going to pick you up.’”

Those dedicated to bringing up their babies under the guidelines of REI often attend REI training courses and meet-up groups. Emma Gray, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based fine art consultant and mother of two, appreciated the way these classes made her more focused and connected as a parent. ”It had a very profound effect …There’s this idea that the children have got to dance, have got to swim. What they need is nature. Basic stimulation from other children. Being outside. Natural stuff.”

This month, the method goes mainstream as RIE teaching materials arrive at 1,700 federally funded Early Head Start programs for families with infants and toddlers nationally.

Would you want your child to participate in these programs? Do you think RIE is a bit too ‘granola’ in its approach or do you see the method as a refreshing departure for our generation of ‘high-achieving super-babies’?

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Our Kids’ Independence & Our Tears

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Walking to SchoolTa-Nehisi Coates, a blogger for TheAtlantic.com, takes a break from his usual coverage of culture and politics to admit he got weepy this morning seeing his 5th-grade son off to school by himself for the first time on public transportation, a NYC bus. Coates’ tears came despite the fact that he supported his son’s greater independence and assumed he’d be “pretty emotionless about the whole deal.”

For me, it was dropping my daughter off in day camp the first time. And seeing her say good-bye to her friends and counselors at the end of the summer. And let’s not forget the first time she went to youth group in synagogue and told us it was ok for us not to stay with her. And letting her spend a night at grandma’s without us. And… You get the point. Yes, I can be a weeper. And yes, I am an advocate for her growing independence, and even push her–maybe sometimes too hard?–to take those steps even when she’s not sure. Still, a daddy can shed a tear or two when she actually listens and shows that she’s growing up.

Let us know in the comments: When have you gotten weepy at your kids’ accomplishments and independence? Ta-Nehisi and I will take comfort in your stories. Pass the tissues.

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